Thursday, October 23, 2008

It is a mistake to humanize dogs

The Seattle WA Times reports:
BOISE, Idaho — "Oh, isn't he cute? My little smootchie-wootchy!" Some women talk baby-talk to their boyfriend or husband.

Some folks talk baby-talk to, well, babies.

And some of us talk baby-talk — to our animals. ...

So, what's wrong with this picture? Some experts say that humanizing your pet — anthropomorphism — is just not the right relationship.

"People humanize dogs and don't understand their psychology as pack animals," Cesar Millan, also known as the Dog Whisperer, said on his Web site. Millan has made a business — and a small fortune — by helping people live happily with problem dogs. He's been known to turn a nonstop barker/biter into a pussycat in a matter of 30 minutes.

"I begin by showing the dog that I am the pack leader," Millan said. "I fulfill the dog's need through exercise, which is walking the dog in the correct way. I give the dog rules, boundaries, and limitations ... and then affection." Millan said that especially in America, dog owners tend to overdo it on doggy love. They "give affection, affection, and more affection, when what the dog really needs is exercise, discipline — and then affection." ...

Dogs are animals, Millan said, and they respond to calm-assertive leadership — "not emotional arguments or negotiations."

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