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.
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.
The Basics of Dog Socialization
Dogs must be well socialized from a very early age if they are to accept humans, the domestic environment in which they live and other dogs and animals without any kinds of problem behavior occurring.
Dogs are social creatures. Different breeds of dog enjoy the company of people and other animals to different extents, but all like to live their lives in a pack with others, whether human or canine. If denied social contact, they can become badly behaved or depressed. An under socialized dog can be difficult to live with, handle and control, and should be properly socialized for the safety and contentment of all concerned.
Dogs need to be taught to behave well around all humans. Examples of these include the following:
• Wheelchair users, people with walking sticks or crutches and the elderly.
• Babies, toddlers, timid people and people who are not comfortable around dogs.
• Energetic and noisy children and adults.
• Joggers, cyclists, rollerblades, skateboarders and people pushing prams.
• People with beards, unusual hairstyles, spectacles, headgear, uniforms or umbrellas.
Many dogs have a particular problem with delivery people, because of territorial aggression (a form of fear aggression).
Delivery people come to his territory, where he is most confident, and then, from the dog’s point of view, go as soon as they are barked at, so the barking has worked.