Life for us humans used to be pretty brutal. You don’t have to go back that far in time to a point in history where most people (no matter their status) would have lived in relative fear.
A recent trip to the Tower of London reminded me very much of this, and made me thank my lucky stars that current society allows us all to live very much in comfort, and with lifestyles that we choose. Sadly, our dogs do not have the same understanding that life is safe and relatively easy.
Recently, whilst with a family I was helping with their new Italian Greyhound, we spent lots of time talking about the importance of survival for dogs, and I mentioned my recent visit to the Tower of London and how that had reminded me our brutual history. They confirmed their understanding of what I meant, and told me about a documentary they had seen set in the past in Iceland I believe – where there, no matter what else was going on, the most important thing was to keep the fire burning. If the fire goes out, it’s very difficult to get it started again, and they are relying on the fire for their survival.
I really liked this as a comparision for the way dogs are thinking, but there is no fire, just a belief that the pack has to survive. So no matter what is going on, if they believe that this is under threat, they will act to ensure the pack’s survival.
Now all dogs have different personalities and are living in different circumstances, so what they consider to be a threat, and what action they feel the need to take will vary very much from one household to the next. The intention is the same though. The above photo shows a Portugese dog who seemed very upset about the vast number of people who had appeared in his street for a food festival.
Maybe you are very lucky and have a naturally relaxed dog than doesn’t perceive many problems in your environment. Or maybe you are at the opposite end of the scale and have a dog who is wired to look for problems, for whom “keeping the fire burning” is a never ending task. If the latter applies, please emphasise with your dog. It can’t be easy feeling like protecting the pack is all on them. Especially as you know there is no need. You can show them there is no need, but it will take some work. I can help you with this, or you can have a read of “The Dog Listener” by Jan Fennell to get a better understanding of the starting point.