Your Boxer’s Funny Behaviors, Explained

How many times have you wondered what your Boxer is thinking when he does the things he does?

Boxers have an extensive array of quirky behaviors that set them apart from the average dog and make us laugh daily — it’s why we love them so much.

But what causes those crazy Boxer antics?

Here we attempt to unravel the mysteries of the Boxer dog mind, answering the question: “Why Do Boxer Dogs ______?”

Why Do Boxer Dogs Sit On You?

The worst kept secret about Boxers is that they are 77 pound lap dogs.

Sure, they are confident, independent dogs with minds of their own.

But they also harbor a softer side and make cuddly, affectionate companions — all on their terms, of course.

Boxers want to be where you are — right where you are.

Preferably plonked directly on top of your exact coordinates.

Some breeders will tell you males are sookier than females.

Either way, a Boxer that sits on you wants to be close, and is signalling he’s relaxed and comfortable in your presence.

There is also comfort to be considered: would you choose to sit on the hard, cold floor or something soft and warm that dispenses pats?

Why Do Boxers Sit On Other Dogs?

The first thought when a dog sits on another dog is that he’s exerting dominance.

It’s possible, but not always the case.

When you see the way a Boxer goes about this, it tends to look more like a form of play or closeness as part of general pack behavior.

Of course, it’s hilarious.

So we laugh, rewarding the behavior with attention and increasing the likelihood it will become a regular part of the behavioral repertoire.

Whether or not this behavior is problematic depends largely on how the other dog takes it.

Consider it in the context of the whole relationship between the two dogs: is the Boxer that sits on the other dog continually pushing that dog around?

Even if the sitting on top of the other dog is an expression of dominance, it’s not necessarily a problem.

Every pack must have an order, and as long as the bottom dog isn’t downtrodden, an established hierarchy is actually conducive to harmony between the dogs, since everyone knows and accepts their place.

Why Do Boxer Dogs Lay On Each Other?

Boxers in multi-dog households will often lie all over each other to rest.

This is similar to the way puppies in a litter sleep in a pile.

This is packing behavior that provides warmth and security.

Sleeping together tends to communicate equality between dogs.

This is one argument against having your Boxer sleep in your bed with you: it can send the message that the two of you are on a level, whereas your dog must understand you are the pack leader.

Having said that, it’s not necessarily a problem if you have a properly-established relationship and an obedient, well-behaved dog that respects your authority.

If you have behavioral or obedience issues, the sleeping arrangements are something you may want to reconsider, at least in the short term as part of resetting the relationship dynamic.

Why Do Boxer Dogs Sit Like Humans?

Sometimes Boxers happen upon a behavior, find it elicits laughter and a whole lot of attention from their owners, and then repeat it to draw the same reaction again and again.

They’re no dummies, and every Boxer knows how to play for laughs.

Note: there is some thought that a “lazy sit” where a Boxer tucks one leg under him and sits to the side, rather than sitting straight with both feet tucked, can indicate joint pain.

The theory is the dog sits like this to relieve arthritis, pressure on his joints, spinal problems, an injury or alignment disorders like a luxating patella (knee) or hip dysplasia.

Why Do Boxer Dogs Wiggle?

They’re not called wigglebutts for nuttin!

While most dogs wag their tails when they’re happy, Boxers wag their entire body.

Kidney beaning, wiggling, call it what you will.

It’s tempting to think Boxers wag their bodies because their tails have been docked, so they’re making their feelings clear with what they have left.

The thing is, even Boxers with long, natural tails wiggle their whole bodies.

Noone could ever accuse a Boxer of not knowing how to express their joy.

Which brings us to…

Why Do Boxers Do The Zoomies?

The zoomies, also known as frenetic random activity periods or FRAPs, are the height of the Boxer dog zest for life.

Learn more about why Boxers do the zoomies and what it could mean if your Boxer does them a lot.

