Churchill famously spoke of his poodle Rufus by calling him “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” Well, it was actually Russia he was referring to but he could have been speaking about Rufus the poodle. For all the personality quirks we learn about our dogs by living and spending time with them, mysteries will always remain. Here are six things your dog wishes you knew:
- Dogs have preferences. Appreciate your dog’s individuality when you are in a pet store or shopping online for them. If you fancy a firmer bed and your partner has overruled you for a plusher variety, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Take into consideration how your dog has acted and what they’ve enjoyed in the past. If they tend to nest before they fall asleep, get them a larger bed and some blankets or pillows. If they like to curl up in a ball, they might prefer a smaller bed with sides.
2. Personalities may be permanent, but moods are temporary. Even if your dog is friendly and fun-loving, they are still susceptible to mood swings. If you are trying to take your dog out to play fetch in the backyard and they aren’t in a playful mood, read the room and let them relax or nap instead.
An eager, excited dog, on the other hand, should be taken out to release some of their pent-up energy. Sometimes your dog may want a belly rub, other times they won’t. Even if they are belly-up, pay attention to how relaxed their muscles are for a clue on whether they are interested.
3. Don’t be tone deaf! Dogs use different vocalizations to communicate so it’s important to notice the nuances. For example, a high-pitched bark that is drawn out may signify that they are worried or anxious, but quick high-pitched barks strung together may indicate excitement. Pay close attention to low barks, growls, and squeaky yips, as they may suggest territory issues or pain.
Also, remember that your dog understands your tone much better than they do your words. Though they may recognize specific words that they have been trained to understand, for the rest of your verbal communication, they are mostly reacting to your tone of voice.
4. Be actively engaged. On a jam-packed day, you may be inclined to let your dog out in the backyard for a few minutes in lieu of a walk. However, it’s important to realize that your dog not only wants to go outside, they want to go outside with you. If they are by themselves, they may spend their time loafing around instead of walking or, even worse for your yard or garden, they may spend their time digging.
5. They want to be challenged. Whether it’s a new hiking trail, a new puzzle toy, or some new obedience training, your dog wants to be challenged both physically and mentally. When introducing new training to your dog, be patient while taking small steps toward the ultimate goal.
When you take them to a new place, let them sniff and explore. Even if you are on your regular walk around the neighborhood, you can spice it up by introducing or reinforcing training or by bursting out into short jogs for your dog to run alongside you.
6. Contradictorily, they also value consistency. Rules are not made to be broken for a dog, as they will no longer understand what the rules are. This will only lead to confusion and further obedience training in the long run. If you don’t let your dog in bed with you, don’t allow it one especially cold night or your dog may come to expect this preferential treatment.
Like Churchill, you can spend years getting to know your dog’s idiosyncrasies and still wallow in mystery! Learn more about dog behavior in “5 Ways that We Annoy Our Dogs”.