How do dogs defend themselves?

April 13, 2012

Nature is truly amazing! Think of how it has provided pretty defenseless animals and critters ways to defend themselves. Some animals will blend naturally with their environment, some will play dead and others will emit obnoxious substances to deter predators from harming them. Others will have physical attributes that help them elude their enemies. Aside from the predators that are considered to be the natural enemies of dogs, human has also posed dangers to the existence of these animals. Dogs are considered to be man’s best friends. Who would ever think of harming these lovable furry creatures?

Dogs however, just like any other animals do need to protect themselves. In the wild, dogs have to face predators. They need to have the ability to protect and to defend themselves in order to survive. Dogs are very territorial animals. Dogs need to defend themselves, not only from predators, but from other dogs as well. They need to protect their territories, their young as well as their cache of food. Flock guards need to protect the flock entrusted to their care from wolves, bears and other predators. This protective instinct is well honed in guard dogs as well.

Of course dogs are dogs and different individuals will manifest different personalities. Different individuals will have different defense reactions to threats. A dog may freeze with the tail between its hind legs and seek cover when confronted with a threat. In this case the dog is “throwing in the towel” and hoisting the white flag. The dog is calling out “uncle” as it simply does not have what it takes to fight the threat. This “yellow” dog is showing a submissive behavior. Another defense reaction is flight. The dog may perceive that it is not at par with its opponent and the best recourse is to retreat. In most cases however, the dog will retaliate and manifest counter aggression. Aggression is one of the most common behaviors of canines. Aggression is what makes a dog survive in the wild, what enables the dog to have the first go at the hunted prey and gives the dog a chance to mate with an available bitch. Aggression is what makes dogs lower in rank look up to the alpha dog. Dog aggression intimidates not only other animals, but humans too. Fortunately, dog aggression was toned down with domestication, socialization and obedience training. Still the aggressive behavior cannot be completely eliminated. A growling dog, one that is baring its teeth means business. Take heed as the dog will attack! Although most people would love to have dogs this temperament is what discourages many people from having dogs as pets.

So how do dogs defend themselves? The dog would use its mouth, its strong teeth and its powerful jaws. Biting is a self defense reflex of a dog. This aggressive reflex is most common in dominant dogs and in breeds known to have a ferocious temperament. Dogs are very much capable of inflecting pain. Imagine a jaw that packs several hundred pounds of biting power per square inch locked on your arm. And boy, look at those strong white teeth! These teeth once sunk on the flesh will send blood spewing in all direction. Some breeds are actually trained to be aggressive. A pit bull for instance is known to lock its jaw once it has latched on the enemy. Dog experts averred that jaw locking is a myth. Nevertheless, it does show the dog’s ability to defend itself.

Dogs are highly sociable animals. Dogs tend to form a strong bond with its human family. Domestication has curbed the animal’s tendency to be aggressive. However, when a situation warrants, the natural instinct to defend itself will kick in and the dog will manifest the ferocious behavior of its wolf ancestors. There are breeds noted for their ferocious and aggressive temperament in the same manner that there are breeds known for the docile and calm personalities. The latter are most valued for being wonderful home companions. Of course dogs would need to protect themselves from predators and from other animals that are considered to be their natural enemies but these canine friends will not feel the need to defend themselves from humans if they are treated humanely.

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