Understanding Dog Behavior
By David Beart
Dogs are considered the most genuinely happy creatures on earth.
Their entire day is filled with you whether you are there or not.
They are waiting for you, sleeping on your bed, watching for you out
the window, wondering where you are while they are patiently waiting
for you in their crate. Once you come home it’s all about you. Your
attention, your love, your food, your commands, and of course, your
For an animal that revolves his whole life around you, it can
be confusing why he does some of the things he does. If he loves you
so much, why is he destroying your shoes? If you are the light in
his life, why is he ignoring you when you come home?
Dogs have a
very unique way of expressing themselves. Most people believe that
dogs have and show genuine emotion such as love and fear and even
anger. We understand that when they sit at the door and bark they
are telling us they need to go outside. We understand that when we
have a leash in our hand and they get a little goofy that they are
excited about the upcoming walk. Understanding their more subtle or
destructive cues takes a little insight into your dog’s world.
Returning Home Behavior
Some dogs get so excited that you are home
after a weekend away they completely get beside themselves with joy.
They follow you around and may even be uncharacteristically clingy
as you wander about the house. Others get so excited when you first
walk in the door, and then leave you in complete peace for several
hours. People usually say that he is angry with you for leaving in
the first place. Most experts say their behavior is more about
security than anything.
You are your dog’s entire world and when for
some reason you disappear for a long period of time, and there is a
sudden change in his routine, his security is thrown a bit. He is
very happy to see you but he also needs a little reassurance that
everything is getting back to normal. Some dogs do this by following
you around the house until they are sure, and others do this from a
more observatory stance. Either way your canine family member is
just looking for reassurance and his typical routine to return.
Canine Garbage Disposal
He knows better and he knows that you know
he knows better. However, every chance he gets you see him
scampering off with something that you just absolutely don’t want
him to chew. He eats your best shoes while you’re in the shower, the
corner of the bedspread while you’re getting dressed, and the phone
cord while you were talking on it. And you haven’t even made it to
breakfast yet. As much as you love him you are contemplating the
moral issues of drop kicking him right out the door. You’ve tried
everything that you can think of and yet he is still eating
everything in sight. He is beyond the age where teething causes
chewing but yet he still can’t seem to find his own toys to consume.
There are two key factors in a garbage disposal dog.
The first and
easiest to solve is a health problem relating to his teeth and gums.
If his mouth is bothering him, he is going to chew on everything he
can. Start with a vet visit to rule out any periodontal issues.
more likely culprit of his unflattering behavior is stress and
anxiety. Yes, your happy go lucky guy can suffer from stress. Has
there been a change in the household such as a new baby,
dramatically increased arguing or is someone who is supposed to be
there suddenly gone?
For starter, confine him when you can’t watch
him, although preferably with you. A puppy gate here can go a long
way in simple things like keeping an eye on him while you are
showering and watching his every move while you are getting dressed.
Often the hurried morning is a higher anxiety period for your dog.
Then begin to address the problem. Make sure there’s an appropriate
toy available to him at all times and make a big deal about it when
he eats the right things. A sharp reprimand and a quick and
immediate discipline is in order when you catch him at the wrong
chew toys. You don’t want to stress him more by smacking him,
although a rolled up newspaper banged on a hard surface is a quick
attention getter. Never strike him with it. He will make it his
mission to eat it if you do in an effort to eliminate an already
Try to identify the stressor and relax him around
the problem. If you can get him comfortable enough around the new
baby to lie down even when the baby is crying, you have made
strides. If there is tension in the house try to tone down the
arguing, or take it to an alternative room. If your dog can be
comfortably confined to an outdoor yard, that is the best option,
but don’t get so wrapped up in your arguing that you leave him out
there for extensive periods of time. Whatever the stressor is that
is causing the chewing, try to get him comfortable and relaxed
around it. This may take some time, but relieving his anxiety will
also reduce the tension in your life as well.
him as your sweet and loveable friend. Your friends and neighbors
know him as the terror on your doorstep who wants to eat them.
Aggression is not a nice quality in your dog.
