If you have a dog, there's a good chance you've looked at your little pup and wondered, "what are you thinking about?" Most dog owners have, especially during times when dogs are misbehaving. It would be wonderful to know why Fido always tries to get into the cookie jar or why Fifi can't seem to wait to go outside to use the restroom. Since dogs don't speak English, we have no way of knowing precisely everything that goes into dog behavior.
However, there are a few things about a dog's behavior that might surprise you. Here are five of them!
Your Dog Understands About 250 Words
Dogs are incredibly smart. A two-year-old toddler and a dog have one thing in common: they both understand the same number of words! When you think about it, 250 is quite a large number of words. It explains why dogs can remember so many commands and act on cue. It also explains why all that frustration that you may express to your dog goes nowhere - they can't understand it!
Therefore, when training your dog, act as if you're talking to a 2-year-old. You would use more straightforward phrases, fewer words, and tone to reinforce what you're saying. You can often correct problematic dog behavior more quickly in this manner.
Your Dog's Behavior Is Dependent On How Long You've Been Gone
One study found that dogs know how long their owners have been gone. Whether you've left your home for 15 minutes or 2 hours, a dog will have that sense of time length. One catch is that after two hours, it seems like the data is less prevalent (that is, your dog might not know the difference between 2 hours and 5 hours, but they will undoubtedly know 15 minutes versus 30 minutes).
How your dog will react depends on the dog personality and temperament it has.
For example, an affectionate dog might respond with lots of tail wags, face licks, and more. A dog with whom you're not getting along too keenly might become more sullen and withdrawn, sensing that you are leaving for longer times.
So, if you leave home for work and come home to a super-excited dog, that's normal - it's just your dog's way of saying that they knew you were gone and missed you!
Dogs Dream Like Humans
If you've ever noticed your pup twitching in his sleep, or you see his eyes rolling in his head, that's because he's dreaming. He's dreaming dreams that are similar to yours. In his head, he's outside enjoying a friendly game of fetch or running on the grass. Or, perhaps your dog is having a dream of some of the other dogs he saw at the park or during your daily walk. Regardless, they dream in a very similar style to humans - complete with the sleep cycles and everything.
Therefore, if you ever notice your pup sleeping, try your best not to wake him or her up. If someone wakes you up during your sleep cycle, you may not be on your best behavior as you may feel irritable or tired. Similarly, your dog might not be on its best dog behavior. Depending on your dog's characteristics, that could make them a very unpleasant companion!
Dog's Mate Twice Per Year
Female dogs go into heat two times a year, so those are the only times that your little pup might want to mate. However, when unspayed females do go into heat, expect significant changes to their dog behavior. Female dogs will "appear more nervous, easily distracted, and more alert than usual." Depending on your dog's personality tendencies, she might start to exhibit behaviors that are erratic or unusual for her.
Of course, since there are already many dogs in the animal shelters in the United States, spaying your dog is highly preferred. This simple act that your veterinarian can perform accomplishes two goals. First, it helps keep the pet population lower. Second, it helps keep your dog's behavior a lot more stable. Instead of going into heat, they'll act calmly throughout the whole year!
Your Dog's Behavior Has More Nuances Than You Realize
Even though your dog might seem like a simple creature, dog psychology is a remarkably complex field. There are even professional pet psychologists whose sole goal is to analyze pet behaviors and help correct them. If your dog is experiencing any behavioral problems, your vet might refer you to one!
Ultimately, dogs are more like humans than we realize. Many of their behaviors and emotions reflect what their owners do and say. Dogs can feel and think about their day, and they reflect on that during the night time when they dream about it. Dogs understand some of the words we say and know when we've been gone. They miss us.
Therefore, if you want a happy dog and a healthy mental environment, ensure that your home is a safe space for your little pup. Use words of encouragement, take your pet out for some playtime, and provide them with a loving family. With all that in place, your dog's behavior is unlikely to be an issue!