Hi Adam, how can I make my dog understand me? Specifically, yesterday I had a very bad day. I was frustrated with my business and overwhelmed with all the things that I needed to take care of. I ended up feeling depressed, and just wanted to be left alone. Sunday (that's the name of my dog) didn't get me at all. Although she saw that I was depressed, she just kept coming over and wanting to play.
I feel really upset about it, as I imagine that dogs have the capacity to know an emotional state of their owner and be supportive. Sunday was just super selfish, and I feel didn't understand or care about me.
So I wonder. Do other dogs act the same way in these situations or does Sunday have some kind of issue that needs to be addressed?
Hey there! I hope that you're having a better day.. The short answer to your question is yes, other dogs act that way.. Dogs have personalities which are an accumulation of nurture, nature, and many other factors, so there is no behavior that is "weird" to them.. just behaviors that are rewarding and behaviors that have not been rewarding..
Please remember, dogs (and animals alike) repeat behavior that is rewarding...
..So if Sunday persists in ignoring your unwillingness to play she's doing so because that is the most rewarding response that she has learned to do in the situation. So how did it become rewarding?
Have you ever moved out of your depressed state at the same time that she was asking you to play?
Yes, but not to a happy state - to an angry state. In other words, in the middle of being depressed, I became angry for a moment to tell her "go away" and then I go back to being depressed. Sometimes I do give into her cuteness and play with her for a bit. But that happens very rarely.
So in this scenario, you are depressed (helpless) and she wants attention and probably wants you to cheer up (to be healthy).. Sometimes, her actions result in your being happy again.. which is a big score to her. But, even if that doesn't work, you still acknowledge her by becoming angry, which is almost the opposite of helpless and may look slightly rewarding to her too.
Hey, Adam, I am sorry to cut you off, but I just feel that you are not addressing my real issue here: my dog doesn't get me! I sit there all depressed and want to be left alone. What's so hard about noticing that someone you love is depressed and leaving them alone?
Would you leave alone someone that you love and is depressed?
You are the whole world to your dog. She depends on you: when you are healthy and happy, she feels confident and strong. When you are unhealthy and vulnerable, she fees that way too (especially if you are the only other person in the "pack").
You can train her that staying in another spot or another room when you give a command is rewarding, but you can't stop the dog from being empathetic and wanting to improve the situation for their pack.
Disclaimer: The contents of this blog are intended for informational purposes only. The contents are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your vet with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition of your dog/s.