More and more I see ads from people or rescues trying to adopt out dogs. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that part. Often times these are also ads for dogs with behavioral issues.
Lots of people start commenting with “aww I want them, I will give them lots of love and snuggles”; Or aww “poor baby, all they need is love and TLC”. And as bad as this may sound, deep inside I hope that this exact person that posted a response like this will NOT get this dog and I’m hoping that a match is found for the dog that understands their true needs. Yes, all dogs deserve loving homes but the right loving homes that don't forget that dogs are dogs!
What often is misunderstood I believe is, what kind of love do dogs actually need. What does your dog consider love!? If you think of love as lots and lots of affection, and cuddles and kisses and hugs and late night movie nights, I think your dog might raise an eyebrow at you. Providing this as the main kind of love for dogs does not fulfill their needs as dogs and does not solve behavior problems (even if the dogs was abused and is just scared of people) but often creates them or making matters worse. Providing this as the main kind of love, does not give dogs the proper biological fulfillment or an outlet for their drives.
Some people tend to forget that dogs are not Fur Babies! Although they are social creatures, they are animals! They ARE hunters! They ARE predators! Yes, even the little Chihuahua or Toy Poodle!
Don’t get me wrong, my dogs are spoiled rotten, they hang out on the couch and watch movies with me, and they get affection and pets, lots of it. But they also get all their other needs met FIRST. I know that they have teeth and that they are very powerful and chose not to bite me or other people and chose not to go out and fulfill their prey drive by going for other animals or creatures. Part of this is training, part of this is management because again they are animals with instincts... and at least one of my dogs is not friends with cats no matter how much love I give her and how much I want her to love the cute kitty too. A big part of making sure my dogs are happy canine citizens it is giving them outlets where their personal needs as animals, hunters, predators are fulfilled.
So what are their personal needs? Or what would I consider giving love to a dog?
Exercise, structure, boundaries, biological fulfillment through breed appropriate stimulation mentally and physically and at the very end of this list, lets add affection (snuggles if you want to)
If you want to give your dog lots and lots of love and TLC, think of it this way:
Love your dog by going for walks together, take him swimming or running
Love your dog by playing games with him he enjoys that may fulfill his prey drive or hunting nature
Love your dog by enrolling into dog sports or dog activities
Love your dog by setting boundaries and rules that both of you follow in your home and throughout your dog’s life
Once you loved your dog all of they way above, then go hang out on the couch and snuggle with your dog, assuming that is something he enjoys and love your dog with affection.
You only truly love your dog if you acknowledge who he/she really is and what their needs are to live a happy and fulfilled life AS A DOG and if you do everything in your power to meet these needs. Otherwise you are just fulfilling most of your own needs of affection.
So please, love your dog the right kind of way!
About the author:
Simone Krebser - CPDT: Owner and head dog trainer of K9 Possible Dog Training serving the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia from Osoyoos to Penticton and Kelowna with result based dog training. Certified dog trainer, certified pet first aid instructor, member of the IACP, dog crazy and chocolate/cheese addict. “My life revolves around dog’s day in and out and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is my goal to help enhance the lives of as many dogs (and their owners) as possible. Your dog is my priority and I’m as committed to your dog as you are. But I can only help those who sincerely want to help their dogs and not only themselves.”