Do You Treat Your Dog Like A Human?

Why is it so many of us treat our dogs as if they are human?  The technical term for this is called anthropomorphism.  The actual dictionary definition is “the attribution of human form or behavior to an entity, animal, etc.”    As humans we feel our dog must be just like us because we share some common characteristics.  We both experience fear, hunger, the desire to be cared for, and the desire to care for others.

Some people feel so strongly that their dog carries human emotion; they will swear their dog has been mad at them or they do things in spite.  In all actuality the dog is reacting to circumstances, to body language, mainly ours.  Scientists have done studies to see if the dog really can be remorseful.  They asked a group of dog owners to scold their dog when the dog did something wrong.  Then they told the owners that their dogs had misbehaved when the dogs had not, and asked them to scold their dogs again.  In both cases the dog gave the same reaction, even though the second time they had done absolutely nothing.  Time after time, this was the case.  They concluded from their study, our dogs are just reading us, and our mannerisms.

Did you know the dog is the only animal the naturally understands the pointing of our finger?  Primates have to be taught what a pointing finger means.  Try it with your dog, and he will look to what you are pointing.  Many of us point our finger down when we want the dog to down, or point to an area when we want them to go to a specific spot.  How is it they can do this and a chimpanzee, which is so closely related to our species, cannot?  Is there really more there then we are giving them credit for?  Tests show dogs can understand upwards of 150 words.  Studies have stated some breeds are smarter than others, they claim border collies are the smartest, with German Shepherds, Poodles, Golden Retrievers and even Labradors, ranking high.  Now I know many lab owners who will argue that fact!  What you need to remember is their testing consisted of fine-bred animals.  Unfortunately we have been given some breeds that poor breeding has literally bred the brains from the dog.

Dogs learn by association, they learn by observation.  So it would make sense that living with humans they have picked up on our characteristics and emotions.  They feel what we feel, maybe that is why we think they are human.  We very easily transfer our feelings to them.  Think of when you are walking the dog and someone is approaching.  You tense up, and guess what so does the dog.  In the dogs mind he is saying my owner is nervous, that means I have something to be nervous about.  That is why as trainers we so strongly stress you must remain calm, your confidence when working with your dog, will bring out their confidence, and you better believe so will your anxieties.

Just for one day I wish they could talk, then we would know exactly what they are thinking!  I also would want to know what my dogs voice would sound like.  Guess I am just as bad as everyone else, I’ve got a case of anthropomorphism!

Contact Kim Paciotti at 704-877-7821 for all your training needs.  You can also reach her by email  Visit our website and also check out Carolina’s Premier Dog Club at

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