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  • Richard Chan

You have a choice.

"My dog won't stop whining in the crate, jumping up on guests, nipping our hands when we try to pet her, and she chews all our leashes and shoes. I just want to cuddle with her on the sofa and watch TV, but l cannot even watch the show...she demands my attention all the time. I am so exhausted. Help!" When we introduce a dog in our household, we need to let our dog understand that attention is to be earned, not demanded. When we keep snuggling and petting our dog all the time, allowing our dog to demand our attention through whining, chewing, nipping...we are teaching our dog demanding our attention is the way to go. Once a dog believes that this is the most effective way to get what she wants, she will often develop a very entitled attitude - l want this. I don't care. l want it now! You will likely see other problems in your daily life when this pushy and demanding attitude is manifested in other areas. A pushy and demanding dog has no respect for her human. Such a dog usually pulls massively on leash, won't come back when called, is very destructive in the house, very hard to control outside in public, really vocal whenever she does not get what she wants when she wants it... Many such dogs are eventually surrendered because they are really challenging to live with. Even if they are kept by their owners, they often have very little freedom because they cannot be trusted. This attitude is created and nurtured by how we live with our dog. We have a choice. We can teach the dog how to make better decision rather than rewarding the dog with affection no matter what she does. We can show the dog that everything is to be earned rather than allowing the dog to get what she wants by demanding it with pushiness. We can teach her she needs to wait patiently and respectfully for what she wants. To do so, we need to have discipline. We need to show our dog a very consistent black and white system whereas she will be rewarded when she listens but be held accountable when she does not. This teaches her how to make better choices. When a dog knows what is right and what is wrong, and why and how to make better decision by looking to us for direction and permission, we will have a well behaved dog that we can really enjoy spending our life with. When a dog is nipping, whinning, chewing...she should not be allowed to stay on the sofa and snuggle with the owner. It is not easy for some owners to do even when they know this is really not the best thing for the training of the dog. That is why self discipline is important. Snuggling on the sofa is a very rewarding experience for a dog. A dog with an entitled and demanding attitude is not ready for this reward until she has learned her manner and offered the proper behaviour. When we keep lavishing a disrespectful dog with affection, we are telling the dog it is rewarding to disrespect us. Why should she stop disrespecting us? The more we reward this, the more this attitude is reinforced. That is teaching the dog to make choices based on what the dog wants, with no regard to what we want. In other words, we are encouraging our dog to disrespect us and just act like a very spoil child who throws a tantrum whenever she is upset. Respect is to be earned. We need to earn our dog's respect. To do so, please look at what is best for your dog, not just what makes you feel good. Do you want to live with an entitled and demanding dog with frustration, or would you rather have a calm and well behaved dog that you can include in all aspects of your life and share lots of fun experience with for the next 15 years? A dog is much happier when she can have life inclusion. To do so, we need to teach her how to make better decisions. We need to teach her good manner. We need to teach her how to respect us. Spoiling a dog who is being very destructive, rude, pushy, bratty, entitled and manipulative is only going to reward and reinforce this mindset so she will get worst. This is not good for either your dog or you. Please look at the long term big picture. We need to exercise self discipline to forgo the instant gratification of "l want to feel good about snuggling with my dog on the sofa every single night" and make an effort to teach this dog how to respect rules and boundaries and patiently wait and earn her reward. If you keep rewarding your dog for being rude and disrespectful, you will continue to have a rude and disrespectful dog. We have a choice. We can teach the dog that attention is to be earned, not to be demanded, and we can make an effort to teach this dog how to make the right decisions so we can all enjoy a great life together. 


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