7 Ways You’re Spoiling Your Dog (& How to Do It the Right, Healthy Way)

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Not to completely over-generalize, but dog owners love to spoil their dogs. Canines deserve it! They’re cute. They provide comfort when we’re sad. And they love us no matter what we look like (or say) at 6 a.m. on a Saturday in January. However, too much of a good thing can go bad very quickly. Spoil your pup all you want—as long as it improves their health and well-being. Here are six signs you’re spoiling your dog (in an unhealthy way).

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7 Signs You're Spoiling Your Dog

1. Your dog prefers human food—and you deliver

Feeding your dog scraps directly from the table is a one-way ticket to Spoil Town. Not only are you rewarding begging, you are probably feeding her food she shouldn’t be eating. Or, at the very least, food with a higher calorie count than she needs. She’s extra spoiled if she turns her nose up when you place dog food in front of her.

2. You hand out treats like there’s no tomorrow

According to Preventive Vet, treats should make up no more than 10 percent of your pup’s diet. Giving her a treat any time she asks for one - or any time she does what she’s told - could result in obesity in her old age. Overweight dogs are more likely to develop heart conditions, arthritis, and tumors. Do not go overboard on treats, even during training exercises.

3. You carry your dog as soon as she’s tired

Small dog owners beware! You are spoiling your dog if you pick her up and carry her at the first sign of fatigue. You are also doing a disservice to your pup. Walking and running is necessary exercise for dogs. It keeps them healthy inside and out, mentally and physically. If you notice your dog gets very tired very quickly, take her to the vet to make sure everything is okay. Aim for shorter routes or less time at the dog park if necessary.

4. Your dog has more clothes than your kids

Yes, a warm sweater and winter booties are wonderful doggy wardrobe items. Toss in a Halloween costume and a rain slicker! But, as soon as you notice your dog’s wardrobe taking up the entire closet, it’s time to put a hold on buying new outfits for her. Dog gear can add up. Invest in a few items that will stand the test of time, rather than fast (canine) fashion.

5. You bought a king-size mattress to fit your dog

I know a couple who invested in a king-size mattress after they adopted a greyhound who had recently retired from racing (which is a great route for anyone interested in high energy, very sweet animals). They did this because the dog insisted on sleeping in their bed. While this can be adorable, making a habit of moving over for your pup in the middle of the night lets her know she can get away with a lot more. If she’s disrupting your sleep because she won’t go to her kennel or bed, she’s spoiled. If she wakes up in the night every time you move, she may be losing out on quality sleep which is detrimental to her immune system.

6. You constantly excuse her bad behavior

Bark Busters, a home dog training company, says dogs repeat behaviors they know will earn them rewards. Ergo, if your dog jumps up on people when she’s excited to see them, she’ll keep doing it until you discipline her. Ignoring bad manners is essentially the same as encouraging them. Dogs actually enjoy boundaries and routine; be clear with them about the difference between good and bad behavior. Otherwise, your dog may lash out at other people and animals, making it difficult for you to take her anywhere.

7. Your dog is never without you

Inseparable much? Spending every waking moment with your dog can make you feel secure and happy, but it may trigger separation anxiety in your dog later on. Secure and happy dogs have a sense of independence and know how to exist alone without you for a bit. Going on a walk without your pup shouldn’t result in whining, barking, howling, or other signs of separation anxiety. (Here’s why you should leave your dog alone for at least 15 minutes today.)

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Viktoriia Vyshnevetska/Getty Images

How To Spoil Your Dog The Right Way

Now, the fun stuff. Show your love for your pup with praise, healthy treats, and occasional spa treatments. Trust us, she’ll feel spoiled rotten—in a healthy way.

1. Take your dog in for a spa day

All dogs need their nails trimmed regularly. Instead of doing this at home next time, take your pup in for a professional nail trim and file. Dog spas like Pet A Cure in Chicago offer many services that will leave your dog feeling refreshed and clean. This doesn’t need to be a weekly event! Make it a special occasion. (If your dog’s fur already requires regular visits to the groomer’s, consider adding on an a la carte item like a skin conditioner or a teeth cleaning.)

2. Give your dog a massage

You don’t need anyone else for this spa treatment. Giving your dog a massage after a long day in the dog park or after you arrive home from a vacation is a nice way to reconnect with your pup and soothe her sore muscles. All it takes is a calm, comfortable spot in your home and a little patience.

3. Feed your dog frozen treats in the summer

Forget that regular ol’ bowl of water! Next time the weather delivers a scorcher, surprise your pup with a frozen treat. The American Kennel Club recommends Kongs full of peanut butter fresh out of the freezer. Definitely avoid human foods like ice cream or popsicles.

4. Deliver treats with interactive toys

Spoil your dog twice in one day with an interactive treat toy. Interactive toys (like these fabulous dog puzzles) by themselves are great tools for keeping dogs active and occupied. The ones designed to hold treats also provide a reward for a job well-done. So, your dog gets a mind and body workout with her dessert.

5. Sign up for dog food delivery

Dogs who demand human food may enjoy a pet food subscription that delivers human-grade meals made for canines. It really does feel like spoiling your dog, which you are doing, but the result is they learn to eat off their own plate and they ingest lots of nutrition along the way.

6. Play with your dog

We’re sure you do this already, but how often? Dogs thrive on attention and meaningful connection with you, so spend a little extra time each day engaging with them. Play also equals exercise, which means your dog will really earn her food and treats (and probably sleep soundly that night). You don’t have to have a giant yard to do this, either. There are tons of indoor activities you and your dog can do together.

Healthy Dog Treats & Food Subscriptions

For any dog owner in need of direction, start with these healthy treats and food subscription services!

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1. Petcakes Yumyum Bones Hip & Joint Frozen Yogurt Mix

When going the frozen treat route, choose a product like PetCakes Yum Yum Bones that contains nutritious ingredients. This treat contains collagen and turmeric which are both good for your pup’s joints.

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2. Greenies Regular Dental Dog Treats

Treats that also clean teeth are ideal, because dogs rarely beg for a tooth brushing.

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3. Blue Buffalo Health Bars

These treats are baked and contain Omega-3 fatty acids for healthy skin and brain function. Go for the pumpkin and cinnamon flavor! They contain real pumpkin, along with other fruits and vegetables.

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4. Ollie Dog Food Subscription

Ollie’s dog food recipes are all human-grade and don’t contain any fillers. Chock full of protein, antioxidants, and more, this is a very healthy way to spoil your pup. Read our honest review of the service here.

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5. Get Naked Digestive Health Grain-free Dental Stick Dog Treats

Any treat that promotes smooth digestion is a healthy option. Get Naked’s dental sticks contain tons of fiber, prebiotics, and probiotics.

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6. Trixie Dog Activity Flip Board

Now, toss a tiny treat or bits of a larger treat into an interactive toy like this activity board.

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Freelance Writer

Sarah Ashley is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. She has covered pets for PureWow for six years and tackles everything from dog training tips to the best litter boxes. Her...