How well do you think you understand your dog? Sure, we all know our buddies love belly rubs, play time, afternoon naps, and nice, long walks. But, were you aware that your darling Dachshund or pretty Poodle have specific behaviors and preferences they enjoy?
Many humans have no idea that these ingrained actions or preferred choices even exist. But the truth is, our canine companions have a great many activities that make them happy, ones based on social preferences, nature, and instinct.
So, if you’re curious about how your pooch functions, then you’ll surely appreciate this post about what dogs like to do (with or without their human sidekicks).
Table of Contents
- 1. Socialize with other pups
- 2. Dig holes to store their valuables
- 3. Carry things around (and sometimes, refuse to let go)
- 4. Doggy paddle to their heart’s content
- 5. Be productive and useful
- 6. Be outside in the great outdoors
- 7. Paw, flip, nuzzle, pull, chew, push their bed… until it’s properly made
- 8. Uncover the hidden mysteries of their doggie toys
- 9. Training games that stimulate their brain
- 10. Hang out with their favorite human(s)
1. Socialize with other pups
Socialization and play time with other canines is integral to dog health. Not only because it’s fun, but also because it’s the perfect opportunity to practice some of their most essential survival skills. Communication, fighting, and hunting, skills they relied on heavily in the wild, require regular practice. And, as much as they love their human, those are skills best honed with fellow dogs.
Additionally, socializing with other pups is an exciting time to engage their powerful senses, using their incredible sniffers to smell thrilling new scents, sensitive hearing to pick up interesting sounds, and unique eye-sight to enjoy the sights of fellow furry babies.
Socialization also tends to lead to running around, wrestling on the ground, and other types of exercise that is crucial to physical health.
2. Dig holes to store their valuables
While you may not actually witness your sweet canine dig a hole in the backyard to store his precious stuffed toy, the vast majority of animals give into their ingrained urge to “store their valuables.” Back before dogs were domesticated, as seen in many wild animals of today, canines never knew when they would have their next meal, so they would bury their surplus food for later. Fast forward to today, and dogs still do this with items they see as valuable, such as dog treat bones and toys. Now, this whole “storing their valuables” can also extend to other things they wish to keep, mementos if you will. So, the next time your slippers or favorite sweater goes missing, you may want to investigate the backyard.
Additionally, some pets and even some specific breeds may have a stronger urge to dig or “dig and hide.” I’ve had many dogs over the years that enjoyed playing outside and scratching around in the dirt, but none can compare to the two dogs that completely uprooted my backyard, turning it into a large, unattractive dirt patch.
My Golden Retriever, Bella, and Siberian Husky, Nanook, who are both running through the evergreen fields of Doggie Heaven as I write this, totally ruined my poor yard. While Nanook had a habit of hiding bones and frozen fish (yes, you read that right!), Bella was just a hardcore digger.
3. Carry things around (and sometimes, refuse to let go)
Do you have a pup who carries their favorite stuffy in their mouth all day long? Typically, canines carry things around if they consider the item valuable, as a means to protect said item.
Be it a favorite toy, an old tennis ball or your slippers, the easiest way to ensure its protection is to bring it with you wherever you go, right? However, the things dogs often choose to keep lock-jawed tend to be a possession that brings them comfort. Usually, it’s the taste, scent or texture they enjoy, or some other special characteristic that soothes them.
4. Doggy paddle to their heart’s content
The vast majority of breeds won’t think twice before doggy diving into any body of water, be it a lake, pool or mud puddle. Swimming is by far a well-loved sport for canines of all kinds. Luckily for us humans and our dogs, it’s an excellent way to stay in shape.
If you have a senior furry companion with mobility issues, swimming is highly recommended by veterinarians (though you may want to use a dog life jacket for safety). Also, it’s a great way to spend time together, assuming you’re a swimmer too! And, in the hot summer months when fluffy dogs suffer the heat the most, it’s the perfect way to cool off.
5. Be productive and useful
In the wild, dogs had a sense of purpose. Hunting for their next meal, protecting their pack, and raising their pups were all things that kept them alive and gave their lives meaning. Believe it or not, our pets have a natural inclination to work, and they need to feel useful and valued. When they don’t accomplish tasks and feel productive, they get bored and restless, even depressed.
