Dogs are a man’s best friend – any pooch parent will tell you this. We all find great delight in our fur babies antics and adore how they fill up our worlds with pure, unconditional love. Despite this, there are things we might be doing that could have a negative effect on the relationship with our dogs. The last thing any dog lover would want to do is to upset their precious pet, but they may be causing harm to their dog without even realising. Read on to discover the ten things humans do that drive dogs crazy.
Hugs and Cuddles
What?! Your adorable dog doesn’t really enjoy it when you shower them with hugs and kisses? Sadly, it’s true; this might not actually be the best way to express your feelings to your pet. Wrapping your arms around a dog’s neck may be misinterpreted as a sign of dominance, leaving them feeling stressed and nervous. Getting right up in their faces to plant a kiss could also make them feel vulnerable and uneasy. Most dogs will tolerate a cuddle and a hug from a human they trust, but that doesn’t mean they find it comfortable or as satisfying as we do.
If you would like to show your love in a way they will find much more cosy, stroke them along their back and chest, and a good old ear scratch is always appreciated! Of course, some pooches will love to be hugged and kissed, it all depends on their personality and confidence. Remember, you know your dog better than anyone, so if they seem troubled or ill at ease when you cuddle them, perhaps it’s a sign that they don’t really like it much after all. Signs to look out for are averted eyes, licking of their lips, yawning and worried expressions.
Prolonged Eye Contact
You may like nothing more than gazing into your gorgeous pup’s big brown eyes, but they might see this as a sort of threat. To a dog, fixating your gaze on theirs is often translated as a challenge. For example, you might catch your dog staring down a squirrel, this is not a done in a friendly fashion. It’s definitely not a great idea to stare in the eyes of a dog that looks anxious or distressed.
Although they wouldn’t normally see you as a source of conflict or competition, this body language comes across as very menacing. You probably won’t have a problem with your own dog (although they certainly won’t than you for it) but if you stare down a stranger’s dog, be prepared for some aggravated behaviour. Bottom line, always avoid staring at dogs, unless you want a very unhappy pooch!
When your dog misbehaves, your first instinct might be to shout at them in order to make them aware of their wrongdoings. However, this is one of the worst things you could possibly do. Not only does it promote an unhappy and stressful home environment for your dog, it also could exacerbate their bad behaviour. Sure, you do need to discipline your dog and chastise them when they are naughty, but yelling at them is not the constructive way to do this, both for you and them.
When you yell, your dog interprets this as a bark, and thereby, is likely to mimic you as a form of communication. They will often interpret your shouts as angry barking, which will further distress and upset them, leading to further barks and noise.
Dressing Them Up
We’ve all seen these cute pictures of dogs in costumes on social media, but unless you’ve gotten your pooch used to dressing up from their puppy hood, it’s probably not a good idea to follow suit. Dogs dislike being forced into costumes as they hate the feeling of something on their heads and around their paws.
However, there are some dogs – such as chihuahuas and greyhounds – that require winter coats and dog sweaters for the colder months as they do not hold body heat as well as other breeds. If you need to put your doggo in clothing for protective purposes, work with them to gradually get them comfortable with it. When dressing them before to give them treats and plenty of praise.
Life has its ups and downs and no one can be expected to be a cheerful ray of sunshine every moment of every day. Unfortunately, when you are feeling unhappy, your faithful doggy friend will sense these emotions and feel sad alongside you. Because of the deep bond between you, your dog will pick up on your sadness and express this by either misbehaving, sulking or even becoming hyperactive.
In a way, this is quite a sweet way of showing how much they care for you, however, things can get serious. more example, if you are struggling with stress, depression or grieve, your dog often will match these emotions which can make them very unhappy, lethargic and even ill. If you are concerned about your dog’s well-being, always seek out the advice of a vet.
