September 2006


This month we continue with the "Did You Know?" facts about dogs from the book, What Is My Dog Thinking, by Gwen Bailey.

-Smell plays an important role in a mother's behaviour and her recognition of her puppies.
-Puppies are sometimes rejected by their mother if they are born by Caesarean and cleaned up before being given back to her as she comes round from the anesthetic.
-Puppies can be rejected by stressed mothers if they are handled by unfamiliar people too soon and do not smell like her own puppies when they are given back to her.
-Dogs have several strategies for calming potential aggressors. These include:
° yawning
°  averting their eyes
°  lip-licking
°  sniffing something on the floor
°  play-bowing
°  sitting down
°  sitting with their back to you
°  walking away very slowly
°  approaching another individual in a wide arc rather than directly as this may be considered less confrontational
-How well dogs interact with each other will depend on how many good encounters they had with different dogs during their puppyhood.
-Well-socialized dogs easily diffuse an aggressive situation and rarely get into fights.
-Poorly socialized dogs do not read the subtle signals of others and find it difficult to send proper signals themselves, so they often get into trouble.
-You can learn a lot about what your dog is feeling from his body language:
° ears pulled back: he is frightened or submissive

° ears forward: he is confident or interested
° ears forward: he is confident or interested
° mouth wide and panting quickly: he is frightened
° tail lowered: he is frightened or submissive
° tail raised: he is confident
° tail wagging: he is excited
-Dogs may feel forced to choose the 'fight' option in circumstances where they feel cornered. You should watch your dog carefully for signs of unease and take him away from a situation that is causing him concern
-Dogs from guarding breeds, such as Rottweilers and Dobermans, have been bred to show less fear than other breeds, making it harder to tell what they are thinking. They have also been bred to have more confidence, making it more likely that they will choose the fight option if they feel they are in danger.
-Dogs of all breeds are capable of behaving aggressively if they feel sufficiently threatened.
-How threatened a dog feels will depend on previous experiences in similar situations and on the nature of his encounters with humans and other animals, particularly those that occurred during puppyhood.
-The amount of aggression a dog shows will depend upon:
° how big the threat is
° how much natural confidence it inherited from its parents
° how successful it has been during previous encounters throughout its life
-Dogs predominantly use their nose and mouth to find out about their world whereas humans use their eyes and hands. Keeping eye and hand contact to a minimum when greeting dogs can reduce their fear and help us make friends with them more quickly.
-Compared to adults, children have larger eyes, they are more likely to stare and their eyes are often on a level with the dog's eyes. Consequently they can appear more frightening to poorly socialized dogs.