Are you accidentally hurting your dog’s feelings?

They're more than pets—they're family. 💕 But even in the most loving homes, dogs can experience unintended distress caused by the very hands that feed them. Messages get lost in translation. The best intentions can miss the mark. Sometimes, we mess up. Either way, we inadvertently end up bruising our dog's hearts.

Emotional blind spots: Things that hurt dogs' feelings

When you gaze into Fifi's trusting eyes, have you ever wondered if you're fully attuned to her emotional needs? Are you confident you aren't accidentally (and regularly) hurting your doggy's feelings? Is doting on your fur babies with toys, treats, and belly rubs enough?

You may be surprised by what you're about to read because these three behaviours will make your pup sad.

#1: Yelling at your dog

Who hasn't had one of those days? You know the kind I'm talking about: The one where everything that can go wrong goes wrong. You're short-fused, impatient, and yell at whoever crosses your path at the wrong time—including Fifi!

Sound familiar? Yes, we've all been there and regretted it immediately. Unfortunately, you've already hurt your doggo's feelings. In the worst-case scenario, you may have even caused her great alarm, stress, and anxiety.

Why is yelling so upsetting (and unsettling) to dogs?

First, dogs have sensitive hearing far superior to humans. They can detect higher frequencies than us and pick up on sounds 4x farther away.

That's all due to the anatomical structure of a dog's ear.

Canines have 18 muscles in each ear compared to our 6 inner muscles. They also have pinnae—the large outer part of a doggy's ear—that work like funnels to amplify sounds.

Second, out-of-the-blue yelling makes no sense to your dog. Pups understand short, firm commands. Long sentences and cranky, angry shouting are confusing. Your message won't get across.

Third, it's detrimental to your pet in the long run. It lowers your pup's self-esteem and confidence—and causes stress.

The takeaway? Your dog can hear you. There's no need to yell.

#2: Reprimanding fearful behaviour

Were you scared of the dark as a child? We bet Mum didn't punish you for being fearful. She got cute night lights, tucked you in snug as a bug in a rug, and read you a bedtime story until you fell asleep.

Similarly, you don't want to chastise your puppy for being afraid.

The fact is many random things can frighten dogs. But disciplining Fifi for fearful behaviour won't make her "snap out of it" or teach her the "right" way to respond to stressors. Chastisement creates added stress and makes your pup more timid, more afraid—even of you. 🙁

Patience and understanding go a long way if you don't want to hurt your dog's feelings. Most vets also agree that positive reinforcement beats punishing unwanted behaviour in dogs.

Instead of admonishing your pup, create a calm and safe environment for her to retreat to. The easiest way is by turning your doggo's crate into a puppy paradise with a (buttery soft) comforting throw blanket, toys, and yummy treats—for distraction, not as a reward!

#3: Neglecting your pet

There are two sides to neglect: Physical and emotional. As you can imagine, both can be incredibly upsetting to dogs. Not to mention unfair... 💔

Let's put that into perspective.

When you welcome a dog into the family, you're responsible for all its needs. That includes:

  • Food and clean, fresh water
  • Exercise
  • Basic supplies
  • Grooming and vet care
  • A structured life with a reliable routine

Those cover most physical needs. But you're also responsible for your canine's emotional well-being.

What does that entail, you ask?

Well, canines are sociable animals. They cherish spending time with their humans! And they have particular ways of showing affection, like licking you, nuzzling, or placing a friendly paw on your knee.

Rejecting those advances, ignoring your pup, leaving Fifi alone for long periods, not spending enough quality time together, and not noticing/being indifferent to/dismissing that your buddy is sick or in pain? Those are ways you could be hurting your pup’s feelings. 🥺 Oof, that cuts deep.

So, where does all this leave us? With a friendly reminder: Doggies are incredibly loving, incredibly forgiving creatures. Let's all do better to avoid unwittingly hurting our fur babies' feelings! 🤍


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