I was reading an article the other day that really highlighted to me how confusing us humans can actually be when it comes to our dogs.

So let’s have a chat about them:

  1. Taking it personality when our dogs do something that us humans, class as wrong. All domestic dogs have natural behaviours such as barking, digging, sniffing, chewing and even stealing food. So why do we scold or yell at our dogs when we find them chewing on our new pair of sneakers we just got for Christmas, it may not be right to us but is it actually wrong?? Instead of getting angry or frustrated take a deep breath and ask yourself why your dog may be doing it. Maybe it’s a cry for your attention, maybe they are showing you an increase in hunger because they have worms, maybe they are teething if you have pups or maybe it’s trying to tell you it’s bored and needs some toys. Trust me when I say it is very rarely if not ever because it just wants to upset you, or make you mad.

2. Brings us to the stress we create in our dogs with our inconsistent rules and boundaries. Your dogs have not studied the English language. They do not understand that off, away, get off, bugger off, leave me alone and get away are basically the all the same command….. well to us anyway. So the trick here is to be consistent. If you want your dog to do all of the above, then stick with the one command and a command that makes sense if you just use the cue “away” the dog might go away for a second and then come right back. A command such as “down stay” or “bed” or some people use a mat and use the cue “place”. Either way they haven’t done the minimum of approx 10 years of schooling like you to know that all of the above words basically mean the something. So now we have covered rules what about boundaries? Why do we sometimes allow them to do things and sometimes not. For example in our house majority of the time when some of our family are home, the dogs are in the house. When the rest of family get home the dogs are allowed to meet those family members at the door to say hello they jump around and get excited, big cuddles ect. However when visitors come over they are rallied up and told to leave and/or are locked outside. Now, we as humans, are thinking about our guests and how they may not like our six dogs jumping all over them, its a manners thing, right? Yet we are expecting our dogs to understand these manners, which don’t get me wrong, can and should be taught, but unfortunately often and yes I’m a sinner for it, I haven’t taught my dogs the manners of greeting someone. So they get what probably looks a lot like, banishment to them, when my guests arrive. They therefore scratch and bark at my back door, where they just got banished, which is them saying “but we want to say hello, we normally say hello, why not now?” Try and see it from their eye’s and be consistent in your rules, train them or a least be easy on your dog when you change them.

3. The third on our list is expecting your dog to obey you just because they want to make you happy. Now this one that may be disappointing to some dog owners but majority of dogs out there, as much as they love you, they are most likely just being opportunists. Meaning most will only perform for a reward, now that maybe as simple as praise and patting , in some cases, but mostly its for something more substantial, and is rarely because they just love you. This fallacy leads to inconsistent rewarding by humans and therefore inconsistent behaviour from your dog. So, can you really be angry with your dog for not obeying you if he can’t expect a reward in return, especially if he got one last time??

4. Next is one that is just, unfortunately, natural human behaviour and probably somethings we all do for ourselves more than our dogs. Saying “its okay” in a soothing voice, when your dog thinks or knows its not. We have all probability done this one, but are we actually helping our dogs? If this phrase is used enough whilst doing something to our dogs that they don’t like e.g getting their nails clipped, going into the vets room, to get poked and prodded etc. aren’t we associating these words, with things, that they aren’t OK with? And therefore when we say this in future could it become a trigger for them to be stressed or worried? Food for thought.

5. Finger pointing. Didn’t your mum ever tell you that finger pointing is rude. Well its considered the same in dog land as most of the time that humans point our fingers at dogs they do it when upset at their dog and it is usually accompanied with a angry and hovering stance, with the dog a lot of the time not even realising what its done wrong. Finger pointing in any language can be seen as confrontational and therefore can stress your dogs.

6. This is probably done mostly by kids but adults are also restraining or cornering dogs to give them affection. The question I need to ask here is, if you need to hunt down your dog for affection, is it really affection? And on the flip side slip, is it for you, or your dog? There has been much debate about whether dogs like hugs or not. My stance on this is every dog has a different comfort level when it comes to affection. My advice would be really look at your dog the next time you give them affection, look at their body language and take in the signs and if you don’t know how to read the signs of your dog looking uncomfortable, there are plenty of great websites with pictures regarding reading the body language of your dog. Some don’t mind hugs from everyone, some don’t like hugs but like to lay in arms and be cuddled, some prefer the lap and some prefer the side of your legs or even feet. However you must be prepared that some don’t like affection at all and just want to chill in your company but not touching or in arms length and that’s OK too. They deserve to have their personal space just as us humans do so if you see a dog that is standoffish please respect their personal boundaries.

7. Staring at a dog especially one that you don’t know in the eye. This makes dogs uncomfortable and sometimes depending on the dog can lead to aggression, ultimately there is just no need for it. To call or pat a dog you don’t know doesn’t require it to look you directly in the eyes, so my advice is don’t do it, expect it or ask for it, there is just no need for it.

8. Last but not least I think us humans forget that meandering around the backyard doesn’t constitute as fun, to our dogs. Physical and emotional stimulation must be present in your dogs life, as bored and unsatisfied dogs can start to become destructive. Unlike us humans, that if bored we just go and turn the TV on, grab a book, go grab something out of the fridge to eat or we can even take ourselves for a walk. Our dogs are totally reliant on us for for all their stimulation so next time your dog starts barking at you, chews on your favourite DVD or has defuzzed their latest tennis ball, maybe it’s time for more toys or more quality time with the family down the local dog park before you yell at them for being destructive.

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