It’s fun to share your life with a dog. You get to experience a life full of joy and you also have a lifelong friend with you. This also means that you are going to encounter problems and issues along the way.
If you’re not good with cohabitation, your dog may become stressed and they also might develop issues. Small accidents can happen like stepping on your dog’s tail or paw. Even if we are aware that our dogs love us unconditionally, it still feels bad when we do something harmful to them accidentally.
Sometimes we still feel the need to apologize to our pet. Since the primary method of training them is through positive reinforcement, it might be hard for us to issue an apology. So what should we do?
Dogs and whether they understand apologies
If you accidentally harm your pet what you should do first is not to apologize. Instead, before making it a big deal, assess the damage. Are they fine? If they are then no need to be alarmed.
If they are clearly hurt and displaying distress such as cries and groans then it’s best to get your phone and call your vet. If you over punish a dog and they are clearly traumatized then this is a sign an apology is needed. So how do you do it?
You can try attention direction first. Make them focus on a toy or something else that can hold their attention for a while. They might easily forget what happened and let it slide. Scolding a dog when they are feeling negative emotions is very counterproductive.
Dogs can understand us but not in the way we expect. They can figure out positive or negative associations with our words. Your tone when saying something is how they figure things out. Studies have also shown dogs respond better to owners with a high-pitched voice.
With that being said, the way to issue an apology should be in a calm manner and with a high-pitched voice. Think of it like talking to a newborn dog.
You don’t need to say the word sorry. Instead, you can use the usual words you say when rewarding them. “Good boy” is one to do it. Petting them is also an efficient eye to let them know they have done nothing wrong.
When you are living with a dog, the longer they have been with you the more likely for them to have mastered identifying your moods. This is why we often see dogs comforting their owner when they sense we are sad. So if you apologies with good intentions they will pick up in that.
Calming your dog
There are times dogs can become jumpy and scared after an accident. When this happens and you see them hide in a corner use a soothing voice to call them. Make sure to do this while you are in a safe, non-threatening distance.
You need to respect the dog’s personal space. If calling them out doesn’t work you can turn to use treats to lure them in. Place treats in different directions. Soon after they are going come out, understand where the treats see coming from, and they’ll calm down.