Puppies love to be the center of attention and will do anything they can to engage you in consistent interaction. Some of the things they do are charming and endearing, and other things can be downright exasperating. It’s a good thing they are so darn cute! And their breath…don’t get me started on puppy breath.
Why Puppies Steal Things
Oh, sorry, back to the subject at hand. So, why do puppies steal things? You guessed it: to get your attention. That, and to lure you into playing with them. Puppies are naturally naughty – in a playful way. They like to get something of yours and sneak it away when you aren’t looking in the hopes that you’ll chase them around and try to get it from them. This little game is big fun for a puppy.
We can usually tell what kind of mood a person is in by observing their body language, facial expression and tone of voice. It’s an ability only seen in humans and one other species – dogs. But do canines know when we are happy or angry just by looking at our face? According to a new study, the answer is yes; your dog knows if you are giving them a smile or a frown!
Researchers in Vienna, Austria put 11 dogs through a series of tests to see if canines can recognize a happy or angry face by looking at images. The dogs were never shown the entire face of the person, and could only see either the top half of the face or the lower half. They could only make their decision by viewing the person’s eyes or mouth.
To begin the study, each dog was trained to correctly pick out images of the same person with either a happy or angry face. The group of dogs included a Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, Fox Terrier, Border Collies and mixed breed dogs. Half of the dogs received a reward for picking out a happy face, and the other half had to pick out the angry face to earn their reward. To make their picks, each dog had to tap the correct image on a computer screen with their nose. A correct tap sent a treat down a tube to the dog.
Dogs have many non-verbal ways of communicating with us, including the use of paws to get a message across to their human companions or even to other animals. Paws are much more than merely the part of their body used to walk on; their use has an individual language all its own. We just need to learn how to understand that method of communication.
Pay Attention to Me!
Dogs are much like small children. Sometimes they simply need our attention for a myriad of reasons ranging from wanting some play time or affection, to letting you know they want some one on one time. Dogs like to be included in whatever is going on. How many times have you seen a child tugging on her mom’s clothing or poking her to get attention? It is the same for your dogs. They use their paws to say “Here I am! Pay attention to me!”
If you’ve ever had to scold your dog or put them in time out for bad behavior, the reprimand is often followed by some sort of apology. There might be suddenly contrite behavior or even calmly placing a paw on your arm, lap or leg immediately following the scolding. They are trying to say “I’m sorry” in their own way. Dogs follow their instincts and may become rascals when temptation is too much. They sense when they have behaved badly by reading your body language and hearing the tone of your voice, but also by training. It is hard to resist that plaintive look accompanied by a gentle paw placed on you. They are asking for reassurance when they paw you after they have been bad.
Dogs often inspire humans in ways that we don’t think about consciously. We sometimes take what they give us for granted. Sitting back and looking at our interactions with these wonderful animals can make us realize how truly inspirational dogs can be. They can teach us the most basic life lessons in a very pure, unassuming way.
Dogs know how to keep us company. Granted, they can’t talk to us in words the way we do with each other, but they are steady and always there when we need them to be. They ask very little in return and happily stay by our side with no question or judgment. They don’t burden us with emotional baggage or betrayal, and they know how to give of themselves unconditionally. Dogs like being around their humans; it makes them content to simply have you nearby.
Although it may not seem like dogs are patient when they bark for attention, jump around anxiously to go out, or grumble for food, think about how many times they patiently wait for us to play with them, feed them or give them a little attention on our busy days. Dogs are usually much more patient than our human children.
Dr. Patrica McConnell and Dr. Stanley Coren are distinguished dog experts and award winning writers who share their lifelong love of and knowledge about canines in their many published works. I first ran across Dr. McConnell in the late 1990s while channel surfing; a program on Animal Planet called “PetLine” grabbed my attention. McConnell was co-hosting the show, which dealt with animal behavior. Some of you may be familiar with her from a radio show she co-hosted for fourteen years called “Calling All Pets.” Dr. Coren is someone I came across online several years ago while researching aggressive dog behavior.
Dr. Patricia McConnell is an expert on human/animal relationships. She earned a PhD in zoology in 1988 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and has been teaching a popular course since 1991 called “The Biology and Philosophy of Human/Animal Relationships” at her alma mater as an adjunct professor. McConnell is a certified applied animal behaviorist (CAAB). She gives lectures and conducts seminars throughout the world, has been a dog trainer since 1988 working with canines that have serious behavioral issues, is an expert on canine and feline behavior, and author of fourteen books about animal behavior (ethology).
Her first published book in 2002, “The Other End of the Leash,” is read worldwide and published in 14 different languages. She also finds time to appear regularly on several radio shows and an occasional TV appearance. She writes articles for major magazines and participates in fundraisers to benefit animal shelters – most recently in the Midwest and Texas.
The other day I ran across a research article that I completely disagree with and I want to get your opinion. The topic was emotions, and it explored the differences between what scientists consider primary and secondary emotions in animals. Feelings like anger, disgust, fear, joy and surprise are often called primary emotions. These are emotions that are collectively experienced; they’re universal. Feelings like envy, guilt, jealousy and shame are considered secondary emotions and reserved for those with higher cognitive abilities.
Secondary emotions are believed to involve a more intricate reasoning process. In terms of jealously, for example, the subject has to display complex rational thinking in order to experience it; he has to recognize and understand what the other subject is receiving and measure it against what he is receiving.
According to this article, secondary emotions are experienced by some animals, namely primates, but these emotions are not experienced by dogs. The rationale for that conclusion is that some behavioral scientists don’t think dogs possess a developed level of cognition or self-awareness. Therefore, they conclude that dogs cannot experience secondary emotions.
What?! I beg to differ. As someone who has spent her entire adult life in a multiple dog household, I can tell you that dogs get jealous. Granted, some dogs display their secondary emotions more animatedly than others, but I honestly believe that dogs feel secondary emotions.
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