The day you bring home the fluffy ball that will soon grow into your beloved four-legged family member is one of the most exhilarating, and stressful, days in your life. The kids are excited, the puppy is happy and out of control one minute and asleep the next, and you quickly realize that maybe all your careful reading did not actually give you a realistic idea how much your life would change by welcoming a pet into your life.
Fluffy prefers her dinner warm, with gravy, and her carrots peeled thank you very much. Fido refuses to stay home alone and requires doggy daycare each and every day.
What will you do for your Pet?
We have all gone above and beyond the duty at some point in our pet’s life. Cooking special foods, giving up the idea of a yearly vacation to cover the costs of daycare, going home on our lunch hour to let our pet outside to pee, or spending money we do not have to make sure they are happy and healthy. It is hard not to go over board when we love them and they have become such an important part of our lives and the lives of our family.
In North America, we tend to over indulge our pets. True, there are dogs that do not have a happy and healthy home life but those are the dogs this article refers too. Nor is this article about rescue or adopted dogs – they have their own suitcase of baggage for their new owners to manage.
This article is about the fussed over, cosseted, and pampered pups that sleep on our beds, eat better then many people, have their groomers on speed dial, and are over indulged in almost every aspect of their lives.
How to Combat the Pet Over Indulging Cycle
The reality however, is that our dogs are a product of our conditioning and training – we make our pets what they are!
If Fluffy wants her dinner warmed you have no one to blame but yourself. Guaranteed, no dog will starve himself or herself to death if there is perfectly good, cold food available. But, because she knows that if she refuses to eat the food as it is served, you will pop it in the microwave, why should she suffer?
We, their faithful humans, most often unwittingly encourage separation anxiety and/or destructive behavior while home alone. Instead of properly crate training a puppy as a young pet, we leave them loose in the house as well as fuss over them as we come and go. Although seen as cages by some, a crate gives a pup a den to call their own that for the rest of their life signifies a safe place to dwell and keeps them safe and unable to cause trouble when left alone. Your couch is half chewed up? Your neighbors complain about the howling? Crate training would have solved that problem before it even started.
The good news is it is never too late to un-train your pet. Put Fluffy’s dish on the ground with cold food in it and wait her out. Eventually she will eat it. Start by crate training Fido over a series of months and, once he is content in his den, quietly and without fuss, leave the house for a few minutes or until he is quiet. Then calmly come home, leaving him in the crate until he is calm.
You can retrain your pet to follow your rules instead of him being the boss of the house. It takes time and energy but no more energy then it takes to heat dinner, drive to doggy daycare, or buy a new couch every few months when the old one is finally too chewed up to sit on.