No need to panic: Odd but normal dog behaviours

When it comes to our fur babies, every wag, woof, and whirl has a meaning. From butt-dragging to “zoomies” and selective hearing, we explore seven odd dog behaviours and answer your most niggling question: Is that normal?!

Why do dogs do that?

Whether you laugh out loud or scratch your head in bewilderment, here's why canines do some of the weirdest things.

Walking backwards

Catching your dog reverse walking may be adorable and amusing—at first! Then you start wondering what's up with this peculiar way of moving. 🤔 Walking backwards is nothing to worry about when:

  • Your pup is just being playful around you or other pets in the household.
  • He is in a literal tight spot. There's no other way to get out save for navigating backward.
  • Your Goodest Boy feels vulnerable or wary of something, and retreating sounds about right. Hey, at least he's not backing down!

When to worry: If none of the above explains your dog's reverse walking, and it's happening more frequently, consult your vet. Walking backward can signal that something serious is going on, like pain, physical discomfort, or eye, ortho, or neurological disorders.

Butt/crotch sniffing

This one's embarrassing and super awkward—especially when it happens in front of others. 😑 Is your pet a deviant? Nope! Butt and crotch sniffing is perfectly normal behaviour among canines.

First, it's a doggy greeting similar to how we shake hands or bisous. Second, it's how dogs gather helpful information—sex, age, emotions, health—about fellow puppers and humans. Third, sniffing bottoms helps calm your pet down. 😅

When to worry: You don't have to concern yourself too much about this behaviour unless it's excessive or bothersome to you, in which case you'd best get on with your puppy training!


They're also known as “crazy eights”, “midnight madness”, and “demon possession”, but we guarantee your sweet Fido hasn't lost his marbles. He's just super happy, hyper, or releasing pent-up energy. Zipping past you, bolting back and forth, running circles around the room (often with a goofy grin on his face 😍) does the trick!

When to worry: Zoomies can be risky in public spaces or around injury and fall hazards, like obstacles (furniture), slippery floors, stairs, and traffic.

Tail chasing

Tail chasing is all-too-familiar but not necessarily "normal" behaviour. Reasons for it span from the harmless (attention seeking) to the serious (seizures, doggy compulsive disorder, and more), meaning it could be perfectly fine—or a red flag for behavioural or medical problems.

When to worry: If you can't get your dog to stop chasing his tail, he's harming himself, or it's a regular occurrence, see your vet.

Paper shredding

From toilet paper to cardboard boxes, textbooks, and even *ahem* homework (well, back in the day 🤪), your doggo may have a penchant for stealing and ripping papers to shreds. This is to be expected (and, in that sense, normal) when your pup is bored, stressed, or anxious. What's not normal is swallowing said paper products.

When to worry: Ingesting large quantities of paper can cause diarrhoea, vomiting, constipation, and a blockage in your pet's intestine.

Selective hearing

Ever called your dog's name only to be met with an indifferent glance or continued sniffing of a fascinating spot? It's not you; it's Fido. This selective hearing (or selective attention) is normal behaviour that suggests your pup's attention is elsewhere, typically on priority stimuli or something more immediately rewarding. Common scenarios include:

  • There are too many distractions or noises. Fido doesn't know what to focus on.
  • Your pup isn't well trained, or your commands are confusing.
  • Your dog is afraid, so his attention shifts.
  • He's just not feeling it.

When to worry: If your doggo recently suffered a head injury, has chronic ear infections, or suddenly stops responding to day-to-day sounds like your car pulling into the driveway, that's concerning. It's extra worrisome when combined with the loss of obedience, attentiveness/interest, frequent shaking of the head, and excessive barking.

Eating poop

Technically, this is called coprophagia, and while it's not exactly "normal" (or desirable, funny, or cute 😬), a surprisingly large number of dogs will engage in this behaviour. Some eat poop because they're bored or suffer from anxiety. Others are compensating for nutritional deficiencies or have underlying health conditions.

When to worry: Any time your pet consumes non-food items. Animal waste products, in particular, contain many harmful pathogens.

Most of these oddball antics are part of the best doggy package—a unique blend of wacky, wonderful, and weird. Usually, there's no cause for alarm. But if Fido's antics take a rapid turn for the unusual, excessive, or destructive, that's probably no longer normal. You'll need to see your vet.

Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only. It is not and does not intend to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Reliance on any information on this website is at your own risk. Always consult with your veterinarian.


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