17 Things You Do That Your Dog Actually Hates, Experts Say
Cut out these bad behaviors so you don't turn man's best friend into your worst enemy.
Your dog may look at you like you hung the moon, but even man's best friend has limits. In fact, there are plenty of behaviors that can turn your relationship with your canine companion into a contentious one in no time at all. If you want to stay on the right side of Rover, find out if you do any of the following things that vets, trainers, and other canine specialists say dogs hate.
Force them to play with other dogs
Just because your dog enjoys going to the park, that doesn't mean you should try to force a friendship between them and another pup at the playground if the chemistry clearly isn't there.
“Some dogs are very social and love playing with other dogs, where some are very independent and do not want to play with other dogs,” says Sara Ochoa, a small animal and exotic veterinarian in Texas and consultant for DogLab.com. "If your dog wants to play with another animal, they will."
Tease them with treats
It may be all fun and games from your perspective, and even seem the same way from theirs, but that's hardly the case. Treats should be used as rewards, but not instruments to tease and trick your dog, Ochoa says.
Touch their feet and nails
Pedicures are definitely not the relaxing experience for canines that they are for humans.
“Many dogs hate to have their nails trimmed and feet touched,"Ochoa says. However, since this is an essential component of their grooming, she recommends getting them used to nail trims as puppies so they’re less resistant to them later on.
Giving your pup an affectionate squeeze may feel like the most natural thing in the world to you, but odds are you are the only one feeling the love in that hug.
“This is a human and primate behavior, but it is not comforting to your dog,” says Brian Ogle, assistant professor of anthrozoology at Beacon College in Leesburg, Florida, who notes that this behavior may even be perceived as aggressive.
Disregard their boundaries
Whether it's cuddling too close in bed, kissing them on the face, or just being overly affectionate in general, that kind of behavior can become irritating to your dog if it becomes constant.
“Like most of us, dogs have a personal space [and] we often violate their space in order to show affection,” Ogle says.
Leave them alone too often
If you’re looking for a pet that will be happy spending hours alone, a dog probably isn't the right choice, Ogle says. Too much along time can cause stress and unwanted behaviors, which is why he suggests owners bring their dogs with them whenever possible or find appropriate doggie daycare where they won't be in such a solitary environment.
Wrestle with them
Just because your dog engages in aggressive play with other dogs doesn’t mean they want to do the same with you, says Carol Borden, founder and CEO of Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs.
“Wrestling with them, playing tug of war, or taunting them with treats will often inspire very undesirable behavior from the dog,” she says.
Discipline them inconsistently
If you want to keep your dog happy, consistency is key—especially when it comes to their training, and how you reward or admonish their behavior.
“While [dogs] are experts at reading body language and tone of voice, they are constantly confused and saddened by the mixed messages communicated by their human,” says Borden, who notes that it’s “extremely frustrating for something to be okay one time, but not all the time,” like sitting on the couch or playing with certain objects.
Dress them up
Yes, they look adorable in costume, but is it worth putting them through the discomfort or embarrassment they may experience, all because you want to get a couple of cute pics to post on social media?
“Usually it's not a good idea as the dog’s just very uncomfortable,” says Cynthia Kelly, dog breeder and owner of Regis Regal German Shepherds in Spring Grove, Illinois. Kelly points out that one of the concerns is that they can even overheat in those little outfits if you're not careful.
Use scented grooming products
“Dogs have an incredible sense of smell, so even a very mild [scent] to us humans has potential to really irritate them,” says Kelly, who recommends spraying any topical treatments onto a cloth first before applying them to your pet to limit their potential for olfactory offense.
Pat them on the top of the head
Of course you are only attempting to show your animal some kind of approval or affection, but it's possible that your dog is getting an entirely different kind of message.
“It's a threatening behavior, especially if people lean over the dog from the front,” says Hope Saidel, co-founder of 2-Minute-Trainer, who says that the smaller the dog is, the more intimidating the gesture. Instead, she recommends approaching dogs from the side and petting them under their jaw or neck.
Argue in front of them
Even a joking argument between you and your spouse can seem like a very real conflict to your dog.
“Dogs want to protect all members of their families and don't know what to do when there's discord,” Saidel says. She also notes that some dogs will try to break up the fight, potentially resulting in injury to anyone involved or in close proximity to those that are.
Be animated with your hand gestures
If you typically talk with your hands, you might want to tone it down when your hound's hanging around.
“We've seen dogs get upset when people are making broad gestures while playing video games,” Saidel says. Again, the issue here is that the animal may interpret these motions as signs of aggression.
Blow in their faces
That befuddled look your dog gives you when you blow in their face may be cute, but it's definitely not one of enjoyment.
“In fact, most dogs hate it,” says Colleen Demling, dog behaviorist at Dogtopia. When you think about it, it doesn't sound too pleasant no matter what your species is.
Stare at them
Gazing into your partner’s eyes may be a touching expression of how much you love them, but locking eyes with your dog may seem like you are trying to assert your authority.
“For dogs, a prolonged stare is a signal of confrontation or aggression,” Demling says. Even if, at times, it seems like they’re okay with it, “they are likely showing subtle stress signals” that you aren't picking up on, she says.
Just because your dog loves running alongside you doesn’t mean they want to engage you in a high-speed foot pursuit. And if it's children doing the chasing, that's even worse.
“Dogs hate being pursued—and especially cornered—and might even bite a kid one day if it goes on for too long,” says Steffi Trott, dog trainer at SpiritDog Training in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Yank their leash
If you want to establish that you are the one calling the shots in the relationship between you and your dog, that's fine, but yanking there leash is not the way to go about it, Trott says.
“Avoid using the leash as a punishment," she says. "It is not only uncomfortable for your dog, but can actually damage his trachea, especially in smaller breeds.”