Top Dog Tips - a dog looking up to the sky and smiling

Top Dog Tips – What Every Dog Parent Should Know


Wouldn’t it be great if dogs came with an instruction manual? These are some top dog tips that every pet owner should know to help them understand their dogs better.

1. It Is Irrational To Get Mad At Your Dog

It is understandable to be fuming mad when you come home to see your favorite pair of shoes chewed off but dogs only do what comes naturally and through what they learn. Remember that these are animals so getting mad is illogical. 

Physically punishing your dog is counter-productive and may backfire. Use your hands as little as possible when disciplining your dog.  Let your hands be associated with good and pleasurable things like belly rubs and dog treats. 

2. Dogs Don't Understand English

Not even Spanish or Chinese. “Sit” and “stay” and some other commands are in English, of course. Oftentimes we like to think that our pets understand us when we speak to them. 

While they may pick up a few words here and there, the truth is dogs rely mostly on non-verbal body language. And even body language is easily misread. Learn how dogs communicate to give commands with proper body language and tone of voice. 

3. Dogs Don't Like To Be Petted On The Head

Most humans don’t like to be petted on the head either. Dogs like it better when you pet them on the chest, base of the neck or shoulders. And when you do, try to come from the side instead of over the head. 

4. Correct Your Dog On The Spot

Dogs learn from association. To effectively form an association, a correction must be done at the exact moment when you see your dog in the act and not a few seconds later. 

The same principle applies when you want to reinforce good behavior. Deliver praises and treats at the precise moment your dog makes a good decision. 

5. Be Gentle With Your Dog's Collar

Be mindful when pulling your dog’s leash. Pulling it violently can send your dog to the vet by damaging the windpipe, nerves, and bones in the neck. 

Dog owners know that the more you pull on a leash, the more the dog tries to pull away even to the point that it blocks their windpipe and you hear the dog struggling to breathe. This comes naturally for them. Think of sled dogs. It is counter-intuitive for us humans because the natural thing to do is to slow down to ease the suffocation. For dogs, they are simply trying to escape the asphyxiating experience.

6. Dogs Don't Like Hugs

Hugging someone we like or love is second nature to humans. This naturally extends to our pets. Dogs don’t like them, though. They see it as assertive and domineering. 

They may put up with it but don’t necessarily like it. If a dog tolerates hugs then it must be on their terms, not ours. This is extremely important especially for children because they tend to hug too tightly and for too long. 

This is the #1 cause of facial bites. Read their body language. 

A dog that enjoys a hug will ask you for more if you stop by leaning on you, wagging its tail and closing its eyes with a relaxed body.

 But more often than not, dogs won’t enjoy it and his body language will tell you by wagging his tail stiffly, sneeze, vigorously shaking his body, yawn and trying to get out of a hug. 

top tips for dogs
Note the stiff body, wide eyes and ears pulled back. Photo Credit: Ky Flickr via Wunderstock (license)

7. You Can Teach Old Dogs New Tricks

Contrary to popular belief, old dogs can learn new tricks. In fact, older dogs are easier to train because they have a longer attention span. Dogs have good memories. Keep this in mind when adopting an older dog. 

8. Dogs Experience The World Differently

Dogs have an uncanny ability to hear selectively. They can sleep soundly with the radio blaring but wake up to the sound of someone opening a bag of chips. 

Dogs can hear sounds 4 times farther than humans and can detect odors at concentrations millions of times lower than we can. 

Go easy with air fresheners, scented candles, perfumes and essential oils as these can overwhelm your dog’s sense of smell. 

9. Bad Behavior is Natural

But they don’t have to be permanent. Chewing, digging, jumping may be natural behavior for dogs but as pet owners, we must assume the role of a leader and teach our pets what is acceptable and what is not. 

10. Dogs Don't Like Eye Contact

Making eye contact with fellow humans is part of normal interaction and comes across as respectful and trustworthy. Not for dogs though. They see it as a challenge and a threat while looking away is a sign of respect.  Learn how to teach your dog to interpret eye contact as non-threatening. 

Have you seen your dog wink? It’s an indication of a happy dog.

