Happy Valentine’s Day — and happy Singles’ Awareness Day. The former holiday has become big business in America. In 2015, people spent over $703 million on Valentine’s gifts.
That may not seem like a lot when the same people spend $7 billion for Halloween and nearly a trillion dollars on Christmas — but that’s because this is just the amount that people spend on Valentine’s Day for their pets.
That figure may also sound high, but it averages out to only about $5.28 per person. Also, a lot of these gifts are just Valentine-themed versions of stuff people would buy anyway, like heart-shaped toys or pink and red treats.
It may seem fun and harmless, but is it?
As with many things, in order to answer that question, you have to ask yourself why you’re doing it.
If you’re doing it because it makes you happy to give your dog affection and attention, then you’re doing it for the right reasons — although you have to do it the right way, which I’ll get back to shortly. But if you do it because you think that your dog needs to celebrate the holiday, or will feel left out if they don’t get something special, then you’re making the mistake of humanizing the dog.
A Dog’s Calendar
Dogs don’t have calendars. They live in the moment. And, unlike a human, they will not resent it and make you sleep on the sofa if you forget to bring them treats for this — or any — occasion. In fact, if you suddenly show up with all these treats and give them to your dog for no apparent reason, it can be a bad thing, regardless of your reasons for doing it.
From a dog’s point of view, there’s no such thing as a holiday or special event. All your dog knows is that you’re suddenly rewarding her. She isn’t going to object, but she is going to try to figure out what she did to earn it. Most likely, she’ll associate whatever she was doing immediately before the treat with getting the treat.
And no — saying “Happy Valentine’s Day” or “Merry Christmas” or singing “Happy Birthday” beforehand isn’t going to explain a thing to your dog.
Out of all of our human holidays, Valentine’s Day is the one most associated with affection, since it’s mostly meant to be a romantic celebration between couples. However, affection is not your dog’s greatest need. Remember my second Pack Leader Technique: dogs need exercise, discipline, and affection — in that order.
You can’t just reward your dog for a special occasion. They still have to earn that reward by working for it and then showing you calm, submissive energy first. It’s perfectly fine to celebrate holidays and special occasions with your dog. You just have to do the celebrating in a way that they can understand.
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Near the end of the time I was hosting “Dog Whisperer,” I had realized that I’d done a lot to help people with their own dogs, but I wanted to move to the next level because I had seen how one misbehaving dog could have an effect on a much larger group of people. I’d dealt with people whose relationships were threatened, who’d had falling outs with family members, or even faced losing their homes.
Introducing Cesar 911
This is why I went on to bring you “Cesar 911,” where I train people and rehabilitate dogs in order to save entire communities and bring balance to households, families, neighbors, workplaces, and anywhere else that a dog is threatening peace and harmony.
So I am very proud and excited to announce that season 3 of “Cesar 911” will have its premiere this Friday night on Nat Geo Wild, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific and 8:00 p.m. Central time. In this very special episode, I start out by traveling to New York to help Jerry Seinfeld and his wife with their difficult dachshunds — and that’s only the beginning of the season.
Come join me and see what’s in store as I come to the rescue of dogs and humans everywhere.
Stay calm — and tune in on Friday!