Dog behaviors can sometimes be confusing. Learn the basics and how to interpret your canine companion’s body language with this helpful guide!
Dogs have been companions and man’s best friend for thousands of years, providing their owner’s security, love, and joy when they do their little tricks or sploot. Dogs have many behaviors that sometimes confuse pet owners, making managing and understanding them difficult. Here are some things that every pet owner needs to know:
Just like humans, dogs require a lot of socialization, especially in their primary years. Exposing puppies to new environments, meeting different people, and being around different animals and other dogs can help shape their lives as adults.
These help build their social skills, as dogs that grow up isolated often develop behavioral issues such as anxiety, fear, or aggression. Your dog should grow up to be comfortable receiving belly rubs and petting and can sploot around people. You should enroll your puppy in classes, play dates, and dog parks to build up their socialization. Your puppy will undergo a socialization phase throughout the first three months of life that will permanently influence their personality and how they respond to their environment as adults.
Their personalities will change significantly and permanently due to being gently exposed to various people, places, and circumstances. Before you even bring your pet home, the socialization process should begin when you purchase a puppy from a trustworthy breeder or veterinarian. The initial few weeks of your puppy’s existence, when the breeder is handling them, are important for the growth of a friendly, assured dog.
Puppies may approach a person viewing them passively as early as three weeks of age. Thus, having an experienced breeder who encourages socialization will help shape a puppy’s personality as an adult.
2. Enrichment Activities
Dogs are some of the most active animals and require mental and physical stimulation. Providing exciting activities like puzzle toys, walks, a run in the park, scent work, training classes, and other tiring activities keeps their bodies healthy and strengthens the bond with their owner. They help prevent depression, excessive barking, zoomies, and boredom. Many lay around waiting to be fed, for you to come home, or for something to happen. These are not only a recipe for disaster in your house but can also lead to health problems for your dog.
3. Body Language
A dog’s primary method of communication is body language. Deciphering their cues will prevent misunderstandings between a pet and their owner. Dogs tend to repeat behaviors that work well for them, so responding to even the most subtle of their movements is very important. If your dogs try turning their heads or blinking their eyes to show that they are unsure or scared of something and you respond to it, they are likely to do this the next time they are in a similar situation.
If that does not work, the dog can resort to more obvious moves like growling or barking for you to get them out of that situation, and if it works, then they are more likely to resort to these in the future.
4. Aggression and Fear
These are common occurrences with dogs that need quick responses, as they can sometimes escalate if the dog feels threatened. There are many reasons why a dog may become aggressive. These may include illness, injury, a show of dominance, fear, frustration, possessiveness, prey drive, or guarding their territory. Fear is one of the most common causes of this. Normally, a dog would prefer to flee from whatever is troubling him when he is terrified or feels threatened.
When a dog is cornered or confined and unable to escape, he may engage in conflict to defend himself. Only their body language may serve as a warning when a dog is fearful. Bites are often fast snaps that can happen when the victim walks away and turns his back. If people knew that a dog might interpret their behavior, even when we believe it to be friendly, as dangerous, there would be fewer bites. For instance, a dog can feel frightened if we lean over and reach out to pet the top of his head.
Understanding and managing your dog’s behavior is integral to having a pet. Learning how to offer enrichment activities for your pet, ensuring that your pet is socially trained, reading your dog’s body language, and learning how to control your dog’s aggression will help you immensely. If you believe that your dog is experiencing issues that you may not be able to solve on your own, it is advisable to seek professional expertise. You can ask your veterinarian for a reference for a certified animal behaviorist in your area. Conduct proper research whenever your pet changes their behavior, as it may signal future potential issues.