The Differences Between Being a Dog Owner and a Dog Master

I am dog lover that likes giving advice to other owners to improves their relationship with their pets.

What Is a Dog?

Yes, we all know they're the furry animals that bark and kill grass. What else is a dog? A dog is a retired wolf. He is retired from pack life, but remembers how it works. He is retired from hunting, but he remembers how it works. He is a retired from the constant power struggles that comes with living in a pack, but he remembers how it works.

The Nature of the Dog

The wolf background is there. The mental and emotional capacity of a dog is there. What you do with those traits determines how well your dog responds. Before you get a dog, the thing you should remind yourself that you must know thy self.

A dog will always expect there to be respect and leadership. Either you respect each other, and you lead the dog, or you will respect your dog, and he will lead you.

The Mentality of a Dog

Dogs can be very clever when it comes time to sit on the couch while you're out of the room, or get into the garbage. Do not confuse clever or determination with raw intelligence. The average dog is about as mentally developed as the average three or four-year-old child.

I am certain that somebody is thinking about a son or niece who was taking college courses at the age of seven, but again, consider average. Potty training, recognition of words and phrases, and problem solving skills are on par with your average young child. Pair this with the nature of a wolf background, and you have yourself the dog.

Who Is Walking Who?

To understand the dog is to understand the wolf. In a pack environment, many good things come to those who lead. Mating rights and prime meal selection are nothing to sneeze at, especially in the woods! Much like people, some dogs are natural born followers. Most, however, have a tendency to watch for an opportunity to lead the pack.

When a dog lives with a person who does not lead, the dog will usually attempt to lead. Again, as it is true in society, some dogs are capable and born to lead, and others are not. You all know that manager who has trouble with their own authority, or a friend who acts more awkwardly assertive around other people. Dogs will tend to do the same.

If you are scared of being alone all of the time, the natural born following dogs will become fearful with you. They're not sure what it is that you're afraid of, so they'll become fearful of everything. One thing is for certain though, they're not fearful of you. That being said, the only thing they will be in charge of is you.

If you go for a walk, and the dog is your master, he will be out in front. If you are your dogs master, he will walk beside you, watching for which direction you want to go.

The Funny Tips and Tricks

I was walking my dog one afternoon, and a brave (foolish) squirrel walked right in front of us. Ordinarily, the squirrel would be on Malcolm's lunch menu. When Malcolm is on the leash, however, he is no longer driving the bus. The squirrel was quite surprised at how close it had wandered towards such a large set of teeth, and tore up the tree.

A woman was sitting in her driveway and said that she was very impressed that he behaved himself so well. I wasn't surprised. When the dog is on the leash, I am driving the bus. When Malcolm is off the leash, and I am not present, he is to fend for himself within the guidelines of his rules (garbage, beds, and the couch are off limits). While Malcolm is on the leash, I am his master. I protect him from other dogs. I walk where I want to walk, and how fast or slow I want to walk. I don't look down to see where the dog is, because I am pretty sure it is somewhere near the end of the leash.

I stopped and talked with the woman for a few minutes. She told me that she was training her dog, and they told her to walk as if there were a plate full of dishes on her head while she walked her dog in order to get him to behave.

The idea that a dog that is so perceptive of facial cues is going to be fooled by you pretending to have a pile of dishes on your head is pretty funny. I think there is a better chance she was fooled about the dishes than the dog. Based on her report of how things were going, that is correct.

Know Thy Self

Quite possibly the three most important words in the human language, and most definitely with regard to most relationships.

If you are honestly capable of being assertive (not mean, not aggressive, not angry, and most definitely not assaulting), you can easily become the master of a dog. That is good for you, because the dog will be a much easier companion to live with. It is great for the dog because the pack leader generally absorbs more stress and lives shorter lives than followers. Whether or not that's true for humans I guess would be up for discussion, but if you watch "mean" or "controlling" dogs, they don't age very well. Same is true for wolves.

If you are the type that wants a dog for a friend, but acknowledge you're not a leader, realize you're going to have a dog that (unless it's a natural born follower) pull on your leash, sleep where it wants, begs, and eats what it wants.

There is nothing wrong with either one. There is something wrong with having a dog that begs, or sits on the couch and being mistaken that it's a character flaw of the dog. Most behaviors experienced by dog owners are a direct result of their interactions.

Have a dog that jumps on people? Stop saying goodbye to your dog, and stop encouraging him to freak out when you walk in the door. Don't acknowledge your dog for 10 minutes (even if he is still in the jumping phase) across the span of a month, and eventually, your coming and going will go unnoticed. This can help with separation anxiety, pouting potty, and even plain old barking.

Get over your own fears and the dog will soon follow.

Remember to Serve the Dogs Needs

Dogs were meant to be in the wild. Food didn't just happen upon them at a drive through, they ran around looking for it. Dogs were meant to walk miles and miles a day, every single day. When we coop them up in the house, all of that exercise equals one thing: boredom. Bored with the couch, bored with the house, bored with the yard, and bored of pretty much everything else.

