For dogs, English is a second language Dogs aren’t born understanding English. They can learn the significance of specific words, like “sit” and “walk” and “treat,” but when humans bury those familiar words in complex sentences, dogs sometimes have difficulty understanding. They can also get confused when people use different words for the same thing. For example, some people will confuse their dogs by saying, “Fluffy, down!” one day and “Sit down, Fluffy!” another day. Then they wonder why Fluffy doesn’t respond the same way every time. When teaching your dog a cue or command, decide on just one word or phrase, and make sure you and your family use it clearly and consistently.
Research has shown that there are individual differences in the interactions between dogs and their human that have significant effects on dog behavior. In 1997, a study showed that the type of relationship between dog and master, characterized as either companionship or working relationship, significantly affected the dog's performance on a cognitive problem-solving task. They speculate that companion dogs have a more dependent relationship with their owners, and look to them to solve problems. In contrast, working dogs are more independent.
Positive reinforcement is the key to success. A common mistake is to punish your dog during training or become angry. This will only cause confusion. You can try to hold your dog's attention with treats and enthusiasm, but know that it is time to end a session when your dog becomes bored or tired. Try to end sessions on a positive note. Eventually, successful training will be achieved with patience and consistency.
Dogs have an olfactory sense 40 times more sensitive than a human's and they commence their lives operating almost exclusively on smell and touch.:247 The special scents that dogs use for communication are called pheromones. Different hormones are secreted when a dog is angry, fearful or confident, and some chemical signatures identify the sex and age of the dog, and if a female is in the estrus cycle, pregnant or recently given birth. Many of the pheromone chemicals can be found dissolved in a dog's urine, and sniffing where another dog has urinated gives the dog a great deal of information about that dog.:250 Male dogs prefer to mark vertical surfaces and having the scent higher allows the air to carry it farther. The height of the marking tells other dogs about the size of the dog, as among canines size is an important factor in dominance.:251 Puppy Training
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Resource guarding is exhibited by many canines, and is one of the most commonly reported behaviour issues to canine professionals. It is seen when a dog uses specific behaviour patterns so that they can control access to an item, and the patterns are flexible when people are around. If a canine places value on some resource (i.e. food, toys, etc.) they may attempt to guard it from other animals as well as people, which leads to behavioural problems if not treated. The guarding can show in many different ways from rapid ingestion of food to using the body to shield items. It manifests as aggressive behaviour including, but not limited to, growling, barking, or snapping. Some dogs will also resource guard their owners and can become aggressive if the behaviour is allowed to continue. Owners must learn to interpret their dog's body language in order to try to judge the dog's reaction, as visual signals are used (i.e. changes in body posture, facial expression, etc.) to communicate feeling and response. These behaviours are commonly seen in shelter animals, most likely due to insecurities caused by a poor environment. Resource guarding is a concern since it can lead to aggression, but research has found that aggression over guarding can be contained by teaching the dog to drop the item they are guarding. more on this
There are many different types of behavioural issues that a dog can exhibit, including growling, snapping, barking, and invading human's space. A survey of 203 dog owners in Melbourne, Australia, found that the main behaviour problems reported by owners were overexcitement (63%) and jumping up on people (56%). Some problems are related to attachment while others are neurological, as seen below. Puppy Training
A study using dogs that were trained to remain motionless while unsedated and unrestrained in an MRI scanner exhibited caudate activation to a hand signal associated with reward. Further work found that the magnitude of the canine caudate response is similar to that of humans, while the between-subject variability in dogs may be less than humans. In a further study, 5 scents were presented (self, familiar human, strange human, familiar dog, strange dog). While the olfactory bulb/peduncle was activated to a similar degree by all the scents, the caudate was activated maximally to the familiar human. Importantly, the scent of the familiar human was not the handler, meaning that the caudate response differentiated the scent in the absence of the person being present. The caudate activation suggested that not only did the dogs discriminate that scent from the others, they had a positive association with it. Although these signals came from two different people, the humans lived in the same household as the dog and therefore represented the dog's primary social circle. And while dogs should be highly tuned to the smell of items that are not comparable, it seems that the “reward response” is reserved for their humans.
In 2004, a study reviewed 5 other studies of feral dogs published between 1975 and 1995 and concluded that their pack structure is very loose and rarely involves any cooperative behavior, either in raising young or in obtaining food. Feral dogs are primarily scavengers, with studies showing that unlike their wild cousins, they are poor ungulate hunters, having little effect on wildlife populations where they are sympatric.:267 However, several garbage dumps located within the feral dog's home range are important for their survival. Even well-fed domestic dogs are prone to scavenge; gastro-intestinal veterinary visits increase during warmer weather as dogs are prone to eat decaying material. Some dogs consume feces, which may contain nutrition. On occasion well-fed dogs have been known to scavenge their owners' corpses.
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