If you are a dog lover, you most likely treat your dogs like family. But sometimes, we forget that they are incapable of understanding us fully like we expect our human family members to. We talk to them in English (or whatever language we are using), as if they understand it, and even carry full-on conversations with them (it’s kinda cute). We humans unintentionally send them mixed messages or send body languages that mean entirely different to them.
To clear out the air and lessen further misunderstanding, we’ve made a list of common things humans do that stress our fur babies. Don’t feel guilty if you’ve done some of these things because we all have! But awareness is the key. We can try to communicate with them better and do better! We are lucky dogs don’t have a mean bone in their body and hold no grudges.
1. Punishing your dog for behaving like…a dog!
Dogs are creatures of opportunity. Give them opportunities to misbehave and they’ll jump at the chance to do it. If you leave items within their reach, trust that they will reach it, and have fun with it. And then we scold them for doing so. You left your charger lying around. Expect that to be chewed on. You didn’t put your favorite shoes in a rack unreachable to dogs and he chewed it. Of course, you got mad. But he is just being a dog. We, on the other hand, are sentient beings, obviously of superior intelligence. We should adjust, rather than expect them to adjust to us. Make sure important things are out of reach. Better yet, just be patient with your canine friend.2. Repeatedly yelling “No”.
Telling your dog “No” will stop the bad behavior temporarily, and then he gets right back at it. Show him instead what you want done if you want to change his behavior. Yelling doesn’t do any good with us humans, the same goes for dogs.3. Giving your dog confusing verbal commands.
Many fur parents are guilty of this—expecting our dogs to understand complicated sentences or words fully. We would say “Leave it” and “Drop it” in the same breath to mean the same thing, and expect our dogs to understand us. Just give your dogs simple one-word commands like come, sit, down, poo. Train them to respond to those.4. Saying “it’s okay” when it’s not.
We often say this when something unpleasant is about to happen. This phrase will instill in him that the opposite is true. One instance would be when you are taking your dog to the vet for injections. Obviously, dogs are not a fan of this. You can tell when they are scared. Don’t coo “it’s okay” when clearly, he’s about to feel some pain. Stroke him instead, and try to calm him. Basically, don’t lie to your dogs.5. Over pulling the leash is not good.
Dogs are naturally curious creatures who love to explore. They like to stop and sniff, and pull you in different directions especially if they see something or someone interesting. Let them be and give your fur baby some time to check out his surroundings and do some exploring. Don’t repeatedly yank them to your direction.6. Hugging and holding too tightly is a no-no.
Yes, we like to express our affection by hugging or kissing our dogs. It feels good to us, but do they feel the same way? The answer is no, unless they are contentedly still while we are doing this. This action actually confuses them, as dogs are usually leashed when we do this. It is best to limit our expression of affection to stroking and petting, which dogs love.7. Quit staring, human!
Dogs see staring as aggressive and confrontational, like egging them to get ready to tumble. This, naturally, triggers the stress hormone. This also confuses them. The only time you can stare at them is when you are returning their gaze.8. Finger pointing and shaking a finger is rude, and stressful.
We humans certainly hate it when someone points a finger/shakes a finger at us. We consider it rude and aggressive. It’s no wonder this is one of the universal stress inducers for dogs as well. Usually done while we are standing over our pet showing displeasure or in a menacing, angry stance, can you imagine what they must feel? Many a guilty dog looks are a result of this mannerism. They would feel uncomfortable, confused, and very stressed.9. Saying “Get down” when they are jumping on you.
The command “down” is useless in this situation. Down to them usually means from sit to lying position. Instead, train him to respond to the verbal command “off” if you meant to stop jumping on your or someone else, or on furniture. This is helpful on overly friendly dogs who jump on guests.10. Waking them up when they are sleeping.
Nobody hates being rudely woken up. Us humans hate it. It’s the same for dogs. Unless there is a compelling reason to wake them up when they are having a nap time, avoid it.
Engaging them in physical activities such as walking around the park or playing a game of fetch or Frisbees are great stress reducers for dogs. It is also the best time for you to bond with them and spend more time together.
If you have a large space in your home (even if you don’t), take time to make a space for them where they can just be themselves. This corner is where they can play and roam around, safe from the elements, noises, other animals, or other people. Put their favorite toys in that space. Visit them often, and spend time bonding. Your presence can be calming, provided that you are in a calm mind frame as well.
A dog’s diet is an important part of his overall health and well-being. Giving your dog a diet that is not well-balanced for his age and lifestyle can cause unforeseen health repercussions that might snowball into a bigger health issue, and of course, ultimately giving more stress and anxiety to them.
If you notice your dog acting strangely with sudden behavioral changes, he could be not feeling well, or just stressed. Take him to the vet immediately to rule out any undetected medical issues. Stress in dogs can be caused by many reasons. If less unchecked, stress can cause many health problems to our dogs.
Your vet is the best resource person to help you in managing stress in dogs. They will never be totally stress-free but we can always try to alleviate their anxiety. A stress-free dog is healthier, more relaxed, and a better companion to you and your family.