7 ways you could be confusing your dog without realizing

From changing the rules at home to forcing a shy pet to interact with other dogs, some of our bad habits can leave dogs feeling confused and frustrated. Want to better your dog parenting skills? Switching up some of the things you do at home could help your four-legged friends stop feeling overwhelmed — and boost their mood, too. Take a look at the ways you may be confusing them and how to stop.1. Giving them a confusing nameNaming your pup is an exciting part of dog ownership, but it’s important you keep it simple and fuss-free. According to Antje Joslin, expert vet at Dogtopia, choosing a name that starts with ‘D’, ‘T’ or ‘K’ is the easiest for your dog to learn. She told Insider: “Avoid any names that sound similar or rhyme with the most common dog commands. Names that sound like ‘sit,’ ‘stay,’ ‘heel,’ ‘no,’ and ‘come’ could easily confuse your pup.”2. Putting your fingers in their mouth It might seem like fun and games, but putting your fingers in their mouth during playtime can give dogs confusing messages around biting. “If gently nipping your hand in play is OK, the puppy won’t know that it’s not OK to bite a child or other person that’s trying to pet them,” Antje says. If your dog tries to gently nibble your fingers whilst playing, immediately end the play session so they learn not to do it again. 3. Using different words for the same thingIf you’ve recently adopted a new pet, decide on what words and phrases you are going to use — and stick to them. “When training your dog, try to stick to the same keywords. It can be puzzling for a dog when you ask them to ‘go potty’ one day and ‘go pee’ the next day,” Antje says.4. Not being consistent with rules at homeConstantly changing house rules can leave your dog feeling confused about what to do and run the risk of undoing their training. Whether it’s keeping your dog out of the bedroom or off the sofa, ensure you stick to the rules you have implemented. It will keep everyone at home happy. 5. Giving more attention to one pet than the otherDo you have multiple pets at home? Be careful you don’t shower one pet with more affection than the other – this will only leave them feeling confused and saddened. “If you always take one pet for car rides or give them treats more than the other, the other dog may become depressed,” Antje explains. 6. Telling them off for something they did hours agoIf your dog has misbehaved, don’t tell them hours after the incident has happened. Unlike humans, they find it hard to understand why their owner is angry about something in the past. Either address what has happened straight away or avoid bringing it up altogether. Antje says: “Your dog cannot make the connection that you are mad about what he did earlier that day and will think you are punishing him for no good reason.” 7. Forcing a shy pet to interact with other dogsInstead of forcing your shy dog to interact with other animals, bring them into social settings gradually to avoid overwhelming them. “Forcing a shy dog into social situations with other dogs will often confuse them and intensify their fear,” Emma Bowdrey, an ISCP-qualified dog behaviorist, says.

From changing the rules at home to forcing a shy pet to interact with other dogs, some of our bad habits can leave dogs feeling confused and frustrated.

Want to better your dog parenting skills? Switching up some of the things you do at home could help your four-legged friends stop feeling overwhelmed — and boost their mood, too. Take a look at the ways you may be confusing them and how to stop.

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1. Giving them a confusing name

Naming your pup is an exciting part of dog ownership, but it’s important you keep it simple and fuss-free. According to Antje Joslin, expert vet at Dogtopia, choosing a name that starts with ‘D’, ‘T’ or ‘K’ is the easiest for your dog to learn.

She told Insider: “Avoid any names that sound similar or rhyme with the most common dog commands. Names that sound like ‘sit,’ ‘stay,’ ‘heel,’ ‘no,’ and ‘come’ could easily confuse your pup.”

2. Putting your fingers in their mouth

It might seem like fun and games, but putting your fingers in their mouth during playtime can give dogs confusing messages around biting. “If gently nipping your hand in play is OK, the puppy won’t know that it’s not OK to bite a child or other person that’s trying to pet them,” Antje says.

If your dog tries to gently nibble your fingers whilst playing, immediately end the play session so they learn not to do it again.

3. Using different words for the same thing

If you’ve recently adopted a new pet, decide on what words and phrases you are going to use — and stick to them. “When training your dog, try to stick to the same keywords. It can be puzzling for a dog when you ask them to ‘go potty’ one day and ‘go pee’ the next day,” Antje says.

young woman with dog

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4. Not being consistent with rules at home

Constantly changing house rules can leave your dog feeling confused about what to do and run the risk of undoing their training. Whether it’s keeping your dog out of the bedroom or off the sofa, ensure you stick to the rules you have implemented. It will keep everyone at home happy.

5. Giving more attention to one pet than the other

Do you have multiple pets at home? Be careful you don’t shower one pet with more affection than the other – this will only leave them feeling confused and saddened.

“If you always take one pet for car rides or give them treats more than the other, the other dog may become depressed,” Antje explains.

6. Telling them off for something they did hours ago

If your dog has misbehaved, don’t tell them hours after the incident has happened. Unlike humans, they find it hard to understand why their owner is angry about something in the past. Either address what has happened straight away or avoid bringing it up altogether.

Antje says: “Your dog cannot make the connection that you are mad about what he did earlier that day and will think you are punishing him for no good reason.”

7. Forcing a shy pet to interact with other dogs

Instead of forcing your shy dog to interact with other animals, bring them into social settings gradually to avoid overwhelming them. “Forcing a shy dog into social situations with other dogs will often confuse them and intensify their fear,” Emma Bowdrey, an ISCP-qualified dog behaviorist, says.