Doggie Emotions, Nature & Instincts

Your Dog & You

Yes, dogs have emotions! They are creatures of instinct but they also have emotions and can have strong emotional ties to their pack and human family. Before you can help your dog to be a truly happy and balanced animal, you must first understand their instincts and emotions. By understanding why your dog does what they do, you can also understand how to change that behavior in a way that is more natural and easy to accept.

Breed does play a role, as does the type of dog. Even if you have a rescued mutt, you can usually figure out the nature of your dog. If you can tailor your training to the nature and emotional state of your dog, training will go much faster and will be remembered more easily by your pup. Let’s look at some dog types, the different instincts for each type and how training can be adjusted to work best with them:

Bully Breeds aren’t named so because they were mean kids, they are descended from breeds of dogs that were originally bred as fighters, in particular to fight bulls! Bully breeds are stocky in build, with big, square heads and include dogs like the pit bull, all varieties of bulldogs, all varieties of mastiff (even the great dane), saint bernard, etc. Remember that because they were designed to fight and take down a much larger, stronger opponent in a ring for the entertainment of ancient man, these breeds will be strong, stubborn and smart! Also remember that they didn’t fight every day and most had other jobs. They are working dogs and are usually happiest when they have a challenge or task. Failing to challenge this type of dog can lead to them becoming anxious, frustrated and even aggressive. The larger of the breeds were usually like a strong workhorse at home and would double as a family cart puller or perform work that would otherwise be done by a horse or ox. Challenges for this type of dog could include wearing a backpack during walks and carrying water or other useful and heavy items for you. It will be amazing when you see the focus and pride that your dog shows when they learn to do a job and can complete a task! Generally, bully breeds have great instincts as a family dog but can become very protective so watch out for that. They will have a tenancy to rule the roost if you let them so maintaining good obedience training is essential. Nip and problem behaviors in the bud before they get out of hand: no humping, indoor elimination, jumping, leash pulling and rushing through doorways. These are all signs that your bully breed is the boss, not you, and should be corrected gently and immediately. Most bully breeds, if properly trained, are gentle giants and a real pleasure to be around! Once they have been exercised, they are almost always couch potatoes, wanting only to snuggle and sleep. Beware of your bully breed not being exercised and properly challenged, as this can lead to frustration and anxiety, which can lead to aggression and the tenancy to pick a fight. Proper training is essential to begin early and maintain throughout the lifetime of bullies. I really do adore bullies and would love to help you with your training needs! Please contact me for more information!

Hunting Breeds are amazing dogs with a high intellect, high energy level and almost always have a huge willingness to please their human family. These breeds were originally designed to perform some specific job to assist their human with hunting food and include breeds such as hounds (sight and scent hounds, from greyhounds to bloodhounds, beagles, etc), terriers, spaniels, retrievers, labradors and even the standard poodle. These breeds definitely require lots of daily exercise and mental stimulation, which should be tailored to their breeds specific purpose: retrievers will usually enjoy fetch and Frisbee, scent hounds will want to run around and root out hidden treats, sight hounds will chase prey, terriers will dig, poodles will also enjoy an energetic game of fetch, as they are actually a retriever type of dog! Once your hunting breed dog is nice and tired, they will be able to focus on the more mental aspects of training and will tackle (and master) very complex tasks with ease. Hunting breeds are highly social animals and thrive in a strong pack. They must be made to feel confidant in their position in the pack or they will usually jostle for leadership of the pack so watch for anxious behavior, pacing, nipping or snarling and eliminate unwanted behavior before it escalates. With exercise and training, hunting breeds made excellent family dogs and are usually very hearty dogs. Proper training is essential for hunting breeds, and I would be happy to provide you with the tools you need to succeed and have a happy, balanced hunting dog as a part of your family! Contact me with any questions or for help!

Herding breeds are often very energetic and social animals with a strong desire to please their family. These breeds include the Shepards (German, Anatolian, Australian, etc) and all of their mixes as well as a few that you wouldn’t guess, such as the chihuahua. These breeds originate on farms where they lived with and protected the farmer’s livestock. From sheep and goats to cows and pigs, it was their job to keep the other animals safe. They often were born in a livestock herd and lived their entire lives with the herd, who became the dog’s pack. Often helping the farmer keep the livestock where they need to be, herding dogs earned their name by corralling herds of large livestock. They also slept with the herd and alerted the farmer’s to any threat to the herd by loud barking and, if needed, would usually fight off wolves, coyote and bears to keep the herd safe. These pups are brave, loyal and totally dedicated to their families. They are also highly energetic and very social animals. Failure to provide enough exercise and opportunity to socialize herding dogs can result in anxious, nervous behavior and a tenancy to bite. The smaller your herder, the less space they need for exercise but even the tiniest chihuahua needs plenty of structured activity and exercise to be a happy dog. Daily walks are a must and are a great way to keep up with their social needs! A herder who isn’t socialized could start to see other dogs and humans as a threat to their pack and attack! Fearful, anxious behavior often leads to aggression in these breeds, but can be completely eliminated with exercise and training! With proper exercise and socialization, these dogs will be an awesome addition to your active, social family! All dogs need guidance and training, contact me for help with your herding dog!

Designer breeds are simply breeds made by breeding two or more well established breeds together to bring out certain traits. Look at the root breeds of your designer dog and your particular animals tenancies to figure out how they will be kept the happiest and, as always, please contact me for help!