Animals as partner substitutes? Do not humanize four-legged friends
We cuddle with them, talk to them and love our pets. However, there are problems when animals are considered and treated as substitute partners. If you humanize dogs and cats, you probably even damage the human-animal relationship.
A dog feels happiest when it’s allowed to be a dog – Shutterstock / Nina Buday
First of all: dogs and cats need love and appreciate your affection very much. The following is about what happens when animals are humanized as mate substitutes. The fur noses cannot meet these requirements, which can lead to serious problems.
Anyone who sees animals as substitute partners is making too high demands
If animals are treated as partners or as substitutes for children or roommates, demands are made that dogs and cats cannot meet. “If I’m at work all day and want my cat to wait until the evening and look forward to being petted, that’s at the expense of the animal,” says Ursula Bauer from the animal protection association Aktion Tier to the Frankfurter Neue Presse. Pets cannot fulfill all of the needs that humans expect from a human partner. In return, animals have special requirements that are important for species-appropriate husbandry.
The natural order is disrupted
Democracy prevails in most human partnerships and both partners are, to a certain extent, on an equal footing in the hierarchy. Raising a pet to the same level as a human can cause confusion. A dog, for example, only feels comfortable when it knows its limits and can move within them and is loved. In the wild, the pack hierarchy gives security. You as a human should represent the pack leader and have the say. It is less about strict obedience and more about trust and reliability.
Humanization leads to irritation and frustration
Pets cannot fulfill the same expectations in a human’s life as a human partner could. In everyday life, this easily leads to problems on both sides, which usually result in stress for the animal. Communication, for example: many who anthropomorphize their pets speak to them as they would speak to a human being. However, dogs and cats work less with verbal language and absorb much more moods and signals through body language.
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