Dog Behaviour From: How to Teach a Dog to Rollover What is dog behavior? To know what dog behavior is you first need to know what your dog wants most in life? Above all, your dog wants to be safe. Your dog wants to know that the group he lives in, which includes him, you, other members of your family, other pets you have, is not in danger of being harmed or destroyed by any other group or individual. Your dog is the direct descendent of millions of wild dogs that all felt this same way. Nothing you do will eradicate this strong feeling and the instinct for survival as part of the group. Over millions of years, a dog who was a member of a pack with weak or stupid leaders did not survive to breed. Those who are members of well-led packs often survived to breed and passed on the instinct to the generations that followed, including your dog. You must understand and work with this pack instinct to understand dog behavior. In an orderly pact, the leader is the smartest and often (but not always) the strongest dog. Under him or her is a dog who can boss every dog except the top dog, and so on down the pack. At the very bottom of the pack is a dog who cannot boss anyone and has to obey every other dog in the pack. Each dog obeys the dogs above him and bosses around those below him on the scale. With this dog behavior pack instinct, each dog must find his or her place within the pack. This is done by testing the other pack members. Testing can take many forms: a dog can bite or snarl at another dog and try to make him run away or lie down in a belly up position, which says, “I give up. I admit you are the boss over me. I believe this so much that I will turn my belly up towards you so you could bite it if you wanted to, because I will do whatever you say from now on.” Dog Behavior is a Superior Belief from the Dog Some dog behavior may be done with subtle body language if the dog believes himself to be superior over the dog he is challenging. He may, for instance, simply stiffen his legs and move like a table, walking in slow motion toward or around another dog that he wants to intimidate. If the other dog flattens his ears down against his head and lies down exposing his belly, the first dog has won. If the dog being threatened thinks he is higher in rank, he will grab for the neck of the challenging dog and a dog fight will ensue. This dog behavior means whoever wins the fight will be the winner. From then on, the higher dog will be able to intimidate the lower dog merely by walking up to him and assume the challenging posture such as this stiff legged walk or even just by looking sternly at him. These “power game” may seem rather pointless when you live in the wild surrounded by wolves, lions and bears but living in a house in a town this dog behavior matters. Yet, regardless of how tame they are, dog behavior is motivated by pack instinct. They all want safety in their lives. And the only way they can feel safe is if they know they have a strong, smart leader to their pack. This leader must be you. Your dog will challenge you with this same dog behavior to see whether you are smart enough or strong enough to be a safe choice for pack leader. This dog behavior is different in dogs and they 1
will challenge you in different ways. A big, strong, rambunctious dog may try to prevent you from doing something he doesn’t like (such as put in your hand near his food bowl when he is eating) by growling at you or even biting. See positive training. A tiny dog can behave in exactly the same way. A dog with a less bold temperament may simply roll over and expose his or her belly when you come near, “asking” you to please be the pack leader and boss him or her around. Or the dog behavior could be a challenge to your right to be the pack leader by refusing to do what you say, whether it is expressing by not coming when called or not heeling when you are on a walk. So when you are teaching your dog tricks you must be the top dog. Dogs see things as black or white and yes or no. If your dog does not obey you completely he does not accept you completely as the pack leader and his or her dog behavior will not be favorable. This means that in an emergency he would use his own judgment rather than do what you tell him to do. In civilization this could have very bad consequences. A dog who decides to use his own judgment instead of following yours may decide to bite the intruder who is breaking into your home — perfectly sound thinking for him but not good thinking for a “pack” living in a town where the paper boy has to get to your front door and may sue you if your dog bites him. Because of the new way we “civilized” people have set up our way of living it is safer for a human, not a dog, to make the choices. So remember, dog behavior is pack instinct driven therefore you must be the top dog at all times under all circumstances and your dog must accept your position without question.
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