By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – We all love our dogs. They adapt easily into the family and share our lives. So it’s easy to forget, at times, that they need to be dogs. Expecting our dogs to act as humans, is fairly widespread among pet owners and it is truly unfair for our dogs. It’s called Anthropomorphism.

Understand that dogs do need love, praise and affection. And, as pack animals, bonding with your dog is extremely important for both you and your dog. It truly creates a lifelong bond of trust and love. But many people baby their dogs continually, thus creating confusion for the dog by sending mixed signals at the wrong times.

For example, whenever your dog is in an anxious or fearful state, simply redirect his focus first, then praise immediately when the focus shifts to a more relaxed state to avoid nurturing a negative state of mind. It only serves to intensify and perpetuate that negative state.

A dog needs to know clearly what is expected of him/her, otherwise the dog will experience stress and anxiety and behavioral problems develop.

We do a disservice to the dog by putting our own emotional needs in the forefront and by not addressing the needs of the canine first. The dog needs to know clearly what the rules of the family are in a gentle, calm assertive, loving way on a consistent basis. As a result, the needs of both you and your dog will be met, and you can share lots of affection with a more balanced and secure dog.