It seems lots of people misunderstand dogs. They misunderstand how we communicate, how we learn, what motivates us, what makes us happy, what makes us emotionally unstable, what makes us afraid and insecure. They misunderstand what we are trying to say when we communicate in the only way we know how. For instance, I feel I am misunderstood just by the way I look and sound. Some people think I look and sound mean and they are afraid of me just because of the way I look. I am a big dog and I do have a big bark. However, I am really just a big softy.

When I bark at a person coming to ring the doorbell, I do it just to let everyone know that someone is there. I don’t bark to scare anyone.

Even the cat knows I am nothing to be scared of.

Of course, if I wanted to be mean I suppose I could be, and I imagine that if I was treated harshly by humans it would be a natural response for me to defend myself. Humans naturally defend themselves when they are mistreated. Or, they just stop communicating altogether and bottle up their emotions inside. People don’t understand that by correcting us dogs for “misbehaving” in ways that are natural to us, as is our natural response to bark when someone comes to the door, it may cause us to stop doing the behavior, but it does not stop us feeling the emotions that cause the behavior. So, that’s what happens when some dogs get accused of biting “without warning.” They previously gave plenty of warnings about their discomfort without biting, but their warnings were either punished or ignored, so they stopped giving warnings and the next time they felt unsafe, they had no choice but to bite in order to protect themselves. So, if I was to stop barking at people coming to the door, what if an intruder came and stole things from the house? I would probably be accused of not being a good watch dog.

It seems we dogs just can’t seem to win. So many humans just don’t understand us.

If you want to understand your dog better so that you can have the type of bond and relationship with it that you always dreamed of, my mom and many other positive reinforcement trainers can help. Please reach out to one of them. Your dog will love you for it and you will likely be surprised at how much you have misunderstood it all this time!

Do you have any stories about your dog being misunderstood? We would love to hear them – please write back and share them with us!

Here is how to reach my mom – she would love to hear from you!


The Life of Riley