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You’re just drifting off to sleep after a hard day at the office, when all of a sudden — WOOF! What the–? Probably just somebody walking by outside that caught your dog’s attention. You close your eyes again and — WOOF-WOOF-WOOF!

Now a little concerned, you grab the nearest “weapon” — a plunger — and tiptoe down the stairs. Your dog is nowhere to be seen. Strange…

You continue your intruder check, but as you pass by your dog’s bed, you notice that she’s sleeping soundly. Okay, what the heck is going on here?

Then, as you’re standing there, it happens: without waking up, your pooch lets out a series of raucous barks. It’s so surprising that you literally jump.

Yes, that’s right, she’s sleep-barking. Welcome to being a dog owner.

This is only one of a number of weird dog things that you’re going to experience, and some of them are downright freaky. Below you’ll find a list of strange and unnerving dog behaviors that first-time dog owners might not be aware of.

Ready to be weirded out? Let’s go!

  1. Humping
    You’ve probably heard of dogs humping people’s legs or other dogs, but did you know that some like to hump other things as well? Favorite toys, blankets, and even pieces of furniture are common targets, and the first time you walk in on your dog doing this, it can be a bit disconcerting. As long as it’s not done to excess, humping is actually completely normal, but there are ways you can curb the behavior. Check out the link above for more information.
  2. Utter destruction
    Maybe you come home from work to discover that your dog has ripped up the carpet in your bedroom. Or you wake up to find the legs of your tables and chairs scratched and chewed beyond recognition. Or you’re watching TV when your dog suddenly leaps through your closed living room window to the front lawn. There are as many ways that dogs can engage in destructive behavior as there are reasons why. If you find that your dog is destructive, the first step toward curbing the behavior is to consult with a vet.
  3. Butt dragging
    Did she seriously just slide her stinky dog butt across your new rug? What’s going on here? Is she marking territory or something? Nope. Butt dragging is usually a sign that something is medically wrong with your dog. It could be something simple, such as needing to have her anal glands expressed, or it might be something more serious. If you can’t tell anything from a visual inspection, a vet is the next stop.
  4. Falling and leg-paddling
    This one is actually probably the most serious behavior we’re going to cover, so you really need to watch out for it. If your dog suddenly falls over and starts to twitch or paddling her legs, there’s a good chance that it’s a seizure. Other signs include appearing worried or clinging to you beforehand, and walking in circles afterward. It is incredibly important that you take your dog to a vet if you suspect she had a seizure, because symptoms almost always worsen without help.
  5. Bathroom audience
    Dogs don’t exactly respect boundaries. This is true whether you’re cooking in the kitchen, watching TV, or doing something significantly more personal like going to the bathroom or having sex. It can be unsettling to have your dog stare at you as you sit on the toilet (especially if you suffer from bathroom “shyness”!) but there’s nothing particularly “wrong” with the behavior. Dogs just aren’t as hung up on privacy as we are. Still, if the idea of a canine audience truly bothers you, there’s nothing wrong with closing the door or teaching your pooch to stay when you need to do something personal.
  6. Poop eating
    Are you getting sick just thinking about it? Yeah. So why in the world do dogs do it? Two primary reasons. First, he may be trying to keep his space clean. That’s right. Some dogs eat their feces as an act of cleanliness. This is an instinctive behavior that female dogs engage in when they’re with their young litter in order to keep the den clean. Still… blech. Second, his food might not be meeting his nutritional needs. Eating poop can be a dog’s attempt to bolster his diet. Either way, it’s not something you want to continue (nor is it healthy), so check out the above link for advice on how to stop it.
  7. Reverse sneezing
    Of all the weird or scary things on this list, reverse sneezing takes the cake — despite the fact that it is completely and utterly harmless for your pooch in most cases. Here’s what happens. All of a sudden your dog starts making a horrifying sound that seems like a cross between snorting and choking, and she looks like she’s trying to vomit but is also really self-conscious about it. What’s going on? It’s a “respiratory event” that can be caused either by overexcitement or as an attempt to get rid of mucus. Though it looks awful, if you just let it run its course for 30 seconds or so, your dog will go right back to normal.

Oh, and if you’re wondering why dogs bark in their sleep, many experts believe that it’s a sign that your pup is dreaming. Hopefully the barking won’t be so bad that it stops you from dreaming!

Are there other odd dog behaviors that freaked you out the first time you experienced them? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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