How Do I Stop My Pup from Being Spoiled?

Baxter Ridgeback/8 months old/ IG: https://www.instagram.com/baxter_ridgeback_mdp

I don’t want you to think that I’m about to tell you not to show your pup affection. That’s ludicrous. I do however, want you to understand the value of your affection. Also, there should be some rules your pup must follow, and there’s no amount of puppy eyes or whining that can persuade you.

We know that dogs are pack animals, and we understand those archaic terms like Alpha and Beta. If your pup is spoiled, you may have given them a very valuable resource, whenever they ask or beg. I’m not talking about treats either, I’m talking about affection or attention. Affection is such a powerful reward, that simply looking at your pup is satisfying to them. Just like affection and attention, ignoring your pup can be an effective tool. For example, if your pup loves to jump on people when they come through the front door or when they greet people, it’s most likely because when they jump and greet YOU at the door it gets your attention. Talking to them, saying no, pushing them off you, and showing an exaggerated emotion like frustration is attention and affection in dog language. All your pup has learned is that when they jump on you, you talk to them, touch them, and even your emotions change. Have you ever noticed how dogs annoy other dogs when they are trying to get them to play? Guess what, you’re the other dog. One way to handle this is to take all the fun out of the situation and normalize the event. How is this done? You ignore them. When you come into the house, walk around and get settled. Do what you have to do first, they can wait. This brings us to my next point.

There are common rules your pup needs to understand and follow daily. I call them appropriate behaviors. This requires you to teach your pup that when they behave a certain way, usually they will be rewarded with attention and affection, or the occasional food reward. For example, when I come home from work, I let Baxter outside to pee. I don’t greet or mess around with him. I understand he’s excited to see me, but this is how I calm him down a bit. When he’s done his business, he comes inside, and THEN I show him relaxed affection. Meaning, I’m not being playful when I greet him, because that’s not the type of energy I want him to have. He needs to have all four paws on the ground before I give him my attention. If he jumps up or becomes playful, the reward stops immediately.

This isn’t the only way to deal with a spoiled pup, but it’s a start. It’s a very common mistake for pet parents not to understand the value of their affection and attention. Also, this doesn’t mean your pup will behave when guests come into the house. That’s a separate situation that needs to be taught. Remember, manage the reward, be fair and consistent, and hopefully your pup will show more acceptable behaviors.

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