Does Your Dog Hurt Your Feelings?

You meant cats, right Pam? It’s cats who are independent and aloof. It’s cats that hurt our feelings.

Nope, I suspect dogs hurt our feelings more often.

Here’s why.

Honey the golden retriever in the snow.

How could I hurt your feelings? Aren’t they frozen?

We Expect The World From Dogs

Every week I read another story about a loving dog.

One rescues his family from a house on fire. Another follows a child who wanders into the desert and keeps him safe overnight. A third refuses to leave the coffin of her beloved person.

Dogs get a lot of press for being loving, faithful, and loyal to their people.

But sometimes our dogs are just stinkers. And when they are, they can hurt our feelings.

I’ve seen it happen a few times.

Dogs Hurt Our Feelings #1

When I was living with my first two dogs, Agatha and Christie, my sister was dating a really great guy. We liked him from the first time we met him.

And by we, I mean all the humans.

Agatha and Christie? Not so much.

My dogs, Agatha and Christie, post in the garden.

They were cute. But they sure were stinkers.

In fact, every time he came to the house they would bark.

No, not just when he came to the door. But when he came inside. And every time he moved. Until finally he and my sister left together.

It really hurt his feelings that these two dogs just didn’t like him one bit.

So you can imagine how overjoyed he felt the day Agatha and Christie stopped barking quickly and went to nuzzle him. He took advantage of the quiet to pet them under the chin and enjoyed the attention.

It was only later that he realized he had the remains of a salami sandwich in his coat pocket. And it was the smell of lunch that won Agatha and Christie over, not his personal charm and friendly intentions.

Luckily, my sister’s boyfriend didn’t hold Agatha and Christie’s behavior against all dogs. Because my sister married him and now he’s Honey’s “Uncle Bob.”

Dogs Hurt Our Feelings #2

Those of you who have been reading Something Wagging from the beginning know how seriously I take Honey’s training, starting with the first day she came home with us as a puppy.

I took a lot of pride in how quickly she became house trained, her ability to walk nicely by my side, and her excellent recall. At least I did feel proud—until the day Honey humiliated me.

Connecting with my Golden Retriever.

Stop trotting out this picture, woman. I don’t always fawn at your side for treats.

Honey and I were waiting on the front porch for the arrival of our trainer, Russ. I had a pocket full of treats and rewarded Honey for sitting nicely by my side.

Russ pulled up in his truck across the street and Honey started to get excited. Her butt started wiggling. And I increased the frequency of my treats. Until Honey bolted.

She ran off the porch and out into the street to greet Russ while I called hopelessly after her.

It was a major training fail.

And on this light traffic day, I was very thankful that the only thing hurt was my pride.

Dogs Hurt Our Feelings #3

Honey gets a lot of attention when we travel with her.

Someone always wants to say hello or give her a quick cuddle.

On the waterfront deck of a restaurant, it was a waitress. As soon as she saw Honey, she came rushing over to meet her.

The waitress started by petting Honey’s chest and then she cupped Honey’s head in her hands, bent her face close, and said “Give me a kiss.”

Honey does not give “kisses.” She didn’t when she was a puppy. She doesn’t do it now.

Perhaps if you smeared your face with peanut butter she might give a few half-hearted licks. But it’s just not her style.

Honey was obviously uncomfortable.

You’ll be glad to know I didn’t let this go on too long. But the waitress looked like her world had ended. Just because Honey refused to lick her face.

Yes, even our sweet girl Honey, who loves everyone, can hurt the feelings of a stranger.

I’m Glad Dogs Hurt Our Feelings

Of course I’m a sucker for a faithful dog story. But I also love it when our dogs hurt our feelings.


Because it shows that they’re also self-serving and independent creatures who do what they want. Just like humans do.

Honey the golden retriever chews a stick in the snow.

Does that mean you like it when I bark to go outside while you’re working and when I do all I want to do is roll in the snow and chew a stick?

I love having a dog who loves to be with me and who is eager to please. But wouldn’t it be boring if Honey always acted like Lassie?

It’s the quirky and just plain obnoxious things our dogs do that endear them to us as much as the wonderful things they do.

And it’s why I enjoy reading about the misadventures of Delilah the counter-surfing Labrador, the bed-hogging Felix and Kolchak, the ever-vigilant Morgan.

I have a pet theory about successful, romantic relationships. We don’t form successful partnerships with people because of their good traits. After all, everyone likes someone with a good sense of humor or a kind heart.

