Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Dogs

    Another fun fact about dogs, is many people believe that a waggy tail means you have a happy dog, but it’s important to take into consideration what is happening around them at the time and, more importantly, what the rest of your dog’s body is telling you about their current mood.

    • A broad, smooth, sweeping tail (not tucked or high) means the dog is currently relaxed and comfortable
    • Helicopter tail (the type that moves in circular motions) is normally reserved for people your dog knows and for their close doggy friends. This usually indicates he or she is feeling excited and particularly social. If you’re getting the helicopter tail, your dog is really pleased to see you!
    • If your dog’s tail wags slightly to the right, research suggests this could indicate your dog knows the person or dog and it is a wag of recognition
    • A tucked tail, or a tail that is a lot lower but wagging slightly, usually means the dog is worried. Usually used to communicate “I’m no threat” to other dogs and people.
    • A tail clamped between your dog’s legs means that your dog is really worried and they feel the need to protect themselves
    • A high tail that’s wagging fast often indicates arousal and excitement, but how the dog really feels will be down to all sorts of factors, such as breed, their individual personality, what the rest of their body is doing and what activity they are doing at the time
    • Some dogs tend to move their tails from side to side rapidly when focusing on a scent. You might see this is in your own dog if they are searching for a toy you have hidden or have picked up an interesting and exciting smell to track. This movement doesn’t serve to communicate to others; it’s thought just to be a sign of extreme concentration (much like when we humans push our tongues out when concentrating hard!).

    What foods should I never feed my dog?

    Here’s a list of tens things your dog should never eat:

    1. Chocolate. Chocolate contains a very toxic substance called methylxanthines, which are stimulants that can stop a dog’s metabolic process. Even just a little bit of chocolate, especially dark chocolate, can cause diarrhea and vomiting. A large amount can cause seizures, irregular heart function, and even death.
    2. Avocados. Every part of the fruit has a strain of fatty acid called persin, which is toxic to your pup in large quantities. Avocado may be good on nearly everything, but it’s not good on your dog’s puppy chow.
    3. Onions and Garlic. Staples in the human diet, these beloved veggies can cause anemia in your dog by killing her red blood cells. Even a little bit can be detrimental to her health.
    4. Grapes and Raisins. Eating this seemingly innocuous fruit (in either the fresh or dried form) can cause kidney failure in dogs. Yikes!
    5. Milk and other Dairy Products. While dogs can drink milk from their mothers, any other type of dairy (cow, goat, etc.) could make them sick. There are sugars and fatty acids that dogs don’t have the enzymes to digest properly.
    6. Macadamia Nuts. While it’s still unknown just what it is about these nuts that is poisonous to dogs, the fact is, they are. Your pup may be eyeing your macadamia nut cookie, but don’t give in to his puppy-dog eyes. He’ll thank you later—well, maybe.
    7. Sugary foods and drinks. Speaking of cookies, don’t let your dog eat anything high in processed sugars. The same thing will happen to her that happens to people when they ingest too much sugar: weight gain, tooth decay, and even diabetes.
    8. Caffeine. It contains a stimulant that is toxic to dogs. While you may enjoy a morning cup of joe, your dog should stick to tried-and-true water.
    9. Yeast dough. If eaten raw, this can rise and ferment in your dog’s stomach. The fermentation can cause alcohol poisoning, and the rising will stretch your pup’s stomach to the point of pain. So the next time you make a homemade pizza, avoid giving those leftover dough bits to your pooch!
    10. Salt. Too much salt can lead to dehydration and even sodium ion poisoning. While a little bit of salt is fine, be aware of how much your dog ingests, to keep the quantity at a minimum.

    With this list in mind, you’ll be able to keep an eye on the foods that can make your dog sick. But just as certain foods affect people different ways, the same happens with dogs. Signs of poisoning or an allergic reaction include vomiting, muscle shakes, fever, intense scratching, weakness in the limbs, diarrhea, breathing problems, and sluggishness. If your dog shows any of these symptoms, get him to the vet immediately.

    Why do dogs bark?

    Dogs bark to communicate with us and express different needs, feelings, and intentions. Here are some reasons why dogs bark:

    • Anxiety and Fear: Dogs bark loudly and sharply when they feel scared or want to warn their owners about possible dangers.
    • Territorial Barking: Dogs bark to protect their space when they feel like someone is invading it. They stand tall with a straight tail while barking.
    • Excitement: Dogs bark in a high-pitched or medium-range tone when they’re happy or excited about something fun, like going for a walk. They wag their tails and move around energetically.
    • Seeking Attention: Dogs use single barks with short pauses to get our attention or communicate their needs. For example, they might bark to let us know they want to go outside or be fed.
    • Boredom: When dogs feel bored or lonely, they may bark a lot to release their energy or get our attention. This repetitive barking can become a habit for them.
    • Separation Anxiety: Dogs with separation anxiety bark excessively when they’re left alone because they feel scared and worried about being away from their owners.
    • Barking in Aging Dogs: Older dogs may bark at night or for no apparent reason, which could be a sign of cognitive decline or dementia.

    What are the smartest dogs?

