They often say that a dog is man’s best friend, but you may be doing something that can irritate them if you aren’t careful.
Here are some things to watch for when interacting with your pup.
1. Using your voice – Dogs love to hear you talk but they can’t understand the words that you are saying. Although they can figure out a few words, you may be throwing hundreds of words in their direction. That is when they are going to rely on body language. They are quite adept at figuring out what the humans are saying by the way they are holding their bodies.
You also need to be careful that you aren’t sending mixed signals by saying one thing and reacting with your body in a different way. It can really confuse a dog. For example, you may be telling the dog to stay while holding out your hand but they may feel as if you are inviting them to come in your direction.
2. Giving your dog a hug – It feels great to hug your dogs, but most dogs really hate when you do it. As humans, we realize that hugs are a way to express the love that we have for others so it is normal for us to give someone a squeeze. Dogs are different. They don’t have arms and they don’t hug each other in the same way that we do. If a dog places a paw on the back of another dog, it is a sign of dominance.
Article continues below
Our Featured Programs
See how we’re making a difference for People, Pets, and the Planet and how you can get involved!
Even though we may love hugging our dog, and most dogs are going to tolerate it, it may make them feel afraid or threatened. A child giving a hug to a dog may make for a great picture but the dog might react quite differently if another member of the family does it.
If you have any questions about this, watch your dog’s body language when you going to hug them. It will speak volumes of how they are actually feeling.
3. Patting a dog’s head or petting their face – Have you ever patted yourself on the head? It isn’t all that pleasant so why would we think that a dog would enjoy it? In the same way, we don’t typically want a stranger to touch our face with their hands so a dog will likely feel the same way as well. If they were to do so, we would probably tense up and pull away from them. That being said, most humans think the dogs enjoy the feeling.
If a dog trusts and knows you, they will likely tolerate the fact that you are touching their face and patting them on the head. They realize that you are the dominant dog in the pack, so it’s just something they put up with. If you would like to reward your dog in a way that they enjoy, rub them on the ear or right behind the tail.
4. Looking a dog in the eye while walking up to a strange dog – Eye contact is everything with your canine because it shows trustworthiness or the fact that we are uncomfortable. Have you ever had a stranger stare directly into your eyes and not break contact? It can really freak you out, so why would you think a strange dog would feel any different?
It’s a good idea to pay attention to your dog and to watch for any visual clues as to how they are feeling. Eye contact is the perfect way to do this, but don’t overlook any details that are happening elsewhere in the body. Staring your dog directly in the eye and not blinking may make them feel aggressive or make it seem like you are dominant. It’s especially bad if you do it with a strange dog.
Saying hello to a new dog is always going to be an interesting situation but try to approach them with your body angled slightly and your eyes looking off to the side slightly. Speak gently while you are approaching them. The dog may still reject you but at least they are less likely to do it aggressively.
5. Not setting rules – As humans, we need to have some structure in our lives and it is the same with dogs. Having strict rules as far as our dog is concerned does not make their lives uninteresting, it makes them happy because it shows that we are their leader. Think about children. If you have a consistent set of rules, they tend to do well but if you let them do what they want, it quickly deteriorates.
Being consistent with a dog and providing them rules and a structure is going to be very beneficial to them. They like when things are predictable and it makes life less stressful to them. You should also recognize that dogs don’t typically understand when there is an exception to the rule. Try to stay as consistent as possible and set boundaries so that your dog doesn’t have to wonder.
6. Making your dog interact with others they don’t like – Dogs are social animals but they also have their favorites. If they are around somebody that they know and trust, life is good. But, if you force them to associate with another dog or human that is not known to them, it could lead to some serious problems. If your dog is showing that they want to be left alone when a stranger is around, make sure you pay attention to them.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you need to hide your dog away and never introduce them to anyone else. It’s just a matter of doing so as comfortably as possible for the animal. A gentle nudge in that direction is not going to be a difficult problem, but if you push things too far, it may end up in some aggression and someone may get bit. They may also lose some respect for you as their leader and that can cause problems as well.
7. Going for quick walks – There are going to be times when we need to go for a walk with our dog quickly. If we are always rushing them through the walk and not giving them the opportunity to sniff around, however, it could be very frustrating to them. Dogs have a keen sense of smell, and they use it to explore the world around them. If they are constantly being taken out among all of those smells and not able to explore, it could quickly get frustrating for them.
Make sure that your dog knows the difference between going for a walk with a lot of restrictions and going for a walk where they can explore. Give them the opportunity at times to explore some new areas and sniff all they like. It’s great for the dog and it also helps to bond the two of you together.
8. Keeping a tight leash – Dogs are all about body language and if there is tension involved, they can feel it. That is also true if the tension is physical and involves their leash. If you keep a tight leash in a literal sense, you may make your dog frustrated and stressed out. Teaching them how to walk on a slack leash can make everyone happy.
The leash itself may be tiny but there is a lot of energy transmitted between you and your beloved pet. Pulling back on their leash and keeping it tight makes your dog feel as if you are tense. On the other hand, having your dog walk on a slack leash helps them to stay calm and happy. Your dog is going to mimic what you do, so set the standard.
9. Being tense – You may stress your dog out in other ways aside from a tight leash. If you are constantly tense, your dog is going to feel the same way. In fact, they may even be more stressed than you are. Dogs don’t like stress, so if you are feeling frustrated, take a deep breath and enjoy some time with your pooch.
10. Boredom – Let’s face it, we all get bored sometimes but nobody really enjoys it. If you remember being bored as a child, you probably even resented your parents for putting you in that situation. Breaking the monotony by getting up and moving around is an easy way for you to break the tension. Your dog is on a similar path. If you are boring, you are not going to be fun to be around. Take a little bit of time to play with your dog or go for a walk and it will push things in the right direction.
Then again, the fact that your dog is acting out in some way or another may also be a sign that they are bored. Training games can be a quick solution to this issue. Teach them a new trick or perhaps hone some of their older tricks and you may soon find that the two of you have a lot more to do when the day drags on.
Help Rescue Animals
Provide food and vital supplies to shelter pets at The Animal Rescue Site for free! →