RSS Become a Fan

Recent Posts

Anthropomorphism - A Blessing or Curse?
Congratulations again to Gracie!
Magnificent information from my friend and colleague...


Dog Information
Therapy Dog Training


January 2011
December 2010
September 2010

powered by


Anthropomorphism - A Blessing or Curse?

Anthropomorphism, or representing a canine as having human form or traits, is a balancing act for those who are professionally involved in any canine field, especially researchers and behaviorists. What is problematic with anthropomorphic attributes becomes a credibility issue between peers. However, when dealing with the “general public”, the average dog owner, the lines of distinction become blurred. To the well informed dog owner, many self train their dog, and are usually involved in some sort of venue or activity regularly, anthropomorphic reasoning is absurd. However, to the majority of “average” dog owners, there is good cause to represent anthropomorphic views. The spectrum of knowledge of canine behaviors and of canines themselves is extreme. On one end is the view it is just a dog, that IT can be treated without any forethought. Note the term “IT”, because to these owners, a dog is just that, an object void of feelings, any type of emotions, and sentience. These owners think hitting or beating a dog for non-conformity is acceptable. That the dog is an “empty shell” without sensations of pain and incapable of having fear. These owners are the types who will leave a dog in a vehicle for extended hours without forethought of consequences. On the other end is the view the dog is a small child and has to be “pampered” and taken care of as if the dog was unable to function on his own. These owners usually dress the dogs in human clothing and treat the dog like their surrogate children. Here, representing anthropomorphic views is dangerous to these type of owners because they already attribute human qualities in excess. Also there is another danger, which is respect - will address this later on). Then the vast majority of general public owners fall somewhere between these extremes and at varying degrees. Teaching anthropomorphism has advantages to the vast majority of general public owners who generally have misconceptions of what a canine is, and how to adequately care for, treat, train, and interact with a dog Assigning human qualities and traits allow an understanding to these owners that the dog has emotions, feelings, and can be adversely affected and effected by how treated and cared for. Simply, anthropomorphic reasoning allows a standardized understanding to build a foundation of knowledge. However when teaching this controversial view, there are inherent problems. In individual class settings or in private classes, the trainer has total control. But in open classes where there are owners across the knowledge spectrum and understanding spectrum, this is where a balancing act starts. Promoting anthropomorphic views can become misleading, especially where the owner already attributes too much human characteristics to a dog. Aforementioned was a danger of respect. Not in the sense towards the dog itself but to the dog as a species. This danger can occur with any owner with any understanding or knowledge base. What owners do not know how to do or understand is to respect the species. Thoughts of “being mean” towards the dog or “being cruel” towards the dog develop unrealistic expectations. And this misunderstanding on canines as a species is often where problems start to fester. Consider the owner who leaves open feeding as reality, where food is left continually for a dog to gain access or the owner who is afraid to crate or kennel or separate a dog because they “think” it is cruel or being mean towards the dog. Instead of understanding the true nature of a breed and species, these owners become obsessed with how they think they should treat a dog instead of how to actually treat a dog. So although there are advantages of teaching anthropomorphic views, especially to the heavy handed type of owner, or the neglectful type owner, there are inherent risks of developing a disassociation of the true nature and understanding of what a canine really is as a species. So is anthropomorphism a blessing or a curse…It Depends.   

Congratulations again to Gracie!

Gracie and I will begin our animal assisted therapy volunteer program at UCI Medical Center on Jan. 5 2011.
We want to thank you for the training that we both received and the information on how to proceed with the registration/evaluation process for therapy dogs.
I called you in April 2010 to inquire about training Gracie the basic commands needed for pet therapy work.
We followed your training techniques step by step. In August 2010, we passed our test for the Delta Society Pet Partners program.
Now, we have been accepted for the UCI Tails program where we will be able to visit people who are "in the hospital".
If you ever need a referral, please don't hesitate to call.
The training for doing therapy dog work was fun. Now the real fun is about to begin!
Take Care,
Jerry Newman & Gracie

Magnificent information from my friend and colleague...

A Christmas Dog
by Charles Bortell on Friday, December 10, 2010 at 6:09pm
Christmas Dog.
Thinking about getting a shelter dog for a Christmas present? Although altruistic and good intentions, there can be associated problems to consider. However, these problems can be circumvented. Dogs, even within the same breed are unique with their own personalities, traits, and characteristics. You know someone that has a breed X dog. However another dog X may behave somewhat differently. Selecting a dog or puppy on site without the recipient of the gift present loses the ability to “match” personalities of dog and new owner.
The person receiving the gift (dog or puppy) might not be suited for that particular dog. In stead of “picking randomly” a dog for someone, it is better to take that person with you to the shelter to best match dog and new owner. Or the intended recipient may not be totally enthralled about receiving a dog or a particular breed or type. Or a dog selected (breed type) may not be suited for the lifestyle of that person or family.
Another concern is dogs are creatures of habit. They thrive on routine. They like consistency. This is why and how they develop “security”. A secure dog will not have “behavioral problems” like an insecure dog.
Obtaining a dog during the holidays can make adjustment to the “new life” much harder for the dog. Consider that the dog is now in a new environment, new sights, smells, sounds, and people. This alone is confusing enough. The dog has to “adjust” to the new situation. Now consider during the holidays, the human routine is drastically altered and different from “normal circumstances”; that there is more commotion and daily routines are changed. Then there are usually more guests and people visiting than normal. This makes the dog’s adjustment harder. What is problematic is after the holidays. The routine goes ‘back to normal’. Now the dog is confused and feels he has no control because everything is not as expected or what he is used too. Confusion leads to insecurity. Now the dog has to re-adjust to living in his new home and has more anxiety than originally had when first arriving at the new home.
Solution. Instead of selecting a “surprise gift” dog or puppy for someone as a Christmas gift, you can give that person a “gift certificate” you made stating they will be getting a dog or puppy for a present after Christmas. And that they will get to pick and choose that dog or puppy.
Some things to consider when getting a dog for someone as a Christmas present.
1. The person’s lifestyle. Is that person able to care for a dog and be willing and able to be there for the dog.
2. Is the breed they select or mixed breed fitting for them or their lifestyle or family situation. A herding dog might not be the best choice with small children or an active retriever for someone who is sedimentary.
3. Is the dog’s traits and characteristics acceptable to the new owner. Are they prepared to deal with behavioral problems if they occur, such as chewing objects or furniture, submissive urination, or other “unwanted behaviors” if they surface.
4. What are the recipient’s expectations of a dog. Are they really realistic. Do they know what is involved with ownership.
A dog gifted that becomes a burden or unwanted is often subjected to isolation, confinement, or re-sheltered
This makes it difficult for the dog to re-adjust if re-sheltered, and to accept another “new home” later on. With some forethought and preparation, giving someone a Christmas gift of a dog or puppy can be a memorial, happy, and joyful occasion.


Raising K9 would like to give a "Shout Out" to Gracie, Jerry & Kim Newman on Gracie's passing of the Delta Society's Therapy Dog Evaluation! Gracie is a Raising K9 stellar student and worked very hard during her training with us to accomplish this. Gracie's parents also worked very hard with a sincere dedication to this wonderful program. Even better? Gracie is one of the youngest dogs to pass the evaluation. She just turned one year old! Congratulations Gracie, Jerry & Kim Newman!