When we just get it wrong

Elsa waiting for her moment to take the ball while Yogi's attention is on something else.  

Anthropomorphise -  to attribute human form or personality to things not human.

Humans tend to put human ideas and emotions onto our dogs a great deal.  You see a behavior exhibited by your dog and are sure that it means something very human.  There are times when human terminology is required to fully explain and understand a canine behavior; but interpreting canine behavior while putting a human spin on it. is where much of it gets bogged down in the mud. 

I cannot tell you how often I am given a very incorrect analysis of canine behavior from a human guardian.  A human has experienced a behavior and are attempting to explain what is going on.  If I am asked to help explain or pick apart a behavior then I most definitely will.  Otherwise I may just offer "no that's not what is going on."  Trying to explain true canine behavior to someone who wants to believe that their dog is surely displaying a very human behavior is both difficult and probably unwanted. 

Humans like to think that their dogs do human things.  Dogs are pretty amazing; they have adapted to living in our world and doing it quite well.  But, they have not become humans in the process.  

Dogs are dogs and are very different from us humans.  Unlike many who do not think dogs are capable of emotions, I do.  You cannot say that a dog left behind when their owners go away who resorts to howling very quickly is not feeling an emotion.  No they do not feel the way we do; nor do they react the way that we humans do. 

Canines are far more clear with their communications.  We tend to muddy communications up with emotion, wrong or right.  We get messages crossed all the time and read into communications.  Dogs tell it like it is and then we step in and read it in human terms.  "Oh look, Fido wants to get in on the hug" you think as Fido jumps all over you and your hubby having a snuggle.  There could be several things going on but "group hug," is not one of them.  

Dogs are opportunists, they react to action; they learn by association and some learn very quickly.  Much of these learned associations are where we humans get it wrong.  A dog wagging it's tail can be misread as "happy," when in fact the dog could be highly agitated.  A wagging tail does not always mean happy.  I cannot tell you how many times people said to me over the years "what a happy dog," as they watched Tilley race around an open field.  Happy had nothing to do with her vibrating tail; it was all about being over stimulated by shadows.

Watching canines interact is amazing all by itself.  If you really want to know what is behind much of what your dog does, research.  Putting a human spin on it just does a disservice to an amazing creature called "our dogs."