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6 Unusual Facts About Dog Psychology

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6 Unusual Facts About Dog Psychology

For dog owners, everything about their best friend is worth knowing, and this includes dog psychology. Although studies regarding animal psychology are not as numerous as those for humans, there is work that has been done on canine behavior and dog memory, just to name a couple of areas of interest. You may be surprised to know how similar humans and dogs can be when it comes to their cognition. That is not to say dogs can learn particle physics, but they are both social creatures who are greatly influenced by their early experiences and overall environment.

So, in the spirit of psychology, this is a list of some interesting and perhaps unusual facts about dogs and what goes on in their minds.

Dog Memory and Canine Cognition and Behavior Facts

  • Fear: An emotion that is easily detectable in some dogs, humans are far too quick to dismiss it as a reaction to something intimidating (though it very well could be). The interesting thing is that fear in dogs can be both acquired and genetic. Early in a dog’s life, fear can become ingrained due to certain traumatic experiences. Later in life other fearful or traumatic events can trigger it. Some dogs are genetically inclined to be fearful as well.
  • Antisocial Behavior: Certain dogs seem to have an inclination towards aggression and violence. These are known as “red zone” dogs, and given the opportunity they will attack, bite or even kill. Although generalized notions of certain breeds exist, these dogs are most likely a product of poor upbringing without regard to the sensitivities they experience in their early period of life. To treat and rehabilitate this type of dog is difficult, but rather than the ‘medical model’ which treats behavior problems like an illness, the ‘behavioral approach’ identifies the connection between the antisocial behavior and the dog’s environment to effect change.
  • Socialization: Up to the age of 12 weeks is a critical time for a puppy’s development of social skills. If a puppy is not properly socialized with other dogs and people in that time, it could have lifelong consequences. Some people recommend that a puppy be exposed to as many as 100 different people by that age.
  • Depression: Believe it or not, dogs do suffer from depression. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a dog friend moving away, an attack from another animal, inclement weather, even a child leaving home, dogs do experience the sadness and listlessness that humans identify as depression.
  • Overprotection: Known as the body guard instinct, an overprotective dog has a tendency to resort to extremely overblown responses to harmless actions such as the approach of a stranger. Dogs with this pathology jealously guard an owner, sometimes even from other members of the family. The behavior gets worse if people have a scared reaction or if they treat the dog like it’s doing something good.
  • Bonding: Through trust building, mental stimulation, socialization, exercise, positive experiences and communication an owner builds trust with his or her dog. Just like children and friends, dogs need to bond with their owners in order to feel safe, loved and part of the family.

Researchers are learning more and more about dog psychology which leads owners to create the type of surroundings that encourage a healthy, well-behaved dog without resorting to punishment and shame. Dogs are more like humans than most people think, so it is important to understand what is capable of going on in their minds so they get the respect they deserve.

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