Understanding Why Dogs Behave A Certain Way

By: Lisa Lee | Last updated: Sep 20, 2023

All of us know for a fact that dogs are man’s best friend! With their finely-tuned instincts, they seem to know their owner’s mood and feelings immediately. They know when to comfort us when we’re sad, and they know when’s the right time to have fun. However, do we know and completely understand our dogs the same way they do us? Are we even aware of the meaning behind their strange behaviors?

Of course, we know that they’re happy when they wag their tails, but we don’t really understand why they do it, right? Like humans, some dogs are easy to read, while others display strange behaviors. If you’ve been wondering the reason behind your dog’s unusual actions, then worry no more! Get ready to learn and understand more about your dog’s behavior as we explain each unique action. 

Their Love for Car Windows

Whenever we take our dogs on a ride, they love sticking their heads out the car window. It seems that they’re very curious to see the surroundings and want to feel the wind on their faces. However, this behavior is still quite a mystery to researchers. 


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Unlike humans, dogs’ primary sense is through smell. As a matter of fact, dogs have almost 300 million olfactory receptors throughout their noses. They like to look outside and feel the wind since it is their primary way of perceiving the world.


Do Dogs Dream?

Dogs, especially puppies, spend much of their time sleeping. Having to be a cute bundle of joy and play all day can be tiring, right? For them to restore their energy for the next day of fun, sleeping is definitely a must. But have you ever wondered if dogs have dreams? 



Honestly, we’re not entirely sure since we can’t exactly ask them. However, according to researchers, dogs’ sleep cycles and brain activity while they sleep are very much like what we see in humans. So, if you’ve noticed that your dog whines, barks, or twitches its legs while asleep, then you can assume it is having a puppy dream.

Why Do Dogs Tilt Their Heads?

Aside from their sense of smell, it is common knowledge that dogs also have a keen sense of hearing. With around 16 muscles in their ears, dogs can hear sounds even from miles away. That’s why whenever they hear something strange and new, they tend to tilt their heads.


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The reason behind this behavior is straightforward. Dogs tend to move their heads from side to side, hoping to hear the sound better. They are most likely to do this when they hear something unfamiliar to them because moving their ears can help them hear it more precisely.

Dogs Who Chase Their Tails

Have you ever seen your dog spinning around to catch its own tail? We sometimes find it funny and silly, but what could be the reason behind it? In fact, puppies don’t realize that tails are a part of their bodies until they grow up. 


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While dogs seem to continue doing it because of the positive reactions, too much can be harmful. In fact, frequent tail chasing and chewing are sometimes linked to signs of bad health. You might want to drive over to the vet for a quick check-up to be sure. However, in most cases, dogs chase their tails just to make their owners happy.

Why Dogs Lean on Your Toes

While most dog owners find this habit endearing, it can get a little annoying when you’re about to stand up. When they plop themselves down on your toes, they often also get their fur all over your shoes. It’s a little annoying, but who could stay mad at an adorable pup? 

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Why do they do this? Dogs sometimes get clingy and want to get close to their owners. Since dogs are also protective in nature, they wanted to keep track of their owner’s mood by staying beside them. Basically, your dog does this to stay alert in case something happens to you. How sweet.


Why Is Chocolate Bad For Dogs?

For us, one way of showing our love and care for each other is by giving sweets or chocolates. As much as we want to express our love for our furry friends, chocolate is not a great idea to provide them with, even if they show you how badly they want it.


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Chocolates contain a chemical compound called theobromine. Humans don’t have any problem digesting theobromine, but it is the complete opposite for dogs. Even in small amounts, although not fatal, chocolate can still cause stomach problems.


The Reason Behind a Dog's Yawn

Dogs are so adorable when they yawn. For us, yawning would mean that we’re tired or sleepy. But did you know that yawning can mean different things for dogs? There are times when it’s just an inevitable habit that they do, while sometimes it can also mean that they’re trying to tell you something. 

