Mark's Dog Blog

Your Emotional Needs Should Not Override Your Dogs Instinctive Needs

Hyper-arousal and anxiety

When dogs have no defined consistent rules and boundaries, have no understanding of respecting personal and social space, and no impulse control, why wouldn't we expect to come across neurotic dogs in a state of continual hyper-arousal and emotional distress?

The major issue as to why so many dog owners are having issues maintaining a well balanced and emotionally stable dog, is that affection is handed out way too freely, with little to no enforced discipline. Too many dog owners are not controlling their dogs arousal levels and impulses. Too many dog owners are rewarding and reinforcing behaviours that would be considered very disrespectful and outright rude if they were displayed by a child or another adult.

If I walked into a clients home and immediately invaded their personal space, got right into their face and assertively and excitedly demanded their full and undivided attention, I guarantee you, I wouldn't be in business for very long! However, if I brought a dog along with me that displayed the same type of behaviour, my dog in most cases would be given immediate positive attention and affection!

Many dog owners need to stop putting their emotional needs above their dogs psychological and instinctive needs. By allowing our emotional needs to be more important than our dogs psychological and instinctive needs, we are being very selfish, and not being fair to our dog. Dogs don't need medication for issues such as obsessive compulsive disorders, hyper-arousal and anxiety in most cases, they need fair and consistent discipline, rules and boundaries to be able to live a balanced life within their social group.

Many will say the reason so many dogs are out of control and have so many issues is because many dog owners humanise their dogs too much. I don't fully subscribe to this hypothesis, as most of these dogs are being rewarded for behaviours we would consider totally unacceptable and inappropriate if displayed by a human, child or adult. If we set the same rules with our dogs as we expect from other humans, such as respecting personal and social space, and condition impulse control, we would see a lot less dogs with issues such as hyper-arousal issues and anxiety related behaviours.

We need to get past this idea pushed by so many purely positive puppy preschools and a large number of purely positive and force-free trainers, that all our dogs need is lots of affection in the form of mollycoddling and heaps of positive reinforcement. This attitude of putting our own emotions above our dogs instinctive needs is influencing our relationship with our dogs in a negative way, and causing so many psychological and behavioural issues, that are not the dogs fault and yet gets most of the blame.

Vet run puppy preschools, that push all this mollycoddling of puppies, and not instructing the puppy's owners how to set and enforce rules and boundaries in a way the puppy instinctively understands, are in my opinion responsible in large part for why we are observing such an epidemic of dogs on psychotropic medications, and why the statistics are increasing every year. Any so-called professional that informs you it is abusive to physically correct or punish a puppy in an appropriate manner are more concerned about not hurting their own feelings than the overall welfare of the dog, Many that instruct at these schools don't even understand the signs of an anxious pup, and reward or reinforce this state at the detriment of the pups long-term psychological health. There are way too many puppy schools operated by people that have little to no knowledge of dog behaviour, instincts and drives, informing puppy owners how to raise their pups. Just because they can teach a puppy to sit for a treat, doesn't mean they should be instructing in these classes, during such an important period of the dogs life.

Without a balanced relationship with your dog, all you can hope for is a state of chaos, and that is being very unfair to your dog and its relationship with you.

The Avoidance Of (administering) Discomfort