Note that while Boxers are exuberant dogs with active minds and lot of energy to burn, hyperactivity to the wild extent sometimes seen is not inevitable.

Clicker training can be the difference between an out of control Boxer and one that listens and can be kept safe by reliably responding to commands.

Why Do Boxer Dogs Lean On You?

Everything a Boxer does is a form of communication, and Boxers are highly expressive.

Leaning against you is a form of closeness and affection and you’ll likely see it a lot in a breed that thrives on human contact the way Boxers do.

It’s also attention seeking, it usually gets them a back rub and as always, any behavior that is positively reinforced is bound to be repeated.

Why Do Boxer Dogs Lay On Their Backs?

Lying on the back, legs splayed in the air, head draped down with lips hanging open is a classic — and hilarious — Boxer sleeping posture.

It’s one that prompts most owners to wonder, “How can this be comfortable?”

But comfort is precisely the most likely reason Boxers sleep like this.

Sleeping on the back is often triggered by a full belly, which means the digestive furnace is firing.

Digestion generates heat and your Boxer may bare his underside and splay his legs in order to get air onto his skin and cool down.

Think of it as the opposite to sleeping curled up, as your Boxer does to trap warmth and retain body heat when he’s cold.

Why Do Boxer Dogs Talk So Much?

While they usually aren’t big barkers, Boxers are nonetheless very vocal dogs.

They have a whole range of noises, often likened to the sounds a “Wookiee” makes.

Like Chewbacca himself, a Boxer can express a startlingly broad range of emotions just by groaning in the back of his throat.

In Boxer speak, a grunt or low groan might mean “It’s time for dinner” or “Hi, do you see me? I need a pat” or, executed in a higher pitch, it might be an expression of surprise.

Boxers can, on occasion, even use growls in a way that is not meant to convey hostility.

Rather, it can be a kind of demand when they want something, or feel impatient.

Sometimes it’s a sign that they are “on alert”, attending to a disturbance or something irregular they’ve spotted from the front deck.

Most owners will be able to translate the exact meaning of each of their Boxer’s various sounds.

Boxer puppies commonly growl as a normal part of play, something that’s occasionally misunderstood by owners as aggression.

Why Do Boxer Dogs Tilt Their Heads?

Scientists don’t really know why Boxers (and other dogs) do this.

It could be an attempt to zero in on a sound.

When a dog hears something, his brain (like ours) uses the difference between how long it took the sound to reach the ear closest to the sound, versus how long it took to reach the ear further away, to help triangulate where the noise came from.

It’s possible that the head tilt is done to alter the position of the ears, pinpointing the sound’s location.

Or it could be an attempt to tune in on not so much the sound’s direction but its subtleties of frequency and inflection — a search for meaning as your dog reads the tone of your voice to understand what’s going on.

One survey of owners found dogs with longer muzzles, like Greyhounds, engaged in more head titling when interacting with their owners than short-nosed breeds.

This finding led the researcher to conclude it could be about not sound but vision — perhaps dogs are tilting their head to move the muzzle which may be obstructing their view.

Given the amount of head tilting Boxers do, we beg to differ.

And the survey did also find that a majority of brachycephalic (short-muzzled) breeds still tilted their heads when spoken to by their owners.

Of course, head tilting that is involuntary can be a sign of a health problem such as ear gunk or vestibular disorders (problems with the inner ear and balance).

Head shaking or bobbing is another thing altogether, known as idiopathic head tremors.

Why Do Boxer Dogs Grind Their Teeth?

Occasionally you may notice your Boxer grinding his teeth in his sleep.

In humans this is known as bruxing, which often has a stress-related origin and can wear down the teeth to the extent that dentists prescribe mouth guards.

In dogs, it would be highly unusual for it to be a sign of stress.

Most likely, you only notice teeth grinding rarely, when your Boxer is dreaming of crunching on a raw meaty bone.

