Dog behaviour is extraordinarily flexible – this is why we can keep them in our homes and take them to cafes with us at the weekend. Nevertheless, there are ways in which evolution has not equipped dogs for the challenges of living in our world, and puppies must learn how to cope.
These are some of the things we do they struggle to understand.
1. We leave them alone
As born socialites, dogs make friends easily. Puppies are intensely interested in spending time with other dogs, people, and any species willing to interact with them socially. They usually play, rest, explore and travel with company. Yet we often leave dogs alone: at home, in kennels or the vet clinic.
In these situations, naive dogs can’t be sure we’ll ever return to collect them. Only after experience are they likely to expect a reunion, and even then, their experience depends on the context.
At home, we may try to enforce dog-free zones. Naturally, many dogs protest. How can they stay with their (human) social group when they’re separated behind impenetrable barriers (doors)? This explains why dogs so often demand to be let inside when their human family is there, and why those with separation-related distress frequently find some solace in being indoors.
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