6 Insane Dog Behaviors Explained by Evolution

#3. Licking

Now this is one of those things we just accept from dogs, and may even like it, despite the fact that there's no obvious reason for it at all. Why does your dog lick you? Is it love? Laying the groundwork for carnivorous slaughter? Does your skin secrete something that gets them high, like those one toads?

So What the Hell Are They Thinking?

Whether fated to enjoy a life of responsibility as a seeing eye dog, or a life of shame as a celebutante purse accessory, the first thing every dog is introduced to upon being shuttled out of its mother's womb is tongue. Dogs start life being licked and continue the tradition from there.

Mother dogs lick the birthy ooze from the pups and continue grooming them through their development. Wolf puppies lick their mothers face as a signal to regurgitate food for them (actually, we have the same reaction when children lick our face).

As dogs grow older, licking becomes more of a submissive gesture. The less dominant members of the pack lick the alpha dogs, which kind of puts a different spin on the whole "doggy kisses" thing. It doesn't mean he likes you, it means he knows you can crush him if you so desire and is submitting to your will.

If the dog is licking himself, it may not, as the above logic dictates, be the dog declaring himself to be awesome but rather may be due to allergies or soreness somewhere. Since dogs instinctively lick wounds to clean them, they also lick any sore spot like achy joints or whatever.

Oh, and as with the shit-eating, it's entirely possible the dog is just doing it out of boredom or nervousness, the doggy equivalent of biting your nails. Holy crap, people, find your dog a hobby already.

#2. Wagging Their Tails

So you experimented with interspecies romance but figured it was OK because Rover's tail was wagging. Do you still have to feel guilty about what you've done? After all, that means he's happy to see you, right?

Wait, why do they wag their tales?

So What the Hell Are They Thinking?

The thing is, a wagging tail can mean many different things. It's like smiling while holding a knife. If you're doing it while posing for a picture with your birthday cake, it's generally OK. If it's happening over the sedated body of the mailman, you may be insane. It's the same here; the little details matter.

While most believe that a wagging tail means the dog is happy, the position of the tail matters a lot more than the wagging itself. When the tail is held low and curved (in a "U" shape) and is wagging slowly, everything is cool. If the tail is higher or arched over the back, the dog is supremely interested, and maybe even pissed off about something.

So a dog can express a lot with its tail, and wagging does appear to primarily be a form of communication. Film your dog at home alone and it won't often wag its tail; not the way it does when it's greeting you at the door or meeting other dogs. Dogs are pack animals, communication is a big deal and the tail is like a little furry flag it can wave around to signal to others.


Also, a helicopter.

By the way, the same goes for putting their tail between their legs. It's thought to be a sign of submission (the opposite of the aggressive dog raising his tail high as mentioned above) because it's basically the dog making itself smaller. Tucking away the tail and lowering the ears is a way to sort of shrink away. "I don't matter, you're the bigger dog, don't rip my throat out. Now let's go eat some shit!"

#1. Humping Your Leg

All right, we've put this one off long enough. The leg humping thing. Is your dog honestly thinking there's a vagina on your shin? That doesn't make sense, they would have gone extinct if they were that bad at identifying the right objects to ram their boners into. Hell, even female dogs do it.

So What the Hell Are They Thinking?

Odds are you have at least one person in your life whose leg you'd happily hump until friction burns put you both on the disabled list, but your motivations are not the same as your dog's. He's not doing it simply because he's horny and looking for a good time. If that were true, then it would happen less when the dog's been neutered, and female humpage would be virtually non-existent.

So as to why they do it... have you ever been to prison? Or at the very least, watched an episode of OZ back when it was on HBO? If so, you know that ass rape is done for reasons other than personal enjoyment; it's about dominance over another.

Well, for your adorable puppy dog all of life is like prison. Humping is done to establish dominance over lesser dogs. Nobody humps the alpha dog, it's the ones lower on the ladder who get humped.

So guess what that means when your dog humps your leg?

That's right; he's literally making you his bitch.

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For more bizarre animal actions, check out The 15 Most Bizarre Animal Mating Rituals. Or find out why you do some of the things you do, in Sleep Jerk to Piss Shivers: 5 Body Mysteries Explained.

And stop by our Top Picks to see our Swaim barking like a dog.

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