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What We Think vs. What Our Dogs Think!

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What We Think vs. What Our Dogs Think!

We live very closely with our dogs and we want them to have the best life possible. Our desire sometimes causes us to start thinking about our dogs more like furry people, rather than a member of the canine genus. The following are a few of the most common mis-thoughts we have when it comes to what our dogs are thinking or feeling.

BEDDING

What We Think

We love big beds, pillows, and oversized couches. Our dogs must love big large beds and giant kennels.

What Our Dog Thinks

Dogs are den animals. They prefer dark spaces that are small and cozy This goes double for timid and spooky dogs). What may seem dark and cramped to you, is comforting to them. As long as your dog can stand up, turn around, and lie down, they have space. I have a friend whose dog forgoes all the plush beds they bought her, to sleep in a nook under their bathroom sink because it’s dark, quiet and the floor is cool.

LIPS CURLED BACK

What We Think

A dog has his mouth open, lips curled back, tongue may be hanging out. As humans, we naturally think, “He’s smiling!” “Look how happy that dog is.” “He likes us!” or something similar.

What Our Dog Thinks

When dogs pull their lips back, it can be a submission grin, a stress pant, or a snarl – all caution signs that mean quite the opposite of “Look how happy that dog is” and definitely does not mean “he likes us!”

It can also mean the dog is hot, panting, or is having trouble breathing. The latter is especially true in short-nosed breeds like Bulldogs. If the dog’s tongue is bright red and swollen, he may be overheated and in need of medical attention immediately.

DROOPY EYE
What We Think

There is one word that is used to describe a Basset Hound the most: sad. Why is that? It’s mainly because we see those droopy eyes and our human emotion kicks in. They look sad!

What Our Dog Thinks

Droopy eyes are a medical condition common in some dog breeds. They could be thinking any number of things, but in most cases it’s probably not, “I am sad.” And even if the dog is depressed, those eyes are not a sign of that emotion. They could be caused by ectropion (the lower eyelid rolls out) or Horner’s Syndrome (a nerve disorder that cause drooping for the upper eyelid).

COLD WEATHER
What We Think

There is a slight chill in the air so we bundle up with a jacket, maybe even a scarf and hat. Some of us need a sweatshirt if it’s less than 20 degrees out. If we are cold, we think, “Our dog must be cold too!” And so we bundle them up in a jacket or sweater.

What Our Dog Thinks

“Finally, the weather has cooled down so we can play!” You have to remember your dog has a fur coat that nature gave him to insulate against weather. Of course young puppies, senior dogs and those with medical issues may not handle the cold as well as a healthy dog, but for the most part they really don’t need clothes and many dogs do not like to wear them. If they do, fine. But watch for signs of overheating in those clothes (a common occurrence).

TAIL WAG
What We Think

The tail wag is the oldest mis-read signal in the dog-human relationship. For some reason, we humans decided that if our dog’s tail was wagging, he must be happy! And we think, “Oh that dog wants to be petted!”

What Our Dog Thinks

It’s true, that dog may be happy. But he could also be on high alert, and even a bit stressed or agitated. Many people have been bitten by a dog that was wagging his tail.

YAWNING

What We Think

“That dog must be tired!” After all, we equate yawning with being tired. Or bored.

What Our Dog Thinks

While we don’t really know why humans yawn, it’s long been associated with being tired. However, for dogs, yawning most often means, “I am stressed” or “I am worried.”

LICKING HUMAN FACES, HANDS, ETC.
What We Think

We mainly think of licking as a friendly act. We think, “This dog really loves me!”

What Our Dog Thinks

Why does your dog lick you in “greeting?” As much as we would love to think it’s because he loves us, it’s not a sign of affection. The simple truth is, you taste good. Sweat is salty. Maybe you just ate lunch and your lips smell and taste like barbecue. Your hands have grease from your chips on them. While we wouldn’t go lick our friend’s hands, your dog has no problem doing it if means he gets a taste of salt and fat.

Licking around the face is also an appeasement act used by puppies. So it can be a sign of an insecure dog.

As you can see, dogs are quite different from us in their body language and how they express what they are feeling. It’s good to stop and think about what you are doing for your dog. Did you make your decision based on what you think he wants as a human or did you think about what he wants in terms of doggy language? The latter will make your dog much happier and can even help avoid bad situations, such one where a bite may occur.

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