Goran H/ Pixabay

In some situations, when they feel exhausted, dogs yawn to imply that they’ve had enough or want to take a break. However, there are also times when they yawn to show their excitement. This is why you may see this behavior when you signal that it’s time for a walk.


Why Do Dogs Wag Their Tails?

We often assume that dogs wag their tails because they are happy and excited. However, that isn’t always the case. The primary purpose of their tails is to help them balance as they run around. However, tail wagging among dogs is often associated with happiness. 


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While it is true that seeing a dog wag its tail back and worth is a sign that it is happy or in a good mood, it can also mean other things, depending on the direction. When a dog wags its tail horizontal to the ground, it means it is curious about someone or something.


Are Dogs Hunting for Treasure? 

This habit of digging is common among all dogs. We sometimes tend to feel confused as to why they do this. Do they smell a treasure under the earth, or are they trying to hide something? Actually, your pet’s digging habits could mean two things. 

Weyland Bettina/ Pixabay

The first is probably because your dog’s previous generations were trained to hunt and dig around strategic locations. And the second reason is that dogs have a natural nesting or denning tendency. When they dig in the ground, it means that they are trying to make themselves a place where they can cool off or stay warm.


Do Dogs Have a Sixth Sense? 

Most dog owners have probably noticed this behavior – the dog starts acting up by either barking out of the blue or finding a place to hide. This usually means that a storm is coming. But how do they know this? Do they have a sensor that allows them to predict the weather?


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While scientists are still unaware of the mechanism, many dog owners are convinced that their pups have a magical sixth sense. Realistically speaking, it is more likely because of their sharp sense of hearing, making it possible for them to hear the storm before we do.


Sleeping Beside Their Owners

Another adorable thing that our furry friends do is to lay down next to us. Especially after they eat, they love to get closer to you in an attempt to get cuddles and comfort. While some may see it as seeking attention, this behavior is about more than that.

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As dogs evolved from wolves, their way of showing affection and intimacy with their fellow pack members was to always do things together. So, if your dogs love to eat and sleep next to you, it means that they see you as family.


Always Sticking Their Tongues Out

Whenever it gets hot in the summer, our body tends to sweat. But for dogs, the only way to relieve the heat and cool off is through panting. Dogs do sweat through their paws, but that type of swear won’t cool them down.


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When a dog pants, the hot air is replaced by cool air as it breathes. This, in turn, helps regulate their temperature back to normal. Furthermore, as they pant, you might also notice that they tend to roll their tongues to one side since this helps cool them down further.


Are Dogs Colorblind?

Most of us assume that dogs’ sense of sight is excellent. However, we’ve also all heard that dogs only see in black and white. While it’s true that dogs can’t see all the colors that we do, it turns out that their world isn’t entirely monochrome. 

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Based on recent studies, dogs can actually see some colors other than black and white. It’s just that they can’t distinguish the difference between red and green. They can, on the other hand, tell the difference between blue and yellow.


Why Do Dogs Copy Their Owners?

As we all know, dogs want to be as close with their owners as possible, no matter what. They even go as far as following their owners everywhere and copying whatever they do. When their owners sleep, they will snuggle up beside them and sleep as well. 


Renato Laky/ Pixabay

More often than not, dogs are not actually trying to copy their humans. They like to sleep next to you because they see you as a special part of their pack. They value you as their companion, so being as close to you as possible is their unique way of showing their love.


Why Do Dogs Howl?

When a dog howls, it can actually be for several reasons. In some cases, dogs howl to make others aware of their presence. Dogs also sometimes howl when they hear high-pitched noises such as from vehicle sirens and even musical instruments.

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Dog breeds such as Alaskan Malamutes, Beagles, Coonhounds, Dachshunds, and American Eskimo Dogs are just some that are known to howl and wail more than others. If you want to own a dog but would like it to be relatively quiet, these breeds might not be for you.


