Identifying and Avoiding Over- Protective Behavior in Your Dog

Living with a dog brings so many pleasures to our lives that it shouldn’t be surprising that so many of us share our homes with at least one canine member of the family. But we also speak different languages, and we display our worries and concerns in different ways. So, that means that there can be times when there is a misunderstanding, resulting in conflict.

When our dogs show what looks like protective behaviour, there can actually be many different reasons for us seeing that response. That’s when we need to take on a detective role to work out what’s going on. Once we know that, then we can help our dogs respond in new ways, if that protective behaviour is not what we want to see

What Does Protective Behavior Look Like?
Imagine for a moment what protective behavior looks like in a person. The chances are they will step forward to be between you and the threat to your safety, and their whole body language will be confident and assertive. A dog demonstrating protective behavior will be the same. That means your dog will:

Be by your side, or they may step in front
Ears will be pricked
There might be some growling
Tense body language
A still tail or it will be wagging very slowly

Which Breeds of Dog Tend to Be the Most Protective?
Many types of dogs have been bred for hundreds of years to display particular traits. Just think of the gundog breeds, who love to hunt and carry things in the mouths. Then there are the herding breeds such as collies, who, in the absence of sheep, will round up the children for you instead! Well, we also have some breeds that have been bred to demonstrate guarding and protective-type behaviors.

That means that they are less likely to go up to new people to say hello, and they may naturally guard their home and the people that live there. These breeds can include the Belgian Malinois, the Doberman Pinscher, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, and the Akita. Now, we should say that protective tendencies vary hugely from dog to dog, and some breeders work hard at reducing the protective instinct in their pups by only breeding from very sociable parents.

What Isn’t Protective Behavior?
At first glance, a dog that’s barking at another person can look as if they are protective of their owner. But take another look at that canine body language. Is the dog barking but backing away at the same time? Is their tail tucked under their body? How about the ears? Are they flat on their head when they would normally be standing upright? All of these are signs that your dog is actually quite worried about the situation rather than being protective.

These dogs have learned that they can often make the scary thing go away if they bark. Think about it from the dog’s perspective; a person they don’t know is heading towards them when they’re out on a walk. So, they bark because they’re a bit worried, and the ‘scary’ person crosses the road to keep out of the way of the dog. Success! Now the dog has learned that to make scary things go away, you just have to bark.

Now you can see why many dogs who might be labeled as being protective are actually dogs who lack confidence but who have found a way to keep scary things away from them.

What Can You Do to Stop Your Protective Dog Being Too Protective?
So, let’s now look at how you can live with one of the instinctively protective breeds without running into problems.

Choose Carefully
If you’re looking for a pup to join your family and it’s from a breed known for being protective, then it’s essential to do your homework. You must meet the pups’ mum and, ideally, other relatives so that you can get a sense of what you might be getting yourself into.

Protective adult dogs may not come rushing up to say hello, and they may be a little wary of you, but they shouldn’t be aggressive. You should see that they are affectionate towards their owners and that they are responsive to them.

Socialization is Essential
Socialization is the process of your dog getting to meet lots of people in different environments when they are younger. Anything that your pup doesn’t get to see or experience when they are young is likely to cause them to startle and be afraid of when they are older.
So, this might mean taking your pup to parks, markets, dog-friendly cafes, and bars to take in these new experiences. It’s important not to overwhelm your youngster; you don’t want them to feel that they need to be protective. This is time to watch the world go by and for your pup to develop their confidence.

Train, Train, and More Training
Are you getting the hint that training is going to be important? For the protective breeds of dogs, obedience is essential, and it’s going to be an ongoing feature of their life. Forget the saying that ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ because you absolutely can. It may take an older dog a little longer to learn new ways of doing things, but with patience, they will get there.

For all dogs, learning with rewards will get you better results than relying on punishment. When training is fun, your dog’s learning will be quicker, and they’ll love being around you. This doesn’t always have to be about rewarding with food; your dog may enjoy a game with a toy or fetching ball instead.

