Trying to understand a dog’s behavior can be a difficult task, and rescue dog Pepperoni is no exception as he reacts with confusion to his owner’s gasps.
In a viral video, captioned “Always wants to know the tea,” Washington state-based TikTok user Mckenna, who goes by @mckenna_little_k online, explained: “Pepperoni always gets concerned whenever I gasp, watch.”
Pit bull mix Pepperoni then could be seen jumping up as if startled by the gasp and looked at his 26-year-old owner before she said: “Sorry buddy, it’s OK.”
Despite being reassured, Pepperoni continued to look startled until the end of the 10-second clip.
Since being shared on October 11, the clip has been viewed more than 589,400 times on the social media platform and also received some 136,200 likes.
Newsweek has contacted @mckenna_little_k for comment via TikTok.
Renee Rhoades, a U.K.-based canine behaviorist at R+Dogs, told Newsweek: “In the video, we see a dog with a very quick response to hearing this auditory sound jumping up. We see ‘whale eye’ where we can see the whites of the dog’s eyes.
“This means that there is tension in the face. We also see the dog do a quick lip lick which again is related to stress. The position that the dog holds their body in is gaining distance away from the human. This is not a dog who is excited.
“There are lots of reasons why we gasp, but ultimately it makes our behavior unpredictable to the dog. No one likes unpredictability, especially our dogs when we can’t communicate to them what is going on.”
The American Kennel Club said there are several ways dog owners might be unintentionally confusing their pets with their unclear behaviors, which include:
- Mixed messages by using similar words interchangeably that your dog does not understand. While dogs understand familiar words and phrases, they might not know the synonyms of a word. Choose one cue and stick with it.
- Being inconsistent with rules as dogs like routine and are easily confused when expectations are inconsistent.
- Mishandling the dog’s names as it is an attention cue and becomes meaningless if you overuse it as it might become “just another bit of background human chatter.”
- Unclear punishment such as yelling or saying “bad dog” will not teach your dog as they don’t understand many human words and shouting can in fact frighten your dog and erode your bond.
- Late reactions to incidents of unwelcome behaviors such as delaying stopping the dog and redirecting them to another task or scolding the pet after they do something unwelcome only confuses them and does not teach them what they did earlier. Dogs live in the moment.
- Unpleasant consequences for behaviors, such as asking a dog to “come” and then taking them to the vet might lead to them not wanting to come to you as they believe something they don’t like will happen afterward.
The majority of people who commented on the TikTok video shared instances of their dogs’ reactions to them or other people’s gasping.
User junibjonesin said: “I gasp: No reaction. My dad gasps: Both dogs are running to the window barking.”
Painter added: “When I gasp, my dog comes running from across the house because he knows I dropped food.”
Hayleysue commented: “My dog also gets super concerned when I gasp. He perks up and tilts his head it’s so funny sometimes I’ll just do it randomly to see his reaction.”
Do you have funny and adorable videos or pictures of your pet you want to share? Send them to email@example.com with some details about your best friend and they could appear in our Pet of the Week lineup.