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If you’re a dog lover, then you absolutely love learning about what pooches prefer and how to keep them happy. But did you know there are plenty of things we humans do regularly that actually upset our canine companions? It’s natural for pet owners to try and interact with those furry friends as if they were human, but dogs have their own ways of communicating and get pretty fed up with our pesky primate ways. Learning what annoys or upsets your dog helps you to be a better pooch parent, for a stronger bond between pet and owner that lasts a lifetime.

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Baby talk

Talking to dogs like babies might seem cute, but your pet actually finds it really confusing and even distressing. The nonsense words are outside your dog’s comprehension, and a high-pitched tone can hurt their ears and agitate them. Stick to a lower pitch of voice, and try and cut back on the baby babble – even when they’re super cute.

A brown dog looking towards someone off-camera whose hands are reaching to the dog’s head. Photo by Fox on Unsplash
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Carrying your dog like a baby

It’s tempting to pick up your dog, especially smaller breeds, and flip them over in your arms like a baby. But this is one thing your dog really hates. Dogs naturally show submission by exposing their belly. If you force your dog to do this when they’re not ready to do so, you risk severely upsetting the animal. Let your dog come to you in their own time.

Person carrying a small terrier and the terrier is licking an ice cream. Photo by Christian Bowen on Unsplash
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Sustained eye contact

Have you ever had someone stare at you for ages? Makes you feel uncomfortable, right? Well, your dog hates it when you sustain eye contact with them for too long. This is because, for dogs, eye contact can be a prelude to aggression. By staring lovingly at them, you’re actually making your dog feel threatened and unsafe in their own home. Keep eye contact to a minimum and use touch, play, and rewards to show affection.

A brown and white collie-type dog looking directly at the camera. Photo by Pauline Loroy on Unsplash
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Overfeeding your pup

The way to a human’s heart might be through their stomach, and dogs might say so too! But overfeeding can lead to serious health problems in dogs of all ages. Overfeeding your dog can lead to mood changes, joint problems, and nutritional imbalances. If you’re not sure how much you should be feeding your dog daily, check with your vet.

A bulldog eating enthusiastically from a raised bowl. Photo by Kabo on Unsplash
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Too many words!

Although you probably train your dog to respond to a few words, dogs actually don’t like to be spoken to too much. One reason is that using lots of different words and phrases for the same things confuses them. For example, “down!”, “get down,” “off the couch,” all for the same thing makes sense to humans, but not to dogs. Dogs need consistency. Another reason is they respond better to gestures, so always accompany your training words with a consistent gesture like pointing or moving your hand downward.

A small, white, long-haired dog is up on the couch and the owner has their hand out to the dog. Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash
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Being too loud

On the same theme, noise, in general, can be distressing for dogs. If you regularly have your music up at top volume, you might notice that your dog is subdued or less affectionate during those times. The same applies if you’re using power tools for DIY, or have noisy kids around. Dogs have really sensitive ears and loud noises are a sign of trouble, so try and keep the noise down while your pup is around.

A pug-faced dog with a blanket around its head. Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash
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Dragging doggy around

Sometimes, you just need to get some errands done and get home! But if one of those errands is walking the dog, then take a mindful moment and slow down. Your dog needs to enjoy their walk, which includes taking time to sniff at hydrants and watch other dogs and people go by. Take a breath, slow it down, and take your dog out every day when you both have time to enjoy it without rushing.

A corgi and a terrier running down a path side by side. Photo by Alvan Nee on Unsplash
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Not giving your dog their own space

Your dog loves you, but dogs still need their own space – just like many humans! That particularly means no tight hugs. Many dog owners insist that their dog loves a hug, but they’re usually misinterpreting the dog’s response. A panting dog with big eyes is often in distress. Dogs put their limbs across each other to show dominance, so hugs can be very upsetting.

An owner hugging a dog and the dog has their eyes wide and mouth open. Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash
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Teasing your dog

Have you ever “thrown” a ball for your dog only to magically produce it from behind your back? You never threw the ball at all. You traitor! Your dog may enjoy this on occasion, but if you do it too much, your dog learns not to trust you. Bad news for that special bond between pet and owner. Play fairly and avoid teasing, as dogs are not children and they simply don’t understand it.

A young puppy running across the grass towards the camera. Photo by Cristian Castillo on Unsplash
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Ignoring your pup for long periods

Another thing your dog hates is being ignored. You can’t blame them, really! Dogs need affection and attention, including a consistent routine, regular exercise, and effective training. They also need your presence, which means not sitting on a laptop or cell phone for hours and ignoring them. Provide toys and stimulation, and take regular breaks to pet your pooch and let them know you love them.

A brown dog with a paw up looking for affection. Photo by Camylla Battani on Unsplash
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Abandoning your dog

Even worse than ignoring your dog is abandoning them completely for periods of time. Ideally, if you have to go away, you should check your dog in at a professional dog boarding facility or hire a dog sitter. An alternative is to have a friend or family member get familiar with your dog so they can take charge when you’re away. Leaving your dog alone in your home, even for a day, can lead to distress and bad behavior like chewing.

A terrier-type dog looking at the camera with sad eyes. Photo by Victor Grabarczyk on Unsplash
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Abandoning your routine

Another form of abandonment that dogs hate is saying goodbye to your routine. Dogs love routine, and they need consistency to be at their best. That means regular feeding times, walks every day at around the same time where possible, and no regular surprises. You might find that creating a routine around your own lifestyle has benefits for you, too!

A black, curly-haired dog looks into the distance sadly. Photo by Nemanja Jeremic on Unsplash
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Dressing your dog in human clothes

Dogs hate it when you dress them in human clothes. They might tolerate a coat in cold or wet weather, but get one made especially for their size and breed. Don’t squeeze them into cute sweaters, dresses, or any of the other clothing items that turn perfect puppies into playthings like dolls.

Two dogs dressed like Abominable Snowmen Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash
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Smelling of strong perfume or food

Your dog’s nose is up to 100,000 times more powerful than yours! Dogs can smell aromas that have been hanging around for days that are completely undetectable to us. Strong perfume or intense food smells are really difficult for dogs to cope with. Try and stick to mild scents in your home, and if you’re going out with strong perfume on, put it on after you leave the house and wash it off before you pet your dog.

A brown and white dog sniffing the air. Photo by Caleb Stokes on Unsplash
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Being sad

This is perhaps the sweetest of all the things your pooch doesn’t like. Dogs are excellent empaths. When you get upset, feel down, or even start to cry, it’s almost guaranteed your dog will pick up on that. This affects their mood too. Of course, you can’t help but get upset from time to time, but if you notice your dog moping or trying to comfort you, give them some love and reassure them.

A small terrier laying on the floor looking soulfully at the camera. Photo by Alice Cullen on Unsplash

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