5 min read


Can Dogs Feel Discouraged?



5 min read


Can Dogs Feel Discouraged?


Feeling discouraged is a universal theme that can happen to the best of us when another dispirited soul criticizes our vision of life. The same can be said for our beloved dogs that are emotive and easily discouraged by guardians with a disparaging stance. 

Life is tough enough without harsh tongues offering their negative evaluation of you or your dog. Think about a wee Pug that can’t get the hang of learning how to sit and their frustrated pet-parent dumps a bad day at the office on this poor Pug’s inability to focus. 

The opposite of discouragement is surely encouragement, which lights up a sky with willing participant’s that try harder as they are praised for every little effort. This planet earth is dynamic and enlightening but filled with folks wanting to rain critical anecdotes on the paws of dogs trying to learn new skills. Great things can happen when we inspire our pups to get it right.


Signs a Dog Can Feel Discouragement

When a so-called friend tells you snidely you shouldn’t go after your dreams, you instantly feel discouraged as you were sure they had your back. A strong person will smile and consider finding a new friend while the doubter could fall into the trap of believing they are right.

Dogs take a lot on board and the jury is still out as to how complex of an emotion they can assess. If you ask your pup to stay and they wander off thinking about that chew bone on their pet bed, your next move could have a lasting effect. Some training regimes are akin to a Sergeant major trying to get new recruits into shape, as they yell at the pooch or yank on their leash, letting them know who's boss.

If you feel like cringing, that’s a positive response as this archaic dominance will totally discourage your mutt. Humans react to encouragement, not to someone demoting their mere existence with "obey me or else".

If your dog has headed for a corner and is cowering or shaking, you can take credit for how discouraged and afraid they feel. Dropped ears, yawning and showing the whites of their eyes are all signs of a dispirited dog. It’s like shock treatment, and trainers with this inclination think that a Japanese Chin is a vicious wolf that will turn on you if the pack leader is not established. 

At times, you might need to discourage a behavior and this should always be done with a caring, positive vibe. Say your pup loves to bark at the window and half of the time, there is nothing there. 

First, you need to understand the dog's motivation and if it's having a great time wagging its tail and telling off passers-by, you could close the curtains temporarily. Now you’ve removed the temptation and if your persistent pooch keeps woofing, try ignoring them. Don’t give in, as any attention will alert your dog that barking gets their pet-parent's attention. Once they stop yelling the house down, praise your pup and give them a treat.

Other behaviors you will want to discourage are soiling in the home, jumping up at guests, destroying things due to separation anxiety, and biting.

Body Language

Signs a dog can feel discouraged are:<br/>

  • Barking
  • Shaking
  • Cowering
  • Jumping Up
  • Yawning
  • Dropped Ears
  • Biting
  • Whale Eye

Other Signs

Signs a dog's behavior needs discouraging include:<br/>

  • Barking At Passers By
  • House Soiling
  • Destructive Behaviour
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Aggression

History of Dogs Feeling Discouraged


Mankind is an opportunist, so when sociable wolves were scavenging for food, they may have sat quietly and let them. Over time, the wolves and humans may have become less fearful of each other and bonded, creating a powerful hunting team that could take down a mammoth or Bison.

Humans are quick learners and in a landscape alive with lions, leopards, and tigers, their new-found friends would have proved a great support in keeping animals with dinner signs in their eyes away from their camp-grounds. By not discouraging the wolves from helping themselves to leftovers, our ancestors altered the way history might have happened and inspired a new species called "dog".

According to geneticist and archeologist, Gregar Larsan, the understanding between wolves and humans changed the future of the planet. Domesticating dogs was the beginning as we reinvented the wilderness into towns, cities, and suburbs. No other species has done this on such a grand scale. 

This monumental event meant man could become a farmer with the early wolf-dogs herding and guarding their livestock. From this, settlements were formed and people learned to uses the intelligence and working ethic of dogs as K9’s to help keep the settlements lawful. The versatility of the dog meant dogs could pull sleds through the snow and hunt alongside man.

Our allegiance to early wolves has created the world we live in with dogs as our companions, work-mates and guards. Had wolves originally walked past the wafting scent of Bison cooking on an open fire, the earth might still be a wilderness

Science of Discouraged Dogs


If you want your dog to feel eternally discouraged, ask them to sit using harsh training techniques that will break their spirit. The Telegraph, UK reported a study of dogs put through their paces with old school “do as you are told” tactics and found they were totally stressed. Instead of looking proud to be a dog, these picked-on pooches were mouth licking and yawning, while performing a basic sit command. The experiment was run by researchers from Aix-Marseille, University in France.

Dogs that were trained with positive reinforcement were less stressed and more trusting of their owners. Critics of this new-age “be kind to your dog” training say a dog might not learn boundaries this way, which could lead to behavioral issues.

A dog that’s been stood over is likely to be discouraged and probably not that interested in being a good boy (or girl). We want pooches with good life skills who know chasing the cat is not cool, but still feel confident on their paws. Modern dogs have phobia’s, compulsive behaviors, and can get depressed just like us.

National Geographic opened a few minds with the news that we are closer to dogs than some think. Our genes are evolving together in diseases, behavior, obesity, and compulsive behaviors. A genetic researcher in China tells us this incredible happening is called “convergent evolution” and it will continue.

Training to Discourage Undesired Behaviour


Whether you are working on ways to discourage an annoying behavior or trying to build up the confidence of a discouraged rescue pup, the way forward is a kind, positive approach.

Dogs chasing bikes, cars, and who chew everything in sight need to be discouraged, as do behaviors like begging, nipping, aggression, and digging to the center of the earth. If your dog thinks other dogs are prey, keep them on a leash when you are out and allow room in the backyard for your dog to run or take them to a confined dog park where they can go for it.

If you have a perpetual chewer, take the now-battered shoe away and replace with a chew bone. You want to redirect this chomper to something that won’t cost a fortune to replace. 

Dogs are foodies and the smell of that steak cooking will have them begging for a bite. Ignore this behavior or it will never stop. Dogs often dig because they are bored, so provide your archeologist with a ton of exercise and games to stimulate their mind.

Nipping is what puppies do in the litter, but it can really hurt when an adult dog nips you when you’re playing, so walk out of the room when it happens. Give it a couple of minutes, then return. If it keeps happening, repeat the process.

Fear aggression is prevalent in rescue dogs that have been in the company of uncaring people and now this pooch feels threatened by all humans. This is not an easy fix, as the dog may not have been socialized. Ask the advice help of a dog trainer who works only with positive strategies. Any kind of force or punishment will make this pooch worse.

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By a Japanese Chin lover Linda Cole

Published: 05/07/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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