Common Questions about Dogs and What I Found Out About It.
Part of my wiki-walking also covered some common questions about dogs you don't really need to know on a normal basis, but I'm the type that just gathers all these random trivia, and one way or another, I always end up remembering them when they are useful, so when I lose myself in this information rabbit-hole, I try to learn as much as I can from it, and I'm sharing my meanderings in hope that somewhere, somehow, it becomes useful to others.
1. Why does my dog lick me?
Licking is essential for cats and dogs. Puppies lick their mom's face to tell her that they are hungry, and mommy dogs lick their puppies to soothe and clean them. In a way, your dog does that to you more symbolically, but they still get a few feel-good chemicals out of it, plus, some of them like the taste of your skin. In a "salt lick" way, not in an "I want to eat you," way.
I'd like to point out that dog saliva is not as sterile as many assume. It's nearly the same as ours, just with different bacteria in it.
2. How much chocolate is bad for my dog?
Yes. Jokes aside, it's bad no matter the amount. Chocolate contains Theobromine, a chemical that stimulates the heart and blood vessels. We, humans, love chocolate because it causes our brains to deliver feel-good chemicals, and Theobromine stimulates blood flow, which can alleviate the physical effects of mild depression. The chemical also affects dogs, but the difference is that they can't process and get rid of the chemical as easily as we can, leading to it piling in their blood and causing all kinds of havoc, like heart attack, and extreme thirst, and vomiting blood.
There's no safe amount either, rather, it's best to avoid it entirely. If you remember your dog eating a bit of chocolate and being fine afterward, consider two things: One is that it was luckily below the threshold where symptoms occur and that not all chocolate candy bars actually contain chocolate, which is another rabbit hole I'm not willing to dive into right now.
3. Why do dogs bury their bones, food, or other stuff they own.
I've only witnessed it once, and that was when I gave Maui a big raw bone, and the cats keep approaching him to have a go at the small meaty parts left. He probably got tired of the cats trying to grab it and decided to bury the bone. This is perhaps a great example of why they do it, to hide their belongings or food from other animals. They don't need to do it anymore though, as food is plenty, but I guess instinct kicks in now and then, especially when they are pushed into finding a solution.
4. Are dogs carnivorous?
This is interesting because I know my neighbor's dog, Jojo often has a go at the leftovers, some of them being pure cooked vegetables, but he still eats them and isn't less healthy about it. Early humans had grains as part of their leftovers too, and the wolves that could digest and extract nutrients from grains survived better than their purely carnivorous kin. This means dogs are technically omnivores. They can stay well enough on a pure meat diet, and some are adapted to a mostly vegetable diet, but they are at their best when they are eating a balance of them. Another big change is that domesticated dogs adapted to a scavenger lifestyle instead of hunting and scavengers are almost always omnivorous.
5. Why is my dog staring at me?
In my training, I make it so that making eye contact when called is the first thing a new dog should learn. Sometimes though, I find Maui just staring at me, even when I make eye contact with him. I'm not used to it because when it comes to cats, eye contact is often quickly broken either with them looking away, or doing that slow blink. As for dogs, the reason is surprisingly simple. They want something out of you, either pet food, water, or playtime. Sometimes, dogs do this to study you, not in a deep way, just checking out your expressions and how you behave, so they can socialize with you better.
6. Why do dogs walk in circles before laying down?
It's adorable to watch Maui stomp around before laying down and I saw Clara and even Mara do this. This came from their early times in the wild where they have to make their beds by stomping grass and soil to both make their sleeping area more comfortable, and drive out potential nuisances like snakes and critters. Their paws also have scent glands that place a little bit of their unique scent on the area they pat, slightly marking their sleeping spot so other dogs know.
7. Why are dogs' noses wet?
I already talked about how having a dry nose does not mean they are sick, but why it's even dry or wet, to begin with? Like us, they have sweat glands on their nose, just betters ones, and they have a habit of licking up their nose. A wet nose is better at absorbing scents and improving their sense of smell. It also helps them keep cool because air will cool down once it passes through the wet nose and that tiny bit of cooler air helps a lot when they start panting.
8. Why do some dogs have black tongue spots?
The tip of Maui's tongue is dark and Mara has some spots. It's nothing more than pigments though, like birthmarks, freckles, or even beauty marks. It has no bearing on a dog's health whatsoever. It may have come from their ancestors like the original Chow-Chow breed that gave them their unique blue tongue. There are 38 breeds of dogs that have spotted tongues and among them is Maui's half-breed, the Australian Shepherd.
I could go on about all my curiosities as I am a bit of a trivia lover. However, Mara's training has to be done soon, and I hope it goes well. She and Maui are getting along so well now, with a few play fights between them. Sometimes, Mara gets upset about Maui's energy, but they get along in the end.