Who’s bugging who?
By Judie Amyot, The Suburban
Ah, friends and family, the people we like to spend time with and whose presence in our life means more than anything. But we all have our own little quirks and idiosyncrasies that, at times, can force us to take a temporary break from these wonderful people we adore lest we get so annoyed with them the break ends up being permanent. Many of us also have animal friends that have become family members and our adoration of them often exceeds that of our human friends. Yet they, too, can drive us around the bend with habits we find distasteful and bothersome. And if they could talk, I’ll bet they’d let us know loud and clear what we do that they don’t find particularly appealing.
So let’s look at what your pet does that really gets your goat, assuming you don’t have a pet goat, of course:
- Leash pulling
All you want to do is go for a nice walk but your dog wants to lead — not follow — and thinks it’s perfectly fine to nearly pull your arm off. Not fine.
- Shedding everywhere
You love your fur baby and knew he or she was a shedder when you signed the adoption papers, but piles of fur over and under every surface and vacuuming every day was not exactly what you had in mind.
- Chewing anything and everything
Your pup has all the coolest chew toys around but your shoes, the carpet, the drapes, garbage bags and even your toes are so much more delectable.
It doesn’t matter what you’re eating, if there’s food out, your dog wants it. Begging tactics include whining, whimpering, puppy dog eyes or a paw on the thigh. Don’t give in!
- Barking for no reason
Your dog knows the reason as it may have heard a strange sound, but random barks are annoying and startling — especially in the middle of the night.
- Whining during car rides
The second your dog is in the car, the crying starts and doesn’t end until you’ve reached your destination. My dog is a master at this.
- Overall inappropriate behaviour
Emily Post would not approve of your dog butt scooting across the carpet, licking its private parts or humping a visitor’s leg, and both you and your company would find this annoying and embarrassing.
- Messy eating
Some humans have atrocious table manners but when you find kibble in areas not even remotely close to the food bowl or water all over the floor, your pet needs an etiquette lesson, too.
Now, my dog tells me that we humans have some habits that our animal companions are not too crazy about.
Of course we want to hug those we love, and that includes our animal companions, but they would rather come to us on their terms and will let us know through body language that we have encroached on their comfort zone. Getting in your pet’s personal space (hands in face, rushing at them) can result in them snapping and biting, their way of saying back off.
- Discouraging sniffing and exploring on walks
Your dog explores the world through scent, so rushing through a walk is like someone pulling you by the arm through your favourite store without letting you browse. Let it explore its environment.
- Lack of routine and rules
Believe it or not, your pet, especially your dog, needs rules and training to provide structure and routine that is important to its internal clock. Predictability can boost confidence.
- Yelling and harsh punishment
No one likes to be yelled at including our pets. They may not understand the words but can sense the underlying intense emotion and this can cause fear and upset in them. Respect is earned through positive reinforcement.
- Dressing them up
A winter jacket is fine to keep them warm, but skip the Halloween pumpkin costume, especially when it’s obvious your pet is resisting being forced into it.
- Being left alone or ignored
Dogs, in particular, are social creatures that can easily develop separation anxiety. Make sure this is the right time in your life to bring a pet into your home.
- Forcing them into uncomfortable situations
My dog hates going to the vet or groomer but alas, both are a necessity. Our pets have genuine fears or phobias so try to find methods to help them relax and not force them into unnecessary unpleasant situations if possible.
Now it’s time for me to pick up my dog and carry him to the front door to go for a walk he’d rather avoid. I hope that doesn’t bug him too much.