Take your dog for walks. Take your dog to the park and play frisbee. Take your dog to the park and throw a ball for 40 minutes. Get your dog some toys, but interact with your dog and those toys.

Dogs Are Not People

Strictly give your dog proper dog food. The two times Malcolm has been in the garbage were the two times he has eaten human food (that I know of). Expect your dog to do as he is told. Don't ask him, tell him. Train your dog.

Teaching your dog discipline and tricks is not for a sideshow, it builds your dogs self esteem. When you teach him something, and he repeats it, tell him what a good dog he is. Mean it when you tell him that. Encourage him to do things without being told through excessive praise, during training, and forever after.

If your dog is adopted and has anxieties, work around those anxieties. If they are fearful of the door, have a trick they do right before they walk through it. It can be as simple as "sit" before they walk in or out of a door. When they sit, just tell them what a good puppy they are, and that pitch in your voice, and smile you give them smooths over the door anxiety.

Anne Gillingham from Los Angeles, CA on August 28, 2014:

I agree with you. You don't have to be a complete a-hole with your dog in order to establish the hierarchy and leadership that s/he craves. But unless you want a skittish, aggressive, spoiled, out of control and confused dog, I strongly suggest treating him or her, like a dog and not like one of your peers.

There is a lot of debate about this, but I say "no" to having dogs on our beds and couches etc. because it has been my experience that this kind of privilege actually confuses them. Dogs like to work for stuff and like to earn stuff and see everything as a reward for an effort and if we treat our dogs like we would our own spouse, the dog is going to assume that whatever he was doing entitles him to the goods to which you have given him access, etc.

That's my opinion, anyway.

Anaya M. Baker from North Carolina on December 13, 2010:

I have a beagle, and despite all attempts at training, the nose rules! Thought your picture of the beagle was hilarious, since that's the daily struggle of most beagle owners...

I really liked how you explain the pack mentality aspect. I think people assume too often that dogs are just our cozy snuggly pals. No matter how cute or cuddly, dogs are still not so far removed from their wolf packs. Great hub!


Your dog's greeting is another sure sign that she loves you, according to Wells. When you come home from work, she probably wags her tail and does a happy dance by marching in place or circling all around you. Your dog might even get so excited that she leaps into the air or jumps up on you. All of this says "woo hoo!" in dog language.

A dog's enthusiasm is endearing, except when she crosses the boundaries of good behavior. Sometimes we unwittingly reinforce our dog's craziness because it looks so cute or funny. Even so, if Skippy cannot control herself, it's time to rein her in. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends ignoring your dog if she jumps on you. In turn, also try praising and petting her when she keeps her paws to herself.

Pets as Property?

Is intentionally killing a dog or cat qualitatively different than smashing a plate? Pet owners tend to think so. Yet under current law in most jurisdictions, a pet's value is calculated like that of any other material object.

If you sue the murderer of your beloved pooch, you can typically expect to receive the dog's replacement cost in damages. A recent survey found that two out of three people say that they wouldn't trade their pets for $1 million. Yet the legally-recognized value of domestic animals does not take into account these deep emotional bonds. In the eyes of the law, in most localities, a dog is more like a plate than a pal.

This rule may be changing, however. A quiet revolution is underway, one that would reform the legal relationship between people and pets, and adjust legal norms to better accord with moral principles and emotional realities. Rather than conceiving of pets as material goods, a new set of laws would recognize them as sentient beings: companions, not property.

The Traditional Rule: Pets as Personal Property

Although a few courts have permitted pet owners to recover for the loss of their pet's companionship when the pet has been killed or injured, this is not the usual rule. More commonly, in suits for the negligent or purposeful infliction of harm to the animal, courts hold that it is the market value of the animal that counts.

Under this view, the "sentimental attachment" of an owner to his or her pet has no place in the computation of damages for the animal's death or injury. Even the most beloved mutt or tabby is deemed virtually worthless: rescued from an animal shelter for a nominal fee, they can be "replaced" at the same expense.

In reaching such conclusions, courts have repeatedly emphasized that the law categorizes domestic animals as personal property. Whatever additional value they may have as companions, from this perspective, is beyond the purview of the law to address.

At least one court has expressed discomfort with this legal characterization, even as it barred the owner of a dog that was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer from obtaining damages for her emotional distress. "Labeling a dog 'property,'" the Wisconsin Supreme Court acknowledged in its 2001 opinion, "fails to describe the value human beings place upon the companionship that they enjoy with a dog." (Indeed, as the court might have noted, four out of five pet owners refer to themselves as the animal's "mom" or "dad.")

While classifying dogs as property, however reluctantly, the court seemed eager to distinguish them from mere objects. "A companion dog is not a fungible item," said the court, "equivalent to other items of personal property. A companion dog is not a living room sofa."

