By Sari Reis
As a professional dog walker and pet sitter, I have cared for hundreds of dogs over the years, and one thing I have noticed is that although they are all different and have their own personalities, there are a lot of things they have in common. Some of their very endearing and not so endearing behaviors, for instance, have always stood out. If you have a dog or are a dog observer, I am sure you can relate to some of these.
One of these cute behaviors is lifting a front paw when they smell something interesting while on a walk. Whether it’s the left paw or the right, they all seem to do it. Another common action is to roll around gleefully on their backs with all four legs flailing in different directions when they have discovered something that smells so incredibly good to them, they want to rub the smell all over their bodies. I have seen tiny Chihuahuas to large Labrador retrievers wallowing around on the grass looking absolutely euphoric. As long as they are not rolling in something dirty or disgusting, I love to watch them enjoy themselves.
Another common habit is to scratch the grass or dirt vigorously after they have done their business. Some people believe this is to cover up what they have just done; others believe it is to spread their scent. Whatever the reason, they seem to delight in doing it, as they are usually smiling with their tongues hanging out while engaged in the process.
Not all dogs, but many of them, will walk back and forth around an area before deciding it is the right place to do their business. Others walk in continuous circles around the spot, and then settle down to do it. I am sure there is a scientific reason for this, but I don’t know what it is. I have also noticed, particularly with Mini Schnauzers, that they have to examine the spot they want to use from various angles to discern the best approach. Although it is cute to observe, it can be very trying on one’s patience when in a hurry.
Almost all dogs, regardless of how well socialized they are, exhibit a hesitation when they come across something they have never seen before. It could be a detour sign on the road, an orange pylon on the sidewalk or something they have just never encountered before. They back off, but their curiosity gets the best of them and they stretch out their necks to try to smell the intruder. Some of them are actually on their back toes with bodies fully stretched, sniffing away without getting too close. It is so cute.
Needless to say, there are dozens of adorable behaviors our dogs exhibit, but one of my very favorites is when a treat is offered, a command is given and the dog goes through its entire repertoire of sit, lay down, shake and rollover in the hope it has hit the right one. Now how cute is that?
—Sari Reis is a Certified Humane Education Specialist and the owner of Mission Valley Pet Sitting Services. For more information you can contact her at 760-644-0289 or missionvalleypetsitting.com.