11. Have Your Dog Spayed Or Neutered

Dogs that are spayed and neutered tend to live longer and healthier lives. They also tend to be more affectionate. Have it done around 5-6 months old. It also prevents come common illnesses

12. Keep An Eye On Your Dog

  • Even if you have a friendly dog, do not let your dog approach every person you meet. Not everyone likes dogs and some are afraid of them. 
  • Do not allow your dog to jump on the counter. Bacteria from their paws may contaminate your food and your dog may eat food that is toxic for them.
  • If someone wants to pet your dog, tell the stranger to let the dog approach him instead of him approaching the dog. If the dog is reluctant or looks uncomfortable, do not force it. 
  •  Always keep an eye on children around dogs. The odds of a kid getting bit by a dog are 3 times higher than an adult regardless of any breed. 
  •  In social gatherings, do not bring your dog unless invited to do so. Even in outdoor parties. 
13. Stop Nuisance Barking Early

Dogs can bark at a variety of reasons for no obvious reason at all. A puppy that is not stopped from barking is a potential nuisance barker. A puppy that barks at it’s owner while being verbally corrected has challenged it’s owner and needs training sooner, not later.

 This is a sign of a dog that will be hard to train as he grows. 

14. Watch The Tail

A dog with a wagging tail is not always a happy nor friendly dog. Many people especially children have been bitten because of this popular misconception. Aggressive and agitated dogs also wag their tails in a similar way. Dogs wag their tails to express their emotions and as a rule of thumb, the faster the wag, the more emotionally worked up the dog is. 

To get an idea as to what your dog is feeling, look at the speed, direction, and position of the tail. 

  • What you want to see is a long, slow side to side wag with a relaxed body. This indicates a calm dog. 
  • Studies have shown that a dog will tend to wag its tail to the right when feeling something positive and wag it to the left when feeling something negative. 
  • When it spins in circles, it indicates an excited and happy dog. A dog’s favorite person is often met with this. 
  • When the tail is pointed up, it indicates that the dog is aroused and something caught its attention. Like a squirrel. This may also indicate aggression. 
  •  When the tail is pointed down and between the legs, it shows fear and anxiety. 

Thanks for reading! The purpose of writing this article is to make dog parentship a safer and more meaningful experience. Please teach these tips to your children. If you found this post to be helpful, please share it with someone who may need it.

All information in this post is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace your veterinarian’s advice.

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63 thoughts on “Top Dog Tips – What Every Dog Parent Should Know”

  1. Excellent information. I never knew dogs couldn’t understand English – I knew they probably couldn’t pick up on complex words, but didn’t realize they barely picked up on only a few. I long knew that it’s irrational for a stranger to approach a dog, as my parents’ dogs would always use tense body language when this would happen. I naturally shy away from dogs that I don’t know, so I’ve always allowed them to approach me rather than me approach them.  

    1. That’s an excellent idea, Todd. Allowing dogs to approach you is a lot safer than you approaching them.


  2. Chimmhogevagreenesnr

    Hello there! This article is super awesome! Thank you very much for sharing it, I’ve Indeed learnt a lot from this article especially informations which will strengthen my relationship with my dog.

    Ive been wrong all along making go through some punishment thinking he will learn from it. 

    Thanks for sharing, it’s helpful!

  3. Hello Sunny, you have given some really detailed and nice I message here on how to deal with our dogs and I feel sad I do not know some of these basic things like petting your dog on the head is wrong. I have really been a busy person and so I do not spend much time with buddy, but the little time I will be spending I want it to be memorable and that’s why I made the search for this article. Cheers.

  4. This are some relatively new stuff for me here because I didn’t know most of this things. You seem to know so much about digs though and it’s really beautiful really. I like the fact that you can give this type of info. I like my dogs and how they relate with me but now I think I have learnt some new things. I usually pay my dog on the head though and I think that will need to stop now. Also, I didn’t know about old dogs learning new tricks. Thank you so much!

  5. Wow, a lot of practical information on caring for a dog.  I am happy to learn all the tips from you. One thing I have learned is to ensure your puppy goes to the vet to have the necessary injections to prevent diseases. Failing which can cost their lives. I also never knew that dogs don’t like hugs or being petted on the head until reading this article. Thanks 

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