Human Behavior

Dogs use behavior to communicate, and react to human behavior in accordance with the perception that humans communicate in similar ways. It is important for dog owners to have a basic understanding of how human behaviors influence the emotions and actions of a dog. When a dog owner does not have an understanding of human behavior that may cause a dog to be fearful or aggravated a dog attack can result.

Human Behavior Provoked Dog Attacks

Dog attacks can be avoided in most cases by understanding human behaviors to avoid when dealing with a dog. Children are especially susceptible to engaging in human behaviors that inspire dog attacks. This is because children are less likely to understand what may hurt or aggravate a dog. Children are also smaller, which often makes dogs feel superior and can provoke a prey response.

People, especially those that are unfamiliar with dogs, may provoke a dog attack by:

  • Encroaching on the dog’s territory
  • Approaching or touching a dog when it is afraid
  • Attempting to touch a sick or wounded dog
  • Removing food, water, or other possessions from a dog
  • Intervening during a dog fight
  • Imitating prey behaviors, such as running or fast movement
  • Hurting the dog, even unintentionally
  • Staring at a dog, especially at face level

Human Emotions and Dog Reactions

Dogs are especially perceptive to emotions, and respond to tone of voice and body language more than the words being said. If a person is angry or aggressive when approaching a dog, the dog may perceive a threat and respond aggressively. If a person is fearful, the dog may become distrustful or identify that person as prey. Dogs understand a person’s emotions even if that person is trying to conceal those emotions, and will respond despite words that are contrary.

Human Behavior While Training Dogs

Dogs typically respond well to training. A well trained dog can be a great companion, and is much less likely to attack than a dog that has not been trained or has been trained improperly. If a dog owner is attempting to train a dog without the assistance of a professional, it is important that the owner acquire some knowledge about how a dog will respond to different training techniques.

Leadership Behavior

If a dog is taught that an owner is the leader, and the human behavior corresponds to this lesson, the dog begins to respect the owner and to obey commands. If the owner attempts to teach the dog, but does not display human behavior that the dog recognizes as dominant, the dog will not respond well to training and may attempt to dominate or bite the owner. It is imperative that an owner keep a firm tone of voice and stay calm, as the dog sees this as leadership behavior.




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