5 min read


What Can Dogs Not Do?



5 min read


What Can Dogs Not Do?


From a humorous perspective, and because of their lack of opposing thumbs, there are some things dogs cannot do. We know what they can do - like melt our hearts with one single look, love us when we aren't so lovable, detect diseases, health conditions, molds and bombs, be trained assistance animals for those with disabilities and mental disorders, be a little boy's best friend after his heart gets broken, and the list goes on and on. There are, however, some common misconceptions about what does can't do.

What we are going to do is let you in on the truth about what our pups can and can not do!


Signs Your Dog Can't Do Something

Dogs can't understand when you yell at them or why you are yelling at them. When your dog barks and you yell at them to stop, they think you are barking too. If you just keep yelling at your dog for everything they do, or everything you don't want them to do, you are going to create an anxiety monster.  

Dogs understand touch and your energy. If you put off frantic energy, they will mirror that energy. This anxious behavior is also often exhibited when there are loud noises like fireworks. Dogs don't understand why you are looking up in the air or the loud booms that are occurring in the sky. They just want to be away from all of the noise and high energy. Many dogs actually run away when fireworks occur - they are trying to escape the madness.  

Likewise, dogs can't understand kids; they don't understand why kids walk so funny and grab their tails so hard or try to sit on them. Dogs don't understand why they get punished when they nip or bark at kids that are being too rough with them.  

One more thing - costumes. Your dog doesn't want to wear that costume, believe us. They don't want to feel restricted in their movement and they don't really have the patience for sitting still for those selfies.  

Some body language you might notice when you are yelling at your dog is that they bark back. They don't get what you are doing. They don't understand they did something wrong; you have to properly train them so they know what they can and cannot do.  

You are the pack leader, right? (or are you?) Your dog is anxious or afraid when they begin to shake, their eyes get wide and their tail tucks under.  If your dog is very anxious, he may try to run away from you and hide or cower. If your dog barks at a young child that innocently yet roughly pulls at their fur or tail, take that opportunity to teach the child to be gentle; gently touch, gently pet. If your dog is still anxious around the child, it is best to separate the child so no accidents happen to the dog, or to the child.  

Costumes - your dog may wear the costume for a few minutes, but if your dog begins to growl, tremble, yawn, cower or pant, it is time to take off that costume and let your dog just be a dog.

For another sign that your dog doesn't understand something, someone, what is happening or why you are upset, look at their eyes. Yes - a dog's eyes tell us all we need to know. We don't want to make our dogs upset, sad or especially afraid. If their eyes get big or they avert their gaze from you, something is up with your pup. They may require some reassurance from you that all is okay and they are not in trouble or in any danger.

Body Language

When a dog is afraid, anxious, bored, or impatient, just look for these signs:

  • Shaking
  • Panting
  • Yawning
  • Tense Jaw
  • Raspy Panting
  • Back Hair On Edge
  • Averting Eyes
  • Pupils Dilated
  • Ears Up

Other Signs

More signs to look for that indicate your dog can't do or isn't understanding something, watch for:

  • Confusion
  • Tension
  • Fear

Historical Ideas of What Dogs Can Not Do


For as long as there have been dogs, since cavemen had cavedogs and lived in, well, caves, we have all heard and believed this misconception about our furry little friends and their eyesight: dogs are colorblind. This is simply not true. A dog's eyes do not have as many color receptors as a human's, but they are able to see things in the green, yellow and blue spectrum.  

Who knew? Our little, precious puppers are exceptional beings - we are learning more and more about them every day. What will we learn next?  Stay tuned!

The Science of Dogs Understanding Things


Dogs, glorious dogs! Yes - they are wonderful and we love them from the tips of their ears to the curves of their tails. Some dogs can learn what certain words mean through a series of training techniques, but did you know dogs were more in tune with the energy a person "puts out" than anything they have to say? 

If a person is anxious, a dog knows it. If a person is happy, a dog knows it. How? Easy - they read our body language.  

If we are antsy and aren't meeting their eyes, the dog doesn't like that - they think we are untrustworthy. If we are happy, smiling, and petting them like crazy, the dog loves it and us. If we enter a room crying, a dog will know we are sad and will often try to comfort us by nuzzling our hands to get us to pet them, and you know what - it works!  

Who can cry while petting a sweet dog? Bad mood or angry mood equals heavy and dark energy. Happy and light equals positive energy. Dogs are amazing - but we all agree on that point!

Training a Dog to Do Things


Every dog needs basic training. The best time to train a dog is when they are a puppy, but we don't always get our doggos as pups. If a dog needs basic obedience training, you will know it.  

Go through standard commands and if they just stare at you blankly (and adorable-y), they need some boot camp. It is important that your dog knows commands to keep them safe and let them know you are the pack leader.  

You can easily Google how to train your pup or check out YouTube. If you are uncomfortable with that, look for a certified trainer at area pet stores or online. These commands are for your dog's safety, especially when you take them to unfamiliar areas like dog parks, parking lots or pet stores. Use the basic commands of "come", "down", "stay" and "leave it".  These commands may truly save your dog's life one day and keep you both in sync when you are in public and at your house.

Have questions or concerns about your pet?

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

Get Vet Chat

By a Smooth Coated Collie lover Mary Alane Whalen

Published: 03/02/2018, 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


© 2023 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.