In the modern world, competition is essential. It can help you get the best food and the best house, as well as the best job. People even pay to watch or participate in competitive events. Humans put enormous emphasis on being the best and invest huge amounts of money to see and be the best.
Although competition is vital for survival in the animal kingdom, it is becoming less important to domestic pets like your dog. It could depend on the activity, according to some sources.
Signs Your Dog is Feeling Competitive
Every dog is different, as are all animals. Your dog may take a different approach. If your dog feels competitive about resources, there are a few things to look out for. The dog might start growling as a warning sign.
This could happen when someone touches a dog’s food. The dog may become upset and unwell, and the person might attempt to eat their food. Understandable, right? If someone does this to you, you might also growl. Other than the growling, you may also notice your dog barking or putting their ears back. In some cases, they might become upset if someone attempts to take something. It all depends on the temperament of your dog and their personality.
You might also notice signs that a dog feels threatened by another dog or animal, such as staring at the animal and stiffening their body language. If they feel threatened, dogs will fight for what they believe in.
If the situation becomes more serious, your dog might start to chase the other person or animal. If your dog becomes upset about someone touching their food, bedding, or other object, it is important that you notify others and keep pets away. It is always safer to be safe than sorry.
History of dogs and competition
Historically, dogs have descended from wolves. Wolves are wild animals, and therefore, they had to be competitive if they wanted to survive. So, they had to be somewhat competitive for food, water, territory – even their mate. Without this competition, they might go hungry or pass away before mating.
Many accounts and sources relating to dogs being competitive point out that dogs are not the only ones who are competitive. We compete for jobs and possessions as well as accolades. We also use competition to entertain ourselves, which is quite interesting. This is why professional football, basketball, and baseball all make millions each year. This opens up many fascinating insights into the reasons why animals and humans compete.
Science Behind Dogs and Competition
Many scientists disagree on this topic. Some feel dogs really don’t understand competition in the sense that humans do. This means, if you put puppies in the Puppy Bowl, they aren’t necessarily interested in winning.
According to Gizmodo, they are most interested in getting a toy or ball. Dogs don’t really want to win competitions that humans create, as they may not be able to understand the rules or game. Dogs can sometimes compete for attention and resources, as we have already mentioned. Dogs may run past other dogs to get food first or fight each other if they are in their territory.
Another source said that dogs understand human body language better sometimes than we think. If they can see you getting excited and happy when you win a competition or game, it could be that they want to “win”. Your dog may be motivated by the positive behaviors you encourage in these situations.
Competitivity training for your dog
So, can you train your dog to be competitive? In a sense. If you had your dog when they were a puppy, chances are, you potty trained them, taught them sit, stay, and everything else. Dogs can absolutely be taught tricks and games, and many of them love this.
True competition and competitive nature are based on the circumstances. Dogs who attend dog shows don’t care about titles or trophy’s are likely to not understand the concept. You’ll see that handlers often give treats and praises throughout these events. This probably motivates the dog. You can hire a professional trainer if your dog is interested in participating in shows or other competitions.
If you want your dog learn a skill, encourage them and reward them with treats when they comply. True competitiveness is likely to depend on the dog and the situation.