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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
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."

Well, then.
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?
 

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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.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
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?
 

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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.
We posted almost at the same time about the burger thing. :)
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.
 

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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.
 

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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?
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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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Oh, let me add that Some of the Seeing Eye dogs fail because they are too attached to the family that raised them and they go into a deep depression when they are returned to the Seeing Eye training facility. Usually those dogs are shepherds. The labs are much better at dealing with change.
 

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I admit I struggle a little about the humanization of dogs. While I do think there is truth that "love" isn't the same in the canine world as it is in the human world, there are similarities. But I don't believe love is truly conditional, just as we sees the faults in each other, they do see the faults in us

I remember a photo that I saw on facebook of a golden retriever and a little girl with the caption, "did you know that when a dog sees it's owner brain secretes the same substance as ours when we are in love"

I believe the pack instinct is still very strong in most dogs, I see it in Jazzy who NEEDS to be with me at all costs. I don't say this lightly but I know she would run across hot coals if I was on the other side calling her. She loves my family, we visit often and she adores my brother but she's my dog through and through. If I put a fresh juicy cheeseburger on the ground and walked away from it and called her, she'd come without touching the food.

But is that love? I don't think it's fully conditional, I do make mistakes and she forgives them. If I held out a chunk of a cheap milkbone cookie and someone else held out a piece of bacon, she'd choose the cookie I offered. If I made her sleep in the basement rather then on my bed, she'd still come running to me in the morning. That's the type of dog she is.

Now Delgado on the other hand, he's much more independent then Jazzy. He's confident and sure, one of his nicknames is Mr. Destructo because he bulldozes through things without hesitation. But he's by my side in a heartbeat if called or checking in on me. If I did the hot coal thing, I think he'd hesitate and look at all options first but then brave it and come running. If I did the food test, I think he'd run to the bacon first then me. But then again try to take him farther then 5' away from me, he'd buck and lunge to pull them back in my direction. He'd go into the car if they pulled him by leash but once he realize I wasn't there or family, he'd freak

But does that mean my bond is Jazzy is stronger? Or that Delgado loves me less? No, it just means Jazzy is dependant and Delgado is independant, and that's just their nature.

Excellent discussion topic :)
 

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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?
Delgado's food drive is pretty high, he'll do tricks for affection or toys but food is very high on his reward. But then again only to a certain degree

In the basic training class we were working on recall, we first did short recalls, then long recalls, then out of sight recalls. The trainer took Delgado first to do the out of sight recall which was the trainer taking them to the foyer and we would call them back to us. He FOUGHT the trainer, deaked and dodged like mad to try and get past her even when she offered him high value treats. It took over five minutes of fighting madly before he calmed just enough she allowed me to call him.

I called him and she didn't even have time to move back before he BOLTED through that door and made a beeline for me. He literally almost knocked her off her feet, and he was only 5 months old at the time. The class laughed and even the trainer had to admit I probably would have very little issues with his recall

He's gladly eat treats from anyone, but if the person feeding treats tried to take him away his brain clicks pretty fast from yay food!! To HEY! Where's my mom!
 

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I find it very sad that some people have never experianced the true bond that only a dog can provide. That bond has to be earned, by the human. It isn't given freely.

There was a poster (I apologize and feel horrible that I've forgotten which one) who told of a story where her beloved GSD was killed by a snake. That snake was aiming for the human, but the dog jumped in front of the snake as was bitten. Sadly, the dog lost it's life. Was that dog just playing 'Disney Dog?' Did the human teach the dog to forget it's natural instinct for self preservation? I can only pray that I mean as much to my dogs as she meant to her dog.

I had a GSD as a child who hated water. Yet she freely jumped into a swimming pool and bit the face of a man who was attempting to rape me. Disney Dog?

Total hogwash written by folks who don't have the ability or have never truly bonded with their dog.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
the dog jumped in front of the snake as was bitten. Sadly, the dog lost it's life. Was that dog just playing 'Disney Dog?' Did the human teach the dog to forget it's natural instinct for self preservation?
Prey drive, maybe?
The dog could not have been able to realize that the snake could kill him, and make the decision to sacrifice himself.
 

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My trainer has said, Fiona loves me. Then later says she doesn't love me like I love her. I can understand that. She is not much of a comforter, hopefully that will come later. I was sobbing the other day over a dog on here and all she did was turn around look at me and then go on with her business. Thankfully I haven't had a great need for comfort when sick or upset. The best thing she does is adapt her needs to me when I am in too much pain to exercise her. She doesn't get destructive and I think she is a little more willing to let me pet here.
I think that we as owner use our own emotions to put them on dogs. For example, if I had a friend I saw every day for months, then I started only seeing her once a week, I would be sad. So I expect Fiona to be sad when I leave her home alone for an hour or two. I want her to miss me, because I would interpret that to mean she loves me. However, their doggie experience is different, maybe she is sad for other reasons, she didn't get to ride in the car, she doesn't like to be alone, she doesn't get run of the house like she does when I am home, etc.



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Until Lisl tells me otherwise, I'll just believe that she does and be happy about it.
 

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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.
I have a neighbor who has a retriever mix who is extremely attached to him. She loves the other family members and isn't aloof to strangers, but where he goes, she goes. She acts mad and upset if he is gone too long and is just plain weird when he's not around. She takes velcro dog to the extreme.

Jerry's first family, the ones who bought him from the breeder as a puppy, had a little girl. I don't know how old she was, but old enough to have her listed as the owner at the vet and on his AKC registration (they filled them out, but never sent them in). He loves my little girls, but always watches other little girls he sees and acts like he wants to go meet them. Most strangers he just ignores. I always wonder if he's still looking for his first little girl.

He also gets extremely excited when I get home, even if someone is already home with him. My fiance feeds him about as often as I do, and certainly pays plenty of attention to him, but I do most of the exercising/training. When I get home and my fiance is already there, Jerry still acts like he's been alone for hours. If I am home and my fiance arrives, Jerry may not even go greet him. I don't know if this means he loves me more or is more bonded to me or what, but it's definitely something. Maybe it's just excitement because he thinks we'll go for a walk.
 

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Oh, let me add that Some of the Seeing Eye dogs fail because they are too attached to the family that raised them and they go into a deep depression when they are returned to the Seeing Eye training facility. Usually those dogs are shepherds. The labs are much better at dealing with change.
Good point. The GSD as breed was bred to partner w/ a human. They worked with one shepherd.I know Lucky who is by no means the standard GSD will be petted and fed by a visitor or family member but he follows me.He will follow hubby around but he still takes abreak by checking in to see where Im at. I seriously thought Stephanwitz saw loyalty as one of the breed standards. I dont think Lucky loves me like a human relative loves me b/c he doesnt have our cognitive ability or thought patterns.Which is probably why no matter what dumb thing I did he still is excited to see me. He does not get real excited about anyone else but my husband. Daisy loved our son and did the happy dance when ever he walked in the house . I personally know its love just in a different form. The fact that Katz doesn't believe that is love,well Im not sure I'm as surprised by that after reading all his books.
 

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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 don't. His contradiction glared right at me. You can't say "opportunistic manipulative behavior" as the basis for defending a claim of lack of love, but then say they don't have a narrative mind. Utter rubbish.
 
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