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Why Unearned Affection Can Lead to Aggression and Other Behavioral Issues

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A dog’s behavior greatly depends on the dynamics of his bond with his owner and pack. A dog may develop signs of aggression if it perceives its owner as a follower rather than a leader. We must lead if we want to give our dogs the best chance to succeed. There isn’t another option and love simply isn’t enough. Shelters in America are filled with dogs that were at some point loved, perhaps spoiled and here is the official meaning of spoiled according to the dictionary, not me:


1. diminish or destroy the value or quality of.

2. harm the character of (someone, especially a child) by being too lenient or indulgent

There are quick things you may do to improve the situation if you anticipate a leadership gap in your own family. Small adjustments in the way you communicate with your dog can have a big impact on his behavior. To succeed, train your brain to think like a dog. You’ll understand your dog’s bad conduct alot better after you consider things from his point of view.

Dogs immediately determine who is in control of their “pack.” Every living thing in your house is a member of the pack. By what we permit and how we interact, we unintentionally teach our dogs what role we play in the group or pack.


In the wild, animals follow the strongest and most dominating pack member. A flock of birds for example wont follow the most friendliest and coziest bird. Instead, they are following the bird they believe to be the most reliable to be their leader. Every species’ main objective is to survive. Leadership will get them there; love won’t.


Massive quantities of undeserved adoration will quickly lead to your dog’s downfall. Our “unearned” affection towards our dogs is our way of letting them know we care about them. However, from their point of view, which is all that matters, they are receiving something for nothing, and this is an idea that is alien to them. When we show affection, we are in a vulnerable, emotional state. People with soft and/or weak energy won’t be viewed as authoritative figures or able to be trusted to lead, guide, or protect, according to the dogs view. What you end up with is a dog who believes he is in charge of guarding every aspect of who he perceives as weaker or inferior ranking members of his pack. You are now the follower and he is the leader and you now have a reactive dog, one that tugs on the leash, lunges at other dogs and humans, and ignores you when you’re out for a walk.

Don’t misunderstand me, the issue is not in giving affection! However, it must be given when it is due and earned, not when it is demanded. When your dog successfully completes a walk, comes to you when you call, or gives you space when you ask for it, these are excellent occasions to show your love for him. Invite your dog to come to you and sit, then, after getting him to sit, show him genuine affection.


Avoid talking to your dog like a baby as it can quickly turn him from calm to enthusiastic. Focus on encouraging and rewarding respect and obedience. Avoid getting sucked into a 15-minute love fest! Make these affectionate exchanges quick. YOU should decide when the affection starts and ends. If your dog repeatedly requests more attention, consider this a demand and resist giving in. Prior to showing your dog affection, keep in mind to consider his emotional state. If you react affectionately to his uneasy or reactive actions, you’ll unintentionally encourage them.


Consider all mentioned above each time you pet or show affection to your dog and remember that every interaction with your dog is a training session, whether you like it or not!

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