It goes without saying that our pups can’t exactly tell us what’s on their minds, but they do have ways of communicating. The problem is that we can’t always understand.
Not to worry…we’re here to help!
Here are 25 secrets your dog can’t necessarily tell you, but wishes you knew.
1. I don’t always understand what you’re saying
Even though I know on average about 165 human words, I understand your tone of voice much better. I especially love it when you talk to me in that high-pitched voice, so keep it up!
2. A wagging tail doesn’t always mean I’m happy
There’s lots of reasons I wag my tail. You can tell how I’m feeling by paying attention to my tail’s positioning. A hip-swaying, loose, side-to-side wag usually means I’m in a great mood, whereas when I hold my tail high and stiff with a rigid wag, I’m likely in a state of agitation or high excitement.
3. I’m not bad, I’m bored!
I didn’t mean to chew the furniture, I just needed something to do. Studies show that on average, I’m about as smart as a human two-year-old, so when I act up, chances are I need more attention and exercise. Let’s go to the dog park, practice our tricks, or even take a good old-fashioned walk around the neighborhood.
4. I get stressed, just like you
I may not have a 9-to-5 gig or bills to pay, but my world can be just as stressful and constricting as yours. In fact, recent research suggests that I can even start going grey earlier due to stress and genetics, just like you. What I really need is for you to create a comforting routine I can rely on. Try not to change up my environment too much and stay consistent. For example, if I usually get a walk after you come home from work, make sure I get it every day… otherwise I might get nervous.
5. I need vacations, just like you
While consistency helps me feel safe, life is about balance. I’m extremely curious by nature, and will also benefit from the occasional adventure. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy – even a simple trip to the dog park or turning left instead of right on our daily walk will allow me to see the new sights and smells the new smells that I crave.
6. A change in my behavior could mean something’s wrong
Since I’m a creature of habit, even a subtle change in my behavior could be a red flag. If it suddenly takes me longer than usual to eat my food or I tire more easily when playing – please take me to the vet to ensure there isn’t an underlying medical condition.
7. I don’t want you to over-feed me (really!)
I know it may seem otherwise with the way I gobble down my food, but I can’t help myself. This means it’s up to you to monitor my food intake to keep me healthy and happy, since being overweight (which over 50% of dogs in the U.S. are…) will increase my risk of a host of diseases including arthritis, heart disease, and cancer. Plus, I plain don’t feel as good when I have to lug all that extra weight around. If I’m on the heavier side, you can try these 7 tips for getting your dog to the perfect weight.
8. Break my treats in half (I promise I won’t know the difference…)
You’ve probably figured this one out already, but I love when you give me treats – it’s a wonderful way to help me bond with you. But I don’t love being overweight. If you break my treats in half (or even in quarters if they’re on the bigger side), it will still allow us to use them for training and bonding purposes, but will prevent me from packing on the pounds. Plus, treats are so small they don’t even register as being filling to my stomach, so I won’t realize the difference.
9. I can eat people food!
In fact, lots of people foods are good for me. Try adding some fiber-packed sweet potatoes, anti-oxidant rich berries, or vitamin-packed broccoli to my meals. Nature makes a host of foods that naturally and safely fight inflammation, which is the #1 cause of many diseases, including arthritis. When I can eat them in their whole-food form (instead of my processed kibble), it will do me a world of good. Check out these delicious inflammation-fighting recipes I’ll love.
10. I get confused when you change up the rules
Why am I allowed on the couch sometimes, but not others? Why can I jump up on you, but not on people who come over? I just want to make you happy, so please make up your mind about the rules and be consistent so I understand how to please you.
11. I respond better to rewards, not punishments
If you reward my good behavior with praise or treats, I’m likely to keep doing the good thing because I love making you happy and I love treats. But if you punish my bad behavior by yelling at me and pointing at things, it’s harder for me to understand that message, and I’m more likely to keep doing the bad thing. Give me as much positive reinforcement as you can.
12. I need a joint supplement
Even when I’m young, I will really benefit from a high-quality joint supplement. Studies indicate that about 20 percent of middle-aged dogs and 90 percent of older dogs have arthritis in at least one joint. So unless you’re proactive, there’s a good chance I’ll develop joint issues down the road, if I don’t already have them. A quality joint supplement will reduce this risk if I’m healthy, and help manage my discomfort if I’ve already got arthritis. Here are some of the best canine joint supplements on the market.
