Dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years and have become one of the most popular pets in the world. As a result of their close proximity to humans, they have developed complex behavioral patterns that are unique to their species. In this essay, we will explore the behavior of house dogs and provide evidence-based insights into their behavior.
One of the fundamental aspects of a dog's behavior is its social nature. Dogs are pack animals, and as such, they thrive in social environments. In the wild, dogs form packs led by an alpha male and female. Each member of the pack has a role to play, and they work together to ensure the survival of the group. Similarly, in a household, dogs often see their human family as their pack and look to them for guidance and protection. Studies have shown that dogs prefer to be in the company of their owners, and their behavior is often influenced by the presence or absence of their owners (1).
Another critical aspect of a dog's behavior is its ability to communicate. Dogs communicate through a variety of means such as body language, vocalizations, and scent marking. For example, a wagging tail is a sign of happiness and excitement, while a tucked tail indicates fear or anxiety. Similarly, barking, growling, and whining are vocalizations that convey different emotions and intentions. Scent marking is another way that dogs communicate with each other and with their environment. By urinating or defecating in specific locations, dogs leave messages that other dogs can interpret.
One of the most important factors that influence a dog's behavior is its breed. Different breeds have been selectively bred for specific traits over many years, resulting in distinct behavioral tendencies. For example, herding breeds such as Border Collies and Australian Shepherds are known for their high energy and drive to work, while breeds such as the Basset Hound and Bulldog are more laid back and relaxed. Understanding a dog's breed can help owners provide appropriate exercise, mental stimulation, and socialization, which are crucial for a dog's physical and mental well-being.
Another critical aspect of a dog's behavior is its training and socialization. Proper training and socialization are essential for a dog to become well-behaved, obedient, and well-adjusted. Training involves teaching a dog basic commands such as sit, stay, come, and heel, while socialization involves exposing a dog to different people, animals, and environments to help it learn appropriate behavior. Studies have shown that dogs that receive proper training and socialization are less likely to engage in problem behaviors such as aggression, destructive chewing, and excessive barking (2).
In conclusion, house dogs exhibit complex behavioral patterns that are influenced by their social nature, breed, communication abilities, and training and socialization. Understanding these factors is essential for owners to provide appropriate care and support for their dogs' physical and mental well-being. By providing appropriate exercise, mental stimulation, and socialization, owners can help their dogs become well-behaved, obedient, and happy members of the family.
1. Topál, J., Miklósi, Á., Csányi, V., & Dóka, A. (1998). Attachment behavior in dogs (Canis familiaris): a new application of Ainsworth's (1969) Strange Situation Test. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 112(3), 219–229.
2. Arhant, C., Bubna-Littitz, H., Bartels, A., Futschik, A., & Troxler, J. (2010). Behaviour of smaller and larger dogs: Effects of training methods, inconsistency of owner behaviour and level of engagement in activities with the dog. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 123(3–4), 131–142.
Dr Muneera Al-Jeeran, CEO of PETCO Kuwait & Active Member of I.S.A.P