A dog's behaviour is influenced by certain basic instincts
which you should be aware of if you want to understand your dog. Some of them have been lessened by the protected
life led by modern pets. In fact, the dog as a species seems to be undergoing an important period in his evolution
since never before in history have so many of them been bred exclusively as pets.
The instinct for survival is common to all living creatures.
No acquired behaviour pattern is strong enough to dominate entirely this powerful drive. When it is aroused,
the only effective means of controlling it is constraint. Along with this instinct is the Instinct for procreation,
or mating instinct. It is normally very strong although it varies for the same health reasons, hormonal balance,
opportunity and more rarely, psychological inhibitions.
Need for companionship is an
instinct common to both dog and man. Many canine personality disturbances have no other cause than the solitary
confinement imposed on them by man. Studies show that the critical period when a puppy forms his primary attachment
to humans is between the ages of 3 and 10 weeks. If he is "imprinted" by sufficient pleasurable human relations
during this time, he is apt to remain attached to humans, But if he is confined in a Kennel with only other dogs
and deprived of human contact, he will prefer animal contact over humans forever.
Like human beings, dogs are vulnerable to mob psychology. The
pack instinct is a more accurate term because it usually brings out the worst side of their nature. It may take no
more than one other dog for this psychological phenomenon to occur. Most dogs want to pleasure their owner. But
once they become a member of a pack their old instincts take over and the owner is forgotten. It is very important
never to let your dog run loose where he can get into bad company.
Dogs have always retained the instinctive need for a pack
leader. This need is the role hat we play in our pet's life. Dogs I whom this instinct is strongest are the most
trainable. They are the ones that follow you around as puppies, who never want to leave your side as adults, who
listen to you, study your facial expressions, and enjoy contact with you. They seek the approval of their pack
leader and will do for free what other dogs need to be bribed to do.
Most owners provide protection, food, and shelter as do
wildlife pack leaders. But you must also offer leadership, enforce discipline, and maintain their prestige and
authority. Psychological superiority is more important that in physical size or strength. Moreover, the modern
dog's dependence on his owner is as much emotional as it is physical. Your dog will love and respect you more if
you live up to his leader image of you. Be dependable and consistent so that he can trust you.
You must be reasonable and fair in order to avoid offending
his sense of justice. But above all, do not think it is a kindness to let your dog always have his way. In their
wild state, dogs instinctively seek and accept leadership as well as a strict social code. In fact, discipline and
obedience are probably more natural to them than indulgence, which they have experienced only as modern
Territorial instinct has a profound influence on a dog's
behaviour, as it has on ours. It is related to the survival instinct and is therefore very powerful and vital to
his existence. Puppies as young as 2 or 3 weeks old display their sense of territory by annexing a certain corner
of the nest, a bed, cushion, or chair as their personal domain. Their territory grows bigger as they do on until
adulthood when they transfer their territorial instinct to their owner's home, and their pack instinct to their
Dogs respect man made boundaries such as fences, walls, and
gates, but they also establish markers of their own. Which they mark with urine and visit regularly and refresh as
necessary. Domesticated dogs are respectful of their neighbour’s territory as they are jealous of their own, and
seldom engage in territorial warfare. In the animal world, an intruder is always psychologically inferior to an
individual who is on his home territory. Under these conditions, a tiny terrier can chase away a Great
Generally speaking, dogs are most aggressive on their own
territory, most submissive on another dog's territory, and most sociable on neutral ground. An old family dog will
make friends more easily with a new puppy if the two are introduced on neutral ground before the newcomers are
taken home. The territorial instinct varies in intensity and quality from one breed and individual to another.
Still, in all dogs, as in all humanity, there is a territorial instinct. Oddly enough, both will accept with
tolerance, and sometimes even welcome, intrusions by innocent infants, unthreatening inferiors, and attractive
members of the opposite sex.
dogs possess an instinctive loyalty that is much stronger than our own. Once a dog has accepted someone as his
master, it is very difficult for him to switch his devotion to another. Better food, greater comfort, kindness and
understanding may not succeed in swaying his allegiance even from an unworthy owner. On the other hand, if you
adopt a dog who has been happy in his previous home, give him plenty of time to transfer his loyalty to you, you
will have a friend that would never fail you.