Dog Behavior Based on Wild Instincts

For the most part, dogs have become forever domesticated. They reside in our homes, sleep in our beds, and even eat our food. At first glance, it may seem that their wild instincts have been laid to rest. Anyone who has lived with a domesticated dog, however, may tell you otherwise. Dogs still exhibit behavior that has no place in modern living. These instinctual behaviors often leave owners confused and entertained.


Domestication of dogs from the wild is estimated to be as long as 32,000 years ago. The relation to wolves is not clear, as they are so far removed at this point. The domestication process is theorized to have begun as a simple interest in food by the animals. Humans often have food available and the smells may have lured the animals to living areas. Possible times that may have assisted in the transition are the agricultural revolution and hunter-gatherer era. Humans, most likely, had food stored during these times. A constant supply of food during harsh winter months may have looked appetizing to a hungry animal.

Licking People 

Owners often assume that their dog is giving them kisses when they begin to lick. This is thought to be somewhat accurate, actually. Dogs use this in some cases to show affection. The release of endorphins causes them to feel content. Mother dogs lick their young constantly as a way to clean them. Mother dogs have to stimulate puppies to use the bathroom, as well. It is safe to say your dog is showing some sort of affection when they lick you. They may also be trying to clean you up a bit.

Spinning Around Before Laying Down 

Dogs often seem to spin in circles for a ridiculous amount of time before settling in for a nap. This is interesting to watch, especially when they manage to manipulate a bunch of blankets in the process. This, however, is exactly what they are trying to accomplish. In the wild, dogs had to sleep on the ground. Many things on the ground can cause a resting spot to be uncomfortable. Dogs used the spinning method to make a cozy bed. They pressed down items, like tall grass, to make them flat. The time spent spinning around also gives bugs and other critters a chance to move out of the area. You may notice that your dog spins around until the blankets are just right.

Sniffing Other Dogs

Dogs start their introductions on the back end. They prefer to take a good sniff of a new dog prior to interacting in other ways. This action has a lot to do with their strong sense of smell. Dogs are able to determine many details about other dogs by completing this ritual. The amount of information available form this simple task involves things like mood, gender, and food intake. This is the equivalent of humans asking a bunch of questions to other people when we meet them.

Rolling in Smelly Things 

It often seems like dogs need a bath every time they are allowed outdoors. Rarely does a dog go for a walk without encountering something fun to get into. One thing that drives owners crazy, is the inclination to roll smelly things. Feces of other animals, unfortunately, are included in this desire. Scientists have decided that this has a lot to do with protecting themselves from predators. Dogs are not the only animals with an excellent sense of smell. Predators may be able to sniff out a pack of dogs.  In order to hide, dogs roll in strong smelling things. This disguises their own scent, allowing them to remain safe.

Dogs are a welcome addition to human homes. They make life more fun and offer loyal companionship. There are times, however, when you just cannot take the past out of your dog. Those instincts are there for survival purposes in a different environment. They are going to lick, spin, and sniff on a daily basis. The more you learn about your pet, the easier it is to be understanding when the instincts kick in.

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