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Monday, March 31, 2008

Why Sammy Ate His Blanket...

My friend Charlotte said that last week, while she was on the phone, her Australian Shephard rescue, Sammy, ate a big hole in the brand new doggy blanket she'd bought him.

"I've had him on a diet to lose weight, and I guess I'm just not feeding him enough. Poor boy!" she said.

"Charlotte! He didn't eat the blanket because he was hungry," I said.

"You're kidding! He didn't? Then why DID he eat it?"

"He ate it because you were on the phone. Your attention was elsewhere, and that was his way of getting your attention back on him."

Charlotte was flabbergasted. But then, she's never raised kids. Neither have I, but I've raised enough dogs (and helped people with theirs) that the parallels are crystal-clear to me. Babies scream, canaries sing their lungs out, puppies bark, and other dogs with "issues" (dominance, possessiveness, separation anxiety) will destroy things as an outlet for their energy.

Sammy is a needy, ultra-sensitive dog whose insecurities THRIVE on Charlotte's doting. If we're not careful, our over-indulgence and doting can create manipulative little monsters who lay guilt trips on us when we don't given them our 100% undivided attention all the time.

Folks, your dogs are not really children, of course. But they are junior pack members who act out the same way junior HUMAN pack members act out. They operate by many of the same rules and principles. Start seeing your dog's behaviors as a savvy parent, rather than as a "petkeeper," and you'll understand why your dog does what he does.

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