9 Ancient Dog Instincts You Need To Know

Every dog owner loves those heart-melting moments when their furry friend does something cute.

But have you ever paused and wondered why they do certain things?

Why do they spin around before settling down, or why do they hide their toys?

These actions can be puzzling, but they have deep-rooted explanations.

Many of the things our dogs do today are linked to the behaviors of their ancient ancestors.

Dive in as we uncover the “9 Ancient Dog Instincts You Need To Know” and shed light on the mystery of doggie habits.

By the end, you’ll understand your pet’s actions much better and know how to respond in ways that respect their natural instincts.

Our Dogs’ Old Roots

From Wolves To Today’s Pups

Imagine a world thousands of years ago.

Wild wolves roamed forests and open lands.

Those wolves were the great-great-grandparents of our cuddly pets today.

Over time, humans and wolves got closer, leading to the domestic dogs we have now.

However, many behaviors of today’s dogs come from those wild days.

By knowing these, you can help your dog live happily in our modern world.

9 Ancient Habits In Today’s Dogs

Hunting Play

Fetch, tug-of-war, or chasing a moving toy might seem like simple games to us, but for dogs, they are so much more.

These playful actions are reminders of the wild hunting rituals of their ancestors.

You see, wild canines would chase, capture, and “kill” their prey.

When your dog shakes a toy vigorously, they’re mimicking that final “kill” move.

As a pet owner, understanding this can help you provide safe and stimulating toys that tap into this instinct.

Guarding Spaces

Does your dog have a favorite spot or toy they growl over?

This behavior harks back to when canines lived in the wild.

Territories meant safety and food.

Guarding ensured survival.

If your dog is very possessive, it’s essential to train them gently to reduce possessiveness, ensuring harmony in multi-pet households.

Being In A Group

The phrase “lone wolf” is a bit of a misnomer.

Wolves, and by extension, dogs, thrive in groups.

Historically, packs meant safety and successful hunting.

Today’s dogs see their human families as their pack and are naturally inclined to bond and protect.

This is why dogs often feel stressed when left alone for long periods.

Consider toys or playdates to keep them company if you’re away.

Digging Up Lawns

If you’ve ever been frustrated by those unexpected holes in your garden, here’s a fun fact: it’s an age-old habit!

In the wild, canines dug to hide food or find cooler resting spots.

While it might be troublesome, understanding this can lead to solutions like giving them a designated digging spot or offering toys that cater to their digging needs.

Loving To Chase

Cars, squirrels, or a blowing leaf – if it moves, dogs love to chase it!

This instinct is a throwback to their hunting days.

While it’s natural, it’s crucial for owners to ensure safety, especially near roads.

Training commands like “stay” or “come back” can be lifesavers.

Howls And Barks

Late at night, when your dog suddenly howls or barks, it might be their ancient instincts talking.

These vocal signals were once vital for communication in the wild.

They alerted the pack and warded off threats.

Today, while it’s in a more urban setting, understanding this can help in training and managing excessive barking.

Hiding Toys And Treats

Have you found a toy or treat under a cushion?

Dogs sometimes hide things for later, a habit from days when food could be scarce.

Offering puzzle toys can be a great way to cater to this instinct, providing hours of fun for your pet.

Going Round Before Sleeping

Before comfy dog beds, wild canines had to make their resting spots.

They’d turn in circles to flatten grass or foliage.

So, when your dog turns around a few times before lying down, they’re just making their “bed” like their ancestors did!

Leading The Way

Some dogs naturally lead during walks.

This is a trait passed down from pack leaders who would scout ahead, ensuring safety.

While charming, training is key to ensuring walks are pleasant and controlled.

Why Old Habits Matter Today

The past shapes the present in many unseen ways.

When we observe our dogs, the link between their ancestral behavior and their current actions is evident.

This understanding is not just a fun fact or a conversation starter.

It offers a practical road map for dog owners who aim to provide a safe, engaging, and nurturing environment for their pets.

Living With Instincts Now

The concrete jungles and cozy apartments we live in today are far removed from the expansive wilderness our dogs’ ancestors roamed.

But ancient instincts don’t disappear overnight.

Dogs still harbor those primal feelings, and understanding these can make a world of difference.

For instance, a dog that loves digging doesn’t want to ruin your garden but is expressing an age-old behavior.

Recognizing this can help dog owners carve out a special corner for their pooch to dig to their heart’s content.

It’s all about bridging the gap between their wild past and our shared present.

Training With A Twist

Training shouldn’t be about stifling natural behaviors but directing them productively.

Knowing their ancient instincts provides a treasure trove of training methods.

If your dog loves to chase, why not use fetch or frisbee games to hone this behavior?

Or if they tend to guard their space, training sessions can be designed to redirect this protective instinct into tasks like guarding the house or specific areas.

The old habits offer clues, and with creativity, they can be transformed into impressive skills or even fun tricks!

Fun With Ancient Instincts

Cool Games For Old Habits

Our dogs’ wild past can be a source of fun-filled activities today.

Knowing that they like to chase can lead to stimulating games of fetch or agility courses.

Their instinct to dig can be channeled with sandboxes filled with toys.

And the pack mentality?

It translates wonderfully into playdates with other dogs, where they can “hunt” together in the form of play.

These games, rooted in their instincts, not only keep them physically active but mentally stimulated as well.

Safe Play Ideas

Safety is always paramount.

For dogs who love to chase, consider toys that move unpredictably.

For the diggers, ensure that their special digging spot is free from harmful substances or sharp objects.

And for those who love to howl or bark, sound toys can be a delightful addition.

Always keep a close eye on toys for wear and tear to ensure no accidental ingestions.

Lastly, knowing their instincts helps in choosing the right toys.

A dog with a strong hunting drive might love puzzle toys with hidden treats, while a guarding dog might prefer durable chew toys to “protect.”

Ancient instincts in our modern dogs are like whispers from the past, revealing tales of wild hunts, pack bonds, and survival.

By tuning into these, we don’t just become historians but better companions to our pets.

Every dig, chase, and howl is a story and an opportunity.

An opportunity to play, bond, train, and, above all, understand our furry friends a bit better.

So the next time your dog spins before settling down or hides a toy, smile, for you now know a secret: a glimpse into their wild, wonderful history.

Before You Go…

You now know ancient dog instincts you need to know.

If you want to learn more, read the following articles too!

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Dimitra Kokologianni, DVM
Dimitra holds a Masters’s degree in public health and a Bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine. She is a versatile professional with over 7 years of experience. Her passion for animal welfare and preventive medicine makes her an excellent resource for our readers.