Spoiled Dogs

Spoiling Your Dog Rotten

Does the word “spoiled” make you think about spoiled food or spoiled children?  “Spoiled” has negative connotations, yet dog owners seem to say the word with pride.  To them, it’s a term of endearment said with a shrug and a smile.  It’s a interesting phenomenon when dog owners start thinking that spoiling their dog is the same as loving their dog.

Across the street, a different scene is playing out.  This dog grabs the toast from a family member and devours it quickly while jumping up on the children.  This escalates until the dog is grabbing at pant legs, pulling pajamas  and mouthing at arms.  As the family gets ready to go out, they put “Spot” into a dog stroller, then merrily go on their way to the children’s school.  When asked by passerby about the stroller, they shrug and smile and say their dog is spoiled.

It’s not the stroller that spoils the dog, just as it’s not the Gucci dog coat or fancy toys.  It’s our attitude that dogs need to do nothing more then look cute or shower us with affection that spoils them.

Having worked with dogs for as many years as I have, it’s clear to me that the shift toward spoiling dog has increased dramatically over the past several years.  There could be many reasons for this, we seem to be leading more stressful lives, with more technology and more to over stimulate us.  Many people feel their dogs are their children and many people aren’t having children or even getting married.

Along comes the family dog to save the day.  We want to love him and we want him to love us back.  All dogs want to be loved and to please their owner.  The dame feeling is sometimes experienced by parents sharing custody of their children.  Many parents will admit to overindulging their children to make up for lost time.  Are we doing that with our dogs we could ask ourselves.  It’s an interesting question that has to be answered by each individual.

Dogs can become overindulged.  The line should be drawn if spoiling your dog is affecting the quality of your own life or your dog’s.  While it’s easy to think that spoiling our dog will make life better, look into the future.  Many behavioural issues that end in loss of the dog’s life could have been avoided by doing what was right for your dog, not what felt good at the time.

Dogs that are not disciplined (shown what to do and not to do) when undesirable behaviour shows up in the dogs day to day behaviour.  The behaviour will get not better but worse.  Just like with children, a dog will do what it wants until you say NO.  You must reward the good behaviour with attention and love.

Putting dogs in time out works great and should be used when undesirable behaviour shows up.  Time out in a kennel or safety zone area away from everyone works great.  For example a dog that barks and shows aggression towards company coming into the home.  The dog should be put in a kennel until it stops barking and when it stops for more then fifteen minutes let him out.  If he should start his barking or snapping, put him back.  Or if a dog starts to pee or poo where they know they shouldn’t, they should be treated like a pup again and put in their safety zone area when your aren’t spending time with them.

If your dog growls at you from the couch, make sure he doesn’t again access to it.  Rather than letting him sit on the couch, wouldn’t it be better to show your dog appropriate behaviour?  Most dogs that show aggression ti their owners or to any one person, must be put in their place and told”NO”.  If you let your dog get away with this bad behaviour you will have not company coming to visit you. Obedience classes is a must for you and your dog at this point.

How do we give a dog the love he needs?  We want t show without overindulging him.  If we’re treating dogs like children, let’s look at the bigger picture.

The first step to understanding in education, for both you and your dog.  In the form of training classes to learn how to communicate with each other.  This is a basic need and all dogs should attend a least a beginner’s class.  If you want to treat your dogs like children and transport them around in strollers and backpacks, then you must consider the children going to school.

It’s important to learn and understand your dog’s inherent skills.  What is his breed meant to do?  Dogs like to work; children love to work.  For either, work can come in the form of play, but the bottom line is that a job will make a child or dog feel more fulfilled.  Not showing your dog how to use his brain and simply letting him exist because he’s cute, is doing him a grave injustice.

The third step in education is to have an understanding of how dogs think.  Read books, watch videos and speak to your trainer about upcoming seminars on the subject.  Talk t your breeder and they should also be able to help you.  While dogs and children have similarities, they are not the same.  Dogs need to be understood and appreciated for being dogs.

With education, you’ll see that some overindulgence is possible and can be fun.  Spoiling your dog won’t be at the expense of your dog.  A fabulous coat or matching leach and collar, will not spoil our dog.  He can be the best dressed dog in town as long as he’s polite to those around him.

Give him special dog bagel, have a birthday party for him and revel in the happiness you both feel.  The next time someone comments that your dog is spoiled, shrug our acknowledgement but understand that with education, you’ve raised a good canine companion and your relationship will remain intact.