Let me first start by saying that I love dogs. And also cats, by the way — well, the truth is I love all types of animals, okay, maybe except for mosquitos, flies, and cockroaches.
But about dogs then. When I was a child I had a pack of fourteen dogs. I lived in the countryside and my dogs could roam around freely. Sometimes I didn’t see them for days in a row. It was a real group, a tight pack of dogs, and they were independent and proud. And happy. Actually, it wasn’t really that I owned them, or they me. We lived in free, mutual companionship. No strings attached.
Now, I write this post because it breaks my heart to see that too many dog owners “torture” their dogs. The worst thing of it is that the majority of those dog owners don’t know that they do so. In fact, most people take dogs simply for their own delight, and not for the pleasure of the dog. I personally think that such is not okay; I feel it should be a two-way street where both owner and dog(s) profit from the relationship.
When you ask people why they have a dog they come up with quite a lot of reasons: safety for themselves, their house and belongings, they think puppies are cute, companionship to make them feel less lonely, facilitating exercise, they just love dogs, to participate in dog shows or dog races, creating a new home for an abandoned dog, socializing with other people when walking the dog, for the pleasure and benefit of their children, to name some of the common motives.
I think — in itself — that may be all just fine. Nevertheless, when you look at the circumstances in which dogs are kept, I think dog ownership often becomes problematic. For instance, dogs are often left alone for long periods on the day being locked up in a house or shed, or being chained or confined in a garden (usually without companionship of other dogs) because the owners need to work or enjoy their leisure time outside the house. Dogs suffer immensely from that.
Then, dogs often need to wait for the owner’s availability and willingness to get food, to let them out, take a poop or pee, and have a healthy run or walk. And most of the time the walks they get outside their confined space are not by far long enough.
As it is, dogs usually get way too little exercise. You see, they like roaming round, running, sniffing, digging, hunting, and explore a large territory — at their own time and will. In fact, the territory they can call theirs is in 99% of the cases much too small, with many human-made rules attached to it, and that creates weird, frustrated, and psychologically off dogs, even if dog owners don’t see that or believe that. These dogs either cry, whine, or bark excessively, become depressed, lethargic, bored, destructive, aggressive, silent, obedient, or perfect “happy” tail-wagging slaves.
What dog owners don’t see or are unwilling to see is that the dog adapts to the circumstances it is in. The dog simply has no other choice. Moreover, when the dog owner is present, the dog is usually excessively happy and will do anything to get its boss’s approval. Indeed, “its boss,” which says it all. When a dog is kept in the ways we too often do it becomes like a little child, a baby, an “employee” that has lost all its independence and self-worth. In fact, dog owners may think that the dog is happy, but in reality it has become a distorted creature primarily living in a reward-punishment mode. A psychologically mistreated dog. A tortured dog.
Personally, I feel all animals should live free and in the wild. No animal should be confined by humans. I think that also counts for our “favorite pets,” which are usually cats and dogs. Nevertheless, we can live together with animals in a respectful way by giving them space to be free being able to express their natural behavior. The latter is most of the time only possible if you live in the forest, in the countryside, or on a large farm or estate with no fences, and so on, in any case, in a situation where your dog or cat can roam around freely, wherever it wants — at its own time and will.