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Eight Signs You Treat Your Dog More Like A Child Than A Pet

I will be the first to admit I have babied my dog far too much and it's turned her into more of a small and entitled child than a pet.

From the minute my now two-year-old miniature Dachshund Maple came into my life, I had set her up for the pampered life of a fur baby.

I joked about the struggles of trying to toilet train her, I took her to puppy school to try and teach her the foundations of being a, well, dog and I took her to the park in many failed attempts to socialise her.

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But on International Dog Day, it's time I admit that my fawning over Maple has turned her into more of a small and entitled child than what she actually is: a pet.

Here are the signs you might have done the same:

1. You talk to them... a lot

Maple and I have many conversations, multiple times a day. No, she doesn't talk back but she doesn't have to because a look is really worth a thousand words. When I walk in the door after a day at work, she's the first one I greet and my words to her are always: "Hello baby girl." Yes, I call my dog 'baby girl'.

2. You dress them up in clothes

Maple has a wide and varied wardrobe. She has clothes for special occasions, she has clothes for winter to keep her warm. She has novelty outfits for special occasions, including Christmas and her birthday. The latest that has been added to her wardrobe is a floral dress from my recent holiday to Hawaii.

3. You make excuses for them

Maple can do no wrong because there is always an excuse for her bad behaviour. Did she wee in the house? It's because I didn't get to the door in time to let her out. Did she pull all of the fluff out of a pillow? It's because she is bored and needed to go for a walk. Fur babies can simply do no wrong.

4. You let them sleep in your bed

Maple, from a puppy, has always been allowed in my bed and it's one of the biggest mistakes I ever made. She can no longer sleep on her own and will sit at the corner of my bed crying until I pick her up and let her sleep with me. Anyone who shares their bed with their dog will also know they are huge space hogs and won't let you rest until they are comfortable.

5. You celebrate their milestones

Maple has had both a 1st and 2nd birthday. There have been presents. There have been outfits. There has also been a dog cake. There's no parent quite as proud as a fur parent when their dog hits a big milestone like a birthday.

6. You give them gifts

As a member of the family, you can't leave your dog out when it comes to special events. They always have a present under the tree at Christmas and it's usually accompanied by a card from 'Mum' and/or 'Dad'. They can't unwrap their present themselves but it doesn't matter.

7. You have a social media account for them

You post photos of them daily and the captions are from them, of course. They likely have more followers than you and other fur parents comment on your photos.

8. You share your food with them

No, just regular dog food won't do. It has to be a premium brand. Only the best for your fur baby. Aside from getting them top quality food, you'll also often share your meals with them.

Did you score eight out of eight? Welcome to the life of being a self-confessed fur parent.

But why do we do it?

Speaking to 10 daily, clinical counsellor and psychotherapist Julie Sweet said the reasons we might treat our pets more like humans are varied.

"Anthropomorphism is a word that means 'human-shaped'," Julie said. "It describes a concept attributing human characteristics to non-human beings, such as animals."

Sweet said treating dogs like humans by buying them gifts and spending both time and money on them is common. "This may seem harmless enough as people feel it makes our pets feel happy and consequently, this can make us feel great," she added.

Julie Sweet with her dog. Image: Supplied

Sweet explained that research shows more and more people are treating dogs as members of their family. This sort of behaviour is more common in couples or individuals who have not had children yet, according to Sweet. But she noted both men and women with children can still treat their dogs like children.

"The reasons can range and may vary from peoples attachment style, to pets being a substitution, to the family unit undergoing transformative changes (empty nest), to simply an individual’s blueprint or personality," she said.

Sweet said that dogs can provide adults with connection, attentiveness, trust, loyalty and companionship that we may lack in interpersonal relationships.

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"Whilst animals are not humans, a dog's love, what they symbolise and their spirit, can be a gift for some people who may never have experienced such values before in their lives by people," Sweet told 10 daily.

"Dogs can also be healing for some, as they can be a protective factor for adults and dogs are widely used as therapy animals for victims who have experienced trauma or abuse.

"Therefore it’s understandable why they may be babied."

Featured image: Supplied