dog looking sad

23 Things You Do That Your Dog Hates

Ever wonder about how your actions might affect your dog? Does it sometimes worry you that something you did might have rubbed him the sad dogwrong way or hurt his feelings? Keep reading to find out the 23 things you do that your dog hates.

So far on my blog, we’ve looked at things from an owner’s point of view. Now it’s time to view things from a dog’s perspective. Often, we don’t think about how our actions affect our dogs, which is only natural. They’re not human. They can’t talk to us or tell us how they feel–at least not with words.

So let’s get to it. Shall we?

23 Things You Do That Your Dog Hates

1. Ignoring him

We all do it. Sometimes, we have our own things going on. You can be so busy that you don’t even realize your dog wants your attention.

Other times, you ignore him as a form of discipline. He could be whining when he has his essential needs met like hunger, thirst, or warmth. Or maybe he’s begging for your food and the best practice is to ignore him until he goes away. I get it. It probably is the best practice. But that doesn’t change the fact that your pooch feels hurt and unloved when he’s ignored.

2. Eating in his face

This kind of coincides with the previous point. You’re chomping down on something delectable and your dog is in your face, staring at you, waiting for a scrap. You won’t even look his way. He’s not only anticipating a piece of your delicious roast or rotisserie chicken, but he also feels slighted. Like, where’s his grub? If you’re doing this, seriously consider setting aside something for him before you even start eating. Or he might get hangry. Fair warning.

3. Not letting him greet you when you get home

This is a tough one because when I come into the house from an outing, my dogs pretty much bum rush me (sniffing me, jumping on me, hitting my legs with their wagging tails) and it can get pretty annoying. Not because I don’t like the love and affection they’re giving me. But because I’m trying to get all the way in the house.

So sometimes, in this case, I do ignore them, but not because they’re not important to me (even though that’s how they happy dog jumping up on ownerprobably feel). I walk past them because I’m so focused on trying to put my stuff down or put away any bags I might have if I’ve been shopping. When I walk in the door, I just want to relax and unwind, take my shoes off, kick my feet up. And then once I’m settled in, I let them cuddle up next to me.

But let’s rewind a little. Why do they greet us so aggressively, anyway? Of course, they miss us and they want our attention. But that’s not all. According to Vicky Kelly, “The Dog Listener”, dogs worry about danger when they’re not on their home turf. This is because they’re pack animals and they believe in their loved ones—including you—staying together, away from the enemy. So when you walk in the door, your dog wants to inspect you to make sure you’re okay.

“….Your dog’s priority numero uno is to check “Are you in one piece, is there anything I need to know about?” That is why more often than not, a dog will approach their owner after any absence. In more extreme cases, the dog’s thought process is more along the lines of “Where have you been? I have been worried sick!” ” –Vicky Kelly

4. Yelling

I’m guilty of this one. I might not be yelling directly at my furbabies directly, but they dion’t really know that. I could be upset about something or with someone and just let ’em have it. Or I might be calling someone in the other room. However, our dogs’ ears are powerful little organs. They can hear us talking in a normal tone when they’re about a mile away. Just imagine how intensely they can hear you yelling when they’re sitting or standing right next to you.

5. Only taking him out to pee

Dogs enjoy longer walks. They like to explore their surroundings. Given the fact that they have a much stronger sense of smell than we do, they like to sniff around to make sense of the world. So if you’re just taking your dog on a walk just for him to potty, he won’t have the time to explore. He’s curious.

Think of it like this, taking your dog away from an intriguing scent and back inside is kind of like taking a new object from an inquisitive baby. Ever hear a kid scream from the top of his lungs when you take something interesting from him? That’s probably what your dog feels like doing when you cut his walks short.

6. Cleaning around him

Back to the canine’s keen sense of smell. If you’re cleaning with some strong chemicals like bleach, ammonia, or even vinegar, this could be excruciating for your poor pooch and his 300 million olfactory receptors compared to our mere 6 million. A dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times more powerful than ours, according to some scientists. If that doesn’t give you an idea of the power of the canine’s nose, listen to this:

“While we might notice if our coffee has had a teaspoon of sugar added to it, a dog could detect a teaspoon of sugar in a million gallons of water, or two Olympic-sized pools worth.” – Alexandra Horowitz, Inside of a Dog.

