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Needs that prompt people to get a dog
Published 2010/12/20

There are four basic needs that prompt people to get a dog, starting with the need to control. When nothing is going well in life, dogs at least enable people to exert some sort of parental authority. When the dog submits, the owner wins a battle where he alone understands the rules! This thirst for control is both self-reinforced and self-reinforcing. Such people will talk about their dogs using terms of dominance and submission.

Then, there is the need to nurture and to be nurtured. Some people get a dog to nourish their emotional dependence and fill the visceral need to feel loved. Dogs wait for their owner’s return and are always there for you and happy to see you. They completely satisfy the needs of emotionally needy people. Such people also need to feel protected. If the dog lets the owner pet him, feels anxious if away from the owner or barks to keep strangers away, the owner will find the relationship satisfying. These people talk about their dogs like they are their babies.

Another need has to do with the mirroring effect, where the dog serves a reflection of what the owner wants to be: a champion of beauty, agility or obedience. These people talk about their dogs like trophies or lucky creatures.

Finally, there is the work-related need, where dogs are seen as a tool to help owners carry out specific tasks. For the human being/dog relationship to survive, dogs must meet one or more of these four needs. What need does your dog meet in your life?

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