What your dog wants you to understand

We want our dogs to walk alongside us, but a fun dog walk is a sniff walk.

Our dogs are as different as we are. We love them very much and often attribute human characteristics and desires to them. But we must remember that dogs are an entirely different species than ours, with different needs, different language, and different things that make them happy. Jean Donaldson, author of the essential book on behavior and training, The Culture Clash, writes: “Dogs are not like us, not as much as we thought. But it is okay. We can still bond with them, share our lives with them, use them as surrogate children without excuses. We don’t have to renovate their nature to legitimize how we feel about them. They are precious and fascinating as they really are.

One of my jobs as a Certified Trainer is to help my clients understand their dogs’ behaviors, not just train obedience skills. If we understand dogs better, we can better help them to be pleasant companions.

A common misconception is that dogs always want to be petted. Dogs are like people: some are introverted and some are extroverted. Be honest about your dog and never force him to be petted by a stranger. If a dog wants to be petted by someone you meet, or a family member, he will make physical contact with the person without encouragement from you. He may reach out to sniff the person, but that doesn’t mean he wants to be petted. A dog that wants to be petted will approach the person with an agitated, loose body, mouth open, and may lean against them, put a paw or head on them, or (oops) jump on them. If you force a dog to be petted by someone when he doesn’t want to be petted, he may feel compelled to growl or chew the person. Your dog needs to be able to trust that you won’t force him into a situation that makes him uncomfortable.

Dogs live through their noses.  Here's Renee Harris' Hattie as a puppy exploring with her nose.

Dogs live through their noses. Here’s Renee Harris’ Hattie as a puppy exploring with her nose.

Sometimes a dog may roll over and show its belly when approached by a person. Sometimes that means a dog wants a belly massage, but sometimes that means he wants the person to leave him alone. How do you know what he wants? A dog that asks for a belly rub may squirm, have its mouth open often with its tongue hanging out, and its ears relaxed. A dog that tries to tell you that he is uncomfortable and does not want his belly rubbed will be motionless or stiff, his tail probably stuck between his paws, his mouth closed and his ears well. clamped on his head or held back.

Renee Owens' dog makes herself comfortable on the couch, with a loose, extended body that would welcome belly rubs.

Renee Owens’ dog makes herself comfortable on the couch, with a loose, extended body that would welcome belly rubs.

What dogs like are often things that are not what we want or that can get in the way. We want and train a dog that will walk in perfect position alongside us. It’s fine for us but incredibly boring and not good exercise for your dog. Dogs live through their noses. A pleasant walk for your dog would include stopping to smell all the amazing smells, watching squirrels and other sights, and leaving their scent on the mailboxes. At Praise Dog Training we teach loose leash walking but encourage owners to allow their dogs on sniffy walks. Sniffing lowers your dog’s heart rate and allows him to exercise. When your dog uses his brain to interpret smells, he gets tired. Do you remember how you felt after concentrating on a tough test? The next time you walk your dog, ask yourself if you are walking for yourself or for your dog. You don’t have to allow him to shoot, but make the ride as rewarding and fun as possible for him.

Crystal Pumphrey's Nova shows us a great example of belly rub appreciation with her loose body and very loose lips.

Crystal Pumphrey’s Nova shows us a great example of belly rub appreciation with her loose body and very loose lips.

Puppy owners get frustrated when they find it difficult to house train their puppies and the puppies don’t seem to care where they eliminate. For dogs and puppies, peeing and pooping is a very natural behavior. When your dog or puppy first arrives at your home, he has no idea that using the kitchen rug as a pee point is undesirable. He doesn’t understand why you’re yelling about it, and he certainly wouldn’t understand if you rub your nose in it. Additionally, these behaviors can make a dog or puppy fear you, and they may start peeing or pooping in a secluded area away from you. Simply teach your dog or puppy that you want to eliminate outside and that he is rewarded with a treat when he eliminates outside.

Dogs are social animals, but there are times when they need quiet in a busy home.  Jennifer Staton's dog has found a safe place to rest.

Dogs are social animals, but there are times when they need quiet in a busy home. Jennifer Staton’s dog has found a safe place to rest.

Believe it or not, dogs don’t come to us understanding English. So when you yell for your dog to come and he doesn’t, it’s not necessarily that he doesn’t heed your cue, you may have never actually taught him what the cue means. word and that coming to you is a very rewarding response. . Dogs can learn English, but they do so by repeatedly associating a word with an action. I bet your dog has learned the words “treat”, “take a walk”, and “dinner time”.

Dogs are social animals. They generally prefer to be near their family. However, there are times when your dog may need a quiet retreat. If a dog is in pain or there are young children in the family, your dog may seek a quiet place to rest or be left alone. You can provide him with this space by setting up his crate out of a traffic area or even setting up a comfy bed in an area where he naturally retreats, such as under an end table.

People and dogs are different species that speak different languages. We can create a special bond by striving to understand the specific needs and language of our dogs. If you want to read more, I highly recommend The Culture Clash and Dogs are from Neptune by Jean Donaldson, and The Other End of the Leash by Dr. Patricia McConnell.

Ryan Allred loves hugging Melon, but Melon's closed mouth and the whites of her eyes tell us that's not the kind of thing she likes.

Ryan Allred loves hugging Melon, but Melon’s closed mouth and the whites of her eyes tell us that’s not the kind of thing she likes.

Elisabeth Weinerman's daisy told her when she was in pain looking for a quiet, secluded resting place, her crate.  Daisy suffered from syringomyelia, an illness unfortunately all too common in this breed.

Elisabeth Weinerman’s daisy told her when she was in pain looking for a quiet, secluded resting place, her crate. Daisy suffered from syringomyelia, an illness unfortunately all too common in this breed.