Check out these dog’s engaging activities, since they can be the part of the family, but they are not your child. Although nurturing instincts may kick in at times, you still need to treat your dog as the domesticated animal it is. Humanizing the dog causes them to become less and less of a dog until they eventually lose their identity. It is never more evident than in a situation where people carry a dog in a purse. Using a pet as a fashion accessory is selfish because you aren’t thinking about the needs of the dog, but using the pet solely for the benefit of accessorizing. If we break this down into a simple concept, dogs are born with four legs and to carry them when they are not injured makes no sense. Dog strollers are no different (Yes, they do make strollers to push your dog around as though it’s a baby.)
If you are among those who do one of these two things, and you respond to my position by saying that your dog enjoys it, you may be confusing your dog’s tolerance as enjoyment. Because what dogs actually enjoy is walking and being able to sniff freely vs. being carried in a pet purse only smelling perfume. I am definitely not talking about dogs missing limbs and using adaptive technology. But if those dogs can get out and walk or run with the assistance, there is no reason a healthy dog shouldn’t do the same.
As a celebrity dog trainer, I have yet to meet a balanced dog that goes for car rides on its owner’s lap. This is likely in part due to the dog and the owner’s state of mind. When this behavior is continuous, the dog begins to think the owner is not the leader, but that the dog is. It will also become possessive of the owner, because of the position of it being on the lap. At times the possessiveness can turn into aggression, which may be due to the dog being uncomfortable in a leadership role. Not only does having a dog on your lap give the dog an inferiority complex, it is also unsafe, and thus highly discouraged. I’m not saying that a little dog shouldn’t be on the lap, but there is a time and place for everything and driving is not the time for this. In allowing the dog behind the wheel, which is essentially where it’s riding, you may be creating conditions you don’t want. I would discourage the dog from sitting on your lap, even in times when you are doing activities such as watching television; instead, have the dog lay beside you. This ensures the dog is learning to follow your commands and not always doing what they want.
You know the rule about bodies in motion staying in motion? Traveling at just 30 miles per hour, an unrestrained 10 pound dog will exert roughly 300 pounds of pressure in an accident, according to Jennifer Huebner-Davidson, traffic safety programs manager for AAA. Without a safety restraint, that pint-size pooch can injure other passengers or get hurt on impact.
“A 5-pound dog or 100-pound Great Dane that’s not buckled in will become a projectile,” says de Pablo, a former EMS technician. “Now, on top of whiplash, you have something hitting you or flying through the windshield.”
Activities engaged in while driving with dogs by survey respondents include:
- Petting their dog (52%)
- Using hands or arms to restrict dog’s movement or hold dog in place when putting on brakes (23%)
- Using hands/arms to keep dog from climbing from the backseat to the front seat (19%)
- Reaching into backseat to interact with dog (18%)
- Allowing dog to sit in lap or holding dog while driving (17%)
- Giving food or treats to dog (13%)
- Playing with dog (4%)
- Taking a photo of dog (3%)
-SOURCE: AAA & Kurgo Pet Passenger Survey
Some cultures bond through food, but you don’t want to make attempts to bond with your dog by cooking for them. The end result is an obese and unhealthy dog.
Being a dog trainer in Orange County myself Ryan Matthews, the biggest mistake I see when people try to humanize a dog, which is a temptation for me, is to reassure a dog at the wrong time or the wrong moment. For example, in a thunderstorm you may want to invite the dog on your lap. You are petting the dog thinking it is calming it down, but what is happening is you are promoting the dog to stay in that state of mind which is fearful and timid. This is not the condition you want your dog to remain in, but your reassurance is actually communicating to it that you like it to feel that way. If there is another thunderstorm, your dog will get into that state sooner, quicker and worse. The behavior displayed grows exponentially.
There are things you can plan ahead for, such as the fear Fourth of July fireworks can cause. You can put lavender on the dog pillow to calm it and give the dog a lot of exercise earlier in the day. I would even look at using the highest value of food. I would give the dog cheese as a reward for a calming signal, such as yawning or stretching. There is something called a Thunder Shirt, which mimics wrapping a baby in a blanket, that provides a calming effect. This is a light vest that goes around the dog’s chest, back and belly, which helps them feel wrapped up and soothed. I have heard it works well sometimes and not others. I also play classical music to calm a distressed dog.
In all, I want to you enjoy your dog to the fullest potential. However, it should be a balanced relationship. We often think we need to just give our dogs lots of love. Remember dogs are not humans. It may seem like they think the same way we do, but they do not. I think true love for a dog is remembering to put a canine’s primal needs first!