I often hear myself saying "who knows what goes on in that little head of his." This statement is most repeatedly about Luke; my thinker. He is a complicated yet simple guy; most dogs are very simple, simple in the good definition of the term (easy to understand). When you understand dogs; I mean really understand the way they communicate; learn and associate, you can then more readily "get" your dog. I am often called out to solve a strange behavior. A behavior from a dog is in simple terms; a reaction to an action.
Many behaviors can be figured out; dissected until you find the base cause and then other times we just never know why a dog displays a certain behavior. Dogs learn through association: connected, joined, or related to. They don't deal with long explanations; hidden agendas or mind games like humans do. Dog's don't hide behind the truth, they don't lie and they don't attempt to be someone they are not. All of this lends itself to a simpleness; that is as I said earlier, simple if you understand dog.
Take separation anxiety; how many people think that when a dog destroys things in your absence that they are angry and doing all of this destruction to show you? I know that almost everyone I speak to who is dealing with this considers their dog to be displaying their dislike for their owner leaving. Dog's don't do spite: a malicious, usually petty, desire to harm, annoy, frustrate, or humiliate another person; bitter ill will; malice. Dog's react; and if they are upset by the fact that you are leaving they will react in a form that anxiety causes. This often takes the form of pooping or peeing, chewing or trying to come out to find you.
Another example that I love "my dog only comes if I yell COOKIE." Let's take this statement apart in pieces. What happens when you yell cookies? The dog receives a cookie; correct? So when you call your dog COME; what follows? Usually the dog doesn't listen; there is nothing in it for the dog and you the owner probably get mad. You may voice your feelings or simply give up; hence the dog learns that come is either bad or neutral. It is a much better idea to come when you hear COOKIE. Without knowing it you have tapped into the way to train a reliable recall. ;)
I love to watch canine interactions; the number of these connections are down at my house being that many hours are spent in deep sleep. But when they are awake and communicating it is fascinating. Just yesterday Luke was laying on the bed beside my computer as I typed away. Jessie wanted to lay on the bed as well; both are dominant personality dogs. As she approached Luke froze so slightly it was almost undetectable by the human eye; but very much detectable by the canine eye. She immediately turned her head and backed onto the bed; it made me smile. She defused the situation simply by turning her head and not making a direct approach, simple.
Dogs are constantly learning; and you may be teaching things you don't want to teach your dog. This is often the cause of mysterious behaviors. "Everytime I talk on the phone by dog barks." Hmmm; do you get off the phone and address the situation? Do you speak to your dog immediately? Your dog knows how to get your attention without a doubt. Barking is sometimes caused by our reaction itself. Barking get's attention; when you need attention, bark.
Once you figure it out; it is all very simple yet fascinating.