We all know human parents who over-protect their children, sometimes to their detriment. As dispassionate bystanders, we know that no one is doing their child any favors by picking them up a hundred feet down the driveway when the school bus arrives and driving them back to the house, making them wear winter jackets when the temperature drops to less than tropical, and practically demanding a full resume from any child they might want to play with.
Why do they do it? The simplest answer is that they love their children. But that kind of love can be harmful. Those parents might be solving some problems, but they’re creating even bigger ones. Sometimes, we treat our dogs in a similar fashion, loving them so much that we make poor decisions.
When is Love Too Much?
It’s a wonderful thing to see the way people love their dogs, care for their comfort, and want to do things that make them happy. Problems arise, though, when you place their immediate comfort and happiness ahead of their long term well-being. Here are five ways that well-meaning pet parents can actually damage their pet’s health by means of good intentions.
1. Equating Food With Love
You know that food is the most important thing in the world to dogs, so it’s probably natural to assume that when you give them food, they know that you love them. The problem is that too many treats can lead to serious weight problems, and excess weight can lead to other problems like heart disease, diabetes and painful joints, just to name a few.
Certainly it’s okay to give a few treats, but try in general to keep them low-cal. Most dogs, for instance, love cooked carrots, and you could offer them practically all day without contributing to undesirable weight gain. You can also show your dog that you love him with games, trips to the park, or cuddle time.
2. Avoiding the Vet
Have you ever been at the veterinary clinic, and heard someone say to the receptionist, “It’s her first visit,” and you can tell that the dog is well beyond puppyhood? You can also see that the dog is shaking and stressed. Probably the reason that it’s her first visit is that there was a previous attempt, and the owner ended up cancelling the appointment at the first sign the dog was reacting badly to the clinic environment.
No one wants to see their dog being afraid, but veterinary examinations are vital to your dog’s health. If the dog is terribly apprehensive, you might want to ask the vet if there is a mild sedative you could give him before the appointment, but please don’t ever consider avoiding vet care as the more desirable option.
3. Avoiding Anesthesia
Sometimes people who don’t avoid the vet will still avoid anything that requires the use of anesthesia. I totally get that it can be nerve-wracking knowing that your beloved dog has to be sedated in order to receive treatment, but that is never a reason to refuse the procedure. In healthy dogs, anesthesia has very few risks. With older dogs, your vet can perform bloodwork that will identify any conditions that might make anesthesia problematic, and what can be done to minimize the risks.
When making your decision, be sure to ask what the long-term consequences would be if you do refuse the procedure. You want to be sure that you have all the necessary information, and your vet will be happy to answer any of your questions.
4. Hating the Crate
A lot of problems can occur when dog owners refuse to use a crate for certain purposes. I’m not just talking about house training, either. Most dogs need at least some supervision, and when it comes to puppies, they need a lot. So, if you have to leave the house, what do you do with your puppy?
I certainly hope you don’t give him the run of the house – you wouldn’t do that to a human child, and puppies can get into every bit as much trouble. Unless you’re going to nail everything to the ceiling, you really do need a crate. Even if you’re going out for five minutes, you could come back in and have your heart broken because he’s had enough time to chew a plugged-in electrical cord.
Most dogs mind being in a crate, provided they’ve been properly trained to it, and it keeps them safe when their humans can’t supervise. The Petco Premium 2-Door Dog Crate is ideal for puppies and small dogs, with a door on the front and another on the top for easy access. The plastic pan slides out for easy cleaning, and it looks pretty sharp, too, with its hammer tone metal finish. Usually, this crate retails for $79.99, but it is available at Amazon for $24.99 plus $6.99 in shipping.
5. Carrying Them Everywhere
Obviously, even if you wanted to, you do this with an adult German Shepherd, but remember years ago, when Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie seemed to have a competition going on for who had the smallest dog? I can’t recall ever seeing one of those poor little Chihuahuas with their feet on the ground. Paris was often photographed with her dog either tucked in the crook of her arm, or inside a purse that cost more than my car.
Of course there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be close to your dog, but if you carry him everywhere, he’s probably not going to get much interaction with other animals, or with people. Then you end up with a dog that is poorly socialized and fearful, not to mention getting little exercise.
The Final Word
No one wants to do things that are bad for their dog. It is important, though, not to let ourselves lose sight of what is best for them in the long run, simply because we love them so very much.