No, we partner with people whose faults we can tolerate better than other people can. And who tolerate—or even learn to love—our faults as well.

Maybe it’s the same with dogs. The universe matches us with the dog whose quirks we can indulge, maybe even love.

Even if it means that sometimes they hurt our feelings.

What’s Wagging Today

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And today’s the last day to answer a few survey questions and get your chance to win an Amazon gift card.

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I can’t wait to hear from you.

Your Turn: Do your dogs ever hurt your feelings?




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  1. Mike Webster says:

    From the Husband, re
    “No, we partner with people. . . . who tolerate—or even learn to love—our faults as well.” :
    Don’t be silly, sweetheart. You don’t have any faults to tolerate.

  2. Our older boy, Duster, gives me kisses, but very infrequently. I’m entitled to one a day, it seems. But my adult daughter whom he sees infrequently, has always been entitled to as many kisses as she wants. But I still love him to pieces, even though this does hurt my feelings a bit.

    • Maybe it’s time to ask your daughter what kind of lipstick she uses. :)

      But in truth, I hope your feelings aren’t too hurt. I don’t think “kisses” mean the same thing to dogs they mean to us. I’m sure Duster shows his love for you in other ways.

  3. I am often a very poor sleeper (and John is a very loud snorer, is there a connection?), so when I find myself unable to fall asleep or back to sleep, I move to the guest room. I can read, or just wiggle to my heart’s content without worrying about annoying John. It has the added benefit of blocking all that snoring. But when I leave, Jimmy and Wilson come with me. This always hurts John’s feelings :-)

    • Taryn, you & I must be related! Or maybe John & my hubby — Sam’s snoring could wake the dead! — I have made the guest room into MY room over the 9 years since my Dad passed away. And our girls all sleep in here with me. I, too, am a light sleeper; and worse, my hearing over-compensates for my bat-like vision. Ah well, at least I can watch my movies late at night.

    • Should I suggest that John get a dog of his very own? Of course, then YOUR feelings might be hurt if John’s dog stays by his side.

      • But what if he got his own dog and it still preferred me 😉 A double insult!

        Actually when I got Jimmy, John was totally against it. He didn’t want a 2nd dog and all that brings with it (FUR!). But very quickly, Jimmy chose John as his favorite person. He may move to sleep with me, but if it ever came to choosing who to go to, Jimmy would pick John for sure. And John adores Jimmy!

  4. I do get told I hurt Mom’s feelings now and then because I do something bad she asked me not to do. I’m the only one that really hurts her feelings, but she also expects more from me. Katie used to crush Mom’s feelings as a young dog, but now she is the perfect dog, and Bailie doesn’t seem to hurt Mom either, but I’m sure it will come with time. It is all part of life and I know Mom hurt Gramma’s feelings too when she was growing up.

    • Unfortunately, hurt feelings are just part of loving someone sometimes.

      I do try to keep from having expectations for the ones I love so I can just let them be who they are. But it’s very, very hard.

      And I know, Emma, that you thrill your mom far more than you hurt her feelings.

  5. Harley hurts Doodle Dad’s feelings all the time. Perhaps that’s because he hasn’t learned to stop making him choose between us. It’s a known fact (to everyone except him) that Harley isn’t going to leave me and go with ANYONe else if I’m not moving. Yet, he tries over and over again. #sillyhuman Then he leaves “alone” mumbling to himself about “that dog never listens to me.” Harley will listen to you, just don’t ask him to leave Doodle Mom, then he will hurt your feelings.

    • Mr. Doodle Dad has to realize how much time you spend making yourself fun and irresistible to Harley. But if he someone managed to convince Harley to follow him instead of you, then YOUR feelings would be hurt.

      Maybe it’s time for Mr. Doodle Dad to get his own doodle?

  6. Mike, that is so sweet. You guys definitely sound like you could live on a boat for a long time without committing bodily injury.

    • Mike Webster says:

      I agree with you. Pam is quite patient, and I therefore do not expect that she will act on any of the several dozen reasons I will inevitably be giving her to want to kill me when we’re finally on the boat.

  7. Ha ha I love the line your hubby noted as well! I never thought of it that way but it is totally true.

    They do hurt my feelings, but perhaps that’s because I am overly sensitive…for example, Fozzie doesn’t give me nearly the intensity of tongue kissing that he gives Florian. And sometimes I take it personally that after so much hard work Fozzie still is a reactive nutcase on leash–is he doing it to spite me? But as you say, I think it’s just that dogs are doing what they feel like and not overthinking or intending to insult.

