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Hey guys! New to the forum :)

I've recently rescued a puppy from being run over by a truck and I've decided to keep her. I've been wanting a dog ever since I can remember and now I finally feel ready. I work from home, earn enough to give her a good life, I am patient and loving. Also, I have two cats and it was a huge surprise to see how well she gets along with them. The queen of the house, Pogany, isn't threatened by her, which fills my heart with joy. My question is how should I view my new pup, Lola? As a fur child or a friend?

My cat Pogany is my fur child. I'm referring to her as my child and have been since I got her. But I see that this has its downsides. I'm a bit too controlling and scared something bad will happen to her and I want to avoid this happening to the dog. I don't want to be a helicopter parent, I want Lola to be brave and inquisitive. Just by writing these words made me lean more towards the friend side. :)

How do you guys refer to your dogs? Which do you think is better? And most importantly, is this a stupid question? :p
 

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I think of my dogs as my friends. They aren't humans, they don't act human or think like one. The problem I have with thinking of them as kids is not that in itself, but that generally it changes the way people treat dogs. Dogs are relatively simple, and like to run and play and eat and be goofy. They find joy in going on the same walk every day and rolling in gross things. So relax and just enjoy her so that you don't pass any anxiety on to her. I do call my dogs my babies on occasion, but they definitely aren't actually my children.
 

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I think the way one views their relationship is very personal and individual. I don't think either would be wrong. Def some elements similar to parent/child relationship as well as friendship when it comes to dog ownership. For some may be a combo or a different analogy entirely!
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I think the way one views their relationship is very personal and individual.
I agree. And as great as all of the people here are, I would not ask them to make that sort of call.
It is in no way a stupid question, OP, I can see and appreciate your concern. And I think you have found your own answer, just by thinking it through :)
 

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I think the way one views their relationship is very personal and individual. I don't think either would be wrong. Def some elements similar to parent/child relationship as well as friendship when it comes to dog ownership. For some may be a combo or a different analogy entirely!
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I think of my pets as companions. Like the Doctor's companions. I'm a longer lived, intellectually superior, technologically advanced being who takes them on adventures and teaches them about the world until they die. And then I'll pick up some new companions in an attempt to fill the void of loneliness and remorse. :p

I tell them they're my babies though.
 

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Some dog training theories operate under the assumption that our relationship with our dog is the most important factor in our dog's behavior. In dominance theory, trainers think that our dogs must view us as their "alpha" or their betters because dominance trainers tend to see dogs as a product of the wolf, and seem to assume that dogs are pretty much little copies of wolves that humans took into their care. Unfortunately, they also base their opinions on a faulty understanding of how a wolf pack operates, assuming it to be a top-to-bottom hierarchy where each member must fight for their resources and are in a constant battle for the "alpha" position of the pack thanks to some studies done in the 1940's that studied captive wolf packs and assumed them to behave the same as wild ones. In reality, wolf packs operate as family units and the main social mechanism involved in pack life is cooperation. There are parents, grown pups that are waiting to go off on their own until they have more experience, and young pups the grown siblings help raise. The parents repress the breeding of their grown pups, and reinforce rules, but the grown pups are able to choose to leave whenever they like, and aren't seeking to usurp their parent's role as head of the family. When they are old enough, they will set out on their own, but if resources are plentiful and the pack is not too big, they will stay with the group because it is safer for an inexperienced animal than striking out alone. Wolves do not drive out pups of breeding age like many other animals, and the pups are allowed to stay as long as they like. Unrelated animals that joins packs are usually brought into the pack to replace an experienced member (usually an older pup of the mating pair or a a deceased member of a mated pair).

Trainers who ascribe to Natural Dog Training see the dog as an extension of the human mind, without it's own thoughts or feelings. They see every action of the dog as being an expression of something in the human, and the human-dog relationship more as god/disciple than master/wolf in dog's skin.

What I like most about this board is that most active members subscribe to force-free training methods and fall closed into the category of "positive reinforcement based trainer" than any other category. This isn't because I am a 100% force-free trainer and think the use of force is cruel and wrong forever and always in dog training, because I'm not and I don't, but rather because I think that most trainers who ascribe mostly to a positive reinforcement based approach tend to see the dog mostly as a being shaped by experience and learning, but also with its own sense of self and its own thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Certainly these thoughts, feelings, and ideas take into account the human members of the dog's family, more so for the biddable breeds bred to work closely with humans or be companions (most of the toy and companion breeds, the gun dogs, the "protection" breeds like Rotts and Dobes, herding breeds), though less so in the more independent minded ones (a lot of the spitz breeds, those bred to guard livestock or property independent of a handler like a lot of the mastiffs or LGDs, scent and sight hounds, and the pest hunters in the terrier group).

When you view the dog as a creature shaped largely by learning and experience as well as the historical purpose of the breed or breeds that comprise its genetic background, there isn't so much a "right" or "wrong" way of thinking of a dog. I definitely think that there are right and wrong ways to treat certain breeds. For example, a Cane Corso, a Malenois, a GSD, or a Doberman doesn't belong in a house where the dog has no rules to follow and is given the same amount of freedom as human children, because the rules the dog is going to make for itself are likely to be rules the human doesn't want to co-exist with and the size and formidable size and nature of the dog is likely to become a problem when it inevitably starts guarding things and spaces from people. It isn't because the dog is filling the place of "master" like dominance theory trainers would say, rather I see it as dogs that were bred to thrive on structure and bred to enforce the rules set forth by the humans they lived with (herding and some guarding in the case of the Malenois and GSD, more focused on guarding and protecting in the case of the Corso and Dobe) creating their own structure when their is none set forth by "parents" of the pack, since I see humans as taking to place of the parents in a wolf pack. At the same time, a breed like a Boston Terrier or a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel or a Labrador, the first two being breeds bred to provide companionship and the third being a breed bred to do a simple task for a hunter (retrieve a bird from water in the same shape it was shot out of the sky) are easier going animals that have been bred with an eye towards having a pleasant, enjoyable character, and aren't so concerned with the rules of the world or their people.

