By Sean O’Shea
When you lavish your dog with constant attention, praise, and affection, and you not only allow your dog to be constantly near you, but you reward and reinforce it, you’re very likely creating separation anxiety issues.
Our dogs can often become like drug addicts. They get used to an intensity and consistency of emotional interaction and physical closeness, and then when you’re not present they go through withdrawals of physical and emotions pain and discomfort.
Our dogs don’t know what’s being created, they just react to what feels good in the moment. In the same way they will eat ten pounds of food and need a vet visit, they will also take on all of the petting, the holding, the treating, the needing, the following, the longing and loving glances from you – simply because it feels good in the moment – and they will put themselves in harm’s way simply because they don’t know any better.
Because our dogs are unable to understand the gravity of what’s happening, the responsibility for striking that balance and creating a healthy environment and relationship falls on you. Your job is to do what’s right for your dog, even if that sometimes means denying yourself what feels good for you in the moment.
Just as you advocate and ensure that your dog doesn’t run into the street, doesn’t play with dogs that are dangerous or unbalanced, doesn’t eat toxic plants or food, doesn’t become dehydrated from lack of water, and doesn’t sit in a car that is too hot and dangerous on a sunny day, you also need to ensure and advocate for him that he doesn’t become emotionally and physically unhealthy due to too much love, too much affection, and too much of you.
What feels good and rewarding to you just might be hurting your dog.
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