Has Your Dog Suddenly Become Protective?
Whenever there’s a sudden or dramatic change in your dog’s behaviour, and you can’t work out why then a trip to the vets should be first on your to-do list. That’s because there are several conditions, such as hypothyroidism which can cause aggression and be seen as protective behaviours.

If the vet has given the all-clear, then this might be a good time to get professional behavioural help. A qualified and experienced canine behaviourist will be able to help identify why the behaviour is happening. Then, they’ll devise a program to help your dog to become less protective.

Article Supplied

5 Tips To Train Your Dog With Treats

When you bring home a new dog, one of the first things to do is to train it. For me and my family, it was necessary for our new pet to understand simple instructions. It is common knowledge that the secret to training your dog is to use treats because food is such a huge motivator for them.

In our experience, it was really effective when we were doing obedience training. Getting them to perform a task might seem easy for us humans, but dogs do not just understand the way people do. They need something very basic and primal, like food, to learn a task.
 
Training your dog depends on various factors, like the age of the dog and its temperament. For us, using treats to train our new dog was possible, especially if you follow these simple tips.  

  1. Use Small Treats
     
    While using some treats is good because our dog got fed at the same time, but it was important for us not to overdo it. Some dog breeds are prone to obesity and giving too many treats can be dangerous for its health.
     
    Another trick that worked for us was to use different kinds of treats to mix it up and keep it exciting for our pet. Choosing healthy ones was also important for our dog’s diet.
     
  2. Reward Your Dog When It Is Calm And Submissive
     
    The idea of rewarding with treats is to encourage the right behavior, which is why we had to be careful when we give the dog the treats. If you give your pooch a little treat while it is hyperactive or doing something destructive, then you are teaching your pet to act this way. We simply had to wait until the dog is calm and submissive before giving treats.
     
  3. Do Not Use Treats To Bribe The Dog
     
    While using treats is a great way for your pet to learn new tricks, you should definitely avoid using it for the wrong purpose. We did not want our pet to mistake the treat for a bribe. If you notice your dog waiting expectantly for the treat, then this is a bad sign. Ideally, you teach it to follow a command using a treat, but you should rely on this less and less. Our secret is to use reinforcement and praise to make it follow our commands.
     
  4. Reward Each Step
     
    Most tasks actually involve a few steps, like throwing a stick and having the dog get it and bring it back. One huge mistake we made is to only reward after it has done the entire task, which can be quite frustrating for everyone. Instead, we changed our technique, breaking down the task into smaller ones and get the dog to perform them first.
     
    To do this, whenever your pet does each step correctly, remember to give it a treat. Once all the steps have been done correctly, then you can teach it to do them all together. Even if your pet is not able to do everything perfectly, any progress in the right direction should still be rewarded. In our experience, this kept our dog motivated the entire time.
     
  5. Learn “fade the lure”
     
    Fade the lure is an important technique to avoid the treat turning into a bribe. Simply put, you will use the treat the first few times to make it do the task you want it to do and then once it has mastered it, do the same gesture but with an empty hand. Our trick was to replace the treat with verbal encouragement. At times, we still continued to randomly use the treat, but eventually we reduced it until we stopped giving treats completely.
     
    Even without training or experience, teaching our dog new tricks was not complicated, because we used the right techniques. Giving it treats is one of the most successful ways to do it, and it was great for making sure our new dog was obeying our commands and settling in the family well.

Article Supplied.

The perfect solution to all your dog friendly needs

Head on the keyboard, I’ve had enough.  I’m tired of looking for the perfect solution to my needs.  I grab my coffee and head over to the back door where I stick my head out for some fresh air, oh I wish I could have a holiday somewhere quiet away from it all.  I know that’s not possible because of Lula my mix breed dog, she’s an absolute nightmare on the lead, in the house, in the car, you name it I hide from it!  So here I am stuck at home with my barking, lead pulling (that’s why we don’t get out much) dog.  I do love her and want to have a special bond with her but I can’t find what I’m looking for, I don’t even know what I’m looking for.

