Humans do a lot of things that just drive dogs insane. We try to make our dogs act like humans, BUT they’re dogs.
They won’t act, think, or be like humans anytime soon. So, it’s important for all of us to learn how they think, and be able to speak their language.
Get ready for a short lesson in Doginese!
#1 When Humans Disrupt a Dog’s Routine
Dogs prefer to know what to expect from you and what you expect of them. A routine lets your dog have a less stressful and more enjoyable day because they know exactly what’s going to happen. (This can also help humans too, if you’re not sticking to a routine)
Walking your dog on a regular basis establishes a comfortable routine for them. Almost every dog loves to take a walk, yours included. Taking dogs out for daily walks gives them something to look forward to every time you grab that leash.
Consistently boarding or taking your dog to daycare allows them to adjust easily and have more fun. While boarding is typically exciting for dogs, randomly taking trips can unnerve dogs that are more sensitive in nature. Just remember that your dog can get confused by surprises.
#2 When Humans Punish Dogs for Natural Behavior
It’s important to remember that dogs will act like dogs and we need to understand that, and make proper adjustments to how we react to their behavior. When I walk my own dog, I’ve witnessed several owners jerk the leash when their dog strays off the sidewalk or otherwise punish the dog to make them “behave” properly.
Unless your dog is in imminent danger, there’s no reason to jerk at their collar. Most likely your dog just wants to:
- Sniff something interesting
- Relieve themselves
- Get their sore pads off the hot concrete or pavement
These are normal dog things that normal dogs do, not something to worry about. We don’t need to correct our dogs for doing things that are in their nature.
#3 When Humans Send Dogs Mixed Signals
One of the most common mistakes humans make is sending mixed signals about your dog’s behavior. Dogs are straightforward and have little short-term memory, so they don’t process rewards and punishments like humans do.
For example, owners will often ask their dogs to come, but instead of rewarding them for positive behavior they:
- Give them an unwanted bath
- Take them to the vet
- Punish them for not coming fast enough
The dog won’t know it’s for their own good, no matter what the reason is for. Instead, they’ll start to think, “when I come to my human bad things happen. This isn’t good for me!” That could result in your dog always being hesitant to come when you call them.
In the old days of dog training, people used the word “command”. Today’s modern trainers use words like cue or signal. When you give a cue and they listen, there needs to be a reward of some kind. That reward can be a treat, kibble from their dinner bowl, verbal praise, or a belly rub. Even throwing a ball is a reward! If you’re taking them to the vet or the tub, don’t call them over. Instead, just leash them and go. This will avoid confusing them.
Overusing signal words will also confuse dogs. This happens a lot with owners who are frustrated by their dog’s hesitance or refusal to perform a desired behavior. They begin repeating themselves, hoping the dog will eventually understand.
Unfortunately, repeating signals too much will make these words meaningless to your dog. Saying “sit” or any other word over and over again desensitizes them to that word, and it becomes human noise (like the rest of human speech). Basically, they will stop listening to that word if you continue to overuse it.
Dogs won’t usually understand what you want unless they’re properly trained. When teaching a new behavior, say the target marker/cue once, then use rewards and instructions, even wait for the desired behavior, rather than repetition. If you’re having trouble with training we can help you avoid desensitization.
#4 When Humans Force Dogs to “Behave” In Public
Owners can be overconcerned with their dog’s behavior while in public places. The outside world is filled with new scents, new people, and loud noises. Dogs are excited when they go out, they’re not misbehaving.
Excited dogs don’t want to “sit” or “stay,” they want to wander and explore. Desperately trying to control the dog will end up with both parties frustrated. Allowing dogs to express their excitement is a positive thing, just make sure they’re safe!
At DogBoy’s, we’re fluent in Doginese and we want you to be too. When you understand your dog and get on the same page, your relationship deepens. If you have any questions about how to not drive dogs crazy, contact us today.
With Associates by Sunny
A Bygone Age by Travis Johnson
Dogs by Simon Law