Canine Cognition isn’t “Dognition”

In “Natural Dog Training” in 1992 I posited the notion that learning in dogs was a function of emotional bonding. In other words a dog applies a social construct to all situations, he has a group mind perspective of reality. Even a seemingly innocuous physical act has a social connotation. This means that dogs become bonded by overcoming resistance through becoming emotionally and physically syncopated and aligned with their owners. OWNER ATTENTION CANNOT ACHIEVE BONDING. In fact it is enervating as the phonetically operative component of the word attention is TENSION. Such a dog is constantly positioning itself relative to its owner in order to relieve tension.

Meanwhile this kind of science is headed in the opposite direction.

https://positively.com/articles/how-strong-is-your-bond-with-your-dog/

Confusing eye contact with bonding is fueling the current epidemic problem of addiction-to-owner syndrome.

Dogs are team players, group animals (as opposed to pack animals), and being a productive member of a team is the healthy way for a dog to feel connected rather than by way of attention which is something that constantly varies and is often interrupted, and can never be satisfied. These are why such dogs are inherently anxious, they’re always on the lookout for that which can interrupt their sense of connection with their owner. (This includes things the owner does as well.) So don’t worry about your dog looking into your eyes, when a dog is emotionally bonded, he always can feel where you are.

Published September 11, 2014 by Kevin Behan
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5 responses to “Canine Cognition isn’t “Dognition””

  1. b... says:

    The idea that eye contact is a measure of bond or love is absurd. I can think of no situation in nature where eye contact conveys anything other than a threat – “I’m going to eat you”, or “I better keep my eye on you so I don’t get eaten”.

    Such a metric doesn’t even exist in the human world. There’s a reason that we avert our eyes every few seconds when talking to someone, and why staring contests are a test of tenacity — it’s instinctively threatening even to the most successful predator on the planet.

    Teaching dogs to resort to eye contact in situations where they already feel threatened (LAT, etc.) is equally illogical. When such “science” contradicts common sense and the entire natural world, we have to wonder about the value of their findings.

  2. Leslie Craig says:

    This sort of falls in with my observation of how our 3 dogs react to us. I’d say touch–especially idle, incidental touch–is way more popular with them than “face time,” unless that face time is play. If I had to rate their apparent enjoyment of our interactions it would go:
    1. going for a walk or playing with toys (we have only one toy player, but she loves it)
    2. belly rubs or butt scritches (they walk off when they’re done)
    2. “hanging out” close to or pressed against the two-legged, who is usually doing something else
    3. task-for-treat interactions (popular, but we have to keep it short: they get bored)

    Everything else comes later. Sometimes somebody wants a pet session, on a lap, with dog as two-legged’s primary focus, but they’re not that frequent, sometimes less than once a day (with a Malamute and two Labs, just as well!) And grooming is sort of, “Okay, if you say so.”

    The odd thing is that my husband and I, after about 15 years, also have sort of a pattern of “parallel puttering,” a little bit of face time ad a lot of separate tasks or amusements in the same space.

  3. Ben says:

    Good points Kevin and B. Brian Hare and the Dognition group aren’t conducting science so much as crafting a marketing scheme in order to sell more Dognition memberships and to promote Victoria Stillwell’s training certification.

    And to buttress what Leslie pointed out, dogs seem to be more attracted to individuals that provide them tactile contact rather than those that give vocal praise: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25173617

  4. rip says:

    “Dognition”? Can these people get any more ridiculous. There is a kind of freedom in feel-good fanaticism, I suppose; that is, to be shorn of that boring, outdated obligation to common sense and inconvenient reality.

  5. Nell says:

    Very generous to describe this report as ‘science’ 🙂

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