When Your Dog Manipulates You, How to Respond

When Your Dog Manipulates You, How to Respond

Reasons ways and responses for dog manipulation techniques…

In the past week, several news releases talked about how your dog manipulates you to get what they want. There is probably not one reader with a dog who can deny this claim! Newer research finds that our domestic dogs are so used to our human behavior, that for survival, they learn our signals, so they can press our buttons. Read how our four-pawed partners get away with their clever dog manipulation of humans!

Where dogs learn to get what they need
Canine ancestors, wolves, found many ways to get their needs met. Hunting, chasing and catching prey were their methods to survive. Sniffing out prey and water met their basic need for food and drink. Making or finding a den or hollow to hide in became their shelter. When we bring our new doggie home, we immediately put food and water out for them in a set location at regular times. We give them a cushy bed to sleep on, in a designated spot. We provide a kennel or a crate that gives them shelter. The difference between our precious fur companions and wolves is that domesticated dogs are totally dependent upon us for their needs.

Then there are our pets “wants!” We start by giving them a treat after dinner. Or we use food snacks to train them. We think it is so sweet when they hop on the sofa to cuddle with us. We let them join us and sleep at the foot of the bed. Whoops! You have created a really cool new human behavior that our dogs will try to repeat because it feels good! So how do our fur babies get what they want as well as what they need?

What dogs do to get what they want
When you teach a dog to “target” they learn to focus on your eyes so you can give them a command and teach them a new behavior. Well…as our dogs mature, they know you will give them your full attention when they sit in front of you and stare at you with big eyes! Next, if you do not “get it,” they will tilt their sweet little (or big) heads for even more cuteness and emphasis. When you resist these adorable behaviors, they may then resort to ear-flopping and shaking their heads. If that is still not enough for you to get the point of their body language, then they will whimper and eventually bark until you respond.
When our K9 family member is no longer cute and just plain demanding or irritating. We need to take action to change the behavior! Here is where your training techniques need to be refined so you can control your tail wagger’s wants and needs to fit your schedule, timing and temperament.

How to train ourselves to be the leader of the pack

Most veterinarians and trainers will declare that a bad dog simply needs to be trained! Then when a dog is trained correctly, it is up to the human to be consistent in responding to the dog’s expectations. Here are a few examples of how to respond when your dog makes a demand with their cute behavior.

-I want to go outside.
Your dog may go to the door and scratch it or bark to be let out. Unless you have a fenced yard, it is not always possible for you to drop everything and take them for a walk. Go back to your original potty training methods and walk them at set times so they can be aware that is when they will be able to be outdoors.

I want a treat.
When your dog knows that you will react to a particular look to get a treat because they are so precious, then they will keep on asking until you say “No.” Again, go back to your original training method of how you stopped your pup from doing something you did not want them to do!

I want to cuddle.

Depending upon your pet’s size, grooming and your décor, you may or may not want your pet’s paws and claws on your furniture. Our dogs will dare us until we say “NO” or “Off” or “Stop!” So be aware that once you begin the cuddling on the couch behavior, you need to extinguish that habit if you change your mind about how sweet this snuggling is!

The key to breaking any canine bad habit is re-training, going back to basics, and repetition. Being consistent with telling your pooch what is and is not allowed will keep them from even asking for a favor. Kindness and calmness in your approach to stopping an undesired begging method will also be the most effective way to get a positive response from your beloved barky buddy!

Dogs are so smart at reading our signals, that they teach themselves how to trigger our reactions. But, we are the humans and have the power to verbally teach our pets the schedule, behavior and commands that will get them all they need and want!

Doggie Diva would like to acknowledge and thank the following resources:

“Why Dogs are Smarter than Wolves”by John Woestendiek, Oh My Dog Blog, 9/11/15,
“Is Your Dog Manipulating You?” by Nicole Wilde, Modern Dog Magazine, www.moderndogmagazine, author website
The Most Manipulative of Species...“The cutest parasite you own...” by Kayla Causey and Aaron Goetz, 4/24/09, Psychology Today Magazine,

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  • Margaret Mobly
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