The only time I think it matters how a dog is viewed by the people around it is when it is a breed or type that has been developed to enforce the will of the human, whether that be through herding or protecting, and what it is meant to protect (ie, it is supposed to protect anything the owner tells it to, like an attack dog, or is it supposed to guard place/property, or livestock, and is it supposed to to that at the urging of a human or just instinctively on its own). GSDs were bred to protect the flock and shepherd instinctively, but also to herd animals at the urging of the shepherd. I see GSDs as dogs that need house rules and need to learn from a young age that they aren't in charge of the world and the human will give them rules to follow and enforce. Many gun dog breeds like Setters and Spaniels were primarily bred to flush game, and to retrieve it as well once it was shot down. I see dogs like this as the kind that need an outlet (even if that is just thinking that going and fetching a toy and bringing it back to their master is their main job in life), but an unstructured household isn't necessarily going to result in a dog that tries to make its own rules.

Personally, I see my dog's as benevolent companions that rely on me for protection and sustenance. I also tend to prefer dogs that think the sun rises and sets with their humans, and I've noticed this trait tends to go hand in hand with a dog that develops problems if they don't have clear rules to follow (what those are seems to depend heavily on breed traits; for my parent's Border Collie/Lab mix it is over protectiveness of the house against strangers, dog selectivity with strange dogs, and terrible issues with stealing food because my parents do not give her rules to follow. With me, she doesn't do these things because she understands that I have rules and I give her incentives to follow them- don't take food off of my plate when I turn my back and you'll get some of the food, do and I'll take away whatever you get from it; don't threaten people in the house and you'll get treats, do and you will be shut away from vistors and me, which she hates; don't snap at other dogs because I will manage it so you don't ever have to see dogs you don't like, so I don't let other people bring their dogs over on walks, don't bring her to places with loose dogs, etc. For my Boston Terrier, her problem would just be over excitement and poor listening skills, but as she matures she's learning that she only gets praise/play when she is being calm and not demanding it from me without solicitation on my part).

I relate to my dog's as friends and children, but I also don't place them as the equal to myself, other people, or human children. They do have to abide by the rules I set forth if they want to play, or get attention from me, and I reward heavily with treats and play and praise when they behave as I want them to. I definitely relate to them the same way I relate to children, but I do give them less autonomy than children. If, however, I ever had to choose between the ultimate comfort of a dog and the safety of another person or child, the human would get the better end of the deal, whether that involve keeping the dog crated for longer than was ideal, or muzzling the dog, or never allowing them complete off-leash freedom because they were a threat to others in some way or a threat to themselves.
 

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Ok I'll jump in with my 2 cents. When we first adopted Samantha, she was definitely our pet dog. Over the six year plus we have had her, she has changed her standing to very integrated family member, or perhaps fur child, if you will. I have to say, I'm not sure we ever consciously considered what her standing in the household would be, she over time, kind of manipulated her position to where I think she wanted it. So based on our experience, I'm not sure how much of that decision is really yours. Obviously we didn't resist, at least not much, and in the end it is a relationship that in our case works well for all of us.
 

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Biscuit's my child at times and my friend at times. I think of his nutrition, I reward him, I scold him, etc., as if he were my son. But I respect his 'opinions' (e.g., not wanting to be touched with my foot if he's sleeping), and I try to make things between us click in a friendly sort of way. Your new dog will need a parent AND a friend.

Good luck!
 

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I've got a combo thing going on. When talking to him I do refer to myself as Momma more often then not, BUT I in no way, shape, or form see him as my human child. When talking to others I refer to him as my dog, and myself as his owner. He is a dog and I'm more then happy to let him act like a dog within reason... If he had his way he'd roll in horrid stuff. So I guess while I may refer to myself as Momma, the relationship is a combo, I take care of him like a parent takes care of a child, feed him the best, healthiest, food that I can afford, purchase everything he needs and a lot of stuff he doesn't, take him to the vet, and care for him when he's sick, but the relationship is more of one of companionship and partnership.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Wow, thank you for your reply! I strongly agree with you! Lola seems to be a really cool gal, understanding and chill, yet playful. I think our only real problem is going to be the nipping and biting, which I'm already looking into... oh, and also the rubber slippers.

I raised my two cats on pure love alone. Very rarely imposing rules and saying no and it has worked wonders. Once they matured, they have blossomed into well behaved and obedient cats (as obedient as a cat can be). But I know that the "pure love" technique isn't going to work with Lola.

Again, thank you for taking the time to answer!
 

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So based on our experience, I'm not sure how much of that decision is really yours. Obviously we didn't resist, at least not much, and in the end it is a relationship that in our case works well for all of us.
I'm sure Lola is going to do the same! I just feel very lucky, because Lola is so obedient... Alright, I may have jinxed it now:D
 

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I think it depends on the dog. My family's last dog was much more of a friend, while my dog is definitely my fur child. She's basically a toddler in a fur coat that just happens to walk on all fours.

I have a friend whose cat is basically a fat, lazy, free loading roommate. Steals her things, eats all the food, lazes around the house all day, refuses to contribute to the chores...
 
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I guess my dogs are pretty similar to my kids, when I think about it. I feed them, cuddle with them, buy them toys, play with them, train them, and they even go to "class" every week. The puppy is 5 months and I have to say that it's pretty similar to having another toddler! :p
 
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