Dogs Just Love Chewing

Chewing for dogs is something that they just can’t help but do. Dogs, even puppies, love to just bite and chew everything they see, as this is their way of exploring their surroundings. While some dogs are troublemakers that love to chew on their owner’s shoes, it is generally just a dog’s way of relieving boredom.


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For puppies, chewing helps in relieving teething pain as they grow their teeth. As for older dogs, chewing is their way of taking care of their oral health. Chewing is said to help not only clean their teeth but also to make their jaws stronger.


Can Dogs See Better at Night?

Dogs might not have the capacity to see all the colors of the rainbow. However, their eyesight as compared to humans is definitely better at night. How? This is because their eyes have a special membrane that predatory animals usually have. 

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That membrane is called tapetum lucidum. It acts like night vision goggles that help dogs see better in the dark. This is because of the reflective surface that it creates, which increases the light that hits the eye receptors of dogs. In this way, dogs can see things from a distance, even at night.


Should You Dress Dogs in Clothes?

Dressing your dog in adorable outfits can really be enjoyable. As much as we can’t resist their cuteness, dogs actually don’t need clothing. Most dog breeds can adapt easily to cold weather conditions and even sub-zero temperatures without anything to cover them up. 


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How is that possible? Dog breeds such as Huskies have their bodies covered with two layers of fur. The first layer is the long and silky coat we see, and the second is the thick layer of short hair covering their body. That second layer of fur acts as a coat to keep them warm.


Going on Walks Is a Must!

Most dog owners are aware that dogs are very intelligent and can understand a few words. Because of that, some particular actions and words must be avoided to prevent confusion, upset, or excessive excitement. Common words dog owners have to be careful with are “walk” and “vet.”  

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Why do dogs love going on walks? No matter how often they go, you’ll always see the same excitement as if it’s always their first time. This is because going outside allows dogs to explore the environment and relieve stress through sniffing various smells. It can also be a great way for you and your dog to bond.


The Puppy Eye Trick

Who can say “no” when a dog stares at you with those puppy eyes? Dogs certainly know what to do when they’ve done something wrong. Some dogs may play innocent when they get caught, while others run and hide to avoid being scolded.


JacLou DL/ Pixabay

The puppy dog eye trick is every dog’s way of apologizing when they know they’ve done something wrong. Who are we to not forgive them, right? How can we even resist such cuteness? At the end of the day, what matters is that they apologized, right?


Their Favorite Game of Fetch

Apart from going on walks in the park, dogs also love playing fetch. Indeed, they adore the game so much that they can play it forever without even wanting to quit. Why does having to chase something and bring it back over and over again make them happy?

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Given that dogs were originally trained to hunt and guard humans, they instinctively have a knack for chasing and fetching because of their genetic makeup. It is believed that dogs who enjoyed retrieving objects were the ones who were selected for breeding. Labradors and golden retrievers are just some of the breeds that specialize in the game of fetch.


Can Dogs Read Our Emotions?

With their ability to sense human emotions, some may think that dogs have telepathy. In reality, research shows that dogs can read our expressions to find out how we feel. This allows them to react based on their understanding of emotions. 


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Biology Letters published a study wherein they showed pictures to dogs of people displaying different emotions. They then played the dogs audio recordings of various people talking. The researchers found that dogs react immediately to angry audio and match their gaze to the photo of an angry person. 


Can Dogs Always Find Their Way Home?

We’ve all probably heard our fair share of stories about how dogs were able to find their way back home, regardless of being far away. It seems that dogs, just like humans, tend to recognize and remember directions. But how exactly is that possible? 

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Again, it’s because of their sharp sense of smell. They use their noses to keep track of their surroundings and even their own scent. That’s why in times when they get lost, they’ll just use their noses to find the smells that will guide them in the right direction. Perhaps this is another reason why they love hanging their heads out the windows of cars! 


Should You Send Your Dogs to School?

