Our maternal instincts come out and we want to mollycoddle and love dogs to protect them.
Which is great but that can have the opposite effect.
You can turn the dog into a really nasty uncontrollable undisciplined and aggressive dog.
Barking, jumping, lunging, snarling, snapping and biting, are not signs of just a naughty dog and certainly not just a high-spirited one.
They are almost always the sign of a dog that has never been trained in how to get on in the world and as a consequence is experiencing a lot of stress.
It sounds like hearsay, but after two decades in the business and with a wealth of study and observation one expert dog trainer says "dogs don't actually want our love. Or not in the ways we tend to show it."
"Dogs want your guidance. They want to feel safe."
Dogs want structure and consistent routines, and these are the things that people don't think of giving to their dog.
Happy dogs are well-trained dogs or at least dogs that live in a world with consistent rules and routines. Dogs don't understand grey areas, they can either "always do something" Or they can " never do something". Once the dog understands that, they feel safe and happy.
Dogs aren't people. But in the 21st-century a lot of them are suffering from a similar malaise to their owners. They don't get much exercise and they eat too much.
Obesity in dogs is every bit the same problem it is in humans. Too much weight puts stress on the skeleton and on the joints on the heart the circulation and on the lungs. It makes moving and breathing harder.
In the US things are so bad there is an association for pet obesity prevention -which estimates 54% of dogs in the US are obese.
It's likely that things are not much better here. We give them too much food and too much love. Says "Kerry Bradley" a dog trainer with a particular interest in canine nutrition.
When you're beautiful dog gazes at you lovingly what do you do? You hand over a snack. Bradley says there are also serious problems with the kind of things people are feeding their dogs, especially processed foods.
Dogs are not humans. Well we know by just looking at them that their physiology is different from humans. We don't always factor this in when we're choosing their dinner or treats.
Dogs teeth are designed for ripping and tearing not for grinding. Their gut has a higher acid content to digests fur and bone. Their mouths do not produce special enzyme that helps process Carbohydrates.
Therefore we should concentrate of giving our dogs raw meat and offal, meaty bones, and finely shredded vegetables. That's a dogs idea of the gourmet meal.
One feature dogs unfortunately do share with humans, is the sweet receptors in their tongue. Dogs become addicted to sugary sweets just as we do.
We get sucked into dog food marketing as we do with our own treats and snacks.
People see the cute treats at the supermarket and think they will get that for our dog. But a lot of the treat contain a lot of sugar also. Of course the dog loves them but that kind of food isn't doing your dog any favours. Not getting your dog a yummy treat is something we find it hard to resist.
Perhaps one of the strangest trends in modern dog ownership is "playing dress ups" with our dogs. Tim Munro Is a dog trainer and behaviourist who specialises in a dog physical therapy called "Tellington Touch." While he concedes that some dogs are better suited to cope with being dressed up it's an area where, for our dog's sake we should be cautious. Munro said I absolutely don't think it's automatically bad. However, I do see a lot of people who think their dogs are totally fine with it. I see things in the body language of the dog that shows it is not okay, the feeling of being restricted by being strapped into a costume, can activate the dogs response of fight or flight. A dog that starts running around crazily when It is dressed up, is not enjoying itself. Or if your dog becomes really quiet. You may think that's good, but in fact the dog is suffering stress, and is starting to close down.
Professor Paul McGreevy a vet animal behaviour specialist at the University of Sydney and is a big fan of treating dogs like dogs. McGreevy says "instead of imagining your dog is human, imagine what it would be like if you were the dog. Would you like it. Probably not. " "The key to being a good dog parent Is to establish a good relationship where we are relevant to your dog without creating a needy co-dependence."
So staging a birthday party for your dog is fine. As long as you don't let them eat chocolate éclairs. Maybe you could do away with dressing them up in a party frock too. Taking your dog everywhere is terrific just don't carry it around in your handbag.
Extract From Sun Herald 7th May 2017 by Melinda Houston.