By Kat Davson-Galle
The Happy Hound Initiative
I HEAR a lot of my clients and friends say, “oh my dog is so spoilt.”
But what is the difference between a well looked after family member and a spoilt one?
What does a dog need?
Food, water, shelter, exercise, freedom from harm, pain and suffering are the legal requirements for having any animal.
At a base level, your dog needs a warm, dry and safe environment, a healthy and complete diet, the opportunity to express normal canine behaviour, the companionship of its human and/or animal family and protection from pain, injury, disease and suffering.
So, what might be considered as spoiling your dog?
Letting them sleep on your bed?
There are many benefits to both you and your dog that come from letting them sleep on our beds.
They add warmth, help us relax, increase the flow of oxytocin, provide the feeling of safety and can enhance the dog/human bond.
In saying that, co-sleeping is simply a matter of preference.
Taking your dog for a walk every day?
No matter how big your backyard is, most dogs need to be walked at least once a day.
They need to sniff and explore as that’s how they interact with the world around them.
Letting your dog on the furniture?
The reason dogs like sitting on the couch is the same as we do, it’s comfy.
They might have the added bonus of a head scratch or the joy of being close to their family.
But again, it’s completely up to you.
Allowing your dog to beg at the table?
This is probably setting your dog up for failure.
Basic manners are important to teach our dogs and most people don’t like a dog to be barking at them while they’re eating.
Teach them to go to their bed while you are eating or give them their dinner or a chew at the same time.
Giving your dog a choice?
Think about it…we decide to get the dog in the first place, what their name is, what they eat, when they eat, when they go for a walk, where they walk, when they go to the vet, who their friends are, when they are alone, the equipment used on them, the list goes on.
What choices should your dog have?
A big one is being able to avoid or relieve stress.
This might be to avoid a dog or human they don’t like, moving in and out of hot or cold temperatures, or moving away from a noise/situation they find scary.
Other choices might be choosing the toys or treats they like, choosing the direction of a walk, which bed they prefer, or whether they feel like being patted in a certain spot.
Choice is very empowering to any animal, human or otherwise, and greatly impacts on the quality of our lives.
So, is your dog spoilt or are they simply being treated as an important, social and intelligent member of your family?
Caption: Lola and Nala enjoying a nap on the couch.