We love our dogs and cats, as much as they want us. It is normal that we talk to them as if they were people, that we worry that they have a healthy diet or that we want to share the bed with them: in fact, we do it six out of ten, studies in the field say.
Thus, treating your pussy or your dog friend as if it were a person constitutes a tendency as natural as it is widespread. And, in fact, it is almost inevitable. And although it has its positive side, we also run the very likely risk of misunderstanding our animals. Why not: neither the cats are spiteful nor the dog has peed on the carpet to annoy you.
Humanizing them leads to misunderstandings
What is not true, as scientist Alexandra Horowitz has shown: the dog does not feel guilty. This hairy facade really constitutes a mere response to our anger. It does not mean that they are stupid, rather the opposite: they have learned to react very quickly to our nonverbal language. But to think that dogs regret after making us a stumble constitutes a mistake.
Other times we think they are angry and that our four-legged friend pees inside the house “to annoy”. Or that the cat is an aristo or that it scratches the furniture because it wants to annoy. Well no, it’s not true. But making these assumptions, we will be missing out on the real reason that leads Lucas to pee on the carpet – surely out of fear – or Billy scratching the couch since it is very likely that the boy who suffers is anxiety.
Therefore, interpreting the behavior of our animals from this very human perspective makes it more difficult to find an appropriate solution for that behavior, so it will surely be repeated.
If we want Lucas to relieve his bladder in the park or for Billy to use the scraper and stop sharpening his nails on the corner of the couch we have to understand that dogs and cats have different motivations and needs than ours. And that they have a unique and exclusive way for each species to see the world.
It’s okay to humanize dogs and cats after all
Of course, there are also times when humanizing is useful, because it benefits the well-being of our furry friends. Certainly, both cats and dogs are emotional animals, as science has confirmed and reconfirmed, so it would be wrong to say the opposite and deny that, like us, they have emotions.
In fact, they feel anxiety, fear, frustration, depression, happiness, and joy. And they also experience relief when they find comfort. In this way, attributing human feelings to cats and dogs emphasizes compassion and empathy towards them; and it makes us take better care of them and be aware that they can, and deserve, be happy by our side.
Read More – Why your cat can’t be vegan or vegetarian