I pick up a tennis ball and throw it into the garden, Lula loves to play a game of fetch, it brings her alive and she brings it back and runs to fetch it, this could go on for hours how come it doesn’t make her tired?  I bring her in and try to wipe her paws, yes you guessed it she doesn’t like that either and we end up in a wrestling match with me flat on my face in the middle of the kitchen floor.

That’s it, I’ve had enough! I slam the back door and head out of the kitchen back to the computer.  I know what I’m looking for!  Dog Trainer in King’s Lynn is added to the web browser.  Dog Trainers, Behaviourists and Clubs/King’s Lynn/Norfolk wow that’s the one! I click and get a bright dog friendly page full of dog trainers in King’s Lynn.  I look though a few of the premium pages and it catches my eye Game Based Trainer.  Lula it is meant to be young lady, today is day one of our new journey.

The website was bright, light and full of fun, showing how games created learning through choice – I was hooked and clicked on the Make an Enquiry button on The Good Dog Website.  Excited I jumped up and made another coffee returning quickly to The Good Dog Guide website and where it said click to choose a category I chose Self Catering and in lovely Norfolk.  I booked our holiday for September which gives us four months of intensive game based training sessions to have the best holiday ever!

Thank you The Good Dog Guide you have it all covered!

Article supplied by to Julie Carter at MyLuka Dog Training Solutions

Why I started the ‘Respect the lead campaign’

I was out walking with my family and my dog over New year at a local beauty spot. Towards the end of our walk I heard a dog fight close by, there were screams of ‘help’ and so my veterinary mode kicked in and I found myself running over.

Just as I got to the gathering crowd someone threw something towards the dogs which momentarily distracted them and they came apart. I checked over one of the dogs whilst the other dog was led away by its upset owner. The first dog was fine however a comment about blood alerted me to the fact that the other dogs owner had a nasty bite to his hand. By this time there were quite a few strong words exchanged and so I walked away.

I wanted to check the other dog & owner and finally found them in the car park. Fortunately both dogs were unscathed but sadly the owner had a deep bite that needed urgent medical attention. I gave some human first aid advice and had a long chat with them about the incident. They were very upset as they had been walking their reactive dog on a lead and when it had been approached by a very enthusiastic bouncy young dog they had requested it was taken away. Sadly this was ignored and after about the 10th time of asking their dog reacted and so a fight broke out. As I walked away I felt sad for the owner, disappointed that they were doing the ‘right thing’ by keeping their dog on a lead and warning others to stay away…yet still their requests were ignored.

My own current dog had issues when I first rescued him and I spent a lot of time training him to be calmer and accepting of other dogs around him. He does stay on the lead a lot of the time and I too encounter many owners who let their dogs come charging over, fortunately with the groundwork I have put in and the training I continue to take with me on a walk I can deal with it…however many people can’t. As soon as you put a lead on a dog everything changes for them and so we need to respect this, understand why and act accordingly……………..

As the days went on after the incident, I kept thinking about what I had seen and felt passionately that something needed to be done to raise awareness of lead etiquette.

So after a lot of thought, planning and design my ‘Respect the lead’ campaign was born……… It has had amazing coverage on social media and I have had many requests for posters (all over the world!). The support has been overwhelming and I am still to this day amazed at the impact it seems to have made in the dog owning world.

Let’s continue to spread the awareness so that everyone can enjoy their dog walks and together we can help our canine friends ……who may be kept on a lead for a reason.

Article supplied.

Tips to Prevent the Risk Seeking Behavior in Dogs

Dogs have unique personalities and their moods vary ranging from joyful, playful to scared and aggressive. As a dog owner, you will always wish and work towards having a well-trained dog. However, often and when least expected, your dog may display risk-seeking behaviors. Even though aggression is not a welcomed behavior, it is common and quite dangerous. While you may want to use the best retractable dog leash for large dogs to train your dog, there are other important tips to employ. These tips will help you to manage the dog and to enhance its safety as well as that of your family members and friends.

