Chapter 7. Your dog’s psychology – understand how your dog thinks
Understand how your dog thinks
Take the time to understand and know how your dog thinks. Dogs
do not think they are people, they think people are dogs. As the
owner, you need to relate to the dog as a dog, rather than a furry
person! Most important – you’ll need to establish the fact that
you are the top dog in their pack – you are the alpha dog.
One of the reasons why dogs make such good pets is the wonderful
way they communicate with people. Your dog sees people, especially
you, as an extension of its own canine family and is quick to interpret
your mood and intentions.
In fact understanding how your dog communicates can make living
with one a lot easier, especially when it comes to training. Dogs
communicate through a series of signals
including a variety of facial expressions, body postures, noises
and scents. By understanding these body signals you should be able
to work out who is ‘top dog’ in any confrontation or situation.
Just as people convey body language so does your dog!
A dog that is feeling confident or aggressive will try to convey
the impression of being a larger, more powerful animal by standing
tall with its ears and tail erect. He might thrust his chest forward
and may raise the hairs around the neck and along his back (its
hackles). It may also wave its tail slowly and growl.
A submissive dog will try to appear small and puppy-like because
adult dogs will only chastise puppies – not attack them. The approach
to a more dominant individual is likely to be from the side, crouching
low with the tail held low and wagging enthusiastically. Some dogs
try to lick the feet and face of the dominant dog or even roll on
to its back.
Loose, free tail wagging is a sign of pleasure and general friendliness.
Exaggerated tail wagging, which extends to the entire rump, may
be seen in subordinate dogs as well as those dogs with very short
tails. However, the tail is also an indicator for other emotions.
A tail waved slowly and stiffly, in line with the back expresses
anger; a tail clamped low over the hindquarters is a sign the dog
is afraid or anxious; and nervous dogs may stiffly wag their drooping
tails as a sign of appeasement.
The facial expressions of your dog will also tell you a lot about
his mood – whether he is playful, excited, frightened, or anxious.
The ears are pricked when he is alert or listening intently, but
are held back or flattened onto the head when expressing pleasure,
submission, or fear.
To read his mood correctly, watch the eyes. Your dog’s eyes will
be wide open if it is angry but will appear narrow or half closed
eyes when showing pleasure or submission.
Eye signals are an important part of communicating with your dog
and allow you to assert your authority. In the wild, the pack leader
can maintain control simply by staring at a subordinate dog. In
most cases, the two animals will stare at each other until one challenges
the other or until one lowers its head and turns away.
Stern eye contact can be a good way of disciplining your dog and
reminding him that you are the boss. Try to avoid a showdown. Remember
– regular, gentle eye contact between you and your dear companion
is reassuring for your dog and will go a long way towards reinforcing
Talk to your dog. Tell your dog you love him every day. Even if
you don’t say "I love you" to your four-legged friend,
look him square in the eyes and say something – anything. We all
like to be acknowledged as members of the family. Dogs understand
human language more than we give them credit for. Get your dog’s
attention just as you would a person: Use his name and look right
at him. Many times the owner calls out the dog’s name to scold him.
Instead, it’s far better for your dog to learn that pleasant words
– no matter what they may be – follow his name. Most important,
your relationship will be better as a result of these intimate daily
dog talks. We all like to be confided in and told we’re loved. Dogs
are no exception.
Page : Ten
Steps for Successful Dog Ownership
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