Training Dogs to Feel Good: Embodying Well‐being in Multispecies Relations


Social science concepts of well‐being are largely premised on notions of a common humanity with shared physical needs and broadly legible experiences of the world. While medical anthropologists have interrogated ideas of universal bodily subjectivities, articulations of well‐being across species boundaries remain underexplored. This article offers a conceptualization of well‐being that attends to species difference. Drawing on ethnographic research with an animal rescue organization, I argue that in the context of partially connected bodily experiences, rescue workers navigate distinctions between dogs’ internal feelings and external actions, and they train their bodies alongside dogs’ bodies to cultivate canine well‐being. A multispecies perspective complicates ideals of autonomy and self‐actualization long associated with well‐being and opens up avenues for considering well‐being as an intercorporeal relationship conditioned in unequal bodies and embodied interactions.