Behavior in Dogs

To employ the best measures to prevent risk behaviors, you need to know the signs and symptoms that dog’s exhibit. This can be a one time or a sequence of increasingly intense risk-seeking behaviors. Your dog may;

Become rigid and still.
Bark uncontrollably.
Charge towards you, a friend or any person around.
Mouthing and muzzle punching.
Showing teeth and growling.
Snarling and snapping.
Quick nips and bites that may cause a bruise.
Bites leading to wounds.
Shaking
.

There are also different types of risk-seeking behaviors that you need to understand. They include: territorial, protective, possession, fear, defensive, social, frustration elicited, redirected, pain elicited, sex-related and predatory risk-seeking behaviors or aggression. Therefore, you need to carefully analyze the reasons behind a certain aggressive behavior in your dog to prevent and manage it efficiently.

Behavior in Dogs

Work with your vet
A dog can display a risk-seeking behavior due to an underlying medical condition. Painful conditions such as thyroid abnormality, canine aggression, and orthopedic issues can lead to irritability and aggression in dogs.
Dogs under medication can also be aggressive and susceptible to different situations. Therefore, it is vital to have a pet to examine the dog, and if a medical problem is identified, the dog should get treatment immediately. This gives the dog a better chance to recover and improve its behavior.

Professional behavior expert
It is equally important to seek the help of a professional behavior expert. Risk seeking behaviors are dangerous and can lead to detrimental effects. Think of it, even the best behavior experts get bitten time and again. This means leaving an untreated dog poses a serious risk to you and your loved ones.
A professional will evaluate the dog’s behavior to determine whether it is a defensive behavior or fear driven. The professional will also monitor the dog over a period of time and recommend the most ideal behavior modification plan that matches the needs of your dog.
A professional dog behaviorist will help you to understand the best ways to calm your dog, help it to relax, and stay safe around other dogs and people. This is why it is always important that you seek professional help at the first sign of a risk-seeking behavior.

Create a safe environment
Safety is paramount as you try to prevent and manage aggression in dogs. If the dog is aggressive towards children, strangers or other dogs, it is wise to keep it muzzled outdoors but in a comfortable and safe place.
Use the best retractable dog leash whenever you take your dog out in public or for a walk. This is because the dog can get frustrated, and try to run away. Your safety and that of the people around you as well as that of the dog is paramount. Exercise, play and walk the dog in a secure place such as the garden area with little or no interference from strangers. This is because, in such an environment, it is easy to calm and bond with the dog until the desired behavior is achieved.

Secure the dog
If the behavior of your dog is defensive, as a result of fear or due to an underlying medical condition, it is important to secure the dog. This can be in a kennel, a safe room or in the garden where the dog can relax and enjoy a quiet environment. Feed and play soothing music or provide toys that can distract the dog and keep it calm.
Choose a companion wisely for your dog
When choosing a companion for your dog, consider its breed and gender. Have a male and a female dog of different breeds to prevent aggression.

Behavior in Dogs

With these tips, the most important advice is that you seek professional help at the first sign of risk-seeking behavior. This will help you to treat and prevent safety and health risks for you, your family and your dog.

Article supplied.

Five Top Tips: Reading Your Dog’s Body Language

They say dogs are a man’s best friend and incredibly loyal animals, but do you know what’s really going on with your dog?
In theory, it can be hard to know what an animal is feeling or thinking, as they can’t communicate with speech, but in fact dogs reveal their emotions a lot more than you may think. As with humans, we can tell a lot from their body language.
Here, we put together a helpful list of signs that your dog may be using to show you just how they are feeling. When you know what your beloved pet is trying to say, it becomes a whole lot easier to ensure they remain happy and healthy.

Dogs

If Your Dog Is Happy
Happiness is probably one of the easiest emotions to decipher, and as we want our dogs to be as happy as possible, it’s one we’re sure you’ll endeavour to maintain. Once you know what makes your dog happy, it’ll be easier for you to replicate this feeling and keep your pooch content. It’s especially important to understand when your dog is happy because if you confuse this with another, less positive emotion, you could be causing more problems for your pup.

