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CANINE INHERENT BEHAVIOR TENDENCIES
E. Katie Gammill, AKC Judge, TheDogPlace.org Exhibition Editor
Associating dogs with human emotions, it “appears” dogs think and reason. Continually manipulated, we (the humans) must question their actions. Are they deliberate and pre-conceived, or simply the “nature of the beast?”
We are duped by a grin and a lolling tongue, but under the right circumstances, any animal can return to a lurking, prey eating creature doing what it takes to survive.
Do wolves really “mother” children from third world villages? Perhaps these babies are “lunch” for the predator’s offspring? When threatened with starvation, instincts surface. Often humans in the immediate area are recipients of such reactions. The inbred canine “flight or fight” response compares to an adrenaline rush in humans that allows them to perform impossible feats during a crisis.
Constant TV exposure desensitizes humans. Fortunately, animals aren’t influenced by television. They do not act, they re-act! Human ignorance often “sets a dog up” and unconsciously triggers bad dog behavior. Having no couch therapy available, the dog pays the ultimate price. “Euthanasia!”
A kenneled Akita in a nearby town is surrounded by a fenced yard. The next door neighbor places a trampoline next to the fence. Children jumping and screaming on the trampoline cause the Akita to come “unglued”. The archaic “prey instinct” hidden deep in its brain surfaces and the dog escapes, jumps the yard fence, and attacks the children. The dust settles and the dog pays the ultimate price! Had the owner and neighbor researched Akita behavior, they would realize the Akita was initially bred to be a “BEAR HUNTER." People selecting a cute puppy without knowledge of maturity or original intent of a breed may find themselves unable to cope with their selection.
WE are legally responsible for our pet’s actions. Leaving a large dog in a room with a small baby can be disastrous. A baby’s cry of distress and accompanying “bad smell” can trigger protective, aggressive, or mothering instinct any one of which can result in a bad mishap.
A dog’s territorial instinct protects food bowls, bones, toys, and yards. Owners often unintentionally cause situations where children are maimed, bitten, or killed. I do NOT condone tying a dog. Kenneling or fencing a dog protects your property because a stranger entering an animal’s space may increase a dog’s suspicious nature. Consider this scenario. Would you react adversely to someone walking in your front door unannounced? How do you respond to folded arms and direct eye contact?
YES, “Poopsy” just might hurt a flea given the right circumstances. Carrying my Champion dog up the stairs, I stumble and squeeze. He panics! Had my old partner not been shy most of his teeth, I would have suffered severe lacerations.
Another example of “nature at work” came about when my friend returned a pampered eight week old Whippet puppy to the rest of the litter. The mother grabbed it by the neck and neatly disposed of it. Talk about survival of the fittest and propagation of the species!
On a personal level, we don’t’ keep puppies from a bitch that has trouble conceiving or whelping, and we don’t keep studs that lack libido. Good studs don’t’ “spin their wheels” during an entire heat cycle, but they insistently seek me out on that “special day.” That too is inherent behavior. We must, as breeders, reject breeding animals lacking soundness of body, mind, temperament, health, attitude, and the ability to function.
I am a dog owner. I have the right to the breed of my choice. I am my dog’s owner. I am not his guardian. I’m tired of being measured with an activist’s yard stick. WE, the people, have a Constitutional right to own pets as property. For better or worse, dogs are domesticated and they are what they are. Until we accept that, we are just fueling the fire of Animal Rights. Retiring them to the wild is NOT an option. We must learn about, accept or modify the behavior inherent in the dog depending on its breed and purpose. We can’t legislate it away.
After all, dogs comfort us in this world of chaos. Clean or dirty, they greet us with enthusiasm each time we return, be it five minutes or 12 hours. They ask to be the center of our universe and they earn it! Pushing the envelope, they beg at our table, assist in our bathroom duties, hog the blankets, and are always on the opposite side of the door. We tolerate their quirks as life would be sterile without their presence. Above all, dogs do what dogs do. Dogs lick anything, anywhere, in front of anyone. They scratch when it itches, and scoot when it feels good. The have no inhibitions. They are the lucky ones.
So whether inherent or learned, dogs attempt to give us what they think we want. OUR challenge is to become the kind of person our dog thinks we are and to understand them as they actually are. Dogs have inherent behavioral characteristics and it is up to humans to be smart enough to figure them out and act accordingly.
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