My dog is my baby! We’re all guilty of it, we treat our dogs like kids. Humanization of our dogs is all the rage nowadays, as it seems. Of course, we love our dogs, they are like family, and we want to treat them as such. Giving them the best life possible is our intention, but if we really want to give them a happy and healthy life, we need to be aware of what that means for them!
To be a great pet parent, we need to understand what behaviors, routines, etc., are healthy for dogs, not ones we want them to exhibit. This is what will truly give them a fulfilling life, after all isn’t that what every good parent wants!. We need to understand how to “Humanize” our dog’s right way. To do this, we need to redefine “Humanization”.
Currently, humanization is imposing human behaviors, interactions, and products (like those baby shoes we force our dog’s feet into) onto our dogs, in an attempt to make them more like people. The down side to that is you’re actually doing more harm than good because dogs are not people.
Don’t get me wrong, they are amazing, and better than most people (in my opinion). The statement that “dogs are not people” isn’t a negative one, instead it’s positive. It doesn’t mean they are “less than people”, it just means they have different needs and wants. As good Pet Parents, we must understand what those are and respect those differences. Those differences give them their independence, and uniqueness.
Dog’s require different things to make them happy, healthy, and live a fulfilling life. To truly humanize them properly, we must understand what those are and provide that to them.
What’s the big deal with humanizing dogs you ask? Vets, and dog behavioral experts alike agree that it creates a disconnect between how dogs perceive the world, and the way we make them interact with it.
This means that there will be unintended negative consequences for our dogs. For example, say there is a thunderstorm and our dogs get scared. The normal reaction for humans would be to hug, to comfort them; so, we do the same to our dogs. What we are doing is reinforcing their behavior to the thunder, and telling them it’s ok to be scared and that’s the right reaction they should have. If instead, we distract them and don’t let them respond negatively to the thunder storm, this will tell them that there is no problem, and they calm down and eventually stop being scared of thunder.
Experts like Caesar Milan, vets, and other dog behaviorists agree that improper humanization leads to unintended negative outcomes, like behavioral problems or lower quality of life for our dogs.
Humanizing dogs should be about empowering dogs to be independent, and accomplish goals on their own, like humans can, allowing them to live a happy and full life.
Don’t just humanize your dog, but “dogify” yourself. Try to understand your dog’s way of looking at the world, and improve your interactions with them to fix what they understand. As humans, we have the capacity to understand their mindset and adapt to them, they do not have that ability. Becoming attuned to your dog’s perspective will greatly enhance your relationship with them.