Of course, they love us unconditionally, and they express it every day, with tail wags, leaps of joy, licks and cuddles.
But, be honest, don’t you ever notice another kind of expression? A sidelong glance, narrowed lids, a distinct pucker to the lips?
Yes, it’s true. Your fuzzy little love muffin is giving you the stink eye.
What did you do to deserve this? Actually, probably plenty and you didn’t even know it. Turns out that all kinds of normal human actions make no sense to dogs and are, in fact, downright annoying.
Here are five of the most egregious, and a few tips to make even the worst offenses a little easier for your canine critic to endure.
#1. You Go to Work
If dogs had their way, we’d just roll around on the floor in the cave all day, and every so often someone would drop a dead wildebeest into the middle of the living room. But in the modern world, someone (that means you, biped!) has to go out and hunt. Dogs may believe we’re off having fun, chasing critters for hours on end, which may be why they give us the stink eye when we leave. We have to go, but there’s no way to explain that. Here are some tips to help dogs cope from Mary Burch, AKC’s Canine Good Citizen and S.T.A.R. Puppy director.
#2. You Put Him in Stupid Outfits
Dachshund on a Hot Dog Bun! Pug as a Bee! Mastiffs from Alcatraz.
Canines in costumes. Humans may find it all hilarious, but one look at their faces will tell you that many dogs are not amused. Whether the clothes are fun or essential (booties for a sled dog, for example), it’s important to slowly condition your canine pal, in small steps and with lots of treats and praise, to wear them. And remember, dogs generally prefer going about au natural. If dressing them up gives you pleasure, go for it, but keep your dog’s comfort and happiness in mind. Here are some guidelines.
#3. You Talk Too Much
Humans talk nonstop. We never shut up. But words are an alien concept to dogs. Still, humans keep yammering on, often using a bewildering array of words to describe one thing. How many of you have four or five nicknames for your dog? How many of you say “down” to ask your dog to lie down, get off the couch, stop jumping on you, or to walk down a stairway? Can you imagine how confusing that is? Cut the chatter! Use words sparingly and mean what you say.
#4. You Hug Him
Everyone loves a little hug, cuddle, and kiss, right? If you’re talking about dogs, not necessarily. Many dogs, especially ones who don’t know you, might interpret all this huggy-kissy stuff as a form of aggression. They don’t appreciate faces thrust at them or being stared at and squeezed. Some dogs are fine with it all. Therapy dogs, for example, are trained and tested for their tolerance to even the clumsiest displays of affection. That’s their job. But before you fling your arms around any canine neck, make sure the dog will appreciate the sentiment and not try to bite you.
#5. You Pat His Head
Among humans a pat on the head is seen as a serious breach of etiquette, but for some reason, it’s still considered an acceptable way say hello to a dog. Some people take the concept of “pat” literally, and will stand there pounding away on the dog’s noggin, oblivious to the animal’s distress. Instead of going for the head, take the time to find your dog’s special “spot.” It might be a scratch at the base of the tail, or a rub along the belly or ear. Your dog will thank you.