Tuesday, June 24, 2008

When Cute Isn't Good

When you enter the house does your dog go a little nuts? Or does your dog go bananas?

Our dogs get really excited, but usually Quinn is just excited to be let outside to relieve her old lady bladder. Other than running to the back door to let her out I don’t greet my dogs in any exceptional way (usually). If they are acting extremely hyper I ignore them completely…not even saying hi until they calm down.

When I have to let them out of their kennel in the back yard they start jumping up and down (they seem to think they’re bunnies and not dogs) and yelping or howling. But until they sit down quietly they don’t get let out. I don’t say a word. I just stand there and look at them until they quite down.

My aunt was telling me about her dog, Lacey, and how cute it was that she misses her mommy so much. It turns out that Lacey was keeping my uncle up until all hours of the morning because my aunt was out late at an event. And when she finally got home Lacey followed her all around the house and wouldn’t let her out of her sight.

Cute? Maybe. But also unhealthy. The level of anxiety that Lacey felt was bad for her and bad for my uncle who had to get up at 5 a.m.

Of course, when my aunt got home she gave Lacey instant attention - petting and coddling her and reinforcing Lacey’s anxiety. And anxious dogs can become destructive dogs.

Being the quiet and shy person I am, I of course told my aunt that she should ignore Lacey when she gets home until Lacey is quiet and calm. We’ll see if that happens. Sometimes people LIKE the anxious attention their dogs give, thinking it’s cute and mistaking it for love. It’s actually quite unhealthy.

Giving our dogs (and cats) love sometimes means being tough. My mother in law thinks I’m mean when I make Trooper wait for his food…but he knows I love him and he knows that I am in charge. When I take him down (which I had to do the other day) when he growls at his brother at meal prep time I don’t do it to be mean. I do it to enforce my role as alpha and to express to him that he is NOT allowed to behave in that way.

I know that Trooper adores me and that I’m his “mommy” even though I am often strict with him. Sometimes it is kinder to be tough than to let dogs get away with things - and it helps their mental health as well as ours. :)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Spam is not tolerated and will be deleted.