December 16, 2014 by megan
By Megan Coryat, CPDT-KA
Sometimes we humans take things a little personally, especially frustrating behaviors from our dogs like peeing or pooping in the house or the destruction of household items or our favorite shoes. When our stuff is ruined or we come home to a big clean up job, it can feel like our dog is trying to punish us, so I understand why people say, “My dog is mad at me.”
A more useful phrase might be “My dog is stressed out,” or “My dog is bored.”
My Dog is Stressed Out
I think when the dog chooses a spot like your bed or your shoes to eliminate when you’ve been out of the it can feel especially punishing. But think of it this way–something is stressing your dog out. Maybe it is your schedule, or a new pet or family member in the house, or your neighbors’ construction project, or whatever it is. Peeing and pooping (and the nice feeling of relief that comes from peeing and pooping) is a small comfort, but it is a source of comfort that your dog has access to all on his own. And the place he chooses might have less to do with how he anticipates you will feel (dogs really are not good at that, anyway), and more to do with how nice it is to be sniffing things that smell like his person whom he misses badly.
My Dog is Bored
If you’re coming home to destruction–dissected couch cushions, shoes, children’s toys, etc.–it might feel like your dog is trying to send you a message. I don’t think dogs think that much about us when we are away, but there is a message here: I need more stimulation. My days are long and boring without my family.
Dogs love to chew, dissect, and shake things up. If they have tired of their toys, they may turn to yours, and scavenging for them is half the fun.
If you catch yourself saying, “My dog is mad at me,” just pause. See if you can put yourself in his paws and figure out if he is stressed or bored. Once you know you can take action to improve your dog’s life and yours.
Whether it’s stress or boredom, one tactic for improving the situation is to enrich your dog’s environment. On January 11 we will be doing a hands-on, interactive, in-the-kitchen workshop, “Getting Beyond Peanut Butter: Kong Stuffing for Enrichment.” Consider signing up: every participant will go home with 2 size-appropriate, fully stuffed Kongs for their dogs and a wealth of ideas for future meals. Email us to RSVP.