- Insider asked vets about how dog owners may be accidentally disturbing their pets.
- Tight hugs and lengthy initial contests can actually stress out your pup.
- Even simple activities like vacuuming can irritate dogs.
Good dog owners want to keep their pets healthy and happy, but communication between puppies and people isn’t always easy.
So Insider asked vets about the things dog owners do that might make their pets angry or irritated.
Blowing on your dog can cause aggression
Veterinarian Agni Voutsinou, co-founder of pet wellness app Strelka, told Insider that many dogs hate it when their owners accidentally or intentionally blow air in their faces.
“Blowing air can startle and confuse dogs,” Strelka said. “It can be misinterpreted as aggressive behavior and even cause a snap.”
Voutsinou added that blowing air can dry out a dog’s nose and lead to a disorienting loss of the sense of smell.
long gaze can be perceived as a threat
Veterinarian Michelle Burch of Safe Hounds Pet Insurance told Insider that looking your dog in the eye can make him very uncomfortable.
“Starting a staring contest with your dog while he is stiff and not moving can make your pet angry,” Burch said. “It may indicate that you are a potential threat.”
Burch recommended only looking into a dog’s eyes for a few seconds before looking away to avoid being seen as aggressive.
Some dogs may be uncomfortable around children
Pumpkin Pet Insurance veterinarian Stacy Choczynski Johnson told Insider that some dogs can experience anxiety around young guests.
“Some pets don’t like being bombarded by unruly children’s attention,” Choczynski said. “It can make even calm pets lash out.”
Choczynski recommended making sure your dog has a kid-free area to retreat to if he’s having a hard time dealing with children.
Dogs can get upset when their sleep is interrupted
“Pet’s whose sleep is interrupted can become irritated,” Burch said. “This can happen when owners move them or noisy children enter a room.”
Burch added that older dogs may be more prone to sleep disruption irritation due to hearing impairment, which can make them more frightened by the sudden change.
Hugging can make a dog uncomfortable
A strong hug can make a dog angry and distressed.
“Most dogs don’t really enjoy hugs, as putting your arms around their body can be perceived as threatening,” Burch told Insider.
Simply allow your dog to cuddle up to you on his own terms without forcing you into his space.
Vacuuming the house may be making your dog angry
“Dogs hear much more acutely than humans, which means that loud sounds like vacuuming can stress them out and even make them angry,” Voutsinou said.
To help keep your dog comfortable, put him in another room while you vacuum or arrange for him to be taken for a walk.
Pushing a shy dog to socialize with other puppies or people can cause more harm than good
“It’s important not to force dogs to socialize when they don’t want to, as this can lead to anger and aggression,” Voutsinou said.
According to Voutsinou, if your dog seems afraid to socialize, you should simply go for more walks and spend time in crowded parks to help him become more comfortable with others.
Dogs don’t like to be kept away from interesting smells.
“Sniffing outdoors helps dogs connect with other dogs and is part of their natural instincts,” Voutsinou told Insider. “Preventing this behavior can lead to anger.”
Try to schedule enough time for walks to allow your dog to enjoy his natural scent curiosity.
Pinch or choke collars can cause anger and health problems
Choke and pinch collars are meant to deter a dog from pulling on the leash by squeezing his neck, but they can actually be harmful.
“Pinch and choke collars can cause a wide range of undesirable behaviors, anger and even respiratory problems,” Choczynski said.
These collars should be avoided especially in breeds that are predisposed to tracheal collapse (severely compromising the dog’s airway), such as Pugs.
So instead, Choczynski recommended wearing a body harness with a chest strap clip.
Negative reinforcement can annoy dogs
Negative reinforcement is the practice of punishing a dog to discourage unwanted behavior, but Burch said it may not have the desired effect.
“This technique can make your dog angry and actually create aggression instead of appropriate behavior,” Burch told Insider.
Instead of relying on punishment to correct bad habits, try rewarding your dog with positive attention every time he demonstrates good behavior.