Dogs have the pack instinct, as I mentioned in a previous post. No matter what their size or how domesticated you might think they are, they still have that instinct inbuilt and programmed into their whole beings.
So if you think you can treat your dog like he’s a person, forget it! You might think that way, but he sure does not.
A common mistake people make is in attributing human emotions to their dog. Dogs do not have human emotions, no matter what you might read into the look on their face. They might look sad, but they are not sad in the sense that we express sadness. Here’s en example.
In the pack situation, when a weaned puppy is expecting his mother to feed him solid food, he’ll lick around her mouth to induce her to regurgitate the food she has just eaten. Ok, sounds gross, but that’s exactly what happens.
So when your dog comes up to you and licks your face, he’s not expressing love for you, or kissing you or displaying any of the human traits that we attribute to him. No, he’s trying to make you throw up so he can eat!
Believe it or not, it’s true.
Food for thought…
I’m not saying you can’t play tug-of-war with your dog, because it’s a great game that you’ll both get a lot of fun out of. What you mustn’t do is let your dog win!
Well, in a family situation, the dog sees himself as part of a pack – the pack instinct is still very strong in the most domesticated of dogs – and whatever their size. The higher up the dog perceives his rank in that pack to be, the more trouble you can expect from him.
One way in which dogs in their wild state get to know their place in their pack is by play-fighting. The winner is the rough and tumble is the top dog and he will continue to display dominant features until he is knocked off his perch by a stronger or more dominant dog.
In the family situation, you should rank higher than your dog at all times. If your dog perceives that he holds a higher rank than you, then he will behave in a way to ensure he keeps it.
Playing tug-of-war with your dog might seem an innocent and fun game to you, but to your dog, he sees it as a power struggle to be won. If he wins the game, he gets the spoils of being alpha male (or alpha female in the case of a bitch). I’ll post more on this subject over the next few posts.