You might be spraying some diluted bleach to disinfect your kitchen sink. Imagine just a teaspoon of that. Your dog can detect it. Using more? Your dog just might overdose on the smell.

Furthermore, the scent of some cleaning supplies are overpowering to us. So how do you think these smells can affect your dog? It could possibly make him sneeze or feel sick to his stomach.

cleaning spray and microfiber cloth

7. Staying gone for a long period of time

This kind of piggy backs off #3. Your dog could be worried about you, your safety, and your overall well-being. Now top that with a fear of being alone and that you may never come back. These thoughts (and yes, dogs do think!) are enough to send an otherwise calm, mild-mannered dog into a panic.

Everyone has to leave the house without their canine companion at some point. And not everyone can afford a dog sitter. But to reduce the amount of time you leave your dog alone, maybe you can take him with you as much as possible. Getting groceries? There are a number of dog-friendly grocery stores you can take your pooch. Going out to eat? Or just shopping? Some restaurants and stores allow you to take your dog with you. I’m not saying make this a habit or bring your dog every time, but what’s the harm in doing it a few times a week?

If you just can’t do it, consider investing in a pet camera that allows you to sort of FaceTime your furbaby and dispense him treats while you’re away.

8. Playing loud music

Not too long ago, my husband was playing some loud music to get him into the spirit of cleaning up our kitchen. I was sitting in the living room with my Chihuahua, Jo Jo, and my Pit Bull mix, Bunny. They were both visibly uncomfortable. How could I tell? Their bodies were kind of tense and their ears would perk up (but not in a good way). It’s like the music was flooding their ears and they wanted it to stop.

I could be exaggerating, but I just knew they were hearing the music much more intensely than we were—I mean, duh, their hearing is a lot stronger than ours. According to PetMeds, a dog can hear a frequency range of 40 to 60,000 Hz while a human’s hearing range is between 20 and 20,000 Hz. Dogs can hear higher frequencies than we can, so really loud noises are probably pretty uncomfortable to them.

If you’re going to play music around your dog, try some soft, relaxing tunes like classical music or soft rock.

9. Keeping him closed up behind a gate

Of course, you want to use a gate for training purposes, to keep your dog from disturbing your guests, or to prevent him from begging at the dinner table. But this doesn’t mean he enjoys being confined behind a gate all day. He needs he needs exercise and stimulation, especially if he’s an intelligent, inquisitive, and active breed like a German Shepherd or Border Collie. If these needs aren’t met, your dog can become stressed, which could lead to a host of other problems like shedding, barking more than usual or excessive licking.

dog and baby behind gate
Dog: Can you let me out? Baby: No, I’m not getting in trouble for you.

10. Scolding him too harshly

Say your dog peed on your carpet or hopped on the kitchen table when you weren’t looking and ate your sandwich. When you find out, you’re heated. So you go charging towards him, yelling at him, and thrusting your finger in his face. Your voice is raised and your face is etched in a deep, reprimanding frown.

Take a moment to think about how this might make your furbaby feel. He’s probably already feeling guilty because knows you’re mad at him and there’s no guarantee he understands why.

So just because you scold him harshly doesn’t mean it’s teaching him that he did wrong. It’s only showing him that he needs to be more careful about you finding out next time. Dogs can be devious too!

Seriously though, no one likes the feeling of being scolded (even if it is needed). And that includes your four-legged friend.

11. Forcing him to socialize

Some dogs are more shy and reserved, even timid. It’s just their personalities. My Pit Bull—yes, a strong, intimidating Pit Bull—is like this, believe it or not. She’ll bark at you all day, but she wouldn’t dare come near you.

Maybe your dog is like this. And every time someone visits your home, he runs and hides or he gets anxious. It’s counterproductive to try to make him greet your guest. This only heightens his anxiety.

12. Closing him in a room

Sometimes this is warranted. A few months ago, maintenance came to my apartment to work on my broken kitchen cabinet (grrr, toddlers!). I had to put my girls away because the man was afraid of dogs. When he was gone, I let them out. And I sad dog behind glass doorfound that they had scratched the paint off the door.

And then, I thought, well they just wanted to get out. Or maybe being locked away had caused them some inner turmoil. Who knows?

I wasn’t being cruel. But neither was I thinking about how they would feel being confined when they wanted so badly to explore their curiosity of the stranger in my home.

