When we’re born, we inherit many characteristics and traits from our ancestors. If you have children you may see in them a mannerism that reminds you of your parents or siblings. As humans, we don’t always choose our habits; we’re born with some of this rooted in our DNA.
We see DNA evidence in our dogs based on their actions. Does your dog do any of the following? If so, here’s why:
Circle around before peeing – In order for our dog’s ancestors to eliminate in the wild, they would circle around in place to pack down any vegetation and make a neat and tidy elimination spot. They did this so they wouldn’t get any of their own elimination on themselves. This is a DNA trait carried forward to dogs’ behavior today.
Kick up grass after eliminating – Dogs have scent glands in their paws. Kicking up grass or dirt after elimination spreads that scent far and wide. It’s a way for our dogs to say, “I own this area right here.” As we know, part of being a responsible pet owner is picking up after your dog once it eliminates. However, maybe wait a second before doing this so that you don’t get hit by any flying dirt or grass.
Curl up to sleep in a ball position instead of sprawled out – Sleeping in a ball position protected the internal organs of dogs’ ancestors in the wild from predators’ attacks and also kept them warm. You may notice that your dog circles around before lying down for good. This again reflects their instinct to pack down any vegetation and make a comfy spot to sleep in. If your dog stretches out when they sleep, it’s a sign of their feelings of comfort and safety/security.
Dig holes and bury things – In the wild, leaving food out in the open was a way to attract a predator through scent, so food was buried to protect it and the rest of the pack from attack. Today, our dogs bury prized items for later so they can enjoy their treasure in peace. Helpful hint for gardeners: If your dog is tearing up your lawn or garden, create an area that is designed simply for their burying pleasure. Bury a bone or treat in that area for your dog to get them started. When they go to that specific area to get that prize, reward them with a treat. This will signal to them that it’s OK to do this in this specific spot. They’ll be delighted to have a specific area, and you’ll be grateful that your lawn and garden are intact.
So, the next time you see your dog do any of these actions, you’ll know it’s not anything new. It’s been ingrained in their DNA.
We’re looking back in time at characteristics that have been in existence since wolves first roamed the Earth – kind of fascinating if you think about it.
Hull resident Jill Page is the owner of Tiny-Paws Dog Walking and Pet Sitting, also located in Hull. You can visit her at www.tiny-paws.com for more information.