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Do you love your dog? I know, what kind of a stupid question is that – of course you do. Unfortunately, your love for your dog could, in fact, be killing him.

Sounds crazy, right? Crazy, but painfully true. The problem is not that we give our dogs so much love, the problem is when we only give them love, without taking care of their real needs. Let’s face it, cuddling up with your little fur baby, petting, hugging and kissing him is more about us then him. Sure your pooch likes the attention but he would much rather have some of his other, more important needs, taken care of. Dogs have basic canine needs that MUST be met each and every day, and affection from you is not high on that list.

I’m not at all suggesting that you stop giving your dog affection. On the contrary, you are more than welcome to give you four-legged buddy as much love as you can dish out, but not before his basic canine needs have been addressed. If you overlook those needs, you will find a number of behavior problems surfacing that could lead to you giving up your dog.

So, what are you dog’s basic canine needs? First and foremost is leadership. The dog world is filled with structure and rules, and your dog feels comforted having them in place. If you don’t like the word leadership, call it parenting – it’s the exact same thing: rules in place to shape a well-balanced adult. Dog’s that have a nice confident leader and that understand the rules of your pack will be more comfortable in this crazy human world. Dogs (and kids) crave that structure and are comforted knowing it’s in place.

Next on the list is exercise. Each dog has different exercise requirements depending on its age, breed and personality. One thing is certain though, three ten minute spins around the block is not exercise. All dogs wake up with energy and I got new s for you, it’s coming out one way or another – either constructively or destructively. So you better make sure Fido has some way to burn it off or else he will find a way (like barking, chewing, jumping, etc.) to get it out of his system.

I also believe that daily walks are a basic canine need. Try to get your pooch out there for at least one 30 minute walk a day, and a forty-five to an hour walk a week if possible. I know the human world comes with all kinds of responsibilities that may prevent this from happening, but try to do your best.

After leadership is in place, exercise has been handled and walks are in effect, then feel free to give your pup all the love and affection you want. Once his needs are satisfied, it’s totally cool to indulge in your own. But always remember that all that affection is not fulfilling your dogs needs, it’s taking care of your own. I highly recommend you check out Patricia McConnell’s book, The Other End of the Leash. In it there a bunch of pictures of people loving their dogs, and by looking at the faces of the dogs and humans, it’s immediately apparent who is enjoying themselves.

Giving your dog love, and love alone, is giving him an express ticket to the animal shelter. The best way to love your dog is to satisfy all of his basic doggie needs first, before you lay on the human love. With his needs met, he will happily enjoy all the affection you can give.

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