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What happens if you spend too much time with your dog?

Spending time with your furry friend is one of life’s great joys. Dogs provide unconditional love, constant companionship, and endless entertainment. However, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Overindulging your pet with nonstop attention and togetherness can lead to problems for both you and your pooch.

Your dog may develop separation anxiety

Dogs are social animals that thrive on human interaction. However, they still need to learn how to be alone and self-soothe. If your dog grows accustomed to constant human company, they may become overly dependent on you. When you do leave them alone, even for short periods, your dog may experience extreme distress and anxiety. Common signs of separation anxiety include barking, whining, pacing, destructive chewing, and bathroom accidents. This anxiety can be difficult to treat and may require medications, behavior modification training, and lifestyle changes.

Preventing separation anxiety

Luckily, there are some simple ways to prevent your dog from developing separation anxiety. Make sure your dog has plenty of physical and mental stimulation through walks, play time, and enrichment activities like puzzle toys. Provide a predictable daily routine with designated alone time. Give your dog an intriguing chew toy or food puzzle when you leave to distract them in your absence. Start with very brief departures and absences and gradually increase the duration.

Treating existing separation anxiety

If your dog already shows signs of separation anxiety, take steps to reverse the extreme attachment. Start by desensitizing your dog to pre-departure cues like putting on your coat or jingling your keys. Give your dog a special treat or toy only when left alone to build positive associations. Try calming supplements or pheromone diffusers to ease anxiety while you’re gone. In extreme cases, anti-anxiety medication may be recommended by your veterinarian. Seek help from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist if your dog’s separation anxiety doesn’t improve.

You and your dog may become co-dependent

Just as your dog relies heavily on you, you may start to rely too much on your dog for constant companionship. This co-dependent relationship isn’t healthy for either of you. You and your dog should be able to function independently. Clingy, attention-seeking behavior in your dog should not be rewarded with nonstop petting, praise, or treats. And you shouldn’t depend on your dog’s presence for your own happiness, security, or emotional stability.

Encouraging independence

Make an effort to spend some time apart from your dog each day doing separate activities. Ensure your dog has enrichment items like chew toys when you’re gone. Take up a hobby or make plans with friends without your dog to get comfortable being on your own. Limit excessive petting and affection with your clingy pooch. Ask other family members to also bond with your dog so their entire world doesn’t revolve around you.

Getting help

If you or your dog seems truly unable to function without the other, seek professional help. A dog trainer can give you tips on curing clingy behavior in your dog. A therapist can help you identify unhealthy dependence on your pet for comfort or security and work on establishing personal autonomy.

Your own life may suffer

Spending the bulk of your free time with your pooch may cause you to neglect other important areas of your life. You may grow distant from family and friends if you always have to have your dog in tow. Hobbies, exercise, and personal time could fall by the wayside. Excessive bonding with your dog means you have less time and energy for relationships, activities, and obligations that also provide fulfillment.

Finding balance

Schedule quality time for activities and people other than your dog. Let family members or doggie daycares watch your pet sometimes when you pursue solo hobbies. Make firm plans with friends without bringing your dog. Stick to a routine that ensures your dog is alone for reasonable stretches while you work, exercise, and run errands. Your social, physical, and intellectual health will benefit from a life that doesn’t revolve entirely around your canine companion.

Asking for help

If you have trouble making time for anything but your dog, talk to your spouse, family, or friends. They may be able to offer help with dog care and provide some perspective. A therapist can also assist if your bond with your dog feels unhealthy and is interfering with human interactions and activities. Remember, a balanced life is as important for your own wellbeing as your dog’s.

Your home may suffer damage

Dogs love company, but they still need rules and structure. With constant supervision and engagement from you, your dog may forget their manners. Important training may slide, and problem behaviors can develop. Your home could ultimately pay the price.

Common issues that arise from too much uncontrolled interaction with your dog include:

  • Potty training acccidents
  • Destructive chewing of furniture, shoes, etc.
  • Barking and demand behaviors whenever you are present
  • Begging, counter surfing, and stealing food from tables and counters
  • Jumping on house guests and visitors

Without adequate crate time, play time, confinement, and training, your dog may forget house rules and wreak havoc in your home.

Reigning in the chaos

Get control of your dog’s behavior through proactive training and management. Enroll in obedience classes or work privately with a dog trainer. Make sure your dog gets sufficient physical and mental exercise. Set aside time for training each day. Give your dog interactive puzzle toys for independent play. Use baby gates, exercise pens, and crates to restrict access when you can’t actively supervise.

Repairing the damage

If your home already bears the battle scars of an out-of-control dog, take steps to undo the destruction. Thoroughly clean soiled carpets and rugs. Replace chewed up cushions, shoes, and other personal property. Use bitter apple spray on furniture and baseboards to deter chewing. Consider crate training or confinement when away to keep your dog from continuing damage in your absence.

You and your dog may gain weight

Dogs love to eat as much as they love their humans. If you spend your time together sedentary and snacking, you’ll both likely pack on pounds. Obesity is an epidemic in pets, just as it is in people. Too little activity coupled with too many treats is a recipe for weight gain.

The health risks of obesity include:

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Joint problems

An overweight dog also experiences reduced stamina and mobility that diminishes their quality of life.

