Does My Dog Hate Me?

long Island dog trainer

Does My Dog Hate Me?

I spent several months wondering if I made the right choice in adopting my latest dog. I knew it was the right choice for me. She brings great joy to my life. The question was from her point of view.  Like humans, dogs don’t always click with other dogs or people. My dog met me the moment I finalized her adoption. There wasn’t a meet and greet. She didn’t jump up on her cage and flash that pity smile at me. She didn’t have a choice; I picked her from a picture.  Her story tugged at my heartstrings.  Due to poor breeding, she was born blind.  Shortly after birth, her owner relinquished her to a shelter.  She lived in a foster home with her brother (who was deaf) for six months. After his adoption, she moved to the rescue’s long-term facility center. She lived there for about a year before I adopted her.

One would think a dog that lacked a family most of her life would be overly affectionate to anyone who wanted her. Instead, my dog moves her head away and arches her body so I cannot touch her. She rests on a pillow in the other room rather than sitting on the floor by my side.  Anytime I do pet her, she shakes it off (similar to the way a wet dog shakes off water).  It breaks my heart every day. I wondered if maybe I should have left her to find a family more suited for her needs. Since I would never give her up, I researched for months until I figured out the situation.  It is rather simple.

Not all dogs enjoy petting!

Some would rather train or play with their owners.

Petting is irritating for them.

There are times my dog sits with me and allows me to pet her for hours.  It is always on her terms (which we will discuss). Once I completed the research and read numerous articles, I reflected on our last year together. Rather than focusing on “my needs”, I thought about her. She enjoys when I return home from work and join her in the backyard.  Her wagging tail, playful moves and bright face indicate her enjoyment that I am with her. Since she is blind, she often checks in to make sure I haven’t left.  When I tell her, “I’m here”, her body language exudes pure excitement. The same holds true when I train her and when we play brain games together. She is a brilliant dog who learns commands with ease. Any type of work brightens her day.

I spend most of my day explaining to clients that they need to respect their dogs’ feelings and needs, even if those needs are not typical of most dogs.  Yet, when it came to Elsa, it took me a year to practice what I preached.  Recently, I met a client who shared in my frustration. The client’s disappointment steered me back to researching this issue.   Here is what I discovered:

  1. Puppies that lack affection early in life learn to live without it. They find other means of happiness, usually through toys. Petting is now viewed as irritating to the dog. This often happens to dogs that lack a family or live primarily outside (referred to as backyard dogs).
  • How can we resolve this problem?

Incorporate treats or toy rewards when you pet your dog. This command associates petting your dog with enjoyable activities. My favorite training activity for this issue is the “touch command”.

  1. Spoiled or dominant dogs that lack training. These dogs want everything on their terms, including affection. These dogs often view petting them on the head as dominant behavior on your part. They respond better to body or neck petting.  Dogs with these behavior issues are often jealous. They view you as a possession and will bite, growl or push others away when they come near you.
  • How can we resolve this problem?

Since these dogs have an increased likelihood of biting other people or animals, they require obedience training. These dogs never truly enjoy petting; rather, they are demanding your time. Therefore, owners should not concede every time the dog demands petting or other requests.  Rather, teach your dog the down command or “place” the dog when they are pushy. When you wish to interact with your dog, incorporate treats and toy rewards anytime you pet your dog. I used the “touch” command when I worked with shelter dogs. This command helps dogs that fear human hands, dogs hit in the face by previous owners and dogs who view head petting as dominant. The training technique changes their thought process through positive association.

While most dogs are affectionate, loving creatures, some do not enjoy affection in the form of petting.  I hope this article helps families who live with an independent dog and it encourages you to search for alternate ways to bond with your pet.

I discovered that my dog is an independent, dominant creature who protects resources most important to her. Unbelievably, I am a valued resource.  She does love me! We are working to teach her that I am not her possession.  The “place” command along with continued obedience training helps alleviate the protective, jealous behavior she displays toward our other dog in my presence. Should you require assistance in training your dog, contact Sublime K9 Dog Trainers. We will restore peace in the kingdom. You can reach us by calling 516-246-1516.Does MY Dog Hate ME