Olive: Strange Dog BehaviorPublished August 7, 2012
Victoria Schade/Do Not Reproduce
All of our dogs have quirks or strange behaviors, right?
Every dog has one or two odd habits that defy explanation, like the dog that loves to eat lemons, or insists on sleeping upside down. One or two eccentricities can be charming. A handful of strange dog behaviors can lead to head scratching. And a dog with more than a handful of quirks?
Well, that would be Olive.
Our Olive’s strange behaviors seemingly come out of nowhere as compared to most canine idiosyncrasies. For example, it’s quirky that Millie hates to walk anywhere near sidewalk grates, but it makes sense as she probably clipped her paw in one long ago. Olive’s strange dog behaviors, on the other hand, seem to have no basis in her history. She’s just … weird for weird’s sake. And she’s been that way since we brought her home at eight weeks old.
It all started with the head bobbing. (You can see a hint of it at the beginning of this video.) When Olive is in contemplation mode she sits and bobs her head in a slow u-shape. First down towards her feet, then up again, like those country bumpkin Looney Toons cartoon characters. She used to do it more as a puppy, but we still see it every now and again.
She has many other strange dog behaviors that have popped up over the past few months:
Weird pooping: Every dog has a “substrate preference” when they eliminate, or what they like to feel under their feet when they potty, like leaves or mulch. Olive likes the feeling of … high bushes. She will climb on top of our 1-foot tall shrubs and balance there while she poops.
Weird drinking: When she drinks from a bowl, she has to lean across it in order to place her mouth on the far side of it, so with each sip her tongue sweeps along the far “wall” of the bowl.
Weird scratching: When she wants attention, she scratches herself. Now, this behavior is a mix of explainable and odd. Dogs will do whatever “works” for attention, and when she was little we would check on her when we heard her scratching away. (“Does she have to go out? Is something wrong?”) She quickly learned that scratching was a workable strategy to get our attention, so she kept it in her repertoire and still does it frequently. The odd part is that when she scratches herself, she peels back her lower lip so that all you can see is her gumline and crooked bottom teeth. This very creepy “monster face” happens every time she scratches. (I’m trying to get a photo of it.) And no, the scratching isn't fleas, bad skin or allergies. It's Olive.
Weird helplessness: She won’t use her paws to open doors. Millie can almost pick locks go from room to room in our house, but Olive can’t figure out how to free herself from inside a closet with a half-shut door. If she wanders into a closet and the door drifts shut behind her, she stands inside and cries until someone lets her out, even if the gap in the door could easily accommodate her body.
Weird “bed making”: Before she puts herself to bed every night, Olive goes under our bed and digs furiously at the magazines stacked there. It’s almost trance-like. She takes one paw and rakes it across the magazine over and over, making deep grooves in the paper. Sometimes she picks the corner of the magazine up in her mouth and digs at the same time. Nothing interrupts her when she’s digging; if I kneel down to watch she’ll shoot me a glance, but she keeps at it until she’s "done." This behavior is a redirected version of the bed making seen in this video of my old dog Zeke. Many dogs “prepare” their beds before they retire, but what’s odd about Olive’s bed making is that she doesn’t actually sleep under our bed! After she completes her magazine digging she comes out from under our bed and walks over to her actual bed and then goes to sleep.
Olive is a jumble of strange inexplicable behavior. Does your dog have any bizarre habits? Any other magazine diggers out there?