So if a dog sleeps on a luxurious memory foam pad, is he spoiled? How about if she eats expensive treats, wears high-priced collars, or is groomed at the priciest spa in town?
The best explanation of the difference between pampering and spoiling was given to me in an interview with (the late) Sophia Yin, D.V.M., M.S., veterinarian, applied animal behaviorist, and author of Perfect Puppy in 7 Days: How to Start your Puppy off Right (Cattle Dog Publishing, 2011). “Pampering dogs with luxuries is different than spoiling them,” explained Yin. Unlike a human offspring who recognizes (at least at some age) if he’s the one with expensive things, dogs with lavish toys have no clue about cost. Well, there’s occasionally that one braggy dog strutting around the park saying “look at my full-grain leather leash!” but he’s an exception.
So we can pamper our dogs if it entertains us and our budget allows. In contrast, spoiling a dog isn’t harmless. “A spoiled dog has few boundaries to behavior,” explained Yin. “He takes without asking, pushes his owners around, and demands attention.” According to Yin, such behavior can be annoying for people around the dog, but can also result in an unhappy or anxious dog, even if the family doesn’t mind the behavior.
Wondering if your dog is pampered? Here are six clues your dog may be a pampered pooch:
- Your credit card bill has gone to the dogs, with countless entries for dog pastry shops, pet stores, dog supplies, or grooming boutiques.
- The dog has more sweaters than you have.
- You throw more birthday parties for your dog than your human family members.
- Baskets of dog toys overflow into each room.
- You eagerly read the ads for new products on Dog Channel rather than in People Magazine (no complaints from us!)
- You carry a nylon wallet and your dog has a full-grain leather collar (ah, we found the owner of the boastful dog above!)
Now wondering if your dog, instead of being pampered, is spoiled? Here are six clues your canine may be crowned in the realm of Spoildom:
- She pushes, knocks into you, or otherwise invades your personal space.
- She only obeys when treats are in view. Or doesn’t obey at all.
- The dog pulls, yanks, or tangles you in her leash on walks.
- He takes food, toys, or space without asking.
- She claims your furniture as hers, and gets up or down without a “by your leave.”
- He whines, barks, nudges you, pushes his head at you, or nags to be carried, petted, entertained, walked, or fed.
If you’ve determined your dog is spoiled, not simply pampered, remember that old dogs really can learn new tricks, and that training, when done correctly, is fun for both owner and dog.
If you’ve determined that he’s only pampered, then check out the ads for fun new products to buy him!