The Human Dog
We may dress him like a human, but we do not treat him like one.
The number one biggest mistake dog owners can make with their dogs is to treat them like humans. The human race is such a kind, compassionate species that we tend to look at our canine companions as little humans. When in reality, they are canines and have a very different thought process. This is what differentiates mankind from other species in pack societies; there must be a specific order, from the leader on down to the last follower. Everyone has a place. The leaders are the strength of the pack. The followers need the leader to guide them. This primal instinct keeps the pack secure and happy.
Dogs instinctually need rules they must follow, and limits to what they are allowed to do. When dogs live with humans, the humans become the dog’s pack. For the relationship to succeed, humans must become the dogs pack leader. The mistake is made when the humans in the pack only give the dog love, and the other factors are overlooked. To a dog, constant affection without rules and limits goes against every grain in a dog’s instinct, as affectionate love is a human trait, not a canine trait. Affection does not make dogs happy, satisfying their instincts make them happy. You need to provide a proper emotional stability in order to achieve this, and showing you have an orderly pack with rules to follow is what the dog needs. Giving your dog affection is important for the human, and enjoyed by the dog, but must be done at the correct time.
A dog is an animal and does not possess the same reasoning skills as humans. They do have emotions, but they are simple creatures with instincts, and their emotions lack the complex thought process. They feel joy when they know you are pleased, they feel sad when someone dies. However, they do not premeditate; do not plan ahead. They live for whatever is happening at the moment.
Lets say for example that you are upset
over something that has happened in your life. Your dog will know you are upset, but they will not know why. For example, they are not going to reason out in their head that your boyfriend just broke up with you. Their interpretation of you will be that you have unstable energy and see you as weak.
On the flip side, when a human shares its affection with a dog who is in any other state of mind but a calm, submissive one, (for example aggression, obsession, shyness, skittishness, fear or hyper activeness and so on…) and you give them a hug or pat them on the head and tell them it is ok, it is comforting to the human, but feeds into that state of mind for the dog making it more intense. You are telling the dog it is ok to feel that way. While a human feels they are comforting a dog, the dog sees it as the human being weak, as you are not providing strong energy the dog can feed from. If your dog has a traumatic experience and you show them affection during that time trying to comfort them, rather than letting them work it out in their own mind and being a strong leader they can feed from, you leave them stuck in that state of mind. Later when your dog faces this traumatic situation again, you then comfort the dog, intensifying the situation even more. You are creating the problem. Dogs do not see comfort and affection in the same way we humans see it. Dogs are always looking for a strong stable being to feed from.