13. Even if I’m old and arthritic, I still need exercise
If I’m old and starting to slow down, it’s understandable that your first instinct would be to let me rest and relax as much as possible. But in truth, regular exercise is an absolute must for any dog with arthritis – it’s just a matter of knowing how to do it. Here are the do’s and don’ts of exercising an arthritic dog.
14. Please don’t skip my annual check-up
I can’t tell you when I’m not feeling well, so it’s important to take me to the vet at least once a year to ensure I’m healthy and up-to-date on my vaccines. Please don’t skip this appointment – it could be the difference between life and death.
15. I love a good challenge
Remember, if you don’t give me something fun to do, I might just get bored enough that I have to tear apart the couch pillows. I’m smart and love games that make me think, especially challenging ones that are followed by a reward. Give me a puzzle toy that gives me a treat at the end, hide cookies around the house for me to find, or simply play some hide and seek with me, where finding you is the reward!
16. Please, let me sniff!
I know it might drive you nuts, but please let me sniff on my walks. I see the world through my nose, so not rushing me when I’m trying to check my “pee-mail” lets me get up to date on all the changes in the neighborhood, which other dogs have been around, and any exciting wild critters that have skittered by.
17. There’s a reason it takes me so long to go to the bathroom…
I’m not sniffing out the absolute perfect spot and then circling a million times just for the fun of it. In fact, a recent study found that we dogs poop in alignment with earth’s magnetic field. After observing 70 dogs for over two years, researches saw we had a clear preference for an alignment with the north-south axis, while avoiding the east-west. I honestly don’t know why or how we do this, just that we need to do it! So please, be patient.
18. Giving me access to the backyard is not the same thing as taking me on a walk
Besides needing to check out what’s going on in the neighborhood, I’m also a pack animal who loves to be with my squad. If you leave me out in the backyard, there’s a good chance I’m just sitting around and waiting for you to let me back inside where I can be in on the action. This makes me feel lonely and doesn’t give me any exercise, so… is it walk time yet??
19. Leash aggression often means I’m craving interaction with other dogs
It might not make sense to you, but when I lunge and growl at other dogs when I’m on the leash, it actually means I want to make friends… I just don’t know how. The key is introducing me to other dogs off-leash, but with the assistance of a professional. A dog trainer can help you read my body language and ensure the interactions are successful, which will satisfy my desire for dog interactions and hopefully reduce my leash aggression.
20. If I’m yawning, it doesn’t always mean I’m tired
Sure, sometimes I yawn when I’m sleepy, but my yawning may also be a sign of fear, agitation, or overwhelm. If you see me yawning a lot, take a look at my environment – is there something stressful or scary going on? If so, I’d appreciate you removing me from the situation if I’m not handling it well.
21. The type of dog bed I have matters
Pay attention to how I sleep before you pick out a dog bed for me. Do I love to doze off with my legs sprawled out? Get me a flat bed. If I like to curl up, I’d probably prefer a bumper bed. I may even like to have my very own blankey to cover myself up with.
22. I love to fetch, but am not a huge fan of plastic frisbees
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still go after it, but catching those hard plastic frisbees can hurt my teeth and gums. Instead, let’s play fetch with a ball or soft toy, or they even sell soft frisbees at the pet store.
23. “Weekend warrior syndrome” will destroy my joints
I know you have a job to go to, but if we sit around all week and then exercise our hearts out on the weekend, it’s going to wreak havoc on my joints. I love having fun with you, but please be consistent in my exercise so I have the conditioning to play hard on the weekends. This can be as easy as taking me on a few short runs during the week. Here are 7 tips to avoid joint issues in your dog while still enjoying quality playtime together on Saturday and Sunday.
24. I love having toys of my very own
I really like to have things that belong exclusively to me, so please provide me with a designated food bowl, toys, and dog bed. If I accidentally steal your favorite pair of shoes and chew them up (sorry), this could be a sign I need more toys to call my own.
25. I just want you to be happy
You mean the world to me, and our bond goes deeper than you might think. I’m extremely sensitive to your emotions. When you’re stressed, it stresses me out. When you’re happy, it fills me with joy. I can easily read your body language and emotions, so do your best to smile at me even if you’ve had a bad day. I’ll not only understand, but it will put me at ease that everything’s all right with you, which means everything’s right in the world.