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Why Dogs Have Wet Noses (and other Dog Questions Answered)

As dog owners, we are often astounded and amazed by our dogs and all the quirky things they do. But, we don't necessarily understand why they do it or what their goal is in wagging their tails or humping random objects in your house.

For all you curious dog owners, here are a few of the most common dog behaviours and what they mean.

Those Wet Noses

Like any small, seemingly insignificant thing there are plenty of myths about what a dog's nose means and does. The basic role of the wetness on their nose, however, is to help them cool off when they are too hot.

Like how they pant, they do so instead of sweating (which humans do). Another theory about wet noses is that they are there to take on moisture when the tongue licks it. This is not available for all dogs as not every dog can reach their nose easily with their tongue.

In general, however, if a dog's nose gets warm and dry, it could be a sign that they are feverish or that they are dehydrated. It does not necessarily mean either however. Other signs, like stiff skin or bloodshot eyes should also be taken into account.

Wagging Tails

A wagging tail is not always a happy sign. You need to watch for the other body language signals a dog will share with you that says he is in a good mood. An openly wagging tail that moves in a full sway means a dog is happy or excited.

However a rapid wagging only at the tip of the tail can mean the dog is anxious or frightened or that they are a little worked up about something that might have just come into their life. If they put their tail between their legs and wag it, it means they are completely terrified of something.

This is a prime signal that they need to be removed from the situation at hand.

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 Frequent Humping

Dogs have a lot of instincts and ones that have been altered may or may not know what they are doing when they mount another dog or your leg. For many dogs, this behaviour is simply a way of playing or showing their excitement and they don't really know why. Just look to see how confused they get.

However, it is also a sign of dominance that is used by both male and female dogs to show that they have dominated another dog. When a dog mounts another dog, it is a symbolic sign that they are bigger and more powerful. Dogs will more frequently hump a stranger's leg for this very reason, trying to assert dominance.


Whiskers are special in that they are coarser, thicker, deeper rooted hairs on a dog's face. They are also much more sensitive because of their proximity to nerve endings. Think of a dog's whiskers like your fingers - they feel things that they might not be able to smell or hear.

These whiskers can detect shifts in wind speed, pressure changes, rain, distance between objects and much more. They are also protective, used to catch thorns, dirt and other foreign bodies from getting in their eyes or noses.

Your dog is an interesting little guy. He has lots of quirks and personality and over the centuries he has been bred to act in certain ways and use certain parts of his body. Remember that the next time he does something you may not enjoy.

He probably has a very good reason for doing it, at least in his instinct driven canine brain. That doesn't mean you should stand by and let him, but also don't start yelling or punishing just yet.

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