Have you ever suspected that your dog has a sense of humor? Good news: You’re human. Our species is hardwired to see ourselves in others — even animals. The areas of our brains that respond to babies also light up when we look at our pets. It’s part of what helped us develop a relationship with wolves in the first place. But treating pets like people can also have certain drawbacks. Here’s how (and when) it’s beneficial to let dogs be dogs.
Begin with the Breed Background
Around 40,000 years ago, wolves started diverging as a species into the domesticated dogs we know today. Since then, they have developed a huge variety of personality quirks and physical differences. Helping them embrace their nature starts with understanding their breed. For example, it’s up to you to help your border collie expend their seemingly endless reserves of energy. Or, if you have a dachshund, you can satisfy their natural desire to burrow by leaving out a few blankets for them to hide under.
Don’t take animal instincts personally
Due to our tendency to see our pets as people, we often ascribe human emotions to their actions. When one dog steals a toy from another, we see jealousy. When they chew doors, we see mischief. When they don’t respond to our commands, we see disrespect. While dogs are intelligent, it’s important to see the animal instincts behind their behavior and respond accordingly. Reinforcing positive behavior is almost always better than shouting “No!” in response to bad behavior.
Keeping a Natural Weight
It goes without saying that regular bowlfuls of kibble were in short supply in the wild. However, you can still give your dog a high-protein diet that will help them grow lean muscle and support their immune system. CRAVE™ dry dog food diets feature meat as the first ingredient, which caters to dogs’ instinctive desire for flavors like beef, chicken, lamb and venison.
Keep your dog active
One of the simplest ways to help your dog live a more natural life is to spend ample time in nature together. Whether you’re trotting on a trail or chasing a ball in the backyard, fresh air and exercise can do wonders for your dog’s mental and physical health.
Allow Your Dog to Socialize When Possible
Helping your dog socialize can be challenging these days, but giving them opportunities for time around other dogs and people is important. Passing another dog on the sidewalk is better than nothing at all.
Bottom line? Educate yourself on what makes your best buddy tick. The more you understand, the easier it is to help them be themselves and live a happier, doggier life.