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Common Pet Owner Behaviors

It’s a universal truth that pet owners have unique ways of interacting with furry friends. Personally, I’ve developed a few quirks with my three dogs. After giving them treats, I can’t help but show them my empty hands like a Vegas dealer leaving a Blackjack table, exclaiming, ‘All gone!’ When one of them stretches, I can’t resist saying, ‘Big stretch!’ These moments make pet ownership so delightful.

I also tend to ask my dogs quite a few questions, including “Are you hungry?” What a stupid question to ask a dog. Of course, they are hungry. They are always hungry. “Go for a walk?’ or “Go for a car ride?” Although my dog Mini-Cooper is not a fan of riding in the car. I think it’s because he is too small to look out the windows. Other questions I ask are, “Who’s the good boy?” Like, really, is Mini-Cooper going to point to Bentley or Brody as if to acknowledge that they are the good boys? Of course not. He is going to take all the credit and all the treats that follow for himself.

Some pet owners are very good about training their pets. I have never been big on training my dogs beyond the basic commands of sit, stay, high five, or give paw, speak, down, and don’t jump. The don’t jump command is difficult for both Mini-Coop and Brody. Little dogs seem to jump more than larger dogs, but my Golden Irish, Brody, jumps a lot. He is getting better about listening, but if I’m gone for more than a few hours, he is ready to pounce me when I arrive home.

I worry about Cooper jumping because I fear he will hurt himself, specifically his back. He jumps the most at feeding time, so we try to make him sit and stay while his food is being prepared. This is not an easy task for a hungry dog—he is getting better.

I say other things to my dogs. When giving them a treat, I will say, “Gentle,” a second before they almost bite off the first digit of my finger. Sometimes, they are very gentle, yet there are other times when they act like a school of Piranhas, trying to devour the treat and my arm up to the elbow.

You should also avoid saying things to your pet, such as, “Time to go to the vet,” “You need a bath,” and “We need to trim those nails.” Pets are usually not happy to hear these comments. Bentley, he will hightail it to a nearby closet or hide under the bed. Sometimes, he hides behind a large plant, or at least in his mind, he thinks we cannot see him. Bentley is a large Golden Retriever weighing in at about 80 pounds. Believe me, we can see him.
Speaking of Bentley, unlike Mini-Cooper, he does like to go for car rides, but he does not like to get out of the car once he is in it. He would be perfect for the Suburu commercials where the dog is driving because once he is in the driver’s seat, he isn’t going anywhere. He seldom exits the vehicle on his own accord even with treat motivation. He needs a helping hand, pull, tug, push, etc., to get out of the car. He can be such a brat.

My dogs know when they have done something bad. As soon as I say, “Who did this?” They all point to each other. Then they give me those sad puppy dog eyes as if to say, “I didn’t mean to eat the pizza, but you left the box on the counter, so I couldn’t help myself!” They always try to turn the tables on me, so it is my fault that they did a bad thing.

Of course, I have said things to my dogs that few other dog owners have ever said, like, “Max, do you want to go on the treadmill?” He loved walking on the treadmill with or without me by his side. He would walk for 30 to 60 minutes, which is very unusual for a dog.

I try to involve my pets in my life so they are part of it instead of just observing what I do. Helping me wash the car is far more fun than just watching me, especially if one of them knocks over the wash bucket, one runs off with the sponge, and one grabs the water hose and chases me with it. Yep, lots of fun (the little buggers).
When you’re ready to bring a new furry friend into your life, consider adoption from your local animal shelter. Give a loving home to a pet in need and support your community. Adopt, don’t shop.

Barry KuKes is the former Community Outreach Director of Halifax Humane Society. E-mail him at bkukes View more of his work at