Is my dog actually happy?

You do everything for your dog… You snuggle with him, give him lots of belly rubs, let him pull you on walks, hold and pet him when he is scared, and give him lots of treats.  That makes a dog happy, right?  Wrong! 

We are extremely selfish when it comes to our dogs.  We give our dogs treats because it makes us feel like we are spoiling them.  We dress them up and post them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram because it makes us as humans feel warm and fuzzy inside. This does not mean our dogs are happy.

There are so many instances where I see high-anxiety dogs within a household that coddles them too much.  Our dogs do not think like we do.  In their mind, if nothing bad is happening, it is good.  Positive is the absence of negative for them.  Dogs need leaders, not coddlers.  Your dog doesn’t even know that he needs you. Think about it.  He just thinks, “I wake up and my bowl gets put down, I pull to get where I want on my walks, I come home and protect my humans against the evil Fed Ex guy and mailman, and so on.”

Our dogs want us to make decisions for them.  This makes them less anxious.  If they believe that you can handle certain situations, it takes the pressure off of them.  Does your dog bark and lunge at other dogs or people on their walks?  Perhaps when this happens, you pull the leash a little tighter to hold on to him and tell him everything’s okay.  You are actually communicating to your dog that you WANT him to lunge and bark at that person or dog.  They think, “Yes, mom is telling me this is good!”  We, as humans, think that we are calming the dog down and telling them that they do not need to act out that way, but your dog sees it completely different. 

Look at your dog and think, “Do my actions make my dog happy, or does it make me happy?”

Pittsburgh Dog Training