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Anthropomorphic is a large word which simply means crediting animals with the emotions of humans - something of which many pet owners are guilty.

Dogs in particular do share some of the same emotions as humans - love, fear, jealousy, pleasure - but they do not experience these emotions in the same way as us humans. A dogs expression of love for a human is generally a devotion to the person who praises and feeds him but particularly to those he considers to be members of "his family".

A most diverse creature, the dog's nature varies between the breeds - from those which are almost slavish in their devotion, to others which are quite aloof and much more reserved in any greeting.

Dogs are also quite manipulative of their owners, which frequently leads to problems when the dog gains the upper hand. A dog which learns that the owner is intimidated by a growl soon realises that he can use this weapon to get his own way. This is the dog which sits on the sofa and won't be moved while the owner sits elsewhere. This dog is also the one which chooses to guard objects or refuses to be groomed. If the owner persists in trying to get the dog to obey it will progress from a growl to a snap or a bite until it finds a level of intimidation which succeeds. Generally this behaviour is seen in confident, dominant dogs but may also be exhibited by fearful dogs which try to avoid a situation which has previously hurt or frightened them, i.e. rough grooming or being hurt when picked up.

In the case of young dogs exhibiting this behaviour the owner often waits for the dog to "grow out of it" - something which he will never do. Nothing succeeds like success and the more often the dog discovers his method works the more he will "grow into it" and the dogs temperament will be totally ruined.

All puppies should be loved and cared for but they should be treated as dogs, not children. Dogs by nature are pack animals and within the pack there is a strict heirachy. The "top dog", often an older female, keeps law and order and has the privilege of eating first. All other dogs in the pack have a place in the pecking order from "second top", to the bottom rung of the ladder - the true underdog. Dogs are quite happy with this arrangement, although an occasional shuffle occurs when one dog challenges the one above it in the pecking order with the intention of progressing toward the position of "top dog".

Humans form the pet dogs pack, and the dog is happy when he knows exactly his position in the pack. He is happiest when he has a leader, and is in fact quite content to be on the bottom rung below all the humans in the family - and usually below the cat as well! A dog which is unsure of his position is a worried and unhappy dog.


Basic obedience training will help to establish the humans dominant position in the pack and give the dog security. Consistency is an important part of training and the dog must know exactly what is required of him. If he is allowed to sit on the sofa today it is pointless chastising him for sitting on it tomorrow, just because guests are due. He must be rewarded with lavish praise when he responds to a command and verbal discipline when he disobeys.

Dogs love to please their owners and the happiest dog is the one who knows exactly when his owner is pleased.

Petcare Information and Advisory Service Australia

Last Update: 15/06/07 15:58 Views: 4591

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