Dogs are incredibly complex animals.
There are estimates that the number of dog breeds is as high as 800 in North America alone. Even though differentiating one dog breed from another can be taken to extremes, the actual variety is still staggering from a human point of view, as humans have maybe 12 ‘breeds’.
What makes dogs even more complex is the fact that dogs descended from wolves, so they have some wild instinct. Even though dogs interacted with people over 10,000 years ago, there are still wild behaviors that can’t be suppressed or trained out of a dogs nature.
Dogs are predators.
Just because a dog is a predator does not mean they will stalk and attack every animal that passes their way, but the instinct to do so is always in them. There are many traits that dogs posses that are gear towards their old role as predators, and these traits still play a role in a dogs nature and behavior today.
Dogs have very acute hearing and muscles in the head that allow precision movement of their ears, so they can pick up a wide range of sounds and this ear movement helps dogs locate the source of the sound quickly and with high accuracy.
Dogs have great vision and actually have a field of view of approximately 180-270 degrees, in comparison a humans field of view of 100-150 degrees, this increased field of view allows dogs to track things better.
Dogs have a very good sense of smell and it may be their best sense. It has been estimated by some that a dog can sense concentrations 100 million times smaller than that of what a human can sense.
Dogs are social animals.
Even though it is very well known that dogs are social animals, it is usually ignored by owners. Dog owners will often lock a dog away alone in a garage or crate, or in the back yard for whole days while at work. In some cases this isolation from humans and other animals can cause fear, anxiety and aggression. It is important to understand that dogs need interaction and companionship in order to develop and maintain healthy behavior.
In some cases isolating a dog can be useful in training, as long as it is done for brief periods of time. The reason isolating a dog can be used for training because each dog wants to be part of a pack and isolating them can instill fear of exclusion from the pack. This technique is useful for dogs that are trying to be alpha male or are excessively aggressive. It is important in any human dog partnership that the human be the alpha male. If the dog owner is not the alpha male then the dog owner risks property destruction, frustration and a dog that could possibly be dangerous to the owner and people who visit the house or dogs territory.
Dogs are exploratory.
Dogs are very much like and infant and are about the same mental level as a two year old, and like infants dogs learn by exploring their environment. Dogs like infants do not know how to respect property, so proper training and an appropriate selection of toys is a must to help channel the destructive and curious behavior into something that is acceptable and allowed.
When supplying the dog with toys it s important to not select toys that resemble human or baby toys as this will confuse the dog between what is their toys and human property.
As part of a dogs exploration, you can expect to see some digging in the yard, this is normal. But if you don’t want to patch holes in lawn, you can try sprinkling cayenne pepper on the hole to stop the dog from digging there.
By understanding a dogs nature, and working within in it’s parameters will result in less frustration for the dog owner and the dog. So join a dog community and learn more about dog nature and talk with other dog owners for help.