6 significant dog instincts and traits


Canines were probably the first species to be domesticated by humans. It’s a generally accepted theory that the worlds first dogs were tamed wolves. Dogs share biological similarities with wolves. They look much alike. Anatomically, they have almost identical teeth, adapted for seizing and tearing. Their actions are similar and they have extremely sensitive senses of smell and hearing. Domesticated canines are loyal to and dependent upon their masters. They have taken a subservient place in human society. The only reward many dogs seek is a kind word and a pat on the head. Still, the study of dogs and wolves teaches us many traits that haven’t changed much since before they were domesticated.

1. Instinct:

Instinct is an inborn tendency to behave in a way that is characteristic of a breed.

2. Body Language:

Postural display is yet another characteristic of canines.

* When meeting a strange dog or person, non socialized dogs will raise their hackles (hair on their backs and necks). This is more noticeable in short haired dogs, which makes them look larger than they normally are. It is meant to intimidate other dogs and people who pose a threat. Oftentimes hackle raising is combined with pulling back their lips to show their teeth.

* A dogs ears and tail positions are among other postural displays that will tell what a dog is thinking. For instance, most dogs will tuck their tails between their legs and their ears will fall when submitting to a greater power.

* Rolling over on their backs is another action of submission a dog will portray.

* Kneeling, or putting their front legs on the ground and lowering their front quarters is an indication they want to play. Combining this with a wagging tail displays friendliness.

* A superior more dominating dog will usually assume another significant body posture toward another dog. Standing tall on stiff legs, the superior dog will strut around the powerless one, often stressing this posture with frequent growls and snarls.

* Another instinctive habit seen in many dogs, is turning in circles before lying down. Some experts say this circling goes back to the days when dogs turned around and around to pack down the grass to make a soft bed. Others think the habit is more likely connected to their checking the ground for the scent of its enemies, since the dog has its nose to the ground during the turning around.

* Digging is another inborn trait in that dogs will occasionally dig dens under porches or yards. Terriers were known to pursue their quarry underground by digging, and this too is an inherited behavior.

* Chasing cars and/or other animals is not a bad habit, but just another instinct in many dog breeds.

* Attacking small animals is an inborn hunting trait derived from the time these small rodents were the dogs main food source. These inherited instincts are so natural that they cannot be stopped or changed completely, no matter how much effort is used.

3. Sense of Smell:

Sniffing or smelling the wind is another characteristic long established by wolves and other wild canines. This serves as a dual purpose; to detect the scent of prey and to distinguish predators in the area. Some breeds have a more keen sense of smell than other breeds. Domestic canines have 40 times more olfactory (sense of smell) cells than humans have.

4. Sense of Hearing:

With their erect ears dogs can hear the faintest sound and are excellent in early warnings of danger. Able to differentiate the distinct sounds of different cars in the distance, pet dogs often announce the arrival of their owner even before they can be seen.

5. Sight:

Dogs have highly developed visual capability. Their fields of vision is different and in some ways inferior to that of humans, but for their purposes, it is quite adequate.

6. Memory:

Dogs have an excellent memory which gives them the capability to learn quickly. In addition to a good memory and learning ability, a dog has the capacity to think and reasoning capabilities with which to solve problems. Dogs are a cunning and intelligent animal with a complex mind.

Although dogs’ instinctive actions and personalities are influenced by heredity, like other intelligent mammals, they are the products of genetics, experience, and training.