Humanizing dogs is a practice that is as common as it is harmful. And although great advances have been made in understanding how canine learning works, dogs are often trained ignoring basic aspects of their nature. However, it is important to be aware of the dangers of humanizing dogs, as going beyond certain limits can be dangerous.
Therefore, in this article we want to talk about the risks of the so-called anthropomorphization, which involves treating dogs based on human expectations, principles, and behaviors.
What is dog humanization?
Humanizing dogs (or any other animal) consists of seeing them as if they were people.
Some people try to see in their pets gestures, preferences, or attitudes that are only in accordance with human behaviors, thus misrepresenting animal instincts.
Humanizing pets has nothing to do with giving affection. You can love a dog, cat, etc. very much, take care of it as it deserves, and take it into account when choosing a vacation destination so that it can go with you, for example. What is not appropriate is to treat it as if it were a small child.
Attitudes that indicate that you are humanizing your dog
Some of the behaviors performed by people who humanize their dog are:
- They allow him to sit at the table to eat with the rest of the people.
- They offer him human food.
- They always dress the animal, regardless of whether it is cold or not.
- They spend a lot of money on treats for the animal.
- The animal is allowed to occupy more space in the resting area (sofa or bed), putting its comfort above its personal comfort.
- It is treated like a baby.
Dangers of humanizing dogs
When dogs are given supposed needs that are inherent to people and not to them, their essence is misunderstood and their importance is reduced to things that are really important for these animals, taking into account their nature.
Of course, the dog can be seen as another member of the family, but a different member, with its own needs.
Therefore, there are many dangers in humanizing dogs.
Dogs build their identity based on their physical and social environment. That is why we insist on the importance of good socialization. Socialization is essential to learning basic codes of behavior with other dogs and humans.
During the first four months, the dog learns, along with his mother and the other dogs in the litter, what play, exploration, and other characteristics define him as a dog.
But it is in life with humans that many of these behaviors are repressed, rejected, or even punished, without understanding that they just need to be channeled.
Dogs also need to learn to manage their emotions, and for that, humans must identify and satisfy their needs without taking away their canine nature.
They do not know the rules
A dog must be educated in order to have a proper coexistence. The animal must know that there are attitudes that it cannot have, such as biting everything or urinating where it wants.
Humanized dogs do not know the limits, because the person in charge of showing them has overlooked them. Therefore, behavioral problems are common in them.
In addition, it must be taken into account that the way to educate a dog is not the same as when educating a child. The teachings of the animals must be oriented to their capacities so that they can assimilate them.
Aggressiveness and destructiveness
Derived from the previous point, one of the most serious dangers of humanizing dogs is the development of aggressive and destructive behaviors.
Not knowing hierarchies, it can also become a dominant dog.
Pets may develop separation anxiety if they are humanized.
If most of the time is spent with the animal from the moment it arrives in the person's life, that animal will not know what loneliness is.
When there is a separation, the dog will not know how to manage being away from its owner, which will lead to behaviors derived from this problem: barking, biting, urinating where it should not, etc.
Insecurity and distrust
Another danger of humanizing dogs is that they become insecure and distrustful.
Possibly, there will come a time when he will not obey his owner and will not know how to relate to other dogs.
Anxiety and frustration
Animals are driven by instincts, following their own nature.
If we try to change it, the dog may begin to suffer from anxiety and frustration, leading to illness or behavioral problems.
Let's look at a simple example: dressing dogs. In winter, when it is cold, it is logical to want to keep our pets warm, especially when it comes to small breed dogs.
However, what does it do for your little dog to wear a dress in summer? It does nothing for her, except discomfort and warmth. It is the person who puts that dress on her who finds "benefit" from that practice, seeing her pet very adorable.
Health problems due to lack of nutrients
When you feed your pet the food you eat, you may not only be making a mistake by feeding toxic food to your dog.
You may also (and even if you avoid those that are harmful to his health) not be giving him all the nutrients he needs.
Read also: Domestication Syndrome in Dogs: What is it?
Dangers of humanizing dogs for people
The dangers of humanizing dogs are not just for the animals.
People also suffer the consequences of having humanized their pets.
For example, they may develop a disorder known as petophilia, the inordinate love for pets. This leads the person to totally condition his or her life, putting the pet's needs above his or her own.
Remember that you can love your pet unconditionally, but that should not imply that you forget that it is an animal.