Is My Dog Acting Spiteful?



Welcome to Our Pet Care Tips Series!

Thanks for following our Pet Care Tips Series where each week we talk to an animal expert in our community to get you one tip that every pet lover should know.

Guest of the Week: Amber with Summit Dog Training

Amber was kind enough to join us to talk about dogs and how their behavior can often be perceived as spiteful.

Tip: Dogs are not acting spiteful – they are responding to enforcers in their environment.

Amber breaks down the difference in thinking and how humans perceive dog behavior. Spite is a human emotion and often we believe a dog is acting out of the same feeling. If we view dogs as virtuous beings (think Lassie) then they also must have negative human emotions like meanness and spite. In this case, we view our dogs as humans (which they are not). The more scientific way to view dog behavior is to recognize that there are positive and negative reinforcers and punishers in their environment that lead them to act the way they do.

Real world example: A dog peeing in the house

Your dog is peeing in the house instead of outside. Instead of believing your dog is acting out of spite, you realize she has had a multitude of reinforcers that have caused her to pee in the house. Look at the environment. When house training your dog may have learned that peeing in front of a person is scary, so she goes behind the couch instead, which feels safe. Plus peeing is a positive reinforcement itself, since it feels good to relieve herself.

Watch the video to see Amber explain this beautifully!


Summit Dog Training

If you want to learn more about Silver Paw Studio or just take a look at her beautiful photos, here is where you can find her:

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Thanks for reading this blog as part of our Pet care Tips Series! Every week we interview an animal expert in our community to ask them one question:

What is the one thing you believe all pet lovers should know?

This varies from tips about training, medical problems, general pet knowledge and more! We interviewed dog trainers, veterinarians, groomers, grief specialists and a variety of other pet experts, people you may not even know exist.

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