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7 Things You Might Be Doing That Hurt Your Dog’s Feelings

Written by: Dina Fantegrossi
Dina Fantegrossi is the Assistant Editor and Head Writer for HomeLife Media. Before her career in writing, Dina was a veterinary technician for more than 15 years.Read more
| Published on March 17, 2022

A Harvard psychologist recently declared that when dogs dream they are likely reliving their experiences with their humans. Those yips and kicks we see are their reactions to either pleasing us or annoying us in dreamland.

For better or worse, our dogs’ entire lives revolve around us. If they do not get enough of our time or that time is marred by unwarranted punishments, it can leave lasting emotional scars.

dog's feelings hurt

Dog owners usually make one of these seven mistakes because they simply do not understand canine behavior. It’s important to know why dogs do the things they do to avoid inadvertently damaging your precious relationship.

1. Rubbing Their Nose In It

Think about it, you use the bathroom during the 6 – 10 hours that you are at work, right? Chances are your dog also has to go during that time, and sometimes he or she may not be able to hold it. Once a dog is potty trained, accidents in the house can be a sign of distress, physical illness, or simply going too long without a break.

Yelling or “rubbing their nose in it” will not teach your dog to potty outside, but it will teach him to fear you and unnecessarily hurt his feelings.

Dog gazing at owner

2. Rejecting Attention

We can’t give our dogs attention 24/7, but ignoring them or pushing them away too often may hurt their feelings. If you reject your dog every time they seek your attention, it’s sure to put them in a bad mood. Dogs rely on their humans for everything. They look up to us because we’re their whole world. So, don’t hesitate to give your dog a few extra ear scratches if they’re staring longingly at you.

Beagle looking for attention

3. Not Providing Enough Playtime

It’s one thing to halfheartedly pat your pup on the head as you breeze through the door with an armload of groceries, it’s quite another to set aside designated one-on-one time. No matter how busy your life is, it’s important to prioritize time to do something your dog enjoys. Whether it’s 10 minutes of fetch, a nice evening walk, or just cuddle time on the couch, a dog’s level of happiness depends on the attention they receive from their favorite humans.

Dog holding chew toy

4. Punishing Fearful Behavior

Cowering, raised hackles, flattened ears, tucked tails, and growling are all signs that your pup is not comfortable in a particular situation. What they need at these times is to be calmly and quietly removed from the upsetting stimulus. Yelling and over-assertiveness on your part will only escalate the situation. Fearful behavior can often be mistaken for aggression in dogs and vice versa, so if this is an issue you are dealing with, contact a professional trainer.

Dog scared of human

5. Being Inconsistent With The Rules

We are probably all guilty of this from time to time. It doesn’t matter whether you have one household rule for your dog or fifty. What does matter is remaining consistent. If sleeping on the furniture is a no-no, don’t decide to let your pup snuggle on the bed while you’re sick, then punish him the next day when he hops up for a nap! The same goes for leash-pulling, begging, and jumping up.

Pug feeling lonely

6. Using the Crate as a Punishment

Crates can be confusing to dogs if not used consistently. A crate is supposed to be a comfortable, safe space for dogs to rest in. Many dog parents use them when leaving their dogs alone. However, some families also put their dogs in the crate as a punishment, which contradicts the “safe space” mindset. Treating the crate as a punishment will only cause your dog to fear it instead of feeling comfortable in it.

Puppy resting in crate

7. Segregation From The Pack

The one thing on earth that will hurt your dog more than anything else is keeping him away from his family. Remember, you are his whole world! Some owners are unable or unwilling to provide the necessary training that dogs need to understand what is expected of them. These misunderstood pups are labeled “bad” and isolated to a kennel or backyard – possibly even abandoned.

Dog in outdoor kennel

Dogs want to make us happy. More than treats or toys they crave our love and approval. If you are having trouble with your dog’s behavior, seek professional help from your veterinarian or an experienced dog trainer.

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