Our dogs are our family members! Believe me, I have them too and I love them very much and they get plenty of love and affection. I also have very well balanced and behaved dogs! I look at my relationship with my dog(s) and I observe all of my clients and friends relationships with their dogs. The one thing I have found is, there is such thing as too much affection and it is causing big behavior problems in our dogs!
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t be giving your dogs affection. We love them and they are family, but there are wrong times for affection and I see it every day.
Many of our dogs may be rescues and have prior stories. Some stories we know, some we don’t. This is not supposed to sound harsh or like I don’t care, but it doesn’t matter! It doesn’t matter because they have a new story now. I have found that because people do have overwhelming emotions, knowing our dog may have a bad prior story “lets us” or “has us” treating them differently. They may be coddled more or let off the hook more often or sheltered or too loved; yes too much love and affection is possible and it doesn’t do the dog any good! We are not doing the dogs any favor by doing any of these things. All of the affection and coddling at the wrong time is telling the dog that it is okay to feel scared, anxious, aggressive or whatever negative behavior they are showing.
So lets leave their prior stories out of it! Lets just spend the time and energy building them back up and helping them learn to be confident, obedient and build a healthy relationship with them. We don’t want to keep them in a scared state of mind when new people come in. We want them to be happy and relaxed and ready to have new people in their world. We can be their advocate in an uncomfortable situation and that is by showing them the correct way to be! Remember; you get what you pet!! If you are petting and coddling a scared dog, well you will have a scared dog. Pet a biting dog, well you’ll have a biting dog. Pet an excitable dog..well you get the idea! Guidance and leadership is how we help them conquer their fears or skepticism of a situation. So be a leader to your dog and help them break free of any negative state of mind they may be in. After this is accomplished, then is the time for affection and celebrate the success!! Bring affection in when you see a confident and behaved dog; this will build a positive association with the good behavior!