Anthropomorphism and Dogs
What the heck is Anthropomorphism? Anthropomorphism is “the attribution of human traits, emotions or intentions to non-human entities”*.
Anthropomorphism can be considered by some to be a bad word. I mean, after all, we are human and very different from dogs right? Or are we that different?
Let’s look at a few ways we are very much alike and how we can embrace our similarities!
Dogs are social creatures. They have lived and worked side by side with humans for thousands of years and have very much acclimated to our world. They enjoy companionship and anyone lucky enough to share their life with a dog will tell you that one of their dog’s favorite things is being with their person! Therefore make a point to make time every day to enjoy your dog and spend time with him! You are all your dog has!
Creatures of Comfort
Most dogs show a preference for soft places to sleep. Given the choice of the couch or the floor, most dogs will pick the couch. We both enjoy comfort! So give your dog a soft bed of his own. Drop a few treats on it every day for the first week or two and this will help keep him happy and off the couch!
Lovers of Food
Dogs love to eat just like most people! Like many people enjoying hunting and fishing, they also enjoy hunting for their food! Therefore you can scatter a few treats on the ground and watch your dog not only enjoy the treats but also the fun of hunting!
All mammals have similar brain structures. We process fear, emotions and memory in the same manner. Studies show the area of the brain that lights up when a dog sees his owners is the same area of the brain that lights up when a baby sees its mother. Because of that they also learn like we do and science shows they learn best with patience and force-free humane methods of learning much like when we teach a child their ABCs.
Just like we feel a sense of accomplishment so do dogs when they complete a task. Studies show dogs experience a “Eureka” effect much like humans when they earn a reward! So train your dog to do a few simple tricks! He’ll love it and get that Eureka effect when he earns his reward!
Just like people, all dogs have very unique personalities. I have never met 2 dogs that are alike. So often we want our dog to meet our needs but we have to realize they have their own unique personalities and likes. By spending time with our dogs and really getting to know them, we can embrace your dog’s unique personality and understand their likes when it comes to playing, motivation and more!
Preferences for who they call a friend
We don’t like everyone we meet and neither do most dogs. Expecting a dog to love every dog he meets or go to the dog park can be like you and I liking every relative, co-worker or stranger we meet – it’s unrealistic. Realize your dog is an individual and respect his need for a small group of friends or maybe even only one or two that he knows well. Just like people, dogs have unique preferences for friends and often tend to gravities to those that are like them in size, energy level, and body language.
Studies show that when we look at our dogs and when they look at us, we both experience a healthy dose of the feel-good hormone often called the “love” hormone, Oxytocin! Teaching your dog eye contact and paying attention can benefit both of you!
Dogs are very emotional beings that develop very strong bonds with the people in their lives. Studies show they are capable of emotions including love, jealousy, fear, anxiety and more. Studies show they can read our facial expressions and can read our gestures such as pointing. Remember your dog is communicating with you often through his behavior and body language. Our world can be challenging for dogs at times. Take time to look at things from your dog’s perspective and help him navigate our human world!
Although I think we do a great disservice when we bring another species into our lives and don’t learn about their unique needs and embrace their differences, as you can see, we share much more than just our homes with our canine companions. We share many similarities too and recognizing those similarities can help us improve our bond!