Dog Behavior

Learn about your dog's behavior by understanding wolf pack behavior.

Your dog's behavior is rooted in the survival instincts of wolves.

 Dog behavior is a topic that always comes up when I am talking with owners about their “best friends”.  Why does my dog want to run away when I open the door?  What makes my dog  chew on the furniture?  I don’t always have definitive answers, but I often can see how dog behavior has developed by knowing the breed, the owners habits and putting 2 and 2 together.  The first thing to look at in dog behavior goes back to the rules and etiquette of wolf pack behavior.  We all know that the modern day dog is a direct descendant of the wolf.  A wolf pack’s behavior was developed over hundreds of years with the sole purpose of survival of the pack.  As the wolves population increased and packs were formed all over huge expanses of land, these rules went with each pack to ensure survival.  The rules don’t change, which made it easy for a wolf who may have been separated from it’s pack to be assimilated into another pack thus insuring it’s survival.  These rules of behavior were communicated to the pack members through actions as well as the use of energy from the dominant wolf.

Enter humans.  Early man and wolf became bonded through their mutual need for survival.  Man did not so much domesticate wolves as he simply realized the usefulness of the animal and rewarded that with food.  Wolves were omnivorous animals, eating grasses and herbs in addition to the occasional kill of a large animal.  In a relationship with early man, the wolf would act as protector and guardian and also aided in bringing down large kills.  As a reward, the wolves were given a share of the spoils.  Early man made no attempt to train these wild animals in the manner that we do today.  In fact the wolves often lived on the periphery of the human clan.

Fast forward a few thousand years and you have hundreds of varieties of dogs that perform many different tasks for their humans.  When man realized the value of different dog behaviors to his society, he observed that there were  behaviors that may be particularly appealing to certain groups of people.  A shepherd or farmer would want a dog that would protect his herd and not kill it.  A wealthy homeowner would  want a dog that would alert him to eminent danger and protect his property.  A man in love with his wife might simply want a dog to be her companion.  With these goals in mind, man was able to selectively breed dogs to bring out the behavior they desired.  Now we have the Great Pyrennes which are valued for their ability to protect a herd of sheep and fend off an attack from wild dogs.  We have the German Shepherd whose only mission in life is to protect his owner and his family.  And we have the Shih Tzu or Pomeranian that is content to sit on your lap all day just to be with you.

The posts to this website will look closer at individual behaviors that are of a concern to people and where that behavior may have been rooted.  I look forward to your visiting this site to learn more about your best friend and his sometimes quirky dog behavior.