20 Things People Do That Confuses Dogs

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Have you ever thought about what goes on in your dog’s mind when you talk to them? You’ve probably noticed your furry friend tilting their head while you chat with them – that’s their way of figuring out what you’re saying. Clear communication is key, whether it’s between humans or between you and your dog. Check out our list of things people do that confuse dogs, and let’s make sure you’re both on the same page!

You’re not around all the time

brown long coated dog sitting on brown wooden log during daytime
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Dogs are born social butterflies – they enjoy hanging out with other dogs, people, and anyone ready to interact with them. Usually, when left to their own devices, dogs choose to play, rest, explore, and tag along with their owners. However, we often end up leaving our furry pals alone at home. Being alone can be confusing for inexperienced dogs – they might wonder if we’ll ever come back to get them.

You change your appearance

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Lying on the Sand Under White Cloud Blue Sky
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Soap and shampoo switch up the scents our dogs are familiar with. When we use coats or bags, our shape changes too. Dogs shed their fur at least once a year. On the flip side, we change our clothes every single day. This means the smells we carry are changing way more than furry pals are used to. In their world of smells, it must be super confusing for dogs to deal with our ever-changing scents.

You gave them a strange name

two brown and white dogs running dirt road during daytime
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When picking a name for your pup, think simplicity! You want something that’ll catch their attention when you call. Opt for names starting with sharp, crisp sounds like ‘D,’ ‘T,’ or ‘K’—they’re like dog magnets for learning. On the flip side, softer sounds like “S” or “F” might leave your furry pal scratching their head. So, choose wisely for a name that’ll have your dog bounding your way with excitement!

You put your fingers in their mouth when playing

Saint Bernard dog across pine trees during daytime
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Puppies absolutely adore a good nibble, and it might seem like harmless fun to let them playfully nibble on your fingers. But here’s the scoop: According to experts, allowing your pup to munch on your hand is like giving them a green light for biting. So if your furry friend decides to give your fingers a little bite, very swiftly withdraw your hand and end the play session.

You hug them A LOT

shallow focus photography of white shih tzu puppy running on the grass
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Dogs and humans may share four limbs, but we use them differently. Dogs often lightly grab each other during play or important moments like mating or tussles. So, when we hug them, it can be super confusing for our furry friends because hugging isn’t their usual way of showing love. Instead, it’s more like a defense move for them.

You use your hands excessively

dog, pet, canine
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Have you ever noticed how sometimes our furry friends seem unsure about our hand movements? While dogs trust their noses, we humans are all about the hands! We use them to do all sorts of stuff, from giving them treats and cuddles to tasks like putting on leashes or grooming. But here’s the thing: some of these activities can be uncomfortable for them. So it’s no wonder some dogs feel a bit wary of our hands.

You talk too much

adult chocolate Labrador retriever
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Imagine this: humans have this fantastic tool called language that we use to talk with each other and even other species. We chat away in various ways, both with our words and body language, which can be confusing for our furry friends. But here’s a thought: maybe we should shake things up and communicate with them using scents instead of words or gestures. After all, that’s what they trust the most!

You talk to everyone

Shallow Focus Photography of Adult Black and White Border Collie
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Humans are big on using both sight and language to communicate with everyone around them. We chat a bunch, especially when we’re excited or upset. But our furry pals? Well, they don’t talk to each other as much. They use only a few sounds—barking, whining, and growling—to ask us for things or to express themselves. So when we’re constantly talking to everyone about everything, it can be really confusing for them.

You don’t eat from the trash

white long-coated dog sitting on floor
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Dogs have a natural tendency to eat food wherever they find it, while we humans usually serve their meals in their own cute dog bowls. When our furry friends grab a snack from tables, benches, bins, or lunch boxes, and we scold them for it, it might leave them a bit puzzled about why we’re making such a fuss!

You rely more on sight than smell

puppy, pet, canine
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Dogs see the world through their noses, diving into a universe of scents, while we humans are more focused on what we can see. While we might find joy in movies or tunes, for our furry pals, strolls to the dog park or beach are like stepping into a thrilling adventure of smells. So, even though a daily walk keeps both you and your pup fit, it’s a real sensory bonanza for your four-legged friend!

