Basic education

How to Make a Dog Ethogram

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. September 18, 2016
How to Make a Dog Ethogram

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Before you start training your dog, you should know that experts strongly advise to make a canine ethogram to know their innate behavior and any conducts learnt up to that point.

An ethogram is simply a behavioral study that you can carry out yourself over an established time period. To do this, it's not necessary to observe your dog 24 hours a day. Rather, an ethogram is about observing their reactions to the normal stimuli in their daily lives. From this information, you can determine the situations which make your dog feel stressed, relaxed or happy.

Making a dog ethogram will help you know the best way to train your best friend. AnimalWised will show you the keys to doing it properly.

You may also be interested in: Training Your Dog to Use a Muzzle


  1. Example of a canine ethogram
  2. Why is an ethogram important?
  3. What to do with ethogram results?

Example of a canine ethogram

It usually takes around two weeks to carry out a dog ethogram. At this point in their training, you should try exposing your dog to certain stimuli such as other dogs, physical manipulation, new surroundings, etc, so that you can observe their reaction. All of this work will result in a more accurate portrayal of their behavior.

Below, we'll give you an example of a canine ethogram that was prepared by AnimalWised so that you can identify certain behaviors, and classify them as sociable, fearful or unwanted. You can create a specific ethogram yourself in order to analyse your dog's current state and work out which areas you need to improve on.

How to Make a Dog Ethogram - Example of a canine ethogram

Why is an ethogram important?

Making a dog ethogram is important if you think your best friend might be developing any behavioral problems. These types of tables help you to differentiate between natural behaviors and traits and learned behaviors. Once you understand them, you'll be able to work on them.

It's also ideal to make an ethogram if you're considering calling a dog trainer or ethologist. These small details will help the specialist to understand your dog, and their work will be more effective as a result. Your ethogram should include:

  • Aspects of your dog's behaviour that you find pleasing, that is, sociable.
  • Aspects of your dog's behaviour that you want to change.
  • Distractions which will pose difficulties during training.
  • Reinforcements with which you'll have more success.
  • Locations that will make training easier for you.
  • Some locations where you need to put training to the test.
How to Make a Dog Ethogram - Why is an ethogram important?

What to do with ethogram results?

Once you have made a dog ethogram, you must analyse its results. The best thing is to see a specialist, especially if you observe that your dog is repeatedly exhibiting undesirable behaviors. Only a professional can properly guide you with instructions specific to your particular case.

However, if this isn't possible for the time being, you can analyse some behaviors and start directly working on them yourself, whether examining fear, stress or separation anxiety in dogs.

Don't forget that dogs are happier when they are well looked after physically and mentally. Taking the time to analyse what makes them feel scared or stressed will be very beneficial in addressing their behavioral issues and guiding them towards a more social and positive life.

How to Make a Dog Ethogram - What to do with ethogram results?

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1 comment
Susan Finney
i have to write an ethogram for my course on my dog. the first day is to list behaviours and developing a behaviour key, then the second is to record over 10 minute intervals x3 over one day then introduce an enrichment toy. he will be inside and what if he doesn't go near the enrichment toy. would appreciate some help on behaviours for such a short interval.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Sue,

Is there anything specific you would like to ask that is not covered in the article? Otherwise, we are unsure of how we can help.
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How to Make a Dog Ethogram