Dog Training

Understanding Dog Behavior

Rule #1 is that dog behavior is learned. Learning begins early on and within the litter and continues through life.

Dog Behavior Lessons Start Early..

Mother dog nursing her puppies.

Young pups while suckling, are learning dog behavior.

A weeks old suckling pup is already learning, it may receive a nip or nudge from its mother should it become obtrusive or disruptive while feeding. Dogs are animals of opportunity and will continue to learn life long by these very means. This is what's known as "action and response" and the principle applied to nearly all dog training methods.

Certainly your dog provides you with love and companionship and one of my faults, as like many of you, is to at times portray them with human emotion. While this human like bond is what makes a dog "mans best friend" our dogs actually see the world in a different light.


Most all that consumes a dogs mind has a purpose and yes, pleasing us is a purpose which works well in our favor. Understanding dog behavior and how dogs think will give you a major advantage in both training and achieving the desired behavior of your furry friend.

Of Interest: Many studies have shown that a major reason dogs are given up is because of behavioral problems. Sadly, many of these unwanted animals end up in shelters.

Rarely is poor dog behavior entirely a fault of our dogs, it' most often result of a misunderstanding between dog and human. While certain dogs may be bred of poor temperament, or are just hard headed troubled animals, these cases are rare.

Dog behavior four dogs.

With time all dogs establish their pack position and are accepting regardless of where they fit in.

Think Like a Dog

Lacking the ability of abstract thinking, dogs see things as immediate, here and now. Unlike humans dogs have no moral perspective of what they do or don't do. This is the basis to all training via positive/ reward, clicker dog training, correction reinforcement, or anything in between.

The canine mind interprets a sequence of events in an immediate perspective rather than thinking ahead. Mistakenly, people tend to humanize their dogs in a sense that they understand punishment and pleasure. What a dog understands is consequence, what is achieved via action. The result, if desirable will be repeated. Here we revert again to the basic principle of action and response.

Most will concur it' that dogs are pack animals who will wilfully do what ever it takes to maintain their position within their pack. This works for us owners in that they're customarily eager to please. Contrary, if you're dealing with dog behavior problems, dominate to lead. As much as I love my dogs a belief that there is no "limbo" for our dogs is the mindset here. Dogs either lead, follow, or blend in.

TIP: For additional articles on three types of dog personalities, "Alpha", "Beta" & "Omega", don't miss the links provided on our dog behavior and training page.

Our dogs, even domesticated as companions are by nature are pack animals. And, in one way or another will seek to find their position in your home, your pack. Yes in a dog's mind they will instinctively view their human family as members of their pack. By projecting your position as alpha leader, your dogs will be confident and secure among your family:)

Bad Dog Behavior

Over the past decade I've had the privilege of helping quite a few folk with problems dogs and I assume that's why many have visited this website. My first reminder to those dealing with bad dog behavior is remember, a dog does not know right from wrong and that this is learned behavior.

Dog behavior and actions that you as a human see undesirable are perfectly normal to a dog. Problems like barking, chewing, jumping up, marking and destructive behavior are all acceptable in the canine world. It is our job to condition and train our dogs right from wrong and we can accomplish this with dog behavior and training. Most all dogs aim to please their owners, yes, yours too:)

Dogs can read our body language and emotion quite easily and often will react to an angry gesture. For instance, a puppy that just peed on the living room carpet will in many cases show remorse by cowering, lowering its head or hiding as you hastily clean up the mess.

Dog chewing behavior Boston Terrier chewing on a plastic doll.

Caught.. simply being a dog.

Again, we can over think what's on the minds of our pets and honestly, probably not that much, maybe a second or two worth of reality. It's all about the response achieved by their "current" action. A watchful eye is key here as we must teach our dogs what is right and wrong. Can dogs feel punished? Maybe so if they return after a half hour while you stood out in your pajamas calling, only to be corrected and scolded upon return.

This is why timing, command and correction is so important. On the flip side, click, praise and treat your pup and the wrong point and your point is mute. To yell, scream, hit or crate your dog for bad behavior will not resolve the issue. We must look at things like a dog does, it"s all fair game remember?

Dogs by nature are social creatures and thrive to interact with their human counterparts. They should also receive ample exercise and social time within your family. A pent up, bored or neglected dog is more apt to show troublesome dog behavior than others. With training you must always stay consistent.

Understanding Dog Behavior Summary

OK I'll say it again.. dogs learn by action and response, I feel better now;) Consistency, repetition and reinforcement of commands are key to successful training be it by positive praises, or correction reinforcement.

To understand dog behavior try and think like a dog. You have no rules, seek any opportunity and do whatever works. The canine mind holds only a few seconds of reality, the "here and now". Dog behavior is learned by doing what works to achieve a goal. Yet through repetition dogs can be conditioned and habitual good behavior established. Once we grasp this concept, dog training is much, much easier.

Don't miss the guides we have written to deal with a multitude of dog behavior problems following the links provided on our dog behavior and training page.