Stephanie A. Sarkis Ph.D.

Here, There, and Everywhere

10 Ways to Tell If Your Dog Is Annoyed With You

What did you do this time?

Posted Sep 17, 2010

Your dog has called you on the carpet about something. What is it? How can you decrease dog annoyage?

Here are 10 ways to tell if your dog is annoyed with you, and what you can do about it.

1. You don't listen to the paw smack on your leg or side of your head. Your dog is trying to tell you something. While you would prefer to not be smacked on the side of the head with a smelly dog paw, dogs usually use this as a last-resort measure. He wants something. Figure out what it is, or you may have an accident on your hands (or carpet).

2. Your dog walks off while you are giving him/her a long soliloquy as to why he should not have peed on the carpet/chewed up your old 8-track tapes/etc. It's over. The damage is done. Don't leave that stuff around again. Plus, all a dog hears when you are giving a long speech is, "Fluffy, blah blah blah blah blah." Spare your dog (and you) the speech. Just practice prevention (not leaving stuff lying around on the floor, letting your dog out to go potty right before you go to work, leaving your dog a toy to play with while you are not home) so these behaviors don't happen again.

3. You give your dog an old shoe to chew on, and then you admonish him for chewing on your newer shoes. Please. Old shoes = chew toy. Closet full of shoes = Nirvana. Same thing with stuffed animals — your dog cannot tell the difference between a stuffed animal you give him for play, and the stuffed animals in your kid's room.

4. Your dog rolls his eyes at you. Don't tell me this can't be done. I've seen it happen. This is can be translated as: "Oh, so I'm the one without thumbs and can't walk upright. This makes so much sense now."

5. Your dog is bored out of his mind. Homes are luxurious prisons for dogs. Like the Springsteen song, baby, dogs were born to run. Walk your dog. I'm not talking a casual sniff and pee on a tree (the dog, not you). I mean, really walk your dog. Like you are getting some exercise. Yeah, exercise.

When you leave your dog to go to work, have a toy that they can "work" on — like a toy where they can work on getting treats out of a ball. Dogs like having a job, just like people do. Your dog can't take the train into the city to get a desk job, so at least give them something to do at home. You know what it feels like to get bored at work? Your dog feels that times 10.

6. Your dog has seen you be mean to or otherwise mistreat someone they love. Just give it up. You're really in the doghouse. This can also make your dog afraid of you, because who will you turn your wrath on next?

7. You ask your dog to do a trick, and the dog does not do it. You punish the dog. Good luck getting out of this one. You've pretty much guaranteed your dog will never attempt the trick again. Always reward, never punish. Be the bearer of all things wonderful. Your dog wants to make you happy and wants to please you. Look at how you are training your dog — are you expecting him to do something that is way above his level or against his breed type?

8. You force your dog to interact with people or dogs that they do not like. There's a reason they are feeling uncomfortable or scared. Even if you *know* this person or dog is just fine and nothing to be afraid of, listen to your dog. The more you force, the more timid your dog will become. Ease your dog into social interactions.

9. You let your dog get teased or harassed. No one — and I mean no one — should be allowed to treat your dog unfairly or cruelly. Even so-called "I'm just teasing" games can lead to your dog getting extremely frustrated. If you hold a hot dog in front of your dog, and you take it away, you've got five other hot dogs on the end of your hand. See where I'm going with this? Don't tease your dog, and don't put up with other people that do. At least set some ground rules for people that come into your home. And never leave your dog alone with someone you don't completely trust.

10. The blank stare. This isn't because your dog is dumb. They just don't get what you are doing. What did you do this time to make your dog wonder how you've made it through natural selection? Think like a dog. For some of you, this may be easier than for others.