Normal Behavior of Your Dog

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Normal Behavior of Your Dog


Dogs display a number of traits that humans find annoying, strange or even disgusting (eating feces is a prime example). Yet dogs do what they do for a reason. As far as they are concerned, they are doing nothing wrong, and they become confused when we scold them. Knowing why dogs do certain things will enable you to cope better with them as they occur.

Vocal communication

Compared to humans, dogs have a limited ability to communicate using sound and tend to rely more on body language to get their message across. The range of sounds they produce tends to be used to back up their body language rather than in isolation. Howling and growling are the least common sounds, but barking is used frequently, often in different ways to convey different meanings. These can range from guarding barks to those designed to get attention, or barking can be used just to let off steam when excited or frustrated.

Guarding and possession

Natural instinct dictates that to let another take away food will result in hunger. This principle sometimes gets transferred to toys and other items a dog possesses; to give them up is a sign of weakness. Guarding food or a toy, by growling or snapping at anyone who approaches, is a dog’s way of saying ‘this is mine and you are not having it’. However, this line of defence is inappropriate in a human environment. In pet dogs, not letting go of something must be discouraged from an early age, otherwise aggression problems may later result. It is perfectly fine to let a non-aggressive or non-possessive dog occasionally win the toy in a game to keep his play motivation high, but this should be the exception, not the rule.

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The Puppy’s phases of development

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Phases of development

The Puppy passes through several stages of development after birth.

Vegetative phase (1. and 2. week)
In this early stage eyes and ears are still closed, and the sense of smell is poorly developed.

Transition period (3. week)
Now the palpebral fissure and outer acoustic meatus open up, still the Puppy is not able to see. Vision is not developed before the 17th or 18th week. The same applies for the sense of hearing. Did the Puppy so far solely sleep and drink, he’ll now be able to notice his siblings and adjacencies.

Filial Imprinting (4 – 7. week)
Eyes, nose and ears are fully developed. In this period the Puppy ideally becomes acquainted with various impressions like humans, noises or visual impressions. He consciously notices his environment und gets to know his social partners. While playing with his little brothers and sisters he will learn to find his position in the hierarchy and to test himself and the others. This is the period where personality and temper are stamped. Is a Puppy in this period kept isolated and without social contacts, it is very likely that there will be major problems with the dog’s socialization.

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