Understanding Your Dog

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog

Intelligence

Main article: Dog intelligence

The Border Collie is considered to be one of the most intelligent breeds.[170]

The domestic dog has a predisposition to exhibit a social intelligence that is uncommon in the animal world.[113] Dogs are capable of learning in a number of ways, such as through simple reinforcement (e.g., classical or operant conditioning) and by observation.[113]

Dogs go through a series of stages of cognitive development. As with humans, the understanding that objects not being actively perceived still remain in existence (calledobject permanence) is not present at birth. It develops as the young dog learns to interact intentionally with objects around it, at roughly 8 weeks of age.[113]

Puppies learn behaviors quickly by following examples set by experienced dogs.[113]This form of intelligence is not peculiar to those tasks dogs have been bred to perform, but can be generalized to myriad abstract problems. For example, Dachshund puppies that watched an experienced dog pull a cart by tugging on an attached piece of ribbon in order to get a reward from inside the cart learned the task fifteen times faster than those left to solve the problem on their own.[113][171]

Dogs can also learn by mimicking human behaviors. In one study, puppies were presented with a box, and shown that, when a handler pressed a lever, a ball would roll out of the box. The handler then allowed the puppy to play with the ball, making it an intrinsic reward. The pups were then allowed to interact with the box. Roughly three-quarters of the puppies subsequently touched the lever, and over half successfully released the ball, compared to only 6% in a control group that did not watch the human manipulate the lever.[172] Another study found that handing an object between experimenters who then used the object’s name in a sentence successfully taught an observing dog each object’s name, allowing the dog to subsequently retrieve the item.[173]

Sergeant Stubby wearing his uniform and medals. Stubby participated in four offensives and 17 battles.

Dogs also demonstrate sophisticated social cognition by associating behavioral cues with abstract meanings.[113] One such class of social cognition involves the understanding that others are conscious agents. Research has shown that dogs are capable of interpreting subtle social cues, and appear to recognize when a human or dog’s attention is focused on them. To test this, researchers devised a task in which a reward was hidden underneath one of two buckets. The experimenter then attempted to communicate with the dog to indicate the location of the reward by using a wide range of signals: tapping the bucket, pointing to the bucket, nodding to the bucket, or simply looking at the bucket.[174] The results showed that domestic dogs were better thanchimpanzees, wolves, and human infants at this task, and even young puppies with limited exposure to humans performed well.[113]

Psychology research has shown that humans´ gaze instinctively moves to the left in order to watch the right side of a person’s face, which is related to use of right hemisphere brain for facial recognition, including human facial emotions. Research at theUniversity of Lincoln (2008) shows that dogs share this instinct when meeting a human being, and only when meeting a human being (i.e., not other animals or other dogs). As such they are the only non-primate species known to do so.[175][176]

Stanley Coren, an expert on dog psychology, states that these results demonstrated the social cognition of dogs can exceed that of even our closest genetic relatives, and that this capacity is a recent genetic acquisition that distinguishes the dog from its ancestor, the wolf.[113] Studies have also investigated whether dogs engaged in partnered play change their behavior depending on the attention-state of their partner.[177] Those studies showed that play signals were only sent when the dog was holding the attention of its partner. If the partner was distracted, the dog instead engaged in attention-getting behavior before sending a play signal.[177]

Coren has also argued that dogs demonstrate a sophisticated theory of mind by engaging in deception, which he supports with a number of anecdotes, including one example wherein a dog hid a stolen treat by sitting on it until the rightful owner of the treat left the room.[113] Although this could have been accidental, Coren suggests that the thief understood that the treat’s owner would be unable to find the treat if it were out of view. Together, the empirical data and anecdotal evidence points to dogs possessing at least a limited form of theory of mind.[113][177]

A study found a third of dogs suffered from anxiety when separated from others.[178]

border collie named Chaser has learned the names for 1,022 toys after three years of training, so many that her trainers have had to mark the names of the objects lest they forget themselves. This is higher than Rico, another border collie who could remember at least 200 objects.[179]