Some signs to look out for
– Happy expression
– Relaxed body
– Panting
– Lying with one paw tucked under
– Enthusiastic tail wag
– Playful bow
– Rolling over
– Inviting belly rubs

If Your Dog Is Aggressive
Behaviours associated with aggression are easily misconstrued, but as it’s one of the most difficult emotions to understand and explain, it’s important to keep your eyes peeled for if your dog begins to turn aggressive. This can help you keep them under control and stop aggression leading to any kind of physical attack.

Signs include
– Freezes, suddenly becomes stiff
– Stands up with front legs splayed
– Head low
– Curls lip
– Shows teeth
– Gnarls
– Aggressive barking
– Biting
– Raised tail

If Your Dog Is Fearful or Stressed
Whilst stress is part and parcel of life, it’s not an emotion that any of us particularly enjoy experiencing, dogs included. Our canine friends can show stress and fear in a multitude of ways but it’s usually environmental influences that cause your dog to be afraid. When you understand how your dog is feeling, you can look to remove some of the factors causing this and alleviate the negative emotions.

Signs to look out for
– Barking or whimpering
– Running around or pacing
– Crouching
– Shaking
– Change in appetite
– Pinned ears
– Avoidance

If Your Dog Is Excited
Seeing a dog run around full of glee is a joy to watch and ensuring that your dog stays positive and enthusiastic is part of fostering their playful personality. Once you identify what makes them excited, it’s easier for you to ascertain that if they’re running around, wagging their tail and barking, it’s not in a negative or intimidating way.

Signs include
– Playful behaviour
– Ears forward
– Mouth open
– Tail high
– Fast tail wag

If Your Dog Is Sad
This is an emotion we’re sure you’d never want your dog to feel as most dog owners go out of their way to ensure their canine companion is as happy as can be. However, dogs can experience feeling down in the dumps just as humans can. It’s vital for you, as a dog owner, to recognise these signs in order for you to help your pooch feel happier again.

Signs to look out for
– Loss of appetite
– Lethargy
– Avoidance
– Changes in sleeping habits

Good communication can show a mutual sign of love, respect and trust, so keep your eyes peeled for the different types of body language your dog is showing – chances are they are trying to tell you something.

Created by Time for Paws, an online pet store for dogs and cats.

time for paws

Sharron Davies backs No Bite is Right campaign and heads around the country to help keeps pets healthy

As the weather warms up and we approach summer, pet owners are being urged to be vigilant against ticks and fleas which thrive in warmer weather. Watch our video where Sharron and the Tickbuster team of experts tell you how you can keep your furry friends happy and healthy as temperatures rise

As pet owners get set for a summer spent with their beloved furry friends in the great outdoors, Sharron Davies is urging them to make sure their animals are in tip top shape before the summer kicks in.

The former Olympic swimmer is backing the No Bite is Right campaign and is making her way around the country on the Tickbuster Tour alongside a panel of experts, to help pet owners prevent nasty bites from ticks and fleas which thrive in warmer weather.

New research shows that almost one in ten pet owners don’t do anything to prevent their pets being bitten by ticks and fleas, while only a quarter treat their pet with a preventative treatment at the recommended frequency. Furthermore, less than 60% believe they have control over their pet’s protection from parasites like ticks, fleas and lungworm.

But while nasty and in some cases potentially fatal – all of these parasites and the diseases they spread can be protected against by regular use of suitable preventative products available from vets.

Watch our video where Sharron Davies starts the Tickbuster tour at the Ayr County Fair, alongside a panel of experts, to educate pet owners on how to keep their pets healthy this summer.

