Getting a dog is relatively easy but to really understand your dog and his behaviour takes time and patience.
Your dog is a pack animal and he has to be
certain of his place in the pack hierarchy in order to feel safe, secure and contented in the home. This means he needs to know where he fits in with the humans and any other dogs living in your household.
In the pack a pack leader would be responsible for repelling any visiting dogs and other animals and also issue commands to junior pack members to guard, hunt and attack when necessary. These innate traits can cause problems for the dog in a domestic environment and will show as signs of stress, aggression, anxiety and dominance over the household (‘the pack’). It is vital therefore that your dog sees you as the pack leader from day 1 and the pack hierarchy is established quickly. This will lead to a happier, more contented and relaxed dog.
To convince the dog that he is bottom of the pack is relatively easy and can be achieved in a short space of time.
To do this you should;
- Allow him to sleep in his own bed, not on your bed or in your bedroom.
- Play with the dog as much as you like but only on your instigation.
- Feed your dog only after you have eaten.
- Walk through a doorway before your dog when on a lead.
- Keep some areas in the house dog free and only allow him access sometimes.
Basic obedience training is essential and this takes time. A training class is a great way to address behavioural issues, whatever the age of dog.
Your dog can display behavioural ‘pointers’ that are important to recognise. We have listed some to look out for;
Signs of anxiety (expressing your dog’s discomfort with the current situation)
- Tail tucked between legs
- Tail hanging low with only the end wagging
- Rapid panting with ears turned sideways
- Raising one paw for no apparent reason
- Half ‘moon’ eyes.
Displacement behaviours (normal behaviours displayed out of context)
- Yawning without tiredness
- Sudden scratching with no itch
- Biting paws or other body parts
- Repetitive licking
- Sniffing the ground
- Shaking fur as if wet (a wet dog shake).
Avoidance behaviours (a situation your dog wants to avoid)
- Turning his head away
- Barking and retreating
- Leaving the situation
- Snapping and growling
- Rolling on his back submissively.
Signs of arousal (a heightened level of interest in something other than you)
- Ears forward
- Closed mouth
- Freezing posture
- Forward stance
- Intense eyes
- High tail and slow tail wags.
Signs of a happy dog (signs that your dog wants your attention or wants to play)
- Relaxed panting with a relaxed expression
- Relaxed body posture
- Tucking a paw under his body whilst lying down
- Wagging the tail enthusiastically and thumping the tail on the floor.
Signs of aggression (these signs show stress in the dog and should not be ignored)
- Guarding possessions or areas in the house
- Snapping, snarling
- When approached
- Aggressive barking and lunging at other dogs or people.
If your dog has ever showcased any of the signs of aggression, it is important to seek the professional help of a trainer before the situation worsens.
Understanding your dog and his behaviour can lead to a very fulfilling and harmonious life for your dog but also for you and other members of the family.
We hope this article has been of interest.