Mad Dogs Get A New Leash On Life

May 14, 2013 Alistair McHarg

Much has been written about mental illness among human beings, but almost nothing about mind maladies among those of the canine persuasion, aka man’s best friend, or, more popularly, dogs.

Of course, we are all familiar with the anti-canine mental illness stigma, phrases like “mad dog” and “rabid” and “roll over” are only too common, even today. But there is precious little written on the subject of puppy perturbation, crazy canine syndrome, and you ain’t nothing but a hound dog-itis.

Noted canine psychologist Chumley Entwhistle pointed out in his groundbreaking text – “Relax, Things Are Ruff All Over” – that, “there are no mad dogs, only mad dog owners.” A controversial figure in the canine mental health community; Entwhistle is also on record as having said “it is always the mother’s fault, half the time you don’t even know who the father is!”

While individual psychoses are the result of breed-specific neuroses in combination with the highly contagious mental illnesses of owners, veterinarians, and trainers, Entwhistle shocked the canine psychology community by positing something he refers to as “species-deep doggy degeneration syndrome”. While not universally accepted, this theory put “Relax, Things Are Ruff All Over” right in the center of a debate that has raged for ages.

One can summarize Entwhistle’s theory thusly. The origin of what we call dogs may be traced back about 30,000 years to the domestication of wolves. Wolves were, and are, widely known to be highly intelligent, social, devoted and independent, preferring the company of their like and shunning outsiders. Proud and fierce, ruthless, relentless hunters, they demonstrate an almost Spartan willingness to do battle under even the most inhospitable circumstances.
I'm Blogging for Mental Health.
Domestication of wolves happened gradually, unintentionally, according to Entwhistle. Early humans noticed wolves lurking about campsites, hiding in shadows, opportunistically snatching a scrap of food here and there. In time, humans, (who were even dimmer then than they are today), realized that there were utilitarian reasons to keep these beasts about and thus was a partnership born, growing steadily stronger as it dragged its muddy paws across the carpet of time.

Entwhistle maintains that it is the character of the defecting wolves that provides the source of “species-deep doggy degeneration syndrome”. The fiercely proud and independent wolves stayed far away from the “wolf who walks” as they called humans. Whereas, wolves that wandered into campsites, heading for human companionship, tended to be unambitious, chronic nail biters, paranoid, second-bananas, whiners, frequently suffering from eating disorders.

Whether by design or default, mankind did not mold his new friend from the best and the brightest, quite the contrary, he began the task with breed members challenged by questions as simple as, “Who’s a good boy?”

In sum, Entwhistle points to species-wide feelings of inadequacy, desperate need for approval, and an obsessive desire to chew smelly tennis shoes as evidence enough that anti-social behavior in canines is not proof of mental illness at all but genetically reinforced bad doggitude, continually rewarded by society.

APA Reference
McHarg, A. (2013, May 14). Mad Dogs Get A New Leash On Life, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Author: Alistair McHarg

September, 16 2013 at 7:28 pm

This made me laugh! I am an animal lover and appreciate your cheeky take on this.
However, with a decline in the wolf population, at least enough to put them on the "concern for extinction" list, along with a booming, billion dollar pet industry largely fueled by humans catering to their dog's needs, I have to ask - was it really the dumb ones who were domesticated - or the ones who were smart enough to foresee the need to adapt to a human population who would prove to be a major threat to the wolf's habitat?
Really enjoyed this! Thanks!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Alistair McHarg
September, 18 2013 at 2:17 am

thnx for writing - cheeky is the perfect word!

May, 14 2013 at 1:17 pm

Hi Alistair! Speaking of mother had a black German Shepard that would hang out in the fenced in front yard. I swear that dog knew the street light was out. He would sit towards the middle of the fence at night waiting for some unsuspecting soul to walk by, and then would bark for all he was worth. Screaming and the occasional curse word would ensue immediately. We used to laugh ourselves silly, unfortunately the neighbors did not feel the same way. Have a blessed week!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Alistair McHarg
May, 16 2013 at 9:25 am

devious rascal! (i'm impressed)

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