3 Things You Think Are Cute, But Your Dog Wants You to Stop Doing

A woman lays back on the couch with a brown French bulldog cuddled in her arms.
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Puppies are cute. This is a fact. Most dogs remain cute well into adulthood. Heck, even the world’s ugliest dog has a tongue we can’t help but find adorable! Humans, on the other hand, are less cute, especially when we do things our dogs don’t like. We might think we’re super charming in certain moments, when we’re actually sabotaging our pets and their relationships with us. Here are three things you might think are cute, but your dog wants you to stop doing.

1. Breaking Your Own Rules

How many times must we say it? Dogs thrive on routine! Scheduled meals at the same time every day lets them know they can trust you and eases any anxiety about their survival. Sarah-Anne Reed, a holistic dog trainer at Healthy Paws Pet Insurance adds, “If we don’t step up to the leadership role from a dog’s perspective, they believe their only option is taking on the role themselves.” So, you gotta set the rules—and stick to them. Breaking your own rules is not cute, it’s confusing.

For example, let’s say your bulldog is not allowed on the couch. It’s a big-time no-no for her to be up there. But you had a bad day and want to cuddle her without sacrificing your prime couch spot. You think to yourself, “Just this once,” as you invite her up next to you. Cute? Wrong! Confusing. You’ve just destroyed her routine and the rule you probably worked hard to establish. From now on, Ms. Bulldog will assume she’s allowed on the couch—whether you’re in a good mood or not. Next time she pops up there and you scold her, she’ll be even more unnerved. Can she trust you? Are you in charge? A wishy-washy guardian is not cute.

2. Feeding Them Everything, Anywhere, All the Time

OK, we admit dogs might find this habit kind of fun. But! It’s not cute at all. Why? Too much food is unhealthy. Regularly feeding dogs table scraps, “special treats” or switching up their diet based on trends is the opposite of cute. Let’s break down this unbecoming behavior

People Food Cause Health Problems in Dogs

Feeding dogs people food table scraps is a great way to give your dog bowel issues. Food cooked in oils, seasoned with certain spices or hiding poisonous ingredients (like onions or raisins) can cause irreparable damage. Or, at the very least, bad diarrhea and vomiting. Painful, not cute.

“Special treats” Should Be Special

Everyday treats should be given in moderation and be low in calories. High-value treats should be reserved for difficult training sessions or scary events like vet visits. Fruits that dogs can eat are nice once in a while to supplement healthy, balanced diets.

Switching Up Your Dog's Diet Is Dangerous

There are tons of innovative and human-grade meal plan options for dogs out there right now. This is awesome because the pet food industry is becoming more transparent about ingredients! However, switching up your dog’s diet suddenly or constantly trying the newest brand out there is a recipe for disaster. Canine stomachs—and often palettes—need time to adjust to different formulas. Check with your vet if you’re considering changing things up. If you get the go-ahead, gradually introduce the new meal plan. Sure, it’s cute to feed your pup the same Jinx kibble Chris Evans feeds Dodger, but only if it’s in service to your pup’s well-being. (We think Chris would agree because he loves that dog!) 

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, 25 to 30 percent of North America’s dogs are considered obese. Almost half of the continent’s dogs between the ages of five and 11 are overweight. That’s bad news, since obesity in canines is directly linked to osteoarthritis, diabetes, heart disease, bladder stones, cancer, shorter lifespans and more. Maintaining a healthy diet is cute - and key to a happy dog.

3. Making Them the Center of Attention

Yes, lots of dogs love attention. But not all dogs—and not all the time. It’s important to pay attention to your dog’s cues and learn to speak her love language. Some pups get sick of strangers, are wary of new people or do not want to be forced to join a party. Noise and strange smells can be exhausting or scary. If you’re having a party, make sure there’s a space your dog can retreat to if she becomes overwhelmed. While socialization is key to a happy, healthy dog, too many introductions at once could backfire. Read your dog’s body language for signs they may be reaching their limit.   

Making your dog the center of attention when you leave the house and arrive home can create separation anxiety. If your dog expects treats, food, a walk, playtime and kisses as soon as you walk through the door, their behavior while you’re away could become destructive.

While we can’t read our dog’s minds (yet), we can go the extra mile to ensure a positive relationship with them. And that includes holding back on a few (not cute) impulses.

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Freelance Writer

Sarah Ashley is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. She has covered pets for PureWow for six years and tackles everything from dog training tips to the best litter boxes. Her...