Free E-Book Banner

Are Dogs Like Us?

Working as a canine behaviour counsellor means that I often have to help people understand why their dogs react or behave in a particular way.

Attributing human emotions can be unhelpful

Often misunderstandings arise because owners ascribe human emotions to their dogs and this can be unhelpful. The term for this is anthropomorphism.

As an example, the dog that destroys things when left alone can be described by the owner as being: annoyed at being left or wanting revenge for being made to stay at home. It’s easy to see that these sorts of attributes can have serious welfare implications, particularly if the dog is punished. It’s much more likely that the dog has some separation related issues. The common motivation for this is anxiety and fear.

Another very common statement that I hear is “They knew they had done wrong because they looked guilty when I came home”. The likelihood is that when the owner returns home to find destruction, the dog is repeatedly punished. The dog now begins to anticipate this and shows body language that is misinterpreted as guilt. Turid Rugaas, an international dog trainer, has observed dogs for a number of years and describes many of these displays of body language as calming signals. So rather than feeling guilty, your dog is actually trying to calm and defuse the situation.

Examples of calming signals:

  • Yawning
  • Turing the head or body away
  • Slow movement
  • Sniffing the ground
  • Lying down
  • Shaking (as if wet)
  • Licking lips or nose licking
  • Blinking

But we do share some common emotions, don’t we?

Anthropodenial is the opposite of anthropomorphism: Not being able to see any human-like characteristics in other animals. This too can be dangerous

As most dog owners know, we do share some feelings and are motivated by similar things. For instance, it is clear that dogs feel fear and anxiety. Take the dog that trembles and shakes when it is taken to the vets – that’s a bit like the human who has a fear of the hospital or the dentist.  And try telling me that my dog isn’t able to feel joy and happiness when she’s chasing her ball in the park!

Being open to our similarities can help an owner understand their dog’s behaviour problem. Client education is crucial when getting some one on board with a behaviour modification plan. In my experience compliance is much greater when the owner can sympathise with their dog. It also helps with training if they can see how reward and praise has the same motivating effect on them as it does with us.

So having a balance is important. Being able to appreciate and compare a dog’s feelings with our own is a good starting point. But being mindful of our differences prevents misunderstandings and makes for a more harmonious relationship.  And that’s something we should all want – isn’t it?

If you are interested in learning more about canine behaviour click here for course details

 

22 February 2018

0 responses on "Are Dogs Like Us?"

    Leave a Message

    Pet Education and Training Logo

     

    BECOME AN AFFILIATE

    Join our affiliate programme to receive your own company branded link to our course, so you can advertise and distribute it whilst earning commission from each order.

    Our affiliate programme is perfect for:

    • Pet groomers
    • Veterinary surgeries
    • Charities
    • Bloggers
    • and more…
    FIND OUT MORE

    THE LEGAL STUFF

    Your safety and privacy is important, we keep all data you share with us private.

    Inbox updates

    Get free pet advice and tips straight to your inbox. Subscribe below and then we’ll send you an email to confirm your email address.







    We don’t spam & all emails are kept private.

    2018 © Amicus Studio, Scarborough