www.itsajungle.com

Celtic-K9 Trainer has the 4-1-1 on Dog Park Etiquette

etiquette is important for safety at the dog park
One of the most important things you must bring with you to your dog parks is a positive, calm, relaxed, and happy attitude. You must have a good strong leash (not a recoil leash as they are the worst type of leash for controlling your dog) and collar or harness. Never bring a dog to a dog park wearing a pinch collar. Also, remember to bring a good outdoor toy with which you and your dog love to play.
The first behavior I look for at a dog park is not the behavior of the dog but of the handler. I have noticed owners approaching a park all tense and rigid. This energy rubs off on their dog and in turn the dog enters the park all tense and defensive.  This energy transfers like a ripple in a pond. It can and has been the cause of many upsets in the park, usually resulting in some poor doggy having to leave too early.
I once watched a man stand alone in the middle of the dog park throwing a ball for his Shepherd mix. Every time he threw the ball, every dog in the park went crazy for the ball and charged after it. This big pack of dogs – all colors all breeds – charged together playing. The other dogs’ owners stood in a huddle together on the sidelines, pretty much ignoring their dogs. They were either too busy playing with the latest fad in technology or complaining about the world and its problems.
A short while later, a truck pulled into the car park and out jumped a short thin man with two of the most beautiful Bullies I have ever seen. They sat at the tail of the truck waiting for their leashes to be attached and to be led to the park to play. The man weighed approximately 150lbs and was leading approximately 180lbs of muscle. He led them with confidence and pride. As he entered the park, his two dogs sat and waited to be released.
As he started to release them, every handler in the park called their dog over and leashed them. As the owners became nervous and tense while trying to round up their dogs, three different fights broke out. The only dogs in the park not involved in the freeze of fear and stress were the two Pit Bulls and the Shepherd mix that had been chasing the ball.
What we need to learn from this situation is that sometimes (and I would argue that the majority of the time) it is the dog owner that causes the problems that we see in dogs. From the lack of understanding of the breed to their need to be exercised both physically and mentally, many dog owners fail to understand how their behavior directly affects their dog’s behavior.It is important to supervise your pet at the dog park

A lot of owners will bring their dogs to the park and release them to run in an unsupervised and unstructured environment. A dog running free in the park with no plan will create a game of his own which can be fun to watch but it can also encourage the dog to develop his own way of entertaining himself, which usually results in the development of a behavioral problem. Take a ball, a rope, or the good old trusty Kong-On-A-Rope to the park and play with your dog. Chase him and let him chase him you and reward him for playing. You cannot imagine the strong relationship that will develop simply by playing with your dog.
After all, what do you think your dog thinks you have been doing for the past eight hours while he has been protecting the house? So take him out and play and have fun with your dog – he’s earned it and so have you!

One of the most important things you must bring with you to your dog parks is a positive, calm, relaxed, and happy attitude. You must have a good strong leash (not a recoil leash as they are the worst type of leash for controlling your dog) and collar or harness. Never bring a dog to a dog park wearing a pinch collar. Also, remember to bring a good outdoor toy with which you and your dog love to play.

The first behavior I look for at a dog park is not the behavior of the dog but of the handler. I have noticed owners approaching a park all tense and rigid. This energy rubs off on their dog and in turn the dog enters the park all tense and defensive. This energy transfers like a ripple in a pond. It can and has been the cause of many upsets in the park, usually resulting in some poor doggy having to leave too early.

I once watched a man stand alone in the middle of the dog park throwing a ball for his Shepherd mix. Every time he threw the ball, every dog in the park went crazy for the ball and charged after it. This big pack of dogs – all colors all breeds – charged together playing. The other dogs’ owners stood in a huddle together on the sidelines, pretty much ignoring their dogs. They were either too busy playing with the latest fad in technology or complaining about the world and its problems.

A short while later, a truck pulled into the car park and out jumped a short thin man with two of the most beautiful Bullies I have ever seen. They sat at the tail of the truck waiting for their leashes to be attached and to be led to the park to play. The man weighed approximately 150lbs and was leading approximately 180lbs of muscle. He led them with confidence and pride. As he entered the park, his two dogs sat and waited to be released.

As he started to release them, every handler in the park called their dog over and leashed them. As the owners became nervous and tense while trying to round up their dogs, three different fights broke out. The only dogs in the park not involved in the freeze of fear and stress were the two Pit Bulls and the Shepherd mix that had been chasing the ball.

What we need to learn from this situation is that sometimes (and I would argue that the majority of the time) it is the dog owner that causes the problems that we see in dogs. From the lack of understanding of the breed to their need to be exercised both physically and mentally, many dog owners fail to understand how their behavior directly affects their dog’s behavior.

