How only providing affection hurts your relationship with your dog.
Before I continue, I’d like to restate that it is important to seek professional help for your dog if you don’t understand this information or how to apply it in a way that is helpful. Also, no dog is the same, just like no human is. So, what works for one dog may not work for the next.
Last time, in part 1 of “Living Comfortably with Your Dog”, we talked about understanding the nature of the being that we are working with (in this case, a dog) and that we should treat them as such. Treating a dog as a human or any other thing than a dog can impact an owner-dog relationship in a way that most people, of the ones behaving in this way, never intended. Of course, affection I something a dog needs and I am in no way saying that you should not provide your dog with affection. However, I am suggesting that dog owners should be conscious of how the decide to provide affection. Giving a dog affection when he or she is behaving in the way you desire is a great idea. Giving your dog affection when his or her behavior is undesired is not such a good idea. For example, when a dog seems to be acting aggressively, many owners will pet their dog as a way to calm him or her down. This is understandable, but also wrong, and potentially dangerous. This method will effectively reinforce your dog’s unwanted behavior. The dog will, most likely, think this behavior is what you want and will continue and perhaps become more intense, at it. This is just a simple misunderstanding that will cause mutual confusion between the owner and dog. At this point, any trust and respect this owner has with their dog will be decreasing at a fast pace. The owner may feel fear, resentment, anger, etc… These feelings will confuse the dog, because they may think that is what the owner desired. The dog may also sense his/her owner’s emotional instability and feel the need to protect him or her, causing more unwanted behaviors. Inevitably the relationship between the owner and dog will be in bad spot and horrible instances can come from a simple misunderstanding.
Before we can ask our dogs to behave in the way in which we desire, we must provide them with their needs. This goes right back to “respecting the nature of the being”. So, what do dogs need? We will go over that answer in the next blog addition. So stay tuned!