13. Not rubbing his belly

Ok, maybe there’s no skin off his nose if you don’t give him a tummy rub. But still, rolling over on his back and exposing his stomach is your dog’s way of bonding with you and trying to get your love and attention. He could feel rejected if you don’t accept his belly-rubbing advances.

Your dog rolling over on his back and exposing his belly is also his way of recognizing you as boss. If you don’t allow your dog to show you how comfortable he is with you, it could make him feel slighted and like you don’t acknowledge him. Because after all, him exposing his belly to you shows vulnerability. So if he voluntarily exposes his stomach to you, that is a sure sign that he trusts you.

14. Dragging him to the vet

Many people have phobias about going to the doctor, whether it’s because they fear a dreadful diagnosis or because the clinical setting makes them uncomfortable. I remember being a kid, absolutely dreading my doctor appointment because I knew what would be involved. One word. Needles.

We sometimes underestimate the quality of our dogs’ thought process. Let’s get into a dog’s mind for a moment.

The first visit to the vet, definitely not feeling it. There’s some strange smells and sounds. I see other animals too. Not sure how to feel about that. I don’t like how the lady in the white coat is poking and prodding me. I never want to come to this place again.

But he does because he has no other choice. And when you’re approaching the building, your dog pulls so hard on the leash, you’re scared it’ll break. And you wonder why he hates this place so much. It’s because he associates it with discomfort and maybe even pain.

Sure, he has to go. But he’s definitely going to make a fuss about it.

15. Bringing balloons around him

If your dog is anything like my dog, Bunny, then he absolutely HATES balloons. Dog phobia of balloons really is a thing. My son’s 2nd birthday party was a few months ago. There were balloons all over the place. And my poor girl was a nervous wreck.

A few days after the party, there were some balloons left and my son was playing with them. And Bunny was shaking like a leaf.

I think it was the sound of the balloons that made her nervous. You know that harsh, rubbery sound balloons make. I also think the way balloons float so high in the air and move on their own freaks dogs out.

painting of dogs floating in the sky with balloons
Can you tell this is a painting?

16. Forcing him to go outside during a thunderstorm

I know. Your pooch has to go to the bathroom, thunderstorm or no thunderstorm. But did you know that bringing your dog closer to the source of his fear can be traumatic for him?

At least inside the house, the loud noise of the thunder is a bit muffled. But taking your dog to the source of the sound will only amplify it and make him even more uncomfortable.

17. Being anxious or upset around him

Dogs can definitely pick up on your emotions, whether bad or good. When you’re upset, they’ll know it. That’s why if you’re feeling sad, your dog might come and sit next to you when you haven’t even called him over. Sometimes we ignore this affection, but it’s definitely there. We don’t even think about how our furry companions often feel what we feel.

I’m sure you already know this, but I’ll say it anyway. Your dog loves you. Therefore, he hates seeing you down.

18. Telling him to be quiet when he barks

Barking is your dog’s way of communicating, whether he’s bored, anxious, or alerting you to a sound. Take barking away from a dog and he’ll feel incomplete.

You’re not at fault, because you want your peace and quiet. But at the same time, your dog needs an outlet, a way to release his energy, especially if he’s not very active during the day.

19. Not using body language or hand signals to communicate

Dogs are smart creatures, but they don’t understand every word we speak. They understand hand gestures much more than they understand words. Words can definitely confuse and overwhelm your dog. This could frustrate him because he can’t understand you.

In 2016, Italian researchers performed a study on the efficiency of hand signals vs. voice commands when training dogs to thumbs up sign“sit”, “lie down”, “stay”, “come”, “fetch”, and “turn”.

25 dogs, 10 Golden Retrievers and 15 Labrador Retrievers, from the Italian School of Water Rescue Dogs were the subjects of the study.

The researchers performed a series of tests. In the first test, each dog was given four commands using only hand signals. With the second test, the commands were delivered using voice only. During the last test, the researchers issued the commands using both methods, except they would associate a verbal command with a hand signal that didn’t correspond to it.

For example, the “sit” command was paired with the “lie down” gesture. This was to see which method the dogs would respond to the best.

The results?

The dogs responded to the commands with 99% accuracy during the scenarios in which gestures were used. When only the verbal commands were used, the dogs responded with 82% accuracy. When both voice commands and hand signals were used, the dogs responded to the hand signal 70% of the time. What does this mean? It means that the dogs were more than twice as likely to respond to a hand signal, even when it conflicted with the verbal command.

