A Duc tolling retriever sitting in a field as the sun goes down.
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PawRental Advice: Three Common Mistakes You're Making With Your Dog

Dogs are far more than just pets. They're furry members of our family, our best and most trusted friends, and the ones we cuddle close with when we're feeling sad.

After raising them and spending so much time together, we tend to think we know our pups like the back of our hand. But according to experts, there are three major mistakes almost every dog owner makes, without even realizing it.

For One Thing, A Dog Licking Your Face Isn't Always A Sign Of Affection.

A close up of a chocolate lab licking its lips.
Unsplash | James Barker

Understanding your dog's body language is crucial to a happy and healthy relationship. Yes, dogs certainly do lick as a way of conveying their love and appreciation, but a lick to the face can have several other implications as well.

According to Joanna Wachowiak-Finlaison (a dog trainer/animal behavior consultant) dogs often lick our faces because they want more space. If your pup's "kisses" are accompanied by a tense body, a head turn, or if their ears are pulled back — they're trying to tell you to politely back off.

In A Similar Vein, A Dog Rolling On Its Back Doesn't Necessarily Want A Belly Rub.

A goldendoodle laying on its back.
Unsplash | Wai Siew

Animal behavior consultant, Elvine Wang, told The Dodo that when a dog rolls onto its back or wags its tail, this can be an indication that the dog is afraid or having feelings of general discomfort. The best way to ensure that this isn't the case is to back away when you see your dog elicit these behaviors and see if they persist. If your dog doesn't immediately get back up, you're good to go in for a tummy scratch!

Lastly, And This Is A Big One — Your Dog Doesn't Feel Guilty For Doing Anything.

Emotions are complex things, the likes of which most humans have a hard time deciphering and figuring out. You might think that your dog looks guilty when they do something bad, but this is all in your head. In reality, all that your dog is doing is sensing that you are upset and attempting to show calm behavior as a way of bringing levity to a tense situation.

"Your Dog Expresses Himself Through His Behavior,” Dog Trainer/Animal Behavior Consultant, Gigi Early, told 'The Dodo'.

A golden retriever puppy running across a field.
Unsplash | Cristian Castillo

"It isn't about good or bad, right or wrong — dogs don't think like that," she continued. "Most dogs I meet are craving to be understood by their humans. We expect them to understand our worlds, but we do little to understand theirs."

By being a little bit more attentive, and a little more realistic with our expectations, both humans and dogs can continue to thrive, bring out the best in one another, and enjoy many happy years and countless memories together.