Dog Attitude Problem
So many pet owners are convinced their dogs have a major attitude; I hear it from clients daily. They become extremely frustrated when their dogs ignore cues, run away or destroy furniture. But do dogs really have attitudes? I think the answer just might shock you!
Having an attitude means someone or something is uncooperative, selfish, defensive, rude, resentful, defiant, resistant, combative and sometimes aggressive. Wow, while this may sound like your dog’s behavior, it’s important to note these adjectives are human behavior traits.
As humans, we link inexplicable, defiant and frustrating dog behaviors quickly because these traits are linked to human behaviors. Additionally, we tend to justify labeling certain behaviors because it’s what we know and are familiar with, which can be a very slippery slope. Certainly, we all know someone with an attitude, especially in certain situations, but assuming a dog has an attitude doesn’t benefit dogs nor their pet owners.
Drop the Attitude
Take a step back, and look at your dog differently. I know, it’s difficult because I’m asking you to look at your dog from a non-human perspective. When frustrated, pet owners become laser-focused and are determined to attribute human traits to a dog’s behavior. If this happens to you, take a deep breath in and remember dogs are totally different from people. Dogs live in the moment.
In previous blog posts, I’ve discussed that dogs are not vengeful, spiteful or guilty. While it seems like they are those human traits when you find dog poop in your shoe, it’s just not so. When people assume non-humans are displaying human traits, it’s called anthropomorphism.
Honestly, people do this all the time. I know I’m guilty of assuming my car is tired after a road trip, or my toaster is spiteful for burning my toast even though the settings are correct. It’s human nature and, while it’s funny at times, it’s important to understand it’s simply not true. Dogs don’t have attitudes. Dogs do not purposely act uncooperative, defiant or resistant.
Then What’s Really Going on With Your Dog?
Dogs do what works for them. They chew shoes because they’re in front of them. Dogs potty indoors because they need to potty and have not been taught to potty outdoors yet. Popping pillows and chewing furniture is fun, and it’s certainly something to do when bored. Stealing food tastes good and becomes a game. It’s that simple. Dogs don’t have pre-calculated intentions; I promise. 🙂
When dogs ignore known dog training cues, such as “sit,” it’s probably because they got too excited to respond or don’t really know the cue. It’s the same with the “coming when called” cue; most dogs have not practiced it enough to become fluent around running squirrels, passing cars, nearby dogs and so forth. Dogs don’t have attitudes. They may be confused and scared instead.
Before assuming your dog has an attitude, take a moment and look at him from a different perspective. When in doubt, pick up all chewable items, crate your dog when unable to supervise and practice cues daily.