While your pooch might not show their annoyance with the passion of a cat, it is important to be cognizant of how we might overstep our dog’s boundaries. Your dog may show their annoyance by trying to get out of your reach, turning their head away from you or turning their back on you, or by avoiding eye contact. If they are really annoyed, they may bare their teeth, growl, or even bite. Here are five common ways that we annoy our dogs.
- Smothering – We might see a tight hug from a friend or family member as a deep sign of love, but a dog will not make the same emotional connections to the squeeze nor will they know that the suffocating physical contact is a temporary encounter. Rather than restraining your dog, when you are trying to share love, remember that they have other forms of physical contact they prefer, whether they enjoy a good rub behind the ears or a scratch under the chin.
2. Unpredictability – While it might feel like Groundhog’s Day to you when you repeat the same activities at the same time each and every day, remember that your dog becomes used to a routine. Shifting their daily schedule can cause stress and annoyance. They rely on you to take them out to go to the bathroom, walk them around the neighborhood, and feed their grumbling bellies, so be cognizant that unpredictability can cause discomfort for your dog. Do your best to keep their days standardized, even when you might want to sleep in!
3. Confusion – Be as clear as you can with your commands. If your dog is unable to interpret what you want them to do, they will feel frustrated and potentially start behaving badly. If they did not understand your command the first time, do not yell it at them. Instead, repeat it in an audible, unwavering tone.
It is also best practice to give them the same treatment regardless of the situation. If you let your dog on the couch when you are home alone, if you do not let them on the couch when someone is visiting, they will remain confused by the rules. Inconsistency confuses and annoys our dogs.
4. Teasing – We annoy our dogs when we don’t play nice with them. If you offer them a treat, do not tease them by pulling it away at the last second. We want our dogs to trust us, but if we tease them it can cause insecurity or aggression. If you play with your dog in a game like keep away or tug of war, let them win the toy if they are behaving correctly.
Rewards are much less effective if they are withheld or used to taunt. When your dog is playing with a child, make sure to keep a close eye to ensure that both the child and your dog are playing nice with one another. Children are apt to try to pull a tail or tug an ear. Dogs find this quite annoying.
5. Staring – While your dog may stare at you, if you return the gesture it may annoy them. Your dog has the evolutionary trait of interpreting staring as a challenge or a threat. If you stare at your pooch and your dog looks away, they are deferring to you. It is possible to train your pup to focus on your when you stare at them through positive reinforcement, and if you do this they may find it less intimidating.
For more on keeping your dog happy try “The 10 Best Human Foods for Dogs” and “6 Ways to Bond With Your Dog”.