What Do Dogs Learn from their Owners?

What Do Dogs Learn from their Owners?

One reason that humans share their homes with dogs is that canines have an incredible capacity for learning from their owners.
Lifestyle & pets

While it is well known that dogs can learn verbal commands from humans, you might be surprised at the other actions listed here that dogs learn from their owners.  


In the wild, dogs learn everything they need to know to survive by mimicking their canine family. For many domesticated dogs, however, humans represent their “pack”. Dogs will learn important familial traits, such as compassion, by mimicking the way their owners interact with other people and animals.


On the flip side of compassion, however, is aggression. Dogs will mimic behaviors they observe from humans in this regard, as well.  For instance, if a dog is punished physically for bad behavior, the animal can learn that it is okay to lash out with aggression towards others.

How to Look “Guilty”

Have you ever seen those cute social media posts displaying a dog sitting next to a handwritten sign explaining the animal’s most recent transgression? In each case, the pet has a stereotypical “hangdog” appearance that practically shouts, “I’m guilty!” However, many owners are surprised to learn that they are the ones teaching this behavior to their pets. Researchers have observed that dogs modify their expressions based on a human’s reaction. Since humans tend to spare punishment for dogs that look guilty, many a pet has adopted the guilty look.

Excitement and Anxiety

Two behaviors that owners do not wish for their dogs to replicate is excitement and anxiety. Like other traits on this list, most owners do not realize they are to blame for their dog’s behavior. For instance, becoming excitable when the dog starts barking can serve to make the dog more vocal and hyperactive. Similarly, showing anxiety to your dog when you are about to leave the house can trigger separation anxiety in your pet.  

Daily Routine

Unsurprising to any pet owner is that dogs learn daily routines from their humans. Whether it is time to wake up, go for a jog, sit down for dinner, toss a tennis ball, or lounge on the couch, our dogs will let us know. However, the reason why dogs do this might be surprising: dogs feel safest with routine, and they follow the routines of the humans and animals they trust most.  

The next time you sit down with your dog, think about the relationship you share and everything you have taught him or her. From emotional to physical behaviors, dogs learn quite a bit from their humans.

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Please note: all dogs should be treated as individuals. The Actijoy™ blog is for educational and entertainment purposes only. In the case of emergency, always seek qualified healthcare from a local veterinarian or emergency facility. Actijoy™ blogs are not designed to treat, diagnose, or prescribe medication for your pet.


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