(alt text: It is important to supervise your pet at the dog park)

A lot of owners will bring their dogs to the park and release them to run in an unsupervised and unstructured environment. A dog running free in the park with no plan will create a game of his own which can be fun to watch but it can also encourage the dog to develop his own way of entertaining himself, which usually results in the development of a behavioral problem. Take a ball, a rope, or the good old trusty Kong-On-A-Rope to the park and play with your dog. Chase him and let him chase him you and reward him for playing. You cannot imagine the strong relationship that will develop simply by playing with your dog.

After all, what do you think your dog thinks you have been doing for the past eight hours while he has been protecting the house? So take him out and play and have fun with your dog – he’s earned it and so have you!

Blog post added by Celtic K9

How Dogs Communicate

Behaviourist

Hello all, in this blog we will take a look at how dogs communicate and hopefully give you some idea about how good (in their own way) they are at it.

Dogs communicate in four ways, those being Olfactory (smells), Auditory (hearing), Visual and Tactile (touch). I would not be able to cover all these in this one blog so we will have a look at arguably the most important (to a dog) of these, Olfactory communication. I will look at the other forms of canine communication in future blogs.

A dog has evolved to be an expert at Olfactory communication, the dogs nose is an incredible tool, lets have a few facts about that nose first.

A dogs nose can have a Olfactory epithelium (internal nose area) of between 20-200 sq cm depending on breed, we as humans have 2-4 sq cm.

They can have up to 250 Mio (million) scent receptor cells, we have 5 Mio.

Dogs noses are 1-100 Mio more sensitive to Butyric acid (in sweat), so good for tracking, it is estimated that the sweat left in a shoe print is 1 Mio more than threshold.

The area of a dogs brain used to analyse smells is 40 times larger than ours.

So with a nose like this it is somewhat obvious that olfactory communication is very important to the dog.

The dog also has several glands around its body that secrete scents and pheromone messages for others to find.

You will most probably have seen your dog stopping to sniff something when out and about followed closely by some salivating and then their behaviour becomes more intense sometimes to the extent of squealing and rushing around. What has just happened is your dog has found an interesting message, sometimes a long term message, left by another dog, on closer inspection they have licked the scent to transport it to the vomeronasal organ (or Jacobsons organ) found in the roof of your dogs mouth. This organ contains chemo receptors that are connected to the limbic system which is connected to emotional responses, hence the excited behaviour at what they have found. They will lick what they have found, salivate and then become excited about what they have found. What they did indeed find is a chemical message left by another dog from scent or pheromones excreted by that dog.

Hows dogs communicate

Glands that excrete these messages are found throughout your dog, on the side of the head (why they rub their head on smelly things), at the base of the tail called the Supracaudal or violet gland, on either side of the anus (anal glands), on the perineum (between the dogs legs) and between the toes which is why some dogs will scrape the ground after urinating to leave an additional pheromone message from these glands and a visual one from the scraped up ground too (a three fold message).

A dogs urine carries with in it a wealth of information for another dog to find. It can tell a dog the sex, age, status, health, breeding cycle (bitches), nutrition (proteins etc) and most importantly and very accurately how long ago another dog was there and if recently may well give the dog doing the smelling advance warning of something good (female in season) or bad (high status known aggressive dog) in the area, which will provoke a response be it disappearing over the horizon in search of the dog in season or being on guard in case of a meeting with the aggressive dog.

When your dog moves through the environment they are continually scenting the ground and air to pick up on these messages left by others, some are better at it than others (bloodhound for instance), but all are experts at it compared to us, we do not have the tools to do it but to a dog it is a major part of their makeup and way of life and you should allow your dog to carry out these behaviours as it is in my opinion intrinsically linked to a dogs well being, if they want to have a sniff and a pee then let them (if safe of course), olfactory and the other forms of canine communication and the need to carry it out will help with the socialisation of your dog as through experience they will be better at communicating with others.

I hope this has given you a brief but informative look at one of the forms of canine communication, it’s importance to your dog and hopefully a desire to find out more. For a more in depth look at all canine communication have a look at my website, it’s free, have a good day !

