Probably one of the worst things we can do is treat our dog like he/she is human. It’s hard to accept, but our furry little friends are not little people…. they are canines, and have a completely different thought and reasoning process. Understanding the differences will lead to a happier, calmer, and better behaved dog.
In a dog’s world, everything has an order to it, particularly their own pack. By living with you, your family has become their pack. There are leaders and there are followers in a pack. In order for us to have a successful relationship with our dog, the human must become the dog’s pack leader. Your dog has to have rules and limits set by the pack leader in order to be well balanced and emotionally secure. We humans tend to be too affectionate with our dogs (yes, you can be too affectionate). If overly affectionate, your dog may actually consider you as weak! Hugs, pets and kisses are a MUST, but don’t be afraid to calmly assert yourself as a leader.
We need to satisfy not only their need for love, but we need to also satisfy their instincts. Instinctively, dogs need a strong “being” in charge. If there is not a strong leader, a dog will feel that their life and the lives of the rest of the pack are threatened. If your dog views you as being weak, he/she may take over as the leader, even if he does not want to! This can be very stressful or even terrifying for him because he then has to carry the weight of the survival and well-being of his pack on his shoulders! We are also guilty of giving our dog mixed leadership signals which is very confusing for the dog as well. The mental stress that ensues can be the cause of much of the bad behavior we see in dogs these days.
We may have successfully domesticated our dogs, but we will never be able to remove their natural instincts. When we try to treat a dog with human characteristics, problems will most certainly arise. We innocently believe that doting over them and letting them do what they want will make them happy, but we are actually doing just the opposite. By not satisfying their natural instincts, we end up with confused and unhappy dogs.