Some say that putting dogs through training might cause unnecessary stress and trauma for our furry friends. That’s why most dog owners prefer to just let their dogs stay at home where they can train them with basic tricks. However, when done right, training can actually be beneficial, not just for dogs but also for their owners. 


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Dog training can make dogs happier. When they are trained correctly, it allows them to make better sense of their surroundings and be aware of what’s okay to do and what’s not okay. Plus, if your dogs are properly trained, you can easily communicate with them in a way they understand. 


Doggie Language

Although dogs can’t speak, they can understand some of what you say. In 2009, Dr. Stanley Coren presented a study at the American Psychological Association’s 117th Annual Convention, showing a dog’s intelligence. He found that the average dog’s intellectual capacity is the same as a two-year-old child.

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Of course, they can’t solve math problems, recite the alphabet, and such. However, what they can do is pick up about 160 words. Indeed, some dogs can even understand up to 250 words. Wow! This is something that was believed to only be possible for humans and apes.


Are Dogs Trouble Makers?

Being a pet owner sure requires a lot of patience. Imagine going home tired after work only to be welcomed by a huge mess made by your dog? We know that it can immediately put you in a bad mood, but unfortunately, you don’t have any choice but to clean it up yourself. 


Miss.nala.fox.red.lab/ Instagram

Why do they do this? Self-proclaimed dog experts say that dogs make a mess to release anger either because they haven’t gone out for walks or they’re just bored for no apparent reason. What do you think?


How Many Teeth Do Dogs Have?

Before our permanent teeth start to show up, we only have about 20 milk teeth that fall out as we grow. As a sign of a healthy mouth, adults usually have 32 teeth. But did you know that dogs also undergo the same changes?

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Adult dogs usually have 20 teeth on their top jaw and 22 on the bottom, which makes it 42 in total. However, just like children, puppies only have 28 milk teeth in total. These milk teeth will eventually fall out. So, if you see some loose teeth in your puppy’s chew toy, don’t fret because it’s normal.


Do Dogs Really Not Like Cats?

We’ve all probably heard the phrase “fighting like cats and dogs” as a way to describe two people who argue like mortal enemies. But do dogs really hate cats? What could be the reason behind their desire to chase cats?


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In fact, dogs actually don’t hate cats. However, some dog breeds have strong hunting instincts. Such dogs may confuse cats for prey animals like rabbits and foxes. For other dogs, chasing cats is just their playful attempt to befriend them. 


Going Around in Circles

When we go around in circles, it usually means that we are stressed because we’re not achieving anything that we want to do. For dogs, this behavior is totally normal. They usually go around once or twice before flopping down on their beds or the floor. 

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Again, the reason behind this behavior is instinct. Their past generations lived in the forest with tall grass, bristles, and thorny plants. They found that when they went around the area repeatedly, it allowed the plants to flatten and thus make the space a little more comfortable.


Loving Gaze

Aside from dogs being able to sense our moods and feelings, we can also quickly tell how they feel for us based on how they look at us. When dogs hold their gaze intently, some people find it creepy. However, it is actually a sign that they love and appreciate us.


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So, the next time you see your dog staring at you without blinking, don’t be freaked out. Although it’s a little creepy, that’s just their own little way of showing their affection and genuine appreciation for their owners.


How Do Dogs Relax?

Just like us, dogs also undergo sudden mood changes. There might be instances when they just want to chill and don’t want to be bothered at all, and there are also times when they are playful and energetic.

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One way of knowing their moods is by studying their body language. When a dog is casually sitting with its tail relaxed and ears popping up high, it usually means that it’s just sitting and feeling comfortable in its environment. When you see your dogs like this, it is the perfect moment to pet and snuggle with them. 


Why Are Dogs So Curious?

Just like toddlers, dogs are very curious about their environment. They just want to go out, explore, and see new things, which makes them adventurous and excited all the time. If only they could talk, they would probably have endless questions about everything they find amusing. 


