I’m sure some people out there will tell me that dogs are not people, and they should not be treated like humans. I do not disagree with that. Treating a dog like a human can lead to behavioural problems when the dog tries to become the leader of the ‘human pack’. For us, Chloe is a member of our family. We do not treat her like a human child, but she is, in a sense, our little girl, and we include her in all our family activities, even when we are with our extended family. So are we guilty of treating her like a human? Maybe in some respects. But she is very well-behaved, well socialized around other dogs, she is gentle around toddlers (except for when she tries to ‘billy goat gruff head-butt’ them) and she has completed intermediate level obedience training with flying colours. So I don’t see this as a problem.
I know I am biased in saying this but she is most intelligent and loving. She can sense when I am sad or upset, and contrary to the temperament of a Westie, she will come over to me for a cuddle to cheer me up. However, like most Westies, she is vain and self-important, and generally thinks she is the top-dog. I have seen her turn her nose up on other dogs by ignoring them and refusing to play with them.
I remember when she was only 5 months old, I started taking her to puppy school. During the class, the dogs were separate into two different groups – large dogs and small dogs, for play sessions which encourages interaction with other dogs. Being the smallest, and youngest dog in her class, she was of course placed in the small dogs group. She quickly made friends with another girl, a maltese-shitzu cross. During their play sessions, a larger boy (about one and a half times Chloe’s size) came over and tried to assert his dominance over the two girls by chasing them around and putting his paw on their heads. Chloe’s friend was bullied by him and started cowering. Then he tried to do the same to Chloe. She would have none of that and chased him into a corner, before placing her paws on his head instead. The boy was so intimidated that he ran off with his tail between his legs. The vet running the class observed the whole interaction and commented that even though Chloe was the smallest in the class, she had no doubt that she would graduate as leader of the pack.
I have been dressing her up in pretty clothes since she was a puppy. She doesn’t mind it as she loves to be the centre of attention. She even picks out her own outfits sometimes by nudging her preferred outfit when they are placed in front of her. She loves the extra pats and attention she gets from strangers when she’s walking down the street in her cute outfits, and she loves posing for the camera.