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Kids’ Questions for The Dog Trainer

The Dog Trainer and Mighty Mommy get together to answer kids’ questions about dogs. Why do they bark so much? What is it with the butt-scooting? And why will some dogs fetch, but others just hang on to the ball?

By
Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
6-minute read
Episode #201

Question #6

Why do our dogs turn around in circles before lying down? (Brendan Butler, age 13)

Answer

Some people think it’s a “leftover” behavior from when dogs first evolved, and even from their wolf ancestors. Dogs and wolves might have turned around to make a little nest for themselves in a pile of leaves or among tall grasses, or as a way to start curling up to sleep. But the truth is that nobody really knows. Humans are very good at making up stories that sound like good explanations for things we don’t understand, and this is one situation where we’re just … making stuff up!

Question #7

When we throw Molly a tennis ball, she always chases it and brings it right back to us. But Gracie grabs it, runs off, and won’t bring it back to us. Why is this? (Brendan Butler, age 13)  

Answer

It’s like this: Molly has the most fun chasing the ball. She brings it back to you because when you throw it for her, she can chase it again. Gracie has more fun carrying the ball around in her mouth and hanging on to it than she does chasing it. If she brings it back, then she has to go to the trouble of chasing it again, and what’s the point of that?

You can teach a dog to enjoy bringing the ball back and chasing it, but unless it’s important for some reason, I wouldn’t bother. Just let each dog have the kind of fun she likes best.

Question #8

Both our dogs like to sleep in our bedrooms, especially Gracie. Is that okay for them and for us? (Annie Butler, age 7) 

Answer

Dogs usually like to hang out and sleep near their people. If your dogs like to sleep near you, and if you like to have your dogs near you when you’re sleeping, then everybody’s happy! Including me.

Say your dog sleeps in the bed with you and growls every time you move. Or say your dog gets in bed and then growls at you when you try to get in bed too. A situation like that can be dangerous and means that you should get a specialist in dog behavior to work with your dog. But otherwise, there’s no reason your dogs can’t sleep in your bedroom or even in your bed.

For more kids’ questions about dogs, check out Mighty Mommy’s episode 232 where I answered more questions from the Butler household.

Pomeranian and Black Lab images from Shutterstock

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About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).