Monday, July 11, 2011

Dogs: The Here and Now

Do dogs have it as good as they used to? The beloved pets in my youth enjoyed the back country lanes and sniffing about chasing up pheasants and rabbits.

A wonderful excerpt from John Bradshaw's book In Defence of Dogs, (Penguin, July 28) is published in The Independent. If you wonder about the status of dogs today, their dilemma faced in a changing society, the latest training perspectives for your dog it's most enlightening reading.

For example, Bradshaw, an animal behaviorist, reflects on a dog's perspective of the immediate present,

"One reason that domestic dogs fit into human communities so well is that they find human contact very rewarding and become anxious when separated from their human companions. They are strongly motivated to do things that please their owners. It is crucial to appreciate that dogs live in the here and now to a much greater extent than humans do. For example, many owners punish their dogs when they come home to find that the dog has done something wrong. They assume that the dog will think back to whatever that deed was. However, dogs do not do mental time-travel at all well. What the dog actually does is to associate the immediate situation – the owner's return – with the owner's angry words, and physical punishment. It does not understand what has caused the punishment, nor has it had any warning that punishment is imminent. Because it does not understand, the dog is unable to predict when its owner is going to come home angry and when not. It is like a rat in a cage, being shocked at random."

Image and Book from Penguin