Understanding Dog Psychology

What it means to understand how a dog thinks

Dog psychology is the understanding of dog behaviour from a canine perspective rather than from a human perspective. Dogs are such close companions; it is easy to forget that they are not human. Humanising a dog can cause miscommunication between humans and their pets and can lead to difficulties between the two.

Many confrontational situations between humans and dogs are due to our lack of ability to read the language of the dog. As part of my work I will show you how to be a positive force in your dog?s life, by understanding what your dog is telling you. And as a result you will increase the bond between you and your pet.

  • Fear: An emotion that is easily detectable in some dogs, humans are far too quick to dismiss it as a reaction to something intimidating (though it very well could be). The interesting thing is that fear in dogs can be both acquired and genetic. Early in a dog?s life, fear can become ingrained due to certain traumatic experiences. Later in life other fearful or traumatic events can trigger it. Some dogs are genetically inclined to be fearful as well.
  • Antisocial Behavior: Certain dogs seem to have an inclination towards aggression and violence. These are known as "red zone" dogs, and given the opportunity they will attack, bite or even kill. Although generalised notions of certain breeds exist, these dogs are most likely a product of poor upbringing without regard to the sensitivities they experience in their early period of life. To treat and rehabilitate this type of dog is difficult, but rather than the ?medical model? which treats behavior problems like an illness, the ?behavioral approach? identifies the connection between the antisocial behavior and the dog?s environment to effect change.
  • Socialisation: Up to the age of 12 weeks is a critical time for a puppy?s development of social skills. If a puppy is not properly socialized with other dogs and people in that time, it could have lifelong consequences. Some people recommend that a puppy be exposed to as many as 100 different people by that age.
  • Depression: Believe it or not, dogs do suffer from depression. Whether it?s the loss of a loved one, a dog friend moving away, an attack from another animal, inclement weather, even a child leaving home, dogs do experience the sadness and listlessness that humans identify as depression.
  • Overprotection: Known as the body guard instinct, an overprotective dog has a tendency to resort to extremely overblown responses to harmless actions such as the approach of a stranger. Dogs with this pathology jealously guard an owner, sometimes even from other members of the family. The behavior gets worse if people have a scared reaction or if they treat the dog like it?s doing something good.
  • Bonding: Through trust building, mental stimulation, socialization, exercise, positive experiences and communication an owner builds trust with his or her dog. Just like children and friends, dogs need to bond with their owners in order to feel safe, loved and part of the family.