The dog is a social animal: its species has a habit of forming groups to live together. For decades, groups of dogs have been compared to packs of wolves, especially in terms of behaviour. Their genetic affiliation justified the comparison, without finally taking the time to verify whether dogs and wolves had kept exactly the same behaviour.
The myth of dominance
However, the reality is more complex. Recent observations, on packs of semi-wild dogs, show small groups (3 to 5 individuals, on average), and above all, no pack leader ! There are many dogs with a more “assertive” temperament, but that depends a lot on the context and on the other individuals in the group! It is therefore not essential to dominate your dog for it to be balanced.
Even the notion of territory is called into question : these studies show that conflicts between groups of dogs do not depend so much on a defined space, but on the food resources that are present there. It ultimately makes sense that these complex, human notions are different in a dog’s brain.
What is the right relationship to have with my dog?
The dog therefore needs a relationship which is above all balanced. The dog needs a framework to learn and understand the behaviours that you do not want to see in it, or the orders it needs to accompany you (recall, walking on a leash, etc…). But it also needs a space of freedom where it can express and satisfy its needs.
It is therefore important to listen to it, on the one hand, to know how to recognize what your dog’s specific needs are. You can meet the usual dog needs first (activity, exploration, social games), but each dog can have different tastes , and it’s up to you to find the favourite toy, or the favourite game for your dog.
On the other hand, it is important to be consistent, and to put yourself within reach of your dog. Don’t wait for it to automatically figure out what your rules are, always see things from the dog’s point of view. And it is not obvious! Many new owners do not understand why their dog continues to do stupid things, imagining intentions like revenge at home …
The reality is often simpler: the dog simply did not understand what was expected of it. Do not hesitate, in case of doubt, to take the help of a dog trainer (preferably in positive education) to assimilate the reflexes to have for good communication.
What is the dog’s place at home?
Ultimately, you can think of your dog as an individual. Its needs are not the same as for a human, it is therefore necessary, before adoption, to prepare its home to welcome them while respecting its needs.
It is therefore not the dog who must adapt to our way of life, but the reverse: our way of life must take into account the needs of the dog , whether in terms of space, and presence for s ‘take care of them. The dog already naturally has a tremendous capacity for adaptation, but it is not for them to do 100% of the work.
For example, you can restrict the space accessible to the dog (whether it is the kitchen, the bedroom, the bed, the sofa, etc.), but on condition that you give it enough space elsewhere, and give it time to attention it needs. Conversely, if it does not bother you or pleases you, you can allow them to get on the sofa, for example. The important thing is not the rule itself, but knowing how to set your own limits, and correctly transmit them to the dog .
To use the sofa example, don’t invite your dog up for a cuddly assignment, only to ban them on another day when you’re not in the mood. You have to set simple rules, and stick to them. For a dog, this kind of back and forth on the prohibited can be completely incomprehensible and generate anxiety .
Another example, the uncleanliness is often explained by these communication problems and bad learning: the owners reprimand the dog at the wrong time, and do not know how to direct them to the outside.
The worst behavior to observe is aggression: I recommend that an unfamiliar dog owner seek professional advice in dealing with these potentially dangerous situations. The sooner the problem is caught, the greater the chances of correcting it without consequences, but the common mistake is to ignore the problem until the situation becomes untenable. In many cases, the reaction of the master also amplifies the problem. So don’t wait to ask a dog training professional.
What is the dog’s place in the family?
Likewise, as a social and sensitive individual, the dog will have a specific relationship with each member of the family. Ideally, these relationships too should be balanced .
The dog will tend to seek attention from all members of its family group. But it is not essential that the dog is close to all the members of the family (certain breeds or certain temperaments can be more exclusive).
On the other hand, everyone must respect the dog’s place, especially children, who may not know how to detect the warning signals emitted by your dog, when it is fed up. It is therefore very important to educate children to respect the animal and not to take it like a soft toy. We can for example define the basket as being its refuge, and prohibit bothering the dog when it takes refuge there. Children should also never be left alone with the dog .
The dog is therefore an intelligent animal, able to adapt to many situations. But it is not a robot, so it may have an unpredictable temperament and behavior, which you will have to know how to cope with. And it is an animal that has important ethological needs . The adage given in the title of this article is therefore biased: from the moment you welcome the dog, you share your home to give it a place.
Whatever place you want to give it in your home, make sure you have the resources to meet its needs, and the relationship of affection and trust that you develop with your dog will be second to none.