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Dog Instincts and Behavior.

Ever look at your dog and ask ‘Why is he doing that?’ Dog behavior is often guided by instinct. Whether he is burying a bone, playing fetch, or guarding his territory, these actions are derived from basic instincts. Instincts can vary from dog to dog. Of all the instincts, a dog’s pack instincts are probably the most influential. Pack instincts dictates how dogs interact with other dogs and with people. They see humans and the animals that they live with as part of their pack, and they look to see what rank each member is. This guides much of their behavior. Hunting instincts also have significant impact. This can vary somewhat by breed as some dogs such as terriers were bred to hunt small animals, while other breeds such as retrievers as their name might suggest were bred to return game to the hunter. Consequently the variation is that terriers now tend to be tenacious and somewhat aggressive when chasing and playing, while retrievers are often less aggressive and content with a good game of fetch. Other dogs will routinely run the perimeter of their property, some can be very territorial and act as guard dogs while others with a lesser hunting instinct simply show little interest in many of these ‘dog-like’ activities. Other behaviors a dog might exhibit include burying a bone, which shows their instinct to store and preserve food. Digging can be caused by a dog either in an attempt to hunt, retrieve food, build a den, or to cool off in hot weather. However, it can also happen when a dog wants to escape or has excess energy to burn. The desire for dogs to build, find, or make a den is also strong. Often one can find their dog burrowed under a desk or table, essentially creating a den from the furniture. Crate training is typically very effective due to a dog’s desire for a den. In general, successful training and socialization typically works with a dog’s natural instincts to direct behavior in a positive direction.




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