Be aware of your human behavior: Dogs don’t always dig it.


I don’t know about you, but I love to hug and kiss my dogs. Only my pups can reduce me to my knees, cooing and scratching and burying my face in their fur. Although we think they ought to love this kind of attention from us, some affection and other human tendencies can actually make your dog uneasy.

Here are a few with some tips:

1.      Staring: I think my dogs are incredibly beautiful creatures and I enjoying looking at them often. However, I am mindful not to stare into their eyes for too long as this behavior is considered aggressive between dogs and he/she may be uncomfortable with your staring as well. Refraining from staring is especially important when your dog is meeting new people; instead ask the person to turn sideways and not look straight at your dog. Its even better that the new person concentrate on you instead and before long, he will be curious and check out your friend on his own terms. Making eye contact with your dog during training is important, just long enough to know she is paying attention to you. I love to use a treat pouch and dog training treats to reinforce this contact.

2.      Hugging: again, I can’t get enough of my dogs! But tight hugging is often uncomfortable as is not something dogs do with each other, except to dominate. Never allow children or strangers to hug your dog but instead opt for gentle petting on the back (never on the head) beginning at the shoulder down towards the hind end.

3.      Strange dogs in your home: don’t think just because your dog is friendly with other dogs while on a walk, they want them in their home. Dogs are naturally protective of their environment and even the friendliest dog may be upset with a strange dog in their home, especially if it is a small home. Instead, have the two dogs meet in a neutral territory such as a park and gradually introduce them, starting with distance between the two dogs that gradually becomes smaller as the dogs get comfortable. I use positive reinforcement training with a dog training treats and a treat pouch when my dog displays friendly behavior towards another dog.

4.      Awakened suddenly: Even though those good night kisses may be important, your dog may startle and become scared if you touch them while they are sleeping, especially those pups who sleep deeply or are hearing impaired. A general rule of thumb is to let your dog wake up on his own but if you need her to go out for that last potty, be quiet and gentle. I also use dog tag covers on my dog’s tags as they keep their dog tags quiet while they sleep.

5.      Tight Leashes: tight leashes are alarming to dogs as they are reading frenetic energy from you and may decipher this as danger. Instead, teach your dog to walk on a loose leash and you will both be happier. The key is to become very in tune to when the leash is taut and the moment you feel this, change direction. Over time, this will help your dog focus on you. Reward based training will also help to reinforce his focus; as soon as he is walking on a loose leash, reward him with a dog treat from his treat pouch.

Diane Rosell