Updated: Jul 1
No we shouldn’t, but what is regarded as spoiling our dogs isn’t accurate! Giving your dog freedom, choices, treats and cuddles won’t spoil your dog! Dogs need boundaries for sure, but they don’t need strict commands in order to flourish into a lovely well mannered dog!
Too many rules will spoil your dog, it will spoil their character, it will spoil their personality and spoil your bond.
Let me explain further
Enforcing unnecessary rules and restrictions onto your dog's life in the name of traditional training which has been disproven will spoil your dog's lovely nature. To be specific, punishing your dog, telling them off, and shouting at them, punishment varies, some are more severe than others, some punishments involve smacking your dog and others are more mild like shutting them away when they have done something “wrong”. A punishment is to either do something to your dog they won’t like, or to take something away from them that they do like. The result is that your dog will become fearful, anxious and will have low confidence around people, they will become cautious, timid and appeasing or they can become defensive. Some dogs can start off as timid and appeasing but over time they can end up becoming defensive and develop some unhealthy behaviour issues.
Having rules in place that aren’t necessary further restrict your dog from displaying natural behaviours, there are many examples I can give but in general you have to ask yourself what is logical? Is your dog snuggling up with you on the sofa really going to teach them bad behaviours or will it increase their comfort and their bond with you? Does your dog need to stare at you and walk glued to your heel on a lead or does this restrict their natural needs on a walk? For those wondering, the latter is true, dogs need to sniff their environment, look around their surroundings and enjoy their walk but this doesn’t mean they should be pulling your arm out it’s socket!
Unfortunately dogs have been misrepresented in movies, tv shows and books, they are portrayed as robotic animals who need to obey their master and should enjoy suppressing their natural needs in order to please us, which is of course far from reality.
Dogs are animals who have been domesticated rather well to live alongside us, they have adapted to our forever changing fast paced lifestyles exceptionally well! We often forget that they are individuals and many things we think are behaviour problems are just dogs being dogs, we have such high expectations for how dogs should behave that we can end up spoiling our dogs. A behaviour issue can be any issue that causes your dog stress, distress, discomfort and impacts their life negatively as well as your life, this ranges from dog to dog and can be addressed and helped with the right therapy methods.
The take home point of this blog is to continue cuddling your dogs (if they enjoy this, some dogs may not benefit from being cuddled if they don’t enjoy it) , treating them like the family members that they are, guilt free! You are not spoiling your dogs, you are enhancing their lives! You are offering them more choices in a world which can often leave dogs with little choice, we choose what they eat, when they eat, how they eat, when they walk, where they walk, where they sleep etc.
Providing your dogs with guidance rather than strict rules will help your dog to develop a confident and joyful personality and they will learn to keep to reasonable boundaries. You teach your dog life skills, not obedience! Life skills works for everyone and keeps you and your dog happy :)