You invade their space

puppy, dog, pet
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As we venture into places frequented by other dogs, we unintentionally become scent carriers, bringing a mix of odors back to our furry companions. And let’s not forget that we often open the doors to unfamiliar human and canine guests, disrupting our dogs’ sense of safety and resources. It’s no wonder our dogs may greet visitors with suspicion, and, well, when we bring them to other homes, they might face a less-than-friendly reception.

You’re repeating things

Two Yellow Labrador Retriever Puppies
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Ever found yourself thinking that if you keep repeating commands, your dog will suddenly catch on? Well, it turns out our doggos have a different take on things! When they hear a string of repeated commands, it doesn’t click for them the way it does for us. Instead, they start sizing up whether it’s worth their attention. And guess what? You might find your dog tuning you out until you ease up on the repeats.

You play tug-of-war

Close Up Photography of Adult Black and White Short Coat Dog
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Playing tug-of-war with your furry friend using old toys or clothes could lead to some unwanted behavior down the line! Sure, it’s a fun game for you and your pup, but it can also be slightly puzzling. If tug-of-war is a fair game during playtime, why get upset when your dog decides to play tug-of-war with your socks, right? So, instead of tugging back and forth, try rewarding your pup for letting things go.

You use too many words for one thing

Adult Golden Retriever Close-up Photography
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Have you ever noticed how your dog’s expression changes when you switch up the words you use? It’s like they’re trying to decipher a secret code! When teaching your pup new tricks, it’s best to stick to the same words. Imagine if one day you asked them to ‘go potty,’ and the next day it’s ‘go pee’—it’s enough to make anyone’s head spin! So use one key phrase for each command, and make sure it’s super short.

You keep changing the rules

yellow Labrador puppy running on field
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According to experts, one of the most common ways we unintentionally confuse our furry friends is by not staying consistent with training and house rules. Imagine the confusion if we let them cozy up on the couch one day, only to scold them for it the next! To keep things super exciting and straightforward for your pup, try to maintain the same rules day after day.

You comfort them when scared

long-coated white and tan dog
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While it’s natural to want to comfort our furry friends when they’re scared, sometimes our good intentions can backfire. Believe it or not, by showering them with affectionate words and pets, we might actually be reinforcing their fear. It’s like telling them, “Good job for being scared!” Instead, try to tackle the source of their fear head-on and help them feel more secure.

You favor another pet

Brown and Black German Shepherd Puppy Sitting on Gray Textile
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Ever noticed how giving too much attention to one dog can leave the others feeling a bit left out? It happens more often than you think! Maybe one of your pups is smaller or recovering from something, and they end up getting all the love. But here’s the scoop: try spreading that affection around equally to keep everyone feeling special and included. Each pet deserves their own one-on-one time to feel truly cherished.

You force them to socialize with other dogs

selective focus photography of three brown puppies
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Many pet owners think the key to helping their shy furball is to make them play with other dogs. But here’s the twist: that might actually make things worse! Forcing a shy dog into doggy social scenes can just confuse them and boost their fear. The real trick? Take it slow. Gradually introduce your pup to other dogs, and if they’re not feeling it, stop. This helps your furry friend become less shy without the stress.

You scold them long after the incident

white and brown short coated dog on green grass during daytime
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Ever wondered why scolding your dog for past mishaps doesn’t quite hit the mark? Well, here’s the scoop: our furry pals don’t have a time-traveling sense to understand why we’re upset about something that happened before. So, instead of getting frustrated when they have an accident or raid the trash, figure out why it happened and then take action. Maybe it’s time for some extra training or a tweak in our home setup.

You punish them for not acting human

dog with orange ball in seashore
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It’s super important to remember that our furry companions aren’t just four-legged humans. They have their own quirky behaviors that make them who they are. So, let’s not get too upset when they do what dogs do best—whether it’s rolling in the mud, sniffing around, or gobbling up a tasty treat off the ground. Even our most obedient pups can surprise us with their doggy antics sometimes!