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— May 1, 2012 —

Coddle Monster — Part 2
by L.M.

Last week we covered the ever-popular topic of coddled dogs and the negative effects of encouraging codependent behavior. This week we’re extending the topic and again, some of those very same dog owners are on the hot seat! Typically, undesirable behaviors in dogs come with a list of common excuses. It’s a touchy subject to say the least, especially when you notice that a family member or friend is clearly in denial of their dog’s bad behavior. Naturally, owners guilty of coddling their dogs (causing them to develop most of their bad behaviors) are going to be defensive when confronted with these issues. Note this list of common excuses to prepare for a rebuttal and a way to get them to seek help.
  • “I don’t have time, or friends to help me socialize my dog.”
    This is probably the most universal and commonly heard list of excuses coming from people who are not taking the proper steps to develop a puppy’s social skills, even an older dog that is in dire need of the right kind of attention—not just affection. Joining social dog groups won’t just help the dog, it’s almost impossible to not make fast friends in that kind of atmosphere so the dog owner can benefit as well. How many times have we heard that ‘dogs are pack animals’? Well, that also means that these pack animals are social and they crave that attention and interaction. Giving a puppy an opportunity to be social on a regular basis is vital to their future, while older dogs that have been isolated for a longer time will need help easing into a social atmosphere. If an owner doesn’t have time to socialize their dog, then they should reconsider why they got a dog in the first place.

  • “He’s fine with me” or, “I like that he’s protective”
    Having a dog be ‘fine’ with his owner is great, but neglecting the fact that this dog will potentially come into contact with new people, family, friends, and their children will turn into a harsh reality later. These people mistake unsocial behavior and fear aggression towards other people and dogs as being ‘protective’. While there’s an emotional aspect that comes into play here, people are again projecting their inner human needs onto their pets. In this case they are looking for security or the feeling of being watched after by their dog. If someone wants a protection-type dog, they should do the research, find a suitable candidate and enroll their dog into the proper training courses. These programs produce dogs are actually trained to protect on command and are healthy, balanced dogs. Anything else is an excuse for having created an insecure, untrusting and possibly volatile dog. This excuse in particular seems to fly with those who own smaller breeds, thinking that they are harmless due to their small stature and loud bark. “He is all bark, no bite. Really, he’s harmless, he’d never bite anyone”. We’ve all heard it at least once. A dog that acts protective over their owner needlessly (out of fear), and is doted on by their owner, praised for their ‘bravery’ or simply isn’t corrected properly is not harmless. This is the start of something much bigger. This type of dog may have not bitten anyone yet, but is very likely a biter in the making.

  • “We have our routine and he knows what to do, adding new things will confuse him
    and make life complicated.”

    Why is it that so many newlyweds and new parents decide to give up on their dog? They’re afraid the dog will hurt the baby or they haven’t felt comfortable cohabitating with the spouse’s dog. Does it seem fair that the dog then gets the boot and ends up at a shelter with no promise of finding a new home? This is a heavily debated topic among those who feel that a relationship and new child take ultimate precedence over a pet. Those people should have considered their opinion prior to owning a dog. When someone commits to a pet, they’re looking at about 10+ years of life together; they need to prepare themselves and their dog for the road ahead. Not doing so may lead to consequences where they’re left to choose between a lifestyle, and their dog, in most cases leaving the dog out on the curb. Why not avoid having to deal with that all together by taking the proper steps with dog socialization early on? If it hasn’t happened early on, introducing a new structure to a dog isn’t going to confuse him/her. Dogs are animals that are capable of adapting to new environments provided that they have a stable pack leader aka owner. Showing a dog new ropes and rules will tap into their instinctual love of challenges and a job. It will make the dog happier over all, and their future more secure and sound.

  • “I’ve had dogs my whole life, they’ve all been good.”
    This logical fallacy is more common than we want to believe. Somehow, people really believe that because they’ve been lucky enough to have previous dogs (usually family dogs that were raised by a family) that, in their opinion, were well behaved, that their future and/or new dog(s) will be just as “good”. Either this owner is the type that is overconfident in their ability to train the dog and scoffs at traditional ideas of socialization and obedience or they’re completely disillusioned from the get go and have really never been exposed to a properly behaved dog. These people often tend to be the hardest to reason with, because their preconceived notions related to their dog’s bad behaviors prevents them from ever realizing that there actually is a problem. Usually it takes a bad bite, dogfight or major accident resulting in serious injury (or worse) of the dog for them to wrap their head around it. Other times, if the dog’s behavior becomes bothersome enough, they will blame the breed, the particular dog and flawed genetics and abandon the dog at a shelter or worse. Those people will move on and buy another dog, which they will also proceed to raise improperly, until they’ve sworn off several types of breeds, or sizes, deeming every other factor to be at fault besides their lack of dog-savvy or responsibility to seek proper training.
No matter what category of coddle monster you may be encountering in your life, whether it be your friend’s dog, or a family member’s, approach the situation with tact to ensure the betterment of the dog’s future.

Next week, we’ll take this a step further and discuss the idea that if a dog is fearful, “it must have been abused” and why coddling this type of dog is the worst thing you can do for it.