chewing ideas down to stubble, then moving on…

Do Dogs Ever Wonder Anything?

Posted by Jason on November 20, 2008




I know we like to put words in our dogs’ mouths, and even their brains, just like what I did with this picture of Scout. Head cocked to one side, ears alert, he could be thinking, “What the hell is that big flashy thing in Mom’s hands?” Truthfully, we had just said the F-word to him: FOOD!

Most literature will tell us that dogs really don’t have real emotions, and that they really don’t think about doing things in the way that we would love for them to think. Most canine behaviorists believe that dogs merely react to stimuli, be it rewards or punishments, and that any “choosing” they may do is actually based upon the mere strength of the different stimuli available at any given point. For example, when your dog is sniffing something interesting and you tell him to “Leave It,” the dog really isn’t making a conscious decision to obey you or not. If the reward of sniffing something interesting is more powerful than the chance of a reward for obedience or fear of punishment, then Fido will keep right on sniffing.

While we often believe that dogs would totally give us the middle finger if they could, general scientific consensus is that dogs really can’t tell us in any way to “go to hell.” They can show us that we’ve done a horrible job training them or a horrible job at establishing a pack structure. But that’s on us and not on a dog’s character.

That said, I feel that dogs think, albeit a very primitive sort of thinking. Watching Pepper dig through the toy basket to find the exact one she wants or seeing Scout work sheep on his own, I can’t help but appreciate some sort of mildly advanced mental processes. I often wonder (just for grins) if dogs are mystified at a human’s power to magically make light by touching the wall or to make water flow or stop without a cloud in the sky. I think my wonderings at what a dog wonders are comparable to what I imagine a caveman would wonder at if he were transported to modern days.

**Are modern dogs smarter than ancient cavemen? Hmmm that sounds like a Geico commercial. I think my pups are smarter than some children I teach. We’ll have to set up an academic decathlon to figure that out some time…**

Anyway, if your dogs could wonder, what would they wonder? You tell me…


One Response to “Do Dogs Ever Wonder Anything?”

  1. kktucks said

    i agree with you, but that’s because we’ve already talked about this before! 🙂 and i think you should add, “I think my peps are smarter than some children I teach and some politicians.” and that’s MY two cents! 😉

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