It’s pretty difficult not to spoil your pet rotten when you love them so much, but there is definitely a point at which you should stop yourself. Just like children, if your companion animal is treated too much like royalty, things can get quite out of control. If not dealt with early on, you will have a high-maintenance terror on your hands – and the older the animal gets, the more difficult it will be to break them of their behaviors! Here are 5 sure-fire ways to assess your animal and decide if maybe they need a bit more structure and a tad less spoiling:
- Your Pet is Obese – Obviously one way to extremely spoil your animal is to overfeed it by giving it too many treats, too much “people food” high in fat, and also not encouraging any exercise. You may be tempted to reward your pet for every little good thing that they do, but sometimes a nice pat on the head or belly rub is good enough. If your dog is very food-motivated and they do not respond to affection, then you can keep using treats for training but drastically decrease the size of the treat you are giving them. In the case of feeding them “people food,” either just cut it out completely, or explore other options that aren’t as high in fat, sugar, and carbohydrates. If your pet has become so incredibly obese and/or lazy that it REFUSES to go on walks – due to your failure to train them properly – then you can start them out with very short walks at first, reward them with a small amount of low fat treats, and then slowly work your way up to longer and longer walks. Hopefully along the way they will not only lose weight, but get more used to walking on a leash with you and they will learn to love it!
- Your Pet Only Likes You – Another bad sign that your pet is perhaps a spoiled brat, is that it only behaves when it is around you. Everyone probably can imagine that stereotypical “bad” pet: every time you take it anywhere, it growls/lunges/snaps at other people, but is super sweet to their owner. Sometimes that is just a personality trait, as some dogs are more protective than others by nature – but most of the time it’s because the owner didn’t socialize their pet properly. It’s not difficult to socialize your animal; you can easily incorporate your pet into your lifestyle so that it is exposed to different types of people, places, and situations. By monopolizing your pet’s entire universe, they unsurprisingly only learn to trust you and no one else. Just think of those children that you’ve met in your life that refuse to leave their mother’s side and don’t know how to interact with others due to improper socialization. It’s pretty similar; not only that, but if your pet is too dependent on you, it could develop separation anxiety due to its inability to function without your presence.
- Your Pet Misbehaves In General – Does your dog relieve themselves in places that they aren’t supposed to, even though they know better? This seems to be a more common problem among smaller dogs (mostly because of their smaller organs which hold less bodily waste), but it also happens among larger dogs. Do they chew and rip up your shoes, pillows, blankets, and perhaps your house, even though you allegedly trained them not to? Well, whether you weren’t consistent enough with your training or you just didn’t train them altogether – both situations involve you spoiling your dog. If you didn’t train your dog to obey you and follow simple routines having to do with feeding, going to the bathroom, sleeping, going for walks, etc. then you created a dangerous precedent! Now your dog thinks that it can do whatever it wants, when it wants – which usually leads to them peeing and pooping wherever they want. It’s okay to let your dog have some freedom, but you need to at least instill a sense of authority in your pet early on, otherwise they will become a brat down the road.
- Your Pet Doesn’t Respond To Simple Commands – Usually even the most “simple-minded” pet can be trained to respond to its name in some way. Whether it actually comes over to you, turns its head, or makes a sound of recognition, almost every type of pet can be trained to respond to its name being called – even Betta fish! If your pet repeatedly doesn’t respond to its name – even though you have said it thousands of times – they may just be ignoring you. If they literally just don’t know their name, I don’t know if that’s any better – because that just means that you also failed to teach them their name correctly. Your dog should also at least know how to sit, stay, and basic behavioral commands!
- You Spend More Money On Your Pet Than Yourself – If you are shelling out more money on your pet than you do to your own self, there could be a problem. Now, don’t get me wrong – it is admirable to put your pets’ needs before your own, especially when you have a special-needs animal that requires specialized care, food, or regular vet visits. However, if you are spending money on countless outfits, accessories, and random other unnecessary stuff, you should maybe pump the brakes. Does your pet actually need to have a different ensemble for every day of the week? Definitely not. Do you need to pay hundreds of dollars to throw a birthday party for your pet, or get a fancy photoshoot? Absolutely not! For those of you with children: if you are spending more on your pet than you do on your own kids, then I’d do some serious introspection…
Basically, if you train your pet properly and consistently, and instill a basic sense of authority, your pet should not become a spoiled brat. You may feel “guilty” for parenting your animal, and rebuking them or punishing them when they do something wrong – but in the long-run, you’ll be doing them a favor! Not only will your life be easier and less stressful, but they will have a much-needed structure and routine to their life, which will make them happy in return. Also, if you train them at the very least to respond to your commands, you can literally save their life in a dangerous situation. How are you going to get your dog back to you safely if it is running around in traffic and not responding to your shouting? Is your dog going to magically run over to you if it runs off and chases a rabbit for miles down a hiking trail? Training is necessary for everyone involved, so don’t feel guilty about being a proper pet parent!