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  • Richard Chan

Don’t be the drug dealer to your dog

I always tell my clients don’t sleep with their dogs. When a dog is not in a respectful, engaged, and trusting frame of mind, when a dog is displaying lots of attention seeking behaviour and separation anxiety, when a dog is reactive, entitled, fearful ..., sleeping with your dog will only make these problems many times worse. I have had Sadie for 3 years now. She was a crazy reactive massive puller who loved to steal food, chase cats, skunks, and squirrels, and lunge, growl and bark at all kinds of dogs and people when she first arrived. She used to sleep in bed with her owners. She was given up when she became a very out of control monster that they could not live with anymore. She was what a lot of people would call a very spoiled dog. I never allowed her in my bed in the last 3 years. She was always sleeping in her crate or on a bed/cot. Recently, l have decided to let her sleep with me occasionally for training purposes. She only comes up when invited, she gets off once l ask her to, she does not bark or whine for attention, she can stay in her crate calmly away from me for hours, she does not react to any dog/people, she does not pull on leash, she is very engaged in me in public, listens and complies when l ask her to do something even among lots of distractions, knows what the appropriate behaviour is without being spoon fed, is very calm be it inside her crate, outside on her bed, or on my bed, and she is on and off leash reliable... I would not let a dog into my bed until the dog is in what l consider a very balanced state of mind. Most dogs l have met are not at this stage. They are quite far from it. Prematurely giving a dog lots of unearned affection/humanization/misplaced freedom can cause lots of trouble. It is like giving drugs to someone with a drug addiction. The dog will look very happy when he sees you, he will always want to be around you, and he can never be away from you - much like how an addict looks at the dealer. However, this relationship is not good for the dog. It will not make the dog stronger or better. It will only creat an obsession and addiction that is really toxic - much like how drugs can do to a drug addict. Until you have detoxed the dog, you should not continue to fuel this addiction by giving the dog more drugs (unearned affection, excessive humanization, misplaced freedom), which will only make the dog more addicted. This is a common mistake lots of owners make. When they first get a dog/puppy, they try so hard to “bond” with the dog that all they do is to give the dog lots of affection and freedom - when the dog actually needs guidance and advocacy the most. In doing so, they unintentionally creat a very anxious, demanding, entitled, disrespectful, fearful, confused, and out of control dog who does not respect nor trust the owner. The right time to give a dog affection and freedom is when the dog is no longer anxious and obsessive about wanting them and is not constantly demanding them compulsively. It is when a dog is content and submissive, when a dog is respectful to you as a leader and can be calm and relax under your guidance no matter what. It is when you have a mutually respectful and balanced relationship with your dog. When it is done right, the dog should become better and healthier both mentally and emotionally. Affection is not a bad thing - it can be like vitamins, not drugs - when it is handed out properly. Problem is most people are handing them out excessively, prematurely, and inappropriately. If you notice that your dog is displaying some behaviour issues, please look into your relationship especially in the way you give affection and freedom and how you look at your dog. Giving the dog lots of coddling, looking at your dog as a fur baby, letting the dog do whatever he wants - especially sleeping with you - will not fix these problems but very likely make them worse. Thank you.


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