Understanding the natural roots of dog behavior

You don’t need to have Cesar Millan’s mad skills as a dog whisperer to enjoy an easy, fun relationship with your canine. Here are some tips, based on canine ethology (the science of animal behavior), that can help you and Fido avoid a whack pack.

Your Dog Is Not a Four-legged Person

Most behavioral problems of pet dogs are actually behavioral problems of pet owners. The thought processes and social systems of human are very different than those of dogs. If a dog owner doesn’t take the time to learn about how their dog sees the world, there will be trouble in dog-owner relationship.

Dogs are Pack Animals

Although you might be a big fan of democracy, your dog isn’t. Canines are pack animals that require a social hierarchy established and maintained through the individual members’ level of confidence, posture, threats and (as a last resort) violence.

From your dog’s perspective, he is not part of your family. You, and those humans your dog regularly interacts with, are part of his pack; each member with a very specific spot in the social hierarchy.

Be Top Dog

Every pack has an alpha (highest ranking) and omega (lowest ranking) member. The rulehumans must be dominant to dogs. When the dog sees himself as dominant to any of the humans in his pack, there will be trouble. If your dog perceives himself dominant to everybody in the family, then everyone will have problems interacting with, controlling and disciplining the dog. If some human members of the pack rank higher than the dog, while others rank lower, those low-ranking individuals will not be respected by the dog and will end up having a troubled relationship with that pet.

Dominance Driven Breeds

Some breeds, and individual dogs, are more prone to accept their low-ranking pack status without much resistance. For a canine, not knowing ones rank in the pack is an extremely anxiety-inducing situation; where it is often better to be the omega than to not know where you stand.

Other breeds and individuals are very dominance-driven, and, as such, are a whole lot more work to train and maintain in that necessary bottom-of-the-pack rank. Male dogs and breeds that have been bred for aggression are typically the hardest to work into a healthy pack relationship with your family, particularly if you have young children who will, due to their small size, have difficulty dominating an aggressive, large-breed dog.

When selecting a breed, prospective dog owners should carefully consider what they

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