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Are You Spoiling Your Dog?  Telltale Signs You May be Guilty

Spoiling Your Dog     by David Beckett     |Published 05-04-2020

Are you in love with your dog? If you are here, of course, you are!

As a caring and responsible dog owner, developing an affectionate relationship that is based on trust and respect is crucial for its emotional and psychological health.

A pampered pug wrapped in a blanketAre You guilty of spoiling your dog?

Dogs are some of the best companions,  even more than that – they are our best friends and are part of the family.

However, that does not mean we have to spoil them rotten.

It can be tough not to spoil your dog when you love them so much, but there definitely is a point at which you will need to stop and set boundaries for your dog and yourself. 

Just like children, if you pamper your dog too much, things can quickly go out of hand, and you will have to deal with a high-maintenance, spoilt little pup down the road.  

The older the dog, the more difficult it gets to correct their bad behaviours and habits. 

Defining spoiled

The word spoiled is relative, and every owner will have their own definition of the word. For some people, a dog that can run freely around the house sits on the sofa or sleeps on the bed is considered spoiled, while others don't have an issue with such behaviour. 

Spoiled is usually used with a negative connotation – a dog owner that is giving their pet anything they demand and continuously ignores bad behaviour is ultimately spoiling his pet. 

So if you catch yourself saying something like: "Awww but she doesn't really know what she is doing" or "It isn't that bad," it might be time to dig deeper and have a closer look at how you are educating your dog. 

Spoiling a dog, confuses them and can lead to increased anxiety and undesirable behaviour patterns. 

Behavioural Changes and Signs of a Spoilt dog

There are many changes and behavioural issues that can be the result of spoiling and pampering your dog. 

If your dog drags you around the block on walks, lunges, and barks at every passing thing, starts barking as soon as you turn on the TV to relax, or wakes you every night – well, then you are dealing with a spoiled dog. 

A dog with no manners is a spoiled dog!

Signs You are Spoiling Your Dog

A Yorkshire terrier is asking for a treat.Too many treats may cause a dog to be overweight. An obese dog may mean you are spoiling your dog.

Below you can find more signs that you might be dealing with a spoilt dog: 

Is Your Dog Overweight?

Your dog is overweight:  Dogs love food, and we love how they light up when they chew on their favourite treat, or you give them a slice of your medium-rare steak. 

A common way to spoil a dog is by overfeeding it with treats and other "people food."

It is best not to reward your pet with a treat for every little thing that they did well. 

Often a quick cuddle, a relaxing belly rub, or a pat on the head is good enough and can lead to the same positive correlation effect you get with "reward treats."  

If your dog is very food motivated, then you can keep using treats, but make sure to cut them small. When it comes to "people food," well, it is best just to cut it out of your pet's diet completely.

An obese dog can also lose its motivation to go out on walks, which further fuels weight gain and deteriorating health over time. 

Begin with a lower daily calorie intake and then start out with short, manageable walks at first. With the lower body weight and the physical ability adjusting to the new exercise regiment, you can slowly increase intensity and duration. 

Trust me on this one – every dog will learn to love going out and explore the world. 

Does Your Dog Suffer from Separation Anxiety?

A small dog is looking away from a window.Separation Anxiety may be a sign of an overly spoiled dog.

A spoiled dog is more likely to develop severe separation anxiety. Continuous praise and attention might lead to an ever-increasing desire for your attention. 

So, naturally, your pet will be stressed when you leave the house – and they might show you that by non-stop barking, whining, and turning your house upside down.

If this is the case, then your best bet, besides proper training, is to tire your dog out before you leave the house. A tired and satisfied dog is a good dog.

If you still can, then working on crate training early on is the way to go. This way, your dog learns to relax when you leave him for a few hours. 

If you must be away for more than just a few hours, you can always consider hiring a dog walker or bring your pup to family and friends.

Does Your Dog Show Signs of Bad Behaviour Without a Reason?

If simple daily routines like feeding, going number one and two, sleeping, and regular walks were never thoroughly taught to your dog early on, then this can be a dangerous recipe for disaster! 

Your pet knows no real boundaries and believes they can do whatever whenever they want.

This often leads to pets peeing and pooping wherever they want, regular trashing sprees around the house, and relentless chewing on your favourite furniture.

It doesn't have to be that extreme. Running towards the door when it rings, jumping on people, and extreme licking are surefire signs that your dog lacks boundaries. 

These are behaviours that are both taught and reinforced by owners who "just can't say no."

This way of handling your dog can lead to issues like persistent pulling at the leash, snapping, not listening when called, and ignoring even the most basic commands. This leads to not only spoiling your dog, but dangerous behaviors that can bring harm to your dog.