    Research completed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and “The Intelligence of Dogs” author, Stanley Coren, showed the following factors measure a dog’s intelligence:

    Adaptive intelligence: dogs’ problem-solving skills
    Instinctive intelligence: dogs’ natural abilities
    Obedience intelligence: dogs’ ability to obey commands and follow instructions
    Work intelligence: dogs’ ability to learn new tasks quickly and accurately
    The smartest dog breeds typically have a combination of all four intelligence types. They have a natural ability to learn, remember things quickly, obey commands, and accurately problem-solve.

    Dogs can also have high emotional intelligence, which allows them to discern between humans’ positive and negative emotions.

    Here is our rank for the 10 smartest dog breeds:

    – Border collie
    – Poodle
    – German shepherd
    – Golden retriever
    – Doberman pinscher
    – Shetland sheepdog
    – Labrador retriever
    – Papillon
    – Rottweiler
    – Australian cattle do

    Why is my dog's nose dry?

    Your dog’s nose is dry while he’s sleeping. This happens simply because your dog is not licking his nose while he’s asleep. His nose should be wet again within 10 minutes of waking up.

    Winter is tough on a dog’s nose. Do you ever wake up with a dry, scratchy throat during the winter months? That’s probably due to the flow of warm air from heating vents. Warm airflow can have the same effect on a dog’s nose. Has your pup been sleeping right next to a vent to keep warm? That warm air can dry out his nose and things should return to normal once he moves away from the heat source.

    Along with indoor heating, the cold air and winds of winter also cause a dry nose. Think of how dry and chapped your lips get when you’re outdoors in winter. That’s similar to what happens to a dog’s nose.

    Older dogs may have drier noses. If you notice this as your dog ages, a dab of nose balm will help keep his nose moist.

    Why do dogs kick up the lawn after they pee?

    Kicking the hind legs after elimination is known as ground-scratching, and it is a normal dog behavior. This behavior has been seen in dogs and wild canids, such as wolves and coyotes. Many animal scientists think it’s a form of communication among dogs.

    Ground-scratching has been referred to as a composite signal that involves chemical and visual components of communication. The kicking motion is a visual display for other dogs and may help spread the scent of urine. Since urine odors are short-lasting, the slashes on the ground serve as longer-lasting marks to indicate the dog’s presence in the area.

    Some scientists believe this behavior helps with scent dispersal—not necessarily scratching just to spread the urine around, but to also leave odors from a dog’s paws. Scents can be released from a dog’s interdigital pads, or paw pads.

    Other scientists think dogs are conveying visual messages to other dogs. As part of their ground-scratching, dogs typically score the ground with slashes. When no other dogs are present, the slashes tell their own story to any dog that sees them.

    How often should I walk my dog?

    The frequency and duration of walks depend on your dog’s breed, age, and energy level. Most dogs benefit from at least one daily walk, while high-energy breeds might require more. Aim for 30 minutes to an hour of exercise each day to keep your dog mentally and physically stimulated. Take a ball so that your dog covers more miles and change your route often to add more stimulating sights and smells for your dog.

    Why do dogs lick?

    Licking is a natural and instinctive behavior for dogs.  For them – it’s a way of grooming, bonding, and expressing themselves.  Your dog may lick you to say they love you, to get your attention to help soothe themselves if they’re stressed, to show empathy or because you taste good to them.  Excessive licking can sometimes be a sign that your dog is anxious, uncomfortable or in pain.  If you’re concerned about your dog, always speak to your vet for advice.

    When you say hello to a dog what’s the first thing you do? Chances are you stroke them. Our need to use our hands and touch their fur comes naturally to us and is a form of grooming. Dogs groom with their tongues, and so licking is their way of greeting, bonding and showing affection. We explore the world with our hands, while dogs use their mouths and tongues to help them understand their environment, and to assess the mood of others. Whether that’s licking your face to greet you and assess your mood, carrying things between their teeth, or playing with toys or balls.

    Can dogs see ghost?

    While there are people who believe in the paranormal, have you ever wondered whether your dog is able to sense the spirits? After all, canines have extraordinary senses that are much sharper than a human’s. And wouldn’t it be comforting to know that your dog is able to detect a loved one who has passed on?

    As much as we’d like to believe there is some truth to the idea that dogs can sense the paranormal, the scientific answer is that we just don’t know. Despite the fact that there is no scientific proof that dogs can see ghosts, so much of animal behavior is uncertain that the possibilities of a dog sensing something a human can’t is not out of the question. “The most interesting part of the science of dog behavior and understanding is that we simply don’t know so much,” says Russell Hartstein, a certified dog behavior consultant and trainer in Los Angeles.

    How long are dogs pregnant

    The normal gestation period in dogs is approximately 63 days from conception, although this can vary by several days. While this might seem like a straightforward answer, conception is often hard to determine. Sperm can live for several days inside the female, and eggs can remain fertile for up to 48 hours, which means the act of mating itself is not an exact measurement of gestation. This makes it hard to predict the length of pregnancy without the assistance of a veterinarian.

