6 min read


Is Your Dog Manipulative?



6 min read


Is Your Dog Manipulative?


There’s no doubt most family dogs have their owners wrapped around their paws! One look from their dolefully sad eyes can make you turn down a dinner date to stay home with the dog. Of all the animals on earth, this fluffy fabrication of a wolf has stolen our hearts and made us their doting servants. Their cuteness is an irresistible force of nature, guaranteed to invoke in humans a life of dog servitude where every whine, woof, and bark is catered too. 

Does this mean they manipulate us? New studies have entered the realm of mutt manipulation with evidence suggesting your Bichon, Boxer, or Beagle are crafty creatures who know how to work humans. Every dog owner will want to know if the bubble has burst on their paw-fect doggy love as we check out our housemates to see if it’s true.


Signs Your Dog May Be Manipulative

Its movie night and your pals have just arrived to pick you up. You’re all Star Wars fans and can’t wait to see the latest offering. As you get ready to go, you here a whine coming from the sofa. It’s Storm, your baby Pomsky (Husky/Pomeranian) setting up a protest. You go to check him out and his face tells a story of pet-mom abandonment. His eyebrows are creased in despair and his furry head is cocked to one side. He lets out a “don’t go,” yelp and its game-over for you.

As you say goodbye to your friends, Storm goes into manipulation overdrive. He’s wagging his tail and play bowing with froggy, his favorite toy. This smooth-operator stares into your eyes with the innocence of a toddler wanting mommy to stay home. Storm raises his paw, then crawls into your lap. Darth-Vader will have to wait, as the Pomsky force is strong within Storm.

Can dogs really manipulate their owners? Studies prove they can read our expressions and tell if we’re happy or sad, plus they can imitate our facial moves and send them right back at us. Is Storm mimicking his owner's upset face at having to leave her pup or does he have a toy box full of cunning expressions to get what he wants?

His wolfy-howl has you in stitches while his rolly-poly acrobats make you laugh un till you ache. Storm is a true entertainer and likes it when his pet mom smiles. He is not, however, a huge fan of being left alone since being rescued from the shelter.

Experts believe a dog has the thinking age of a toddler who can use fake crying and tantrums to get their parents' attention. If a dog can manipulate their owners in similar ways, it’s fair to say we are pawns in their puppy paws.

Body Language

Here are signs your dog could be manipulating you:<br/>

  • Head Tilting
  • Whining
  • Howling
  • Wag Tail
  • Paw Raised
  • Play Bowing

Other Signs

More signs a dog can manipulate their owner include:<br/>

  • Clowning Around
  • Crying When Left Alone
  • Bringing You Their Favorite Toy
  • Mimicking Facial Expressions

History of Dogs Manipulating Their Owners


We refer to people who manipulate others as wolves in sheep clothing, but are wolves in the wild capable of such shrewd behavior?

It’s a tough world, with manipulative people ready to control or con people into doing something they want. This breed of humanity is a tenacious trickster who works primarily for their own personal gain. To say a dog is on this level of deception is not appropriate, as our woofers are like kids trying their luck with mom or dad.

A study at the University of Zurich, Switzerland highlights how dogs can manipulate each other and humans. The experiment recorded by The Daily Mail, Uk involved around 27 dogs being placed with two people. One would take the role of cooperation and let the dogs keep treats while the other was competitive and wanted the treats for them self. Dogs had to figure out who was going to hand over those treats when they led them to a choice of three boxes, individually containing a savory sausage, dry biscuit, or nothing.

Once these crafty canines worked it out, they led the competitive person to the box with zilch, knowing they could later lead the helpful human to the right one and score the prize. Scary stuff when you think how dogs were described by voices of the past as dumber than dumb. Are dogs evolving to be smarter than the average human? Seems like they have us all worked out!

Other animals that show this ability are cats (humans make great feline slaves), monkeys (the girls get the boys to fight for them), while the male Topi Antelope sends out fake alarms (tiger alert!!) to keep their females close so they can mate. There are similar tales of blackmail and deceptive behavior among insect males, who try every trick in the book to get their lady onside.

Science Proves Dogs are Manipulative


Welcome to the new era of dogs, where modern scientific studies have unveiled a wealth of information pertaining to the sheer brilliance of canine prowess.

Our paw-inspiring woofers are a maze of intelligence, emotion, and senses that blow our ability to hear and smell out the kennel door. Dogs were written off in the past by thinking minds but ignorance is certainly not bliss as some researchers with a passion for dogs trained a few to lie in an MRI scanner. The barking news that your German Shepherd, Boston Terrier, and Corgi have similar minds to humans was a shock for the disbelievers.

Their co-evolution with us human folk for the past 14,000 – 32,000 years has created an alliance of compatibility and co-operation. Dogs have taken notice of human traits and cues to work alongside as service dogs and save a few lives along the way.

Dogs are the new science darlings and every study reveals another insight into the mysterious canine psyche. We know they love playing with their ball but they can also get depressed if they’ve been abandoned or mistreated. There’s so much to learn about dogs, as they might not be able to talk but can relay a message of love with their head placed strategically in your lap. To find out they manipulate us has raised the hackles on the back of human necks.

Straits Times recorded a Portsmouth University, UK study that revealed dogs might be manipulative - using expressive looks to get their owners attention. It was found when people turned their backs on the dogs, they didn’t appear to make the same efforts. Reason tells us dogs are the Kings and Queens of imitation royalty and because they care for us humans, every funny face we pull is observed carefully.

Tips For Manipulative Dogs Who Demand-Bark


Dogs do not understand evil intention so, therefore, do not manipulate to cause fear or pain in a human. As Victoria Stilwell so eloquently said, a dog will distance itself from things that make them feel distressed and take on situations that cause them to feel good. Their human characteristics are learned from us, but thankfully, cannot go deep enough to evoke emotional hurt.

Demand-barking can be a manipulative way for a dog to get what they want. It’s annoying and relentless, especially if it goes unchecked. Imagine a toddler who knows their mom is tired from working and continually demands her attention. Dogs can be like this, continually barking right at you until you relent. This super- manipulative pup has control and knows how to press your buttons until you scream “HELP” inside your head. Telling them off won’t work. When you chastise your pup, you are giving them attention and that’s not the right approach. Woofers who are not well can begin demand-barking, so talk to the vet before seeking any training advice.

The irony is we can be the administrators of this manic behavior by playing when they ask and perhaps trying to compensate for a rescue pup's abusive past. We are only human and it’s pretty darn hard to say no to a wee pup that’s previously had no attention at all. If it sounds familiar, you could be creating a barking-mad pup that woofs like crazy until the human starts stroking their head.

The only clear way through is to IGNORE the barking. You literally have to switch off to your pup's doggy dramatics until they get bored of trying. Whatever you do, don’t look at them, as their sad, soulful eyes will turn you into a mush-person who caves and tells them how sorry you are.

Trainer, Victoria Stilwell, advises to reward your pup, once they have stopped barking although it may take time for your dog to stop. A persistent pup will soon understand that being quiet will get your attention.

Have questions or concerns about your pet?

Chat with a veterinary professional in the Wag! app 24/7.

Get Vet Chat

Written by a Japanese Chin lover Linda Cole

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 03/29/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

Wag! Specialist
Need to upgrade your pet's leash?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews


© 2024 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.

© 2024 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.