Exist different types of dog owner (and opinions on this subject too); there are those who believe that dogs are very similar to wolves, those who treat them all their lives as if they were babies, and those who do not stand at any of these extremes. But what is really good for us and for our pets? How our dogs should be treated because they are our pets? What is true and undeniable: dogs are not human; it is a different species and has different needs and behaviours.
It may be that “humanising” a dog is not the best idea in the world, as it can negatively affect him (and the owner!), But neither should they be “reared” or allowed to live under circumstances in which a wild animal would survive , because dogs are domestic animals and, therefore they depends on their owners.

However, there are similarities between a child and a dog.  These are the most significant:

1.OFTEN SUFFER FROM ANXIETY AND SEPARATION STRESS

Many psychological studies demonstrate that children may suffer from stress when they are separated from their parents (when they go to school, when they are left with a nanny…). This disorder also occurs in many dogs when their owners leave and leave them alone. Have you ever come home from work and found the house turned upside down? Have your neighbours told you that your dog howls while you’re away? This is how they express the anxiety. Dogs are animals that, by nature, live in a herd, and for this reason they may become very attached to their human companions.

2. NEED MEDICAL REVIEWS, HYGIENE AND VACCINES

A dog is a living being, and therefore can get sick. In this way, like humans, they need to follow certain guidelines to have as long and pleasant a life as possible. Still, there are those who do not take their dog to the vet unless it is a matter of life and death. Although they are animals, they can have health problems that can’t be life threatening but can worsen the life quality of the dog. They may feel pain in the joints; have mild infections that cause a lot of discomfort, they can have environmental allergies, etc.

3.FEEL PRIMARY EMOTIONS LIKE FEAR

Do dogs feel? Do they have emotions like humans? This is the million dollar question that many scientific studies have answered with a resounding “NO”, while a few others say that, despite the fact that dog’s brain are not as complex as ours, they can react in a very similar way. Fear, or feeling threatened, exists in animals and this came from their protection instinct. But beware! The fear that a child can feel and, above all, the reaction to him is not the same as for a dog, and it is not good to act in the same way with dogs as with children. For example, if your dog is afraid to hear fireworks on the street, if you hug him and say that they are simple fireworks is not going to help because a dog does not understand your message (have no ability to reason like children), but he will believe that something serious is really happening and so, every time he hears them he will be more and more scared.

There are other studies that ensure that a dog may feel jealous or guilty, but may also be our way of interpreting their reactions.

4. DOGS ARE SOCIAL BEINGS

Like humans, dogs are animals that can live with others, and can learn to respect the rules of the group. In this way, like children, dogs can be educated and can learn things. Even so, the learning of child and of a dog is very different. The dog is not guided by the understanding or the reasoning, but by a simple cause-effect relationship, the short-term reward and the verbal signals. However, they can also interpret and understand your gestures and learn things for themselves as well as children do.

Therefore it is clearly shown that a dog is much more than a wild animal, and that the mere fact of having a dog in a family must mean committing to take care of it in the best way. Now, for those owners who care for their dogs as if they were human babies, there is also a list of things that are bad practices. Here are the most important:

1. OVERPROTECTION

Puppies will need your protection against other adult dogs, it is recommended not to take them out on the street until they have the necessary vaccines, and probably you have to watch out for them in those first months. But there are some dog owners that even if the dog is already in its adulthood, the owner sees a dog like a baby! To not take them out for fear of confrontations with other dogs is not good for them (they need to interact with others of the same species!). Bathing them too often can also be a problem. As well as giving them certain foods that may make them crazy but are bad for their health.

2. LET THEM SLEEP WITH YOU IN BED

That you and your pet sleep together does not have anything bad for him, because the dogs live in herd and usually sleep with their group. For them, the contact during the night with the rest of the family is totally natural. But, in spite of the fact that the sleep can be therapeutic for the owner, because it helps to feel more secure and protected, this practice has its negative parts too. To begin with, sleeping with dogs with long or short hair and especially during the moulting season can give allergy, because their fur can accumulate a lot of dust. The issue of hygiene can be a problem or not, it depends on the dog: whether this is a puppy or an older dog with leaky urine or for example it gets dirty every day. But something we do not usually take into account is that sleeping with a dog can affect the quality of the owner’s dream, as dogs are famous for not staying asleep in the same place for a long time, for always being in alert, and for rising up suddenly even from a small noise (which will wake up the owner too).

3. TO DRESS THEM

Animals normally do not need to dress, since their fur and skin are already prepared for any type of weather. Putting clothes on a dog can give them too much heat, preventing the perspiration of their skin with the possibility of irritation. It can also disturb them when walking on the street because of the size of the clothes (too tight/too big). On the other hand nowadays, not all animals live in areas that they are “genetically prepared” for: Nordic dogs with thick fur will have a very bad time in summer if they live in Madrid, or dogs that live in warm places can that need an extra layer during the winter season if they live in cold places. Oh, and the subject of putting on shoes can also be recommended if the asphalt they walk on is extremely hot.

Conclusion: The word “dogchild” is not good or bad, although it is usually associated with the exaggerated “humanisation” of a companion dog. As we have seen in this article, the best way to take care of your dog is to provide the very best care for it, while always having in mind that our dog is not a human and cannot be treated as a child.