This is the fifth article in the series about educating yourself about DOG OWNERSHIP

Canine Emotions

How your dog thinks and feels, and the impact of his thoughts and feelings on his behavior.

The Reproductive Urge

Mating behavior and tips on preventing pregnancy and STDs.

Let’s get started!

Canine Emotions

My dog seems jealous of other dogs and/or family members, even though he gets plenty of attention. Why?

                          the family dog

It is not uncommon to have rivalries multi-dog households. There is almost always an issue over dominance, regardless of whether the dogs were raised together or one was introduced at a later time.

The dominant dog is usually the one to act out. He does so because he feels it is his right as ‘pack leader’ to receive your attention before you acknowledge the rest of the pack. He may growl or bark or even bite the non-dominant dog in retaliation.

Some similar issues come into play regarding humans. The human ‘pack leader’ is often the one who feeds, walks and spends the most time with the dog.

More innately dominance-oriented dogs can become jealous and protective based on sex, as well. A dog of either sex may choose a same or opposite sex human as pack leader. For example, a male dog raised by a single woman may ‘hate’ her boyfriends or male friends if he is not exposed to them frequently before he reaches sexual maturity.

To reform this behavior as much as possible, it is necessary to have the ‘mistrusted’ human take over some of the care and feeding responsibilities for the dog. The more time the animal spends growing accustomed to that person’s voice and scent, the more willing he’ll be to allow that person ‘into the pack’.

My dog seems depressed after a major change in his life. Is this normal?

Dogs can experience ‘reactive depression’ just like their human counterparts. Dogs enjoy routine and consistency. Major changes to their environment, such as the death of a pack-mate or primary human caretaker, can be very upsetting.

If a fellow house pet had passed away, it can be beneficial to let the dog see and sniff the body, as gruesome as it may sound. Your dog will understand death, and will mourn it in his own way. What’s harder for him to understand is when his companion has simply disappeared. It could also be that a dog will sense (through its smell and other developed senses) when his pal is about to pass.

In the case of a human caretaker’s absence or demise, the best approach is to establish the new primary caretaker as quickly as possible, and make sure the dog receives plenty of affection and attention.

Why does my dog tear up the house when I leave him alone inside?

Dogs are highly social. The two things they hate the most are being left alone, and being left out. It is boring to them and also increases their anxiety.

The mistake many pet owners often make (and this is true for cat owners as well) is to shower affection on their dog just before leaving them alone in the house. We naturally feel guilty for having to leave our pets alone, so we try to make up for it by petting them and telling them … “We’ll be right back soon”.

Unfortunately, your dog can read even the most subtle stress signals in your voice. He hears this at the same time you are showering him with attention and, essentially, it “crosses his wires”. He is stressed by the stress he hears in your voice, so he wants your attention back, to comfort him, the moment you walk out the door.

Avoiding this problem is best accomplished by setting up the proper routine when your dog is still a puppy, but you can still implement these same procedures with an older dog to help break the pattern:

                                                        doggie destruction

Provide your dog with play and attention well in advance of when you
intend to leave. For example, if you intend to go out at 7:00 p.m., play
fetch with him from 5:30 to 6:00.

Leave a few of his favorite toys out for him to play with while you’re gone.
You can also leave on the T.V. or radio if you’ll be gone more than an hour.

When you leave, do so without petting or talking. It may feel ‘cruel’ at first,
but your dog will not be upset by you neglecting to tell him ‘goodbye’.
Once you return, avoid showering him with attention right away. Take 5 or 10
minutes to do what you need to do, and then very casually turn your attention
to him. Over time, this will help alleviate the clinging and over-excited behavior your
dog displays when you return home.

I have an older dog who seems to be getting grouchier as he ages. Should I worry?

Mood swings and irritability in aging dogs is common, but still warrants a trip to the vet. Some causes of this behavior are treatable and others are not. If your dog has a treatable illness you can alleviate his pain, and restore him to a happier frame of mine.

Other age-related conditions, such as arthritis and vision and hearing loss, can be soothed to a point, but will continue to progress to the end. These types of changes require that you make life as comfortable as possible for your dog. If your dog has hearing or vision problems, for example, you’ll need to approach him more slowly and gently so that you don’t startle him.

It is also important to maintain as much of your dog’s routine as possible. Older pets have a much harder time adapting to change, (like many humans), and it is even more important to them that their environment remains consistent and stable.