Aggression comes from
the desire to protect, and anything perceived as a threat is going
to be treated like one. For some dogs this means anyone and anything
that doesn’t belong. He is only trying to defend his home and his
human family, but aggression is a serious behavioral problem that
needs to be nipped in the bud.
Check your own behavior. How are you
reacting to him when he is growling and carrying on at the neighbor
as she walks by your house? Make sure the words “good boy” are the
last thing your dog hears. “Be a good boy,” or “That’s not a good
boy,” are not deterrents. Neither is “Shh.” Mild mannered people
tend to have more aggressive dogs because their tones are not
consistent with command. If your dog doesn’t believe you enough to
listen to you, he certainly isn’t going to believe you can take care
of yourself. I can’t tell you how many times our pups have been
accosted on the street with an owner telling their dog that it’s ok.
It’s not okay. The words you are looking for are firm and sharp and
sound like “Sit” and “No.” One word firm commands are much more
effective than reasoning.
Aggression is a serious offense and it
must be treated as one. We have one dog who got a little out of
control. When sitting wasn’t getting him under control on his
nightly walk we actually went to making him lie down. Right there on
the street or sidewalk we commanded our German Shepherd to lie down
to get his attention and then added a “Quiet” command to get our
point across. His aggression quieted down in a week.
Some dogs do
better if they can at least see what’s going on even if they can’t
be a part of the process. Aggressive dogs are really protective
dogs. The delivery man might not want your growling, snarling
beloved pet to join you on the porch, but he might do better if he
has a place he can be directed to sit and watch provided he stays
quiet. Constantly sequestering him does nothing to solve the
The Overbearing Overgrown Puppy
He is happy to see you. You
are his toy and his best friend and he will pummel you over in an
attempt to play with you. He has run over the children and covered
the cat with his doggie saliva. You love him, but wow does his
energy get annoying sometimes. It’s hard to talk to someone on the
phone when he’s jumping on you and wrapping his big paws around you
and forget leaving the house looking presentable.
He is the puppy
who never grew up. His body got big, but he seems intellectually
stuck at four months old. Most of the time this behavior is a matter
of dominance. When a dog views you as his alpha leader, he gives you
respect. When you are his peer, you are his play mate.
are by nature a food related dominance. Of course other factors play
into it as well, but to a dog food is leadership. If you are not
already the dog’s food source, consider taking on that
responsibility. Establish yourself as a leader. This isn’t all that
hard to do and you don’t even have to stop playing with him in order
to do it.
Start by giving him random commands, especially around
feeding time. With his food in your hand tell him to sit. With the
food in the bowl and the bowl on the floor tell him to wait, and
then make sure he follows through. When he has looked to you for
permission, allow him to commence eating.
Slowly add random commands
throughout the day and rebuke rough playing immediately. If he wants
to play, he has to sit and wait for things rather than tackle you.
You can just as easily give him commands with playtime as you can
any other time. A few commands before you throw the ball is usually
enough to get the right message across as you are establishing
Interpreting Your Dog
Understanding your dog’s behavior
isn’t quite as mystifying as it seems. He really is doing his best
to tell you. Watching his communication with other people and
animals in the household can really open your eyes to how he
A dog wags his tail to express happiness, yawns
when he is content, and growls when he is threatened. With over one
hundred facial expressions, he is constantly telling you something.
The more you get to know your dog the more you will learn what he is
Owning a dog is a wonderfully joyous experience. They
bring so much into our world which is why so many people have them.
They look to us to tend to their needs. We owe it to them to give
them at least our very best shot at keeping them safe, healthy, and
How Long Do
There are distinct factors that play into whether our puppy will be
with us until our children graduate from high school or if they give
us a few good years. Most experts agree that small breeds tend to
outlive large breeds. The general rule of thumb is the larger the
dog the shorter the life span.
Tips To Keep Your Dog Healthy
Here are five tips for ensuring that you have a healthy dog.
Greatly Improve Your Health
Having a pet is one of the
healthiest investments you can make to your long-term health and
happiness. We know that having a pet enriches our lives, and
scientific studies in the last decade, have clearly shown how
companion animals benefit both our bodies and our minds.
About the Author:
David Beart is the owner of
www.professorshouse.com . Our site covers pets, dog training,
finances, family, cooking and other household issues.
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