Robin and I were at a new Home Dog Training client in Buford last Sunday helping her with Oscar, her two year old Dachshund. Oscar was a pretty good dog and our client really needed to get up to speed on having Oscar obey basic commands such as walk, sit, stay, off, pay attention, etc. He was a pretty fast learner and we got everything that our client wanted during our first session. Before we leave, we always “politely press” our clients if they have a more questions of if there is anything they didn’t get accomplished that day. After some thought, our client thought of a question. She loved Oscar and was always giving him “hugs and kisses”. After our discussion of how dogs perceive leadership and the demand for attention, she wondered if she was sending Oscar the right signals..
We told our client that this is a common question among many responsible dog owners. We were happy that she brought is quandary to our attention because doing what we think is right sometimes causes bad behavior with our dogs. We told our client that it is possible to give her dog too much love and affection. The issue that can cause this problem is the difference in how dogs and humans interpret affection and how dogs often interpret heightened affection as submissive attention.
As people (humans), we always love affection. It is just wonderful when people say good things about us and we are always ready for a hug. We comfort our kids when we are going away from home with a high pitched “Oh, don’t worry, daddy will be right back”. In many countries, it is natural to kiss the person on the cheek when you greet them. Since our dog is so cute and cuddly, we naturally pour the hugs and kisses on him.
When it comes to dogs, this is a bad thing to constantly do. When you give your dog too much affection, you are sending him a signal that you may not be the strong leader that will keep him safe. As Robin and I have repeated many times, our dogs really, really want to feel safe. When we have properly established the pecking order of our family, our dog looks to us as his leader who will provide him with that safety. As strong leaders, we are consistent, calm, firm, and resolute. Our dog should be providing us focus because everything we do and everything we tell him to do is based on keeping him safe. He needs that assurance.
If we are constantly interacting with our dog in a more submissive nature, we are sending him the message that we are not the boss and he is in charge. Things like picking him up to cuddle may seem fine to us, but it is an active sign of surrender of leadership in his eyes. We are telling our dog that he is in charge and he needs to keep the rest of the group safe and secure. This can often result in bad behavior such as jumping barking, nipping, and separation anxiety.
We told our client that the bottom line is that she can obviously show Oscar affection, just don’t go nuts. Don’t always be picking him up and carrying all over the place. He has four feet, he can walk just fine. Don’t always go right over to him when she enters the room. Don’t always give into his requests for pats. We told her to just tone it down a bit and all should be great.
Please call Robin or myself at (770) 718-7704 if you are in need of any dog training help. We have a lot of good dog training advice at Best Dog Trainers Buford Georgia. Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Buford Georgia.