Understanding Your Dog’s Behavior

Your Dog’s Behavior — How They Protect Us

Understanding your dog’s behavior, especially his protective behavior, is very important. It’s one of the best ways to keep your dog safe, and know when he’s trying to keep you safe.

You may think your dog belongs to you, but you belong to your dog, as well. That means he is going to claim you and protect you.

“When he’s sitting on your foot, it’s an ownership thing. If his [bottom] is on you, he’s marking your foot,” says Jennifer Brent, animal advocate and external relations manager for the L.A.-based non profit animal welfare advocacy group Found Animals.

“It’s not just that he wants to be close to you, he’s saying, ‘This is mine; now it smells like me, don’t go near it.’

He does this for three main reasons: to feel secure about his place in your life, to warn other dogs that you are spoken for and because he wants to protect you.”

To ensure your protection, dogs will also bark at guests, growl at other dogs when outside and pull on the leash while out for a walk.

“There’s a line of thinking that the dog is your scout. He sees himself as a member of the pack, and he wants to make sure everything is cool before you get there,” Brent says.

– via Woman’s Day

Understanding How Your Dog Speaks To You

As dog owners, we love it when our dogs are excited to see us. It’s a behavior that we can often understand. But what about your dog’s other behavior? Here we’ll take a look at how your dog speaks to you and what your dog’s behavior really means.

“Welcome back!”

When you come home or wake up in the morning and your dog greets you with a stretch, he’s not waking up from a nap or doing puppy yoga, he’s saying hello.

This is only used with people he is comfortable with—you won’t see a dog greet a stranger with a stretch.

“I’m shy”

Many dogs can be timid around new people, and there are some obvious signs that a dog is shy or nervous.

If a dog’s ears are backwards and flat against her head, and she is shrinking back to the ground trying to make herself small, she is uncomfortable.

To make friends with a shy or nervous dog, turn sideways and kneel on the ground. Don’t lean over the dog—keep your back straight.

Let her come to you and sniff. You can hold out your hand while keeping your arm still so she can comfortably learn your scent from a little farther away.

Avoid reaching over the dog’s head. If she’s comfortable with you trying to pet her (i.e. her ears don’t go back again), pet her back instead of her head.

“I’m stressed…but it’s going to be okay, right?”

Canines—wild or domestic—have a series of signals that ask for reassurance when they’re stressed. Another canine, doing the same signal back, is reassuring them.

Behaviorists call these “calming signals.” These behaviors seem ordinary to humans, and we don’t put any thought into it when we do them, but a dog can do them very deliberately.

A yawn, a lick of the lips, and slow blinking are all examples of signals that a dog is uncertain or stressed.

Calming signals are a great way to talk with your dog! If you notice your dog displaying several of these behaviors, you can actually do them back to say, “It’s okay.”

Have you ever yawned and noticed your dog yawning back at you? He’s not imitating you—he’s trying to make you feel better. They may literally “shake it off” too.

– via Rover Blog

How well do you understand your dog’s behavior?

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