July 2006


I found an interesting couple of "Did You Know?" facts about dogs in the book, What Is My Dog Thinking, written by Gwen Bailey. I would like to quote a few of these facts:

-Dogs have a strong desire to be with others and if they are deprived of social contact they may run away or begin to exhibit attention-seeking behaviour to force their owners to respond.
-The area in a dog's nose for detecting scent is nearly 37 times larger than that in humans.
-The parts of the brain that process signals coming in from the nose are far greater in size and complexity in a dog than are the corresponding parts of the human brain.
-Fearful dogs frequently find it difficult to read and send signals, which can often lead to fights.
-A wagging tail means that a dog is excited. It does not always mean that the dog is friendly, and it is important to read the rest of the body language before approaching a dog with a wagging tail.
-Signals, such as the play-bow, can be seen in dogs all around the world. Universal signals like these do not need to be learnt but can be recognized by dogs everywhere.
-Well-socialized dogs will have learnt how to fine-tune their behaviour so that they are readily accepted by other dogs.
-In comparison with human children, dogs are less able to understand sounds used as signals and find it quite hard to learn words such as "sit" and "come here".
-It is much easier for a dog to learn spoken commands if these are given in conjunction with hand signals or gestures during training. The hand signals can be gradually withdrawn as the dog becomes better educated.
-Good pack leaders look after the pack, ensuring they are well fed and comfortable.

They don't always give in to demands and can be uncompromising and tough when necessary. They decide what to do and when to do it. They have sufficient strength to earn respect rather than constantly harassing or bullying to stay in control.
-The hierarchy in a wild dog pack is not fixed, but is fluid and will change if circumstances alter. Consequently, there is hope for humans whose dog has taken control of them!
-Submissive puppies and even adult dogs may produce a small amount of urine when greeting higher-ranking members of the pack or family to give a smelly clue that they are not a threat.
-Acquiring high status is mostly based on winning small encounters with pack members rather than risking defeat during bigger challenges.
-Being pushy and attempting to get your own way at all times is likely to wear down the competition so that they give in to your demands, unless they are similarly ambitious themselves.
-Since dogs are looking at controlling different resources than humans, their bid for power often goes unnoticed until it is too late.
-Different breeds of dog have been bred to exploit different elements of the hunting sequence. Hounds are bred to track and trail, herding dogs to chase and terriers to catch and kill.
-Dogs in a pack are more likely to chase and hunt than a single dog on its own.
-Two dogs are enough to form a pack and, together, they will be brave and bold enough to try things that they wouldn't have the courage to do alone.
-This can be a problem for owners of more than one dog, especially if the dogs enjoy chasing things they shouldn't, such as bikers or joggers.

Next month we will continue with some more interesting doggy facts from this book.