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All dog breeds are made equal?

Dogs are surprisingly complex creatures. Estimates about the number of breeds are as high as 800 in Western countries alone. Even given the fact that the difference from one breed to another can be carried to absurd extremes, the variety is astonishing from a human perspective, who have, perhaps, only a dozen 'breeds'.

The first domesticated dog dates back some ten thousand years and that's a short period from an evolutionary point of view. The ancestor of the dog is the wolf. It not surprising therefore that our dogs today, despite their differences, still have some traits in common. Next I'd like to discuss a few of them.

Predatory behavior:

Although your dog is not out there hunting all time, still he is very much a hunter. They have extremely well developed ears, eyes and noses. They can hear very well (much better than us of course) and can perceive a much wider range of sound frequencies.

A dog can see much better than a human. They have a much wider field of vision which is estimated to be at 270 degrees. Humans have a maximum angle of only 150 degrees. So dogs are much better at instantly scanning terrain.

And thirdly, dogs have a much, much better nose than us. They have up to twenty-five times more receptors in their noses which enables them to smell scents up to a hundred million times less intense than people.

For instance, Golden Retrievers are able to smell a gopher in the winter through a yard thick layer of snow and earth. Once picked up the smell of the gopher they'll try to dig a hole in order to capture the animal. That's typical behavior of a predator.

Another important point is their need for social interaction:

Dogs need to be around other dogs and humans. That is the reason we like them so much in the first place. However still many owners think that dogs can be on their own for longer periods of time. Many a dog is on it his own for the whole day when everybody is out working. These long periods of social isolation can lead to alterations in his behavior, like aggression and anxiety. If you can't be with your dog, think about how he can stay in contact with others, like hiring a dog walker for example.

Having said that, using the isolation technique as part of your dogs' training can be highly effective. Dogs don't want to be excluded from the group and he immediately 'gets' how he should behave within the group.

Your dog needs social contact and if he lacks it you'll pay the price. All dogs, even guard dogs, need to be around their pack or family, because if not how do they know who is welcome and who should be chased away?

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Saturday, 12 June 2021

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