Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human motivation, characteristics, or behavior to inanimate objects, animals, or natural phenomena. In other words, anthropomorphism is when we humans give human characteristics or behaviors to animals. According to the RSPCA, there are an “estimated 8.5 million dogs in the UK”. We are a nation of dog lovers and according to a survey “90% of pet-owning Britons think of their pet as a member of the family”. However, you can’t guarantee that all dog owners are responsible and know how they should be correctly treating their dogs. Inflicting human characteristics and behaviors on a dog can impact on its mental and physical health and can have serious consequences for the dog, the owner and the people around the dog. There are various arguments to be considered such as: giving your dog no proper training and boundaries within a household setting, giving dog behavior human connotations, dressing up your dog, allowing your dog to eat human food and celebrating a dog’s birthday.
Are you one of these dog owners which allow your dog to sit on your couch, sleep in your bed and sit at the dinner table? But it should sit on the floor, eat meals on the floor and sleep on the floor (plus their hair gets everywhere). According to a dog specialist website, “Dogs ultimately need rules, boundaries, and limitations. They are social creatures that crave structure and routine. When dogs live with humans, the humans set the structure and schedule”. You as a dog owner must put in place the proper training, discipline and boundaries to prevent any behavioral problems from occurring in the future rather than allowing it to run amok around your house as if it’s one of your children.
A common mistake made by dog owners is misconstruing a dog’s behavior and applying human connotations to it. If a dog is licking you, or barking excessively it’s not giving you kisses or making chit chat. These behaviors could be early signs of stress in a dog which could escalate into further aggression. According to the ‘Canine Aggression FAQs RSPCA’, “When a dog uses aggression it is almost invariably because it thinks that it is under some form of threat” and that some common signals that a dog may get aggressive are “growling, snarling and sometimes barking or snapping”. Not all barking is always aggressive; however, when a dog does bark it’s important for the owner to identify why the dog is barking and to remove or prevent whatever is making it upset. If not properly identified the dog may be inclined to bite which can have severe consequences for the owner, with “hospital admissions for injuries caused by dogs up 76% in 10 years”.
There’s nothing more sickening than the sight of a poor, pampered pooch wearing a tutu. To a dog owner its doggy dress up, but in reality, it’s simply doggy torture. Unlike humans, dogs are covered from head to toe in fur which means they have no need for clothes. Dogs don’t want to wear cloths; they’re uncomfortable and can restrict their movement. Dogs just want to be free. According to an RSPCA animal welfare officer, “dog clothing could cause animals to overheat”. Though not all dog clothing is necessarily bad, smaller dogs breeds or breeds with short hair may benefit from a jumper or a set of doggy snow boots in cold weather. Otherwise, I see no benefit to dressing up your dog; this is simply for the owners benefit to make them feel good and show off the latest fashion accessories.
Feeding dog’s human food can have a lasting impact on their health. Dogs should be fed dog specific food which is designed for them and gives them the correct nutrients to stay healthy, with some common human foods being extremely dangerous to them. According to the RSPCA, “Most human meals will not provide dogs with the nutrition they need. Some human foods, such as chocolate and onions, can even be poisonous to dogs”. Even allowing dogs to eat leftovers on top of their usual food can cause obesity which can lead to further health problems. “Pet obesity can also cause serious health problems, and make existing problems worse, which can reduce the length and quality of your pet’s life. Conditions such as: diabetes, heart disease, respiratory distress, high blood pressure, cancers”. For the health and wellbeing of the dog it is important that you feed it a correct portion of proper dog food only.
Every year we celebrate our birthdays, however, why go to all the trouble of celebrating our dog’s birthday. Dogs do not have the same concept of time so how would they even know it was their birthday? According to a survey, “75% of pet owners celebrate their dog's birthday with 58% even singing the famous 'Happy Birthday' song”. It doesn’t even stop at birthdays, “a survey claimed that 56% of Brits planned to spend more money on Christmas presents for their pets than on gifts for their human family”. Celebrating a dog’s birthday is again only for the owners benefit to make them feel good, because let’s be honest, your dog couldn’t care less.
In conclusion, a dog that is treated like a human can cause many problems for the mental and physical health of the dog. It can cause a dog to have behavioral issues if the proper discipline, training and boundaries are not put in place. If you like to dress up your dog then you should stop it immediately as it can cause a dog to feel uncomfortable and could potentially cause the dog to become unwell. Dogs must only be fed proper dog food, rather than human food as it could be extremely harmful or even cause obesity. If you celebrate your dog’s birthday then why bother? It’s a dog, it doesn’t even know if it’s their birthday, nor does it care. If you are a dog owner and you do treat your dog like a human, then I strongly urge you to reconsider and start to treat your dog correctly. Showing your dog love and affection is important but there must be a balance in order to maintain a healthy relationship between you and your pet. According to the chairman of the Pet Charity, “It has already been decided by market forces and human nature … the reality is people have pets in the millions. The question is: how can we help them care for them correctly and appropriately?”.