Should We Own Dogs?

It’s a BIG question, but one that’s important to ask. Should we own dogs?

What’s your gut reaction?

Over on ‘Supporting Both Ends of the Lead’ podcast this week, our Founder Caroline and her co-host Linda discuss this pretty tricky subject.

The domestication of dogs started between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago but that’s not where the story of dog/human bonds began.

Did dogs choose us? Are we giving them enough outlet for their natural species-specific behaviour? What would happen if we just decided that humans shouldn’t share their lives with dogs? Caroline and Linda discuss all of this and more in this pretty special episode… and you can tune in now to see how the conversation went.

Apple Podcast:


Or search for ‘Supporting Both Ends of the Lead’ wherever you listen to your podcasts.

The question has arisen because of a Guardian piece published on 4 February. In this challenging article, environmental historian Troy Vettese argues that if we are truly to have empathy for animals, we should think seriously about having pets. Humans, claims Vettese, have chosen to dominate animals for our own benefit, despite at times the cost to the animals themselves.

Caroline counters this argument when we consider dogs specifically, because a look at the history of the human-canine relationship suggests we have chosen one another, and that both species benefit from the relationship. She and Linda agree that, given the world we live in now, simply ‘letting our dogs go free’ is neither practical nor kind. Rather, they conclude, it’s the way we treat our dogs that’s key.

We need to consider dogs’ natural behaviours and offer them the opportunity to express those behaviours when safe to do so, and – as Vettese also argue – to see them as autonomous beings with their own lives and desires that should, whenever possible, be respected. Caroline and Linda also stress the importance of encouraging the ethical breeding of dogs; and Linda has now decided that going forward, she will choose to adopt rescue dogs.

When you’ve finished the episode, we’d love to hear what you think. Drop a comment below.