There are many ways you can drive a dog crazy, and you’re probably not even aware of them. So if you want to be your dog’s best friend, find out how you can fix your annoying habits.
Dogs try to be our best friends at all times, but we make them very difficult sometimes. Here are some of the things that can make a dog wonder if he wants to remain your best friend or if he wants to separate forever from you.
1. Embracing a Dog
While you may love to put your loving arms around a furry canine friend, most dogs hate hugs. We, as the primates we are, think hugs are wonderful and express support, love, joy and other emotions. It is normal for us to embrace something and squeeze it, since it only means positive things. But the dogs did not evolve this way. Dogs do not have arms and do not like to hug.
Many dogs will tolerate it well, the smiling face of the family’s golden retriever with a child hugging it comes to mind. But some dogs will feel threatened, scared, or just hate how they feel and in fact, a child that hugs a dog is one of the most common reasons for bites. In addition, the same dog that enjoys a person’s hugs may react completely differently with another family member who tries to do the same. It would be very difficult to find a dog that really enjoys or look for hugs.
2. Patting a dog’s head
Do you like being patted on the head? I think not. Let someone reach out and tap you on the head, no matter how much love you do, is something that not many enjoy. It is annoying and can be even painful. And we really do not like strange people approaching our faces. I guess your reaction would be to pull your head back and get away and get a little tense due to the invasion of your personal space. And yet, many humans believe that dogs like to be patted. The truth is that while there are many dogs willing to put up with this, if it is someone they know and trust, most dogs do not enjoy it.
You can realize that even the beloved dog of your family moves away a little when you close your hand to caress his face. He allows it because you’re the boss, but he does not like it. It is a personal space problem for dogs as much as it is for us. This is why responsible parents teach their children to gently caress the backs of dogs, but not to pat them and definitely not to do close to their faces. If you really want to reward your dog for being great, do not hit him in the head but rather rub his back and end up stroking them near the tail. They will thank you.
3. Talk more than using body language
We are a talkatvie species. We love talking and talking, even to our pets, who can not understand most of what we say. Dogs may be able to deduce what some words mean and maybe they can even learn hundreds of words as some German Shepherds have done. But they can not understand human language. What they want to decipher is in our body language. Dogs have evolved and become experts in deciphering human body language and can figure out what you are thinking and feeling even before you know it yourself. But we easily send crossed signals if you just look at what comes out of our mouths and not what our bodies say.
If you go to any kind of beginner dog training, you will see many people saying one thing, making another already confused dog try to understand what it is you are asking them for. For example, telling a dog to sit still as you lean in and stretch a hand sends mixed signals to your pet.
A good experiment (and something that will have your dog sighing with relief) is to try to spend a whole day without saying a word, trying to communicate with your body alone. You will notice how you communicate without realizing, how you use your movements and body position to have the answer you need from your dog during training and how you begin an act of communication without uttering a single sound.
4. Looking an unknown dog in his eyes
We all know how powerful visual contact is. While we can see keeping it as something of importance, as a sign of confidence or concentration, we also have to keep in mind that prolonged eye contact can upset nerves, be uncomfortable and awkward for your pet. It is unpleasant when a stranger looks us in the eye uninterruptedly, especially as he approaches. What is his intention? We need to read the rest of his body for clues.
Visual contact is part of what many species do to establish dominance. And we humans use the smallest details of the face – the softness or hardness of the muscles that surround the eyes and mouth – to determine whether the look is friendly or not. And even then, it’s still unpleasant for a stranger to look at us! Dogs feel the same way. When you look at an unfamiliar dog in the eye, without blinking, even though you are smiling and trying to look warm to them, the dog is probably seeing it as an act of dominance or aggression. They may respond in a submissive way-looking away, lying on their backs-or they can back off and start barking. Anyway, for most dogs, a stranger who looks them in the eye while approaching is not a pleasant situation.
If you want to greet a new dog in a nice way for both of you, approach your body at a small angle (not with your shoulders facing you and towards the dog), your eyes slightly away and speak calmly and in a calm voice . All these bodily signs of friendship will help a dog understand that you do not want to harm him. The dog may still not want anything with you, but at least you did not approach him in a way that frightened him and that could cause a defensive or aggressive reaction.
5. Do not boss dogs around
Dogs want, need and love to have rules. You may think that having strict rules makes life boring or unhappy for your dog. But they really want to know what to do according to their leader. And really, it’s not that difficult for humans to understand this. Children love having a consistent set of rules to follow and do not do so well in environments where they leave them in complete freedom. Think of the kindly and well behaved children you know and spoiled children who do not have social skills or who make scandals when they do not get what they want. Which of those are the ones who had constantly reinforced rules and limits? And which ones tend to be more consistently happy? Something very similar happens with dogs. Rules make life more predictable.
And speaking of confusion, dogs do not understand the concept of rules. They do not understand that they are allowed to jump on you when you are in ordinary clothes but that is not allowed when you are dressed to go to work. They do not understand that they are allowed to be on the couch after a bath but not after playing in the mud. Also, telling them “no” when they break a rule and not doing something to stop the dog from doing what he is doing (learning the rule thus) does not count. Dogs enjoy knowing the limits and when you spend time reinforcing them consistently with positive rewards, it also helps them to trust you as a leader. The one that sets rules makes your dog very happy.
6. Lock them in a crate for long periods
This one is more common sense than the others, but still something to address. No canine enjoys being locked in a crate, period. Sure it’s necessary for some breeds to lock them in a cage they can’t get out of (view an escape proof dog crate here). The issue comes when they are locked in there all day. Make sure to let them out for bathroom breaks regularly and they will thank you for it.