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The next time you see your dog standing outside, ears pointing forward and tails sticking straight out, get ready because it’s probably up for a new adventure. These signals mean that its curiosity and investigative modes are on and ready.


Ears Can Tell

You can actually tell a dog’s personality just through the shape of its ears. Familiarizing yourself with the different meanings behind their ears can help you further understand their moods and emotions. 

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In some instances, you may find it strange that a dog’s ear is facing forward. However, this only means that their eyes and their ears are looking at what’s in front of them. It can be a sign that they’re very much interested in what they are seeing. 


Why Do Dogs Like to Get Dirty After a Bath?

It can be a lot of work to get your dogs to take a bath. Lucky are those dog owners who have furry friends that are fond of taking baths. Though it can be tough getting them in the bath, the real struggle is what comes after. 


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Why do dogs get such weird post-bathtime energy? While it is funny to see them running around like a headless chicken, it’s not because they’re having the time of their lives. It is more about how they release the stress and feel relieved that bathtime is finally done. 


Why Do They Smell Each Other's Butts?

The good old butt sniff. We’ve all seen dogs do this to each other, especially when they’ve just met. Most of us find it weird and a little funny. Why do you just have to smell the butt, doggo? Funnily enough, the reason behind it is something you’ll never expect.

Public Domain/ Imgur

Dogs actually sniff each other’s butts as a way of saying that they’re glad to meet them. Moreover, when a dog butt-sniffs, it learns a lot about the other dog’s identity, gender, and even mood. Isn’t that amazing?


Bed Sharing

Most dog owners can probably relate to this one. After a long, tiring day, all we want to do is lay down on our beds and take a good night’s rest, right? But then you notice your dog sleeping peacefully on the best side of the bed. So, who’s the boss now?


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While it can actually look as if they’re trying to assert dominance, it only means that they want to sleep next to you. They were able to smell your scent on the bed. That’s probably why they chose to snuggle up in your favorite spot.


Home Sweet Home!

It can be challenging for us to leave our dogs while we go out for work, but the way they welcome us home totally makes up for it. Dogs have the habit of going crazy once they hear our footsteps outside the house, and who are we to complain, right?

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Seeing their uncontrollable excitement instantly eases our exhaustion and brings a smile to our face. This is one of the many ways dogs show their love and adoration for their owners. How sweet!


It's the Thought That Counts

Just because dogs can’t buy a gift doesn’t mean that they won’t try. Known for being very loving and loyal, dogs want to repay their owners for taking care of them. One way of showing appreciation that they can think of is through giving presents. 


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While, of course, dogs are enthusiastic about their gifts, you may or may not like them. It can be super random, like a dead animal or even a chewed slipper. You might find some of their gifts a bit gross, but we guess it’s the thought that counts, right?


Always Got Your Back

We can’t help but find these dogs super adorable. It’s like they are peacefully sleeping without a care in the world while also being on guard to protect each other at the same time. This photo shows how great the bond between these two giant babies is. 

Public Domain Imgur

Do you know the reason why dogs like sleeping back to back? When dogs sleep beside each other or even with their owners, this move means that they completely trust you. They’re confident that you’ll never harm them and that you’ve always got their back. 


Sleeping Ball of Cuteness

Whenever our dogs do something, no matter what it is, all we can think about is how cute they are. This is amplified when we see them all curled up like tiny fluffy shrimp. While we may find it endearing, this move is often done because they are uncomfortable. 


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Although some dog breeds are bred for cold weather, many are not. These breeds tend to get cold quickly. To keep themselves warm, they usually sleep all curled up like a ball. So, instead of squealing because of cuteness, it’s better to wrap a blanket around them.


Look, Mom, I'm a Rug!

After all the playing, chasing, and running around, dogs also get tired. But did you know that another key to understanding them is to look at how they sleep? Apart from their ears, you can also tell a dog’s mood through its sleeping position.

