Even though dogs can actually see some colors, they only understand black and white. Dogs are binary beings. They understand yes or no, on or off, black or white. There are no shades of gray. Dogs don’t get maybe.
People understand that words can have more than one meaning. Even thouugh dogs are capable of understanding hundreds of words, each one is unique in their minds. If you tell a person “Sit down!” they’ll plant their butt in a chair. If you say it to a dog, they’ll give you a puzzled look and try to figure out which of the two you meant, sit or down. And because they want to get it right, they’ll do nothing rather than make a mistake.
Sometimes doesn’t work for dogs
This difference in the way dogs think can cause some issues unless it’s understood. If Fido is allowed on the furniture except when Aunt Agnes comes over, they won’t understand. People adapt their behavior for different conditions and circumstances. Dogs don’t know how to do that. Because they’re confused, when Aunt Agnes arrives, Fido may become anxious and misbehave.
Any sudden change in the routine or schedule can cause confusion for your dog. If your regular routine is disrupted, even for a good reason, dogs can get anxious, even if it’s a good change. Say you have a regular sequence for getting ready to go to work on Monday morning. Your dog knows the routine, knows what to expect, and is comfortable with it.
But then there’s a Monday holiday, like Memorial Day. Instead of the regular routine, you want to sleep in, relax, and have a pleasant day off with your dog. Instead of appreciating the mini-vacation, your dog may be stressed because they don’t know what’s going on. And sleeping in is a completely alien concept.
Be clear, patient, and consistent
Dogs can adapt to change, but it may take some time and patience, like all good dog training. One of the ways you can make it easier for your dog is to try to keep the regular routine even in changed circumstances. When we closed the physical shop and started to work from home, we kept our dogs’ routine close to what it had been.
The dogs were accustomed to having our attention at home. Even though we weren’t always actively engaged with them, they were close and knew they could count on a free hand reaching to pet them. That can’t happen while we’re at work.
The change was gradual. They got used to the idea that if we were sitting at our desks, we wouldn’t pet them. It was really difficult at first, for everyone. They just look so darn cute curled up in a dog bed next to us. But we knew that consistency was key. Because dogs don’t get maybe.