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Pawsitive Training for Better Dogs

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Bailey reserves the right to edit any posting for spelling, grammar, length, and inappropriate content. Only one question per person will be considered. Your question may or may not be posted with Bailey's reply. Bailey can take up to several months to reply to questions. He is extremely busy being a dog.

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Disclaimer: The material provided by Bailey on this web site is designed for educational and entertainment purposes only. The information presented is provided with the understanding that Bailey is not engaged in rendering medical or professional behavioral services. Such information should not be used as a substitute for behavioral advice provided by a qualified canine behavior therapist.

Please remember that Bailey's advice, comments, or opinions are solely Bailey's, and do not necessarily reflect those of the staff here at Pawsitive Training for Better Dogs.

Pawsitive Training for Better Dogs is not responsible for actions taken based on the advice provided herein.

Surrogate Friend

Dear Bailey,

We have a small poodle mix female, 2 years old, spayed. When she was a pup we gave her a small stuffed dog, which she fell in love with. She would carry it around and always take it to bed with her.

Lately she has become even more attached to this toy. Now when she comes to bed she spends 2-3 minutes gripping it by the neck, kneading and rubbing it with her front paws. Then she makes a nest for it in the bedcovers before settling in herself.

Also, before greeting us at the door, she now runs to find her 'baby' first and both of them say hello. Is this some kind of maternal instinct kicking in? Should we be considering a playmate for her?

Thanks,

Jackie, NY


Bailey's Reply:

Dear Jackie,

It's difficult to tell if this is truly a "maternal instinct" for your dog. She certainly does seem to enjoy her little friend, though! Your dog sounds quite adorable.

“Often people fall into the trap of 'My dog has a friend, so I don't need to spend as much time with him anymore.'

This is unfair to all dogs involved.”

You're wondering if you should be considering a playmate for her because of this behavior. If she seems fine with her stuffed friend, then there is nothing wrong with keeping your situation as it is. If it isn't broken, why fix it? Of you're still unsure, try scheduling play dates with other dogs her size to see how she responds.

Some dogs truly enjoy being "only dogs" in their home; they don't have to share attention, treats, toys, or walks. Some dogs love it. Still other dogs could care less about a new dog in the home.

Consider your own living situation if you choose to bring a new dog into your home to keep your current dog company. Often people fall into the trap of "My dog has a friend, so I don't need to spend as much time with him anymore." This is unfair to all dogs involved. You should remember that each dog should have the same amount of quality time with you as they did before the new dog arrived. Also consider that the additional vet, food, and other miscellaneous expenses will increase.

I'm gonna go pounce on my favorite squeaky squirrel now.

<bark!>

Bailey

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