Monday, August 9, 2010


<One theory is that the more we treat them as humans, the more spoiled they become..>
Definitely Cesar's theory. 
When I used to talk to kids in schools, I used to use human analogies to try to make kids understand how important it is that dogs get attention: "What if you were left outside all alone in a yard all day with no one to play with..wouldn't you try to leave and find some friends?"  And I use terms like fur babies and fur kids because I respect the fact that they are sentient and have feelings.  But I respect the fact that they not humans (in a some ways, they are better).
I would further argue the point that treating dogs like humans and spoiling dogs is two different things. And I would argue that some spoiling is okay dependingon the situation. You have bad and good parents of humans and dogs.  Example:
Parent 1
You take your 3 year old to the store.  He has a temper tantrum because he wants some candy.  You pick him up, hug him and give him some candy because that's what he wants and you love him.  You are well meaning, but you did the wrong thing.  If you continue on this path, this kid is going to have troubles.
Parent 2:  You kid has a temper tan-drum.  You completely ignore the behavior (kids crave attention, good or bad). When he settles down, you take him home and discuss his behavior.  You tell him that you love him and it's because you love him that you have to set bounderies.  You take away his TV priviledges for the night.
Parent 3: Your kid has a temper tandrum. You yell and hit the kid - hard. You drag him out the store, drive him home and yell at him the whole way. You yell at him some more at home and hit him some more and withhold food for the rest of the day.
So what if this kid were instead a dog begging for food from your plate.. barking at you and you trying to snatch your food.
Parent 1:  You pet the dog, and hand him your table scraps
Parent 2: You completely ignore the dog while you are eating. When you are done eating, you take some very small appropriate dog treats and go outside with your dog and work on some games or tricks.
Parent 3: You hit your dog, or yell at your dog
Of course all humans and dogs are individuals, but just based on these scenarios:
Kid1 and Dog1 are going to be neurotic and spoiled;
kid3 and dog3 will either wind up aggressive or fearful (or both). 
Kid2 and dog2 might wind up to be well rounded, intelligent and calm.
There are different levels of spoiled.  Lupe, Matt-Matt and Puddin know that we don't go for a walk until they are sitting at the door quietly - discipline. But they are encouraged to sleep with me (spoiled).
(I dont make Murphy sit or lay down. His hips are bad.  Thinking about trying to teach him "take a bow." I think he can do that without exascerbating something).
So discipline is important with humans and dogs. 
I see pet parents do this with large and small dogs: The dog barks or growls, the pet parent hugs the dog and says "it's all right".  On the other extreme, the pet parent hits the dog, hard.  Neither is appropriate for dogs nor humans. The first one is rewarding bad behavior.
In that respect, I don't believe in coddling.  But some folks would take that further to say that you never comfort a scared dog.  If my dog wants to cuddle up to me during a thunderstorm and I let him, is that really going to make him neurotic and aggressive? I don't think so.   
On more thing about treating dogs as humans. I also feel that the little dogs' problems are not from being treated like humans, but from being treated like "pets;" and when I say pets here I mean it in a demeaning and non respectable way.  The little purse dogs are an accessory, something to amuse us.  The don't get enough exercise because they are being carried all the time; they get used to be carried all the time so they want to be up high in their parents arms all the time - away from all the dangers and stressors in the world. They never learn to cope.
But once again, I wouldn't take that too far.   When I fostered Louie, he was sick and his eyes hurt a lot.  I carried him around all the time.  He'd fall asleep in my arms.  When he got better, he wanted to go for walks and play fetch; so that's what we did.  He wasn't interested in cuddling anymore
 Something I noticed about Cesar and something I've seen from other trainers who are a little harsh.  They complain about people like us who see dogs as humans, then they use human analogies.  In Cesars book, he goes on and on about wolves this and packs that. Then at another part in the book he compares the importance of discipline to himself. He said that he was a really awful husband and no matter how much his wife loved him, he didn't change... until she set boundaries and limitations. ( I guess she didn't set enough since they are divorced now :) 
I do agree that small "cute" dogs get way with a lot more. Sometimes much too much. But I wouldn't paint small dogs with a broad brush.  While there might be a dominate, neurotic chihuhua jumping up on me out of disrespect, there is Puddin who is trying to say hello (not just saying that because she's mine )
 One last argument. If we did see our dogs as humans, we would leave them outside all day in the cold and heat. We wouldn't make them live in garage or chain them 24/7 nor give them away when the become inconvenient