As a professional dog trainer for over 15 years, clients often ask “Can your dog be mad at you? Its understandable that people are worried about this, as most of us are programmed to worry what others think of us, including our dogs! The love we have for our dogs is great, and we would never want to do anything that would make the dog mad.
So, is it true? Can your dog be mad at you?
The simple answer is, no. If dogs were capable of getting mad at you, they wouldn’t be such great companions and make for best friend status. I don’t believe that dogs hold a grudge either, whereas they tend to live in the moment. There are circumstances in which it can feel as though your dog is mad at you, but in reality, it can be chalked up to other reasons.
People tend to think their dog is mad at them when they exhibit destructive behavior. In this scenario, you leave the house and your dog destroys the couch or pees on the floor. When you come home you discover this mess and think ‘my dog never pees in the house when I’m home, so he must be mad at me! Why else would that happen? ‘
When you think about it, these destructive behaviors can be linked to anxiety. For example, separation anxiety in dogs is very common. When they are left alone, they may pace, salivate, become destructive or even hurt themselves. This can be looked at by humans as the dog being mad at them for leaving, when in fact it is linked to anxiety or even boredom.
The Dog Knows He Did Something Wrong!
Another common situation we hear from clients is that their dog knows they did something wrong, because the dog acts different toward them or hides. It is not likely the dog knows they did something wrong. It is more likely that this scenario occurs often – the dog does something wrong and you yell when you walk in the door. Now your dog anticipates your anger or hesitation and reacts to that when you come home.
While it is true that dogs have emotions, being mad at you is not one of them. It is too complex. Dogs can feel sad, anxious or afraid and many times we misinterpret their responses as anger.
Written by Jessica Freedman
If you are considering a career in dog training, ISCDT offers an online program featuring 18 hands-on lessons where students are required to work with dogs. Skill and ability is determined through a series of videos and short written homework that is submitted to your personal ISCDT mentor. ISCDT also offers a one or two-week in-person Shadow program. These programs allow students to assist trainers working in the field. To learn more about the courses we offer, visit ISCDT.com