Lets Talk

What Do We Call Ourselves?

Sep 25, 2023


What Do We Call Ourselves in Relation to Our Dogs?


Leaders, Guardians, or Something More?


And Does It Matter?


Let’s look at the terms we use to describe our roles in our dog's lives and whether or not they make a difference to our dogs.


I have the unique privilege every single day of experiencing the often-amazing relationship dynamics between humans and their dogs.


One aspect of this relationship that I find interesting is the different title people use to describe their role in their dog’s lives.


From leaders to guardians, owners to pet parents, the title we chose often gives way to nature of our bond with dogs. Let’s have a look at some of the most common titles we use, I’ll have a stab at what they mean, and even look at some other global terms including my new favourite.


Common Titles We Use


We often select a title subconsciously, it’s a term we often use without thought but I wanted to take a look at what each could mean.




This indicates the legal and financial responsibility we undertake when bringing a dog into our lives. We’re the ones who provide shelter, food, and care, and make decisions on behalf of our dogs.




The notion of being a "pack leader" often arises, particularly in the context of dog training and behaviour. I’ve found this to be the most contentious of the titles because to some in conveys an idea of being forceful in some way. 


But there is a significant difference between being a ‘forceful’ and a leader.


Animals follow a leader, a provider. As "leaders," it’s our role to establishing boundaries, build a bond of trust and provide structure to allow our dog to thrive.




This title signifies a deep sense of responsibility and care we have for our dogs, often one we use also for children in our care. It suggests (correctly) that we have a duty to protect, nurture, and ensure the physical and emotional welfare of our dogs.




This conveys  the friendship and mutual affection we form with our dogs, the idea that we’re enjoying the journey through life together.


Pet Parent


This one causes some to roll their eyes but to many, me included, dogs are more than just pets; they’re family. "Dog parent" is a term that people use to reflect the nurturing aspects of our relationship.

It describes the love, care, and devotion we give to our dogs. And that is in no way a bad thing.



Why We Use These Titles


The choice of title often reflects our values, beliefs, personality and the nature of how we interact with our dogs.


When we chose the title we use, whether consciously or not, it’s how we define the connection we have with our dogs.


The title we chose can help give us guidance on how we reflect on our roles and responsibilities in their lives.


Whether we view ourselves as owners, guardians, leaders, companions, or parents, the common thread is our deep love and commitment to our dogs.



Global Perspectives (feel free to correct me if these are incorrect)

I had a quick look at other titles used around the world and found these ones that I LOVE!


Kahu (Hawaii)


In Hawaiian culture, "Kahu" signifies a guardian or caretaker. It reflects the idea of nurturing and caring for one's dog as a cherished member of the family. I haven’t managed to find an exact equivalent word for this in any other language.


Inu no oyakata (犬の親方) (Japanese)


"Inu no oyakata" I believe is a more traditional term in Japanese, it reflects a sense of responsibility and leadership. Although in more modern times I understand people in Japan commonly refer to their dogs using terms like "pet" (ペット) or "companion animal" (伴侶動物) to emphasise the emotional connection.



And now my favourite (for obvious reasons) that I may just adopt from now on.




(Scottish Gaelic) (pronounced - koo-ruh-muh-ruh)


In the Scottish Gaelic language, "Cùramaire" translates to caregiver or custodian and reflects the meaning of providing care and protection for our dogs.



Regardless of what we call ourselves, what truly matters is the love, respect, and commitment we offer our dogs.

Whether you consider yourself an owner, guardian, leader, companion, or parent, the bond we form with our dogs is a testament to the amazing connection we share with them.