Tolerating behaviors is something we all do. As humans with relationships with other humans, we have boundaries and preferences in our interactions with others. For example, your friends or partners using a nickname to refer to you is something you like and enjoy. Friends of friends who call you by your nickname is tolerable, but when a stranger does it, you don’t like it. It should be no surprise that our dogs also have preferences and dislikes and tolerate some behaviours depending on who they’re interacting with. In this blog, we’ll look at the behaviours that dogs dislike, accept or prefer depending on their situation.
Two universal truths about dogs are that every dog is different, and every relationship is unique. Just like people, dogs come with their own personalities and preferences. Dogs also have their interactions and preferences with the people around them. They may base their behaviours on past experiences with someone and their feelings around them. Different scenarios and people will determine whether your dog likes something, dislikes it, or tolerates it. For example, dogs like their humans coming home. You can tell by their excitement and waggy tails. In terms of tolerating behaviours, your dog might let Grandma come over. They are not reactive but keep to themselves and only interact when initiated.
Regarding the feeling of dislike, your dog might hate the person who comes over with the vacuum. You can tell they hate the person due to their barking, hiding, and general anxiousness when the human is around with the vacuum. Just like humans are nuanced, complex creatures with individual likes and dislikes, so are our dogs.
What is Tolerance?
Likes and dislikes are pretty self-explanatory. It’s usually clear to see if a dog likes something or dislikes it. But, what about tolerating something? The definition of tolerating is to put up with. Allowing something to be done without prohibition, hindrance, or contradiction. Humans put up with other human behaviors all the time. For people, tolerating usually involves being respectful and completing a task or going through an experience to get over it. For dogs, this is similar. If you were to hug your dog, they would snuggle into you. Sitting on the couch next to them invites them to flip over into your arms. These actions disintegrate into a scritch fest of flying hair and happy sounds!
In the same scenario, if someone else, like a partner, were to sit on the couch next to your dog, they might react differently. They might pop up sitting, body stiff. A touch or a hug from someone else can make your dog’s ears go back and close their mouth. You’ll notice they will be more aware of themselves and their actions but tolerate their presence. The whites of eyes and that little wrinkle between them will be noticeable as they sit stiffly, not moving much. If a stranger were to sit by your dog, they would likely up and leave. All you see is a tail as they disappear to another room.
Understanding Likes, Dislikes, and Tolerance
In the examples above, it is evident that your dog likes hugs and specific actions only if you do them. Since you built that bond and trust with them, the behaviour they use to show what they like and dislike is apparent. They make their preferences pretty clear. They loved your hug. Tolerated your partners and hated interacting with the stranger.
With your partner, your dog opted to tolerate the hug. They consciously chose to sit and wait for the hug to be over. Some subtle messages were sent. Their body was stiff, their mouth was closed, and their ears were back. Their body was rigid and tense, not floppy and relaxed like with you. They clearly weren’t comfortable with the hug but tolerated the behaviour as humans do in some unfavorable situations.
Changes in Tolerance
Your dog’s tolerance level can change. Frequent exposure to something can change tolerance levels. For example, if your dog is scared of sounds at first, their tolerance might change if sounds repeatedly occur to the point they are expected. Similarly, their tolerance of specific people may change too. If you get a new partner that your dog is unsure of at first, it will take time before they are more comfortable. Sometimes, there isn’t really a good reason for your dog being cranky. Like people, dogs have their off days, too, even to their favorite humans.
How to Handle Behaviour ChangesIt’s essential to notice and observe your dog’s behaviour and reactions. How often does your dog tolerate your behaviour and your treatment of them? Are you missing their cues? Do you know what it looks like when your dog shows signs of discomfort? Or when they’re having a bad day? Have you considered this? How could you change your day to accommodate their bad day? By asking yourself these questions, you can improve your dog’s day and strengthen your bond. Please check out our learning center for more exciting blogs on dog care!