Is your dog inconsistent in listening to your commands? Does he sometimes display undesirable behaviors, do the opposite of what you have taught him, or stare blankly when you ask him to do something?
If so, it may simply be that your dog is confused! So, before you put the blame entirely on Fido, read these 6 common human mistakes to ensure they don’t apply to you! 🙂
6 Things You May Be Doing To Confuse Your Dog
- Using the Wrong Command Word
Guilty Human Mistake #1: Sometimes a dog owner will train their dog using a particular command, but use that command a bit differently in a real life scenario.
For example, a dog is taught the command “sit“, and reliably responds to it. But, now imagine a scenario where the dog owner wants to use the command to “sit” his overly excited dog, so he agitatedly exclaims, “sit…sit down!” When the dog doesn’t immediately respond, the dog owner proceeds with, “sit, sit…now!” And then, “why won’t you sit…sit and stay!”
A dog can become completely perplexed over all those words and just what the heck is expected of him. After all, he was trained, and accustomed to the command “sit”. No words before it, or after it, just “sit”. In addition, the owner used an agitated voice whereas keeping a calm tone of voice will always result in a better outcome from a dog.
- Giving a Dog Attention, or Affection, When Displaying an Undesirable Behavior
Guilty Human Mistake #2: Most people don’t like their dog to beg for food, and therefore, teach their dog not to do it. But, for this example, let’s say that a dog’s very favorite human food happens to be on the table for dinner. The dog plants himself by the feet of his owner and gives his best pleading, puppy dog eyes. The owner, finding it irresistibly cute, gives in by petting the dog (while he is begging, of course).
That is the point where confusion is created for the dog. The rule was always no begging, but since the dog owner showed acceptance of the behavior by petting his dog, the message was conveyed that, well…maybe begging is okay after all.
- Not Being Consistent
Guilty Human Mistake #3: All month long a dog owner has reprimanded his dog to stay off the couch. But, now it is Saturday morning and the family has awoken to a couch sleeping pooch with its head ever so cutely propped on a pillow. Adorable, right? The dog owner decides to allow it just this once as he really wanted to have his breakfast prior to dealing with any issues this morning anyway.
Most of us possess it…that desire to give in to a cute mammal with floppy ears and fur, as well as the desire to take the easy route (otherwise known as laziness!). But, there cannot be variations when teaching a dog what is expected of him. A human child may be able to comprehend minor exceptions to the rule, but not a dog!
- Telling a Dog “No” Without Offering an Alternative
Guilty Human Mistake #4: It’s common for a dog owner to tell their dog not to do something if that “something” is categorized as an undesirable behavior.
Since a dog lacks the reasoning skills to determine what he should do instead of those behaviors, he will become confused if not shown. For example, a dog that is inappropriately chewing the couch leg should be offered the alternative of chewing on a dog appropriate chew toy. If he is not shown, chances are, he will go right back to chewing on the couch leg.
- Staring at a Dog
Guilty Human Mistake #5: Some dog owners find it amusing when their dog displays strange behavior while being intensely stared at. While staring a dog in the eyes, they may react in ways such as making funny noises, turning away, or making unusual expressions. Yes, it can look cute, but dogs can be very uncomfortable and confused when stared down in this way.
When a dog stares at another dog it is interpreted as being dominant, or confrontational. So, it is not surprising that a dog would become confused by a human stare! Not to say it is never okay to look into your dog’s eyes, but intense stares that get a strange reaction from a dog should be avoided as a dog will have difficulty interpreting the meaning behind it. You should definitely never stare down a dog you are unfamiliar with.
- Yelling at a Dog After-the-Fact
Guilty Human Mistake #6: A dog owner arrives home to find his dog has ransacked the garbage can. The contents of the can are strewn across the kitchen floor, but the dog is now happily greeting the owner. The upset dog owner yells at the dog while pointing to the garbage and telling him he is bad.
There are many reasons to never yell at a dog, and certainly not after-the-fact. A dog is not able to reasonably put together, “oh yes, I did that bad thing a moment ago, and that is why I am in trouble now”. Instead, they will become confused, being unable to make the connection between their owner’s yelling, and what it is they had done wrong. Don’t be tricked by the “guilty” look a dog may give. That is simply a dog reacting to a person’s temperament, not an actual admission of guilt.