Dog behavior

Dog Behavior

A good understanding of dog behavior will help you to understand why your dog does what he does, and help to build a better bond between you.

With that in mind, this article will take a look at dog behavior and the motivations behind it.

Dog behavior and motivations

The domestic dog is a direct descendant of the wolf. Wolves evolved into co-operative pack hunters a long time ago.

Their bodies and brains, senses and abilities changed to serve this purpose. They developed behaviors which helped them thrive in a challenging environment.

These same behaviors and motivations can still be seen today in the domestic dog.

Pack mentality

As pack animals, dogs submit to the pack leader. If you own a dog, this should be you! Dogs are at their most comfortable when they know their place within the pack.

Your dog can get stressed if you give it mixed signals. An example is when you sometimes put up with dominant behavior from them and then sometimes don’t.

Dog body language

Dogs communicate using body language. They use their tails, ears, body posture, eye contact and facial expression. For example, if your dog droops its head and tail when you tell it off, they’re showing submission.

Territorial aggressiveness

It’s natural for dogs to protect what they see as their territory. This doesn’t just mean the house. It can include food, favorite toys, and in extreme cases, even their owner or other human members of their pack.


The way wolf packs cement relationships and hone hunting skills is through socialization. That’s why it’s so important you play with your dog.

Wolf packs also bond through hunting together and patrolling their territory. When you take your dog for a walk you’re simulating this. So again walks are an important part of your relationship with your dog.

Chasing things

Wolves have a natural instinct to chase anything that moves. This is because they see it as potential prey. Dog’s also show this instinct. This is why they chase cats and passing cyclists.

Running away

Given the choice of fight or flight most wild animals choose flight. Dogs are no different.

This is especially true when they hear loud, unknown noises like fireworks or thunder. Their natural instinct is to run away.


Wolves have a more limited vocabulary than dogs. They still rely on howling or growling to communicate though. Your dog’s vocabulary also includes barking and whining. They use this to express happiness, fear, anxiety, or to sound a warning.

Quick reference guide to dog behavior

Below is a quick reference guide to dog behavior and how to recognize each type of behavior.




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