We all love our dogs and want to let them know it as much as possible. But dogs don't communicate in the same way that we do and there could be things you do to show your love that, actually, your dog really doesn't like.
It's a great feeling when your dog comes to your for attention, but a lot of dogs actually hate full-on hugs. Cuddling dogs can be quite restricting and stops them from feeling safe and able to move away. Signs that your dog doesn't enjoy being cuddled include turning their head away from you when you try to cuddle them and flattening their ears against their head. They might also lick their lips and nervously look around. These are signs your dog isn't a hugger – show affection with a stroke or some play instead.
You may think that when you stare lovingly into your dog's eyes, they are doing the same back, but this really isn't the case. Rather than being positive and polite, like it can be for humans, giving your dog lots of direct eye contact can actually be a really bad signal for them. In the dog world, direct, fixed eye contact is a threatening or challenging sign and your pet might think you're being aggressive. So be "doggy-polite" and don't stare!
When you go to stroke a dog, the worst thing you can do is go straight for their head. Put simply, if someone suddenly reached out and tried to touch your face and pat you on the head you probably wouldn't like it. You might feel quite intimidated. Well, so does your dog. When you stroke a dog, it's best to get down to their level, offer out your hand, and let them come to you. Then stroke their side, back or chest rather than their head. If they've settled down and are relaxing with you, then they might like a scratch behind the ears - but still avoid looming over them. You can make sure they're enjoying it by pausing your petting – if they shove their head back under your hand you can be sure they are appreciating the attention!
Sometimes, we might find ourselves in a bit of a rush and maybe walkies need to be a little faster than usual. But our dogs definitely can't be rushed! Dogs love a chance to sniff around and explore on walks. rushing walks and yanking on their lead every time they stop for a sniff can be really frustrating for dogs. doing the same route over and over can also get quite boring. Try varying your route and make time for a dedicated "smell walk" on a regular basis to really give them the time to sniff and explore for as long as they want to.
Dog are naturally social animals, but like us there will always be people and other dogs they really don't like spending time with. Dogs might bark, growl at or try to avoid people and other dogs they don't like or feel uncomfortable around, but more likely the signs will be more subtle. Try to be aware of your pet's body language. If a usually happy, waggy tail stops wagging, your pet tries to take themselves off, or there's a lot of lip-licking, yawning and looking nervously back at you, then you know it's time to call it a day. If it's a consistent thing and not just your dog having an off day, maybe try to avoid accidentally forcing your dog to spend time with specific person or pet.
If you're worried your dog is unhappy with something, watch their body language and look out for the signs.
While most people can communicate their thoughts and feelings through words, our dogs are generally reliant just on body language to let you know if they are happy or sad.
It's important to understand that your dog is not acting out or behaving badly: they usually have problem behaviour because they don't understand what is appropriate, or because they are afraid.