You don’t have to spend much time in your local pet store to discover that pampering pets is a multi-billion dollar business. When I was young, we pampered our dog by getting him the occasional meaty bone from the butcher. Nowadays, dogs receive expensive gourmet foods of almost every description, incredibly comfortable bedding, and leashes that are precision-designed to provide as little discomfort as possible.

Pets are often seen as substitutes for children, and they can certainly receive the same degree of attention. Is this a good thing for the dog? What about their human friend(s)?

Dogs Don’t Understand This Extra Attention

You may think that taking Duke to the doggie spa is a way of showing just how much you love him, but dogs don’t understand, or often even appreciate, this extra attention. They much prefer just to be treated like a normal, everyday dog. That’s what they understand and look forward to, so save your money and go to a human spa without Duke.

Spoiling is Bad for Discipline

You can’t spoil a dog and also expect it to be behave the way you want it to. Dogs that do not receive the proper degree of discipline can become ill-tempered and won’t appreciate (or even understand) when you want them to do things.

Dogs Need Socialization

If you prefer to keep your dog away from all of the “canine riffraff” in the neighborhood, don’t be surprised if it becomes unruly from all of the isolation. A dog that lashes out, jumps on people, and hops over/through barriers meant to protect it is likely acting in fear. Letting it get out and learn that there is little or nothing to be afraid of will lead to a happier, more even-tempered dog.

Dogs Need Exercise

Don’t think that your lounging dog is tired because se is getting too much exercise. It’s more likely she is bored from sitting around the house. That can lead to health issues and destructive behavior when the dogs decides to vent that pent-up energy by trashing your home.

You see them all of the time in restaurants, areas, the library, movies theatres, coffee shops…really anywhere people typically go. But have you ever thought about what goes into training a guide dog (or service dogs, as they are sometimes called)? As you might expect, not just any dog can be given this important duty. The dogs selected undergo some very specific training so they will meet the needs of the people they are paired with.

A guide dog’s training period typically lasts about 20 months, usually beginning when the animal is 14-17 months old and has demonstrated the ability to understand basic commands like “sit” and “stay.” One of the main skills for guide dogs is navigating obstacles and learning to stop at kerbside. The dogs must be able to show initiative and demonstrate the action that would be the correct one for that particular obstacle.

This is a key skill for dogs that will be helping people with eyesight limitations. They are entrusting their safety to these animals, so the training must be precise and the dogs must pass very involved tests to confirm that they have learned the necessary skills. For example: the owner may tell the dog to go forward, but if there is a car coming, the animal must know when it should ignore that command and remain still.

When the dog has been assigned to a human partner, there is a getting to know you period where the two become used to one another. How this interaction period goes will determine whether the pairing will continue. These animal/human partnerships typically last for about seven years. At that point, the animal retires from guide duty and then lives out the rest of its days as a normal everyday pet, either with their regular human or with a new owner.