If you’ve ever spent time with an animal companion, you know how much joy and laughter they bring! While sometimes they exhibit such human-like characteristics, other times they will behave in such silly ways that can be unfamiliar to the human experience. Here are 12 behaviours with ancient origin that are sure to bring smiles to our faces…or at least answer some questions!

1)      Sniffing into the wind- When cats and dogs were wild animals, they would smell into the wind to see if they could pick up the scent of prey in the distance.

2)      Walking in small circles before lying down to sleep- When cats and dogs were in the wild, they would walk in circles on the tall grasses to pat them down and make a “bed” to sleep.

3)      Paws the ground after eliminating- This is marking behaviour. Cats and dogs have olfactory sensors in their paws. They leave additional scent with their paws for animals to smell after elimination.

4)      Chasing tail- Animals will chase their tails due to boredom. This is especially present in herding dogs or dogs who are bred to chase.

5)      Rolls around in grass- Dogs and cats do this for two reasons; to scratch an itch and/or to pick up the scent of the area onto their hair/fur so that other animals will know where they have been.

6)      Takes food from bowl to other room to eat- this is submissive behaviour. Even in single animal homes, the animal may be exhibiting a reflection of being the last of the litter to get food or having to compete for food in previous homes.

7)      Licks plastic bags- Some cats love the crinkling sound of plastic. Animals are highly noise sensitive. Plastic is not a natural material and it sounds funny to them.  They love to play with plastic bags and other items that make noise.

8)      Eats grass- Animals will eat grass for two reasons; if they have sore tummies, grass can often induce vomiting which can alleviate the soreness. They will also eat grass if they are lacking nutrients in their diet. If the latter is the case, research into supplementing the animals’s diet with vegetables or enzymes is necessary.

9)      Eats feces- Dogs will eat feces (coprophagia) for two reasons; when dogs were wild, one of their survival methods was to dispose of any evidence that could lead predators to them. They ate their stool so as not to leave a trail behind. Poop eating can also be a symptom of malnutrition. This means that they may not be digesting all of the necessary nutrients from their diets, or that they have contracted worms and are not absorbing the nutrients from food. For clarity on this seek assistance from an animal care practitioner; intuitive or veterinarian.

10)   Rubs body against people’s legs, face and body- usually seen in cats (and sometimes in dogs), animals will rub against people to “mark” them. While it may seem cute that our furry friends are greeting us in this cuddly way, they are actually claiming us as their territory.

11)   Head tilt- Have you ever seen your dog or puppy tilt his head? Though the definitive reason for this behaviour is unclear, animal behaviour specialists (including myself) believe that the dog will tilt his head when his person is speaking with him in anticipation of recognizable words.

12)   Hiding in box, plastic bag or in shelf/cupboard- cats love to hide in objects. Most of the time this is “play” behaviour. Most cats love to be in enclosed areas. It can help them to feel safe and secure. Boxes are not only great for safety and security but they are also a great place from which to stalk their prey unseen. Cats are curious by nature and love to see what’s in the box! Also the box tends to be warmer than a cold winter floor, so cold cats can find it more comfortable.

Whether you are an animal companion or love animals from afar, it’s always entertaining to watch them. They are perfect combinations between their ancient, wild genetic patterning and modern day social companions! For more information on animal behaviour, email: jmorgan.soulstice@gmail.com.

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