$#*! Your Dog Doesn’t Care About

Learn the top 3 things that really matter to your dog--and the top 3 that don’t matter a bit.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
6-minute read
Episode #78

Actually, I think dogs do care about them, in the sense that dogs loathe them. Even if the cologne comes in Poisson Mort or Raccoon Dung, the scent will probably be artificial, and I promise you your dog can tell the difference between the real thing and a fake. We’ve got about 5 million olfactory receptors, and dogs have--wait for it--about 220 million. (1) However unpleasant we find some of the odors our dogs enjoy, I imagine that touch of jasmine is nearly unbearable for them. As a completely unscientific experiment, I’ve held various colognes up to dogs’ noses when the opportunity arose, and every single dog has turned his or her head away. If your Dogalini does need a bath, pick the mildest unscented dog shampoo you can find.

$#*! Your Dog Does Care About

As for $#*! your dog does care about, here’s my Top Three list.

Dogs Feel Better When They Know How Their World Works

Dogs are smart, people! And so many of them spend so much of their lives so unbelievably bored.

Consistency and safety together are Number 1. There’s almost nothing more stressful to an animal than an unpredictable world with an unpredictable person running it. (2) All of us, dogs, other animals, and people alike, do better when we know how to get what we want from the world without stress or fuss. With reward-based training, we can teach our dogs to get what they want by doing things that we like. Don’t encourage your dog to jump up on you on Monday, then knee her in the chest for doing the same thing on Tuesday; instead, teach her to greet with all four feet on the floor or to jump up by invitation only. Sit for permission to go out the door. Lie down on your bed to get a bit of chicken tossed in your direction from the humans’ dinner. Walk without pulling on the leash and get the okay to go sniff that fire hydrant.

Dogs Want to Be Safe

“Safety” means we don’t knee our dogs, alpha roll them, or jerk on their necks.


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).