How do dogs tap into their fight-or-flight mindset when feeling threatened?

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Much like people, dogs possess a fight-or-flight mindset when it comes to potentially dangerous situations. This instinctive behavior is hardwired in dogs, going back to their closest ancestors, wolves. Dogs are constantly aware of their environment. They use their sense of sight, smell and hearing to detect any possible danger, and also any possible prey in the vicinity.

The fight-or-flight instinct comes into play when a dog is in contact with another animal, object or person that could potentially harm them. A dog has to quickly determine if they are vulnerable to attack, and make a decision concerning what behavior is necessary. This behavior is most often demonstrated in the wild, rarely occuring in domesticated situations.

When an animal exhibits the flight instinct, it will run away from a supposed predator or flee in random directions to confuse the predator. Flight instincts could also include hiding or climbing to a higher location. When an animal exhibits the fight instinct, he will charge the other animal. Fight instincts include defensive sounds, shows of dominance, physical contact or standing one’s ground.

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