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On the Fringe: The Positions of Dogs in Finnish Dog Training Culture

In: Society & Animals
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  • 1 Department of Social Sciences, University of Eastern FinlandJoensuuFinlandleena.koski@uef.fi
  • | 2 Space and Political Agency Research Group (SPARG), School of Management (JKK), University of TampereFinland
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Companion dogs are increasingly trained for sports using varying pedagogical ideas considering the human-dog interaction. We focused on the human-dog interaction by examining the characteristics constructed for dogs within the training methods, and on the definitions of ideal dogs as described by the caregivers. The data consisted of 85 thematic essays written by Finnish dog caregivers actively engaging in dog sports. Dog training was analyzed as a junction for the humanizing, animalizing, and instrumentalizing of dogs. Dog-centered and human-centered training categories were found. The first category depicts the dog and the human as equal partners enjoying the cooperation, and the second category constructs a hierarchical relationship between the human and the dog. While the dog-centered approach is prone to humanizing, the human-centered approach is inclined toward instrumentalization. The training approaches are interpreted as drawing boundaries: dogs are part of human society or of nature

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