    • I’d like to see research on dog “kisses.” Because I suspect it’s a ritual that expresses all kinds of different things for dogs besides affection (which is the way most humans see it).

      Puppies kiss to encourage regurgitation or as an appeasement gesture. Perhaps Fozzie is responding differently to Florian’s energy than to yours?

      Either way, Fozzie’s love for you is obvious to anyone who sees him. :)

  8. Sampson does it all the time to hubby. Hubby bends down and asks for a ‘smoochie’ and Sampson turns his head. This really hurts Hubby’s feelings. Sometimes he acts like a baby and ignores Sampson, like Sampson understands what he’s doing.

    Mostly my dogs hurt my feelings when they act like jerks on our walks. Nothing says I love you then being jerked across the street and feeling like your arm is being ripped out of its socket because there’s a dog in a car…

    • Oh and I forgot to thank you for the shout out. Thank you. She’s available for rent anytime you want your own adventures. 😉

      • It would be hard to explain to your hubby that Sampson probably prefers your long walks in the woods to smooches from anyone.

        As for Delilah rental, a certain chocolate lab I call Mr. Handsome does a pretty good Delilah impersonation. :)

  9. Blueberry seldom hurts my feelings. I think I developed a pretty thick skin when I had my dog Shadow – she was always dissing me. :)

    P.S. I agree with the others that your husband left a really sweet response in the comments.

    • A thick skin is a good thing. But I also think we’re less likely to get hurt feelings when we let our dogs (and people) be who they are without loading expectations on them. From what I read, you’ve definitely done that with Blueberry.

      BTW, if all the nice comments about my husband go to his head and make him difficult to live with, I’ll be looking to re-home him. :)

  10. My dogs don’t hurt my feelings, but one of my relative’s dogs is very shy around people he doesn’t know. It doesn’t bother me (I am shy as well), but I know he hurts some people’s feelings.

    • Until Honey, none of my previous dogs got terribly excited about visitors. It actually kinda hurt my feelings that they could never know how special they were because they weren’t extroverts.

      BTW, my experience has been that it’s well worth making friends with the shy (people and dogs). I just have to temper my crazy extroversion so I don’t scare them off. :)

  11. Actually, the girls hurt Sam’s feelings more often than they do mine. But what does he expect when he yells at them to “shut up” (when he’s in a mood)?! Besides, I’m the one who feeds them, takes care of them, let’s them give kisses, plays with them in the yard, works with them on their “manners training”, is patient with them (well, more often than Grumpy at least), and lets them sleep on or near the bed.

    • And there you’ve captured it. Our dogs respond to the person who takes the most time with them. And I know that no matter how busy you get with school or life, you always make time for special moments with all your girls.

  12. I couldn’t agree more!

  13. Mike Webster says:

    From the Husband:
    Time for my own true confession. Pam talked about Agatha and Christie, the first two dogs of our marriage. Neither of us knew as much about dogs as we know now, and I was emotionally insecure to boot. And I would sometimes swear between their crazy bad behavior and Pam’s calm, steady advocacy for them that I was the target of a conspiracy.
    (I’m still emotionally insecure today. But I know this about myself a little more now, and knowledge can sometimes be power. Sometimes.)

  14. I know that Jack’s utter devotion to me sometimes hurt’s Steve’s feelings…We can be standing together and Steve will call him and Jack will come to me. What can I say, he loves me.

  15. Someone always wants to make a fuss of me when we’re out – I’m fine with that, I love the attention. But sometimes the person wants to give me a treat and I don’t usually want the treat – they can get quite upset. The bipeds usually explain before the person tries now, but they still get disappointed. I eat it if the treat is nice, but I don’t see why I should eat substandard treats to please someone!

  16. Sometimes we’ll be snuggling one of the dogs, and they’ll get up and leave. We really feel like we were bothering them and yes, that does hurt our feelings! :)

  17. Our dogs used to hurt my feelings when they wanted to be with J instead of me. Now I get that dogs don’t love the way humans love – they don’t have favorites, they connect with me differently than J. I’m the nurturer, the’s the person they play with, I’m the walker and the person with the food. I’m also the Alpha (hee hee hee).