ABC-Animal - Behaviour Chronicle
Human domesticated dog approximately 10,000 years ago
In our society, the role of the domestic dog is constantly evolving. Approximately 10,000 years ago, humans domesticated the dog for its talents as a hunter and protector. Thanks to its highly developed senses, dogs could quickly alert a camp with their barking or physical attitudes. At this time, the human-animal relationship was based on the dog’s instinct and language, a language that was fully respected.
Over time, the relationship between dogs and people has evolved. Human beings selected canine genetics based on certain very specific characteristics and behaviors, and introduced verbal language with the aim of communicating more effectively with dogs.
Today, work dogs still exist, but most modern dogs have a particular relationship with people. They are generally considered to be life companions. In certain cases, people even think of them as their children.
However, this special relationship has consequences, since human and animal communication methods are very different. Dogs use ancestral communication based on attitudes and body language. They speak with their eyes, ears, tail, and posture, while we humans generally ignore this type of communication, since talking is so easy for us.
We therefore project our own language onto dogs, which includes human intentions and values along with very high expectations. Today’s dogs must be clean, calm, quiet and almost inhibited. Many of these attitudes are incompatible with a dog’s normal behaviors. In short, dogs have become humanized. It is therefore important to learn to communicate with them, let them know clearly what is expected of them and to adjust our expectations according to their abilities. Poor training techniques or inadequate supervision could lead to a diminished quality of life for the animals and disappointment for the owners.
See your pet as he or she really is, and work together as a team rather than trying to dominate regardless of the price. Make sure your pet is well trained, and use positive techniques to communicate what you expect.
Martin Godbout, D.V.M.
Daubigny Veterinary Group
Québec City, Québec, Canada