Dog House Design Inspirations


Growing up, my grandfather had a basset hound named Chloe. Chloe loved naps. She loved food. She was overweight.

My grandfather loved that dog—and his way of showing his love was to feed her. In fact, he regularly took her to McDonalds for six-piece Chicken McNuggets and always made her a hamburger when he was making them for the family.

Most of us have been guilty of similar misguided attempts at showing affection. For our pets, however, the consequences can be serious.

February 20 is Love Your Pet Day. (Yes, I know every day should be Love Your Pet Day.) Here are five ways many pet owners are hurting their pets with the wrong kinds of love.

1. Overfeeding

My grandfather certainly wasn’t alone in showing a pet love by overfeeding.

“It’s a great way for us, we think, to express our love. And we do express love with food, not only in America, but in lots of cultures all over the world,” said Steve Dale, certified animal behavior consultant, writer, and syndicated radio host of Steve Dale’s Pet World.

Dale recommends being cognizant of your pet’s size—a small amount of food for us is much more for them—and generally avoiding giving your pet human food altogether. Rather than...


Growing up, my grandfather had a basset hound named Chloe. Chloe loved naps. She loved food. She was overweight.

My grandfather loved that dog—and his way of showing his love was to feed her. In fact, he regularly took her to McDonalds for six-piece Chicken McNuggets and always made her a hamburger when he was making them for the family.

Most of us have been guilty of similar misguided attempts at showing affection. For our pets, however, the consequences can be serious.

February 20 is Love Your Pet Day. (Yes, I know every day should be Love Your Pet Day.) Here are five ways many pet owners are hurting their pets with the wrong kinds of love.

1. Overfeeding

My grandfather certainly wasn’t alone in showing a pet love by overfeeding.

“It’s a great way for us, we think, to express our love. And we do express love with food, not only in America, but in lots of cultures all over the world,” said Steve Dale, certified animal behavior consultant, writer, and syndicated radio host of Steve Dale’s Pet World.

Dale recommends being cognizant of your pet’s size—a small amount of food for us is much more for them—and generally avoiding giving your pet human food altogether. Rather than free feeding your pets, he recommends using treat- or food-dispensing toys.

For cats, especially in multi-cat households, free feeding can not only lead to obesity, but it also deprives the cats of what comes naturally to them.

“Cats are foragers, and they’re not given an opportunity to forage if only given the food they scarf down,” Dale said. He recommends placing feeding systems that use dispensers throughout the home, encouraging cats to “hunt” for their food.

2. Too few veterinary visits

Pets aren’t getting the regular healthcare they need and deserve.

Dale said many pet owners know their pets don’t enjoy going to the veterinarian. Many pets feel anxiety and stress before, during, and after the veterinary visit. Because of that, pet owners feel stress, too, and often avoid the visit altogether.

“If the pet owner is stressed and can see the pet—who he or she loves so much—is also stressed, why would he or she want to do it again?” he said. “The motivation isn’t there to return because they don’t want to hurt their pets.”

A new initiative in veterinary medicine called Fear Free, the emphasis on Cat Friendly Practices, and calming canine and feline pheromone products are aiming to change that, though, making veterinary visits fun, rather than scary.

3. Failing to set boundaries or provide structure

Positive reinforcement training is the way to go, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reprimand your pet if he or she does something wrong.

“Dogs and cats thrive on structure,” Dale said. “I believe in the importance of positive reinforcement training, but to go completely the other way [out of] fear of reprimanding our pets doesn’t do anybody any good. They do better and are safer knowing there are boundaries and knowing what those boundaries are.”

Dale says cats, in particular, seem to thrive on structure.

“The notion of love, meaning we allow our pets to do whatever they want whenever they want to do it, I don’t think is beneficial to the pets,” he said.

4. Treating pets like humans

“Dogs are dogs. Cats are cats. They’re not people,” Dale said.

In recent years, the human-animal bond has evolved and more pet owners are referring to their pets as their “children.” They want to take their pets with them everywhere they go. They want to dress their pets up in clothing. They want to be sure their pets are busy during the day while they’re at work.

And, while those intentions are good, it is important to consider the individual pet.

If your pet feels stress in the car, seems to hate getting dressed up, or has to be physically forced into doggy daycare, you can use various behavioral training methods to alter the pet’s perception, or you should avoid doing the things your furry pal doesn’t seem to like, Dale said.

“There are lots of ways in which people treat their pets as little people, and they are still going to be dogs and cats, and let’s love them for what they are,” he said

5. Waiting too long to euthanize

“Because the human-animal bond is in the place that it is, we sometimes forget that, when nothing else can be done, at times nothing else should be done,” Dale said.

No one wants to say goodbye to a beloved pet. And, with advances in veterinary medicine and the increased practices of hospice and palliative care, our time with our pets is getting longer. Still, most pet owners dread the day they have to say goodbye.

Dale recommends working closely with your veterinary healthcare team and even asking for input from family members or neighbors who know your pet.

Sarah Rumple is a freelance writer and editor living in Denver, Colorado. She shows her 10-year-old schnauzer, Jack, love in all the right ways (usually).

Photo credit: © iStock/Pekic


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