Too much affection for your pup can be harmful?

By on January 4, 2017

Diana Ahlquist, owner and trainer at Dog On It wants you to love your dogs, don’t be mistaken about that. She also wants you to have a balanced relationship with them. In a recent post she’s written for Pets in Omaha to share, she explains how she believes too much affectionate behavior between you and your pups may be doing a disservice.

To learn more about Diana Ahlquist of Dog On It Training and Rehabilitation, read our feature on her here and read her words on affection below.


Our dogs are our family members! Believe me, I have them too and I love them very much. They get plenty of love and affection. I also have very well balanced and behaved dogs. I look at my relationship with my dog(s) and I observe all of my clients and friends’ relationships with their dogs. The one thing I have found is this: there is such thing as too much affection and it is causing big behavior problems in our dogs.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t be giving your dogs affection. We love them and they are family, but there are wrong times for affection and I see it every day. Many of our dogs may be rescues and have prior stories. Some stories we know, some we don’t. This is not supposed to sound harsh or like I don’t care, but it doesn’t matter! It doesn’t matter because they have a new story now. I have found that because people do have overwhelming emotions, knowing our dog may have a bad prior story “lets us” or “has us” treat them differently.

They may be coddled more or let off the hook more often or sheltered or too loved; yes, too much love and affection is possible and it doesn’t do the dog any good. We are not doing the dogs any favor by doing any of these things. All of the affection and coddling at the wrong time is telling the dog that it is okay to feel scared, anxious, aggressive or whatever negative behavior they are showing.

So let’s leave their prior stories out of it. Let’s just spend the time and energy building them back up and helping them learn to be confident, obedient and build a healthy relationship with them. We don’t want to keep them in a scared state of mind when new people come in. We want them to be happy and relaxed and ready to have new people in their world. We can be their advocate in an uncomfortable situation and that is by showing them the correct way to behave.

Remember- you get what you pet! If you are petting and coddling a scared dog, you will have a scared dog. Pet a biting dog, you’ll have a biting dog. Pet an excitable dog… you get the idea. Guidance and leadership is how we help them conquer their fears or skepticism of a situation. So be a leader to your dog and help them break free of any negative state of mind they may be in. After this is accomplished, then is the time for affection and celebrating the success. Bring affection in when you see a confident and behaved dog; this will build a positive association with the good behavior.

So, remember: be a leader, write a new story with your pups, give affection when appropriate, and be balanced. As most trainers agree, a balanced approach is always best, so balance your way to being a great pet parent and pack leader.

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