Slimming down

To help both you and your dog reach a healthy weight, make fitness a priority in your lives together. Take daily brisk walks or engage in more vigorous exercise like running or hiking. Cut back on treats and avoid sharing table scraps. Feed scheduled meals rather than free feeding. Ask your vet for diet recommendations if your dog needs to lose significant weight.


To prevent packing on the pounds, make healthy habits part of your routine with your dog. Take portion sizes and calorie counts for treats seriously. Encourage play with toys that provide exercise. Teach tricks that require movement like spinning in a circle. Keep up with regular vet checkups to monitor weight fluctuations.

You may neglect other pets

If your multi-pet household includes another dog or cat that doesn’t demand as much constant interaction as one attention-hungry pooch, your other furry friends can start to feel neglected. The more time and focus you give to one pet, the less time you have for others. Resentment and upheaval in your home can result.

Warning signs that other pets are feeling left out include:

  • Aggression between pets
  • Marking territory in the house
  • Excessive vocalization for attention
  • Destructive behavior
  • Depression

Make sure all animals in your home get quality one-on-one time with you in addition to group play or training.

Balancing attachments

Set aside designated bonding time for each pet in your home without competition from other animals. Engage in separate training sessions, walks, play times, and cuddle sessions. Rotate access to you throughout the day. Give each pet individualized affection and care when together. Ask family members to also spend one-on-one time with each animal.

Troubleshooting problems

If tensions arise between your pets due to imbalanced attachments, there are strategies to restore harmony. Use pet gates to separate fighting animals. Consult an animal behaviorist for help resolving issues. Make sure each pet has their own food, water, toys, bed, and litter box. Clean with enzyme cleaners to minimize territorial marking inside your home. Spend extra time re-bonding with your neglected pet.

Your social life may suffer

While your dog may be your new best friend, human companionship is still essential for a fulfilling social life. If you devote most of your non-working hours to your canine companion, your human friendships could falter. People may start to feel hurt or snubbed if you frequently turn down social invites or always have to bring your dog along.

Striking the right balance means:

  • Accepting occasional invitations for dog-free events and outings
  • Spending focused one-on-one time with friends without constant pet interruptions
  • Asking a friend, family member, or dog walker to care for your dog if needed
  • Compromising on pet-friendly hangouts but also dog-free quality time

If your social life seems to revolve exclusively around your dog, make an effort to reconnect with friends on a human level.

Rekindling friendships

Reach out to friends you’ve neglected and set up get-togethers focused just on you. Open up about any challenges you’ve faced in balancing relationships. Offer to provide alternate dog care so you can attend social functions pet-free. Plan some weekends away just to reconnect one-on-one or in a group setting without your dog.

Making compromises

Include your dog when appropriate so they don’t feel displaced. But also respect your friends’ needs for dog-free hangouts. Compromise on pet-friendly activities you can all do together like patio meetups or hiking. Be willing to leave your dog at home sometimes when asked. The right give-and-take strengthens both human and canine bonds.

You and your dog miss out on other experiences

Sure, you may be able to take your dog everywhere you go. But letting your canine sidekick dictate your plans means missing out on many human-focused experiences. Certain activities and destinations just aren’t suited for bringing your dog along.

Examples include:

  • International travel to non pet-friendly destinations
  • Overnight hotel and resort stays that don’t allow dogs
  • Museums, shops, theaters, and restaurants that prohibit dogs indoors
  • Outdoor recreation areas and trails that exclude dogs
  • Events and attractions that deny dog entry

Always choosing pet-friendly activities translates to lost opportunities and narrowed horizons over time.

Making the most of dog-free experiences

Identify destinations and activities better enjoyed without your dog. Line up reliable pet care for when you want to travel, attend events, or partake in dog-excluded recreation. Take advantage of opportunities your canine companion can’t partake in to broaden your own horizons and enjoyment.

Balancing canine fun

Also seek out pet-friendly and dog-centric adventures to do together. Take a pet-oriented vacation, visit a dog park, or explore dog-friendly shops and eateries. Maintaining enriching shared times prevents your dog from feeling left out when excluded. Varying dog and human activities keeps life interesting for both of you.

You may miss important signals about your dog’s wellbeing

Dogs thrive on routine, boundaries, and alone time. When you upset that balance by smothering your dog with constant attention, important signs of their emotional and physical state may get overlooked.

Subtle signals you could miss include:

  • Anxiety or stress
  • Fatigue or overstimulation
  • Lack of appetite
  • Dental pain or discomfort
  • Skin irritation or hot spots
  • Limping or strained movements
  • Apathy or change in temperament

In your desire to be together 24/7, health or behavior issues could go undetected and untreated.

Tuning in to your dog

Make sure to spend calm one-on-one time observing your dog at home. Notice their eating, drinking, and bathroom habits. Watch for scratching, licking, shaking, or changes in posture. Check their mouth, coat, skin and paws for problems. Pay attention to energy levels across different times of day.

Consulting the vet

Discuss any concerns that crop up with your veterinarian right away. Keep up with twice yearly wellness exams even if your pet seems fine. The vet can catch and treat issues before they become severe. Stay alert for wellbeing red flags despite wanting to be with your dog constantly.


Sharing your life with your furry best friend brings great joy. But excessive togetherness can hurt you and your dog. Make sure your quest for quality time doesn’t mean smothering your pet with round-the-clock attention. Allow your dog their own space, engage in separate activities, uphold training, and stick to a routine. Your healthy bond will benefit from some apart time in balance with treasured togetherness.