Principle 5 For Achieving Balance: Honor Your Dog’s Instincts

A dog sniffs around in the back yard.

Because dogs are animals and species first, they all share a common set of instincts. They are connected to nature, live in the moment, communicate with energy and, as pack animals, seek calm and assertive leadership.

Consider Instincts of a Dog Breed

Although the animal and species instincts are common to all dogs, their breeds can sometimes affect behavior. Breeds were by humans created for different reasons ‘ some dogs were bred to be companions, some to be herders, and some to be protectors. Each was bred to draw out and focus on desired instincts to create dogs that excelled at particular tasks. That means it is sometimes necessary to consider the specific instincts of a dog’s breed’s instincts when working with her.

Keep in mind that the breed is ‘only the suit.’ The more purebred a dog is, the more she will exhibit her breed characteristics and instincts. But you should always begin by fulfilling her animal and species instincts through the walk and ‘exercise, discipline and affection.’ Only then can you address her breed-specific instincts.

For example, most people are probably familiar with herding breeds ‘ sheep dogs, German shepherds, border collies and the like. Fortunately, you don’t need a herd of cows or sheep in order to fulfill their herding instincts. Activities like agility training, flying disc, or Treibball mimic the activities that these dogs instinctively engage in.

To fulfill the breed instincts of working dogs like huskies and Rottweilers, you can let them pull a cart or carry a heavy backpack. To them, this isn’t ‘work.’ It’s a physical and psychological challenge that makes them feel useful and valued.

Breed isn’t the most important thing about a dog and, regardless of breed, all dogs share the same basic psychology and have the same needs. However, honoring the instincts that are stronger in your dog’s breed can be another powerful tool for bringing balance to your pack.


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