Dog-speak: How to decode your dog’s behaviour
Dog owners will know that despite feeling as though your dog is well and truly a member of the family, sometimes their behaviour can leave you feeling stumped. While you've probably got a pretty good idea of when your dog is hungry or ready for a walk, other quirks can be baffling. So what signals are we missing?
We spoke to Certified Animal Behaviour Consultant Penaran Higgs to find out more about cracking your dog’s behaviour.
1. Barking at guests
“There are a variety of reasons why dogs bark at guests. The two most common ones are excitement and fear. If your dog is excited to see your guests, your dog will approach and perhaps jump up, wagging their tail with a friendly demeanour. The bark will be high pitched and will usually stop after the initial greeting.
“When a dog is fearful, they tend to hang back a little, with more tentative low barks interspersed with growls, and, if approached, the growling and barking will become more frenzied.
“If your dog barks at guests out of fear, the kindest thing to do is to have them in a different room when you answer the door, so that they are not put into a position that they can’t cope with. When your guests are seated, you can (if it’s safe) let your dog out. A dog is less likely to bark or react in fear to a stranger who is sitting down and ignoring it, than one who is entering the home.”
2. Climbing on the bed
“They want to spend more quality time with their favourite person! Or perhaps your bed is more comfy than theirs - dogs like soft, warm spots in the sun, just like us!”
3. Chewing belongings
“There are a few likely reasons for this, and it depends on the age. Puppies, for example, chew things when they are teething. They do it to reduce the pain, so your puppy should not be told off, but rather redirected onto more suitable items. If your dog likes chewing, provide safe toys for them to mouth and chew.”
To stop your dog chewing on household objects, try them on Pedigree's Dentastix. As well as distracting them from any mischief, they’re also scientifically proven to reduce plaque and tartar build-up by up to 80% when fed daily, helping to minimise gum disease in your dog.
“Dogs and puppies also like chewing things if it gives them lots of attention. The best thing to do to prevent this is to make sure that your house is puppy or dog-proofed so that tempting things are out of reach - and only try to retrieve it from your dog if it is actually dangerous to leave it with them. In order to do this properly a good “drop” should be taught.
“But this will only work if your dog is given enough mental stimulation in the form of enough exercise, good nutrition and lots and lots of games.”
4. Panting on car journeys
“They are either worried, or feeling car-sick. Try keeping your dog on the floor of the car, with something to chew to keep them relaxed. Don’t allow them to bounce around the car barking at everything around them. You could try putting an Adaptil collar on them. An Adaptil collar is a collar that releases synthetic versions of pheromones given off by lactating bitches and so is very comforting. To humans, the pheromones are undetectable.”
5. Eating grass
“Dogs self-medicate with a variety of plants given the chance - although many of these plants are also dangerous and so it is advisable not to let your dog eat plants of unknown origin in your garden and discourage from doing so! Grass seems to cause dogs to vomit and so can help settle an upset stomach. It’s safe and natural for them to do this. Obviously, if the grass eating is excessive, a vet should be consulted.”
6. Refusing to eat until after a walk
“Dogs are all about motivation. There’s no point in trying to get a dog to do something that they really don’t want to do, without adequate motivation - would you work for no money? So, if your dog doesn’t feel like eating before a walk that’s fine, you can feed them later, or take out tasty treats on their walk to incentivise them to come back to you.”
It’s also worth noting that dogs shouldn’t actually be fed 30 minutes before or after exercise, so if your pet doesn’t feel up to munching before walkies it’s no bad thing at all.
7. Scratching the floor before lying down
“This is an evolutionary behaviour that stems from flattening down the grass to make a bed. Nowadays it’s part of getting their bed or resting place super-comfy.”
Keep your dog in top shape and choose Pedigree wet and dry food. All Pedigree main meal foods are complete, balanced for the life stage of your dog and enriched with added ingredients to nourish the skin and coat, aid digestion, help maintain oral care and support the immune system