Episode 11 — Showing your dog love pt. 2
In this lesson, Dr. Jamie explains some problems that arise from showing your dog too much love. As supportive pet parents, we always want to provide the best care and love for our dogs. But excessive love and doting can contribute to problems and behavioral issues.
Examples of unhealthy love
One of my mantras is “more food does not equal more love”. Providing good nutrition helps the mind and body of your dog — but too much food, or a caloric surplus, can lead to long-term weight gain and obesity. Overweight and obese dogs have greatly increased risk of joint stress, inflammation, and cardiac arrest due to an accumulation of fatty deposits that can block arteries around the heat. So as hard as it is to deny those pleading puppy dog eyes, it’s our job to ensure that we don’t give them too many treats and empty calories that can negatively affect their health.
We also need to discourage behaviors that are cute when they’re little, but can quickly turn into bad habits as they get older. This can occur when we don’t establish boundaries, like allowing them to jump up on people, letting them bark for food, and not correcting them when they guard toys or food.
It’s important to remember that imposing a level of discipline and authority is what your dog needs. And it actually allows you and others to love your dog even more. Badly behaved dogs can become incredibly frustrating over time, which means they’re harder to love. But bad behavior is rarely because of something wrong with the dog — it’s unintentionally acquired behaviors you don’t want over time.
Maintaining healthy attachment bonds
Finally, we all love being with our dogs, but never giving your dog alone time or a chance to figure out challenges on their own can create separation anxiety and fear in your dog.
This problem only exacerbates as a dog ages, leading to behavioral problems stemming from dependence on your presence.
Starting from a young age, dogs can be left alone for increasing amounts of time. This could be for 10 minutes as you step outside for a walk around the block, graduating to a few hours if you’re out for dinner.