The changing shape of the dog human relationship.
I am a great people watcher, but my favorite thing is watching dog owners with their dogs – I just find it fascinating watching the interaction, (or lack of at times!) between dog and owner. However, increasingly it seems people just don’t know how to treat their dogs and many certainly don’t appear to know how to be responsible dog owners in public. Many dogs and owners I saw while on holiday for a week in West Wales had no manners whatsoever!
According to an article written in the Guardian in 2017, 90 per cent of British people regard their pets as people, (some even include them on the electoral roll!) so Holidays4Dogs asks the question – could it be that this new animal/human relationship is creating dogs that are more troublesome in society?
Floss could probably be described as a more troublesome creature, but only in the sense that she was a rescue dog with an unknown background. It is quite likely she was not socialised properly as a puppy, along with probably poor genetic make up and collie traits. However, as much as she is a dear part of our family, she is still a dog and needs to be a dog. It was a long process getting her used to being around other dogs, (her biggest bugbear), but she will walk sensibly past other dogs now, has an excellent recall and is on the lead, (and muzzled) if we have to go into crowded places such as pubs or towns.
Yet, it is other people and their dogs that seem to have far more of a problem than Floss. Back to our holiday in Wales, we frequented a local pub overlooking Cardigan Bay. The weather was glorious and we sat outside to have a bite to eat and a wee drink. Lots of people had the same idea to visit this dog friendly location. One family arrived at the pub with two dogs and sat on a table nearby in the garden, which was quite busy with families and children. Two of these children had to walk past the family with two dogs and one of the dogs lunged not once, but four times at the children, growling and snapping. Each time the owners seemed quizzical and did little to respond to the behaviour of their dog. Indeed, I think I heard the classic phrase, “he’s never done that before” and I rolled my eyes. Eventually, one of the party took both dogs away, leaving a full pint, to which he never returned. Presumably due to his enourmous embarrassment created by his terribly behaved dog!
On another table sat another family with two children. Behind the bench where the kiddies were sat eating their lunch, a couple were sat enjoying a drink with their two huge german shepherds in tow. Now these dogs were friendly and well behaved, but nevertheless strained so close to the children, ( while their owners were oblivious) that the one dog almost extracted a sandwich right out of the child’s hand! I was gob-smacked! The parents were at a loss as to what to do, until eventually the owner of the shepherd noticed and reeled his dog in, while talking to it in baby talk and vaguely apologising to the family his dog had just mobbed.
All this time, Floss lay down quietly under our table as we watched these dog/owner relationships unfold before our eyes.
While we are learning more and more about the complexity of the dog’s mind, Dr Hal Herzog who is a professor of psychology at the University of West Carolina, claims that “the logical consequence is that the more we attribute them with these characteristics, the less right we have to control every single aspect of their lives”. While animal rights activists argue that this is a good reason not to keep pets at all, could this also be the reason why owners are less inclined to want to control their pets (dogs)?
Dogs in particular were regarded with far less sentiment than they are nowadays. Dogs were working animals with jobs to do such as hunting and herding. While all animals should be regarded as sentient beings, is this swinging too far into the direction of sometimes dealing with animals on the same level – or higher than humans? Are we humanising pets to the point of their own (and our) detriment?
What do you think? Holidays4Dogs would love to hear your views.