Dog’s best friend or irritating acquaintance? Sophie Taylor explains how without realising it, our small actions could be rubbing our dogs up the wrong way, and advises on the best ways to remain friends.

Hug a hoodie not a doggie

happy dog

It has recently been proven that dogs don’t enjoy being hugged, which might come as a surprise for the affectionate pup owners out there. The occasional cuddle from you won’t cause stress or upset, but a tight grip from less sensitive children or strangers mimics dominating behaviour that dogs employ to assert power.

Canines, unlike primates, hold each other to assert control rather than show affection and to approach from above and behind is also stressful and evokes danger signals in your dog. 

Dogs will tell you what types of TLC they enjoy and when. A tummy rub, for example, is welcomed when they roll over to bare their torso and a gentle head and shoulder massage will soothe them when they sit in front of you or on your lap. You’ll know the gesture is appreciated when your face and hands are covered in kisses at the end.

 

Let sleeping dogs lie

sleeping doh

This well-known saying refers to leaving old arguments to rest but the literal meaning still rings true.

If you really need to disturb your pup’s slumber, approach with caution. Particularly with older dogs who sleep very deeply: to wake them suddenly is not only irritating and disorientating, it denotes danger is afoot and will cause panic and raise their blood pressure.

Every time you wake your dog you are that abrasive, relentless alarm clock that you want to throw across the room in the morning. Gradually and quietly wake your sleeping pooch if you wish to remain best friends

 

On a tight leash

dogs on leash

The goal for most dog walkers is to be able to walk their dog without a lead or at least on a very long, loose one.

Unfortunately, if not trained appropriately, your dog will continue to pull and strain regardless of how tight you have the lead. This is due to loss of focus as an abundance of new sights and smells present themselves along your walk.

To prevent constant throat strain, train your dog to remain focused by mixing it up. Dramatically change direction and speed on training walks to keep their attention and do it abruptly as you sense them losing concentration. Reward with treats as they respond positively to keep them happy by your side, not choking on the end of a ten-foot lead.

 

Contrary Mary

pupper on sofa

Consistency and routine are what keeps your dog content and well behaved. So although you might prefer a lie in at the weekend, your furry bestie will not appreciate waiting an hour longer for their morning stroll and breakfast.

The same goes for house rules. Not allowing them on the sofa during the day but giving in because you’re watching a horror film at night will simply confuse a dog that lives by your structures. Ongoing breaks in routine and regulations will lead to behavioural issues as your dog cannot learn without experiencing patterns.

Although it can be difficult to maintain a house that runs like clockwork, do your best to uphold their routines at least and show them some slack if they act up during less stable times.

 

Meet and greet

people with dogs

You might be excited to meet someone else’s dog at the park or in their home, but their dog might not be as thrilled.

It is easy to assume all dogs are welcoming and ready for visitors but it is not always the case, particularly if you don’t know the correct way to meet a new dog.

Crouching to their level is seen as aggressive behaviour. High pitched exclamations or baby voices are harsh on their hearing and irritating. An outstretched hand indicates food and leads to disappointment if there is none.

The most effective way to greet a dog is to ignore them initially, which would appear rude to most humans but will create a better relationship in the long run. Do not stare directly at the dog as prolonged eye contact is hostile in the canine world and only say hello to the owner.

This gives them a chance to sniff you out and make sure you are a safe presence. After a short while you can gently extend the back of your hand to let them sniff you, after which a simple pat on the head will suffice. You can then proceed to excitedly tweet about your new furry friend later and squeal delightedly out of ear’s reach.

 

Read more pet advice from Sophie here

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