Why Understanding Canine Behavior And Communication Is Important

Updated: May 25th, 2022

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A golden retriever puppy sitting, looking away to the left, on white background
© Depositphotos.com / feedough

I’m sure you see your Golden Retriever as a family member and treat them as such, but they simply aren’t a human being.

A Golden Retriever is a dog, a completely different species to us. And because of this, they have different wants and needs, different natural behaviors and different ways of communicating than we do.

In order to have the best relationship possible with your Golden, you need to learn why they behave the way they do as well as the ways in which they communicate.

With this knowledge you will be more understanding of some things they do, knowing that it’s completely natural. And you will have a better idea of how your Golden is thinking and feeling at any given moment so you can better tend to their immediate needs.

Some Behaviors That Annoy You Are Completely Natural For A Dog

A lot of things that a dog would do in the wild don’t carry over well to living in a human household. For instance:

  • Barking excessively – There are many reasons a dog may bark, but one the strongest in the wild is to warn of animals approaching, sounding an alarm to their pack members. This carries over to living in our world by barking at the post-man, a visitor approaching the door or somebody walking by your garden fence. If the barking becomes too excessive, you might consider trying using an anti-barking device.
  • Digging up your flower bed – Dogs in the wild dig little hollows to place food in for later consumption, to cool down in summer or to find a supporting, comforting place to sleep. Of course they’ve no need to do this in life with a human, but the urge is still there. (See ‘Why dogs dig‘ for more info.)
  • Chewing – Golden Retrievers were bred for retrieving and as such they have a very strong urge to carry things in their mouths. Puppy’s also teeth, much like children do and during this stage they chew on things to ease the pain in their gums. In the wild this would be sticks or roots but in your home its slippers or a chair leg.

These are just a few examples of behaviors that are completely natural for a dog but that we really don’t like to see. But knowing they’re natural behaviors, is it fair for you to be annoyed?

Learn Your Goldens Natural Behaviors So You Can Use Them For Benefit

Your Golden Retriever was born with a set of natural instincts and urges to perform certain behaviors that they will find very hard to resist.

There are certain things your Golden simply has to do to feel satisfied in life. Things such as satisfying their urge to hunt and retrieve, to chew, to satisfy a sex drive and more besides.

When a dogs natural instincts and behaviors aren’t satisfied or their owners do everything to prevent and hold them back, the dog can get very frustrated. And this is when behavioral problems can occur, such as seeming out of control or perhaps being aggressive.

But learning what your dogs natural instincts and drives are, you can provide a release for them, making your Golden happier, feeling more fulfilled and you can rest easy knowing you’re doing the best for your dog.

Taking up a couple of the examples from above:

  • Digging – If you have yourself a digger, to save your flower beds you can provide your Golden with an area where they’re allowed to dig and encourage it by burying the odd treat or toy.
  • Chewing – Provide your golden with a variety of different chew toys. Different shapes, sizes and textures. Any time you catch them chewing something they shouldn’t, re-direct them toward a chew toy. They feel satisfied, you save your belongings.

Dogs Communicate Differently Than Humans

Your Golden Retriever and you do not have a natural way to communicate with each other. But this is hardly surprising as we are a different species.

Human beings communicate mostly with their voices whereas dogs communicate mostly with body language.

OK, they have a few different barks and growls, but they say so much more with the way they hold their bodies and their facial expressions.

Your golden retriever will be constantly communicating how they feel and what they’re thinking by how they’re standing, the angle and movement of their tail, how they’re looking at you, the way their eyes and ears look and the way they’re moving around.

But with little ability to understand our words and sentences it can be very difficult for your Golden Retriever to understand what you are trying to say. And it’s very hard for your Golden to tell you what’s on their mind and how they’re thinking and feeling.

So it’s very likely you and you dog are misunderstanding eachother very often. So what can we do?

We can learn to read canine body language.

Learn To Understand Your Dog – They Learn To Understand You!

Dogs are very observant and spend a lot of time studying their humans to learn how to read us, what we’re thinking and feeling.

They’re very skilled at this and learn to read us well.

You only have to see a few of the stories on the internet where people say their dogs know exactly what they’re thinking or want to do before they’ve even moved or said a word!

This is because our dogs become so good at reading the tiniest little movements, postures and facial expressions we make and through experience learn what these mean and what we want or are about to do.

So isn’t it only fair that you learn how your dog communicates and what they are telling you? So the communication can work both ways?

More Understanding Between You And Your Golden Makes For A Better Life Together

Spending the time to learn how to read canine body language, what a dogs natural behaviors are and what they might be thinking and feeling will definitely improve your lives together.

You’ll be able to provide outlets for their urges instead of denying them. You’ll be able to tell if they’re scared, frightened, happy or sad and adjust your behavior to suit and this will mean you can tend to your Goldens needs more effectively.

For instance, if you can see your dog is displaying the beginnings of aggression, you can remove them from the situation or stop doing whatever it is that’s annoying them. Or if they look fearful or anxious, perhaps about a person or environment, you can take steps to introduce them slowly and not force them into a situation they don’t like.

Understanding and communication creates a better relationship between you and your pet, a stronger bond and a more effective team.

“There Are No Bad Dogs, Just Bad Owners”

Badly behaved dogs are almost always the result of having things missing from their life.

And this is usually the result of their owners not having a true understanding of their dogs wants and needs, and not being able to communicate with their dogs on any kind of decent level.

All dogs have a basic set of needs that must be fulfilled, needs beyond just food, water and shelter. They need training and understanding. Training to know how to fit into this foreign world that we’re asking them to live in, and understanding because every relationship is a two-way street.

Be a responsible owner and do what’s best for your dog by studying up on their needs, doing your best to meet them and learning how to communicate with your dog properly.


Written By

Wendy is a self-employed beauty therapist, mother of two, life-long pet parent and lover of dogs who somehow manages to squeeze in the time to satisfy another of her loves - writing. Wendy is the founder, main contributor to and editor of TotallyGoldens.

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