Achieving Balance and Harmony

DOG BEHAVIOR

Why dogs do the things they do

by Cesar Millan

All dog owners want to know why dogs do the things they do. But many times the answer lies within the human behavior, not the dog’s. This is especially apparent when discussing the difference between temperament and behavior.

The difference between “temperament” and “behavior” can be defined in terms of the dog’s natural state versus learned behaviors. Yet, while these two terms have different definitions, they are not completely independent of one another.

Temperament = natural state
Behavior = action based on temperament

Sit, Stay, Down: Learned Behavior

A dog is capable of learning many things, both from mimicking other dogs and also by learning the commands it is taught by its owner. But a dog may be very well trained and still be unbalanced, just as a balanced dog may not be trained.

The communication and connection we have with our dogs through exercise, discipline, and affection is the foundation for maintaining a balanced dog. I am more concerned about a dog’s overall balance in order to prevent or correct problem behaviors than I am with the dog’s ability to answer basic commands, like sit, stay, come, down, and heel. So in order to correct their bad behaviors, you must first understand the dog’s temperament.

Temperament = State of Mind

Your dog’s temperament is dictated by whether or not they are balanced. This has a lot to do with whether or not you are balanced yourself. Are you a calm-assertive pack leader? Are you projecting nervous or anxious energy?

A dog’s temperament can change based on the moment and situation, and then their behavior will change as well. This is about leadership and energy. A dog who is nervous may not listen to the commands you give; because his temperament changed, his behavior (listening to commands) changed along with it. ATF Gavin is a perfect example of this. His temperament was calm and balanced on any given day, but as soon as loud noises or fireworks went off, his natural state turned nervous and he behaved in a negative way by running away and cowering.

So in order to keep your dog’s temperament and behavior balanced, you must first keep your own energy in check. And by fulfilling your dog, his temperament will remain in a balanced state and, as a result, his behavior will too.

Have you noticed how your behavior affects your dog? How did you realize it?

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