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You're Spoiling Your Dogs Rotten!

Lab_King

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.

— Kenn

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.

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Cobra93
Cobra93
12 years ago

Well I will continue to spoil our yellow lab. He is the best dog. He puts up a lot with the kids and I feel that he deserves to be spoiled. He goes to doggy daycare 3 days a week for socialization with his dog friends and he gets grain free dog food because he has many health issues. What he provides this family out weighs any expense that we have to make. I do not dress him up or make him wear fancy jewels or have fancy collers. That part I agree with but as far as his care and happiness, We will do anything for him.

Janette Hamilton
Janette Hamilton
11 years ago
Reply to  Cobra93

Then you are not spoiling your dog, you are providing quality care for him, but you are not spoiling him!

judithmshoemakerdvm
judithmshoemakerdvm
12 years ago

Giving dogs quality food, even if they “don't know what they are missing” and quality medicine for their illnesses,which if it includes acupuncture is not spoiling, it's humane educated care. I guess 2 legged children don't need care either if they don't know any better, by your logic. As a veterinarian, caring for these animals and helping people to do the right thing, I resent your comments immensely.

Kenn Bell
12 years ago

Judith, you are talking about the writer, right? Stephen Busiansky from The New York Daily News? The Dog Files didn't write this article.

judithmshoemakerdvm
judithmshoemakerdvm
12 years ago

Definitely! I hope the thought gets back to him! I love the Dog Files,as do many others.

Kenn Bell
12 years ago

Hahaha, good to know!

misamartin
misamartin
12 years ago

I can't respect an author who pooh-poohs genuine sep anx in this way. This canine disorder is real and has brought many students to me in despair as they try to find guidance in helping their dog. Bloody paws and obvious distress are signs of a real problem, and it's inappropriate for this guy to dismiss it in order to have a cohesive article for the DN.

samsonite
12 years ago

I can’t judge others for what they spend their money on. If they want to spend money on materialistic things for their dogs and they have the money, then go for it. I personally try to stay away from things like that. The only thing that I contribute that’s on this list is pet insurance because I believe that it is worth it in the end. It helps with the unexpected bills and I can fall asleep safely at night because I know my puppy is safe and covered. If you want to give your dog the best food out there, then do it. It’s like humans buying organic food, you know that it’s good for you in the end. I do agree with Stephanie to spend less money and not buy your pet things they don’t need. Spending quality time is better.

samsonite
12 years ago

I can’t judge others for what they spend their money on. If they want to spend money on materialistic things for their dogs and they have the money, then go for it. I personally try to stay away from things like that. The only thing that I contribute that’s on this list is pet insurance because I believe that it is worth it in the end. It helps with the unexpected bills and I can fall asleep safely at night because I know my puppy is safe and covered. If you want to give your dog the best food out there, then do it. It’s like humans buying organic food, you know that it’s good for you in the end. I do agree with Stephanie to spend less money and not buy your pet things they don’t need. Spending quality time is better.

Name
Name
12 years ago

That’s what they are for to spoil! They bring us such joy and comfort and ask for nothing in return. Just a little food and love! That isn’t too much!

Janette Hamilton
Janette Hamilton
11 years ago
Reply to  Name

No it isn’t too much to ask and spoiling your animal with love is just fine, however the problem comes when “spoiled” means attempting to turn a normally carnivorous animal vegan for their own ridiculous reasons, or when the overdressed poodle in the “cute” little sweater passes out from the heat because although the sweater is cute it is 90 degrees outside.

Jay Stebbins
12 years ago

Dogs have been at mans side for over a thousand years. This type of relationship does not happen because it is a trivial convenience. For many, myself included, dog is an equal member of the family. I would gander a guess that the pet industry spending is matched to that of what people spend on their children. As a dog owner does some of it seem over the top to me? Yes, but who am I to judge on the frivolous gifts for spoiled kids either. Every story has two sides….

I can tell you that when we drive anywhere my dog Moose has his head out the window and tail wagging to a complete blur of excitement. Especially when it is raining as he tries to catch raindrops and splashes with his mouth. I feel sorry for the dog of a supposed trainer who missed a fun moment as that while lying on the floorboard of a car. I suppose a kid driving by Disney World would not know it existed if he had to lie on the floorboards as well.

What a shame to deny “Mans Best Friend” such pleasure in their incredibly short lives.

That is what I have to say about that. I write a blog in Boston at fidoloves.com

Sknygrydg07
Sknygrydg07
11 years ago

I believe this author may be misinterpreting this statistic. I contend that the increase in spending is not from existing dog owners, but because of NEW ones. There is an increase in dog ownership as people decide to focus on themselves and their career instead of the commitment and sacrifice of children. A dog helps exercise the need to love and care for another individual when having kids, or a relationship, is impossible.

?FuzzyHippie?
10 years ago

I agree with the whole spa, dressing up part. I understand what the author is trying to get at. My dog, Reggie, will always get to ride in the seat of the car and let his ears blow in the wind. I will take him every time if I can when I leave because he does have a bit of separation anxiety. He will always get to sleep on the bed if he wants to. This is about love and compassion and being close (as he is laying over my feet while I type this) So good for us who love our dogs enough to let them be a full member of the family. We also take good care of our dogs, feed them the right diets, get them medical care etc… I have to think that the statistics are being misinterpreted too, I think the people with ‘disposable’ income are overcompensating for other short comings in their lives.

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