Is my dog crazy ?
We often wonder where the limit of so-called normality is when it comes to human behavior. How difficult it is to find this boundary is known to psychologists who establish more and more new definitions of it. However many definitions there are, the norms of behavior are still an ocean „otherness” of cultural, customary and most importantly – individual characteristics. This is how it is in the human world. What about the animals?
Man, forgetting that he is an animal himself, has pigeonholed the behavior of animals as if they were automatons. The far-reaching objectification of animals dates back to Descartes, to whom we owe the heartless „animals – automatons”. In spite of the fact that today we have a lot of ethologists studying complicated relations between individuals of one or another species (including humans), most people treat a dog as a remote-controlled car. And yet neither a dog, nor a cat, nor a little mouse or a mole is an automatic mechanism.
We should remember that a number of studies on human behavior begin with studies on animal behavior. That „someone” has a small head, and consequently a tiny brain, does not mean that he does not think and cannot have very „of a rich psyche..”. When we start to observe the behavior of a small mouse, we will come to the conclusion that in many situations from its life we would behave identically. But why do we most often think that an animal is guided by instinct, while a human – feelings and complex thought processes?
The matter seems simple – because we are presumptuous ignoramuses with our own „humanity”, which, instead of opening our eyes wider to the world around us, has obscured them with the fog of pride. The fact that man has created modern civilization (with all its baggage, although we should say – The fact that the human body is not burdened with poisons, diseases and garbage does not mean that in certain situations it does not follow the same instinct as an animal. Sometimes, however, man’s so-called. „higher feelings”. The same as in animals.
Name „higher feelings” was attributed to those feelings which, it was once believed, were characteristic only of the human race. Today it is known that the range of these feelings goes far beyond man. Their height reaches to the heavens with the raven hovering in the air, and their depth reaches to the abyss of water with the diving whale.
If animals, like us, can love and hate, desire and fear, politic and lie (which they do worse than we do), then can they not, like us, be mentally ill? Not only can, but they also get sick. And it’s our fault.
A lot of mental ailments in man have a civilization background. Unfortunately our domestic animals, forced to live in the same conditions as we do, just like humans started to suffer from depression, vegetative neuroses and a whole range of psychogenic ailments. In wild animals, mental illness is a tiny margin, firstly because it is handled perfectly by natural selection, and secondly – there is no reason for civilizational destruction to occur. A free-living wolf has no time to be depressed, because it knows it has to hunt something and find a safe haven where it can rest. A dog closed within four walls, a cat deprived of movement, a hamster oppressed by a heartless adolescent – all these and other animals forced to live in conditions abnormal to themselves can suffer from psychogenic background disorders. So let’s not be surprised when dogs, after the tenth brawl in the house, start peeing on the carpet, let’s not be surprised when a regularly beaten dog throws itself at a human and let’s not be surprised when a cat, locked within four walls, poops into the shoe of its rarely seen guardian.
Multitudes of psychologists and psychiatrists work on classifying unusual human behavior. Swelling volumes of works, scholarly treatises, lexicons and handbooks. There are more and more names of disease entities, psychotropic drugs and types of psychotherapy. So what if there are more and more people suffering from mental illness. The fact that an antidepressant will not cure us if we do not change our lifestyle is our own human affair. But what right do we have to oppress our pet cats? „friends”, who have no choice but to live in a framework imposed by us? It is of little help to domestic animals to make scientific arguments about disorders in their behavior – for a dog it does not matter whether it suffers from phobias, neurosis or other psychogenic disorders. Unfortunately, the possibility of conducting psychotherapy with a dog is very limited. The only way out is „psychotherapy” of giving paracet to a dog by means of therapy and, above all, making the owner think about it and conclude that he must let the dog „be a dog”. And in the very broadest sense of the term.
What it means „to be a dog”?
• Have a compatible pack-family (can be two, dog and human).
• Know your place in the pack.
• Feeling needed.
• Have time to work, rest and play with the pack leader.
• Have a tolerance for weakness, illness, and old age.
• Get food according to the dog’s needs.
• Don’t feel lonely – in a pack, no one can be lonely.
As you can see „be a dog” It’s just seven simple sentences, which if disregarded are in this case „the seven deadly sins”. Many of us have dogs and live with them every day. And how many of us are driven by these „commandments”?
More and more often families come into my tiny office with a dog that „crazy”. He starts messing around in the house, or he bites his master, or he won’t be taken for a walk… Dear dog guardians – in 99% of cases it is the world that has gone mad and not the dog. You are the one who either starts domestic disturbances, treats your dog like a piece of equipment or expects the impossible from him. Antidepressants will not help unless you change your behaviour. Fortunately, there is one good aspect in these cases. People love their dogs and it is not uncommon for them to change for their dogs – stop arguing with your spouse, stop hitting your children – you can say that thanks to the dog they become different, better people. And it can also be said with certainty: „Show me your dog and I will tell you who you are”. A happy dog „laughs all the way”, and the fact that it got „fools” and chases like crazy around the house does not mean that he is crazy. Well, maybe crazy, but from happiness and I wish this to all dogs.