[Baby voice] “You’re the cutest thing ever. I could just eat you up you little fuzzy rascal. And those widdle feet. They smell like Cheetos!”
I’ve done it. I bet you’ve done it too. Talked to your dog like she’s a baby.
But if we always treat our dogs like babies, are we missing out?
If Dogs are Children, Are We the Parents?
I don’t mind the term “pet parent.” In some ways, it makes perfect sense.
We provide for our dogs, raise them to be polite, and keep them safe.
But unlike human children, we don’t send them off to the wide world to create lives for themselves. In that sense, dogs are like permanent children.
And yet an adult dog can do things that no child, or even most adults, ever could.
How Dogs Aren’t Children
If Honey and I were lost in the woods, I’d rely on her the way she often relies on me.
For one thing, she has better tools than I do: claws, sharp teeth, good balance, and a super hero nose. She has strong problem solving skills. And she’s extremely motivated to find food.
I think the reason we find it easy to slip into treating our dogs like children is because we don’t expose them (or ourselves) to physical challenges often enough. (Animal Planet, when are you coming out with Naked and Afraid and a Schnauzer?)
And that’s the big problem with treating dogs like children. We miss out on how amazing they are as adult animals.
The idea that we could need our dogs to help us survive takes our relationship with them to a whole new level, far beyond that of parent and child.
But then again, I don’t have a teenager in my house to help me improve my Facebook settings and troubleshoot my wireless model troubles. So maybe dogs are more like kids than I thought.
If you find this topic as interesting as I do, check out the comments in my post, What Does Your Dog Call You? They’re fabulous! And you’ll probably also enjoy Alexandra Horowitz’s Is Your Dog Smarter Than a 2 Year Old. Horowitz is a professor of psychology and expert in dog cognition.
Your Turn: When are you most likely to think of your dog as a child? And when are you least likely to see him as a child?