20. Grabbing him by the “scruff”

Some pet parents believe grabbing their dogs by the scruff, or the back of the neck, is a good form of discipline. This practice is supported by several observations of mama dogs picking up her puppies with their mouths and carrying them back to safety. However, this doesn’t mean humans should do it. We don’t have the instincts to do it gently, without hurting the puppy.

Taking it further, some people believe that mother dogs correct their puppies by “scruff-shaking” them, the act of biting and shaking the puppies by the scruff of the neck.

A study was conducted by researchers from the Matthew Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania to determine whether aggressive disciplinary techniques caused aggression in dogs. The dogs’ owners performed various positive punishment-based techniques like alpha-rolling, hitting, and yelling. Of the dogs whose owners used scruff-shaking as a form of discipline, 26% of them responded aggressively.

Where does the belief that dog moms use this method to discipline their pups, anyway? Who knows? But several studies have proven that this belief is quite unfounded. For example, in one study, 97.2% of 190 dog breeders reported that they did not witness a mother scruff-shaking her puppies.

So if you’re doing this to your dog, please stop. It is probably painful, which is perhaps why some dogs react aggressively. Besides, studies have shown that positive reinforcement training has been far more effective in training dogs than positive punishment techniques such as scruff-shaking.

21. Using the vacuum cleaner around him

I not only use the vacuum cleaner wound my dogs, I used to taunt them with it. I’ll admit, it was fun. While they didn’t run away, shaking in their (imaginary) boots or anything–they’d just bark–I still never stopped to think how the noise or the teasing could have been affecting them. Now, I don’t really use the vacuum around them and when I do, I try my best to finish as quickly as possible.

dog cowering in owner's lap
Dog: You can’t tell, but I’m avoiding that noisy thing with wheels.

Try to look at it from your pooch’s perspective. One blogger describes it perfectly:

“Dogs will likely never understand that a vacuum collects crumbs, dust and debris and that it has a helpful hygienic purpose in the house.

From a dog’s eyes, a vacuum is a scary monster on wheels that emits roaring noises, moves erratically, first charging and then retreating, and sucks everything in sight. And forget about trying to seek shelter under a table or couch, the vacuum always seems to eventually find him. With this whole stimulus package, it’s not surprising if the mere sight of the vacuum is enough to trigger a dog to take an offensive or defensive stance” – Why Do Dogs? 

22. Giving him a bath

This one is pretty obvious. Some dogs hate the mere thought of getting wet. Not only that, but the sound of the water running can be quite traumatic as well. The confinement in a tub is another thing. There are some alternative methods you can use like portable bath systems or using the water hose outside, but these methods aren’t always practical. Sometimes putting your furbaby in the tub is the best option, even if you have to drag him there.

Check out my recent post on why some dogs hate baths for more information on the topic as well as hacks you can try.

23. Using his crate to punish him

Your dog’s crate is supposed to be his safe haven, his go-to spot for comfort and security. So if you’re sending him to his crate as a punishment, there’s a chance he’ll start associating the crate with negative experiences. As a result, he might not like going to his crate anymore. It can cause anxiety and even fear in your dog when he is in it.


Not long ago, I wasn’t considering my dogs’ feelings when it came to certain things I did. Since then, I have become more mindful about what I do and don’t do around my dogs. After all, they have feelings too and could possibly experience them more intensely than we do because they don’t really have a way of expressing them–unless you count barking.

It is my hope that you found this post insightful and helpful to you in raising you four-legged friend.

Are there some things you do that your dog hates? Share your thoughts and experiences below!

16 thoughts on “23 Things You Do That Your Dog Hates

  1. Reply
    Ahimbe - January 30, 2019

    Britney, there are so many things I didn’t know dogs hate so I must have been an average companion.

    With these 23 points on how to treat a dog right, I am assured of good results.

    What I will work on first is letting him greet me when I get home.

    Thank you for your informative post.

    1. Reply
      Britney - January 31, 2019

      Hi Ahimbe!

      It’s great that you’re taking action in changing your habits.

      I’d love to know how it goes!

