We have been around dogs for so many generations that dogs and humans share a special bond now. Despite this closeness, we’re still separate species that communicate in very different ways.
A lot of times we’ll read our own understanding into a situation involving a dog, and our reading is too human. We see our animals behave a certain way and see it as them feeling guilty, sad, or some other human emotion.
There is research that suggests animals definitely do experience certain kinds of “feelings,” but there is also research that suggests that in some cases dogs are reading us and responding the way they think we want them to or are relying on learned behaviors.
Despite these potential little “hiccups” in communication, we have learned to work with canines very well, and they have learned to work with us.
As one example, these border collies are helping regrow an area that has suffered from wildfires. Their “helping” is totally unintentional on their part. They have an instinct to run and explore, and that trait has been tapped into by observant humans.
Scientists have outfitted the dogs with packs that have holes in them. The packs are filled with seeds and as the dogs run across the charred earth, they reseed the deforested areas.
But that’s how most dogs are trained: a certain behavior is isolated, rewarded, and modified.
And there are plenty of cases where, even if the dog doesn’t know the implications of what it’s doing, it knows that its behavior makes its owner happy or sad.
The basset hounds in the beginning of the video below may not know why the car is being rolled or what the purpose of it is, but they know that putting their paws on the hood and walking along is what their human is doing, and when they do it too it makes their human happy.
Dogs are smart, and it would make sense that they would observe their humans and mimic them in their own doggy way. The more they’re praised, the more they continue that behavior.
But what counts as “praise” for some dogs is what causes more misunderstandings. Some dogs love food, and will do anything for a treat. Some adore praise, and will do anything they can for a pat and a “good boy!”
Some — not unlike some humans — just want attention, whether that’s good or bad attention. If all they want is for you to pay attention to them, then you yelling at them when they do something naughty is just as much a reward as when you excitedly praise them for completing a trick.
But once you learn what your particular pup’s motivators are, the possibilities are endless. As long as you keep training light, fun, and playful, learning will never be a chore for your dog.
This video shows a dog who’s spotted a game he wants to be a part of. Some firemen are working to remove a dangerous tree that’s slanted toward a road.
They have a rope attached to the tree, and are pulling it as the tree is cut. You can hear the dog barking in the background at the beginning, probably because he saw the activity and the rope, and he wanted in on the fun.
Once his owner gives in, the dog gets a good grip on the rope and brings up the rear, tugging with all his might in what is probably the most epic game of tug-of-war that he’s ever experienced.
Whether the dog knew he was helping bring down a tree or not is beside the point: The dog was having fun, the people were having fun, and this is an adorable video that highlights how good dogs are.
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