If you have a dog as a family member, it’s likely there are behaviors he engages in that drive you up a wall. Maybe he always covers you with love—and his fur!—right after you get dressed in your best, or he always paws at the door to be let out at five in the morning.
But it’s just as likely that you engage in behaviors that drive your dog nuts!
Let’s look at it from your pup’s perspective and explore the top things humans do that dogs hate.
Shouting commands at me over and over
Talking louder isn’t going to make your dog understand you better. It’s not the volume that’s the problem. It’s the communication method. Remember, dogs understand their world in this order: nose, eyes, and then ears. Engage with your dog’s other senses first, and focus on communicating through energy and body language.
Giving me a big hug
A warm embrace may be appreciated by most human family members, but canines aren’t big fans. Why? Because this expression of affection doesn’t come naturally to them. After all, they don’t have arms! Instead, it is viewed as an act of dominance, and some dogs will react with anxiety or even aggression. This is particularly important to keep in mind when teaching children how to interact with dogs. What may begin as a friendly exchange on your child’s part can result in a bite from a dog that feels threatened.
Patting me on the head
Imagine if a stranger reached out for your face. It’s likely you would pull away. For dogs, this experience is even more nerve-wracking, because human hands are coming at them from above. Like a hug, it can seem more like a threat than a friendly gesture. That’s why it’s always better to pet a dog under its chin instead.
Looking me directly in the eye
You may want to stare into those adorable eyes endlessly, but in effect, you are engaging in a staring contest. To dogs, this behavior is a way of establishing dominance. What’s worse — if you are smiling, you are likely baring your teeth. You may know that it’s meant in a friendly way, but all the dog will see is those pearly whites, and he may respond in kind.
Showering me with affection, affection, and more affection
This may come as a heartbreaker to many who love dogs, but an overabundance of petting, snuggling, and attention isn’t appreciated by your dog. It just confuses her. By oversharing affection, you aren’t allowing your dog to work for it, and you’re sending confusing — and usually conflicting — signals about what behavior is actually desired.
This is a broad category of human behavior, but it’s a common one. Often, we get so caught up in a dog’s “cute” behavior that we don’t consider it from their perspective. Maybe it’s funny to give them a gentle tug on their tail to get a reaction; or to throw a blanket over a small dog to see her struggle to get out; or you get a good laugh from taunting a dog behind a gate because he can’t get out. It may be amusing to you, but that dog isn’t having a good time. He’s frustrated, and you’re just making it worse by continuing your behavior.
Which of your behaviors are you working on improving for your dog’s sake? Let us know in the comments!