Dog Behavior 101

Fetching the ballEven the best of us have difficulty trying to intuit what certain characteristics of dog behavior mean. Sure, the majority of dogs have universal methods of communication, such as barking, growling, or whining, but the lion’s share of canine language is conveyed physically – and varies by breed and individual.

Luckily, it’s fascinating and fun to get inside a dog’s mind, but it doesn’t end there! Understanding dog behavior establishes a strong foundation for the safety, security, and wellness for all involved.

Keys to Understanding

Dogs evolved as pack animals. This group mentality allowed for success in both hunting and scavenging, but also helped protect members from larger predators in the wild. This safety-in-numbers approach reinforced robust social dynamics at play between friends and relatives in the group, and this hierarchy still continues inside homes worldwide.

It’s critical to understand that you are your dog’s pack leader. He or she wants your attention and approval, and knowing how (and when) to provide these will help in your dog’s wellbeing. Teach your dog what you expect and help him or her learn how to succeed. Your calm patience will add to your dog’s feelings of stability and success.

At Ease

Socializing your puppy is possibly the single most important thing you can do for his or her feelings of security and confidence. Exposure to various people, pets, and external; stimuli at a fairly early age will inform future acceptance of crowds, public places, and unexpected noises, even when he or she reaches the senior years.

Being there for your dog during times of uncertainty – and allowing him or her the time and space to get past fearful moments – will help toward building new skills to employ later on. Provide a calm, open model for him or her to emulate, as frustration can add to encroaching anxiety and discomfort. Never scold or punish your dog, or force him or her to withstand situations that clearly create stress.

Dog Behavior Around Kids

For peaceful cohabitation, children must be taught how to respectfully treat the family dog. Please do not allow children to encroach on the space of a dog that is eating, sleeping, chewing, or trying to escape from attention altogether. Your dog would also consider it a favor if kids in your care did not pull or yank on the ears, tail, or legs. Reinforce good kid manners, as well as good dog behavior, and offer rewards/treats if appropriate.

Lastly, we recommend that your dog always has access to his or her bed or crate, and encourage separation the family or company if you notice any signs of stress or anxiety.

Sense of Security

Understanding dog behavior can be a bit tricky at first, but it’s possible! Picking up on all the non-verbal cues and bids that your dog expresses will help toward the prevention of stress, anxiety, and unwanted behaviors.

The veterinarians and staff at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates are always here to assist you and help your dog. Please contact us with any questions about dog behavior – or anything else that supports your pet’s health and wellbeing!