Behavior Patterns and Their Meaning
While rarely called upon to activate their ancient survival instincts, modern dogs have nevertheless inherited many of the traits utilized by the earliest members ol their species. Pack behavior still exists, but in modern times dogs adapt to the human pack and the additional demands of rules of civilization. Domestication has done much to temper the aggressive nature of many breeds, but many other characteristics have survived.
Terriers were originally bred to thrive predominantly in hilly territory and keep the terrain clear of predators and small vermin. ln other terrains dogs of various structures and temperaments evolved to serve the particular needs of their masters. Even though raised as distinct breeds, they all share a common heritage and basic forms of communication.
Terriers are renowned for their spunky, aggressive nature. This trait is particularly keen in the
males. When dog meets dog, there is an immediate vying for dominance. The dogs will stand well up on their feet, snarl, and try to intimidate their perceived opponent. An
inspection of the anal area is generally in order. Fierce growling canensue, and occasionally a fight will break out, but this is usually quite short-lived, as one animal will recognize its vulnerability and give way to the more dominant dog.
The same Vying for top spot-the “alpha” dog-will also take place between dog and master, although this is more often a war of wits rather than a physical confrontation. Unless the human clearly asserts leadership, the dog feels it is entitled to role the pack and will try to do so. Owners should be aware of this trait and exhibit an emphatic, consistent manner when dealing with the dogespecially when it willfully disobeys. The dog must understand that it is subordinate to all humans in its pack, and this instruction should begin as soon as the puppy is introduced .to the household. A puppy can comprehend instruction in propher behavior even when quite young, as it has already been coached this power structure by its mother, the original alpha.
Terriers are very alert. game animals lespite their instinctive chalange other animals they feel are vying for superior position, they are not normally prone to viciousness. The atrocities attributed to “pit bull terriers” are actions of poorly bred and improperly raised animals and should not be taken as typical of terrier nature. Owners of the larger very game terrier breeds (American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier) have an added responsibility to rigorously attend to the obedience training of their animals. By showing the public the attributes of well bred, well-trained terriers, some of the ill fame attached to these breeds can be cleared away. As with all breeds, any terrier exhibiting an overly aggressive nature should be thoroughly trained-by a professional if necessary-and eliminated from breeding programs.