Dog Culture: Bad for Dogs and for People
No, I am not talking about puppy culture, which is utilized by many to help socialize puppies from a young age. The topic being discussed here is dog culture, which is a craze that is taking the USA by storm.
What is Dog Culture:
In simplest terms, dog culture is the elevation of dogs past the status of pet. I would say it is the treating of dogs as humans, but many people treat their dogs better than they do other humans even within their own family. Dog owners of today anthropomorphize their canine friends in a way that goes beyond simply treating them with love and respect. In this post, we will discuss examples of dog culture and why dog culture is detrimental to people and dogs.
Examples of Dog Culture:
Sometimes examples work better than definitions. So, here I will describe what I consider to be examples of dog culture:
- People referencing their dog as their son/daughter. Dogs are dogs, this type of talk is just weird.
- People petitioning for a dog that brutally attacked a person to NOT be euthanized (this excludes dogs that attack in defense of their family). A dog that mauls someone needs to be euthanized.
- People taking their dogs to places that are specifically labeled “No dogs allowed.” (excluding true service dogs from this). Some places are not appropriate areas for dogs, such as grocery stores. Also, some people do not like dogs, and they have the right to go to establishments where dogs are not permitted and expect to not see dogs when in these areas.
- People ignoring leash laws. This hurts dogs and people. I have lost count of the number of times myself and my dogs have been harassed by dogs whose owners could not be bothered to keep their dogs leashed in areas with clear cut leash laws. Also, the unleashed dogs are at risk of being injured. Letting dogs loose in leash restricted zones is never a good idea.
- People believing any discipline of a dog is abuse. Many want useful tools, such as choke chains, prong collars, and electric collars to be outlawed, as they see any corrective tools as inherently abusive.
- People taking their dogs everywhere with them, including friend/family homes without asking permission. People assume everyone likes dogs and everyone will be happy to have their dog around. This isn’t the case, and people shouldn’t force their dogs upon others.
- People espousing “No bad dogs, only bad owners!” While dogs have no concept of morals and cannot do something with evil intent, some dogs are extremely aggressive and cannot be rehabilitated, even with good rearing and training.
- People becoming angry when a dog that is not adoptable is euthanized. Some dogs are not adoptable and should be euthanized to stop them from languishing for years in a shelter. Some animal activists want to “save” every dog, even if this means sentencing the dog to a life of imprisonment in a shelter.
Negative Effects of Dog Culture:
Ironically, there are many negative impacts of dog culture on dogs themselves. Ultimately, people treat their dogs like little humans not for the benefit of the dog, but for their own benefit. A dog knows he is a dog, he does not think he is a human, and he will be happiest when treated like a dog. So many dogs today are neurotic and uncontrolled, and they are not the happier for it. Many dogs are anxiety ridden messes as the result of the way they are treated in today’s world. So many owners never discipline their dogs, never walk them, and never train them.
Take the lack of exercise and discipline that most dogs experience. People refuse to use something such a prong collar to teach their dog to walk on a loose leash, because that would be “cruel.” But, because their dog pulls on the lead, they do not walk the dog, and consequently one of the dog’s key needs to move daily is never met.
Another example is people leaving their dogs off leash in areas with leash laws. The owners feel that “my dog is a sweetheart who needs some time to run free.” Said dog then gets hit by a car when she takes off after a squirrel, or she gets in a fight with another dog who does not want to play.
People anthropomorphize their dogs, and since people like hugs, dogs must as well. Then, people are surprised when their sweet little Mr. Fluffer Doo’s disfigures their grandchild’s face who tried to hug the dog. When in truth, most dogs do not like being hugged, and even dogs that enjoy being hugged by their owners will see this same action as threatening from another person.
Often, owners ignore the fact that dogs are predators. People espouse that dogs are the purest of pure creatures who would never hurt anyone or anything, and then they are shocked when their dog kills the neighbor’s cat, or when their dog bred for generations to chase and kill small animals that squeak mauls a Chihuahua.
A troubling trend is the abundance of “emotional support animals,” or ESA for short, popping up everywhere. People drag their dogs everywhere and state they are “emotional support dogs,” because people can’t stand the thought of going places without their little pal. I have seen many “ESA” dogs out and about; I have yet to see one who was well adjusted, confident, and well socialized. Most of them look terrified to be hauled around to unfamiliar places, and most would be much more comfortable being at home.
One of the worst examples of dog culture is people rallying around dogs that have attacked humans, demanding that these animals be rehabilitated instead of euthanized. Shelters have also begun hiding aggressive dog’s history under the guise of their being “no bad dogs, only bad owners.” The idea that every aggressive dog can be rehabilitated is unrealistic and dangerous to the public. I wish every dog could be saved, and that all issues could be resolved with training, but the fact it some dogs cannot be rehabilitated, and turning such dogs out to the general public is a recipe for disaster.
This also creates issues for shelter dogs. As more and more aggressive dogs that should be euthanized are adopted out to unsuspecting people, more people are going to be attacked and disfigured by these dogs. Overall, I foresee this as making people afraid to adopt from shelters and rescues, which will prevent nice dogs that would make excellent pets from finding forever homes. Even if they are able to find a home, their stay in the shelter may affect their personalities, as extended confinement is detrimental to all creatures. (https://www.petfinder.com/pro/for-shelters/deterioration-shelter-dog/)
Another trend, as mentioned above, are emotional support dogs. Because people take their untrained dogs out and label them as emotional support animals, people are being injured by dogs who are being allowed places that are supposed to be reserved for humans and actual service dogs. (See: https://nj1015.com/legit-service-dog-attacked-by-emotional-support-dogs-in-mall-opinion/, and https://theconversation.com/emotional-support-animals-can-endanger-the-public-and-make-life-harder-for-people-like-me-who-rely-on-service-dogs-131122) True service dogs have been attacked by ESA dogs, and once a service dog is attacked, they may never be able to work again, leaving their owner who has a true disability without the support they need to live their daily life.
Dogs are man’s best friend, but they are dogs, not people. Dogs are loyal and loving, but they are simple creatures who thrive on rules and consistency, not on being treated like little humans.
What Has Caused Dog Culture?
I can only speculate on this, but I think this probably started because of more people becoming concerned with animal welfare and animal rights. Fifty years ago, it was not uncommon for people to have a dog that they kept tied up all day and night on an 8-foot chain with little to no interaction or activity. People began to see the cruelty in this – and rightfully so! – and people began pushing for dogs to be brought into the home and treated like family. Now, the pendulum has swung the opposite extreme, and people think dogs should be treated as humans.
Also, I wonder if people waiting longer and longer to have children has impacted this. The natural desire to have kids is present whether people have them or not, and a dog serves as a pretty good surrogate for a real human child.
I believe part of this phenomenon also stems from the fact that people are more removed from nature than ever, and thus they just don’t see animals as animals anymore. Many kids are raised with cartoons depicting dogs being police officers and having human like reasoning skills and emotions. Now, I do not have a problem with this, or in teaching kids to respect all life forms, from humans to spiders. But there has to be a balance. The issue is that these same kids may never see a cat decapitate a bird, or see their dog catch, kill, and eat a squirrel. But, given half a chance, most dogs and cats will do both of those activities with gleeful joy and will never experience one bit of remorse for ending the poor bird or squirrel’s life. They are predators, it comes naturally to them.
I am not sure how to end this, other than to say DON’T be a part of dog culture! Love your pets, treat them well, but remember at the end of the day they are dogs, plain and simple, and they want to be treated like dogs, not like little people. Your dog will thank you for it!