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Interesting Dog Study
Old 06-11-2007, 03:19 PM   #1
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Interesting Dog Study

The study was inspired by research with human infants. Fourteen-month-olds will imitate an adult turning on a light with her forehead only if they see her doing it with her hands free. If the adult is clutching a blanket, infants will use their hands, presumably because they can reason that the adult resorted to using her forehead because she had no choice.

We don't have any infants around the house any more, but I do associate daily with one of the best dogs God ever put on this earth.
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Old 06-12-2007, 02:57 AM   #2
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The experiment suggests that dogs can put themselves inside the head of another dog -- and perhaps people -- to make relatively complex decisions.

"This suggests they can actually think about your intention -- they can look for explanations of your behavior and make inferences about what you are thinking," Hare said.

Others go even further, suggesting the findings indicate that dogs have a sense of awareness. [emph. mine]

"It really shows a higher level of consciousness," said Stanley Coren at the University of British Columbia, who studies how dogs think. "This takes a real degree of consciousness."

These attitudes seem to discredit dogs completely at the outset..

I'm not a "dog person" but our dog Oscar is quite capable of intuiting intent and making decisions for himself that go beyond "normal" dog behavior. When he sees us getting dressed he knows we are going out, and he goes to the window to watch us leave, rather than trying to rush out the door.

Because we feed him (raw food) on a rug/mat in the kitchen.. he keeps the food on the mat. If he's left with a bone, we started realizing he'll take the bone to another (closer to us) "mat" for further chewing. This could be the little rug at the kitchen entry OR the trailing part of a non-fitted slipcover for "his" chair in the LR. I wondered, "why the heck is he chewing that bone near the corners of the chair all the time?" Assumed reason: on the tile floor, the trailing cloth = "mat".

He could easily reach any food whether on the kitchen table or the coffee table where we often eat. But he doesn't. It's "ours". Even if I happen to put a dog toy on the coffee table he almost always considers it off limits though it's right in front of his nose. We didn't have to "teach" him this particularly.

I also noticed yesterday when we accompanied people into the street where their cars were parked, he lay down right at the gateway and didn't try to leave the property or follow us. Again, we've never "trained" him to do this in general nor gave him any signal to do so at that time.

It doesn't seem to me that it's going so far out on a limb to say "dogs have a sense of awareness"!

Fun w/Oscar is giving him a snack of egg (whole, raw) and watching him roll it around the mat and recover it if it rolls off. After a couple minutes of mouthing and delicate teeth-testing he finally makes a little opening and slowly sips, licks, and nibbles until he gets the goods.
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Old 06-12-2007, 07:28 AM   #3
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Yeah, I've always thought my dogs had a lot more going on upstairs than what most people credit to dogs. As for their being able to know what people are thinking, I think they are good at spotting patterns. People used to think it was amazing that when I grabbed my car keys, my dog would go to her crate. I never trained her to do it. But I think that was a simple matter of a dog knowing she gets a treat when she gets in her crate right before I leave. A Pavlov's dog sort of thing.

However, there was one time that has always made me wonder just how capable a dog is of knowing your thoughts. My Redbone Coonhound was about two years old and sleeping in her crate. My alarm went off as it had done ever day since she'd lived with us since she was eight weeks old. As people do sometimes with dreams, I was dreaming that the alarm sounds was not the alarm but a sound in my dream. It was the FedEx guy's horn. He was honking his horn out at our pasture gate, as he always did. It went on for maybe ten to fifteen seconds. Now, the dog has always hated the FedEx guy, and barks and snarls at him when he comes to deliver a package (now you see the reason why he doesn't drive in through our gate). She went nuts in her crate, barking and acting crazy. She'd never done this before then (or since). I mean she was going ballistic, which of course woke me up. I got up and let her out of the crate and she ran to the door, jumping all over it and wanting to get out. I let her out and she ran right over to the fence and then looked around, very confused. Now, maybe this was just a crazy coincidence, or maybe, just maybe, she knew in my head that I thought the FedEx guy was out at the gate; maybe she saw the pictures in my head. I don't know what I believe, but I think anything is possible. I guess we'll never know.
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Old 06-12-2007, 08:19 AM   #4
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I am not a dog person right now. Maybe in the future when I don't plan to travel as much I will get a dog.
A couple of points.
First who sponsored the study? We know this could influence the objectives of the study. Was it an animal rights group?
Second, the example of the test could have other explanations for the results. Border collies are herding dogs - is it not possible that the BC was the alpha dog and the other dogs were just following the lead dog? Was using the leg done after just one demonstration by the BC or did it become a learned behaviour after the second dog learned that by using its mouth it didn't get any food?

"To determine whether an animal could respond similarly, Range and her colleagues trained Guinness, a female border collie, to push a wooden rod with her paw to get a treat. A dog generally does not use its paws to do tasks, preferring to use its mouth whenever possible. So the key question was whether dogs that watched Guinness would decide how to get the treat depending on the circumstances."

I think there can become a strong bond between humans and dogs; after all over the thousands of years humans and dogs have been working together we did breed the qualities we liked into them. Projecting human qualities onto dogs is a strong and almost natural tendancy.
Sometimes death is not as tragic as not knowing how to live. This man knew how to live--and how to make others glad they were living. - Jack Benny at Nat King Cole's funeral
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Old 06-12-2007, 09:17 AM   #5
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A dog I had once many years ago lived with us in a teepee outside of Juneau (yes, teepee in Alaska year-round: another story). Most days we would walk toward town on the road, with the dog along, since we owned no vehicle.

One day, we decided we would hike the trail up the valley. The dog was along and out in front as usual. When we got to the trail intersection, he took the turnoff up the hiking trail. It blew my mind. Then I realized that he must have noticed we had crossed the road, something we usually didn't do when we walked the 'normal' way.

still, pretty smart....
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