Forcing them to Face Their Fears
There are times when you’ll have to put your dog in a situation they find frightening or irritating. Perhaps you’ve tried to bathe them and they’ve refused to get into the bath or pulled away from the door when it’s time to enter the vet’s office. They may even be triggered by a certain person in your life. Whatever the issue, you’ve most likely experienced the familiar frustration when your dog tries to escape from something you just can’t avoid.
This behaviour is most likely caused by a phobia that was born out of a bad experience. Whilst you may want to train this fear out of your pet, forcing them into a scary situation will have the exact opposite effect. This technique is known as ‘flooding’ and is widely discredited, as it will keep your dog in a state of distress, escalating the problem. An alternative to this method is to gently ease your pooch into a frightening situation. Reward them with treats and praise when they do not react, gradually increase their exposure to the thing that they fear If your dog’s phobia is severe, a specialised dog trainer may be the best option for them.
Being Left Alone
Our dogs just love to be around us and are generally social creatures who thoroughly enjoy the company of others. They hate being alone and can even suffer from separation anxiety. Unfortunately, as much as we’d like to, we can’t stay at home with our dogs every hour of the day, we have jobs to go to, an errand to run and lives to lead.
There are a couple of things you can do to alleviate this issue as best you can. Consider adopting another dog to keep your current pooch company, they may find comfort with another furry friend by their side to help chase away the boredom. If this is not an option, be sure you are spending lots of time with your beloved dog when you can. Take them for daily walks, play with them regularly and just cuddle up with them on the sofa.
If your dog’s separation anxiety is incredibly severe to the point they are destroying your belongings from stress, it would be a good idea to research local dog sitters who can check in on them during the day.
You may love that brand new designer perfume, but your dog certainly doesn’t! It’s a well-known fact that dogs have a much greater sense of smell than our own, in fact, it is about 10,000 to 100,000 times more sensitive than a human’s. So it’s no surprise that strong fragrances can annoy your dog, even going so far as to cause harm to their delicate snouts.
Although dogs love experiencing all kinds of natural smells from their surroundings, strong scents such as cleaning products, colognes, and household chemicals can irritate their noses. Be sure not to use these products around your dog and don’t spray anything near or around their skin or faces. Even if you have to apply a topical medicine spray, simply spritz it onto a clean cloth first, rather than directly onto the affected area.
Lack of Routine
Just like children, dogs need discipline and routine in their lives. It might not seem like they enjoy the rules, but dogs actually strive to please their owners and without regulations, their good behaviour may suffer. Dogs have an internal clock and crave structure, so its important to try and establish a routine from the get-go – give them their meals at the same time every day, walk and exercise them daily and encourage them to settle down for bed at a decided time. Start like this from a young age and you’ll be raising well-adapted and self-assured pooch.
If your dog is well past puppyhood, don’t worry, it’s not too late to bring some structure to their life! Keep up your new routine and in a few days, you should notice a positive difference in their behaviour. They should seem happier and more confident as they adapt to a certain and predictable lifestyle.
Not Allowing them to Sniff on Walks
One of the greatest joys a dog can experience is having a good old sniff around on their walks. This allows them to explore their environment and better understand the world around them. We humans may use our eyes to investigate our surroundings, whereas a dog’s primary sense is the scent.
Imagine if you were walking through a town and came across an amazing market full of exciting and sparkling trinkets. Now, imagine someone pulled you away from it before you even had a chance to take a look. It wouldn’t feel good, would it? This is how your dog feels when you stop them from smelling and marking an area. Loosen the lead and let your dog have a big sniff on their next walk, they should enjoy their time outside as much as you do.
We all want to show our dogs they love and affection they deserve, but it’s important to be considerate of their feelings and comfort. If you think you may be guilty of any of the issues listed, don’t worry, your dog doesn’t hate you! If you have a strong bond and great trust with your pet, they will be able to tolerate most situations, even if they are not particularly happy about it. Just resolve to stop these bad habits and you’ll have a happier and more adjusted doggy!