Dog Owner's Guide

Dog behaviour 101

10 reasons why dogs bark

  1. Warning - barking is a dog's natural response when they are facing potential threats to their owner's or their own safety. It is an aggressive response to scare away other animals and intruders. Barking can be extremely useful when used at the right time. Most dogs bark to alert their owners to danger as well, and many people have had their lives saved when their dogs barked to wake them up when their homes were on fire.
  2. Feeling left out - dogs that are left outside the home often bark, as they prefer to be around their owners or family. Dogs have a natural pack mentality and do not react well when they are left out.
  3. Deprived of basic survival needs - dogs that are deprived of things like water, food, a place to sleep and exercise will be unhappy and distressed. Barking is their way to express that unhappiness.
  4. Health problems - dogs that have health problems may be more easily agitated than usual, because they are going through some kind of physical discomfort. This may cause them to bark at things they normally would not be bothered by, like cars, children, and loud noises.
  5. Mental State - dogs that suddenly start barking for long periods of time may be feeling confused or may be suffering from a mental illness like dementia.
  6. Separation Anxiety - puppies that are taken away from their mothers very early may bark because they are feeling anxious. Dogs that are constantly in the presence of humans may feel lonely when they are left by themselves and will bark as a means to express their anxiety.
  7. Boredom - dogs that have no activities to fill their time may start barking to show their frustration. Spend more time with them and buy new and interesting toys for them to play with.
  8. Breed - some breeds of dogs do tend to bark more than others. Terriers, for example, are known to bark a lot and are very easily excitable. When you are looking for a suitable breed, do take this into consideration.
  9. Attention - dogs might bark just to get attention. These dogs are usually so starved of attention that would rather have negative attention than no attention at all.
  10. Aging Dogs - aging dogs are known to be less tolerant and grouchier than younger dogs. Their bad eyesight and hearing could also lead to them getting startled and frightened more often, which will result in barking.

4 reasons why dogs love to dig

  1. It's in their blood - Digging is both an instinctive and compulsive habit for dogs. Before dogs were domesticated, wild dogs would hunt in a pack. Whenever these dogs killed a particularly large animal, they would dig holes in the ground to bury the left over carcass so that other animals could not eat it. Similarly, domesticated dogs usually dig holes in the ground to bury their favourite toys or chewy bones so that they care have easy access to it later.
  2. Boredom - Dogs that are extremely bored or lonely use digging as an activity to pass the time. If a dog suddenly starts digging when it has never done so before, it may be a result of being neglected.
  3. Escape - Dogs may try to dig out of a fenced yard if they see something on the other side that they want to reach, like other dogs. Dogs will also start digging if they are afraid. If a dog is left outside in the yard during a thunderstorm, it will start digging to find a safer place.
  4. Digging for "treasure" - Dogs have a very keen sense of smell and hearing. They can hear rodents or other small animals scurrying underground and this will cause them to dig holes. If there are dead animals buried underground, dogs will dig to get to the carcass as they are drawn to rotting or unpleasant smells.

Other types of dog behaviour explained:

Circling the ground before sleeping
Wild dogs used to circle their sleeping area several times to flatten the area and make it more comfortable. When domesticated dogs do the same, they are most likely acting on a primordial urge that was passed down from generations before.

Whining
Whining could mean that the dog is cold, hungry, hurt or lonely. If there are no injuries on the dog, give him some food and prepare a warm place for him to sleep in.

Licking of lips
When dogs lick their lips it is usually a sign of submission or anxiety.

Panting
Dogs do not have sweat glands on their skin like humans do. Sweating helps to lower body temperature and release body heat due to the cooling effect when sweat evaporates. When dogs pant, they breathe out water-saturated air and this produces a cooling effect for them. However, dogs do not only pant when they are hot. They may also pant if they are anxious or in pain.