We, as humans, develop such close, social bonds with our dogs that it isn’t surprising that we sometimes think of our friends as human themselves (anthropomorphism). However, as I’ve written about previously, dog-human relationships are unique in their own right! So we shouldn’t necessarily lump them in with our other interpersonal relationships.
But my dog is my fur baby!
There’s nothing inherently wrong with thinking your dog is a child of sorts. After all, dogs need us to provide essentials for them and (these days anyway) can’t really be trusted to safely navigate to modern world on their own. So having a ‘fur baby’ is fine, providing this perspective doesn’t impede your dogmanship. Dog husbandry and caring for a human infant isn’t exactly synonymous and when people treat them as such, problems can arise. For example:
I can’t leave him/her alone!
This is one viewpoint that I’m saddened to see, especially with puppy owners. While I do strongly believe that we should endeavour to maximise the time we spend interacting with our dogs, some level of separation is normal and healthy. Failure to let your dog develop any autonomy creates dependence and when you eventually do have to leave your dog alone (and you will) it can be an extremely stressful experience for them.
So what SHOULD we do?
My advice is to always observe your dog’s behaviour objectively, putting aside any thoughts of infancy or peerage. Assess your dog’s emotional state and behave in a way that acts in your dog’s best interests (i.e. promotes a positive emotional state and provides a buffer against future stressors).
For example, to improve your dog’s confidence when left alone, you might invest in some puzzle toys to help them exercise their minds and engage with something independently. Alternatively, having a few obedience or trick training sessions with your dog can grant them a confidence boost as it gives them a means to communicate with your effectively.