By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Dogs often have head-scratching, eye-opening traits that can leave an owner with a curious smile.

WCCO spoke about these quirks with Liv Hagen, head behaviorist at the Animal Humane Society.

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“Quirky, goofy, ‘derpy’ is a word that I really like,” Hagen said.

She says a dog’s behavior has many influences.

“Breed is certainly one of them, genetics is another, any training that the dog has had, the environment in which they grow up in,” Hagen said.

WCCO asked viewers to submit some of their dog’s habits to figure out what’s going on. Nick shared a picture of his pet sitting upright like a human. Did they learn that from us?

“Being up on your couch or being up on a chair is a really great vantage point to be able to see what’s going on all around you,” she said.

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(credit: CBS)

In essence, a dog can gather more information visually and audibly from that position. That’s a calm moment, but dogs are often the opposite. A viewer named Jenni shared a video of her pup having a case of the “zoomies.”

“It’s a way that your dog is really displacing excitement. You probably notice that it happens right when you come home or when your dog sees one of their dog friends come over for a play day,” Hagen said. “They’re really, really excited, so they’re expending that energy.”

We know tail wagging can mean a dog’s happy, but some flash a smile. Hagen says that grin isn’t meant to scare people away.

“Really what they’re doing is they’re going, ‘Hey, I’m no threat, let’s be friends, let’s talk, let’s communicate,” she said. “Very different from a snarl or a precursor, so important to get to know your dog.”

What about when dogs tilt their heads when trying to figure out a unique sound?

“Changing the way their muzzle is maybe blocking noise coming in, changing the way they’re seeing, changing their ears and picking up on noise … changing their head direction or giving it tilt changes that perspective,” she said,

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Another question many viewers were asking: Why does my dog sleep on its back? Hagen says one reason is it feels safe and secure enough to expose its belly. Dogs also cool off faster because there’s less fur on that side.

Jeff Wagner