Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Love for Our Pets ... how much is too much?

A few days ago I saw this photo on Facebook and I shared it.

Honestly, my first thoughts amounted to: this is love! This man is carrying his big dog across a bridge because the poor baby is afraid. Sounds nice, huh?


I immediately received a response amounting to something like the following:

"With all due respect, but this is pathetic. In the wild, the pack leader would have left that dog on the other side and he'd have gotten over his 'fear'."

My Facebook friend has a good point. I was reminded of the time we took our large Golden retriever mix, Shadow, to the beach. We could tell immediately that he was fearful of the waves - for a retriever, he'd strangely never been much of a water dog anyway. It was his first time around this strange very loud pool.

Sure, he'd seen us splash around in our outdoor pool but the ocean is (pardon the pun) a different animal. The waves roll in and crash, roll back out again, and then repeat. My dog decided he'd had enough of this and started barking back at the waves. Well, they were talking to him, weren't they?

I didn't indulge my dog's fears by taking him far away from the ocean. However, for the rest of the day he did sit very close to his "pack leaders" because it was the only way he'd feel safe in this new and brave new world we'd taken him to visit.

Our society does tend to indulge our dogs and treat them very much like our own children (actually, sometimes much better). We often let them get away with bad behavior which would never be accepted in the "pack". We do it because we love them, but are we enabling them? And should it matter? It's not like they are going to grow up and join dog gangs, collect welfare and become a burden on society.

However, as far as rewarding bad behavior, my guess is that Cesar Milan would have a thing or two to say about that and how much it might "cost" you.

So here's my question: how much do you "baby" your dog (or pet) and how much is too much?

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