BY FRAN JEWELL
How does a dog lose his identity enough to call it a seizure? The big word to describe this crisis is anthropomorphism or giving human characteristics to a dog.
The media and pet suppliers, the dog training community, and canine care specialists have begun referring to dogs as “fur babies” or “fur kids.” Not a day goes by that we don’t see dogs in clothes that make them look like little children. They also wear dresses and jackets, as well as sprot-dyed hair and tails!
Recently I saw a Weimaraner on Facebook with painted fingernails and a bracelet on her leg. Now, a Weimaraner is a hunting dog with tremendous energy and a need to run and hunt. In order to paint her fingernails, her guardians had grown particularly long nails.
As a result, this dog will end up with health issues with her feet and structure, especially her spine, which could cause her pain for the rest of her life and make her unable to run. What purpose? So her tutor can make her look like a human princess?!!!
Anthropomorphism is incredibly dangerous, not only to a dog’s physical health, but also to their mental health as a dog.
Many cases of aggression and severe separation anxiety I work with are the result of dogs being treated like “fur babies” or beings who have feelings like people. without rules or structure. I love my dogs as much if not more than anyone on the planet, but I love them enough to respect the fact that they are dogs and a different species. I LOVE that they are dogs, NOT humans.
I’m not here to pretend that dogs don’t have feelings. They absolutely do. However, they don’t have feelings like us humans, and they don’t react like us humans in certain situations.
So how do we honor our dogs? First, we do research to find out what our dog was bred to do. Even mixed-breed dogs have an innate or genetic purpose.
Humans initially selected wolves that were the most social and trainable in order to help primitive man live. Over time, humans domesticated these wolves into dogs. Dogs were originally intended to help herds, hunt to help humans find food, pull carts, protect families, kill vermin in the barn, and yes, even be ours. companions.
But the dogs haven’t lost their day jobs to sit at home and sleep on the back of the couch. Our first job should be to understand the ancestry of our dogs, which will help us understand who they are today.
In many ways, dogs have replaced human companions. Today, our families may live across the country rather than across town. Even in our high rise apartments, many of us know our neighbours. We seek out these warm, fluffy dogs to comfort our loneliness, and we put enormous pressure on our beloved dog to be just a companion instead of a working dog to help people.
How many times have you heard that a dog likes to obey? What we humans perceive as work is usually FUN for our dog and helps him maintain a healthy body and mind. Dogs LOVE direction and are mentally and physically healthier when given direction. Honor your dog for who he is and you will see amazing things in your relationship with him!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Fran Jewell is Certified Canine Behavior Consultant with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) and Board Member of the National Association of Canine Obedience Instructors. She has been training dogs for 35 years and has been a full-time instructor for Positive Puppy Dog Training LLC for 25 years. She has trained her own dogs for search and rescue, pet therapy, competitive obedience and agility and tracking.