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When you look up the different sleeping positions of dogs, you’ll be amazed that they actually all have meanings. It also tells a lot about their personality and feelings. If you see your dog laying down like a rug, it means that they’re exhausted from being playful and energetic all day. 


The Side Sleeper

Another common sleeping position dogs take is on their side. If ever you see your dog sleeping like that, you probably assume that they’re just taking a nap. However, that isn’t the case for this one. 


Image by Manthan Gajjar/Unsplash

According to some studies, side sleepers also tend to be trusting and loyal. A dog sleeping on its side means that it is feeling comfortable, relaxed, and safe. They are happy with both the sleeping position and the environment around them. 


Dogs Can Be Protective

These fluffy balls of sunshine can sometimes turn pretty aggressive, especially when they feel a sense of danger. Although they are very lovable and affectionate, that isn’t always the case if their owner is in danger or if there’s something that they don’t like.

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If you see your dog with bared teeth and ears pointed back, it is most likely that your furry friend is on the attack. This is something dog owners should always notice to ensure their dogs do not cause harm to others.


Happy and Playful

We all love it when a dog’s mood is playful and energetic. Their happiness automatically radiates within us, causing us to also feel happier and more playful (unless it’s early in the morning and all we want to do is get more sleep). For some reason, these fluffy bundles of joy just can’t stop nibbling our ears to wake us up in the morning.


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We have to get up and get ready since they don’t show any signs of stopping. This is especially true if their barks start to get louder. At that point, you’d better prepare yourself for another tiring yet enjoyable day with your furry friends.


Tucking Their Tail Between Their Legs

We usually assume that when a dog’s tail is high up, it means that it’s happy – all the more if they are wagging their tails. But what does it mean when their tail is tucked between their legs? This behavior is actually the opposite. 

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Dogs place their tail between their legs to block their scent. It was mentioned earlier how dogs greet each other through butt-sniffing. So, why do some dogs do this? It means that your dog probably wants to be left alone, so it’s trying to prevent other dogs from sensing its presence.


Do Dogs Hide Their Poop?

Some dog owners have probably noticed how after a dog goes to relieve itself, they kick dirt over it. What could be the reason behind that odd behavior? Some may assume that since they can’t clean up after themselves, they just try to cover it all up. 


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As a matter of fact, covering it with dirt is their way of marking their territory. They use the scent that comes from their paws to leave a signature on their poop. Like an artist signing their work, this ensures other dogs know exactly who was responsible for this creation.


Which Are the Best Looking Dogs?

For us, our dogs are, of course, the cutest of them all. But have you ever wondered how dog show judges decide on the winners? What are the criteria that they look at to know who the most beautiful doggo is? While we don’t really care much about the finer details of their features, some dog breeders really take it seriously. 

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In dog shows, each dog contestant has to have the specific proportions set by the professionals based on their breed. All dog breeders must ensure that their dogs fit those criteria, including their color, size, and even their ear length and skull width.


State of Relaxation

Apart from lying down to rest, dogs also reveal how relaxed they are through their tongues. Dogs’ tongues are longer than their snouts, so it takes an effort to stop them from hanging out to one side. 


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When a dog hangs its tongue out, especially after a nice meal, it means it is feeling completely relaxed and safe in the environment. However, if this habit continues, it might be a sign of hanging tongue syndrome. If you suspect this, it’s best to take your pup to the vet for diagnosis and treatment.


The Amazing History of Dogs

For hundreds and even thousands of years now, dogs have been providing humans with companionship. Dogs were trained to protect and help people in their communities. Thus, over time, dogs have been the subject of many artworks, just like this one. 

Chelle Chevelle/ Medium

Dogs have been such a significant part of human society that our ancestors painted caves and even made songs to show their adoration for their pets. Even George Lucas designed the Ewoks from Return of the Jedi after getting inspiration from his family dog.