This was just going to be a little catch up with some photos of the Waggy Tales family. However, a conversation with my daughter really got me thinking about humanising dogs and if we are going too far?
My daughter has been having some work done at home, including painting every room. Anything that is not essential has been packed away, dustsheets cover the floors and furniture and there are no curtains up. Windows are left open for ventilation but obviously, the rooms smell different and noises echo more than usual.
She was saying that she was worried that the disruption was stressing the dogs out. They were deprived of their creature comforts, strangers were in the house, ladders and cans of paint scattered the rooms and it had lost its normal cosy feel. The dogs seemed to be unsettled and sad about their change of surroundings even though they were fed and walked at usual times. She said she felt enormous guilt that they didn’t have their usual comfortable place to sit and couldn’t explain to them that the situation was temporary.
I wondered if the dogs were genuinely affected or was she imagining this because she felt guilty?
Surely as long as the dogs are with their humans, warm , walked and fed they would be fine?
However, I believe that dogs like to have a routine in their lives.
Their senses will be affected by different smells (ie paint) and strange noises.
Dogs are territorial so the workmen in the house will make them more protective.
So could it be genuinely affecting the dogs?
Or are we humanising them to much?
I am defintely guilty of this at times.
I talk to my dogs in a funny voice and tuck them up in bed. Although I don’t dress my dogs up, if I think they are cold I will put a jumper on them. I always say goodbye to them when I leave the house and put the radio on for them.
They are my soul mates and I want to make them feel loved.
Are we all guilty of humanising our dogs or should we treat them as pack animals with ourselves firmly situated as the leader?
Is it wrong to throw birthday parties for dogs and dress them like pumpkins at Halloween?
I wonder if some of the behavioural problems that affect our dogs are actually due to owners humanising them too much? Should we try to think more like dogs and treat them accordingly? Maybe by treating dogs like children, we are giving them mixed signals which confuse them and affects their behaviour. Are we ‘killing our dogs with kindness’ and introducing obesity and unwanted behaviour?
How far could this go when animals are treated like children?
Are you guilty of humanising your pet?
What things do you do to make them feel more loved?
Are we doing more harm than good when we treat our pets like humans?
So many questions, but I really would love to know how everyone feels about this topic.
(This article talks about how a daily routine is important for dogs).
Thank you so much for reading.
This is a very interesting question.
I have always adored all animals, but maintained a sensible relationship in which there is fondness and love but also the recognition that I am human and they are not. “Some people treat their pets like they are human!” I used to scoff.
Then we got The Fab Four as puppies and OMG. Both Mark and I are absolutely besotted! We didn’t have dogs until we gave up work because we worked long hours and didn’t think that it was fair on a pet to be left for long periods. Since we took early retirement, our lives revolve around our fur family. Everything we do has to be dog friendly and even our choice of lifestyle – touring in a caravan – is partly because we have dogs, although this style of travel also gives us the ‘go anywhere, anytime’ footloose freedom that we crave.
We talk to our puppies but fall short of dressing them up. I see this communication simply as expressing love and since The Pawsome Foursome are half poodle, they are very intelligent and do understand a lot of words. And it makes us feel better!
Nevertheless, we do recognise that discipline plays an important part of making our Fur Family happy. Dogs do need to know where they stand in the pack or it can lead to anxiety. Not only that, since we travel almost permanently with four dogs, it is critically important to us that they are well-behaved and we can take them anywhere. I do believe that a lack of discipline resulting from humanizing pets is a common factor behind bad behaviour – along with lack of exercise. And it is also important to be consistent. It is no good giving them a sample of your food sometimes and then telling them off for begging at other times.
We try to keep a balance; we do give them a limited number of healthy treats and chews. We are with them nearly all the time, although this doesn’t help on the rare occasions that we do need to leave them, to go skiing or windsurfing together. We also feel a little bit of guilt since, as you say, dogs like a routine. They seem happiest when we’re in one place for a length of time. Our lifestyle is not routine and I know that they do get a little anxious when we’re packing up the caravan to move on, but we just hope that being with us all the time in familiar surroundings compensates at least a little for this.
Thank you for your interesting and thought-provoking post!
Thank you for your comments. It sounds like you have a wonderful life travelling with your fur babies right next to you.
I agree we have to get the balance right, not just for ourselves but for the dogs too. Like you say we have to be consistent to make the dogs feel secure.
I was just wondering which poodle mix you have? My daughter has a cavapoo and goldendoodle.
You sound like wonderful dog owners and The Fab Four are lucky to have such an interesting lifestyle.
Thank you again for taking the time to read and comment, it is most appreciated and we loved hearing your story.
Thank you! We consider ourselves very fortunate. We have four Cavapoos. They are lovely dogs; affectionate, intelligent and playful. Although they are small, they have enough energy to do surprisingly long walks with us. The down side of the breed, I think from the poodle side, is that they are needy and do suffer from separation anxiety. This is not really a problem for us as we’re with them all the time, but it would be a consideration for anyone who works. We do leave them for a couple of hours at a time if we go to ski or windsurf. We have used a video camera to see how they get on and they seem mostly to settle and sleep while we’re away. Although I did once return because I forgot pick up my ski gloves and found Ruby on the back of the sofa howling her head off. I felt so guilty!