Recent Legal Changes: Pets as "Companions" and Owners as "Guardians"

The effort to establish a legally meaningful distinction between pets and living room sofas has recently gained momentum. Draft legislation was just introduced in Colorado to change the legal status of dogs and cats from property to companion animals.

The pending bill would allow Colorado residents to seek damages for "loss of companionship" in suits against intentional animal abusers and negligent veterinarians. It is the latest initiative in a national campaign to reshape pets' legal status.

Several cities have already passed measures that characterize pet owners as "guardians," rather than mere property owners. In San Francisco, for example, the Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance in January that amended city and county laws so that they speak of the "owner or guardian" of animals, as opposed to simply the "owner." (For good measure, the ordinance also eliminated the adjective "dumb" from its definition of animal, which previously referred to "any bird, mammal, reptile, or other dumb creature.")

In passing the ordinance, San Francisco became the seventh city in the country to codify animal guardian language. Boulder, Colorado, was the first city to pass such a measure, in July 2000 later came Berkeley and West Hollywood, in California, followed by Sherwood, Arkansas, Amherst, Massachusetts, and Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. In July 2001, Rhode Island became the first state to include the term "guardian" in its pet-related legislation.

What These Laws Mean: Not Just Better Remedies When Animals Suffer Harm

The practical impact of such changes is to encourage stronger legal remedies in cases of animal abuse and neglect. But the use of the terms "guardian" and "companion," as opposed to "owner" and "property," has deep moral and philosophical underpinnings.

In Defense of Animals (IDA), the organization spearheading the guardianship campaign, explains that the terminology change reflects a conceptual shift: "Being a guardian of an animal companion signifies a higher level of responsibility, respect and care for our animal friends. Animals need to be regarded as more than the material property of an owner. Replacing the term 'owner' with 'guardian" is a conceptual move toward recognizing the importance and needs of animals."

The IDA abjures the term "pet," preferring the more egalitarian "animal companion" or "animal friend." And its literature argues that people should not conceive of themselves as "buying" animals, but should instead as "adopting" them (making an implicit analogy to children) or even "rescuing" them (as with fugitive slaves).

The IDA's stated reasoning differs meaningfully from that set forth in the pending Colorado legislation. The draft law, echoing the reasoning of the 2001 Wisconsin court decision, focuses on the emotional bond that owners feel toward their pets. As one of its provisions explains, "the death of a companion dog or cat is psychologically and emotionally significant and often devastating to the owner."

The real focus of the law's concern is, in other words, the owner, not the animal. The law simply seeks to put legal muscle behind the idea that the loss of the animal may cause emotional distress to the owner.

But the Colorado law's rationale sweeps rather too broadly. There are many items of personal property whose loss causes emotional distress that far outweighs their market value. Consider a family heirloom that has been passed down through generations, or a watch that belonged to a dead parent. (At the top of my personal list would be a 1968 Volkswagen bug of which I'm inordinately fond.) In the end, such protections need to find their basis in something intrinsic to the animals themselves.

The Backlash: Anger Against Animal Rights

The notion that animals have rights, or should be deemed to have rights, is far from accepted. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that the move to redefine pets as companions has drawn fierce opposition from a number of national pet-owner associations, including the American Kennel Club. These groups portray the recent legal changes as part of a dangerous trend toward humanizing animals and annulling the rights of their owners.

In an editorial siding with this position, USA Today warned that if society were to recognize that pet are not property, and that animals have rights, "it would arguably be impossible to spay or neuter a pet without its permission." Calling owners "guardians" and pets "wards" might seem to be "amusing legal concessions to emotional attachment," the paper stated, but those who favor such terms ignore their deeply worrisome ramifications.

Such concerns seem wildly overblown. To recognize that animals have a claim to rights does not, in itself, indicate how those rights should be defined or how they might be limited. And already, in the criminal law, society has implicitly recognized the qualitative difference between animals and property by enacting animal cruelty laws.

These laws prohibit the torture of domestic animals, even if the victimized animal belongs to the torturer. You may rip apart your sofa, if you like, but you are not allowed to do the same to your dog.

Animals are sentient beings. They feel pain and, as any pet owner or guardian can attest, they are capable of emotional attachments. In these ways, they are profoundly different from property, and similar to humans.

If the ramifications of recognizing that animals are something more than property are radical, so be it. Pets of the world unite you have nothing to lose but your leashes.

Joanne Mariner is a FindLaw columnist who learned a lot about animal rights from a basenji named Punk.

"Un-neutered or 'intact' male dogs tend to be more prone to urine marking and humping," Ashley Valm , shelter behavior manager at the Humane Rescue Alliance , told INSIDER.

This urine marking is a natural but sometimes unwelcome behavior often used by dogs who are trying to mark a space as their own.

Humping is a natural and fairly normal behavior for both male and female dogs, though it often occur most frequently in un-neutered male dogs. Dogs hump for many reasons that aren't sexual, including stress, excitement, or to exert control over other dogs.

Watch the video: Cat-Friend vs Dog-Friend

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