This post is probably going to end up being polarising (which shows the state of affairs we’ve ended up in) but our dogs are not our children, nor are they are our babies.
Dogs are absolutely 100% members of the family rather than being viewed as a pet, like a fish. Although I know some fish people who would certainly disagree with me.
The issue of treating dogs like babies isn’t exclusive to, but is certainly most commonly seen in, designer breeds, or adopted dogs. In the case of adopted dogs I imagine it’s over compensating for what they believe the dog’s previous life was like. Without understanding what being kind to a dog really means, to them.
With things like dressing dogs up in costumes leading to (many but not all) dogs feeling restrained and constricted, leading to a fight/flight response and freezing up. Am I saying there’s not a time and place for a bit of fun? Absolutely not. Just understand and be honest with yourself about who you’re doing it for and why.
So what do our dogs actually want from us?
Dogs want routine, guidance and structure. They like things to be black and white with as little grey space as possible. Dogs should be able to either do something, or not do something. Not have rules changed and adapted on any given day when it suits us. The clearer we can keep things for our dogs, the less they need to process and stress about.
A trained dog with clear understanding of structure and boundaries is able to be out in public with it’s owner, spend time with other people and dogs, exercise off leash, and have time to sniff and explore their surroundings. A dog who’s removed from the stresses of the real world, confused by being talked to all of the time when they can’t understand our language, and put in positions where their behaviour is accepted in one instance and punished in another, is a dog that’s simply being killed with kindness.
Our own dogs are in a position where they travel everywhere with us, they have full roam of the house, the best quality diet and nutrition, comprehensive insurance, aren’t phased by anything, have all of the treats, tugs and equipment they could want, and almost every wall in our house has a picture or canvas of them on it. Loving your dog and ‘spoiling’ them have absolutely nothing at all to do with treating them like babies. One is an emotion you feel, the other is the behaviour you assign to them.
You should establish a relationship with your dog based on respect and clear communication, not neediness and dependency because we like how much it appears they love us.
Learn about how dogs communicate and give it a try, you will be surprised at how quickly they respond positively to it.
Please treat dogs like they deserve to be treated, like dogs. We don’t behave or communicate with children like they’re puppies for a very good reason, and it’s absolutely no different for our dogs.