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It started when two canine scientists decide to become pen pals in an era of digital media...


2 May 2013

26 Things Corgis Are Wearing & What Dogs Want

Dog - wants - playtime (Source)

Hi Mia,

I agree. I am constantly asking the question: What do dogs want?

This question is particularly apt in the “Land of Research." When crafting an experiment we’re considering how dogs might perceive or interact with an experimental design. Most importantly, whether what dogs might do -- or want to do -- is inline with our research question or is instead revealing something else. And, if what we are trying to investigate and what dogs want to do don't match up, an experiment might need some rejigging (which apparently is a word).

In the home: Dressing dogs
Questions of What do dogs want? also enter our homes. Some companion dogs can be incredibly amenable to the various things we want -- which might make it possible to lose sight that a dog's wants might be different. I recently took a look at the unfortunate fad of dressing dogs in pantyhose. Comments on the DYBID Facebook page make it clear that people are not cool with dogs in pantyhose, for example: "Thats just wrong on so many levels," and "that is torture. i feel so sorry for the dogs."

Zelda Frog Princess (Source)
While I agree that being a dog in pantyhose can stink, from the dog's perspective, do pantyhose really stink more than all the other crazy stuff we're apt to put on dogs -- and then deem "incredibly cute"? For example, this dog in a Zelda Frog Princess outfit does not elicit a plethora of outraged comments. A comment from the DYBID Facebook page, "how embarrassing, and cute."

And you recently shared with me -- 26 Things That You're Forced To Wear When You're A Corgi. There can be a fine line between what humans consider incredibly cute (many of the above corgis) or absolutely disgusting (dogs in pantyhose). Regardless, from the dogs perspective, dogs don't know the difference between pantyhose, long johns or pants from a pirate costume.

In the home: A view
You brought up the awesome topic of visual access to the outside world for dogs in kennel facilities. This made me think of an interesting blog post by Patricia McConnell, PhD where she reflected on different dog laws around the world, with a specific focus on crating (the post also includes pictures of her homemade delicious apple butter!). She noted that in some countries it is, to some degree, illegal to crate a dog. From her blog:

"I was told when I was in Sweden that keeping a dog in a crate was illegal–any Swedes want to confirm or deny? Sweden has very strict animal welfare laws that also apply to domestic pets. For example, all indoor animals must be able to see out a “sunny window.” This is especially interesting to me, given that I’ve advised many a client to keep their dogs AWAY from windows when they leave the house because the activity outside often overstimulates and/or frustrates them. I’d never leave Willie loose in the front room with big windows facing the driveway; when I tried it earlier he was a stressed out wreck when I came home." 

In another post, McConnell continues reflecting on crating and how it plays a role in her own dog's life...  

"I got an email recently from a Calling All Pets listener who was distressed to hear that Will spends some time in a crate. (He’s in one right now.) I am the first to say that crates can be, and are often abused, but I am absolutely convinced at the same time that crates can be used to a dog’s advantage..." (read more of the post here)

Is this an example of different human cultures, ethics, animal frameworks taking a stab at the question: What's in a Dog's "Best Interest" and coming up with different answers?

I'm not informed about different dog crating laws around the world and would love to hear more. 

And also worth considering -- how do we tease apart cultural perceptions and ethics from what dogs want or need?

Hope all's well! 


Hecht, J. Dogs in Pantyhose. Dog Spies. Scientific American Blogs

McConnell, P. Dog Laws Around the World. The Other End of the Leash

McConnell, P. Lambs and Apples, Crates and Dogs. The Other End of the Leash
© 2013 Julie Hecht
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