Your dogs and cats (and ferrets and iguanas and hamsters, etc.!) have a totally different view of the world around them than you and I do. We will concentrate on dogs here with most of our information also being applicable to cats.
Your dog is looking up most of the time when relating to you and other people. With his/her eyes set in the front of the face in predator position, it makes it possible to do this comfortably. A prey animal (like a horse or llama) would have to tilt its head to focus both eyes on us if looking up all the time (their eyes are set on the sides of their heads).
The dog is close to the Earth outdoors and uses information that comes to his nose (scent lingers near the ground and drops with cool air) to learn about a new place, to know who has been there and to make decisions moment by moment. If your dog has long floppy ears and big folds of skin around his face, he will gather scent more effectively than a smooth, short eared dog.
Indoors, he gets the same connection to smells from your floor/carpet. If you use strongly scented cleaning products, his senses can be overwhelmed. If he is the reason you use strongly scented cleaning products, try washing floors with vinegar instead; dusting carpets with baking soda before vacuuming; dusting his body with powdered lavender blossoms, parsley leaf powder or activated charcoal then brush him.
Your dog has acute hearing. He can detect a siren on the highway miles in the distance. He can hear a gopher deep underground (again, the long, floppy ears can channel sound, too) or the rustle of a bug in the closet. He may or may not appreciate Opera or Reggae or Rap.
You need to become aware of how your lifestyle can impact your pets’ lives. They certainly learn to adapt to us, but that can sometimes mean that they acquire strange (to us) behaviors as coping skills.
If your dog runs to the closet at 3:00 AM and starts digging in the corner (don’t yell “bad dog!” – I always say, “Good dog doing a bad thing”, really), try to understand why this is happening and give him something else to do.
Most predators re-act to stimulus. Their instincts are intact, even if the most hunting action they get is trying to locate the piece of popcorn that shot under the refrigerator last week. So the best trained dog and the sweetest cat in the world will both re-act without thinking when a bird flops down from the rafters to grab a grasshopper.
As you become aware of the instincts and qualities that your dog shares with his species, you can prepare his surroundings to enhance the things you want and to discourage the things you don’t want from him. Socializing him to people and other animals is of supreme importance because those very instincts that ensured his species’ survival in the past are the deep seated stimulus that could spark an attack under certain circumstances. Your dog will feel protective, even jealous of you to one degree or another. If you are unsure how to help him learn the important things, find a KIND, WISE, NON-AGGRESSIVE trainer to help you.
In our Natural Dog Care Manual you will find a list of things your dog needs to live a healthy life. An important ingredient is a “place of his own”. This just means that he needs a “den”, a bed in a corner of a room, a dog house, a whole room or a shed where he can be alone (or with his pack if he has other dog companions). To be blunt, he needs to be able to get away from people sometimes (know the feeling? I feel that way sometimes).
Because he is looking up at us most of the time, he will want to get on sofas and beds and chairs to be closer to our perspective. This may or may not agree with your desires, but if it is not acceptable, at least try to understand why he does it.
I have a friend whose dog was raised at a boarding and grooming facility where he was taught to jump up on the grooming table. He doesn’t understand the difference between a grooming table and my friend’s dining room table. She is patiently explaining to the good dog that this is a bad thing.
It goes without saying that a compassionate provider does not chain a dog to a tiny dog house out in the elements with not enough food and filthy water; with no companionship, no grooming and no love. This is not a life; this is Hell for a dog. If this is the only option, do not have a dog.
Your dog only knows what he is allowed to do. He does not innately know what is “right” or “wrong”. You have to teach him, because all people have their own sets of “rights” and “wrongs” for their animals.
Consider his viewpoint. Consider, ahead of time, what you want him to do and not to do and be CLEAR and CONSISTENT and especially COMPASSIONATE.
Consider his perspective. Try to not offend his highly developed senses and give him lots of attention (focused just on him) at least once a day.