Man’s best friend is an incredible animal, one that has become a loving part of millions of families around the world.
Whether you have a German Shepherd or a Desi Dog, you know just how fantastic a dog can be. If you needed any more proof, check out these 10 facts about dogs that all pet owners should find fascinating.
1. Human Yawns Are Contagious To Dogs
Like humans, dogs yawn. You already know that yawns are contagious between humans. But it appears they’re contagious between humans and their dogs as well. Research shows that when you yawn, there’s a pretty good chance your dog will soon follow suit. It’s not clear why they do this. They may be empathetic toward their dog parents, or they may just be mimicking what they see from their humans.1
2. There Are Reasons Why Dogs Often Curl Up Into A Ball When They Sleep
You might not have given it a second thought, but your dog doesn’t curl up into a ball when sleeping just because it feels good. The reasons for this have a lot to do with the evolution of the domesticated dog.
When a dog in the wild wants to sleep on a cold night, they will dig a hole in the ground and curl up inside. It not only helps them retain their body heat, it also helps to protect their vital organs from attack. Dogs who like to stretch out when sleeping are either hot or they feel comfortable and secure.2
If dogs feel uneasy with their surroundings, they will typically go back to their instinctual behavior of sleeping curled up.3
3. Dogs Have A Sense Of Time
How often does your dog get excited during a certain portion of the day? It might be feeding time, snack time, or when it’s time to go out for a walk. If you think your dog has a sort of internal clock, that’s somewhat true.
It appears that dogs have the ability to look forward to things in the future based on things that happened in the past. They don’t conceive slices of time, such as minutes or hours. But they do have a sense of how much time has gone by since the last time they had a meal or a snack.4
There is also evidence that dogs do have an idea of how long their pet parents have been gone. If you leave your home for a couple of hours, your dog will be happy to see you when you return. But that sense of happiness and excitement gets stronger when you’re gone for a longer period of time, such as when you leave for a few days on vacation.5
4. A Dog’s Sense Of Smell Is Incredible
You already know a dog’s nose is amazing – but you might not realize just how amazing it is.
One of the more interesting fun facts about dogs is they have a sense of smell that is one million times more sensitive than that of humans. They are particularly sensitive to changes in smell, especially when it comes to their parents. They might be able to tell, for instance, if you’re not feeling well. The reason is that many people who are sick have chemical changes in their mouth that can make their breath smell different.6
Dogs can also use smell to pick up on your emotions. If you’re scared or anxious, you may start to sweat a bit. A dog can smell that perspiration, even if you can’t.7
5. A Dog’s Wet Nose Serves A Purpose
You’ve no doubt had some sort of encounter with your dog’s nose. Most likely, it was a wet one. Your pooch may have jumped up on your bed and nudged your cheek, telling you it was time to get up. Have you ever wondered why a dog’s nose is so wet?
One of the reasons is that it helps keep the body cool. A dog’s sweat glands don’t work the same way as a human’s. Dogs perspire from the nose and the paw pads (more on this in a bit). That said, if you notice more mucus coming from your dog’s nose than normal, see your vet. That could be a sign of an infection affecting the respiratory system.8
6. Dogs Sweat Through Their Paw Pads
Dogs have sweat glands in their paws. When your pet gets hot, these glands (known as exocrine sweat glands) help cool them down. If you’re outside on a hot day with your dog, and you see wet paw prints on the on the ground, that’s sweat evaporating from the paws.9
There are other glands, known as apocrine sweat glands, that actually don’t help keep your dog cool. They’re called sweat glands, but they actually release pheromones that help other animals identify them.10
7. Dogs Lick For A Lot Of Reasons
A dog may lick as an affectionate gesture, but they may also do it because it’s pleasing to their taste buds. Licking is a natural canine behavior. As soon as a dog is born, the mother licks them. This is not only done in order to get a puppy to breathe, but also to clean the newborn. Licking is also an important part of pack behavior. Subordinate members will lick dominant dogs in order to promote harmony within the pack.11
Dogs also lick because it makes them feel good, and makes them feel comfortable. It may also help relieve stress.12
8. There Is Such A Thing As A Barkless Dog
One of the more interesting fun facts about dogs is that not all dog breeds bark. One example is a breed known as the Basenji. This breed makes a sort of yodeling sound instead. The Basenji, with its expressive eyes, is a small hound that stands a little less than 18 inches. In addition, this breed is very picky about cleanliness. Much like cats, they groom themselves many times a day.13
9. Dogs Kick After They Poop – But Not For The Reason You Might Think
More than likely, you’ve seen your dog kick with their back legs after pooping in the backyard. A lot of pet owners think they’re trying to cover up the poop, kind of like a cat in a litter box. But that’s not the reason at all. Dogs do this because they’re marking their territory. When they kick they release pheromones onto the ground. It’s kind of their way of telling anyone who’s around that they were there.14
10. A Dog’s Tail Wagging Can Mean Different Things
As a pet parent, when you talk to your dog, it may be music to your pup’s ears. You can bet that some tail wagging will soon follow. But dogs don’t wag their tails just out of happiness. The reason a dog does this sometimes depends on the situation.
Tail wagging is sometimes like when you see an acquaintance and give a polite smile and say, “Hi.” It can also be a sign of being relaxed. Conversely, the higher up the tail goes, the more threatened the dog may feel.15
If the tail is pointing straight up, that’s often a warning that the dog might attack. The lower the tail, the more submissive the dog may be feeling. It could also be a sign they’re not feeling well.16
Dogs Are Fascinating In So Many Ways
Again, these just scratch the surface of the many interesting fun facts that pertain to your beloved companion. Dogs are some of the most fascinating creatures on our planet, and we’ll always be lucky to have them by our side.
Learn More at Ultimate Pet Nutrition:
Can Dogs See Any Colors or Are They Totally Color Blind?
Strange Dog Behavior: Weird Pup Habits And What They Mean
Paw Chewing: What Does This Strange Dog Behavior Mean?
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About the author
Dr. Gary Richter, MS, DVM loves animals, and is passionate about keeping them healthy and happy as long as possible. He has received more than 30 awards due to his expertise in the field, and The American Veterinary Medical Foundation recently named Dr. Richter “America’s Favorite Veterinarian.” Dr. Richter has been at the forefront of pet nutrition for two decades, and he is also the author of the bestselling “The Ultimate Pet Health Guide.”