13 April 2011

Not tonight honey, I'm spending time with the dog.

Cav had is own Collingwood Guernsey for the AFL Grand Finals 2010

LONG suspected, now confirmed: Australian women prioritise their dogs over their partners. The PawClub.com.au surveyed over 80,000 dog owners and found 77 per cent of women surveyed spent more time with their dog than their partner. Four out of five female respondents admitted they devote more money to their dog than their partner also. You can view the results here.

The survey also revealed dogs are firmly ingrained in our psyche as another member of the family, with 52% of dog owners surveyed confirming they sign their dogs name on birthday and Christmas cards.

There would be seldom dog owners surprised by this survey.

So why do we love our dogs so much?

Studies show dogs make us both physically and mentally healthier, and therefore happier. They lift our spirits and help us relax. They motivate us to actually get some exercise because, rain, hail or shine, they are always keen for a walk. Dogs keep us company and make us feel safer when we are alone. They also put our minds at ease by safeguarding the house when we are out.

For children, studies have shown that growing up with pets (particularly dogs) during infancy helps to strengthen the immune system and reduces the risk of allergies linked to asthma. Teenagers who grow up with pets are more likely to have a positive outlook on life and report less loneliness, restlessness and boredom.

What's not to love?

There is another side to the story, and it won’t leave you feeling warm and fuzzy. Dog behaviourists argue that by treating your dog as equal, you are creating a myriad of behavioural problems. Your dog is less likely to be obedient when it thinks you are equal, and is more likely to display aggressive, jealous behaviours towards your partner if your actions place the dog on a higher pedestal. Canine experts also argue that assuming dog’s actions carry human emotions is one of the biggest areas to overcome. For example, when a dog is constantly leaning on you, putting his paw on you, using his nose to make you pat them, and always feeling the need to be touching you in some way, behaviourists argue this is not your dog loving you; it is your dog displaying dominant behaviours.  In the dog world, space is respect. A dog that is constantly nudging you and leaning on you, is disrespecting you, and being the alpha dog.

They argue the most important thing to remember is although we have domesticated dogs, we cannot rid them of their animal instinct.

Whether you agree with the behaviourists or the majority of Australian women, or prefer cats instead, one thing is for sure: life is better with a pet.

The experts may say  Cav is trying to be the alpha dog, but I prefer to think he wanted me to take him on holidays too.

Do you spend more time with your dog/s than your partner?

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