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Friday, July 1, 2011

Dogs and Affection: Appropriate Limits
for Our Own Expressions of Affection

by Carrie Boyko, CEB

First let's admit it.  We all love giving affection to our dogs.  Their greetings at the door are met with a loving  snuggle on the bed or a belly rub on the rug.  Whatever your particular form of affection, each owner and dog-pair bond through this mutual exchange.

But when and how do we take it too far?  Let's explore some of the ways that excessive loving over the long-term has effects on our happy family balance.

1.  Dogs cue in to our enjoyment of and need for joining them in affectionate exchanges.  With this knowledge, they learn to use it to their advantage, getting more frequent and lengthy sessions, unless we firmly, yet respectfully set limits.

2.  Free-fed dogs and those that are treated frequently without working for or earning their food, come to feel more of an ownership of that food.  This can play out as food aggression with the owner or other animals.  When left to their own devices, dogs have to work for their food, generally by scavenging.  By honoring and maintaining that natural part of their lives, we benefit by having a dog that respects us more as a part of their group (dare I say Pack?) and less as their personal cafeteria servant.

3.  The walk is a time for bonding with our dog in a special way. We must be careful to maintain a balance between the tough 'leader' exterior and the well-meaning owner.  You are the leader-by-default in position as well as decision making.  Affection is earned at the end of the walk when your dog proves his ability to come along according to your wishes,  properly and well-behaved.  A few words of praise for the performance you desire on the walk is generally adequate affection during the walk.  When you return home and remove the leash--now is the time to give an ample massage, treat or Fido's rub of choice.

4.  Proper social behavior, in all environments, is a great time to offer praise or words of encouragement to assure that your dog knows he is acting to your expectations. Reward=Repeat behavior. 

On another note, my photo above is an apparent farewell to a blogger who has, at least temporarily, left our ranks. I hope I speak for us all when I say we hope he will return. His site is comic relief for the problem of our over-abundance of homeless pets that are not spayed or neutered. If you have a moment to support this cause, visit HelpJoey and leave a comment. Enjoy reading a few of his humorous antics as he uses a completely unique approach to showing us how seriously important this problem is. We need moral support, guys....get to it!

Today's post is part of the Saturday Pet Blogger Hop, sponsored by Life with Dogs, Confessions of the Plume, and Two Little Cavaliers. Rules for participation by bloggers follow, as copied from the Life with Dogs site on 6/29/11:
  • Link up your pet blog name and URL using the Linky Tool below. You only need to add your link once to be seen on all the Saturday Pet Blogger Blog Hop Linky Tools for that week. Note that if your blog is not pet related your link will be removed. Also note that only one post per blog is acceptable, and links promoting giveaways that are unrelated to the pet blogger hop will be removed. This is a community building exercise and not a promotional vehicle – please treat it as such.
  • Grab the “Saturday Pet Blogger Blog Hop” button on the right hand side of this site and include it in your Saturday Blog hop post so that your readers will know what is going on. *Note – posting is optional. Feel free to just link and follow.
  • Follow your co-hosts listed in the first 3 slots of the Linky Tool.
  • Follow as many other blogs on the linky as you’d like.
  • Take a moment to comment on the blogs telling them you’re from the blog hop.
  • Follow back when you get a new follower through the Saturday Pet Blogger Hop.
  • Make friends and grow. ♥


Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

I am totally loving the comments on my Facebook page for this article. Thanks for everyone's support and thoughts on an important topic that is often considered trivial.

Diva LaVega said...

Hey there, Im new to this Blog Hop thing, but Im lovin it already. I love your Blog!

View My new Blog about my New Chihuahua Puppy and her race in the Cutest Pups of July Contest at

Remember to Vote for DIVA!!

Sage said...

Excellent post, Carrie! And so true.

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