Home
Karen B. London
Print|Email|Text Size: ||
People as Dog Breeds
Canine thoughts at work
Do your coworkers remind you of particular types of dogs?

In a recent article entitled “Are You a Man or a Dog?” Susan Breslin puts forth a plan for understanding the other people at work. Her idea? Pretend they are all dogs. Actually, she gives a three-step plan: 1) Identify their breed, 2) Identify your breed, 3) Find your pack.

I have previously written that it helps me understand my sons when I think of one as a Greyhound and the other as a Viszla/Irish Setter cross, so it’s clear that I have no objection to this basic strategy. And yet, this article disappointed me because of its breed stereotyping and lack of understanding of basic dog behavior and training. As someone whose job involves educating people about dogs and dog behavior, this article demonstrates that considerable work remains to be done.

While there is value in noting the traits that people share with typical representatives of a breed of dogs, it has to be done with some accuracy to be useful. So, when Breslin describes German Shepherds as aggressive and implies that Poodles are hard to work with, especially in large numbers, I think she would benefit from better information. Most objectionable is her assertion that Cocker Spaniels thrive on positive reinforcement, implying that not all breeds do. This sort of thinking—that positive reinforcement is limited to certain species, breeds or individuals—is worrisome for those of us who advocate widespread use of humane, positive training methods.

On the bright side, this article’s appearance on Forbes.com is yet another reminder of how very much dogs are in the conversation about all aspects of our lives.

Print|Email

Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

iStock photo

More From The Bark

More in Karen B. London:
Oh No You Didn’t
A Star is Born
Christmas Trees are Not Indoor Bathrooms
Outsmarted by a Puppy
Fun With a Dog on Live TV
Musical Instruments and Dog Breeds
Mornings With Puppies
Emotional Contagion
Woman’s Dogs Kill Beagle
If Only I Could Tell Them