Placing Human Emotions On Dogs

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Postby Pitcrew » June 3rd, 2006, 10:29 pm

Consider the possibility of you body language when you look for, expect, or find, something to be wrong.
Dominant... challenging... angry... like a dog with its hackles up.
They are dogs, not stupid. Also not human.

And consider the possibility that your dogs 'guilt' to be appeasement, or submissive behavior, in response to your body language.
Dogs that urinate or defecate in an obvious area after punishment is not as common, but usually a dominant dog making a passive/aggressive point after being challenged by a subordinate.

I would be willing to bet that if you shredded something and left it for an unsuspecting spouse to find on the floor, a tissue (of course he will think the DOG did it) the resulting body language he gives when finding it, will probably get that same 'guilty' response even though the dog didn't do it.
Have you never had your dog respond that way when you were upset at something else?

I do believe dogs KNOW if they do something you dont like sometimes. I just dont think they feel guilty. A dog has a history if being punished for accidents in the house, and he's gotta go... he hides and does it in another room, or behind furniture. He HAS to go! He tries to do what he must to avoid a history of consequences.

But I believe the chewing up your stuff thing is more of a stress/anxiety behavior. Destructive chewing is almost always anxiety driven, and I usually connect it with the persons smell on that object being calming to the dog. He is consoling himself for the moment, with no thought of the future or related consequences. They live in the now. Only sometimes the now, is about something that they did (and perhaps enjoyed doing at the time) an hour ago.
Haven't you ever done something you knew you would have repercussions for later, and did it anyway?

I think if dogs did things to spite us... they would have killed us in our sleep so they could get the bed.

Cats on the other hand...

dont kid yourself, they only keep you around as a servant.
"Pedigree indicates what the animal should be;
Conformation indicates what the animal appears to be;
But, Performance indicates what the animal actually is."
- author unknown
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Postby Miakoda » June 4th, 2006, 12:01 am

Great post, Lisa! :clap:
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Postby Malli » June 4th, 2006, 12:03 pm

I just feel that although dogs may not have our more complex emotions, they share quite a few with us; maybe on a simpler level, as how a 2-3 yr old child might view things... I think that they learn emotions from us, to a certain extent as well.

I totally agree with your post, too.

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Postby DemoDick » June 4th, 2006, 2:46 pm

I don't believe that dogs are spiteful or vindictive. They do what they do based on immediate desires and previously learned behaviors.

The day I stopped treating my dog like a little person his behaviors began making sense to me. Dogs have a completely different way of thinking, feeling, and acting than we do. We personify our dogs because we want to understand why they do what they do. The easiest way to do this is to apply our own frame of reference. In my experience this creates tremendous conflict bewteen dog and human.

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Postby mnp13 » June 4th, 2006, 7:15 pm

My dog has acted guilty long before I have seen anything wrong. Ruby has acted completely normal and then I walk into the living room and she charges into her crate. I had no idea there was a problem so there couldn't have been any body language for her to read. Of course, after I find that my food is missing I understand but since she's in her crate she's home free and she knows it.

Inside me is a thin woman trying to get out. I usually shut the bitch up with a martini.
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Postby dogcrazyjen » June 4th, 2006, 10:00 pm

I finally figured out that when the dog acts guilty and I find nothing wrong, I dismiss it. But when the dog acts guilty, and did do something wrong, I make the connection. Like many things, our minds see what they want to see, and then find the proof later.

I used to think Llyan, my old border mix, would act act guilty nearly every time I came home, so I would look all over the house, asking her what she did, and if I was done and saw nothing, then I would praise her. If I saw she got into something, I would say Oh NO!, in a low disapproving voice and she would run into her crate.

I could say (and did for a time) she knew she did wrong, so she was feeling guilty. Then I started really paying attention, and realized she was trained through variable reinforcement for that behavior. (doh!) If she did not act guilty, I did not give her the same attention when I got home.

Dogs are funny critters. Sometimes more, sometimes less complx than us, and always in ways we don't expect.
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