Exploring Dog’s Nature: What Are Dogs Comfortable with and How to Deal with Character Changes?

As well as people, dogs are unique living beings which differ in their nature and in what they like and don’t like. A significant part of it depends on upbringing of course, but owners need to accept some characteristic features of a dog and learn how to live with those. Sometimes, a change in dog's nature even occurs during its life and that might be difficult for the owner. How should we approach such changes in nature and respond to them? We talked about that with cynologist Václav Ouška.

In the case I am a new dog owner how do I find out what my dog needs?

As any other pet, a dog will also let you know about its needs, for example by whining, barking and looks. All owners need to “connect” with their dogs and they will understand what the pet wants to say with each emotion in a few days. It’s the same as with children. If their basic needs are met, i.e. they’re not hungry, thirsty, there is some cuddling and they go for a walk, but the pet is still not happy, you need to search further. For example, if it’s hot, cold and so on. Even intuition has an important role – it works in the relationship of a dog and a person the same way it does in any other aspects of life.


What signs can tell me the dog is happy with something?

At these moments, a dog usually happily wags its tail, lick the owner and has a “happy face”, because even dogs can smile.


And how can I say the dog isn’t happy with something?

The signs may vary. The most common ones are sad eyes, whining, nervousness or barking.


Does the dogs’ nature change in time and is it therefore possible that dog’s preferences change?

Of course. I like to compare dogs with children because their development is similar in many ways. Children grow up and dogs do too. Their demands and nature change and they test their owners in what they allow them and what they don’t. Even a dog needs boundaries and if the owner clarifies them, they are both happy. They are very smart animals which will understand what they can and cannot do.


If there might be some changes, when can they occur?

A dog most often changes when it reaches the so-called puberty which is usually from 6 to 13 months of age. But it’s individual. You can notice such changes in behaviour – the dog suddenly stops obeying, tries what it can do and it is assertive, tries to get its dominant position towards the owner. At this stage, most problems that reveal when the dog is adult are created. It’s necessary to keep calm and approach the dog’s upbringing with consistency and you can solve any potential signs of aggression right from the start.


Do bitches experience a change in their nature at the time they are expecting puppies?

It’s similar to people – there is a hormonal change. The bitch might be out of breath, more tired and even aggressive. It’s necessary to let it rest and have enough relax before giving birth.


If I can see something is not really suitable for my dog but I do this for its health, what shall I do? Should I insist on my approach or should I try to partially adjust it to the dog so it is more tolerable for it?

Health is of utmost importance, of course. I would definitely consult the health condition and methods of any treatment with a vet. Sometimes the dog might not like it but if it’s necessary, it needs to handle the discomfort for a while.


Can a dog’s attitude towards other dogs change during its life? Can it happen that for example a dog didn’t have any problems with other dogs and it can’t stand them later?

Yes, it can. As soon as it grows up, it tries to take the alpha position, at home or in a pack. When a dog is young, it usually plays a lot and it gets on well with other dogs. However, when it becomes adult, it tries to get the dominant position and that’s why fights among dogs as well as bitches occur. And it is only up to us how we handle the situation and what we allow the dog to do.


If it is possible, how should we respond?

The best idea is to avoid unnecessary conflicts, i.e. to consider what dogs are safe to come closer. It’s important to have a dog on the leash in public and when we know it doesn’t like other dogs, it should also have a muzzle. It’s important to respect that not every dog wants to be a friend with others.