11: Words Matter: How Do You Describe Your Dog’s Behavior?

December 13, 2016

Our brains are always making up stories to help us make sense of our world. But sometimes the storories we make up do more harm than good.

We see this often when people talk about their dog’s behavior. They use words like “resentful,” “stubborn,” “spiteful,” and “angry” to describe behaviors commonly related to stress. Their descriptions can imply a moral code–a sense of right and wrong–that the dog is violating by “stealing” food off the counter or socks from the laundry basket.

In the end, it’s always helpful to assume that your dog wants a happy relationship with you. What’s the nicest way you could interpret the behavior? If you were to look at it that way, what are the best and worst outcomes that may result? The pros will outweigh the cons.

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