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Good Dogs: Ten Things Every Dog Owner Should Know

Mark Lieberman will be writing about dog behavior. Mark will explain why dogs and puppies do what they do and why it's important to understand them before you can live in harmony with them.

Welcome to the Good Dogs blog.

I am Mark Lieberman, a Grand Master Dog Trainer with Bark Busters Home Dog Training.

I thought I would begin by noting Ten Things Every Dog Owner Should Know.

1) A dog is a dog. The greatest misconception many dog owners have is to assume their dogs communicate the way humans do. Dogs live by the same pack rules and exhibit many of the same behavioral patterns as their wild ancestors. To effectively train your dog, you must first understand its instinctual pack behavior.

2) All dogs think in terms of the pack. Dogs instinctively know that living with others, under the leadership of a more dominant pack member, enhances their chances for survival. Your leadership will make your dog feel safe and will help eliminate many behavior problems.

3) Dogs don’t understand English. Dogs rely heavily on voice tone and body language. Yet, your body language can easily be misinterpreted. By understanding how dogs communicate, you will avoid the mistake of telling your dog one thing while your body language and voice pitch tell it something different.

4) Dogs are neither spiteful nor deliberately naughty. They either do not understand what you want, the dog does not consider you its leader, or it is suffering from some kind of stress or fear. Understanding this will help you address your dog’s problems and behaviors. 

5) Aggression is instinctual in every breed. A dog’s breed has nothing to do with aggression. Instead, aggression is instinctual and caused most often by fear of the unknown. When a dog becomes frightened, it will do one of two things: fight or take flight. By reinforcing leadership over your dog, you can avoid unacceptable or uncontrollable aggression.

6) You can teach an old dog new tricks. Dogs are continuous learners and have good memories. The three things that primarily influence a dog’s behavior are association, instinct, and experience. By conditioning your dog and effectively showing it what you consider good and bad behavior, you can help any dog change its behavior.

7) Bad behaviors may be natural, but they do not have to be accepted. Most people consider digging, chewing and jumping as unacceptable dog behavior—but to dogs, these actions are natural.

8) It’s illogical to get angry at your dog. Dogs only do what comes naturally or what they’ve learned through association, so getting angry—or using physical force with a dog is both inappropriate and counterproductive. 

9) Correct your dog on the spot. Because dogs learn from association, they will comprehend your message only if it is delivered in a timely manner. A correction must be issued at the precise moment the dog is either contemplating or actually doing something wrong.

10) Dogs experience the world differently from humans. Dogs can sense odors at concentrations millions of times lower than humans can. Dogs can hear sounds four times farther away than humans—but dogs also hear selectively. They can sleep beside a blaring television, but wake up as soon as they hear something unrelated.

Comments are welcome!

Happy Dogs = Happy Families

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Caren March 25, 2012 at 01:40 PM
As a new puppy owner, I found this very insightful and informative. Looking forward to reading more. Thanks Mark!
Connie Pack March 27, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Why do dogs bark at their owner, while laying down, in front of them, during evening hours for no apparent reason? Full belly and not needing to go outside and after being petted for awhile.
Mark Lieberman March 28, 2012 at 11:21 AM
Most likely she is asking for attention. If she barks and you respond by talking to her or petting her she's getting the attention she seeks. This puts her in charge.
Briar Bagels March 30, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Great tips! Please post more!
joy March 30, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Great post - thanks!

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