You love your dog so much, but you don’t even realize how ANNOYING you can be to them. If your dog could speak to you, he’d tell you to STOP doing these stupid things right now.
20. LESS WORDS, MORE ACTION
While dogs may be able to discern a few key words (sit, ball, walk) they aren’t English speakers. Talking to them is way more helpful to us than it is to them. If they could, they’d yell, “Shut up!”.
INSTEAD: Make sure your hand signals clearly indicate the behavior you are looking for and are not confusing. Try not speaking to your dog for an entire day. See what happens!
Hugging is more for you, not them. To a dog, you are asserting your dominance, not showing affection. Dogs will tolerate your cuddling, but it makes them nervous.
INSTEAD: Pat your dog’s back or call them to you and indicate that you would like them close by. Dogs just want to be near you. You don’t have to hug them.
18. PETTING THEIR FACE
While it may seem to you that you make a better connection with your dog by rubbing their face and head, it is unpleasant for them. The occasional dog will enjoy a scratch behind the ear, but that’s as far as it should go.
INSTEAD: Give them a good scratch on their back, near their tail. Watch your happy dog go crazy.
17. EYE CONTACT
Direct and prolonged eye contact, especially with a dog that is unfamiliar to you, is unnerving to a dog. Don’t creep them out!
INSTEAD: Approach with a slightly angled body, avert your eyes just a little, and speak in a quiet, gentle tone. Dogs will perceive you as a non-threat and not react aggressively.
Dogs crave consistency and routine. Knowing what to expect makes them calmer and easier to manage. Treating them the same and reacting to their behavior predictably keeps them from becoming confused. They will then always know what you expect of them. Uncertainty (or boredom) creates destructive and nervous behavior.
INSTEAD: Keep feedings and walks to about the same time every day. If they are allowed on the couch, always let them. Dogs don’t understand “sometimes” and will get frustrated if sometimes a behavior is ok and other times it is not.
15. FORCING FRIENDS
You may be dying for your furry friend to be best friends with your friend’s dog or want him to love up on the neighbor kids, but the truth is, dogs don’t love every one. They will let you know if another dog is not their cup of tea or if they are unsure of another human.
INSTEAD: To not risk a scuffle or bite, when there is a visitor that aggravates your dog, put your dog in another room or somewhere safe where they can be separate and comfortable. If you typically run into troublesome people or dogs on a walk or dog park, change your plans to include somewhere less populated.
14. QUICK WALKS FOR EXERCISE, NOT SMELLING
Dogs “see” with their noses. It’s instinct. While it is important to train a dog to walk properly on a leash, they also need some smelling time. Forcing them to constantly walk tethered to your side at a brisk pace while facing only forward is really tough on them and goes against every fiber of their being.
INSTEAD: You can have your walks for training or exercise, however you can also mix in “smelling walks” where you don’t necessarily have a distance or destination in mind. Take your time and stand around for a few minutes while your dog sniffs around. The more you allow this, the more willing they will be to take those brisk, behaved walks with you when you need them to.
13. TIGHT LEASHES
This goes hand in hand with #21. Pulling the leash too tight drives your dog to react in the OPPOSITE way you want them to. Teaching them to behave on a more slack line will help you both relax.
INSTEAD: Using the smelling walks should cut down on the pulling and power struggle. Keep up with your hand signals and positive training with pats and scratches on the back.
12. SHARING TENSION
Dogs are very intuitive and pick up on their master’s moods. If you are tense, so are they. Concentrating on lowering your own stress levels also helps your dog!
INSTEAD: Meditate! Or just take a few quiet moments each day to breathe and reflect. Pet your dog while you do that. It will be good for both of you.
11. DON’T BE LAME.
If you don’t do anything with your dog, they will be bored. A bored dog is a destructive dog.
INSTEAD: Teach your dog some new tricks. Toss the ball once a day. Take him for a regular walk. Snuggling on the couch is a bit too lame for active dogs, and they’ll make their own fun if you’re not careful.
