Can You Give a Dog Too Much Attention?

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Excerpt from “The Human Dog” by

The number one biggest mistake dog owners can make with their dogs is to treat them like humans. The human race is such a kind, compassionate species that we tend to look at our canine companions as little humans. When in reality, they are canines and have a very different thought process. This is what differentiates mankind from other species in pack societies; there must be a specific order, from the leader on down to the last follower. Everyone has a place. The leaders are the strength of the pack. The followers need the leader to guide them. This primal instinct keeps the pack secure and happy.

Dogs instinctively need rules they must follow, and limits to what they are allowed to do. When dogs live with humans, the humans become the dog’s pack. For the relationship to succeed, humans must become the dogs pack leader. The mistake is made when the humans in the pack only give the dog love, and the other factors are overlooked. To a dog, constant affection without rules and limits goes against every grain in a dog’s instinct, as affectionate love is a human trait, not a canine trait. Affection does not make dogs happy, satisfying their instincts make them happy. You need to provide a proper emotional stability in order to achieve this, and showing you have an orderly pack with rules to follow is what the dog needs. Giving your dog affection is important for the human, and enjoyed by the dog, but must be done at the correct time.

When a human shares its affection with a dog who is in any other state of mind but a calm, submissive one, (for example aggression, obsession, shyness, skittishness, fear or hyper activeness and so on…) and you give them a hug or pat them on the head and tell them it is ok, it is comforting to the human, but feeds into that state of mind for the dog making it more intense. You are telling the dog it is ok to feel that way. While a human feels they are comforting a dog, the dog sees it as the human being weak, as you are not providing strong energy the dog can feed from. If your dog has a traumatic experience and you show them affection during that time trying to comfort them, rather than letting them work it out in their own mind and being a strong leader they can feed from, you leave them stuck in that state of mind. Later when your dog faces this traumatic situation again, you then comfort the dog, intensifying the situation even more. You are creating the problem. Dogs do not see comfort and affection in the same way we humans see it. Dogs are always looking for a strong stable being to feed from.

On the same note: When a dog is constantly leaning on you, putting his paw on you, using his nose to make you pet them, and always feeling the need to be touching you in some way, this is not your dog loving you, it is your dog displaying dominant behaviors. In the dog world, space is respect. A dog that is constantly nudging you and leaning on you, is not only disrespecting you, they are being the alpha dog.

This also holds true for dogs who have medical issues. For example; if a dog has an operation and you feel sorry for the dog, at a time in the dog’s life when it needs a strong pack leader more than ever to feed from, you are instead becoming weaker in the dogs mind.

If you show weakness to your dog, the dog instinctively, in his own head, takes over the role of leader whether he wants the role or not, because there must be a strong leader and an order in a dog’s pack. Humans often give the dog mixed leadership signals, which throws the dog off balance, confusing his psyche, causing many of the psychological/behavioral problems we see in dogs today. Mental tension and energy build up within the dog, which lead to many of your common canine misbehaviors. Eliminating in the house, obsessive behaviors, neurotic behaviors, chewing on themselves, being overly excited, barking excessively, whining, not following their owners commands, not coming when called, running off, getting into the trash, destroying things in the house, obsessively digging, chewing the furniture, tail chasing, scratching, aggression towards other dogs, animals, or humans, snapping, biting, growling, and becoming just plain old uncontrollable (just to name a few). You name it– we can, more likely than not, trace your problem back to the way you treat your dog. In some cases it starts to appear the dog is just nuts, or psycho, and there is nothing one can do about it.

This is also the number one cause of separation anxiety. In a pack, the leader is allowed to leave, however, the followers never leave the leader. If your dog is instinctually seeing you as their follower and you leave them, it causes so much mental anguish that a dog often takes it out on your house or themselves.

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