Can a Pet Have Too Much Attention?

An overview of balanced pet ownership and avoiding separation anxiety and other bad behaviours.

How much attention does your dog get every day? Lots? A little? Does it matter? Is more better? People define their ownership in very human ways. Owners often fear their pet will hate them if they have to diet it or cage it due to illness or injury. They give their cat or dog unlimited attention and treats and truly believe this makes them a better owner than others who are more balanced.

What are these owners really doing? Do cats and dog really judge you by the quality of the treats you provide? Lets think for a moment. What happens to dogs in the wild? Do they make a kill and then share it out? No they don’t. The leaders eat first and get the best bits and the others only gradually get to creep in for their share. The only reason any dog gives food to another is if that dog is higher up the dominance ladder than it is itself. So if you keep giving your dog your food, or always give it something because you are eating yourself, your dog will lose respect for you.

There is a condition called “separation anxiety” which is often the diagnosis for dogs who cannot cope when left. Dogs and cats who bark, cry or howl, chew things or destroy items or mess all over are usually given this diagnosis. Owners like the idea that their pet has a “condition” so it seems like it isn’t their fault. But sometimes it is their fault. If you treat your pet like a baby, constantly pick it up and feel flattered by its scrabbling at your leg all day you are selfish. Your pet doesn’t have separation anxiety, you have simply created your own monster and encouraged your pet to lose all self esteem and confidence.

Pet ownership should be a balance. Occasional treats, sensible amounts of attention and being strong enough to reject them sometimes is the way to producing a confident, well balanced pet. If your dog pulls, doesn’t listen, barks or shows aggression, it may be your fault. If you don’t act like a leader then your dog will become the leader. This means the dog will be under huge pressure to defend the pack and territory, scent mark and keep others away. A lot of dogs who bite are dogs with no proper training or manners, not neutered and often very spoiled.

Don’t think of yourself, think of your pet. Your pet needs security and confidence and no responsibilities. It needs to feel loved and happy but constant treats and no rules will not make your pet love you more, it will create a pet that lacks confidence and has no quality of life. Be sensible not selfish.

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