We all have opinions about spoiling our dogs. I agree with some points of the article, but not everything. Yes, much of what we do for our dogs, we are really doing for ourselves. But if it means more quality time with the pooches than isn’t it a good thing? And that’s really what our pups want… more time being loved by their hoomans.
Please tell us what you think about the article in the Comments Section. Do you agree? Disagree? Can’t wait to hear what you have to say. This should be interesting.
By Stephen Budiansky For The New York Daily News. Budiansky is the author of “The Truth About Dogs.”
If you’re a dog, you apparently don’t have to worry about recessions. Unemployment is up, foreclosures are up, credit card debt is up, and so is the amount people are forking out cash on their dogs.
Each year the pet product industry does a survey of spending, and this year’s figures just came out. You wouldn’t know there’s any economic trouble looking at these numbers. Spending on dog food, toys, veterinary services, and everything else rose 5% over last year.
If the dogs of the United States were their own country, they’d a have a GDP larger than half the other countries in the world.
New York City has an estimated one to one and a half million dogs. That puts its dog population ahead of the human population of all but the five or ten largest cities in the whole country, more than Boston, San Francisco, Detroit, Atlanta, Baltimore. That also makes New York the leading center of Canine Delusion Disorder: The mistaken belief that the more money we lavish on our pets the happier they’ll be. But in fact by substituting money for common sense, training, and discipline, all we’re doing is creating millions of fat, spoiled, and confused and unhappy dogs.
New York has more than a hundred doggie day care centers ($700 a month for unlimited services). It’s got dog spas and dog gyms, dog boutiques, dog bakeries.
In Manhattan there’s a 24-hour dog emergency hospital with on-call dog oncologists, ophthalmologists, surgeons, cardiologists, behavioral therapists and dermatologists. Of course there’s also pet health insurance ($500 a year and up), and there are pet funeral homes. One New York rabbi advertises dog funeral services. One of the biggest growth areas in the pet product business is organic, and even vegan, dog food.
This is of course nuts.
Now in fairness, New Yorkers like all Americans blow their money on all kinds of frivolities. Go to Starbucks every day and you’ve run through $1,000 in a year easy. And I admit that complaints about the self-indulgent spending habits of one’s fellow citizens always do start to sound like they’re going to be followed by words like “come the revolution . . .”
But what’s really objectionable about the way we’re spending tens of billions of dollars on our dogs each year is that most of it is not good for the dogs themselves.
Dogs don’t want to wear little designer outfits, they don’t want spa treatments and acupuncture, they don’t want to be carried around in little bags, they don’t want cute little decorated muffins, and they sure don’t want vegan dog food. The mindset that drives all of this ridiculous spending is all about gratifying human egos-instead of respecting the true needs, and true natures, of dogs.
Everything we know about the evolution and social nature of dogs tells us that dogs are happiest when they have a secure, well-established-and firmly subordinate-place within their social structure.
The wolf social structure that dogs still carry in their genes has room for only one alpha member of the pack. If that’s not you, the owner, you’ve got big trouble. But so does the dog, because spoiled dogs are never happy dogs: they’re always confused about what their real place in the pack is.
The dogs that are making “canine behavioral therapists” rich these days are disproportionately the very dogs who have gotten so used to pushing around their owners (excuse me, their “caregivers” or “pet parents” in the current lingo) that they no longer see themselves as normal members of the pack.
And then instead of getting to the root of problem, and giving their owners a good shake, all too many of these experts compound the problem by prescribing drugs (including, yes, a doggie version of prozac) to treat medical-sounding “disorders” such as “canine separation anxiety” which they have diagnosed.
If we started treating dogs with genuine respect for their real nature, they wouldn’t be having these problems.
Jack Knox, a legendary trainer of herd dogs, a man who truly and unmistakably adores dogs, once told me that he never lets his dogs ride on the seat of his car: they lie on the floor.
“The dog doesn’t know he’s missing anything,” he said. That struck me as amazingly sensible advice. (Meanwhile, close to half of American dogs, according to a recent survey, sleep on their owners’ beds.)
The same ought to obviously go for all of the expensive treats we insist on feeding dogs. Would dogs know they’re missing anything if they didn’t get a hand-made, all-natural, preservative-free doggie cupcake? (And close to half the dogs in the country are overweight, with serious health consequences.)
You want to do something to really make your dog happy? Give him obedience training. Be firm and consistent but gentle. Respect his true nature. Take him for walks and runs every day. And spend a lot less money on him.