Dogs are a weird bunch of creatures. We attribute them with loyalty and intelligence but maybe that’s more down to us wanting these things from our dogs. They say that cats don’t kill us because they can’t and dogs don’t kill us because they have better things to do… but our dogs love us, right?

The things is, regular dog owners have no idea how smart their dogs are. We can only presume based on associations. We think our dogs know the word ‘walkies’ because they get excited but we don’t even know if they can differentiate words!

What are these mutts thinking?

Business Insider spoke to a canine behavioural researcher about the weird things our dogs do that we just can’t explain:

1. Can our dogs actually understand the word ‘walk’?

We can only wonder whether dogs hear the words we say and while they understand that the word ‘walk’ sounds different to ‘bed’, they use a process called fast-mapping to find meaning. Dogs guess the meaning of words based on the object or situation it finds itself in.

2. Why do dogs yawn when we do?

Like humans, dogs fall victim to contagious yawns. This is attributed to empathy. Yep, dogs can know what you’re going through. Dogs even respond to crying babies physiologically and behaviourally like humans!

3. Why does my dog love staring contests?

This has got to be the best answer: “a lingering look may indicate that your dog is matching emotional signals that you’re giving”. How great is that? Your dog is literally trying to figure out why you’re so weird.

4. Why does my dog love snow more than it loves me?

Simple answer, they enjoy it for the same reason young children love it: it’s everywhere and flies around the place when you run in it.

5. Why doesn’t my dog accept my hugs?

Dogs don’t really enjoy being placed in full-body grapples (that’s well documented, by the way, before you start saying ‘well my dog loves hugs’). Dogs prefer interactions where they set the tone. Don’t worry, they’ll show you where they want some attention (usually their tummies).