Dogs are a medley of unique behaviors, abilities, and habits. What are the top dog behaviors you should know with so many breeds and personalities on display?

Around two million dogs are adopted every year. One of the biggest challenges facing dog owners is learning about the behaviors of their new best friend. If you don’t understand how your dog ticks, you’ll end up frustrated and confused! Being a responsible dog owner involves reading your dog’s responses to everyday life and training them accordingly.

What are the top dog behaviors across all breeds and what do they mean? You’ll be caught up nicely with our guide below!

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What are the Most Common Dog Behaviors?

Remember that different breeds and ages will affect your dog’s behavior. Nonetheless, we have a list of frequent dog behaviors below you’ll see across the board.

Barking, Barking, Barking!

Make no bones about it: dogs just love to bark. Barking is how they communicate to other dogs and stay in contact with their owners.

Does your dog sometimes bark at the window while you’re home? It’s possible they saw a bird on a perch or someone walking on your lawn. Does your dog bark at other dogs? They could be playful or want to establish their territory. 

A few dog breeds lean away from barking, such as the Basenji and the Borzoi.

Do you worry your dog could bark on a plane or train? Here’s our guide on dog sedation for travel purposes!

Sniffing Everything in Sight

a brown dog sniffing the floor

Alt text: a brown dog sniffing the floor 

Image source

Dogs have some of the most amazing noses in the entire animal kingdom. Depending on the breed, their sense of smell can be as much as 100,000 times stronger!

As a result, dogs are constantly smelling everything in sight to learn about their environment. Their noses can tell them essential details such as the age and sex of other dogs. They can also find out if other animal species have passed.

If your dog shoves their nose into the dirty laundry or sniffs the butt of your guests, never fear. These behaviors are healthy! Your dog wants to learn about their environment in the best way they know.

Chasing After Thrown Objects

Why do dogs love chasing after thrown objects? This behavior has something to do with their prey instinct: dogs are descended from wolves and feel the urge to give chase.

Chasing after a ball or a frisbee is a fantastic way to keep your dog stimulated. Not only do you give them the ability to track a fast moving object, you also provide them with cardio. A stimulated dog with plenty of exercise will be happier, calmer, and more obedient. 

Walking your dog is an important part of your dog’s daily life. Read our guide on how to do this exercise routine effectively!

Why do Dogs Lick You?

Dogs tend to smell everything they find…as well as lick everything they find! Dog tongues are not as sensitive as humans, so they often lick for reasons outside of flavor.

The most common reasons dogs lick is to show affection or to groom themselves, such as licking their nose to keep it wet. 

Should Dogs Chew on Items?

Do you worry about your dog feeling the urge to chew on items? This behavior is extremely natural for all dog breeds and should be embraced (provided they aren’t chewing on furniture).

Your dog chews on items to exercise their jaw and to keep themselves stimulated. 

What Behavior is Unacceptable for Dogs?

Now that you know about frequent dog behaviors and what they mean, we need to look at unacceptable behaviors. All responsible dog owners need to discourage these behaviors to ensure their pet is healthy and safe!

Biting is Potentially Dangerous

a man petting a small brown dog

Alt text: a man petting a small brown dog

Image source

Dogs have a powerful bite that can leave serious scarring or bruising. It’s important to know the difference between a play bite and a dangerous one. 

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Play bites are soft and light. The dog will not fully close the jaws and will simply gnaw or mouth around an object or your hand. This playful behavior is very careful, designed to urge you to play.

A dangerous bite clamps down with the intent to hurt. Dogs most commonly bite when they:

  • Feel unsafe
  • Want to protect food or an item
  • Are poorly socialized

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Digging Can Be a Frustrating Habit

Does your dog constantly feel the urge to dig in the dirt? While digging is a play behavior that suits the park or a campsite, it’s frustrating when in the wrong place.

If your dog keeps digging in your garden or your neighbor’s yard, it’s time to ask some questions.

  • Do I play with my dog enough?
  • How often do I walk my dog?
  • Does my dog have toys and stimulation when I’m gone for work?

Humping is Quite Embarrassing

Imagine the scenario: you’ve invited a few guests over for dinner and your dog gets excited by all the company. They promptly jump on your friend’s leg and start humping.

This behavior either means your dog is sexually frustrated or wants to establish dominance. 

Very Heavy Panting

Your dog usually pants to let off some steam. This behavior is healthy and shows your dog is regulating its temperature.