News / March 8, 2024

How Much Affection Should I Give My Dog?

Affection is a huge part of the loving relationship we have with dogs. This brings us a range of positive, healthy and happy emotions, and our dogs feel the same way, but like all good things we enjoy in life, too much of a good thing can be bad. This is especially true of dogs and affection. 

Here’s a couple of top tips that are really important to have in mind if you have a new puppy in your life or family, and they are also relevant to older dogs as well. Check out our YouTube video on Balancing Affection in Dog Training as part of our Managing Freedom, Food and Affection series for more advice!

Top Tip 1: Love your dog and show them affection but not so much that you create separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety is when your dog becomes so emotionally dependent on you, that it can’t cope when you leave it. 

It’s always exciting when introducing a new dog to the household, especially a new puppy! Everyone wants to hug and spend time with the cute new family member, we want the puppy or dog to know we love them and that is perfectly normal. 

Although, it is important to have a little reality check and realise that the levels of attention the dog gets in the first few days or weeks aren’t going to be maintained and in most circumstances will drop off. Day to day life, normal routines and demands placed on us mean we can’t spend the same amount of time with our dogs. 

Puppies or dogs in new environments will naturally latch onto a person they see as a ‘life raft’, and we can quickly become emotional crutches to them, especially if they are used to having our individual attention. 

Make sure your new dog gets used to spending time without your or your constant attention right from the start. That doesn’t necessarily mean leaving your dog alone, although that is important too. SImply ignoring your dog and utilising them to get used to entertaining themselves is a good practice. 

Crate or bed training is another useful exercise in fearful dogs to self soothe, but don’t just do this at bed time as dogs need seven times more rest than us each day, so build some down time into their routine. 

Top Tip 2: Socialisation is really important to any dog’s development, but make sure you don’t overdo this with people and the physical attention or affection they give your dogs. 

The reason most dogs get over excited when guests arrive, is because they are used to getting or being the centre of attention when this happens. This is easily avoided, especially if us owners practise some self restraint. 

Guest ignoring dogs when they arrive, especially when the dogs are young, is easy and has great long-term benefits. Remember locking your dog out of the room teaches them nothing, but rather they can learn from being in the environment and be taught to adjust their behaviour accordingly. 

Top Tip 3: Your dog isn’t an entertainment station for everyone you meet, it’s ok to ask people to be hands-off with your dog. 

If your dog gets attention from everyone they meet, they can quickly learn to be over-excited or activated by people, which can lead to your dog pulling on the lead towards people and or jumping up at strangers etc… 

Depending on your dog’s character, it may be beneficial to limit tactile social interactions, especially with excitable dogs, so that they can learn to control their emotions around others. 

Top Tip 4: A resource reward is only valuable if it isn’t always readily available – that is what makes it desirable. 

Some dogs aren’t foodies, and also couldn’t care less about toys, which can lead owners to struggle in motivating their dog for recall or other obedience. Of course they will use praise and affection for a reward, but if the dog has constant daily access to it anyway, then the results will be diluted. 

We aren’t saying stop being affectionate with your dog, what we are saying is you should dictate when and where that praise or affection is on offer. Your dog is still getting the attention it loves, but it has to be there to get it. 

Check out our Expert Insights To Successful Training series on YouTube for more information on how food, freedom, and affection can help when training your dog, and read our other blogs on food, and freedom in training, to understand Why You Should Start Controlling Freedoms When Training Your Dog and The Power of Food in Dog Training – Our 7 Top Tips!  

For more information on our residential dog training services please contact us at info@platinumk9.com or call us on 0115 646 0905.