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Your dog loves you unconditionally. It’s one of the best parts of their companionship. But that doesn’t mean your dog loves everything you do. In fact, a lot of dog owners irritate their pet every day without even realizing it. Do you think you might be guilty? Here are ten ways you might be annoying your dog.

Not Sticking to a Routine

Dogs find routine comforting. Knowing what to expect, such as when you will be coming home or when their dinner will arrive, eases their stress. The same is true for walks and potty breaks. If you don’t give your dog a set routine, it can cause anxiety and problem behaviors. Instead, try to meet your dog’s needs on a consistent schedule, weekday or weekend. You can always add bonus activities for an extra bit of fun but do all you can to provide a predictable environment.

Leaving Your Dog Alone

Dogs are highly social and require human company to thrive. If you leave them alone, it definitely disappoints them. Of course, you can’t be with your pet every minute of the day, but excessive isolation leads to an unhappy dog and a load of problems including separation anxietydestructive chewingexcessive barking, and more. Be sure you spend quality time with your dog every day. For the times you can’t be there, consider hiring a pet sitter or dog walker to help meet your pet’s social needs.

Boring Your Dog

Many dog breeds were originally developed to perform jobs like herding or catching vermin. So, from a dog’s perspective, having nothing to do but lie around all day is dreadfully boring. And bored dogs become destructive and stressed. Even breeds that were developed as companions still appreciate having a purpose. Provide your dog with plenty of physical exercise and mental stimulation, and consider taking up a dog sport that puts your dog’s intelligence and instincts to work.

the dog is lying at home on the couch. Pet indoors Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever resting.

Hugging Your Dog

It’s natural to hug your loved ones, including your canine companion. But just as some people feel hugs are an invasion of their personal space, many dogs dislike a tight embrace. Hugs are a form of restraint – your dog can’t run away or escape while they’re pinned by your arms. It can also seem threatening. Although some dogs don’t mind hugs from their beloved owners, and therapy dogs are taught to tolerate even a stranger’s hug, it’s better to find more dog-friendly ways of showing affection.

Patting Your Dog on the Top of the Head

For some reason, people enjoy patting dogs on the top of their heads. But if you pat your own head, you’ll see how jarring it can be. Plus, dogs don’t like outstretched hands reaching over them – it’s threatening. If you learn to read dog body language, you’ll likely notice stress signals when you pat a dog this way. Instead, stroke the dog in a less intimidating spot like their chest or the side of their neck.

Staring at Your Dog

When you and your dog stare into each other’s eyes it releases the feel-good hormone oxytocin which increases feelings of love and boosts your bond. But that’s assuming your dog enjoys direct eye contact in the first place. Although your dog may spend a lot of time staring at you, many dogs don’t enjoy you staring back unless they’ve learned to associate it with good things like cuddles and treats. Staring is threatening in dog language, so teach your dog to enjoy eye contact with exercises like “watch me.”

Teasing Your Dog

When it comes to teasing dogs, we usually think of children as the main culprits. They might pull a dog’s tail or play keep away with a toy. But adults can tease dogs too. Pretending to throw a ball might seem funny to you, but it’s unfair to your dog. Not only is it annoying, but it can erode your dog’s trust. Instead, deliver on your promises and be honest with your pet.

English Cocker Spaniel playing tug o war with its owner outdoors.

Relying on Spoken Language

No doubt you talk to your dog. They make great listeners, after all. But it’s important to remember that although dogs can understand human speech, they don’t process it the same way we do and can only learn a limited number of words. Lecturing them about jumping on visitors is far less effective than teaching them an alternative way to say hello. Be conscious of how you verbally communicate with your dog. Rely on words they understand, be consistent in how you use those words, and add hand signals to your cues.

Yelling at Your Dog

To a dog, yelling is the human equivalent of barking. They know you’re riled up about something, but because they can’t understand the meaning of your speech, they have no idea why. That’s upsetting and confusing. It can also agitate your dog, so rather than stopping unruly behavior in its tracks, it can exacerbate it. Instead of getting loud with your dog, keep your volume steady and adjust the tone of your voice.

Rushing Your Dog on Walks

From your perspective, walking your dog might be about providing physical exercise and potty breaks. But that’s not how your dog sees it. In fact, that attitude is ruining your dog’s walks. Instead, walks should be a chance for mental stimulation, socialization, and a good sniff session. Don’t ask your dog to heel past every fire hydrant and tree trunk. Let them smell, explore, and take their time.

No doubt, you’ve annoyed your dog with something on this list. Thank goodness our canine companions are quick to forgive. But now that you know how your pet really feels, you can be more considerate of their needs and perspective and try harder to live in harmony.

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