Are You Hurting Your Dogs Feelings?

by Sonya | Last Updated:   April 9, 2021

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For people who are dog fanatics, this list may serve as a big eye-opener. Dogs have had a great fondness for humans since the dawn of time and we do our best to return the love. However, we don’t know how to speak their language, nor do we fully understand their behavior.

But there is no denying that when we are very close with our furry companions, there is a strong bond that keeps us together. Aside from all the mutual love and admiration for one another, one thing that all dog parents should know is that certain actions can annoy their dogs.

We train our pups to get rid of bad habits and adjust to our way of life and our routines. Surely, it would be egotistic if we did not try to see things from their perspective every once in a while. It is a situation of give-and-take in this human-dog bond.

Dogs absolutely have feelings and they are something that should be taken into consideration by any responsible pet owner.

closeup picture of a sad and hurt feelings little labrador retriever puppy, on white background

13 Tips To Stop Hurting Your Dogs Feelings

So, let’s get this article underway by describing human behaviors that can irritate, intimidate, and sometimes make our dogs angry. This will allow you to avoid these behaviors and form an even better bond with your pup. 

1. Don’t Get Into a Staring Contest

Have you ever observed a dog or any other animal in “attack mode”? First, they lock their gaze on their target. This fixated position supports them in making a fast decision and pouncing on their prey within seconds.

Now, what do you think your dog’s reaction is likely to be if you stare at him intensely? Staring at a dog for a long duration of time might trigger a dog’s defensive instincts or make them think that you are preparing to attack them.

Even if you unknowingly engaged your dog in a staring contest and he hasn’t displayed any aggressive behavior, it does not mean that your dog is not annoyed or has had their feelings hurt.

2. Avoid Forceful Cuddling and Hugging

You observe a lot of images on social media where dog owners are cuddling their dogs as if they were kids. These pictures look adorable and may make you want to do similar activities with your furry pal.

But, the main question should be; does your dog like these hugs and cuddles? The good news is, most dogs do like these regular hugs and kisses from their human parents. They appear to recognize that this display of affection makes you happy.

However, dogs don’t like snug hugs and other types of close physical affection. Especially if it comes from a person they just met or meet once in a while or if you are physically restraining or restricting them by squeezing them in a very tight hug or cuddle.

3. Don’t Tease or Mock Your Dog

Some children and even foolish adults enjoy teasing dogs and other small animals just for cheap thrills and laughs. These cruel acts usually consist of ear pulling, pretending to bark at them, scaring them with loud noises, chasing them, and threatening (or even hitting) them with sticks.

Dogs also don’t like getting bothered or being touched while they are eating their food. Also, it is important to remember that when you are trying to train your dog, don’t keep them training for treats for too long.

Such dogs can have their feelings hurt and become nervous, lack confidence and, sometimes, become aggressive (especially around food or treats).

4. Don’t Shout or Yell at Your Dog

Dogs can detect whether you are happy, depressed, or angry from the tone of your voice. Praising your dog in a pleasing voice, like, “Good boy!” and, “Who’s a good girl?” lets them know that everything is okay.

While they don’t understand all of your words, they do understand the shift in vocal tones. That’s the reason why you shouldn’t scream or shout at your dog. Amplified volumes scare dogs easily and they could respond aggressively. It is also mean and unnecessary to discipline your dog by screaming at it.

Speak in a firm confident tone when reprimanding your dog and avoid shrieking or yelling. 

5. Don’t Isolate Your Dog

Dogs are pack animals. In the wilderness, dogs live together, hunt together, and stay devoted to their packs until death. Your housebroken pet dog does not have the company of other dogs to form a pack. So, it considers you and your family as its pack.

Leaving your dog for long periods of time when you go off to work can lead to bad outcomes. It can cause negative behaviors that may annoy you, but are in reality the consequence of separation anxiety. This can be especially true with rescued dogs who have been previously mistreated or abandoned.

Try to spend some quality time with your dog right away when you return home from the office.

You can even request a friend or a neighbor to check in on your dog from time to time. If possible take him out for a walk as soon as you can after being away for the day. If you can, you could even hire a dog walking service to take your puppy out for a walk if you are going to be gone for long periods of time at work. 

 6. Avoid Overcrowding or Stifling Your Dog

Although dogs are pack animals, that does not mean they like overcrowded places. So, avoid stifling your dog in a space with too many dogs and people. If you take your dog to the park where there are many strange dogs and humans, your furry friend will be very uncomfortable.

Ears pinned back and a tucked-in tail are signs that your dog doesn’t enjoy or is feeling comfortable in that place. The same goes for doggy daycares. Even the sociable pup can befriend five to six dogs at the most. If you are going to kennel your dog, ensure that there is adequate room for your dog to turn around and stand up so it does not feel claustrophobic.

