'I love my dog like a child' - How to treat a dog?

Nuestro equipo está formado por veterinarios, etólogos, y expertos en contenido sobre salud animal.

Dogs are not like babies, so treating pets like humans is not a good option. Many PetLovers ask us if it is bad to treat their dogs as if they were their children, worried if it is negative for their behavior to humanize them. We know that many of you love your dogs more than many people, but to be able to have a healthy relationship with them, to truly enjoy your life together and not succumb to psychopathologies of love for animals, you have to understand what affective needs they really have, even if that means not treating them like a baby.

Our online ethologists will solve all your doubts about how to pamper your friend. Here we are going to give you a series of tips and notes on this issue in general terms. Remember, of course, how important it is to treat your dog properly since he is a small puppy because, if not, he will have behavioral problems when he is older.

What is the problem in treating dogs as if they are babies?

Our love for the furry is so great that it is very difficult not to consider him as an equal. It is proven that caressing his hair, looking him in the eyes and even sleeping next to him, produces us serotonin and a great feeling of happiness. Dogs are great friends and they love being by our side; they are sociable and familiar, but they are not babies.

A dog has to learn to be a dog to live his life with joy, which requires our attention in what refers to how we relate to him. When your puppy comes home, he has to learn that you are the boss; that you are the alpha. If he does not understand it, he will believe it is him, so he will not respect you and may even become aggressive. Some puppies even resort to mounting your arm or your leg to test you when they do not understand their position in the family hierarchy.

Is it wrong to love a dog more than a person?

We cannot spoil them as if they were babies, they have to understand who is in charge and their position in the house. Many caregivers perform other typical actions that are done with the little ones: giving them kisses, hugging them, and inviting them continuously to be on top of them on the couch. As for the first, the furry ones do not understand why you do it. Their way of showing affection is to lick, so it is difficult for them to interpret the pressure of your lips against their face; it is much better to caress them, because it gives them pleasure.

Hugging dogs confuse them a lot, especially if you insist because they will understand that you like to do it. As with kisses, we will be changing their behavior to adapt to ours, that is, we are humanizing or anthropomorphizing them. The same thing happens if we invite them to put themselves over our legs and to stay still. They are hunters, they are active beings. To force this type of rest is the same that teaching him that the sedentary lifestyle is the right one.

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How to dehumanize a dog and stop treating him like humans?

The best way to relate to your dog is to show your affection in the way he understands and needs it. First, always call him by his name. Dogs do not understand about nicknames and you will only confuse them if you use affectionate names. Instead of preferring to spend a lot of time at home with him, both alone and you hugging him, take him out for a walk and make him relate to other dogs.

When he does something wrong, be firm and tell him ‘no’ directly. Try always to remember how you do it to replay it every time. You have to be able to relate your reaction to the things he cannot do. Use positive reinforcement when he does something right until he understands how to socialize properly. In addition to all this, play a lot with him, go for a walk, run, and caress him a lot. Choose quality food and choose an area of the house for him, apart from yours and where he has his food tray and his drinker. This will allow him to be happy in the way that he needs, they will not get depressed, and will enjoy staying by your side.

Remember to treat your dog like a baby will end up making him acquire dependence on what you teach him, which eventually will generate anxiety by not be able to develop their instincts as his nature demanded. This does not mean to not give him all your love, that you want to sleep with him, that sometimes you want to give him a kiss or a hug; but remember that he is not a person, he is a dog and he has his own needs of affection.