Article by Jane Page,
Pets and Animals Home Study Course Student,
Jane’s article explains the ancestral and instinctive history of dogs, showing how their background influences their behavior in domesticated life:
Todays’ pet dog is a direct descendent of the packs of wild dogs led by a leader, usually the strongest or smartest, who survived to breed, passing on that survival instinct to those who followed. Dogs have a pecking order, with each one bossing the dog beneath him down to the last dog – hence the expression ‘the underdog’.
Each dog is kept in his place; if challenged, biting and snarling may ensue until the less dominant dog runs away or rolls over in a belly up subservient position. Great store is put on body language and, if necessary, a dog will fight to show supremacy.
Domesticated dogs of today are still driven by pack instinct and a need for security. The dog owner needs to prove himself the leader of the pack, even if it is only one dog. Dogs will challenge your right to be their leader and if he will not obey you, for example, with coming when he is called, he s not completely accepting and trusting you. In an emergency, he might trust his own judgment ,which could have bad consequences, such as him running onto a road and into the path of a car, rather than returning to a safe position when called.
After security, most dogs are food-motivated. This is often used for training rewards but a dog can be trained to obey for praise. Some breeds are easier to train than others with some dogs such as Border Collies having a natural instinct to round up sheep or even ducks or chickens, but these dogs tend to be harder to train to retrieve objects whereas a dog like a Labrador will naturally return to one bearing a ball or a stick.
Instincts run very deep. Most dogs will position themselves with their heads facing North and it has been shown, as with humans, that it improves circulation, slows the heart rate and improves metabolism, as the body is aligned with the Earths’ magnetic field.
Dogs need stability and routine in order to thrive. A dog whose owner lavishes attention on him on the weekends but leaves him alone for very long periods during the week will suffer a great deal of stress. It is better to have two dogs if this is going to happen, as dogs are not by nature solitary animals. They also need to be taken for walks as, unlike outdoor cats, they cannot (or should not be allowed) to go walking on their own.