  2. Reply
    Nicky - January 30, 2019

    Thanks for posting this! I did not know a lot of these were uncomfortable for a doggie… are these a no no for all dogs or are some more sensitive than others? Will definitely keep this in mind as we are looking to bring a puppy or dog into our family very soon and my children need to learn how to treat a dog the right way.

    1. Reply
      Britney - January 31, 2019

      Hey Nicky!

      Not all dogs will be affected by these things but it’s still good to get into the habit of thinking about how our actions might affect our pets.

      So yes, some dogs are more sensitive than others.

      Hope this helps.

      Good luck!

  3. Reply
    Eva - January 30, 2019

    Great article, Britney. I didnt realize there are so many things that can bother them. However there are some things that you just need to do – like vacuum cleaning or giving him a bath. Our Ratty absolutely hates vacuum – whenever I clean, I have to close him to another room (another no-no, I know) because he is so angry I am worried he might end up with a heart attack.

    I eat in front of his face quite a lot – thanks for pointing that out!

    1. Reply
      Britney - January 31, 2019

      Hi Eva!

      You’re absolutely right. Some things are just necessary like vacuuming and bathing our dogs. It has to be done, which makes it quite unfortunate for dogs that are most affected. This doesn’t make us bad pet parents. It just helps open our minds and become more attuned to our dogs’emotions.

      And you’re definitely not wrong in eating in your dog’s face. I do that often as well. But the key is to give him something to eat so that you both can eat.

  4. Reply
    Alison - January 30, 2019

    Great article Britney, I really want to endorse #10 and #19 especially. Please, never, never shout at your dog. At worst, you will make him nervous and neurotic with all the additional problems that will bring, and at best you will teach him to shout back and you know what, I bet he can bark louder than you!

    In our house, we use sign language because my partner is deaf. So I naturally use it when giving the dog commands too and he definitely takes more notice when I sign as well as speak, especially Stop, Wait and Gone (ie food gone!) It seems to reinforce for him what I am saying and he takes more notice if he hears a word and sees a hand movement.

    1. Reply
      Britney - January 31, 2019

      Hey Alison!

      Shouting is definitely a HUGE no, no. They even tell you not to shout at your kids. It does no good. Besides, like you said, it might make your dog bark even louder. It could also cause

      After all, dogs do pick up on some of the things we do and imitate us in their own way.

      And you’re definitely right about hand signals. My adult dog–I have a puppy too–responds to hand signals quite often. For example, if she’s in my room and I tell her to hop on my bed and say “come” , she’ll just look at me. But when I pat on the bed, she hops right up.

  5. Reply
    Earl - January 31, 2019

    Great article!

    I’m a new dog owner, and have a lot to learn, this will help me a lot!


    1. Reply
      Britney - January 31, 2019

      It’s my pleasure, Earl. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Reply
    terry lemoine - January 31, 2019

    Great article on how pet owners should be more appreciative of their pets. I’ve owned pets, cats and dogs, all my life, and they are amazing and totally loyal creatures, and great for our health! If you really think about it, we need them more than they need us.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Reply
      Britney - February 1, 2019

      Hi Terry!

      Pets are great additions to any family, so you’re right, we have to do a better job of appreciating them. And yep, we do depend on them quite a lot, for health, comfort, support, guides, etc.

  7. Reply
    Angela - January 31, 2019

    What an interesting article. I am a cat person and I found some of your information to be quite true for cats as well. My cat meets me at the door like a dog does, she loves watching me eat and I often share my supper with her (if it’s tuna, chicken, etc.) My cat is what some people might say is spoiled, but I am OK with that. She is happy, loved and a big part of the family. It is important to always be mindful of your pets, love them and treat them with respect.

    Thanks for the great read!


    1. Reply
      Britney - February 1, 2019

      Hey Angela!

      That is so sweet and adorable. I spoil my dogs too. I can’t help it!

      And you’re right, we do have to be more mindful of our pets. I believe they should be treated with the respect they give us. Seems fair to me.

  8. Reply
    Christen - February 1, 2019

    Oh, these things are all true!! I grew up with a cockapoo and she fits the description laid out here so well. I actually did not know the thing about using hand vs. voice signals on dogs for better response. I think I’ll be trying that out on my roomie’s dog soon.

    1. Reply
      Britney - February 1, 2019

      Hi Christen!

      So glad you were able to relate this post with some of your experiences as a pet owner.

      Cheers to more hand signals!

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