ALL ABOUT DOGS and CATS Resource Center for Canine & Feline Lovers
Sooner or later every dog lover
returns home to find some
unexpected damage inflicted by his or
her dog...or, more specifically,
that dog's incisors and molars.
Although dogs make great use
of their vision and sense
of smell to explore the world,
one of their favorite ways to take in
information is to put their mouths to
work. Fortunately, chewing can
be directed onto appropriate items
so your dog isn't destroying items you
value or jeopardizing his own safety.
Until he's learned what he can and
can't chew, however, it's your
responsibility to manage the situation
as much as possible, so he doesn't
have the opportunity to chew on
ALL ABOUT DOGS
Why Dogs Do That: A Collection of
Curious Canine Behaviors
Tom Davis (Author), Steve Smith
(Author), Peter Ring (Illustrator)
Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: Willow Creek Press (1998)
Why do dogs bury bones? Why do dogs
turn circles before lying down? Why do
dogs chase cars and their tails? These
and 36 other curious canine behaviors
are informatively and lightheartedly
answered in the handsomely illustrated
book. An original pencil drawing, rich in
detail, illustrates each insightful
explanation of odd but characteristic dog
actions, social graces and sometimes
Dogs are highly social animals. Their behavioral patterns account for their
trainability, playfulness, and ability to fit into human households and social
situations. Much of their natural instinctive behavior revolves around learning how
to interact with other members of their species.
Domestic dogs prefer living in a social environment, and generally consider "their"
humans as part of the family. As puppies, their play with other family members is
important as it teaches them how to properly interact.
In some families, they share their lives with humans, other dogs, and even cats. In
these social settings, they need to know who is the leader in their social group.
Well-trained dogs are taught to look at their humans as their leaders.
Helping your dog to gently and consistently know what is acceptable behavior, will
help him/her be more comfortable. Not knowing what is expected can be very
stressful, as can sending mixed messages.
Knowing what normal dog behavior is will help you understand why your dog does
what he does. This can help prevent some behavioral problem from occurring, and
can help you retrain your dog if bad habits develop. Learn about the specific
behavioue of certain breeds through information provided by breed-specific clubs.
Some breeds were bred to bark. Figure out the key triggers of your dog's barking.
Perhaps it's the mail carrier, children getting off the school bus, the neighbor coming
out , or daily joggers. Try to reduce the opportunities as well as the incentives to
If trigger events occur outside, bring him indoors before the triggers appear. He'll
be less likely to bark when shielded from the opportunity. When he barks and the
targets bypass or leave your property, this reinforces the barking behavior - and
your dog figures he did his job well.
If you can't avoid the trigger events, re-focus his attention on you. Do this by using
small treats and praise. Try to catch and stop him before he emits his first bark.
Give the correction and command "no!" or "quiet!" Immediately praise him verbally
and use tidbits to reinforce the praise. Keep this up and he will learn it is more
pleasant not to bark.
The key is to break the barking cycle. To the dog, this cycle is: "Detect trigger
person/event ... barkbarkbark...feel good and useful...the trigger leaves...my
barking works great...I'll do that again!"
Chewing is how young dogs explore their environments and mature dogs relieve
stress. Move chewable objects out of reach. Take up throw rugs. Shield or hide
power cords. Spray Bitter Apple on furniture legs and wood trim. Make sure your
dog always has access to his own chew toys. Limit the number of toys you give
your dog, or he'll think nearly everything is fair game. Make a conscious effort to
reward your dog for playing with the right toys.
When you catch him chewing something off-limits, direct him to "leave it" Teach him
this command using positive reinforcement. When the dog drops the item, praise
him lavishly and give him an acceptable substitute to chew.
Digging is instinctive and deeply ingrained in dogs. Dogs dig for a variety of reasons.
Boredom: If you leave your dog out alone in the yard for any length of time, he may
dig just for something to do. Provide toys to relieve boredom.
Escape: Your dog may want to leave a fenced yard because there are so many
more interesting things to do elsewhere.
Hoarding: Dogs are instinctive hoarders. They will bury bones or other treats 'for a
rainy day' when they may need them.
Dens: Any dog may dig to excavate a den. Canines have an inherent instinct to
hide out in dens. If they do not have one available, they will 'make their own.' This
urge can be satisfied by a special bed or secure place which is all their own.
Certain breeds, such as Terriers and Dachshunds, were bred specifically for their
ability to dig out game, such as badgers, foxes, and otters. Thus they have an even
greater digging instinct.
Provide your dog with a place where he is permitted to dig. Train him, with praise
and treats, to dig in that spot and not in an inappropriate place. Provide a sandy
area, with a lot of shade. Sand is much easier to clean off than dirt.
Jumping and Mounting
Jumping and Mounting are often behaviors dogs choose to seek a higher rank in
the pack. Sometimes they just jump out of excitement. Keep people from exciting
your dog to the point of jumping up, barking or nipping. Extremely active dogs will
benefit from agility training. Excessive jumping can be discouraged by just ignoring
the dog until he settles down. Simply turn and walk away. Provide a treat and
attention only when the dog sits calmly on command.
Nipping and Biting
Young dogs gnaw and nip. This is unacceptable behavior that will continue and
grow worse, if not corrected. A dog will test the limits and to see who's boss. The
root of a dog's biting may be in lack of early socialization, fear, dominance,
confusion over his role in the pack, or a health problem requiring a trip to the vet.
If your dog tries to nip during play, command "no" and immediately stop playing.
Turn his eyes to meet yours to emphasize the point. You must feel and convey a
leadership role. As soon as he calms down, say "good dog." Use your dog's name
when giving praise; don't use it when in the act of correcting.
Chewing, mouthing, digging, jumping, chasing, barking) are natural, normal
behaviors for a dog. But you can control and replace them with desirable behavior
by taking the time to work with your dog.
Dogs lick for a number of reasons. They lick to groom themselves and others.
Puppies and the young of wild canids lick the mouths of the adults as a greeting to
stimulate them to regurgitate. As the puppies grow older, the licking becomes a
way of welcoming others back into the pack and increasing the bonds between the
pack members. This has developed into the licking tendency of pet dogs. Licking is a
way our dogs greet us and confirm their relationship with us.
Rolling In Smelly Things
Dogs may choose to roll in foul-smelling things to mask their scent, just as wolves
do. Some behaviorists feel dogs roll in smelly things to 'advertise' what they have
found to other dogs Unfortunately many domesticated dogs have held onto this
disgusting instinctive trait. And unfortunately, instincts can seldom be unlearned.
Many of us have given a dog a bath only to find him running outside to again roll in
|Punishment teaches a dog to avoid the lesson and distrust the
teacher. For example, if you hit a dog who just urinated indoors,
he'll learn not to potty when you're looking. Instead, reward
good behavior, set up opportunities for the dog to learn and
display good behavior - and disrupt or ignore bad behavior
|Never approach a strange dog
by staring at him.
This indicates aggression to a dog.
You may have a dog that won't
sit up, roll over or even cook
breakfast, not because she's too
stupid to learn how but because
she's too smart to bother."
Rick Horowitz, Chicago Tribune