15 Things You Do that are Unintentionally Breaking Your Dog’s Heart

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We all love our dogs – some of us (like me, I admit it), a little too much – and we go out of our way to make them feel happy, loved, and secure. Of course, we would never do anything to intentionally upset them or make them spend their days feeling sad, but what if we didn’t realize we were doing that?

I would want to know, and I’ll assume you would too, so here are 15 things you might not realize are making your pup make sad face emojis in his or her mind.

#15. Submission isn’t always a good thing.

If you have a dog that pees when he greets you, he’s a submissive peer. Don’t scold him, since he can’t help it, but it might work to look away and ignore him until he calms down.

#14. If they have an accident, don’t rub their noses in it.

Generally, getting angry with or punishing your dog only confuses them and teaches them to fear you. Positive reinforcement is usually the answer to getting the behavior you desire.

#13. Always using a treat as a reward can be bad.

This is called a lure, and can be useful at the start of training. However, what happens when there’s no “lure” available and you still want your dog to listen? Try using other forms of positive reinforcement (like pets or exclamations) that you’ll never run out of instead.

#12. Never use the kennel as a den of punishment.

It’s meant to be a safe space for your dog to retreat to in times of stress, not a place where they cower from your anger.

#11. Growling isn’t play.

Your dog should growl only to let you know they’re uncomfortable and need to leave the situation – and you should listen to them before things escalate. If you teach them it’s cute to growl as they play, you’ll have a dog that cries wolf, which could be dangerous for both of you.

#10. Telling them to come when there’s nothing good waiting for them if they obey.

You want your dog to come when you call them? Make sure they always get a reward for doing so – a treat, a smile, a belly rub, etc. If you give them a “punishment” (an angry face, a bath, etc.) for obeying you, they’ll be less likely to do so in the future.

#9. Don’t let them bite, even playfully.

This could get them into trouble as they grow – mama dogs and litter mates show puppies what appropriate play is like, and it’s your job to do the same as a human. If they nip you, say ‘OUCH’ and walk away, then refuse to play with them for a good amount of time. They’ll learn that when an action is inappropriate, playtime ends, and that’s bad.

#8. Paying your barking dog any sort of attention.

It only gives them what they want – even scolding them is discouraged. Ignore the dog, then give him that good ‘ol reward once he’s quiet!

#7. Prevent their desire to steal off the counters.

Keep your food put up and away, and monitor them when they’re in the kitchen. It’s a bad habit that easiest to stop before it starts.

#6. Don’t let them pull on the leash.

Stop walking until the leash goes slack and they make eye contact with you, reward them, and move on. It might take a while (I’ve had a few walks that seemed as if they would never end), but a good walking experience for both of you is 100% worth it in the end.

#5. Don’t allow them to jump on guests.

They’ll feel badly if they injure them, so prepare guests and ask them to ignore your dog and only pay them positive attention when all four paws on are the floor.

#4. They need to chew.

Provide things that they’re allowed to chew on and make sure that they know the difference.

#3. Play with your dog.

They need an outlet for their energy and, like children, you probably won’t like what they choose if you leave them to their own devices.

#2. Make them do their business before they wander around and sniff.

You’ll be happy later, when he wants to go out and stargaze in the middle of the night.

#1. It’s hard, but never give in to those puppy dog eyes.

Giving in to the begging only encourages them to do it again, and again, and again.

These tips were reviewed and approved by dog trainer Shelby Semel.

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