It’s a dog’s life when man’s in charge

By Scott Hunt – The Dog Grumbler

ANTRHOPOMORPHISM: it’s when we assume our dog is some kind of inferior human. Or any kind of human for that matter.

I often hear people say, “He thinks he’s human”, or “She thinks she’s a cat”. We toss these ideas around without thinking much about them, especially when we share dog stories with other humans — but we should never forget that they are falsehoods.

If we actually approach a dog and our relationship with it in this way we are asking for trouble and we are dooming our dog to a life of frustration, confusion and even depression.

No dog thinks it’s a human. No dog wants to be a human — it’s good to be a dog.

A dog comes into this world knowing very little, but it knows it is a dog. It will become whatever it takes to be a useful member of a good team and it knows that the best team needs at least one human. If you respect it for the special creature it is you will create a happy dog and be rewarded.

Your dog wants someone to be leader and it knows the team needs an enforcer. If you don’t fill these functions, your dog will be forced to take on one or both jobs.

It is unsuited to both — after all it must live in a human world. A dog that has to be leader or enforcer is like a one-legged tightrope walker — in the wrong job.

The leader decides where we go, when we go and how we go. On the way we smell stuff. When we stop somewhere we smell stuff more closely. Every time your dog smells some place, some thing, some creature; every time it re-visits some regular haunt and has a chance to smell any changes, its life is enriched.

Every time your dog sleeps on some new olfactory experience, it wakes up a richer dog.

The enforcer grumbles, smells angry and changes the situation — consistently — whenever a rule is broken. This way a dog learns the rules and can strive to behave just as we wish. A happy dog knows that it can look to its team enforcer whenever there is doubt over protocol in any situation.

We have spent tens of thousands of years breeding the enforcer and the leader out of the original grey wolf but that doesn’t mean your dog isn’t ready to take on whichever jobs remain on the team.

For a wolf, these include sentry, wingman, forward scout, nursemaid and several others I haven’t fathomed yet. If you leave your dog alone it will be a sentry; it will try to do a great job in the hope that you will take it with you next time.

If you lead where it can smell things it can apply its talents to being part of your life — performing the functions that made it valuable to us in the first place.

Give your dog a break; give it a good life by a dog’s standards.

Go smell some stuff.

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