This was an image I took years ago of my little JRTs paw.  It was a special request for a grooming magazine.   Some would consider this to be a very spoiled dog.  Our dogs care nothing for things like this; that we label as important "for us."   No I don't paint my dog's toe nails or have them wear jewelry. 

Spoiled, one of those terms that people use incorrectly all the time.  I hate when people say "wow, your dog is spoiled," when I am just treating them as they should be treated.  I buy a new bed for my dogs and people think that I am spoiling them?  Really?  To spoil a dog is to let them get away with things that will create undesirable behaviors.  I hate the term "spoiled" almost as much as I hate "people food."

Spoiled:  to impair, damage, or harm the character or nature of (someone) by unwise treatment, excessive indulgence. 

When you look at the dictionary meaning of the word, it doesn't look so wonderful does it?  Over indulgence of material goods does not spoil a dog; a child maybe but dogs could careless how many toys, collars or beds they have.  It does not go to their head and create a monster like it can with people.  Making sure that our dogs are comfortable is how we should treat them.  Buying a bed to match the couch is strictly for us; our dogs don't care about the color of the bed. 

For me, the term spoil means to over indulge a behavior.  Allowing a dog to get away with inappropriate or unwanted behaviors is spoiling.  Take a good dog and turn it bad or spoil it by lack of or incorrect response.  Feedback, we all need it.  If you never offer feedback to your dog, how will they learn?  No dogs don't come to us knowing the rules of our human world; we need to teach them and guide them along the way.  Very basic "do this, don't do that" rules can go a long way.  But eliminate any guidance and you spoil.  Allow or fuel an undesirable behavior and you are spoiling. 

I don't know how many dogs I've met over the years who have displayed obnoxious behaviors.  They have learned that they can get away with murder.  As a trainer I will ask "is this okay with you?" When a dog is counter surfing, bullying another dog, barking orders to their owner etc etc.  The owner usually looks at me like they don't understand the question.  That is until I break it down and explain what is going on.  But there are those owners who think that they are doing right by doing nothing at all.  They don't want to break their dog's spirit by telling them what to do. 

Many people think that they are showing their dog how much they love them by allowing really annoying behaviors to continue.  To them the idea of telling their dog what to do is a bad thing.  But with a lack of teaching, guiding and leading our canines, we are failing them.  Spoiling our dogs is a bad thing. 

Buying our dogs new toys is giving them things to play with so that they don't play with our shoes, not spoiling.  Buying them their own bed is not spoiling, it is giving them comfort to lay on.  Feeding them really nutritionally food is caring for our dogs, not spoiling.  Bringing our dogs on a trip with us is not spoiling.  Baking homemade cookies for them is not spoiling. 

Allowing them to push us around, bark orders at us that we follow and drag us down the street, that is spoiling.  When they receive no feedback for inappropriate behaviors, discipline us if we cross the line, tell us where we can and cannot sit or laydown, give us the finger when we ask them to come, growl at us and tell us what to do and when to do it...THAT IS SPOILING. 

Have you noticed that friends don't come over anymore?  Since you got your dog things have changed?  Maybe, just maybe there is a spoiling issue and it's not the new collar.  Would you allow your child to walk up to another child and push them down without consequence or feedback?  Would you allow your child to jump all over a guest without feedback?  Would you allow your child to take a whole loaf of bread off of the counter and eat it with no feedback?  Why then would you allow your dog?