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It has been said that the dog is man's best friend, and for good reason. For millennia, canine companions have assisted human beings in searching for food, hunting animals, protecting the home, playing with children, and much more. In order to get the most out of the dog-person relationship, people must have a basic grasp of how dogs think and communicate. Essentially, one must have a solid grasp of basic canine psychology. This understanding is not difficult to obtain.

Dog Psychology

All dog owners know that there are times when their four-legged friend seems to understand just what they are thinking. Over the years, the field of canine psychology has demonstrated that there is a large degree of truth in this assumption. Dogs are able to learn words - specifically nouns and verbs - so that they know what their owners are referring to when they issue commands. Furthermore, dogs can follow the gaze of their owners, and they demonstrate other behaviors that are also evident in human psychology. Dogs can even become susceptible to disorders such as depression and compulsive behavior.

Dogs are well known for exhibiting a pack mentality, in which there is a clear hierarchy of position. Usually, this is described as a society in which the alpha dog is the pack leader and the other members generally defer to it, though there are times when other dogs may try to gain dominance. Some researchers question this hierarchy, but it is still widely taught.

  • Dominance and Dog Training: This article explores the phenomenon of whether or not there is such a thing as an alpha dog.
  • Do Dogs Need "Tough Love"? Learn how the idea that one must give a dog "tough love" is a myth via this link.
  • Is a Dog a "Person"? Dogs often act like people, and this piece looks at whether dogs are truly "persons."
  • Life with the Six Pack: This author describes how she uses canine psychology to keep her many dogs getting along well with one another.
  • Normal Canine Behavior: What is normal canine behavior and when should one worry that the dog is maladjusted? This article provides some answers.
  • Separation Anxiety in Dogs: Dogs do experience separation anxiety, as this article demonstrates.
  • Science and Dog Training: Read this article to understand the different approaches to dog psychology.
  • What Do Dogs Think? This Q&A from an expert in dog cognition can help any reader better understand man's best friend.
  • What Is Your Dog Thinking?In this piece, a new method for understanding dogs and their thinking through brain scans is described.
  • Wolfdog Behavior: Although this article focuses on wolfdogs, what it describes in terms of canine psychology applies to all canines.

Canine Communication

While dogs do not use words to tell people or other animals what they are thinking, that does not mean that there is not a type of "dog language." This language consists of barks, growls, yowls, whimpers, postures, and so forth. In fact, it is possible to differentiate between different kinds of barks and to see in a dog potential signs of aggression.

Dog owners can tell a lot about the attitude of their animal based on the mouth and tail. Relaxed dogs will have a relaxed, open mouth. Aggressive dogs will bare their teeth and growl. If the growl is accompanied by a stiff, upright tail, then the person should be wary that the dog is willing to bite. A sweeping wag of the tail, however, often indicates playfulness.

Dog Socialization

Making sure that a dog socializes well with other people and animals is key to the animal's long-term well-being. A properly socialized dog knows that not every stranger or unknown animal is a threat, and that will reduce its proclivity to get into fights or to go after those who mean no harm. Regularly socializing a dog from the puppy stage onward is key to making sure that the animal is well-adjusted around people and animals. A great way to socialize a dog with other dogs is to take it to a dog park and allow it to get to know other dogs with your supervision. Dog owners should also make sure that their animal is introduced to a wide variety of people as well, and having these people give their dog a treat will help the animal recognize friends and be wary of foes.

The Importance of Training and Obedience for Dogs

Every year, scores of people and dogs are injured because dogs have not been properly trained. An obedient dog is a safe dog. Such a dog will heed the master's call if the master calls it back from a potentially dangerous situation. An obedient dog will also listen to its master's call to heel and not go after other people or animals. Proper training of canines is not difficult, and it pays off for years to come.

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