We love our canines. They make us laugh, they love us unconditionally, and they stand by our side (literally) through thick and thin. But being a dog owner is no picnic, and our canine friends have some pretty gross and annoying habits. Habits that we’re sure they’d for us change if they knew.
So, as the new year rings in let's imagine some of the resolutions we’re absolutely sure our dogs would make if they could.
We’re convinced that all good pooches around the world would promise not to:
Dig up the garden beds or excavate the new lawn
Yes, we know our dogs don't destroy the garden to spite us. And sure, we realise it's a normal doggy behaviour. But how frustrating is it when you've spent the weekend working on that new veggie garden only to have it dug? Or when you finally put that irrigation system in, only for your pup to think it’s the perfect chew toy?
We’re sure they wouldn’t do it if they knew, but it’s good to remember though that old muddy paws over there might have other stuff going on:
- Escapist tendencies
- Excess puppy energy
If you can figure out the issue, you'll be one step closer to a resolution (and your dream garden). For instance, if it's boredom, you could try providing some chew toys in the yard or even adopting a playmate. It's also important to remember that daily walks will often prevent this behaviour.
Dogs often dig holes to stay cool too, which is pretty, erm, cool. So make sure there’s enough shade and water for your pouch. If they really want a cooling pit, give them an area just for them to dig. Rewards for sticking to their little piece of dirt will encourage them not to branch out to the garden beds.
If your dog gets anxious when you leave, they may be digging to escape. In this case, you'll have to deal with this anxiety by ensuring they feel safe and secure at home. Particularly when you’re not around.
Punishing your dog doesn't work if you want him to trust you and listen to commands. Also, we know how much pups love a great stink, so avoid fertilisers that dogs are particularly attracted to, such as blood and bone.
Make puppy dog eyes or howl when we leave them
You're not the only person to feel guilty, leaving your furbaby home alone. Let's face it, we love them as if they were our offspring. And we’re sure they’d give those puppy dog eyes a break if they knew how bad it made us feel.
If you only leave your pooch for a few hours at a time then don't sweat it, they can cope. On the other hand, if you feel bad because you'll be away for 10 or 12 hours a day most of the week, perhaps it's time to get a dog walker. Dogs are social creatures and need interaction, mental stimulation and regular physical activity.
In a perfect world, we'd all work part-time or from a home office. But the reality is that most of us can’t spend the whole day with our pups. Work, family obligations and other commitments always get in the way of that.
But even if a dog walker comes for an hour daily, your dog still needs to know that being home alone is ok.
Any pooch should be able to stay on their own for some time without feeling anxious or being destructive. If you can build up slowly by leaving your canine solo for a short periods and building from there, they should eventually become comfortable with it. Before you go, make sure the puppy has a space for themself, with favourite toys and ensure they have ample water. Oh, and don't forget to toilet them before you go.
You could try leaving a radio on while your away too, some pups seem to find it comforting. And another great tip is to give your dog a treat when you leave but not when you return. This teaches them that you leaving is totally fine and even a bit yum.
Hey, you might still get the puppy dog eyes, but at least you know your furbaby will be fine. But if you must, avert your gaze as you walk out that door.
Eat poop or other weird stuff that makes them puke
Other dogs poop, baby pooh, even cat poop. For some dogs nothing is off-limits. If only they knew how much it grossed us out, we’re sure they’d agree to refrain.
Interestingly, any good canine mother with lick their puppies bum to clean and encourage them to poop and often ingest puppy poop in the process. And young puppies also commonly eat the stuff though they usually outgrow this habit. But though this seems gross to the sensitive stomach of a human, coprophagia is usually not harmful to your dog.
However, it’s best to simply keep them away from anything you don't want them ingesting and that also includes old food, toys and, yes, excrement.
Teaching them to follow the command ‘leave it’ or similar is a great tool went you want to discourage them from eating or playing with anything dangerous or yuck.
Fart or burp all the time
We all do it. We're just more polite about it than our canines. Dogs don't have boundaries or practice etiquette quite like humans do. But we’re convinced your puppy would leave the room if they knew how much the smell offended us.
Unfortunately, sometimes that awful smell coming out of either end of your pooch will not only clear a room but it could also be a health concern.
Some amount of stomach gurgling, burping and farting is healthy for most dogs. But extreme dog gas may signal a problem.
- Excessive dog farts may be caused by diet.
- Can be a sign of health issues like inflammatory bowel disease or intestinal parasites.
If you're concerned, your vet can run specific tests. For instance, to check for parasites.
If there are no issues, you might consider a higher quality of food. Something more easily digestible.
Truth is, you might have brought home a gassy breed. Short-nosed breeds like Boston terriers and bulldogs swallow air while they eat, which can lead to excess wind. But is something they make up for in their cuteness. If it bothers you, you could try:
- Different design of food bowl
- Food developed for specific breeds
- Elevating the food bowls
- The use of probiotics ( if recommended by your vet)
- Add some water to food to slow down eating
Roll in stinky, gross and dead things
Dogs just love a good roll, don’t they? They roll on fresh cut grass, on the newly vacuumed carpet and on the nearest surface following a bath or a swim. Sometimes they make the decision to seek out something rank and cover themselves in that scent.
Perhaps they wouldn’t do this if they knew what a hassle it was for us but here are a few theories about why dogs love to be covered in a potent aroma:
- They like the smell, the way we enjoy an expensive perfume
- It protects them from predators (Or it did once upon a time)
- It relays information back to the pack about where they’ve been and what they’ve done.
We’re convinced that if we could tell our pooch that it offends us so badly they’d stop. But another option may be to have a specific command and treats in situations that this likely to happen (at the beach, for instance) and also to have a survival plan in place to get rid of that smell quickly and easily.
Lick, jump up at or chew people
You probably like puppy kisses. It's a fun reward for being a dog lover. You likely think it's funny when your pooch mouths your arm for attention too. And love when he jumps up to greet you when you get home from a long day at work.
But, believe it or not, others probably don't appreciate these loving gestures quite so much; in-laws, elderly neighbours and mothers of small children, for example.
And while we're sure your puppy would be more discerning if they knew the stress these behaviours can cause, there are a few things you can do to prevent them.
Telling your dog off for jumping up at, chewing or licking a guest may have a temporary effect. But your pooch will jump up or paw again soon afterwards. And physical punishment will only make your dog nervous, anxious or even aggressive.
Dogs will often jump up and paw people when trying to play. This is normal in growing, active dogs. So punishing them for a natural behaviour is completely unfair.
But, various methods can be successful with a little commitment from you. Patience is crucial, and lots of positive reinforcement too.
- Ignoring the jumping or pawing by turning away. And rewarding your pooch once all paws are back on the ground.
- Train your dog to sit when someone arrives at your home. Again, rewarding the behaviour you want.
When it comes to kisses, we dog lovers seem convinced that doggy saliva is excellent for the skin. But the truth is that dog mucus doesn't have quite the antibacterial properties we think it does. So it's quite essential to discourage kissing less enthusiastic visitor (probably everyone).
The bottom line
In all honesty, our dogs rely on us for everything: food, exercise, affection, shelter and guidance. And those bad habits of theirs are generally down to how we’ve raised them and whether or not we’ve taken that job seriously enough.
Though your dog may not be able to make a new years resolution, you can. Make sure your furbabys behaviour keeps them and you safe and resolve to be consistent with your training.
And remember, you can teach them to behave appropriately for any given situation by being firm when required and patient all of the time. And don’t be afraid to ask for some professional advice when you need it too.