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How Arguing Affects My Dog: The Science of Canine Behavior

June 15, 2022

How Arguing Affects My Dog: The Science of Canine Behavior

Do you ever wonder how arguing affects your dog? Dogs are highly sensitive to their environments and can often pick up on the stress levels of their humans.

In this blog post, we will explore the science of canine behavior and discuss how arguing can affect our dogs both mentally and physically.

We will also provide some tips on how to keep your dog healthy and happy when tensions are high in your home!

Do dogs notice when you argue?

When humans argue, it can often be loud and emotional. Dogs are very attuned to these types of cues and can become stressed as a result.

Dogs who live in homes with high levels of conflict between their guardians may be more likely to suffer from anxiety and other behavioral problems.

Studies have also shown that seeing somebody behave poorly towards their primary owner can make dogs view them in a more negative way.

For example, in this fascinating study dogs were made to watch their owner struggling to open a box. When their owner asked for help, an actor placed nearby would refuse.

In another scenario, the actor would remain passive and not be asked for help.

In both scenarios, the dog would then be offered a treat by the actor.

The researchers noted that dogs were much less likely to accept a treat when the actor had refused to help their owner than if they had simply remained passive.

This indicates that dogs do notice if their owners are treated unkindly, and aren't afraid to show it!

How might arguing affect my dog?

Unlike cats, dogs are very sociable pack animals. They, therefore, are very reliant on having stable relationships in order to feel safe and settled.

When arguments take place between the people they consider to be part of their family setup, this can make them feel very unsettled and anxious.

This will particularly be the case if arguments are accompanied by loud, frightening, or confusing noises like shouting and slamming doors.

If your dog is already prone to anxiety, it is likely that arguments will have a negative impact on their well-being.

Younger dogs, especially puppies, are also more likely to be negatively impacted. This makes sense, since, like human children, very young dogs are still trying to make sense of the world and need to feel safe in order to flourish.

Another negative effect that fights at home may have on your dog is that they may begin to exhibit aggressive behaviors towards the people you tend to argue with. This is caused by your dog's strong need to protect you as their leader and primary carer.

They may bark at or even attempt to bite a family member or friend if they perceive them as a threat towards you as a result of witnessing arguments between you.

If fighting occurs regularly in your home, your dog may begin to automatically switch on these unwanted behaviors whenever it occurs. This can happen because they will unconsciously learn over time the ways they feel they can best cope with these unsettling situations.

You may then find yourself in the situation where your dog immediately escalates their behavior to increasing levels of aggression simply as a result of a few raised voices.

How to know if arguments are affecting your dog

The best way to know if arguments are affecting your dog is to observe their behavior.

If you notice that your dog is acting more anxious or stressed than usual, it may be a sign that they are struggling to cope with the conflict in their home.

Signs of anxiety in dogs include pacing, excessive panting, drooling and barking that is otherwise unexplained.

Your dog will exhibit these behaviors because they are unable to understand or cope with the stress of the situation they find themselves in. Barking is a particularly common canine response to shouting and raised voices.

How to avoid your dog being negatively affected by arguments

So what does this mean for you and your dog? If you find yourself arguing often, it is important to take steps to reduce the stress in your home.

This can be done by making sure to provide your dog with plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, and positive reinforcement.

It is also important to avoid yelling or punishment when arguments do occur. Dogs can sense when their guardians are angry and this can exacerbate any existing anxiety or behavioral issues.

Arguing also has some physical effects on dogs. Studies have shown that dogs living in homes with high levels of conflict are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular problems.

So if you want to keep your dog healthy and happy, it is important to avoid arguments as much as possible!

If you really find that you can't avoid arguing with others in your home, try to make a habit of remembering to remove your dog from the situation in order to protect them from any unnecessary stress.

On days where you might expect there to be additional stress in the home (for example, during a house move, important sports match or large family gathering), you might want to consider giving them free rein of an outdoor space or even send them off on a doggy play date with a neighbour.

We hope this blog post has helped you understand how arguing affects your dog and what you can do about it.

You may also enjoy reading Weird things your dog does and why.

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