Is Your Dog Overly Protective of You?

angry chihuahuaAn overprotective dog may appear to be either angry or aggressive around other people. This could indicate an issue with spoiling your dog.

Some dog breeds are just naturally very loyal and extremely protective. Hence this can be a little trickier to distinguish from character traits.

If your pet tends to growl, bark, or lunge at other people at home or during walks, it is often because the dog is overly protective of their owner.  They don't want anyone to come within their" owner zone of protection."  

This behaviour comes from improper or complete lack of socialization plus reinforcing this bad behaviour.

A dog that hasn't been adequately socialized does not know how to interact with anyone outside of their comfort zone; it's home.

Naturally, they will be overprotective and aggressive towards anyone that gets near to their owner because they haven't learned that people or animals are not a threat.

How to Avoid Spoiling Your Dog

Once you know what signs to look out for, it becomes time to correct bad behaviour and unspoil him.

Below you can find useful tips that you can use to help your dog be well-adjusted, mannered, and anxiety-free.

Six Ways to Prevent Spoiling Your Dog

1. Early training

The earlier you start training, the easier it will be for both of you. Start training during puppy-hood. This way, any rules will become part of their "normal" lives. 

If your dog is older or you have just adopted an adult dog, begin training right away and help your dog transition into their new way of life.

2. Socialize

Socialize your dog when they are still a puppy. The more they interact with dogs and people outside of your family, the less possessive they will be of you. 

Adult dogs can have a hard time adjusting, and you might want to consider starting sessions with a professional dog trainer to get the ball rolling. But, adult dogs can be socialized and in so doing, you will prevent any opportunities for spoiling your dog.

3. No Excessive feeding

Consult your vet about how much and what you should be feeding your dog and stick to it. 

Do not give them any table food as in many cases, it is not suitable for them. 

Additionally, your dog will start begging for what they want, which can further encourage bad behaviour down the road.

Not giving them any "human" food helps them learn not to beg plus establishes your role as a pack leader. 

4. Provide Regular praise and treats

Reward your dog when they have done something right. Remember, don't just reward them with treats. 

A well-balanced mix of verbal praise, physical attention, and treats is the way to go here. 

This way, your pet won't become overly food motivated and dependent on treats for good behaviour. 

5. Establish yourself as the leader

A dog looks to its owner for leadership and security. If we do not provide them with this, he will start taking matters into its own paws to survive.

Dogs crave rules and guidance. They need established boundaries! Hence loving your dog means establishing a clear relationship between you two. 

Dogs are instinctive beings and do things that make them feel safe.  You have to make them feel protected and show them what is expected of him.

This means you are the pack leader, you determine the rules and get to decide when the dog should be rewarded for good behaviour. 

If you want to let your dog sit on the couch or sleep in your bed, that is fine. However, everything must be on your terms.

A dog is happiest when it has its well-established role in the family. Gentle but firm leadership will make your life together a lot easier.

6. Stay consistent

Be strict to yourself and your dog. If you set up a rule, be sure you enforce it – always! 

Tell your family and friends about your plans and make sure you are behaving consistently with your dog as well. 

Conclusion:  Spoiling Your Dog

We love our dog, and they deserve a lot of praise, love, and attention. 

While you might feel sad or guilty for being strict with your pet, in the long run, you are doing them a favour. 

Your life together will not only be more relaxed and happier, but you are providing your dog with much-needed structure and routine.

You can give your dog all the love you want but always ensure that you remain a calm and assertive leader. Win your dog's respect, and he will listen to you.  You will never be guilty of spoiling your dog.

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Author Bio:  Spoiling Your Dog

David Beckett is the writer and chief editor at Shuozo, a pet blog and store for accessories, such as cat beds, dog nail grinders etc. On his blog he shares useful tips on pet ownership and hopes to encourage others to keep their pets healthy, happy and really treasure their time together. 

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About Janice (author and voice behind this site)

Having lived with dogs and cats most of her life, Janice served as a veterinary technician for ten years in Maryland and twelve years as a Shih Tzu dog breeder in Ohio.

Her education includes undergraduate degrees in Psychology with a minor in biology, Early Childhood Education, and Nursing, and a master's in Mental Health Counseling.

She is a lifelong learner, a dog lover, and passionate about the welfare of animals. Her favorite breed for over 50 years has been the Shih Tzu, but she has also lived with Poodles, Maltese, Yorkshire Terriers, Beagles, English Bulldogs, Carin Terriers, and a Cocker Spaniel.

When not writing, reading, and researching dog-related topics, she likes to spend time with her eight Shih Tzu dogs, husband, and family, as well as knitting and crocheting. She is also the voice behind Miracle Shih Tzu and Smart-Knit-Crocheting

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