Home > Dog Behavior, Dog Training, Pet Safety > How Well Do You Know Your Dog? Reader Participation

How Well Do You Know Your Dog? Reader Participation

The other day a friend and I were leaving the dog park with our dogs. As we were leaving, we ran into a fellow dog park goer with her German Shepherd.

I was loading my dogs into the car, but my friend stopped to chit chat with the woman. As she headed back towards me, she shared with me that our friend’s dog had been attacked by another dog the night before. Someone brought their dogs to the dog park, and while unloading them from the car, one broke away jumped the dog park fence (no small feat I assure you). The dog went after our doggie pal. Not good. No one wants a dog like that at their dog park. I had expressed my dismay.

Then, my friend said to me “Someone clearly doesn’t know their own dog.” That’s when it occurred to me (based on observation at the dog park and elsewhere) that there are a lot of dog owners who really don’t know their own dog.

It got me to wondering. Was there some type of quiz out there that people could take to tell them how well they really knew ther own dog. So I looked… and looked… and looked, but all I found was a quiz that had a “you are the pack leader” mentality (Uh yeah. I don’t think we need more disinformation passed around out there.). I couldn’t find one checklist or quiz that could help dog owners learn more about themselves and their dogs.

So here is what I am wondering…

If you had to write one question that could help a dog owner know if they really knew their dog what would it be?

If you had to describe one behavior, or a set of behaviors, that would let YOU know that a dog owner really knows their own dog, what would that be?

I’ll be interested to see what you have to say. Heck. Maybe we’ll create our own quiz!

  1. June 30, 2011 at 7:21 AM

    How fortuitous that my friend Kristine would write a post on a similar topic over at Rescued Insanity! So worth reading given she’s written about a the same topic (only from another angle). Here’s a link to her post: http://rescuedinsanity.com/2011/06/30/if-shiva-was-a-tree/#comment-6651

  2. June 30, 2011 at 10:12 AM

    Thank you so much for the shout out!

    This is a tough question to answer. I don’t know if there is one question that would really sum it all up. After two years I feel like I know my dog very well. It’s why she is always, always on a leash unless we are in a safe space like a dog park or hiking trail. Especially when getting out the car. She is always very excited to be in a new place and would immediately take off the second she had the opportunity. She will also jump out of car windows, even while the car is moving at high speeds, if they are down low enough. These things are important to know. 😛

    But it’s hard to know these answers right away. Dogs react differently in different situations. If you’ve never taken your dog to the dog park before, it’s hard to know what they are going to do in that environment. It might be what you expect and it might be completely different. I guess that’s why it is best to start slowly and on a leash until you can learn how they are inclinded to behave. For instance, we have never left Shiva in the care of anybody else, not even for a few hours, so I have no clue what she would do. Nor have we ever left her alone in a backyard for even ten minutes. I have my suspicions but I can’t say for sure.

    You’ve got me thinking though. I will have to get back to you on this one.

  3. June 30, 2011 at 11:24 AM

    This is a tough question. I think I’d ask if they knew how to read when their dog was feeling stressed. So many owners have no idea how to read the calming signals given by dogs. Knowing a dog’s body language can help you assess a situation whether it’s just you and your dog or in a setting like a dog park.

  4. June 30, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    I can’t think of one question or answer for you (this is my third time typing a response!!!) I think the people that have gone beyond one puppy training class and formed a real bond with their dog, know their dogs. People that have a dog, never really train them, but take them to a dog park so the can wear them out are the ones that don’t really know their dog. Maybe the question just needs to be … how much time do you spend in a week actually working with your dog or how much training have you done together?

    I’m sorry for your friend and her dog – it’s scary being attacked like that!!

  5. June 30, 2011 at 2:44 PM

    There are some fairly good quizzes here: http://www.funtrivia.com/quizzes/animals/dogs/dog_behavior.html
    It also has an option of making one of your own.

    I don’t think that one question could really cover enough.

    I also don’t think that the problem really is that people don’t “know their dogs”. I think the problem is
    a) often they just don’t care
    b) or they don’t understand what they’re seeing (not understanding dog language)

    • June 30, 2011 at 6:13 PM

      Thanks for passing on the link to the quizzes, Jasmine. Because apparently I have nothing better to do on a Thursday night than take every single one.

      • June 30, 2011 at 6:20 PM

        LMAO, sorry 🙂

      • Mel
        June 30, 2011 at 9:50 PM

        Kristine – You crack me up! LOL!

    • Mel
      June 30, 2011 at 10:21 PM

      Thanks for your comments and the link to the quiz Jasmine I think you may be right about a and b, but I also think some people simply just choose not to see their dogs as they are, but as they want them to be (even if they did do the training).

      Now I’m off to join Kristine to check out those quizzes!

  6. July 1, 2011 at 8:56 AM

    I think the question that I would ask (and have asked on occasion) is: If you were walking off leash down a wooded path with a tug toy in one hand, a steak in the other and your dog spotted a squirrel, which would the dog want most. The answer I would be looking for, as this is what my goals for the owners and dogs I work with is, D. None of the above. The missing answer is YOU.

    • Mel
      July 1, 2011 at 11:13 AM

      Wow. Jamie – That is an awesome question and answer! I think that might just cover what I was looking for!

    • July 2, 2011 at 7:22 AM

      Yes, great question! 🙂

  7. July 1, 2011 at 10:10 PM

    I would have to agree with Gretchen. Knowing when your dog is stressed is a good indicator of how well you know your dog.

  8. July 2, 2011 at 6:12 AM

    I think Jasmine is onto something. But I think many people don’t even know there are things to know about their dog.

    So many people fail to realize their dog has his own drives, motivations and desires. And that’s the chasm that separates people who only train their dogs and people who form relationships with them.

    I’d love to see a quiz you created. I’d check out Jasmine’s links but I think spending time with my dog is a better use of my time right now. 🙂 After all, the sun’s out!

  9. July 2, 2011 at 12:23 PM

    Wow, what an interesting question. Sometimes I like to think I know my dogs very well and then a day will come when everything I know about them and all our work together falls apart and I throw up my hands in frustration. For me, I like to be sure I can recognize when my dog is stressed, unsure or lacking confidence, these are the situations when their behavior seems to be at it’s worst. If I can recognize the moments and situations, maybe I can help them learn better?

  10. July 3, 2011 at 3:35 PM

    What are your dog’s triggers? is one question I always ask clients. The response I get usually covers both the positive and the negative things. The owner also then gives you the list of things they notice. It makes for a starting point in designing a training program that works specifically for them.

    • Mel
      July 5, 2011 at 9:47 PM

      Gini – I am really late in responding, but I nodded my head in agreement when I saw your comment. I love that question. It can tell so much about a dog – like you said, positive and negative.

      • July 6, 2011 at 12:56 AM

        Thanks all. Feel free to use it as well.

      • Mel
        July 6, 2011 at 8:34 PM

        Thanks Gini. I will!

    • July 5, 2011 at 10:04 PM

      That is an awesome one! In fact, that might be THE ONE.

      • Mel
        July 5, 2011 at 10:10 PM


  11. July 8, 2011 at 9:22 PM

    I haven’t been able to come up with any good questions, but I love what everyone else has said!

    • Mel
      July 8, 2011 at 9:56 PM

      Me too!

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