We love our dogs so much that it hurts us to think we could be doing something that makes them uncomfortable, sad, or scared.
And they love us so much in return–and are so loyal–that sometimes, they don’t make it obvious when we’re doing something that bothers them.
Since they can’t tell us what’s wrong, we’ve compiled a list of things 13 things that humans sometimes do that dogs don’t actually like. But lucky for us, our favorite fuzzballs always find a way to forgive us–because that’s just who they are.
1. Hugging (If They Feel Restrained)
This is not to say that all dogs don’t like hugs. Some affectionate dogs will happily bask in any love that comes their way. But for many dogs, wrapping them in your arms may be interpreted as a sign of dominance, and can make them feel trapped. Some will tolerate hugs from those they love and trust, but it doesn’t mean they like it. In the end, it really depends on their personality.
Observe the pup’s body language: pinned ears, stiff posture, and a tense expression means the dog is not enjoying the embrace as much as you are. It is also VERY important to teach children not to run up and hug dogs that they don’t know. This lesson could prevent serious injuries!
Bottom line: you know your dog best. If he gets nervous when he feels trapped or is weary about getting hugs from strangers, make sure visitors know how to respect those boundaries!
2. Saying Commands With Too Many Words
We all chat with our dogs – and that’s okay! But we form such close bonds with our dogs, sometimes it’s easy to forget that they don’t understand most of what we’re saying! This is most important when it comes to giving commands. For instance, trying to reason with them (“I’ll give you a treat if you’re good!”) is a futile effort. They may pick up on the words “treat” and “good,” then wonder why you haven’t tossed a snack their way!
To eliminate confusion, keep it simple and in the present when giving commands or directives. Use key words he knows (good, treat, walk, play etc.), tone, and body language, and you’ll have a better chance at getting the message across.
Yes, dogs need limits–but you’ll be more successful by encouraging good behaviors rather than scolding them when they’re bad. Yelling will likely make them anxious or scared–or maybe they’re completely desensitized to it–and most of the time, they won’t even know what you’re saying.
An example of positive reinforcement: when your dog steals your socks, rather than scolding her, instruct her to drop it, then reward her once she does. (This will take patience, but your pup will be better behaved in the long run!)
4. Lacking Structure
As mentioned above, your dog needs limits. This structure is comforting to them, as animals thrive in a routine, like eating meals, going to the bathroom, and going on walks around the same time each day.
To that, regular exercise is imperative to prevent dogs from acting out. How would you feel if you were housebound all day?
5. Touching Their Faces
Again, you know your dog best! Some dogs love their faces being gently stroked by their loved ones. On the other hand, some dogs will tolerate fingers near their faces but don’t enjoy it, especially if the petting is too rough or unpredictable. If you’re about to pet a dog you just met, zones that tend to be safest are the neck, shoulders, or chest – at least until you get to know them a little better!
6. Eye Contact
We dog owners know we can gaze into the eyes of our pooches–in fact, it can be a sign of love. But when a dog doesn’t know you, it can be interpreted as a challenge or threat. Avoid eye contact with dogs you don’t know!
7. Not Letting Them Sniff Their Surroundings
Scents are a dog’s main source for gathering information about the world. For them, a nice walk with lots of sniffing (and marking) is their version of hopping onto social media and checking out what’s going on with the neighborhood pups. When you drag them away, consider it like someone shutting off your computer as you were browsing your newsfeed. Try to be a little more sensitive to your dog’s sniffing obsession next time you’re on a walk.
8. Dressing Them Up
This is another one that many dogs tolerate more than enjoy. (But again, there are always exceptions.) As far as trying to keep them warm when the weather gets chilly, try getting them used to light sweaters and jackets.
Canines in costumes tend to get ogled and laughed at by observing humans. A few may love the attention, but many feel confused (and ultimately, anxious) at these reactions. At the end of the day, silly costumes make (most) dogs uncomfortable in one way or another.
9. Forcing Them Into Scary Situations
Whether they’re afraid of the vacuum, a particular person, or a place (like the vet!), forcing your dog to “face her fear” is not effective, and can even be counterproductive.
The best approach is to gradually expose the pup to the stimuli at a distance where she’s comfortable, rewarding her for remaining calm, and getting closer as she get more used to the “trigger.” (Here are some great tips about getting fearful or anxious dogs to calmly ride in the car, but they can be applied to different stimuli.)
10. Strong Smells
The dog nose knows! As they’re between 10,000 – 100,000 times more sensitive to scents than human noses, you can imagine that the strong smells of cleaners, products, and perfumes can really bother your pooch.When using anything that has a strong odor, make sure your dog is at a distance from the source of the smell, so as not to assault his nostrils.
11. Being In A Bad Mood
Whether you’re angry, sad, or stressed, your dog, with her amazing empathy, she knows how you’re feeling! Everybody has bad days, but if negative emotions have you in a never-ending slump, your dog may really start to get affected. She can adopt your feelings, and even get physically ill if there’s no sunshine to break through a gloomy spell. Luckily, our dogs bring so much joy in our lives, it’s often hard to be upset for too long when they’re around.
12. Leaving Them Alone Too Much
Dogs are pack animals, and they live for you! If you spend many hours a day away from your dog–then ignore him once you’re home–he will be one sad (and perhaps, vindictive) pup!
Almost everyone has to work long hours at some point, but make sure you spend time with your pooch once you’re home. And if your schedule is always hectic? Dog sitters or doggy daycare may help stave the loneliness. However, for a pooch, there’s nothing like one-on-one time with her favorite human.
13. Being Surrendered To A Shelter
Aside from being abused, dogs that are surrendered from the families that they know and love become completely heartbroken. Imagine: being kicked out of your home by the people you adore, and having no idea why you’re no longer wanted.
For us dog lovers (if you’re reading this, you must be one!), we cannot imagine subjecting our pups to such a fate. But because we empathize with these amazing animals, we cherish our own dogs, and even help the ones that need homes!
By following these tips, you can make sure your dog is living the happiest life possible.