My dog is ‘possessive’ of food and/or toys, and is aggressive when he feels either are being threatened. What should I do?

This guarding instinct is another type of dominance behavior, and may be difficult to treat in some cases depending on your breed of dog. Breeds known for working in packs are less prone to guarding their ‘possessions’, while Terriers and other independent types are more competitive.

Dealing with this behavior is mainly a matter of asserting yourself as ‘alpha dog’ when the conflict arises.

My dog seems overly ‘passive’, fearful or submissive. Is this just a personality quirk?

Yes and no. Some dogs / dog breeds are actually shy or aloof, meaning they display a wariness that is beyond what most people consider “the norm”. People who have these breeds understand these differences and know how to socialize their dog to increase its confidence and trust.

A “normal” shy dog may display a fair degree of confidence under most circumstances, particularly around people they know and the unwanted behavior is often triggered by noise, extreme (human) behavior and unfamiliar environment.

The time to worry is when you have evidence of past abuse, and your dog’s fear-based, submissive behavior is causing problems. Fearful dogs typically have issues with when, where and how you pet them. They may crouch, tremble or tail-tuck frequently, even when your approach is non-threatening. Some especially apprehensive dogs will involuntarily “relieve themselves” on the floor.

If this describes your dog, you’ll want to look into some gentle, “desensitization” methods to include in his training.

The Reproductive Urge

My male dog likes to ‘expose’ himself, especially in mixed company..what’s the deal?

Whether your dog is revealing his private parts, or rubbing them against a hapless visitor’s leg, you shouldn’t worry about his psychological well-being. Although this behavior is disconcerting for humans, it is a normal activity for sexually mature male dogs. What can you do about it? Nothing really ….. maybe apologize??

Why the ‘flaunting’ around humans, though?

If your dog is exhibiting this behavior, it is likely because you (or a previous owner) raised him in the absence of female dogs. Lacking a suitable companion to ‘experiment’ with, your dog will gravitate towards female members of the household.

In cases where your dog ‘flirts’ with any and everyone, he’s likely doing so because he’s learned the behavior gets attention (even negative attention is better than none at all).

Having your dog neutered before he reaches adolescence will most likely curb some of this behavior, but he may still do it on occasion. These urges generally decline with age. Your best bet is to take a firm but compassionate approach. Ignore the ‘flashing’ and be consistent in your “down” and “sit” or “no” commands when your dog tries to mount a human leg.

I have a female dog I would like to breed at some point in the future, but would like to prevent pregnancy for the time being. Can this be done?

Yes, there are both oral and intravenous forms of contraception available for dogs. For the inexperienced, it is usually easiest to provide oral contraception to your dog because it can be mixed in with her food.

Birth control will prevent your female dog from ovulating so that, even if a persistent male dog still attempts to mate with her, she will not conceive.

Keep in mind, however, that birth control does not prevent the transmission of disease. If your dog is still sexually active, you should have her tested every 3 months.

                              dog sexuality

I think my dog may already be pregnant. What should I do?

If you witnessed your dog mating, there’s still time to prevent pregnancy. Your vet can administer an injection to prevent the fertilized eggs from reaching the womb.

For the future, your best bet is to have your dog spayed. Spaying (and neutering) is the duty of every responsible pet owner. There is absolutely NO reason not to have the procedure done if you are not a professional dog breeder.

It is a proven fact that spayed and neutered household pets lead longer, healthier lives. They are also much more well-behaved and easier for their human companions to deal with due to the reduction in food requirements, territorial behavior and inhibition of the urge to “run away” in search of a mate.

PLEASE …. don’t adopt the misinformed attitude that it is cruel to take away a dog’s “sexuality” or that my poor doggie should have at least one chance to be a dad or mum before you “get them done”. It is absolute rubbish and it has no place in today’s World where we have millions of poor domestic animals put down every year because of irresponsible / misinformed owners.

so are you learning “stuff” you didn’t know?  ……  AND ….  YOU’VE STILL GOT THE URGE TO WANT A DOG! …… O.K. then keep on reading ….. in Part 6 “COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT DOG MAINTENANCE – PART 1” we will now answer some common questions about dog diet, dog grooming and dog health and wellness that you need to consider when you become “that person down the street has a dog now!” in your neighborhood.