Dogs are family. They are our loyal companions, our loyal friends, our dedicated therapists, our very best friends. But sometimes we show our love for them in ways that actually make our furryest family members uncomfortable, confused, or downright annoyed.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but in order to maintain the best relationship with your dog, it is best to avoid these 4 things that humans do that could actually annoy our dogs.
1. Show affection by hugging
While many dogs tolerate being hugged and some have been taught to hug back, putting your arms around someone they love and hugging them is a completely foreign concept to our four-legged friends. In the canine world, putting a paw on or pressing your body against another dog’s back is often viewed as threatening.
While your dog may seem to love your own cuddly strides, they may not respond as well to others who offer the same hug. Even if you are used to hugging your own dog, it is best not to give hugs to dogs you don’t know, even if their human encourages them to do so. Although the signs may be subtle, you know that a dog may feel uncomfortable while cuddling if his body or mouth tenses even slightly when he lowers his head, as if he is crouching, when his ears are pulled back, or when he is doing it tries to turn away.
Instead of showing love with a hug, dogs often enjoy having their chests or back scratched and petted, some like their ears massaged, and others think a game of jerk, haul, or tossing a tasty treat is the ultimate show of affection.
2. They don’t speak their language
As humans, it is in our nature to communicate through language. Hence, it is only natural that we try to communicate with our dogs in the same way. The only problem – dogs don’t speak our language! Yes, dogs can be taught to understand certain voice commands – sit, stay, sit – but there is one language they can understand much more clearly: body language.
A dog’s innate ability to understand body language is part of what makes them such amazing companions. If they are just around us, they know whether we are happy, stressed, afraid, sad – without us saying a word. Since dogs communicate with each other through their body language, the most effective way to communicate with them is the same. Instead of just using voice commands to train your dog, add hand signals. You will find that your dog reacts and learns much faster when body language is incorporated into the training.
And don’t forget, your dog has learned your body language wonderfully. So it is important that you learn theirs too. How do her ears hang when she is relaxed? What does her cock do when she’s excited? How does she keep her mouth shut when she’s nervous? Your dog is communicating with you all the time, so it is important that you learn his language.
3. Don’t let them explore
As humans, we are always reminded to “take time to stop and smell the roses”. Then why don’t we encourage our dogs to do the same? While it is important that a dog can walk well on a leash, it is also important that walks are fun and fun!
After a long day at the office, it’s easy to think of our dog’s daily walk as a chore. In this mood, pet parents can find it annoying when their dogs stop running and just want to stop and sniff at everything. But remember, your dog has been inside all day just waiting for you to come home and take him for that daily walk – the highlight of his day!
Dogs see the world through their noses. When you walk past what looks like a boring old bush to you, your dog can tell with a whiff whether other dogs have visited this bush, whether they were healthy or sick, male or female. You can smell when a rabbit has crossed the sidewalk you are walking down. You can smell your neighbor’s grill – even days later. You see, running your dog is more than just much-needed exercise. It’s also an exciting, interesting, and important source of mental stimulation – but you have to slow down and let him sniff.
4. Don’t give our dogs a job
Perhaps one of the most annoying things we do to our dogs is not giving them anything to do. Unlike our human children, your furry kids actually want to get a job done! No, you don’t have to make your dog work in a human sense – you won’t be very lucky to hire him or her to empty the dishwasher – but you do have to give him something to do that will use up energy. is mentally stimulating and forces him to solve problems.
A job can be as simple as spending a few minutes a day obedience training. He could be feeding his meals with a food dispenser or handling a puzzle instead of just aligning a bowl. As dog mothers and fathers, we have several options every day to give our dogs a job. Are you going for a walk or putting food for your pup? Let him sit first (voila! He worked for this!) Or a job can involve any number of physically or mentally stimulating dog sports. (Click here for a guide to 4 Dog Sports You Must Try!). Anything that makes your dog move, think and work can be considered a job – and dogs love to work!
Remember, just as you like to be paid to do a good job, just like your dog. Payment for dogs can come in the form of treats, new toys, or even praise from you! Reward good behavior and your dog will make an excellent employee!
To learn more about how to be the best pet parent possible, check out one of these books on understanding dog behavior. Once you have a clearer understanding of why dogs do the things they do and how what you do affects them, you’ll improve your relationship, communicate better, and spend a lot less time teasing each other!