Let’s get one thing straight upfront: we are not going to tell you to love your dog any less. But… there are some things we humans do without thinking that actually cause our furbabies varying levels of distress.
Dogs are incredibly patient with us – when you think about how they adapt to our world, live by our rules and put up with our strange human ways, it’s obvious that they are indeed the more gracious species.
So let’s meet them halfway by trying to change some of our ways, especially the ones that bug them the most! Here are eight thing you dog simply doesn’t dig:
1. Being hugged
As primates, it is totally natural to us to wrap our arms around someone we love to show our affection. For our four-legged friends, however, when another canine puts a leg on them, it’s a sign of dominance. Look closely next time you see someone hugging a dog: see the mouth slightly open, the light panting, the wild eyes and raised eyebrows – the dog is not enjoying this expression of affection. Dogs especially dislike hugs from children and while they will tolerate it from you, they might not from a smaller, “inferior” person. This can actually be a safety issue, so let the little people in your life know that your pooch prefers pats.
If you want to be close to your dog, let her lean on you or rest a head on your lap – there are plenty of non-dominant ways to love her.
2. Talking instead of showing
While there’s no doubting dogs make the best conversation partners and are happy to listen to your non-stop chatter, they get confused by the way humans use words all the time. While they’ll pick up a few words here and there (usually relating to food and play!) most of what they hear is just noise. What they really can’t stand is when you use words instead of actions to tell them what to do. To help them work out what you want, use a hand signal or body language whenever you give a command and – here’s the crucial thing – be consistent.
3. Being treated like a baby
There are two parts to this: one is that using a higher-pitched baby voice with your dog will wind him up and put him in a permanent state of agitation. The second is that dogs really need to know their place in the family. Dog whisperer, Cesar Milan says, “Your ‘baby’ is also a pack animal and needs the structure and discipline in her life to feel fulfilled and not become frustrated. There is nothing wrong with showing your dog love, but remember: first exercise, then discipline, and finally affection.”
4. Pats on the head and face
Have you ever noticed that your dog pulls away slightly when you reach for her face? If so, it’s a sign she really doesn’t like it. Another place most dogs don’t like to be patted is on the top of the head – can you imagine being thumped on the head by a giant? It would quickly get on your nerves!
5. Too much eye contact
Gazing at your dog adoringly will quickly make him feel uncomfortable as this can be perceived as aggressive. Remember to always approach an unfamiliar dog without looking them in eye.
6. Being overfed
It’s a well-known fact that dogs will eat until they explode, but this old survival trait does not bode well for them in a domestic situation. Sure, your dog looks hungry… dogs always look hungry. It’s a special trick they have developed to wheedle more Smackos out of us! Remember that an overweight dog is more likely to have painful joints and health problems in its old age.
7. Being cooped up
Even the most lethargic of dogs will build up energy during the day that needs to be channelled into something other than chewing your slippers. Cesar Milan recommends a brisk walk for at least 45 minutes every morning. If this isn’t possible, aim for two shorter walks at each end of the day, it’ll do you both good!
8. When you’re anxious or angry
If my husband wakes up in a bad mood, our cattle-kelpie cross, Sally, is one mean lady. Dogs’ ability to pick up on our moods means they experience fallout from our negative emotions. If a dog lives with someone who is constantly stressed or angry, they can become anxious too.
Share your thoughts on these eight things dogs hate – are your guilty of any?