10. DON’T BE A TEASE
Barking at dogs is not funny to them. Anything that riles them up or makes them nervous is not fun for them, even though it may seem funny to you.
INSTEAD: Keep a calm presence. If you have a treat for them, give it to them nicely instead of pulling it away at the last second. If you aren’t going for a walk, don’t ask them if they want to go outside then sit on the couch. It is just as annoying to dogs as it would be to another person.
Dogs’ hearing is twice that of humans. While it is awesome that more public places are dog-friendly, not all of them are suitable. Loud, busy places are uncomfortable for dogs, and you can tell if your dog is adjusting to the environment by their body language.
INSTEAD: Even if dogs are welcome in a loud place, assess for yourself whether it’s a good idea for your dog. If they show any signs of anxiety, take them home.
8. FACE TO FACE CONTACT
Similarly to dogs not enjoying hugs and pats on the head, they also don’t appreciate your face in their face. Coming down to their level may be less intimidating for them, but getting too close is definitely not.
INSTEAD: Hang back. Keep the contact away from their face and head unless they initiate it.
7. BABY-ING YOUR DOG
Especially for those who do not have children, our pets ARE our children. While the great love you have for your dog is wonderful, they are not, in fact children, and need different behavioral guidelines than kids. Discipline is always first. It is not mean to discipline your dog – it is comforting and makes a much more pleasant environment for both of you. Dogs need to understand boundaries and also have the freedom to explore and be dogs.
INSTEAD: Take it easy on the clothing and strollers. Make sure you keep ahead of their behavior and not make excuses for it.
6. BE THE PACK LEADER, NOT A PLAYMATE
Taking direction from your dog about when playtime starts is very confusing to them. Play starts and ends when you initiate it – not them. When you come home and sit down, then jump up to play outside when your dog grabs their ball makes them think they are in charge. When you stop throwing the ball and go inside, your dog is confused why you are suddenly the one in charge.
INSTEAD: Begin play time when your dog is calm and responsive and ready to take direction from you.
We already know actions speak louder than words when it comes to communicating with your dog. When you have to use your words, louder isn’t better. Dogs are already sensitive to sound.
INSTEAD: Keep a calm, even tone that is not too loud. If you can’t get your dog’s attention, clap your hands, snap your fingers, or whistle.
4. ALONE TIME
Dogs are pack animals. They also choose their alpha and are extremely loyal. When you leave them alone for very long periods of time, they get restless, bored, and emotionally upset – causing destructive behavior.
INSTEAD: If you need to be away for an extended period, have someone stop by to check on them or sign them up for a doggie daycare. If you work long hours, try to stop home for lunch. Depending on the situation, you can even get your dog used to going with you to most places.
3. CROWDED DOG PARKS
You may enjoy meeting up with a bunch of friends or being at a crowded party, but dogs do not. Meeting new dogs is not something on their to-do list, usually. Dogs like their familiar pack, and new humans, dogs, or other animals are an often tolerated but not ideal situation for pups.
INSTEAD: Take your dog to a less crowded hiking trail or to the park in an off-peak hour when it is less populated. Your dog can get his or her exercise and relax without having to deal with the uncertainty of new personalities.
2. INTERRUPTED SLEEP
What’s worse than having an amazing nap interrupted by… well, ANYTHING? Routine is important, but waking your dog up to go somewhere with you or to get them to eat on your clock is super annoying to your dog.
INSTEAD: Like a baby, your dog needs their sleep. He or she will let you know when they are ready to move on to the next activity. Even if they are twitching and yelping in their sleep, no doubt dreaming of an epic adventure – leave them be.
People love dogs. Even new dogs. Humans think approaching a dog on their level, or reaching out their hand in a seemingly submissive way is the best thing. Surprisingly: It’s not!
INSTEAD: Don’t approach a strange dog. What you want to do is approach the owner. Stand near the new dog’s master and strike up a conversation. The dog will then be able to sniff and assess you on its own. Once the dog sees that you are not a threat to their owner and has the opportunity to check you out without your attention, THEN you may reciprocate the dog’s attention – if their owner indicates that it is alright as well.