Anthropomorphism and humanizing dogs… Dog training is fine, but it is important to consider the subjectivity of your dog in order to establish a good relationship and not anthropomorphize your dog. Many people forget that our four-legged friends have minds, and discuss canine behavior only in terms of instinct. Failing to recognize your dogs instincts and the fact that he is a dog means anthropomorphizing the dog, or considering him a surrogate human. To achieve this anthropomorphization, the dog is denatured of its cognitive and psycho-behavioral baggage. Obviously there are boundaries in the training of dogs that should not be crossed because in that case you go beyond anthropomorphism and begin to mistreat the animal in question.
Humanizing dogs and forms of anthropomorphism
There are different forms of dog anthropomorphism, for example:
- Claiming that dogs should not bark (if we were talking about humans, it would be like saying that humans shouldn’t speak);
- Expecting dogs not sniff during walks;
- Asking your dog to stay quiet and still like a robot when you want him;
- Humanizing dogs: Dressing the pet up in clothes for dogs that he hates, just to feed human ego and not to protect them from the cold….
Not to mention the reasons that many people give when they are asked why they want to get a dog… We remember a funny day at park… When one woman saw a border collie who knew how to dribble a ball, she said to the dogs owner:
“Excuse me, I’d like to buy a border collie for my son so he can play soccer like your dog does. It should also be a good and well-behaved dog, one that doesn’t do any damage in the house, on who really loves children etc. … Do you know where I can find one that doesn’t cost too much? I don’t care about pedigree, but I want a puppy and not an older dog from the shelter”
Translation: “Where can I find and buy a toy like yours?“.. It’s not to say that one cannot achieve the desired objectives with a dog, but it’s always important to respect a dog’s otherness and its subjectivity. However, to assume that all border collies know instinctively how to play ball or that all border collies love children and won’t damage the home, it’s like saying all the border collies have the same characteristics… just like toys coming off an assembly line.
Humanizing dogs and risks of Anthropomorphization
Instead, canine subjectivity teaches us that:
- Not all Border Collies know how to dribble a ball or push it around with their nose (there are some dogs that will have more fun puncturing the ball);
- Some Border Collies will destroy things in the house. It all depends on how you train your dog (if you leave your dog alone for hours when you leave, they may decide to have fun with your beautiful new sofa);
- Not all Border Collies love children. (If children have traumatized them when they were puppies, any dog will try to avoid them like the plague as soon as they approach).
This is because the dog has a mind and is able to think, learn, remember and solve problems in the context of subjectivity and otherness. If man only appreciates a dog when it is convenient for him, the dog may begin to think of human beings only as “masters” and not friends. They dog may consider human beings to be something to fear, because they only want to exploit the dog, humanize the dog and force the dog to renounce his instincts. So there are a few red lines that must not be crossed, and which require a very balanced master who is able to grasp the difference between dog training and dog anthropomorphism.
What do you do then if you bring home a puppy that does not live up to your expectations? Do you return him to the assembly line as defective? Unfortunately for many “people” -the answer is yes! So please, before getting a dog, remember that you are in front of a living being with it’s own brain and not a toy!