Introduction to Dog Behavior – Part 2
The Mind of a Dog
Dogs do not experience their world the same way we do. Human emotions and things such as sympathy, spite and guilt are not part of a dog’s world. Dogs do what comes naturally and instinctively to them. They have no idea that the type of behavior they are exhibiting is undesirable unless you teach them that it is.
Sympathy and Coddling
Sympathy can also reinforce in their minds that there is something to worry about or be afraid of. Coddling or comforting a dog when it shows fear, hesitation or uncertainty in a given situation will reinforce in his mind that this is something to worry about or be afraid of. Calm, confident behavior with no reaction to the situation is what will put your dog’s mind at ease.
Dogs do not feel guilt, although many dog owners will swear that they do. Dogs are very intuitive and will pick up your emotions from your body language and obviously from your tone of voice. When you’ve come home to find that Fido has torn apart your sofa cushions, he will exhibit behavior that makes it seem like he is guilty of being naughty. Experts say that the dog is merely channeling your emotions and slouchy, slinky submissive, “guilt” appearance is his effort to placate you and hopefully get you out of the mood you’re currently in. If you were to come into the room with the same demeanor and your dog hadn’t done anything, he would exhibit the same behavior.
Actions and Consequences
Dogs are unable to associate things that happened in the past with what is happening currently. What this means is, if you come home and Fido has chewed up your favorite pair of shoes, there is no sense in punishing him for it then. He cannot put two and two together and associate your anger now with something he did hours ago. Let it go and move on. You need to catch Fido in the act and correct the behavior at that time. This is not to say that dogs have no memory. Of course they do! Otherwise you would never be able to train them.
Think Like a Dog
Knowing all these aspects of dog behavior can assist you with understanding why your dog does certain things and to help you with training. Thinking like a dog while training your dog is critical to a successful relationship with your dog. These aspects of dog behavior are presented as a guideline.
In addition to this, it is important to realize that while this guide to dog behavior is generally true, dogs, like people are also individuals with different personalities. Some dogs are smarter than others, some are more outgoing or more active. Overall dog behavior is a mix of instinctual and learned behaviors. All these things need to be taken into consideration when dealing with your dog.
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