what do dogs hate - an english golden retriever with a black snout sitting patiently

What Do Dogs Hate? – Top 10 Things That Make Our Dogs Hate Us


Humans have many bad habits that make dogs dislike us. So what do dogs hate that we do to them unknowingly?  It’s often the things we least expect.

1. Not Listening To Your Dog

Our dogs try to communicate with us in subtle ways that we usually don’t pick up. Dogs are peaceful by nature and they communicate with body language known as Calming Signals. Dogs are pack animals and living in peace is essential to their survival. These are also coping mechanisms that dogs use.  This is how they communicate with other dogs and use the same language to communicate with humans. Ignoring these signals can be frustrating for dogs and sometimes it makes them aggressive. It is said that there are around 30 Calming Signals. Let me illustrate a few of the most common:

what do dogs hate
  • Licking its nose – This happens when a human or dog approaches too fast or when someone cowers over them. Nose licking is a way for them to calm themselves. From a dog’s perspective, everything is huge so cowering or bending over a dog is threatening to them.  
  • Yawning – This has to be taken in context. When a dog just woke up and it yawns, it’s probably still a little sleepy. But when a dog yawns when you’re about to go for a walk or about to do something exciting like riding a car,  it is a way of calming itself down. One of the things to watch out for is excessive yawning which indicates your dog is under stress.
  •  Shaking its body – as it does after taking a bath. When you see a dog do this, think of what happened prior to it. Did you give your dog a hug? Dogs don’t like it. A dog that shakes after a hug is trying to say “Stop hugging me. I don’t feel comfortable when you do it”. Shaking is a dog’s way of removing stress. It could also mean your dog has an ear infection. Check your dog’s ears and call your vet if it’s red or inflamed. 
  • Looking/turning away – Dogs use this calming signal the most. They look away to avoid confrontation. They look away from anything they perceive to be threatening like a dog or someone walking directly towards them or staring at them. Approach your dog calmly and avoid staring into their eyes too long. 
  • Bowing – when you see your dog do this in front of another dog or dogs, it is their way of showing that they are not a threat, thus showing a calming signal. It is also an invitation to play.
  • Smiling –  This is a common calming signal to appease everyone around them. 
  • Walking in a curve – Dogs don’t like walking towards another dog in a straight path. They would rather walk around in a curve to be polite. This is what they instinctively do off-leash. Similarly, do not approach a dog directly. Try to walk around to give it space. 

2. Rushing Walks

Dogs don’t like being rushed on walks. Stopping every so often to sniff is necessary for them to learn about the world around them. It is good for their mental well-being.

what do dogs hate

3. Leaving Them Alone too long

Dogs who are left alone for excessive periods tend to develop destructive behavior. It is simply not in their nature to be left alone too long. Some breeds are more prone to it than others.

what do dogs hate

4. Scents

A dog’s sense of smell is 40 times more powerful than ours. Go easy on perfumes, scented candles, air fresheners or avoid them altogether. Do not smoke around your dog. 

what do dogs hate

5. Pulling Hard On The Leash

Be gentle and mindful when pulling the leash. Yanking it violently is painful and can damage nerves and bones in the neck. The pain can travel down the legs.

what do dogs hate

6. Yelling

Neither dogs nor humans like to be yelled at. Yelling is counter-productive and only results in an anxious dog. Instead of yelling, lower your tone of voice. Never yell your dog’s name when he does something bad. Doing so will let your dog associate his name negatively

what do dogs hate

7. Petting On The Head

Dogs don’t like this and consider it rude. Dogs don’t do this to each other. Dogs would rather be petted on the shoulder, chest, and base of the neck. Try to go through the side rather than over the head to not appear threatening. 

what do dogs hate

8. Fireworks

Dogs can hear 4 times farther than humans. Loud sounds like fireworks and thunder are stressful for dogs. Calm your dog with a Thundershirt or through natural calming aids.

what do dogs hate

9. Hugs

Dogs don’t like hugs. They don’t do it to each other either. In fact, they find it threatening. It is also the #1 cause of facial bites in children. They may tolerate it but not necessarily like it. Try to imagine a  giant bending over and wrapping its arms around you and squeezing you. 

what do dogs hate

10. Being Disturbed While Sleeping

Even the nicest and friendliest dog would growl and even bite when constantly getting disturbed during sleep. Let sleeping dogs lie.

what do dogs hate

I hope you found this article useful. Please share it with dog parents who may need it!

All information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace your veterinarian’s advice. *This site may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). Thank you for supporting the work I put into this site! 


37 thoughts on “What Do Dogs Hate? – Top 10 Things That Make Our Dogs Hate Us”

  1. Very informative article. I think many people take for granted the things that may negatively effect our canine companions. 

    Learning the calming signals was extremely helpful to me, in trying to understand what my dogs may be telling me. Ill be honest in saying, that some of the signals listed, have gone overlooked, especially the shaking part. 

    Could you please explain to me what a “thunder shirt” is? 

    I know you mentioned in number 9, that dogs don’t like hugs, and have to say that I must have a very rare German Shepherd then, because she begs for hugs by pushing her head into our chests, and if we open our arms, then she proceeds to push the rest of her body into a hug, and gets so excited as we hold her. 

    She also likes to be pet on the top of her head, and especially on her ears. Is this extremely rare, or do you more recommend not doing such things with dogs that our not your own?

    1. Hello Brandy, a thundershirt is basically like a shirt with velcro that you wrap around a dog. It’s supposed to calm a dog during thunderstorms, thus “thundershirt.” but it can be used in any anxiety-inducing occasion. 

      You are definitely blessed to have such a sweet dog. Most don’t like hugs nor pats on the head. My Labradoodle definitely doesn’t like it


  2. Aww I had no idea that dogs hate petting on the head, and I, unfortunately, do this on my dog all the time. I thought that he enjoys it since he is always sitting there calm, to be honest. I now know that I should not repeat such a thing. I also had no idea that the same applies to hugs. We sometimes trying to show our love to our dogs in the way we saw it to people, but this should no be the case. Thank you for this useful post! 

    1. Hi Kate, thanks for commenting!

      You’re right –  we humans tend to show our love to our pets the way we show it to children. 


  3. Hi Sonny,
    Great tips here, I never realized there were over 31 calming signals that dogs display. I definitely learned something.

    I am so guilty of hugging my Golden Retriever Ellie! As a puppy she did not like it at all, but now she tolerates it. I think it is just her nature and breed. I know other dogs and breeds would certainly not tolerate being hugged.

    Thanks for writing such an informative article! It will help many dog owners to understand their dog better, and hopefully stop doing things that their dog hates.


  4. I must say, such a nice article. I have never read an article like this because we humans think it is not necessary to have such a type of knowledge. But it is very unique and informative. I don’t have a dog at my home but my neighbors have a dog and I am going to share with them all the points I am sure they are not aware of this. 
    Thanks for sharing an informative article with us.

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