First things first: Your dog adores you. They think the world of you. Of course they do – why else would they be looking at you with those big, sweet, loving puppy eyes as you read this?
But have you ever gotten the feeling that you might, ahem, annoy your faithful friend on occasion?
Just like humans, dogs aren’t always thrilled with the routines, habits, and decisions of their companions. But unlike your college roommate, your dog can’t exactly talk it out over a pizza.
Not to worry! While you probably do annoy your dog from time to time, there are plenty of ways to improve your communications skills and strengthen your relationship. Read on for expert insight into what annoys dogs, as well as important tips for bonding with your bestie.
Do Dogs Get Annoyed?
So, do dogs actually get annoyed? The answer is a murky “yes and no.” If you go by the Merriam-Webster definition – “to disturb or irritate, especially by repeated acts” – then yes, dogs get annoyed.
However, it’s important to note that dogs don’t hold grudges or assign blame, which are more complicated (some may even say “petty”) emotional reactions experienced by annoyed humans.
“Dogs and humans don’t process emotions identically,” says Dr. Cheri Honnas, owner of Honnas Veterinary in Austin, Texas, and veterinary advisor to Bone Voyage Dog Rescue. “True, our canine companions possess a spectrum of emotions, but their perception of these feelings can differ significantly from ours. If we label a dog as ‘annoyed,’ it’s more akin to the dog feeling distressed or ill at ease, not exactly the layered emotional state humans refer to as ‘annoyance.’”
10 Things That Annoy Dogs
Every dog is unique and may tolerate or be annoyed by different things. However, the following are common sources of canine contention.
Skimping on Walks
If your pup seems annoyed when you cut the walk short, you’re probably right. In addition to physical exercise, walks provide dogs with valuable mental enrichment. “Quick, perfunctory walks can frustrate dogs,” says Honnas. “Hasty strolls don’t afford them the necessary opportunity to sniff and interact with their environment.” In other words, don’t head for home as soon as “business” is complete!
Although some dogs can’t get enough snuggle sessions, many pups dislike excessive physical affection. “While we often associate dogs with cuddliness, it’s possible to overdo it,” Honnas explains. “Some dogs, particularly those with traumatic pasts, might not take kindly to tight hugging or constant petting.”
Dog Clothes and Costumes
While some dogs (and basically all humans) enjoy a good doggie Halloween costume, most of our four-legged friends prefer their birthday suits. “Unless you have trained your dog gradually to wear clothing, dressing them up can be very stressful for them,” says Dr. Corinne Wigfall, veterinary advisor at Spirit Dog Training. “Is it that important for your dog to wear a hat, a set of bunny ears, or antlers? Probably not, so it is best to avoid doing this to your dog.”
The droning sound of a vacuum cleaner is classically annoying – especially to dogs, who are easily stressed by loud noises. “Vacuuming is part of the lifestyle of owning a fluffy pup, however, this very loud moving object can be scary to some dogs,” Wigfall notes. “Avoid using it in the same room as your dog, or better yet, put your dog in the [yard] so they are away from it when being used.”
Being Left Alone
As social creatures who thrive alongside humans, dogs prefer to be with their families. Being left alone for long periods of time is annoying and stressful for our canine companions and can lead to serious conditions such as separation anxiety. “Dogs dislike prolonged isolation, and in extreme cases, they fear being alone,” says Wigfall.
As the saying goes, “let sleeping dogs lie.” According to Blythe Neer, a certified dog trainer and owner of Delta Tails, “Just like humans, dogs need quality sleep. And way more hours than we do! Some dogs need 16-18 hours per day.” When your pup is napping, be considerate and let them snooze in peace.
Dogs have a famously keen sense of smell, which comes in handy for exploring the world. However, their next-level noses can make artificial fragrances and chemical-laden cleaners overwhelming. “Strong fragrances, chemicals, and artificial smells can be bothersome to dogs,” says Wigfall. “Things like scented candles, essential oils, air fresheners, and perfumes can even irritate or cause allergic reactions in some animals.”
Lack of Routine
Without a consistent daily routine, dogs are unsure when (and if) their needs will be met – which we can all agree is the epitome of annoying. “Dogs love a daily routine and are creatures of habit,” Wigfall explains. “They love consistency when they are walked [or] expecting food, and when they go to sleep.”
How rude! Just as most humans don’t like being stared at, dogs find the behavior uncomfortable. “Prolonged gazing or staring into a dog’s eyes is a threatening behavior seen as a challenge,” says Wigfall. “Avoid staring into their eyes for more than a few seconds.”
This one can’t be stressed enough. Punishing your dog by yelling is annoying, confusing, and scary. Furthermore, it’s ineffective and can lead to more unwanted behaviors. “Dogs can’t understand the words we use, but they can understand and sense our emotions,” Wigfall elaborates. “Anxious and submissive dogs can find shouting and harsh punishment very scary. Positive reinforcement and reward training is much more effective and kinder for your dog.”
How to Tell if a Dog Is Annoyed
Your pup may not be able to talk, text, or write passive aggressive notes. But dogs offer plenty of clues about their emotional states through body language. “Dogs do get annoyed, just like humans do – they just show it differently,” says Neer.
Wondering if your dog is annoyed? Neer advises looking out for these telltale signs:
- Moving away from a person or thing
- Stiffening their face
- Lip licking
- Baring their teeth or growling
Familiarize yourself with your dog’s personal body language and pay close attention for changes or signs of stress. “These signs may seem subtle at first, but it is important to look out for [them] to keep a happy relationship between the two of you,” Neer advises.
5 Tips to Bond With Your Dog
Like all relationships, building a strong bond with your dog takes time, effort, and understanding. Fortunately, it’s also a ton of fun! Consider these tips for helping your best bud live their happiest, healthiest life.
Practice Lifelong Training
Long after puppy school graduation, positive reinforcement training is a great way for you and your dog to have fun together and learn more about each other. “Obedience classes and training are not solely about teaching commands,” says Honnas. “They’re also about comprehending your dog’s signals and respecting their personal space. The focus should be on communication, rather than control.”
Stick to a Consistent Routine
When your dog knows what to expect day-to-day, they can relax and focus on being their best selves. “Set a daily routine with lots of playtime and walks,” Honnas advises. “If your dog can’t be with you all the time, look for a pet-sitter or ask a friend who the dog knows to spend time with them.”
Provide Plenty of Enrichment
Like humans, dogs need physical and mental exercise to stay happy and healthy. Work with your veterinarian to determine the ideal amount of physical activity for your pup and provide plenty of engaging toys and puzzle feeders to keep their brain busy. “Dogs need, at the very least, three hours of exercise per week, along with a variety of enrichment activities,” says Neer. “If you don’t meet those needs, you will see destructive chewing, barking, pulling, and other behaviors we don’t necessarily enjoy as humans.”
Recognize and Respect Body Language
Learn about canine body language and be aware of what your dog is trying to say. “Understanding a dog’s behavior is paramount in recognizing their comfort level,” says Honnas. “Familiarizing yourself with your dog’s individual traits, likes, dislikes, and comfort zones paves the way to a strong, affectionate bond with your four-legged friend.”
Visit Your Veterinarian Regularly
Routine wellness appointments can help ensure your dog is physically and mentally healthy, as well as establish their baseline “normal.” If you notice any changes in your pet’s behavior, be sure to check in with your veterinarian – new annoyances or avoidances could be a sign of an underlying illness or injury.