Category Archives: dog behavior

Do Pack Instincts Influence Dog Behavior?

By Linda Cole

Humans are a complex species; we have different views on issues, which at times can turn into heated arguments that divide us. We also have the ability to evaluate different situations to make our own choices. Dogs on the other hand, react to situations based on pack instincts that were hardwired into them eons ago during the domestication process. These innate pack instincts guide and influence the behavior of dogs in their everyday lives.

Instinct isn’t knowledge that needs to be learned. It’s an automatic intelligence present at birth in all living species. It’s what guides migrating birds and butterflies on marathon flights in the fall and spring, and it’s how squirrels and other animals know when it’s time to stockpile food for the winter. It’s the survival instinct that ensures continuation of the species.

The variety of jobs canines have been bred to do is based on their natural abilities and pack instincts. A sled dog team is able to function because they work together as a team. Each member knows his place in the group, and follows instructions from their human leader. One reason why our relationship with dogs has been so successful is because we share the importance of the family unit and the social bond that binds members together.

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Are Small Breed Dogs Less Obedient?

By Langley Cornwell

One of the things I rally against is breed generalizations. Having shared my life with many different types of dogs, I have experienced first-hand how uniquely individual each animal is. That said, I also understand the nature versus nurture debate, and believe the truth is a combination of both.

Andrea Arden, Animal Planet expert and author of several books on animal behavior and training, notes that during the last 150 years the number of pure-bred dogs in the world has tripled. When you add mixed breed dogs into the mix, you can see how the range of dog behavior and physical characteristics within Canis lupus familiaris would be so diverse. I am of the opinion that if you want to know a dog, you should evaluate his behavioral tendencies and personality, and leave blanket generalizations on the doorstep.

Because of all that, I was surprised to learn of a recent study from the University of Sydney that reported a connection between a dog’s size and his obedience level. The study, based on 8,000 dogs and their human companions’ accounts of the pet’s conduct, concluded that smaller dogs have worse, less obedient behavior than larger breed dogs.

What did they mean by “worse, less obedient behavior?

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Should My Dog Sleep in My Bed?

By Laurie Darroch

There are pros and cons to having your dog sleep in the same bed that you do. In the end it is a personal choice, but here are some things to consider.

Temperament

How a dog behaves in your bed is a definite issue, especially if your dog is a restless sleeper and you are too. If you have a dog who moves around on the bed during the night, vies for the best spots, or gets into positions that cause your sleep to be disrupted, it might be better to have a designated sleeping area other than your bed for your dog.

A dog bed, crate or other comfortable spot nearby will work and still allow both you and your dog the security of knowing you are in close proximity to each other. Dogs like to be near their humans, but they can be trained to adapt to a sleeping area that works for both of you. You need to be consistent if you want your dog to sleep in a specific area.

Size

Depending on the size of your bed and your dog, your bed may not be the right place for both of you to get a good rest. If you have a puppy, consider their eventual full grown size before you get into the habit of allowing your dog to sleep with you. That cute little cuddly ball of fluff that snuggles softly against you may grow into a big leggy dog that takes a lot of room on your bed, more than is comfortable for you.

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What Is My Dog’s Wagging Tail Saying?

By Linda Cole

Understanding a dog’s body language can sometimes be like trying to learn a foreign language. Obvious signs are easy to recognize, and knowing your pet as an individual helps you understand how he might react in different situations. Reading a dog’s body language can also give you insight into how an unfamiliar canine might react. The tail is an important communication tool that reveals his emotions. How he wags his tail matters, and scientists have found a subtle clue in a dog’s tail wag that tells you if he’s feeling anxious or happy.

Dogs use their tail much the same way we use a smile when greeting someone. It’s a polite way of expressing acknowledgment. A smile, however, doesn’t always mean you’re happy to see someone. Subtle changes in our smile can show trustworthiness, cover up embarrassment or negative feelings or hide a lie. Humans can flash fake smiles too, but canines don’t hide their feelings. What you see is what you get when it comes to their mood. Dogs give an honest response to a situation, to other animals and to us.

Most dog owners know just by looking at their dog’s tail if he’s feeling happy, confident, upset or unwell. You aren’t going to be fooled by a fake tail wag. Dogs use the wag like we use a smile – as a social signal. The difference is that humans will sometimes smile when they’re alone (in response to a good movie, book or memory, etc.) but tail wags are reserved for us, other animals or something that piques their curiosity, such as you standing there with a bag of CANIDAE treats in your hand.

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Superstitions about Howling Dogs

By Langley Cornwell

Admit it, the melancholy sound of a howling dog sends chills up your spine, doesn’t it? If you’re not the superstitious type, then you may blame Hollywood for this association. We’ve all seen movies where the howling of a dog foreshadows something ominous, but do you know where the roots of this concept come from?

The idea that dogs are in tune with the supernatural has been around a long time, and is believed by many cultures. One of the most common superstitions is that a howling dog is an omen of death or extreme misfortune. It’s impossible to trace this concept back to a single source, but here are a few of the more widely accepted origins:

Nordic Countries

Norse legend links this belief to Freyja, the goddess of magic, love, fertility, war and death. The story goes like this – when Freyja is playing the part of the goddess of death, she rides her chariot on the crest of a storm. This fanciful chariot is pulled by two enormous cats. And since felines are considered canines’ accepted enemies, the belief is that when dogs sense the approach of Freyja they begin to howl at the goddess and her magical oversized cats.

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The Littlest Dog Heroes

By Linda Cole

A hero is often willing to put his or her life on the line to help someone in need. When a dog performs an unselfish act to protect his family, and sometimes even a stranger, it makes you realize the unique and special relationship we have with canines. Even small dogs have the courage and heart of a lion, and understand when someone needs help. These are six stories about the littlest dog heroes.

Archie, a Yorkshire Terrier, lived in San Antonio at an army residence community with retired Navy Capt. William Wakeland and his family. The little dog was trained to never bark at people he saw outside his window, and he always obeyed. One morning, Archie surprised everyone when he began frantically barking. When Archie wouldn’t stop barking, Wakeland went to the window to see if he could figure out why the dog was so upset. He saw his neighbor who suffered with Parkinson’s lying in the road unable to get up. Thanks to Archie who disobeyed a direct order to stop barking, Wakeland was able to assist his neighbor and help him get back home.

Zoey, a 10 month old Chihuahua, was playing in the backyard of her Denver home with owner Monty Long and his one year old grandson. Suddenly, the tiny dog dashed past the toddler who was playing next to a birdbath, and stopped between him and a rock on the other side. A rattlesnake on the rock was coiled and ready to strike the boy. Zoey put herself between the snake and boy, taking a bite to her face. Long whisked the boy to safety, killed the snake and then rushed Zoey to the vet. She was treated with antivenin and blood plasma, and made a full recovery. The boy was unharmed thanks to Zoey’s quick actions.
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