    Hormone measurements give a much more exact time frame for gestation. Many breeders use vaginal smears and blood tests to monitor reproductive hormones during the breeding process. This helps them determine the best time to breed their bitch, as well as the length of gestation and the potential due date.

    Gestation length according to accurate hormone measurements:

    * 56-58 days from the first day of diestrus
    * 64-66 days from the initial rise in progesterone
    * 58-72 days from the first time the bitch allowed breeding
    Pregnancy in dogs is relatively short compared to humans, about 9 weeks total, and each day matters. Knowing the length of the gestation period is important for the health of the pregnant bitch and the puppies and is used to monitor nutrition and veterinary care during pregnancy.

    Why do dogs wag their tail?

    And another fun fact about your dog, is that your dog’s tail acts like a barometer for his mood. Knowing tail positions and other canine body language cues will help you understand your dog and how to interact safely with other dogs. Although tail movement and position vary slightly between dog breeds, many general movements are the same.

    A tail lowered and between the legs could indicate fear, anxiety, or submission. A slow wag could mean that a dog is unsure and feeling insecure about a situation. A tail held up higher than normal could mean that something has piqued your dog’s interest (like a squirrel running across the yard) and he is alert, while a tail wagging energetically from side to side, especially when accompanied with a play bow or a few licks, can be a friendly greeting. However, there’s more to canine body language than just tail movements, and it’s important to pay attention to other factors.

    Is eating grass bad for dogs?

    The consumption of grass may just be a sign that your dog is attempting to relieve an upset stomach, and some pups do vomit soon after eating it. That said, a small limited study conducted at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine showed that only about 22 percent of dogs studied frequently vomited after eating grass and only 9 percent frequently show signs of illness prior to eating grass. The researchers concluded that grass and plant-eating is a normal behavior of domestic dogs.

    But sometimes even normal behaviors can be harmful. Grass may be treated with herbicides and pesticides that are toxic to dogs. Eating grass can also cause dogs to ingest intestinal parasites, for example roundworms and hookworms, that are left from animal droppings. In both cases, your veterinarian may want to perform assessments with fecal samples or blood tests to look for parasites and toxicity.

    If you notice your dog eating grass more frequently or excessively, be alert for potential underlying illnesses that may be causing the behavior. Check for vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, decrease in appetite, bloody stool, lethargy, or lip licking.

    Should I brush my dog's teeth?

    Not only can gum disease lead to pain and discomfort for dogs, but it may also be a precursor to more serious health problems such as kidney, liver or heart disease.

    The American Veterinary Dental College, says you should brush your dog’s teeth often. “As with human mouths, the number of bacteria in a dog’s mouth doubles every six to eight hours,” she says. “Therefore, it’s important to reduce their numbers by mechanically removing as many bacteria as possible.”

    While you should aim to brush your dog’s teeth at least 1–2 times per week, you can also supplement with other dental care measures. “Pets, just like people, should have some form of a daily dental routine,” says Miller. “While brushing daily is ideal, you can simplify it by giving a dental treat, water additive or using a dental wipe on days you can’t get to brushing.”

    Why does my dog stare at me?

    There may be a number of different reasons why your dog stares at you, but it’s usually because they want to know something or are trying to tell you something.  Understanding what that special “something” could be is key to knowing why your dog is staring at you, but it’s most likely for one of the following reasons:

    • They want to know what you’re doing or what you’re going to do next
    • They’re confused about what you’re up to or what you want from them
    • They want something from you, such as food, affection, to go for a walk or to go to the toilet
    • They love you!

    Why do dogs eat poop?


    A dog may eat poop because they are missing important nutrients in their own diet or they are not properly absorbing certain nutrients in their food during digestion (called malabsorption). One study found that dogs whose diets were deficient in thiamine (vitamin B1) developed coprophagia. If your veterinarian suspects deficiencies, they will run specific tests not included in a usual wellness blood panel. Nutritional deficiencies are not common for dogs fed commercial diets, and are instead more common in dogs fed raw or homemade diets.


    If a dog suddenly begins to eat feces, it may be a sign of health conditions that cause increased appetite, such as diabetes, Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, or any gastrointestinal disease that causes malabsorption. Diseases that can lead to pica (eating inappropriate things), such as liver disease and anemia, can result in coprophagia. Canine cognitive dysfunction (“doggie dementia”) can also contribute to this behavior.

    Intestinal parasites like roundworms, hookworms, or whipworms, “steal” nutrients from your dog’s diet, which can cause inflammation and malabsorption. That can then can lead to coprophagia.

    Stool eating may be a symptom of underlying anxiety or stress in a dog. This may be separation anxiety or isolation distress, or a dog who is seeking to avoid punishment during potty training (hiding the evidence!). 

    Why do dogs howl?

    Like many canine behaviors, howling has ancestral roots. In the wild, safety-conscious wolves in the woods bellowed to announce their location to other members of their pack family. Brave wolves howled to warn other wild animals to stay away from their territory. Your dog may not howl to pinpoint their whereabouts or keep intruders at bay, but now, as in generations past, dogs howl as a form of communication. Since dogs are part of their human families, it is important to understand what dogs are trying to communicate when they howl, so you can respond appropriately.