What’s the one thing we want to do with a new fluffy puppy? Hold and cuddle them! And once we have them we never want to let them go.
But here lays a good question: Can you hold a puppy too much? Could this spoil them and teach them bad habits? These are great questions and in this article, we’ll explain everything.
In general, holding your puppy periodically throughout the day is a good thing and will help nurture your bond and teach your dog basic affection. Still, owners should aim to hold their puppy all the time, as this could reinforce whining, attention seeking, and dependence.
How much is too much? All is explained below.
Are You Spoiling Your Puppy By Holding It Too Much
It’s no doubt important that we shower our pups with as much love as we can, but it’s true that too much of a good thing, may become a bad thing.
Let’s clarify first, there’s nothing wrong with holding and cuddling your puppy! In fact, the more physical contact you make with your pup, the more likely it is that your puppy will develop into an affectionate adult dog that enjoys cuddles. And this is obviously very important
But it’s all about timing. Let’s explain below.
So what’s the problem?
The thing is, once your puppy gets used to a lot of physical contact, they’ll quickly learn to whine and cry the moment you put them down. Naturally, our reaction is to scoop them back up and comfort them some more. This is a big mistake.
If we start cuddling and holding our pups every time they whine or cry, it’s essentially teaching them that all they need to do is whine and cry, and they will have your full attention.
And believe me, it will not take long before this lesson is learned.
So When Is It Appropriate To Cuddle Your Puppy?
Being selective of the moments you hold and cuddle your pup can really make big difference in how they learn and their overall behavior.
It’s a much better idea to save the hugs and cuddles until your puppy does something that deserves such positive attention. Like a successful run at potty training, or when following a command properly…
By reserving your attention to these moments only, not only are you reinforcing the positive behavior that earned the cuddle, but they aren’t learning to take advantage of you!
How Much Attention Do Puppies Need?
So how much attention do puppies actually need anyway? Are you cuddling them enough? What’s the right amount…
We certainly shouldn’t be leaving puppies alone, but they also don’t need to be cradled 24/7. As long as you are there in the house, you don’t need to constantly be interacting and assisting your puppy.
It’s completely okay to let them lay, sniff around, and think for themselves for periods of time without your help. In fact, allowing them to do this throughout the day will encourage them NOT to take advantage of you by whining and yapping for your attention… As soon as a puppy thinks they can get your attention by whining, trust us, it will not stop.
Pick and choose your moments and when you do, sure, go crazy! Cuddle, hug, kiss, and give your best puppy voice possible.
Additional Info from VCA hospitals on puppy separation anxiety:
How Attention Is Received
Puppies receive your attention in multiple ways, not just the obvious ways like cuddles and belly rubs.
You’re giving your pup attention whenever you look at them, talk to them, feed them, train them, take them outside for potty training, and more…
The reason it’s important to remember this is that sometimes we feel as owners like we aren’t showing our pups as much love and attention as we should be. The reality, however, is that most already are.
Supervising Your Young Puppy
So how does this all work when you bring a new puppy home? You’ve got to supervise them pretty extensively, but how do you do this without encouraging too much dependence and reliance on you?
Ways to help you supervise and limit the risk
- Cover all electric cables or remove them from the floor
- Keep your puppy in only 1 or 2 rooms of the house for a while
- Have a few very appealing toys down at all times
- Use a puppy pen to keep them contained but liberated
Over the years, I’ve found puppy pens to be the most useful tool any pup parent should have.
First of all, puppy pens are nowhere near as confined as the crate, and most don’t have a roof/ceiling. Puppy pens are great because you can pop your pup in there with a toy or two and rest assured they won’t get themselves into trouble.
This is probably the best (and most pleasant) way for you to supervise and keep your pup safe, without overdosing them with attention.
The Positives of Holding Your Puppy
I didn’t want this to be a cold, stand-offish article all about how you shouldn’t cuddle your pup, because you really should!
Crucial reasons why physical contact is important:
- Your puppy will develop into an affectionate adult dog
- Your pup will not freak out when people go to touch them (super important)
- Your bond and relationship will benefit greatly from physical contact
- Your pup will feel loved, secure, and content (reducing stress & anxiety)
- Your pup can learn what’s good and bad behavior from when you provide physical contact or not
As you can see, there are many important reasons why we should be holding and cuddling our puppies.
Just remember not to let them take advantage of this, because no matter how sweet you think they are, EVERY puppy will try pushing the boundaries with their owners.
Holding and cuddling your puppy is no doubt a good thing, particularly when your puppy has earned such affection. The only time this could become a bad thing is when a puppy thinks they can have your attention whenever they feel like it.
Puppies certainly need your attention, just keep in mind how you are giving it to them already, as well as when and what you are giving it for.
I hope this was informative and interesting! Back to more articles