Best Place T Take Mom Out Around Fashion Square A Dog’s Den Instinct

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A Dog’s Den Instinct

When talking about reasons to crate train dogs, many well-meaning dog lovers refer to dogs’ “natural den instinct.” Since we humans are so intensely connected to our private space and sense of shelter, we assume that other creatures must be too. Portrayals in various media have also created the impression that wolves naturally stay in caves. This provides a biological rationale for crate training – a simple fulfillment of a dog’s instinct to have an enclosed space to call its own. But as we shall see, this particular notion is ill-founded.

Dogs are direct descendants of gray wolves (Canis lupus), and are almost genetically identical – only 0.2% of their genetic code differs from each other. Wolves in the wild certainly do not “live” in caves. Rather, they roam large territories, sometimes more than a thousand square kilometers across, in search of food. The only time wolves use dens is for breeding purposes. Wolf pups are born blind and helpless and need time to develop before being exposed to the rigors of the wider world. Before giving birth, the wolf pack will dig or find a suitable hollow space. This is where the mother will give birth, and for the next four weeks the cubs will stay in or near the den. Even during this time, the mother wolf does not necessarily live in the den – she may go out to hunt, leaving another pack member behind to watch the cubs. As soon as they are able to do so safely, the cubs leave the den to begin traveling and hunting with the rest of the pack. Although the herd may return to that den for the birth of the next litter, they may just as easily abandon it altogether.

So if wolves don’t live in dens and dogs are as close to wolves as you can get, it seems unlikely that dogs would have any “den instinct”. Why are dog cages so popular and valuable as training tools? The answer is simply that dogs (in this case, as opposed to wolves) are docile, trainable animals. They have been bred over thousands of years to easily receive conditioning from humans and accept the conditions we place them in. This can mean anything from the high-fashion lifestyle of a Paris Hilton “pouch dog” to the desperate and brutal lives of the pit . – fighting dogs. Dogs have no more instinct for living in a box than humans have for driving – but in both cases, education trumps biology. Crate training is useful because a crate is an easy way to limit a dog’s access to inappropriate objects or areas. Dogs also develop an instinctive desire not to soil themselves with their own waste – therefore confining them to a small area teaches them to “hold it” and helps with housebreaking.

The point of this article is simply to demonstrate that approaches to dog training do not need a false “natural” rationale. The reasons for using dog crates as part of a training regime are plenty good enough on their own without manufacturing non-existent behavioral elements. Dogs, like humans, are intelligent and adaptable, and nurture will generally win out over nature. So stop talking about “that instinct” and focus on “that education”.

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