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HUMANIZATION: A LOST CAUSE?


In 2008, when I graduated, I was already a Dog Agility Competitor traveling around the world with my dogs and competing with the best in the sport. I had my own dog training center, and anything else that got in the way of those projects was a waste of time.


Why not combine the useful with the pleasant? Working with dog training, the most logical option was to specialize in behavior. And so, I did it with great pride.


The biggest issue since that time in the world of behavioral veterinary medicine has always been humanization. Every day owners stop treating their dogs like dogs by treating them like humans. My goal at that time was to use my knowledge to spread the idea of how wro


ng this is. Dogs are dogs, right? Well, I lost that battle. And I had to adapt.


Dogs nowadays are not just dogs. They are children, partners, friends, and they are much closer to their families than they were twenty or thirty years ago. In my battle against humanization, I lost badly. I lost clients for trying to convince them that humanization only brings problems to dogs.


With time and experience, I realized that I would not win the battle, and that if I wanted to continue working with behavior, I would have to change my way of doing things and my approach.


THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY

The challenge today is no longer trying to convince an owner that humanizing his dog will cause problems. Asking the owner to stop sleeping in bed with his dog, prohibiting the dog from climbing on the couch, using bows and paraphernalia for the dog's fur, will just be a waste of time. The clients won't stop!


So, we must find a way to live with humanization without spoiling the dogs, while maintaining and exercising the basic concepts of canine behavior in order to let the dog be happy, simply by being a dog.


Having studied canine behavior for so long, it's funny to observe some routine situations. For example, an owner who takes his dog for a bath every week because he sleeps in bed with him but can't understand why his dog has such a persistent skin problem.


Or how about an owner who celebrates with joy when he comes to pick up his dog from bathing and grooming and sees his animal full of little bows scattered through the fur. The dog tries desperately to remove all that paraphernalia by shaking his head or using his paws clearly annoyed, but the owner is happy.


Dogs with fragile paws that are not adapted to walk normally because the owner put socks or booties on their paws from a young age, or even because they “walk” their dogs in strollers, depriving the animal of the most basic function of walking, smelling the ground, and getting dirty.


There are dogs that become obese by simply eating like a human. While a human needs 2000 to 3000 calories a day, many dogs don't need more than 500. However, they eat like humans. Not just the same food, but the same amount as a human.


How many times have I heard from an owner who feels sorry when he is eating something, and his dog looks at him. A little piece of bread won’t hurt, right? What about a little piece of pizza too? Plus, the treats, and so on.


We don't realize all the situations we put our dogs in, going directly against centuries and centuries of evolution. In the past, all dogs had a job, and today they are probably just there to meet our emotional demands. It is at this point that we forget that there is an animal right next to us with different needs that has evolved to be what he is, just a dog. A dog you love, but just a dog.


However, humanization has brought us benefits. Yes, there are some. Thanks to this proximity that we create with our furry friends, we have evolved in important areas.


Just like us, dogs today live longer thanks to the development of food that is better quality, balanced, and now, there are specific types of food for different breeds and sizes. They no longer eat leftovers, but specific foods that come from laboratories specializing in animal health research.


What about medical care? Ask your father or grandfather if there were as many treatment options and exams available in their time. Nowadays, we have X-rays, ultrasounds, MRIs, and blood tests with the same sophistication and efficiency as the most modern human laboratories.


There are now many delicate surgeries, blood transfusions, and many evolutions in the veterinary medical field that if you go back in time and tell people, they would probably laugh in your face.


The pet industry raises billions of dollars around the world creating jobs, careers, and moving one of the most lucrative markets ever seen in human history.


Thinking about the good, the bad, and the ugly, I think it's possible to live with a little humanization. Not a lot, just a little bit.


Marco Magiolo is a bestselling author, trainer, and speaker. Connect with Marco on social media and subscribe to future newsletters and updates.



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