Dogs, Jealousy and the New Speciesism

The recent experiment interpreted by mainstream science to support the notion that dogs experience jealousy brings a new and especially pernicious form of speciesism to the forefront. The old form of speciesism was considering human beings as a superior form of life and therefore humane treatment need not be extended to lower forms of life since they lack the necessary cognitive, emotional and moral capacities to merit it. The new form is its inverse, animals are loving, intelligent and adaptive WHEN they think like humans, in kind, varying only by degree. Because dogs think like humans is the main reason they should be extended compassionate treatment. Being human remains the superior way of being.

My argument is that the intelligence, lovingness and adaptability of dogs is not a function of human thinking, that they differ in kind in the capacity to compare one moment to another, one point of view to another, and we need not require the projection of human thoughts into the minds of animals in order to extend our good graces their way because their emotional form of consciousness is worthy in its own right.

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Published August 8, 2014 by Kevin Behan
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3 responses to “Dogs, Jealousy and the New Speciesism”

  1. Carol Speier says:

    Well said. Your last paragraph nails it!

  2. b... says:

    Indeed troubling. If we look at how we react to humans who do things that we don’t like, this does not seem to bode well for the (increasingly common) “misbehaving” dog.

  3. Julie Forlizzo says:

    According to Wikipedia, “speciesism involves the assignment of different values, rights, or special consideration to individuals solely on the basis of their species membership. Speciesism is a prejudice similar to racism or sexism.” So I guess the opposite would be anthropomorphism, which is giving human characteristics to animals. Peter Singer argued that “Although there may be differences between humans and non-humans, they share the capacity to suffer, and we must give equal consideration to the suffering. Anti-speciesists argue that the extension of moral membership to all humanity, regardless of individual properties, is internally inconsistent.”

    According to the Argument From Marginal Cases, “if infants, the senile, the comatose, and the cognitively disabled have a certain moral status, then non-human animals must be awarded that status too, since there is no morally relevant ability that the marginal-case humans have that non-humans lack.”

    All too often dog owners cringe at the very thought that their dogs do not think. “But my dog does think, because when I get home from a long day at work, if I don’t immediately greet him, he broods and gets pissed off at me”, or “When I dress my dog up, she thinks she’s Paris Hilton.” (sounds like a stretch, but people say these things) The opposite notion could be “Dogs are dumb and therefore they don’t know the difference if they are being neglected or not, nor do they feel pain, so what’s wrong with a good WHACK every now and then.”

    Stanley Coren writes, “reflexive consciousness, which is the ability to use knowledge about our own behaviors and feelings to try to understand and anticipate the behavior of others…Viewing the world and estimating the reactions of others based upon the assumption that they act and think like we do is not unique to people. I have often heard people say, ‘My dog thinks that he’s a person.’ This is not true. The dog really thinks that we humans are dogs.” REALLY, MR. COREN????

    Growing up with our grandparents and great grandparents, and observing their interactions with dogs, they believed a dog’s place was outside and never to be coddled. I never heard of dogs with behavioral issues like today – never heard of dogs going to the pound. They were fed and that was it. Now in the 21st century dogs wear nail polish and attack children. I met “Rocky” nine yrs. ago in the mountains of TN., and I didn’t even own a leash. Walking beside me was a non-issue, and he had to be coaxed to come in on freezing cold nights. But now in the city he’s lost his freedom to be a dog, and “issues” are developing. So I don’t feel I need an education in biology or psychology to know that dogs just want to be dogs. The more I change my vocabulary from “dogs think” to “dogs feel” the freer my dog is becoming, and the more free I feel in my communication skills. We don’t have to be rocket scientists to realize dogs don’t THINK. But for some dog owners, maybe believing their dogs THINK, the less apt they are to mistreat them. There is ALWAYS going to be two sides!!

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Books about Natural Dog Training by Kevin Behan

In Your Dog Is Your Mirror, dog trainer Kevin Behan proposes a radical new model for understanding canine behavior: a dog’s behavior and emotion, indeed its very cognition, are driven by our emotion. The dog doesn’t respond to what the owner thinks, says, or does; it responds to what the owner feels. And in this way, dogs can actually put people back in touch with their own emotions. Behan demonstrates that dogs and humans are connected more profoundly than has ever been imagined — by heart — and that this approach to dog cognition can help us understand many of dogs’ most inscrutable behaviors. This groundbreaking, provocative book opens the door to a whole new understanding between species, and perhaps a whole new understanding of ourselves.
  Natural Dog Training is about how dogs see the world and what this means in regards to training. The first part of this book presents a new theory for the social behavior of canines, featuring the drive to hunt, not the pack instincts, as seminal to canine behavior. The second part reinterprets how dogs actually learn. The third section presents exercises and handling techniques to put this theory into practice with a puppy. The final section sets forth a training program with a special emphasis on coming when called.
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