Category Archives: Dog Behaviour

Guard Dogs

Guard dogs are a subject that I’m not sure I even want to write about, but as this site is meant for all aspects of man’s best friend, then it should get an airing. The last post Dog Toys, was more for dogs and their toys and the fun side of owning a dog, whereas this post will be a little more serious.

Guard dogs are mostly kept by people to guard property. Dogs make perfect sentinels in this respect because of their natural pack instinct to guard the members of the pack and also the den when one of the females has pups. When they become a member of the human pack, that instinct carries over to guarding the family house as well as guarding the family. In that situation, almost any dog can be thought of as a guard dog.

As long as a dog can bark loudly and cause a commotion should a would be intruder come calling, he will have done his job and seen them off. Of course the family pet doubles as family member and also intruder deterrent, so they are generally not seen as out and out guard dogs as such.

People’s general view of a guard dog is a large mean and tough dog, such as a Rottweiler, Doberman or German Shepherd sitting chained up in a builder’s yard or scrap metal yard which is capable of scaring off an intruder. These dogs live a completely different life to the family pet. While they have some human companionship during working hours, they are left alone at night. For dog, which is a social animal, this is a very sad and lonely existence, which is why I’m not happy writing about it.

When you take that miserable existence that a guard dog may face in a country like the UK, Australia or the US for example, its bad enough. But when you take a country like Spain where the general population does not view dogs in quite the same light as we do, the role of a guard dog is a horrible existence and one which angers me in the extreme. Dogs are often left alone without adequate shelter for days on end and often die young of leishmanosis, which is a common disease spread by a tiny mosquito that only affects dogs and is fatal unless expensive treatment is administered by a vet. The chances of catching this disease can be reduced by not allowing a dog out after dusk, as the mosquito does not fly during theday.

Dogs left to guard a property are exposed to this threat simply because they do not have shelter.

Ok, now I’m getting angry at a people who are ignorant when it comes to looking after animals. They’re humanitarian record in this respect is not good – the country still loves to watch a bull being slowly tortured to death by sadistic so-called bull fighters (more like cowardly tormentors) who don’t even get into the ring with the bull until it is considerably weakened by repeated stab wounds made by a small army of men on horseback. So you can imagine how they treat their dogs.

Even families with dogs are ignorant to the dangers and allow their dogs to walk unleashed along the streets, not seeming to care that their pet might easily run underneath a car. My own next door neighbour, who is an intelligent man (he’s a top heart surgeon) opens his door in the morning and lets his Spaniel take itself for a walk. Try telling him to put the dog on a leash and you get the typical Spanish shrug as if to say “what do you expect me to do about it?” One day that dog is not going to come home and his two boys are going to be terribly upset.

What has any of this got to do with guard dogs?

Well, I suppose my experience of living here in Spain for several years has enabled me to observe people who keep dogs more for the guard dog element than for an actual pet. Not all Spanish people are as bad as this, of course. There are good and bad in all races and some truly love and care for their dogs. But still far too many do not and I see some unbelievably ignorant people keeping cold weather dogs like Huskys with their incredibly thick coats here in a place where the summer temperatures can reach 40Âșc.

All to guard their homes and to show off to their envious neighbours, I shouldn’t doubt.

Bah, humbug! So much for an objective look at guard dogs. I think I’ll stick to writing fun posts about two crazy little Yorkies instead from now on!

Terry Didcott
For Dogs

Play Tug-of-War at Your Peril!

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.

Terry Didcott
Dogs Wish