Behavior

Main article: Dog behavior

Although dogs have been the subject of a great deal of behaviorist psychology (e.g. Pavlov’s dog), they do not enter the world with a psychological “blank slate”.[113] Rather, dog behavior is affected by genetic factors as well as environmental factors.[113] Domestic dogs exhibit a number of behaviors and predispositions that were inherited from wolves.[113]

The Gray Wolf is a social animal that has evolved a sophisticated means of communication and social structure. The domestic dog has inherited some of these predispositions, but many of the salient characteristics in dog behavior have been largely shaped by selective breeding by humans. Thus some of these characteristics, such as the dog’s highly developed social cognition, are found only in primitive forms in grey wolves.[174]

Properly socialized dogs can interact with unfamiliar dogs of any size and shape and understand how to communicate.

The existence and nature of personality traits in dogs have been studied (15329 dogs of 164 different breeds) and five consistent and stable “narrow traits” identified, described as playfulness, curiosity/fearlessness, chase-proneness, sociability and aggressiveness. A further higher order axis for shyness–boldness was also identified.[180][181]

The average sleep time of a dog is said to be 10.1 hours per day.[182] Like humans, dogs have two main types of sleep: Slow-wave sleep, then Rapid eye movement sleep, the state in which dreams occur.[183]

Dog growl

A new study in Budapest, Hungary, has found that dogs are able to tell how big another dog is just by listening to its growl. A specific growl is used by dogs to protect their food. The research also shows that dogs do not lie about their size, and this is the first time research has shown animals can determine another’s size by the sound it makes. The test, using images of many kinds of dogs, showed a small and big dog and played a growl. The result showed that 20 of the 24 test dogs looked at the image of the appropriate-sized dog first and looked at it longest.[184]

Differences from wolves

Some dogs, like this Tamaskan Dog, look very much like wolves.

Physical characteristics

Further information: Wolf

Compared to equally sized wolves, dogs tend to have 20% smaller skulls, 30% smaller brains,[185] as well as proportionately smaller teeth than other canid species.[186] Dogs require fewer calories to function than wolves. It is thought by certain experts that the dog’s limp ears are a result of atrophy of the jaw muscles.[186] The skin of domestic dogs tends to be thicker than that of wolves, with some Inuit tribes favoring the former for use as clothing due to its greater resistance to wear and tear in harsh weather.[186]

Behavioral differences

Dogs tend to be poorer than wolves at observational learning, being more responsive toinstrumental conditioning.[186] Feral dogs show little of the complex social structure ordominance hierarchy present in wolf packs. For example, unlike wolves, the dominant alpha pairs of a feral dog pack do not force the other members to wait for their turn on a meal when scavenging off a dead ungulate as the whole family is free to join in. For dogs, other members of their kind are of no help in locating food items, and are more like competitors.[186]

Feral dogs are primarily scavengers, with studies showing that unlike their wild cousins, they are poor ungulate hunters, having little impact on wildlife populations where they are sympatric. However, feral dogs have been reported to be effective hunters of reptiles in the Galápagos Islands,[187] and free ranging pet dogs are more prone to predatory behavior toward wild animals.

Domestic dogs can be monogamous.[188] Breeding in feral packs can be, but does not have to be restricted to a dominant alpha pair (such things also occur in wolf packs).[189] Male dogs are unusual among canids by the fact that they mostly seem to play no role in raising their puppies, and do not kill the young of other females to increase their own reproductive success.[187] Some sources say that dogs differ from wolves and most other large canid species by the fact that they do not regurgitate food for their young, nor the young of other dogs in the same territory.[186]

However, this difference was not observed in all domestic dogs. Regurgitating of food by the females for the young as well as care for the young by the males has been observed in domestic dogs, dingos as well as in other feral or semi-feral dogs. Regurgitating of food by the females and direct choosing of only one mate has been observed even in those semi-feral dogs of direct domestic dog ancestry. Also regurgitating of food by males has been observed in free-ranging domestic dogs.[188][190]

Trainability

Dogs display much greater tractability than tame wolves, and are, in general, much more responsive to coercive techniques involving fear, aversive stimuli, and force than wolves, which are most responsive toward positive conditioning and rewards.[191] Unlike tame wolves, dogs tend to respond more to voice than hand signals.[192]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog