Think your dog just adores everything you do, no questions asked? Wrong! Though canines do have the reputation for being more laid-back than their finicky feline friends, this does not mean that our behaviors don’t perturb our pets at times. Find out what humans do that drive dogs up the wall.
The Naughty List!
- Over-vocalization. Dogs don’t really understand what we are saying a lot of the time, unless they are used to certain commands or vocal signals, but they know when we are talking to them. So when humans speak in long monologues directed toward their pet, the dog senses that he should understand what you are saying, but finds himself confused and uncertain. Though words like sit, speak, and stay are simple enough for most breeds to grasp, more complication terms and commands should be accompanied by movements and signals to help them along. Avoid causing dog training confusion and frustration by being consistent with the commands and corresponding signals. (Note: Dogs also hate yelling. Anything you need to communicate to a pup can be accomplished without raising your voice.)
- Hugging. Of course dogs love affection. They thrive with encouragement, petting, patting, brushing and a good old fashioned rub-down. But while hugging might seem like one of the best physical displays of affection to a human, a dog does not enjoy it. Imagine if someone came lumbering toward you, and held your arms down, keeping you in one place so you couldn’t get away or move at all? That would be torturous after a while, even if you really loved the person hugging you! Furthermore, placing your arms (which the pup perceives as your legs) on his back, it is a signal of you exercising dominance over him, which could make him feel threatened.
- Teasing. You don’t like when humans promise you something and then don’t deliver, so why should you be surprised that your dog hates it too? Don’t dangle a scrumptious treat three inches from his nose, without giving it to him, or pretending to throw the ball without letting go. Teasing a dog is not only heartless, but it breaks down the bond of trust that most humans work hard to build with their pet.
- Being left to his own devices. Dogs get bored. If there are not toys to chew, places to explore, challenges to tackles or new opportunities to be active and use his mind, a dog will become painfully bored. If all your shoes, furniture legs and pillows are being chewed to pieces, your pup is probably bored stiff and looking for entertainment. Consider getting your high-energy pup some treat-hiding chew toys, puppy puzzles, or even another dog to play with and keep him company.
- Strong sweet fragrances. Dog noses are powerful, and a scent that might seems delicious to us might be nauseating and overpowering to them. If you just can’t put down the Frebreze, or you only ever apply the aromatic ginger-orange dog shampoo, you might be giving your pup a scent overload. Try to implement more subtle products to give your pooch a break, so he won’t feel the need to get back his “natural” scent by rolling in the mud!
- Having a rule-free home. Dogs are instinctively inclined to appreciate pack mentality where there is a hierarchy in place with a “top dog.” A lack of structure means no accountability, no organization, and no leader to follow. In homes where there are few routines, important aspects of a dog’s day, such as meal time and the daily walk are all up in the air. A home with little or poor training can be disorienting and frustrating for a pet.
- Going for rushed walks. When a pup has been cooped up all day, or confined to a small yard, the last thing they want to do is be dragged down a pavement path for 15-20 brief minutes before heading back inside again. When a dog is out for his walk, immediately the world is a colorful place full of sights and smells that the pup will want to engage in. There are tree trunks to sniff (and mark), scents to track, and maybe even animals to chase or acres to romp across. Shortening a dog walk to a rushed, minimal stroll, without any time for exploring and truly exercising, can be an exasperating experience for a pet.