Why are dogs so loyal? And, how can their loyalty help us to train our dogs better? These are questions that we frequently get asked and understanding two key elements about dogs will help you train your dog better.
Stories about dogs and their loyalty have been in the news a lot lately. In fact, we have recently posted several stories on our Facebook page. One joyous one is of a dog greeting his owner after he’s returned from Afghanistan; the other is a heartbreaking one of a black Labrador guarding her dog companion’s body after it was struck by a car.
Then there was Hawkeye, the dog who lay down next to the casket of his Navy SEAL owner in grief. Or Hachiko, the Akita who greeted his owner at the train station every day when he returned home from work, and after the owner suddenly died, returned to the train station at the same time every day for nine years (There’s a beautiful movie called Hachi: A Dog’s Tale starring Richard Gere about this dog).
These stories illustrate the depth of a dog’s loyalty. But, this leads us to the question: why exactly are dogs so loyal? There are two great reasons why we believe dogs are loyal and how it can be used to our advantage in getting a well behaved companion.
1. Dogs are pack animals.
They want to belong to a pack. When living with humans, humans are an extension of their pack. And, dogs like to sleep with their pack. Knowing this can be beneficial in getting a well behaved dog. If you keep your dog outside night and day, and you have a destructive dog, try bringing your dog inside the house more. Destructive dogs are frustrated that they are being isolated.
A simple solution is to have your dog sleep in a crate inside the house at night. Put the crate in a bedroom and teach your dog to sleep in it at night. Sleeping inside the house with the rest of the pack helps eliminate frustration of being isolated.
If your dog is unruly when coming into the house, put a leash on your dog every time he comes in and work on the place command. Don’t have time? Tether him to the place command and give him a tasty treat like a stuffed kong or bully stick to work on while you make dinner. This way you are training your dog at the same time you are getting a task done. Or, work on the place command in the evening while watching a movie. Soon, whenever your dog comes inside, he will immediately run over to his bed and lay down.
Giving your dog more time with his pack – inside the house makes a happy dog which in turn keeps him from destroying your yard.
2. Dogs are also naturally affectionate.
Their instinct is to want to bond. Dogs want to love and be loved. Because of this they will train and work with you purely out of the desire to have relationship with you. (Of course some breeds are more inclined to work closely with humans than others, such as the herding and working group.) Simply having a good relationship with your dog built out of trust, fairness, consistency, and conveying effective leadership skills establishes a well behaved dog.
The friendship between man and dog has gone back thousands of years. Dogs didn’t become “man’s best friend” for no reason. They give us unconditional love every day. Dogs have been loyal to us. It’s time we return the favor.