You’ll likely see it in combination with other endearing sleep behaviors like:

  • Little muffled yips when your Boxer dreams of barking
  • Growls
  • Twitches and leg jerks
  • Lip quivering
  • Heavy breathing
  • Toggling of the paws as your Boxer runs across those doggy dreamscapes

Why Do Boxer Dogs Box?

Some say the tendency of Boxers to use their paws so much is why Boxers are called Boxers.

Certainly, a Boxer will poke and jab at other dogs, people and objects of interest like a Boxer in the ring.

There is no definitive proof in the recorded history of the Boxer dog that this is how the breed’s name arose.

But “boxing” is undeniably a classic Boxer dog behavioral trait, there in every Boxer, as constant as the rest of the Boxer dog temperament and character.

This play style can try the patience of other dogs that are less in your face.

Why Do Boxer Dogs Paw At You?

When Boxers paw at you they are most likely saying “Play with me”.

It’s an effort to be involved, to be remembered and often an expression of affection.

If your Boxer ends up with a pat or massage each time he does this, the attention will, of course, reward the behavior and see it happen again.

The pawing is almost always done gently, but it’s a good idea to keep your Boxer’s nails properly trimmed with a grinder to avoid accidental scratches, particularly to youngsters.

Boxers, though, are renowned for their sensitivity to children and babies and are some of the most trustworthy dogs around kids.

Why Do Boxer Dogs Drink So Much Water?

Here we get into a behavior that is less normal and potentially indicative of a problem you’ll want to address.

If your Boxer guzzles water, chances are he is kibble-fed.

Kibble-fed dogs exist in a state of constant dehydration.

Dehydration is not conducive to good health, and is one of the reasons why kibble is not optimal food for your Boxer.

In addition, the tap water most Boxers are provided with is, unfortunately, a source of hidden toxins that can have a deleterious effect on their health over time.

The US Environmental Protection Agency regulates more than 90 contaminants in tap water, including some known to cause cancer.

You will notice that raw-fed Boxers drink dramatically less water — sometimes almost none at all unless it’s hot and they’ve been running around.

This is because fresh, real whole food that is raw contains plenty of moisture, hydrating your dog’s tissues and helping to flush lymph and remove toxins.

Note that alongside drinking a lot of water, poop eating is sometimes seen in Boxers, as well as munching on the occasional blade of grass.

While these behaviors tend to worry owners, neither are necessarily problematic and don’t usually mean what most people think.

Why Do Boxer Dogs Eat Eat Poop?

Why Do Boxer Dogs Eat Grass?

Why Do Boxer Dogs Fart So Much?

Flatulence is another occurrence that is common in Boxers but in no way normal.

Excessive, foul-smelling farts that clear a room will not occur in a 100% healthy, properly fed Boxer.

Bad gas in a Boxer is reflective of digestive issues, and a sign that something about the diet is not right.

The same applies to:

If any of these conditions describe your Boxer, you are probably feeding kibble or some other kind of processed dog food, rather than a fresh, biologically-appropriate canine diet based on raw meaty bones.

This means a diet that is raw and aligns with what dogs have eaten for more than a million years and that their bodies are adapted to thrive on.

Conclusion

Aside from their distinctive appearance, what makes a Boxer a Boxer is their character and behavioral traits.

Understanding why your Boxer does what he does is another way to appreciate your dog and strengthen the bond between you.

It’s also helpful when trying to shape, control or extinguish behaviors that come naturally to Boxers but which might place them in harm’s way if done in certain contexts.

Proper training that’s geared towards the fun loving Boxer temperament, and grounded in positive reinforcement, will help you turn behaviors on and off as appropriate.

References

Coren, Stanley, Why Dogs May Tilt Their Heads When You Talk To Them, Psychology Today, 2013

Jackson, Sophie, Why Does My Dog Sit Like That? The Lazy Sit Explained and When You Should Be Concerned, Pet Helpful, 2021