"Your Dog Doesn't Love You."
While reading a training website, k9copsonly.com, under the category of laws of dog training, I came upon this quote:
"Your dog doesn’t love you, he can’t read your mind, and he doesn’t understand everything you say."
This obviously gave me pause, so I did a little research, and found this:
Jon Katz, who has written extensively on the bond between humans and dogs, says that what pets offer is neither unconditional, nor love.
"Dogs develop very strong, instinctive attachments to the people who feed and care for them," said Katz. "Over 15,000 years of domestication, they've learned to trick us into thinking that they love us. "
What about the nuzzling? The big, adoring eyes? The wagging glee with which they greet us?
They're all part of what Katz refers to as the "opportunistic, manipulative behavior" that's second nature to dogs.
Not to say that they're canine con artists.
"It's just how their instincts have evolved," Katz said. "Dogs aren't deceptive any more than they're sentimental, loyal, nostalgic, witty or bitter.They don't have a narrative mind or the language to have those sorts of human qualities," said Katz.
Imagining otherwise is part of what he calls the "Disney Dog" idea so many of us buy into.
Their attachment is, in fact, "extremely conditional," Katz said. "They'll respond to anyone who gives them food and attention. I have a wonderful Labrador retriever who's very happy here. But if you had hamburger meat on you, she'd gladly go to Chicago with you and never look back."
I can't decide what to think about this.
I thought about those times when our dogs stand guard over us when we are sick, or how they seem to give us comfort when we are crying.
I do remember Cesar Millan saying this isn't love, but the dog sensing weakness in the owners, something that alarms dogs.
It's not the animal trying to comfort us, he says. It is their being uncomfortable with owners sending out weak vibes.
I have also read accounts of dog trainers laughing behind owners' backs when the owners say they think the dog offers unconditional love.
Hmmmm... :thinking: what do you think?
I don't know what to think about that. All three of my dogs would not have followed someone to Chicago even for food. In fact, both of my shepherds don't/didn't even take treats from others half the time. Rocket is the worst for accepting treats from strangers or people he doesn't know, and it's kind of embarrassing at the pet store, heh.
I know that everyone in my household loves him, they have all spent time "training" him and the kids and DH feed him half the time, so why does he follow me and lay with me almost exclusively? Even when I'm working and gone 60 hours a week? Why doesn't he start following DH who spends the majority of the day with him then?
Interesting article. I'll be curious to see what others have to say.
PS-- I doubt any of our GSDs would gladly go with someone else and never look back, if said person "had hamburger meat."
I don't think it's in their nature.
Or am I kidding myself?
And yes, I can't wait to hear what everyone has to say, because I have been thinking a lot about this lately.
I know dogs can't love, and I mean by the definition humans give that emotion-- but surely, they do bond and show affection.
I am not a dog so I don't think I know what goes on between those ears and neither does anyone who says they do.
Wasn't there just something in the news about two shelter dogs? The one got adopted without the other one and went back like 10 miles to the shelter and was found standing outside by the other dog's kennel? So the adopting family of the first ended up taking the second one too? Surely that shows they make some sort of bonds?
I think dogs do have an emotional attachment to their owner(s) to an extent, would I consider it "love" as I know what love is between humans, No, BUT they do have emotional attachements to us that we as humans perceive as love. Diesel would never have gone with a stranger no matter what treat or "meat" they had with them to entice her, she was not food motivated and never took treats from strangers, and even though Penny is food motivated she looks to me as if to ask if it is ok before she will take a treat from the ladies at the pet store or anyone else, they are/were bonded to me and looked to me for guidance, reassurance, affection, protection ect.
While I think that it is true that dogs have evolved to be so cute and appear so loyal that they pull the wool over our eyes and make us think a lot more of them than is probably their due, I also think it is unlikely that they are completely devoid of the emotions of loyalty and love. I am sure that either of my dogs could go to another home and live a happy healthy life with a new family and provide that family with the dog equivalent of love. However that does not mean that they do not have "doggy" love for my family and for each other. Anyone that has seen how sad a animal is when it loses a family member or how happy and proud that animal is with a birth must believe that animals feel love. Just look at the smiling happy face of a momma dog as she sits amist her litter of pups.
What I am saying is that while my dog doesn't love me in the same way I love my husband or kids (ie, if my dog lost me he would not mourn for the rest of his life), I still think that while I am in his life I am very important to him and he would do things for me that might mimack love.
How very existential...
Personally, I do my best not to humanize dogs. I get angry when people say that crating them is abuse, or making them wait for food is torture, or not letting them on the furniture or beds makes them feel bad, making them walk in the cold is unfair... yes all that, I have been told. Why humanize dogs by allowing all the above? We see in apes the emotions and structure that may be the basis for human feelings and relationships, but why translate these psychological findings to canines? They may well be capable of emotion, but is it really accurate? I don't know.
He does seem to have a point, especially with the burger and lab.
But he contradicts himself, says that "opportunistic manipulative behavior" and right after, "They don't have a narrative mind or the language to have those sorts of human qualities,"
Poorly written, but I certainly see his point.
I really think that all creatures high and low need a purpose in life. Depending on the mental capabilities of the creature in question, the different parts of Maslow's hierarchy need to be met. Canines really fall only into the lowest bits, meeting their physiological needs above all, guarding their territory (safety), staying as a pack (belonging)... Well, even after domestication, these needs still MUST be met. Humans provide the outlet for these needs to be met.
Often, I hear, the dog works to please the handler. I really disagree with this, honestly I believe that the dog works to please HIMSELF, the handler just empowers the dog in the work it does, the dog enjoys the work, the dog has a purpose in life, the dog is provided with BELONGING through this. Further, their owners provide territory and physiological satisfaction.
Think of the dogs that seem to be depressed when their owner is not around. What are they really thinking? Well, who knows. But I speculate that they are lacking their belonging, and their safety, yes their physiological needs are being met, but certain creatures clearly have a higher mental capacity to require something more. Canines are one of them.
What about dogs who are re-homed, more often than not (never heard of a not) they do just fine with the new family. Why?
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