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Let your dog be a dog.

Your dog is an integral part of the home and priceless addition to your family, but it must be remembered that he or she is still an animal with animal instincts. In short, a dog is a dog and not a person. Even though, from a scientific standpoint we know they are not human, we certainly treat them as if they were. Because you may have your dog for a very long time, (depending on how old they were when you first brought them home,) the natural line between species can sometimes become a blur. This can have good and bad effects. The good effect is a positive type of therapy. On the other side of the coin, a downward psychological progression can occur.

As enthusiastic dog owners, we may become overindulgent of the new dog, especially in the case of an adorable puppy. We dress them up, throw them birthday parties, jump on couches, allow them to sleep with us in our beds, even adopt a second dog to keep that puppy company in fears that the puppy will get lonely. We let them nibble on us, finding it quite adorable. Once I saw a person put their dog in front of their steering wheel as if they were showing their child what it’s like behind the wheel of a car. Spending summers on a farm, all I saw growing up were dogs being put in the back of a pickup truck, and now we have seats specifically for our dogs. I was shocked when I initially saw this. However, I guess this is the new world that we live in.

Although we all love man's best friend, there will come a point in time where suddenly your puppy is full grown. They have teeth and the biting hurts because they were never taught jaw control. They chew on everything because they were never taught boundaries. They guard their food, and the owners think. Well, “I don’t get it, all we did was love our puppy and give them everything they wanted.”

Again, don't blame yourself if you feel that you were doing your best and didn’t know any better. I personally am most often of the mind that people want to treat their dogs as if they are people. But let's try another approach and see if it brings good results. I want you to do this: Think of your dog, or dogs, rather like employees of a large company where the owners are the boss and the dog is a new employee learning the ropes. On a daily basis, your dog's body language is sending out questions such as "What can I do?" and "What can I not do?" "What exactly is my role in this company (your family)?" It's our job to listen to those cues and guide them. I can go on and on, but you get the picture. Remember, a dog is still a dog, no matter how much you love them.

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