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Knowing what annoys or pleases our dogs: building lasting relationships

Updated on July 24, 2013
Cloudy says hi to everyone.
Cloudy says hi to everyone. | Source

By Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin

Cloudy waiting for a treat.
Cloudy waiting for a treat. | Source

How to bond with your dog

"While love develops naturally (one hopes), building a strong bond needs time and attention. It doesn't happen automatically, like love-the bond develops through every interaction you have with your dog, and what you do, say, and even think all play a role in either strengthening or diminishing the bond you have with your dog. The bond forms the core of your entire relationship; if it's lacking, it's the source of the majority of your frustration with your dog. A strong bond is the reason your dog wants to be close to you, work for you, and listen to you."

This quote from dog training expert Victoria Schade from her book A Trainer’s Secret for Building Better Relationships speaks well of the need for owners to build strong bonds with their dogs.

Giving strength to such relationships, like those we build with humans, is not a process that becomes successful overnight. Canine minds and ours do function a little differently, for good reason, so forging strong bonds with our dogs starts with a little knowledge about what pleases and annoys them.

And of course, there are many things we can do to communicate our expectations to our dogs and make our relationships with them just a little better.

Cloudy waiting for a treat.
Cloudy waiting for a treat. | Source

How to bond with your dog

What annoys or confuses our dogs?

Dogs and humans have totally different systems of communication and lifestyle preferences that set them apart. What is commonplace or pleasurable for us may not make any sense to them. In fact, it even causes little levels of frustration.

So what are the little peeves of dogs? We need to know what these are to facilitate a little communication between us, and them. A dog would say their owners frustrate them because....

...of the way they communicate.

Being human, we communicate with words, and would, of course, do the same with our dogs.

Dogs communicate with their bodies, letting us know how they feel through their little gestures.

We do drive them a little batty when we heap lots of words on them because of, for example, misplaced poop.

Speaking to a dog requires communication from within and showing them what we really intend. He does not really bother whether we speak in English or French. In fact, our lip movements confuse him!

...owners see them as they do children.

Owners love their dogs and try their level best to give them the best they can give. Think of dog toys, treats and for some, the best clothes to wear, something I am not too fond of unless its for security and protecting their paws from the cold or heat.

We do have to be careful not to overwhelm them with affection. Every dog loves to behave like a dog, and giving him that structure to do so fulfills him. Your domesticated pet is also a dog who has the pack instincts of tracking, sniffing and social norms. It would behave as it would in a pack and needs the owner to reinforce that, which would otherwise cause a little frustration.

...owners play with them a little too much.

Cute animals like our little furkids just make us go aww! When our dogs ask us for play, we give in and go into play mode, obliging with a little game of catch.

What happens is that we give up our role as Alpha dog of the pack, submitting to the demands of those lower in the chain. The dog then loses his perspective and understanding, not knowing whether to follow our directions as owners or not.

In the same vein raising children, dogs need structure and discipline. It is always calm and composure before play.

...owners are tense and nervous around them.

This happens, for instance, when someone, perhaps not a dog lover, comes to visit. We worry about whether our dogs will upset them and it makes us a little nervous.

We will, in the things we say and do, transmit the tension through to our dogs. Our body language shows our dogs that we are worried, so our worries do, in fact, become reality.

So our dogs will act up, just in the way we feared they would.

…..the dog does not have a job to do.

If humans find boredom frustrating, so do dogs. They have wild ancestry, no matter how domesticated they are, and have hunting instincts. They were also bred for certain jobs like herding and catching rodents and have, through the process of evolution, retained these instincts.

When these are denied, Fido gets a little frustrated or even aggressive.

Giving Cloudy a belly rub.
Giving Cloudy a belly rub. | Source

How do you bond with your dog?

See results

What makes dogs happy?

What would further facilitate communication between owners and dogs is to know what makes them happy and why.

A dog is happiest with....

...a good belly rub

Done in the right way, a belly rub makes a dog really happy and gets him kicking. Flipping upside down and asking for one is his way of showing you that he trusts you. When you affirm that trust with a rub, it makes him ecstatic.

Rubbing his belly the right way is important because dogs will not flip over and let just anyone do it. Gain his trust and being by petting his chest area, and only rub when the dog decides to flip over.


A good dog loves his treats, at the right times and for the right reasons. Healthy treats help to quash the hunger pangs and keep a dog in good health.

Be careful to give good quality, healthy treats and as far as possible, for reinforcing good behavior.

...daily walks

A dog loves a walk, anywhere and at anytime, because it is his chance for him to explore his surrounding world through his sense of smell, hearing and not-so-strong sight.

Walk your dog daily to curb his boredom and make him just that bit happier.

Like children, at the appropriate times, dogs love a little play and we should give them the chance to.

As we said before, play should only happen after calm and obedience.

