Many today complain that dogs are humanized. In the past, a dog would have been treated like a dog, that is, in a manner appropriate to the species.
What they often mean by this is that a dog used to live outside or in the kennel, was thrown away leftover food and was supposed to guard house and yard or was taken on a hunt. He was not given a coat in winter or in the rain or simply because it was chic, he was not carried around, brushed or petted, he was not allowed to lie on the sofa or even in bed, was not given a pool, toys or was allowed to lick plates, did not become The hairdresser, skillful and stuffed with treats and organic food, did not go to the physio, dog school or psychologist.
I personally also think that dogs are humanized, but not for any of the reasons listed above.
Dogs have adapted to humans over the millennia and through targeted breeding, humans have given everything to make the dog so dependent on itself that it cannot survive without it and its proximity as a species. In this respect, it is part of the “species-appropriate” development of the dog to be closely connected with humans today and to live in his house. Industrialization has also made the dog superfluous as a working tool, so that the working dog’s function was replaced by the family dog. We keep our dogs because we enjoy them, but not usually because they should work for us.
We have a much more emotional bond with them, which is why it is important to us that they are well. They have not become easily replaceable, they are considered family members.
We recognize in them individual, sentient beings with needs, likes and dislikes. So we also ensure that they do not have to freeze or sweat, that they are physically and mentally busy and that they lead a happy dog life. We share our living space with them and so our living space for dogs is now “appropriate for the species”. Just as we no longer live in caves, the dog no longer lives in front of the door, but behind it.
In my opinion, the term “humanization” is often confused with “moral responsibility towards a dependent person who is protected”.
Nevertheless, we humanize our dog very often – on a completely different level.
We ask him to be human!
He should understand our language, as intuitively as possible. He should like to do everything we like to do, such as accompanying us to the full city or to the noisy restaurant. He should be inconspicuous and quiet and get on well with everyone, he should walk and ignore his world, he should look at us, “love” us and “bind” us strongly.
And we also humanize him because we believe he is human!
So we very often assume that he wants to be “boss” because he often lies on the sofa, runs first through the door or defends his game. We claim that he “controls” us because he follows us everywhere. We say that he is “stubborn” again or wants to “annoy” us because he doesn’t run back when we call him, but rather digs for mice or plays with his buddies. We think he’s “cheeky” and “disrespectful” when he jumps up at us and “stubborn” when he doesn’t sit down, even though we – maybe not trained enough – but “commanded” it anyway?
For me, humanization means if we assign human desires and character traits to the dog – and often don’t even notice it. It comes to us without hesitation and without thinking about our lips. Dominance, hierarchical thinking, claim to leadership, addiction to control, stubbornness, laziness, deceitfulness, maliciousness, intention, stupidity – the list of seemingly dog-like, but actually quite human characteristics is long.
We do this because we are human beings and know nothing else. We compare the behavior of the dog with what we know, i.e. human behavior, and draw our conclusions from it. We look through human glasses.
Sometimes it would be much easier for us if we would throw our human attributes overboard when describing the dog. A more unbiased view of things could make our lives a lot easier.
What happened if?
What would it be like, for example, if the dog did not want to “control” us at all, but was bred through domestication to bind itself closely to humans and to separate them – which may only be brief – from uncomfortable feelings? Which in turn regularly makes him ignore his natural need for rest, even though he is totally tired, for example, just to be close to us.
What if the dog was lying on the sofa, not to signal us that he wanted to be the “boss”, but because it was so comfortable, cozy and warm there? Just as he likes to lie on the stone floor, not because he suddenly submits to us, but because it cools so nicely in summer?
What if the dog was not “stubborn”, “headstrong” or “stubborn” and only because of that he did not sit down, although we asked for it because the meadow is wet under him and he does not like a wet butt that Asphalt too hot, the excitement is too big, the back hurts or he never really learned it?
What if the dog jumped on us, not because it behaved “disrespectfully”, but because it was his way of expressing joy and we didn’t consistently teach him to stay down?
What if dogs do not want to lead – as we humans do – but simply weigh up which behavior brings them satisfaction of needs, comfort, social contact or security?
Wouldn’t this approach take us much further in one fell swoop, since it provides a solution instead of struggling with apparent stubbornness and willfulness?
Actually, we should be concerned with one question:
Does the dog’s behavior bother us or can we live with it?
If it bothers us, we train the dog and teach it not to show the behavior anymore.
If it doesn’t bother us, then he just walks into the toilet and feels comfortable there, even if it stinks. Incidentally, if it bothered him, he would go. Our “ungrateful” dogs are so “selfish”! Or maybe just needs-based.
Of course, there are many scientific studies today that have investigated and found out how our domestic dogs think, feel and live, and also prove that dogs lack these human attributes – precisely because they are dogs and their evolution has been very different from that of (hierarchically structured) people.
Fortunately, you don’t need to know these studies to understand a dog better.
We should just try to take off human glasses now and then. The world of a dog suddenly doesn’t look as threatening to us anymore