The Changing Face of the Dog-Human Relationship.

Research study reveals that a high percentage of pet owners regard their pets as family members. Holidays4Dogs asks the question – could it be that this new animal/human relationship is creating dogs that are more troublesome in society? Read on to find out our thoughts on the changing face of the dog-human relationship.

I am a great people watcher, but my favourite 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. Many certainly don’t appear to know how to be responsible dog owners in public. 

My own dog, 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. However, as much as she is a dear part of our family, she is still a dog. She needs to be a dog. 

It was a long process getting her used to being around other dogs, (her biggest fear). However, now she will walk sensibly past other dogs, 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. One day when the weather was glorious and we deiced to visit a dog friendly pub. We sat outside to have a bite to eat and a wee drink.

Another family arrived at the pub with two dogs and sat on a table nearby. The garden was quite busy with families and children.

Two of the 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 rather blase 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”.  Eventually, one of the party took both dogs away, leaving a full pint, to which he never returned.  Presumably, this was due to enormous embarrassment created by his terribly behaved dog!

On a different 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.

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.

All this time, Floss lay down quietly under our table as we watched these dog/owner relationships unfold before our eyes.

We are learning more and more about the complexity of the dog’s mind. Dr Hal Herzog – professor of psychology at the University of West Carolina – claims of our pet-human relationship; “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”. (Guardian 2017).

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?

Final thoughts.

There is absolutely no doubt, animals should be regarded as sentient beings, should they be thought of as ‘fur-people’? Are we humanising pets to the point of their own (and our) detriment? It is definitely food for thought; that by humanising our pets so much we are actually doing them a great disservice.

By being human it makes them invisible as a species in their own right. The uniqueness of their species is disregarded; almost invalidated. It’s something we probably need to be careful of if we want to maintain a healthy pet-human partnership in the future.