I thought the same thing. Dogs get to sleep all day, they have no worries, they are clueless about problems associated with living in our world, etc., and all they have to do to earn these privileges is be happy to see us and accompany us on walks.I was surprised to see that no one thinks "a dog's life" is positive. I've heard it used and have used it to mean, "Boy, is he lucky! No cares in the world. He sure is living the dog's life."
I did find thisreference to the ambiguousness of the term, though the more negative one is certainly more popular.
Has anyone else ever heard of this relatively new association?
Dogs are treated differently in different cultures, but here in the U.S., where we have a multi-billion-dollar pet industry for toys, clothes, special foods, veterinarian care, etc., it means to lead a pampered existence, i.e. the exact opposite of the above."He leads a dog's life", means he has a miserable existence.
I have not heard either phrase for about 30 years! My grandfather, who was born in 1890, used both regularly.i dont know what this idiom's meaning:
To put on the dog
He leads a dog's life.
I agree. I had never thought about how strange this was until I read this thread. "It's a dog's life!" is said when someone is enjoying a pampered life full of leisure. "Living a dog's life" means that he is living a difficult and miserable life. How strange!The positive interpretation seems to live more in the fixed expression "It's a dog's life!", whereas "Living a dog's life" (although it's not an expression I've heard in use) certainly gives me a negative feeling.
I think this goes for most, if not all, other expressions that use dog as a metaphor: that they imply misery and toil, e.g. "working like a dog", and other unpleasant associations. "It's a dog's life!" (no cares of responsibilities, etc.) seems more like the exception.