Blog by dogways.info

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Breed Specific Traits and Behaviours

Behaviourist

Hi All, lets have a quick look at breed specific traits and behaviours. I have written this article to give owners both new and old and indeed potential owners some basic knowledge that will help them understand a bit about what I think is a major influence on many modern dogs behaviours. A few examples of the many breed specific traits and behaviours would be the Collie to herding, the Rottwieler to guarding, the Husky to wanting to pull, the Staffie to loving people or the Labrador retriever to a good temperament.

When we talk of breed specific traits and behaviours what we should really be saying is that dogs from certain breeds will have a genetic predisposition to carry out certain traits or behaviours, it is in their genes (known in behavioural terms as the genotype), but whether these genes actually become expressed and ultimately become part of the adult dogs actual observable appearance/behaviour (known in behaviour terms as the phenotype) will be profoundly influenced by the environment and early learning that the dog goes through. Let’s have a couple of simple made up examples of the above to explain it.

1.A Staffie is taken as a pup at 8 weeks from a litter of five with mum and dad present, from a loving family home breeder having experienced a safe and stimulating environment throughout with good experiences with all people he came across. This good work was carried on by the new owners family with ongoing good socialisation and the end result is a well balanced dog that loves people, as most Staffies do.

2. A Staffie is taken as a pup at 6 weeks (too early) from a puppy farm having experienced no interaction with littermates and only seeing mum at feeding time, no interaction with other animals including people. The new owners keep the dog locked in a room most of the time, it gets no socialisation and it’s only interaction with people is to get chastised for any normal canine behaviours (driven by boredom and frustration) that it carries out. The end result here is a dog that reacts badly to most people.

In example 1 the genetic predisposition for loving people has been expressed and reinforced by the dogs early learning and environment.

In example 2 the genetic predisposition for loving people has not been expressed due to it’s early learning and environment.

dog traits and behaviours

For thousands of years man has selectively breed dogs for certain traits or behaviours that they liked or in earlier times were required, like a dog to guard the home or village to give warning of strangers approaching or to protect their animals. More recently man has breed dogs for aesthetic reasons (looks) and for temperament so they make a good companion dog. There are obviously still many working dogs around today and their owners bring out and reinforce their desirable breed specific traits and behaviours in the course of their training and work.

It is only fairly recently in the dogs evolutionary scale that man has wanted a dog more for a companion animal than a working animal and the previous thousands of years of selective breeding for certain traits and behaviours, especially in some breeds, can give a modern dog very strong genetic urges to carry out certain behaviours. Dogs that have these strong genetic drives do not make good pets for new or inexperienced owners but they do make good working dogs or pets for experienced owners who understand and can give them a life that takes care of their needs. If a dog with these high drives does not get to satisfy the genetic urge they may well carry out other undesirable behaviours (in our eyes) out of boredom or frustration.

Also if a dog is carrying out behaviour that does in deed satisfy it’s genetic urges it will carry on doing it as it makes it feel good, the behaviour releases feel good hormones within the dog that make the behaviour self rewarding to the dog, in this case a dog may become obsessed with carrying out certain behaviours (it becomes a fixed pattern of behaviour) this may cause problems too for the inexperienced.

On my website the dogs that I do not recommend for the first time owner are indeed nearly all high drive dogs, driven by different genetic urges put there by thousands of years of previous selective breeding, these vintage genetic influences can vary from breed to breed and can take the form of prey drive, scenting, guarding, fighting, loving people, dominance, herding, nervousness and many others. As I said earlier though these are genetic predispositions to traits and behaviours and whether they do actually become expressed and end up part of the adult dogs repertoire will be affected by that particular dogs environment and early learning, if you are a first time owner then these sort of dogs may well prove to be too much to handle for you without continuous expert help/advice, really they are not for the new owner.

All of the above and more is covered in more detail on my website dogways so why not take a look, it’s free. Hope the above gives you a brief insight into breed specific traits and behaviours and what it could mean for you and your dog and gives you some encouragement to look further. Thanks for looking!

dogways to help with dog behavioural problems