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A Dog’s Instincts and Conditioning



How do you control your pet’s behavior? How do you optimize how you work with your dog, as you live with your dog every day?


In some key ways, it starts with understanding the innate psychology of dogs.


One of the things to remember and understand about canine psychology is that it started hundreds of years ago, before your dog was ever born.


You read that right. Many dog instincts and behaviors are inherited down through the ages, bred into a dog from older times.


Instincts and Working Dogs


Here's an excellent example of how this works.


Many types of dogs, such as collies, have been used for centuries to herd cattle. Other particular breeds, such as many terrier breeds, were used in the old country in England to hunt foxes or for other kinds of outdoor work.


It makes sense that some of the working dog instincts would seem outlandish now, since we’ve mostly stopped using dogs for farm work, and now they have lives of leisure loafing around our properties. However, that doesn’t stop many of them from pursuing some of those same activities, only in a much different way.


Through the generations, today's dogs have inherited many of these behaviors that look kind of strange when they spend all day in your house. If your dog does something strange with blankets, or tries to corral your dirty clothes, (or even just barks a lot) there's a reason for that.


Dog behaviors translate to the environments that they're in, as well as their breeding and inherited instincts. Another example is bone anxiety, where you give your dog a juicy bone, and he or she starts to whine and pace around the house. It's a protective instinct to hide the delicious savory treat from others who might take it away.


Meeting the Individual Dog


This is one reason why it's so important for dog trainers to do case-by-case assessments of each canine customer. We perform these assessments at the very beginning of our relationship with you and your dog. It's a no-pressure consultation where you don't have to commit to a long, expensive training regimen. However, we do come up with some concrete advice and recommendations in the initial meeting because we evaluate a dog straightaway and look at how behaviors, whether inherited or conditioned, may lead to concerns.


Remember your dog is smart, and wants to be a good dog. It's all in how you set up them up for success! Ask Canine Karma about how we can help.

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