I love dogs. Those of you who know me understand and appreciate my passion for all animals. They become members of our family, and we share our homes with them. Depending on your house rules, dogs may sleep in the same bed as their owners and eat from the same table at times. For many, the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night is walk your dog. So – dog owners have lives that can be rather dog-centric, and of course that’s a good thing for us at Fetch too. However, there is always perspective that needs to be maintained. The other day I saw someone meet a new dog for the first time. They dropped down on one knee, held the dog’s head with both hands and rubbed their face against the dog saying how cute it was. It reminded me that I must talk about the adage… “you can’t ignore the biology of a dog.”
Dogs come from wolves – wild animals – we all know that right? It is believed that the dog was the first species to be domesticated by hunter-gatherers over 15,000 years ago. It was of mutual benefit for humans and dogs to live together.
Over centuries, dogs were bred for specific traits and uses; some to shepherd other animals; some to hunt; some to guard; some to pull… you get the idea. Dogs evolved as people evolved, and some breeds are cuter than others. We all have our favorites, and opinions can differ!
Here’s what you need to always remember – dogs are animals. Animals have instincts. Instincts are genetic tools for survival that are passed down from generation to generation. They don’t magically go away because your dog wears a rhinestone collar or red and green sweater during Christmas.
It’s a dog’s instinct to defend its home from other humans and canine intrusion. Unfamiliar dogs and people will be considered suspicious intruders. Dogs have a prey chasing instinct. They might see a bird, squirrel, or rabbit and react differently than you do – and they may react differently at different times. Dogs use sense of smell to familiarize themselves with other habitats, people, and animals. Sniffing is usually the first activity, and not exactly the most pleasant for a girl in a skirt.
I am sure some of the above applies to all dog owners. The best way to maximize the safety of you, your dog, and others is to first be aware of a dog’s natural instincts, and the second is to participate in training for your dog. Dog training maximizes the confidence bond between owner and pet. It’s the right thing for you, and it’s the right thing for your dog. If you have questions about dog training or how a dog’s instincts can affect behavior, speak to one of our pet professionals, or reach out me to e. I am only a bark away.
Carolyn Lapps is the General Manager at Fetch Family Pet Resort. Her love and passion for all animals began at a young age and has led to a career. She is frequently consulted on pet socialization, family integration issues, and is highly regarded for her experience with domestic animal management and care.