The Humanization Of Dogs
While our dogs are our best companions, there a major problems with humanizing your dog.
Lets face it, we all love our dogs and want to treat them like family. We live in a much more dog-centric time then we ever have in the past, we have dog events, bars, restaurants, etc. This is fantastic for all of us to be able to bring our best friends everywhere we go, but with all of these fantastic things comes the uglier side. We right now as a dog community have a major problem on our hands and I predict this will get worse and worse, we are humanizing our dogs to the maximum.
What do you mean “humanizing” our dogs?!
What I define as the humanization of dogs is humans giving their dogs human characteristics or problems. We often hear people talk about how they dress their dogs up, and that their dog has a favorite outfit. We see owners who truly believe their dog is human. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your dog is not human. They are a dog and that is ok. We all need to come to terms with our dogs being dogs because if we do not we can actually do way more harm than good for them. Trainers want to talk about use and mis-use of training tools, but they never talk about the reality of first accepting your dog is a dog. We need to accept they have needs and drive and that they do not learn the same way humans do.
How does this create a problem for my dog? He seems happy!
Humanizing your dog is hindering their life and their ability to have a good life. We all love our dogs like family members but for some reason while we have great discipline with our kids. The dog gets elevated to different rules, meaning the same rules and consequences that apply to your kids do not apply to your dog. Right there is an issue. Dogs don’t like having free-roam including being able to do whatever they want and having everything handed to them for nothing. Dogs want to actively work for food, be moving, engaged and told what is right and wrong. When we don’t allow our dogs to work for food or take away boundaries, we create the famous Suburban Dog Syndrome!
What is suburban dog syndrome?
Suburban dog syndrome is a real problem in today’s world. It is when we have dogs in our” suburbs ” who are out of control and are left to roam their yard as exercise. The dogs are fed extremely high quality foods and if the dog doesn’t eat we leave the food out for them to graze. After a while the dog literally begins to lose their mind! We always want to talk about kennel stress, but what about the dog that is just let outside in the backyard everyday to bark at people as their exercise, they do not go on walks or get training. They have everything handed to them, can you see where this can become extremely stressful to your dog? Your basically taking away all of their natural instincts. This creates anxiety, frustration which then can lead to aggression.
Well how do you prevent or fix this issue?
That is a loaded question! How’s about I create an easy list for everyone to follow?
- Stop Humanizing your dog- Let your dog be a dog, accept that they don’t like when you force them to perform human activities. Dogs want to walk, run, play, engage with dogs and people. Even the little dogs who some might call “purse” dogs want to walk and not be carried. If your dog stops walking until you go the other way or pick them up, you think it is because there is something wrong, but in reality they have realized they can manipulate you to do exactly what they want. There are two ways to boil down your dogs behavior “whats in it for me” or “antecedent->behavior->consequence”. Let us use your morning walk for example, your dog keeps putting the brakes on shorter and shorter walks each time, doesn’t matter the weather. You may think they are scared of something, but in reality what do you do after your morning walk? feed your dog. What does your dog want? their breakfast and they have learned that if they Antecedent=go on walk->behavior= stop short and don’t move->Consequence= go inside and get food. There you go, your dog stopping short on their morning walks boiled down. Sound Familiar?
- Your dog needs to walk or run outside your yard- Your hear it time and time again, ” I want a big backyard for the dog to run around in”. Well I hate to break it to you, but if you’re not outside with your dog engaging with them. That big backyard becomes a big prison. Dogs like to explore, smell, and be social. You leaving them in your backyard to “play” through the fence with the neighbor’s dog is doing nothing but create barrier frustration and anxiety. Your dog needs a good walk everyday outside your yard.
- If your dog is not hungry do not force them to eat- This is most likely the biggest problem I see almost weekly, people have overweight dogs and get extremely worried when they do not eat. So they put something to make the food more enticing to make it irresistible to eat. To all dog owners, dogs are very good at regulating their body weight, stop thinking something is wrong with your dog every time they skip a meal, they may just not be hungry because they have not gotten any exercise that day. Also for the safety of your dog, stop the grazing. It makes it impossible to know if your dog is extremely ill or if they just aren’t hungry. Have set times for your dog to eat and pick the bowl up after 20 minutes.
- Rules and boundaries- Every dog needs rules and boundaries. They need to know what is right and wrong. It cannot “sometimes”, it has to always be clear what the rules and expectations of your dog are. This allows them to relax and enjoy their life knowing you are in charge and control the environment.