Without a doubt, your dog loves you. One of the most wonderful traits dog have is that they give their love freely, without reservation or condition.
Love (Not) For Sale
Dogs really don’t care if you’re rich or poor, or whether you give them the best food or whatever was on sale, or even if you care enough about them to take them to the vet or the groomer. They love you just the same. But here’s the thing: because they give their love so freely, it’s not for sale. They won’t love you more if you give them more treats, or expensive toys. They won’t love you more if you don’t set any guidelines for their behavior and let them do whatever they want. In fact, the opposite is true.
As wonderful as dogs are, they’re opportunistic (and to be honest, ungrateful) creatures by nature with a what’s-in-it-for-me? philosophy. They don’t appreciate much of the nice stuff people do for them.
Dogs don’t sit around thinking, “I have an awesome person. She gives me whatever I want, whenever I want it, so I’m going to be a really good dog.” No, it’s more like, “Wow, isn’t this great, I get to do whatever I want, I’m a really awesome dog.” If you cater to your dog’s every whim and desire, he won’t take it as a measure of your love, and feel the need to repay you the next time you ask him to do something. Instead, he’ll take it as evidence of your servitude. This doesn’t cause too much trouble when the issue at hand is an extra cookie, but when it gets to real issues, like whether or not to come when you call, love isn’t enough; you have to have respect.
Where Do I Stand?
Over the next several months, every little interaction you have with your dog tells him something about your relationship and where he stands in the hierarchy of your pack — or basically whether he should treat you with respect or disdain. If you set reasonable guidelines for his behavior, and then consistently, gently, and firmly insist he abide by them, you will have not only his respect, but also his utter adoration and devotion.