...being part of the family.

When a dog is adopted, it should become one of our family members. That acknowledgement makes him love you, so make him a part of the family with a little training and positive reinforcement.


Knowing what annoys and pleases our dogs will assist us in understanding the way they think just a bit better. It will help us to communicate more effectively with our canine friends.

With other ways to love our dogs, I wish everyone the best in being the best dog owner he or she could possibly be.

Original Work by Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin

All rights reserved.


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    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Sandra!

    • Sandra Eastman profile image

      Sandra Joy Eastman 

      6 years ago from Robbinsdale MN

      Great hub and good ideas. I've always appreciated the special qualities of my children with fur but a good reminder is always prudent.

      Thanks for the follow. Best to you

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      It's easy to forget, because they do have emotional reactions too. Mine "woffles" when she sees us leave the home. Head between paws! Thanks for sharing, Thelma!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Yup, it's a balance. We sometimes forget the balance. Thanks for the reminder, Mary!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Hatter, and thank you!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      My schnauzer simply loves being around the rest of the pack and is a little quiet too. But my Westie's just the opposite! Thanks for sharing, Travmaj!

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      7 years ago from Germany and Philippines

      A great hub Michelle. I sometimes forgot that my dog is not a child. I love Angus, my dog so much like my own child that we missed each other when we don´t see for a few months. It´s always a happy moment for both of us when we see each other although it takes time (ca. 2 min.) for him to recognized my voice. When he did, he climbed up to my face and covered me with kisses.

      Thanks for sharing. Have a great day!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      Another helpful hub Michelle. Sometimes we forget to treat our dogs like dogs. We love them so much we often "kill them with kindness". You've provided good tips as you always do.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting. Oh, and of course shared.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this. I miss walking my neighbors' dogs.

    • travmaj profile image


      7 years ago from australia

      I enjoy your dog posts - they are always spot on - some good positive tips to help understand our doggy friends. Over the years I've found different dogs respond to different things - so it's a learning process for the family.

      Right now we have Nell who is totally happy with little attention - she loves routine - and actually does enjoy a quiet chat - if I gently use words she knows. (there are not many) She's just gentle and contented - lucky us1

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Schnauzers are a little catty in that way, they're a terrier breed which is strongly independent. Thanks for sharing, Mary!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Glad to know that you and your dog are great pals! Please say hi to him for me, Love Doctor!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Rebecca!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Oh, yes, they sigh when something does not go their way too. Cloudy does, all the time! Thanks for sharing, kidscrafts!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      It takes more time for the rescue dog to extend its trust. That being because they've not been well treated! Thanks for sharing, Bill!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, it is. It's the same with kids too...they need to trust you to feel eager to take further steps! Thanks for sharing, Alexadry!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Eddy!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Janine!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      I think you have, Cyndi! Westies are really playful, but terrific companions, at least if mine is anything to go by! Thanks for sharing!

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Farricelli 

      7 years ago

      A strong bond is the foundation for training and behavior modification. The dog needs trust in its owner to feel safe and eager to learn. A great read, thanks Michelle!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      7 years ago from Wales

      Another great hub which I know will benefit many Michelle.


    • kidscrafts profile image


      7 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      I had one of my cats who was sighing when she was annoyed! Those cats and dogs can really give us messages through body language or through "talking".

      Thanks for sharing a great picture of Cloudy! Very cute!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Useful information. My dog and I have a good bond. He is my little baby. He hates noise and when he is trying to sleep and people are talking, he just turns around and looks at you and then tries to go back to sleep.It's good to know that my dog trusts me because he does ask for belly rubs every once in a while. thanks for sharing

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Love the topic and it is actually something we are still learning with our rescue dog who is now two years seems daily we come closer to understanding him, and as we do his behavior improves and he becomes more relaxed in our home.

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Hello Michele, These are really good tips on positive ways to interact with our dogs and to respect them as being dogs, not little four legged humans. But that's so hard to do. Who can resist playing with them when they look at you so adorably?

      I do try to keep my verbal communications with my dog at a minimum of words, most often 1 or 2 and I try to make them words I use all the time, especially when it's a command or a reprimand (which is rare). I use lots of positive reenforcement. My Westie seems to be pretty happy and well adjusted, so I guess I've done ok.

      Thanks for the tips. Voted up and useful.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      7 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Very good article. I have three dogs, and they each have their own distinct personalities. Voted up and interesting.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      7 years ago from New York, New York

      Great advice as always Michelle and thank you for sharing your wisdom and knowledge on this with us. Have also shared and voted up, too!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      7 years ago from Florida

      Sometimes I think I love Baby too much! She is so independent, and likes to be loved and petted when she wants affection. She is like a cat that way.

      Great Hub, voted UP and shared.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      An article on what annoys and pleases our dogs. What can we do to build good relationships with them?


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