6 things you're doing to (unintentionally) break your dog's heart

No matter how hard we try to be model pooch parents, some things we do are just downright confusing for our beloved pets. Learn to tell the difference between bad behaviour and bad communication with these six common mishaps.


  1. Playing total recall

Ever called your dog and they’ve not come back? Perhaps they don’t know what you’re calling them for. Avoid a standoff by rewarding your dog each time they return on command.

A reward can be anything from their favourite toy to a belly rub – but make sure it’s a reward. If they come bounding back expecting a treat and are greeted with a bath, they won’t be in a hurry to repeat their mistake.

Always reward your dog for coming when they’re called, no matter what they’ve been doing. Separate their bad behaviour from the good and greet them with a friendly face and a pat.


  1. Tugging on heart strings

Why do dogs pull on the lead? Because it makes you go faster (and gets them where they want to go more quickly). Don’t let them follow their nose at the cost of your arm socket: if your dog is pulling, stand still. Once the lead relaxes, start walking again.

Or you could try turning around and walking in the opposite direction – particularly effective when walking away from their favourite beach or park!

It’ll take time to find out what works for your pooch, so patience and practice is key. And obviously, don’t use a retractable leash – if your dog pulls and the leash extends you’re simply reinforcing their behaviour.


  1. Thinking one bit can’t hurt

Ah, puppy-dog eyes. Even the most hard-hearted of dog owners can find it impossible to resist the longing look of a pooch from under the table.

But resist you must: do you really think Rover won’t remember that bit of leftover roast beef from Sunday? It only takes one time to start a habit.

Instead, try rewarding your dog for staying away from the table at meal times. Why not try asking them to go to bed then giving them a treat-filled toy to keep them occupied while you’re eating? Your dog will soon learn it’s more rewarding being away from the table than under it.


  1. Nipping it in the bud

That little nip that was cute as a puppy can become painful, fast. Stop your dog becoming a biter by teaching them not to do it from the start.

As part of a litter, your pup’s mother and siblings will show them what acceptable mouth pressure is and what level of play fighting is OK with them. If your dog nips you – even if it’s part of a game – exclaim “Ouch!” and walk away.

Refuse to play with them again for a minute or so and repeat if they continue to bite. They’ll soon learn that if they want to keep playing they’ve got to stop nipping.


  1. Rubbing their nose in it

Unless you want to be cleaning up muck for the rest of your dog’s years, making sure they’re properly toilet trained is the first step to a happy home life. How do you stop them going where they please?

Don’t rub their nose in it. Shouting at your dog, spanking them or sticking their snout in their own mess won’t make them go outside. It’ll just make them scared of you and likely lead them to hiding accidents. Learn to see the signs.

Give your dog plenty of opportunities to go outside in the first place. As soon as you’re outside, ask them to go – and keep them on the leash in a certain area until they do. They’ll be plenty of time to sniff all those rocks after they’ve done their business.


  1. Playing with fire

You know your fun-loving friend loves nothing more than chasing a ball (or their tail), so make sure they’re getting enough exercise. If you don’t, they’ll just start entertaining themselves – and chances are, you won’t like the game they pick. See ripped up newspapers for details.

Dogs need to play. It’s something we’ve mentioned before and we can’t stress the importance enough: so many problems can be avoided if your dog is getting the right amount of exercise and stimulation.

It’s why we created PoochPlay - Dog Activity Tracker and wellbeing app in the first place.