Ethology of the Dog
It is important for people to understand what makes dogs do what they do. Without such knowledge the interaction between them can be more difficult than nessasary. When dog companions recognize a particular behavior and know what prompts it they can deal with it much more effectively.
Lack of understanding leads to ANTHROPOMORPHIZING which is attributing human characteristics to non human objects or dogs in this case.
What affects behavior of a dog?
First heredity and environment can influence a dogs behavior.
Factors affecting behavior include are:
and past experiences.
In training your dog it is important to know a dog’s basic behavioral patterns and drives to achieve a desired result. It is therefore important to study canine behavioral patterns and understand how a dog’s mind works. Understanding the following is very important:
the dogs ancestry, including decent from wolves
the process of domestication
a history of selective breeding of dogs
ways a dog resembles and differs from the wolf
and the stages of canine development
Canine development and it’s stages
K9 development is in five stages:
Neo natal- pups are only capable of eating and sleeping which begins at birth. The first two weeks they are blind and deaf. During this time they stay close to their mother who provides warmth and nourishment. 90% of their time is spent sleeping.
Transitional- during this time the eyes and ears become operational and they begin moving around more. They also start to develop social relationships with one another. They nurse frequently and their teeth start to emerge. They are now capable of learning.
Socialization- this is about three weeks of age and rapid brain development begins. Motor skills improve, social skills are learned. They start to wag their tails, bark, and play with each other.
Juvenile- gradual improvement of motor skills, increased growth and activity, and a desire to explore the environment. Their permanent teeth come in, and by 6 months of age they will have reached 2/3 their adult size. During this stage a pup should be exposed to as many different stimuli as possible to be a well balanced adult dog.
and finally Adult- Sexual maturity marks the beginning of this stage and occurs at 6 to 9 months. Physical maturity and mental maturity arrive at 18 to 24 months or in some breeds up to 3 years old.
Dogs have the ability to learn throughout their lives- YOU CAN teach a dog new tricks, so that saying is just a MYTH to be dispelled!
Why do dogs dig and bury things?
We can dig for a number of reasons- like to make a bed, find a cool spot in hot weather, store food for later. They also dig dens to protect their young, some breeds dig to find prey. Although bored dogs may dig for simple entertainment. Digging may be linked to territoriality.
After defecating dogs can scratch the ground to leave their scent. They can do this to perhaps warn other off strange dogs as a territorial act. (Keep in mind dogs have scent glands in their paw pads.)
For working breeds, it is important act to bury things. Digging behavior is important work for US Customs Service for narcotic detection.
What is marking?
Is when a dog leaves their scent on everything they can to leave messages for other dogs, marking this or that object or area as their territory. Their urine contain scent markers as well. They inform other dogs of their whereabouts, social standing, and to warn off intruders.Urine can be used to scent mark up to 80 times over a period of 4 hours.
What is territoriality?
This is the behavior associated with defense of a territory. Territorial behaviors can be scent marking, barking/ howling, or aggressive reactions to the unfamiliar!
So we are just starting to understand dogs a little bit more, their history why they do the things they do, so tune in tomorrow for more on specific training methods and this coming week we will start to work on training our dogs. Don’t forget to subscribe over to the right hand side to get updates automatically sent to your inbox- one less step for you to learn something new about us that is your dog.
Until tomorrow, have a happy and healthy tail waggin’ day.