Avoid putting your dog in crowded or cramped places where it might be feeling a little overwhelmed. 

7. Don’t Disturb or Touch Your Dog While it is Sleeping

dog sleeping on bed with head on pillow, wearing a sleep mask and there is an alarm clock next to their head.

It is an understood social norm that you should not wake someone who is sleeping by way of disturbance or loud noises. It is also well known that you should NEVER wake a sleeping baby.

So, as a dedicated dog parent, you should adhere to this rule with regards to your furbaby as well. 

Dogs should not be disturbed while sleeping as they dream too and can become badly startled if they are awoken from a deep sleep. Making abrupt and loud noises can jolt them out from sleep. This can be harmful in the case of older dogs, especially if they are hearing impaired.

If you have kids at home, teach them never to disturb a dog in its sleep. If you do need to wake them up, do so gently.

8. Avoid Strange Dogs and Other Pets

Strange dogs could be dogs your friends have and whom your dog doesn’t recognize. Or, any animal for that matter that can trigger your dog’s defensive aggression.

 It is wrong to assume that dogs are welcoming to other strange dogs at their homes. Unexpectedly introducing a strange dog can be a cause of major problems. As a safer and more comfortable alternative, let your dog get to know other dogs gradually, over a longer period of time.

If you plan on bringing a new dog home, make preparations regarding separate toys and food beforehand to avert fights and introduce the new dog outside in a controlled situation, well monitored and away from any young children. 

9. Don’t Deviate From a Fixed Routine

Over time, your dog will get accustomed to the schedule you have set. If you have set a fixed time for food, playing, and walking, try not to ever make any major or sudden changes to it. Your dog gets used to this routine, and any abrupt changes might annoy him, hurt his feelings or upset his ability to properly eat or sleep. 

Even if you don’t feel like it, take them out for a walk daily. Ensure your pet is being fed at a similar time each day. If you are going on vacation, ensure that the person looking after your pet (or the doggy daycare) is willing to follow your instructions to ensure some stability for your puppy in your absence. 

10. Don’t Use Tight Leashes and Collars

Dogs don’t like walks on tight leashes. You should train your dog to walk on a loose leash. While a tight leash provides more control, it damages the collar area of your dog.

Keep the leash loose and train your dog so that he follows your unexpected turns and changes in pace. This provides a joyful experience to both you and your dog. Avoid the use of choke collars as these can hurt or damage your pet’s neck.

Proper training will teach your pet to follow your cues on walks and you will not need to rely on a choke collar or tight leash to have them behave. Harnesses for dogs are another option for a more comfortable walking experience.

11. Avoid Erratic Commands

You adore it when your pup jumps up and kisses you when you return home. But, then you criticize him for the same habit when he does that to visitors.

These types of unpredictable commands confuse and annoy your dog. So, stick to consistent commands to avoid confusion. Also, if you don’t want your dog to beg for food while guests are there, don’t ever feed him while you are eating and do not feed him table scraps.

Human food is unhealthy for your dog anyways and the begging behaviour it fosters is not cute.

12. Avoid Rough Greetings

The typical way people welcome dogs is by bending, staring, and extending their hands out. In a dog’s eyes, this is an aggressive stance. Crouching is the position a predator makes before attacking; the staring confirms that it is waiting for the best time to strike; and the extended hand interferes with the dog’s personal space.

So, never greet a dog in this way.

13.  Don’t Use their Crate for Punishment

To most dogs, their crate is a safe place with a comfortable warm bed and some privacy. Your dog can sleep in it all day, away from the stress of the world. That is how your dog should relate to his crate.

Therefore, if you send your dog to his crate as a form of punishment, then that crate is no longer a happy space. You’ve devastated her comfort zone, turning it into something negative to be avoided, and left her confused and upset.

Conclusion

If you are someone who has done some of these things, don’t feel bad. Most people unknowingly have done at least one or two of these things. From now on, try to do some of the things on this list, it could make your dog much happier. 

Other than the points mentioned above, if you feel that other things may be annoying or upsetting your dog, put a stop to them immediately. Show affection to your dog by giving regard to how they feel. This way you can guarantee safety and happiness for your dog and yourself.

The way to raise a joyful, confident dog is with gentle conduct, compassion, and reliability. Learn to read your dog’s behavior and cues. As they thrive on a fixed routine, so always be consistent with your rules. Most important is to learn what action hurts your dog’s feelings and avoid doing it. Also never give your dog a reason to be scared of you!

Following these tips and avoiding negative behaviours are a great way to form a lifelong, happy, healthy bond with your puppy. 

Sonya is a software engineer by day and recently earned her MBA degree, but she also loves spending her free time writing about her favourite passion, dogs! Click here to read more.