Anthropomorphise...a big word but a big reason there is so many dog behavioural issues out there...

Author: Neil Smith   Date Posted:15 July 2014 

Your dog is actually not bad and it's probably not dumb either...it may actually choose to ignore you! Find out why...

The other day I was reflecting on times gone by, when I remembered my first police dog training instructor, a wily old senior sergeant that made us look up this rather large word that I had much trouble spelling let alone defining.  Remember back in 1993 there was no internet or Wikipedia, so I had to hit the library and look in a thing called ‘a book’.

The next day I was proud to present the fruits of my research…’to ascribe human characteristics to an inanimate object or animal.’  The senior sergeant then looked at us all and yelled, “Make sure you never do it, you’ll ruin your dog!”  Ok there may have been a few extra expletives that were thrown in but you get the idea.

So why did he feel the need to reinforce this and what bearing does this have on you and your dog 20 years later.  Simple when you think about, your dog is not a human and does not see the world as you and I do.  The one thing, however, that all dogs, whether a police dog or a 5kg designer pet dog, are looking for is strength and leadership.

Show a dog strength, and show characteristics that let it perceive you as a strong leader then I will show you a content, balanced dog with few if any behavioural issues. 

Not for a moment am I saying you should not love your dog.  I certainly loved all my police dogs to a degree and was devistated when I lost them.  However it is a bit unfair to expect them to return that respect and affection in a way that human's may define as love. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, dogs do not have the emotional depth that we humans have.  They can however respect you as a leader.  Alternatively, they can in turn take over your house and start exhibiting behaviour that we generally find displeasing or a downright pain in the you know what!

It’s funny to listen to people who blame this unwanted behaviour on their dog being bad or even dumb.  In fact your dog is neither.  It simply is doing what it wants because it does not think obeying your instructions has any merit.  After all it is now the leader of your pack and you are following it.  Why should the dog listen to you?

The unfortunate thing about this though, is that most dogs today aren’t cut out to be leaders.  Those traits are often bred out of suburban pet dogs as they can often go hand in hand with some forms of aggression.  Do you have the dog that barks its head off when visitors come to your door, then shakes nervously as it runs and hides behind the couch?  This is the classic environment where a dog has no leader from within the pack and then, unsuccessfully, attempts to be the leader itself.  This type of dog, whilst generally very spoilt, lives its life quite nervously.

So what are some of the things as humans we do to let the dog have this inferior perception of us.  Generally, as I hinted before, these dogs are often very spoilt and given everything for nothing, are allowed to jump and lay all over their owners (or I should say, ‘the people they own’!), they take their owners for a walk and generally disobey every command and are allowed to do so with no consequence whatsoever.  Often, these owners cannot understand why, after giving all this love and affection the dog is not repaying then in the same way...classic Anthropomorphisation (I hope that's a word!!)

You have to remember, the pet industry perpetuates this to a large degree.  They want you to spoil your dog!  They need you to keep spending money (or wasting money) on things that may make you feel good but the dog has little interest in.  Remember, it does not love you more for buying it!  New toys, bling collars etc mean nothing to your dog!

I feel some people may see this article akin to a child being told there is no Santa Clause.  Believe me when I say, I am not trying to tell you to stop loving your dog…far from it.  If you do love your dog just understand the things that are important for it to co-exist happily with you as well.