Honestly, it doesn’t take much to get them excited with the thought of something new to do. Things like retrieving a ball, fetching the newspaper or running through the agility course at the dog park are excellent ideas to help stave off boredom.
Read more: 18 Pawsome Ways to Entertain Your Dog
6. Be outside in the great outdoors
If you think about it, nature is where dogs were meant to be, wild and free as their ancestors. Perhaps that explains why, for canines of all kinds, the great outdoors seems to energize them. Although they undoubtedly have a cozy nook of their own at home, nothing beats the thrilling scents, sounds, and even tastes of the outside world.
Aside from the enchanting mysterious of the great outdoors, being outside is usually the time to stretch out their legs and get some exercise alongside their favorite human. Want to see a grinning pup? Then, consider a trip to a forest where your furry best can run, leap and sniff up a storm, and simply reconnect with their inner canine.
7. Paw, flip, nuzzle, pull, chew, push their bed… until it’s properly made
Have you ever watched your furry best friend make their doggie bed? If you have, then you know full well that it’s a show can last a really long time! Between the pawing and flipping, nuzzling and pawing again, right on through to the circling and circling and circling… watching them make their bed “properly” can be quite the dizzying display. What seems to be a crazy wrestling match with their bed is actually another basic instinct, a remnant from when canines would create their own sleeping areas in the wild. Those many movements would both flatten the grass or greenery and mark the area with their scent. Therefore, when you see your pet fixing their sleeping nook, they’re merely securing the area and ensuring it’s marked as theirs.
My dog, Maya, is pretty peculiar when it comes to making her bed, though according to her vet, her actions are indeed common. You see, not only does she spend an excessive amount of time fixing her dog bed to her liking, but she also collects items from around the home to make it feel cozier. Probably, that’s the retriever in her simply doing what comes naturally. However, I often tell this funny story because she’s always taking clothes out of the laundry hamper to make her bed! Stinky socks, dirty underwear, and smelly shirts are just a few of the things she insists on using to make her special spot smell “right.” Sure, it might sound gross to us humans, but how can I possibly say no to those sweet puppy dog eyes?
There are no two ways about it, dogs absolutely love a challenge. Be it mental or physical, our pups need something to stimulate them. Unfortunately, the everyday life of a domestic dog can get a little… boring.
Should your pet display troubling behavioral issues like chewing the furniture or emptying the garbage can, it’s a clear sign that your pooch needs some stimulation. Dog toys, especially food puzzles, create a fun, often tasty, challenge for a bored mind.
To eliminate troublesome behaviors and help pass the time while you’re at work, you may want to get your pet some challenging toys such as interactive food puzzles or even a Kong. With all that excess energy spent figuring out the hidden mysteries of their new doggie toys, your furry best will feel so much less stressed. Remember, happier dog, happier human!
9. Training games that stimulate their brain
In order to have a happy, healthy dog, you’ll need to ensure your pup gets adequate mental stimulation. After all, a restless or bored canine can quickly turn to destructive behavior, such as chewing up shoes or emptying out garbage bins, to burn excess energy. Instead, redirect their attention with games that stimulate their brain.
Hide and Seek, Tug of War, and Fetch are all excellent games to play with your pup. Depending on the breed you have, you may find those games great, but not enough to engage them thoroughly. At that point, you might want to look into agility training or obedience classes. Or, if your furry best has an impressive, almost super-canine focus, consider special courses that require more work, such as search and rescue training.
10. Hang out with their favorite human(s)
Your dog doesn’t just see you as that odd, furless creature that feeds them food and hangs out with them when they need to visit the fire hydrant. Instead, YOU are a valued member of the pack. Which pack, you may wonder? You know, the one with you, your dog, and every other member of your household. Dogs are not just your companion, they view you as their companion as well.
Spending time with you, which amounts to every waking second of the day that you’re with them at home, is part of the pack behavior. That’s why they’re always so thrilled to see you again after some time apart. It’s because their pack is complete, so they’re happy! Some dog behaviorists explain this particular pack behavior as a social-emotional-biological habit. And so, according to the experts, it’s a means of ensuring your protection. When you’re with them, they’re confident and comforted, knowing their pack is safe.
What do dogs like to do? Well, honestly, the list goes on and on! But, hopefully, we’ve managed to clarify a few things to help you understand your dog (and their behavior and preferences) just a little bit more.