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Do dogs have grudges?

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“Yesterday at my local dog park I said that my dog ​​had a grudge against Tommy, but other people told me I was wrong that it was all about me and my reading in the situations and not about Tommy and these dogs don’t have one Resentment. “


This email from Peter made me ponder the general question, “Do dogs have grudges?” There is no shortage of opinions on this issue, with some people saying, “No, they don’t or cannot due to cognitive limitations” while others say, “Yes they do.” The people in the various camps offer interesting and useful stories, but it is difficult at this time to answer the question with certainty. Of course, a lot depends on how you define the word “grudge” or the phrase “holding grudge”. Some definitions say that someone who has a grudge, resentment, or bad will towards another person and wants bad things to happen to them, and these feelings can lead to some kind of retaliation or reckoning. Others note that a grudge simply means that another person is upset or untrustworthy because of something they have done in the past, and they are avoided until the human (or not-human) has done the wrong offering forgiveness, and the other individual agrees to reconciliation or apologizes.


What would a dog-style grudge look like?

Dogs are not “unconditional love muffins, who accept whatever happens to them and carry on like nothing has happened.” (In conversation with Marie)

“A few days ago, Henry had an argument with Irving. Irving stole Henry’s tennis ball and when Henry tried to get it back, Irving growled at him, making it clear that the ball was now his. The next day, Henry came to the dog park When Irving himself and was on the other side of the swinging fence door, Henry made it clear that Irving was not welcome, following Irving as he paced up and down as if preventing him from coming in. I don’t know what Henry was thinking, but it did Seemed like he had a grudge against Irving and didn’t want him to be there and join the fun. “ (In conversation with Eric)

Here I would like to reiterate the question: “Do dogs have a grudge?” and offer some new insights and ideas. Given what we know, it is impossible to give a firm “yes” or “no” answer to the question. To get information on how “dog people” would answer this question, I asked 20 people, and they were evenly divided – 10 yes and 10 maybe or no. Each of their stories was compelling, and I started thinking about how to get some insight into whether dogs hold grudges or not, what they might look like, and what behaviors might help us answer the question with some clarity.

To get the ball rolling, I want to emphasize that dogs are not “unconditional love muffins,” as Marie said to me and as I often remark. You certainly don’t love everyone – human, dog, or any other animal – and it is important to realize this as this myth can harm both dogs and the relationships they have with other dogs and their human companions. (See “Are Dogs Really Our Best Friends?” Unleash Your Dog: A Guide To Help Your Canine Companion Have The Best Life Possible, Canine Confidential: Why Dogs Do What They Doand references in it.) While some dogs may forgive and forget, others don’t because they remember what others did to them or maybe didn’t do for them in the past.

I also don’t know of any data that shows that non-humans want bad things to happen to other people, even those they clearly don’t like. However, dogs have rich and deep emotional lives and excellent memories of past events – they do not live in a Zen-like present – and there is no reason to believe that they do not hold grudges or anger other animals, including dogs and humans . who wronged them.

With that in mind, I was very surprised to read in an essay on dogs and resentments: “Your dog, on the other hand, does not have the ability to remember a particular moment when his feelings were hurt. Your short-term, episodic memory is not strong , and they forget certain events shortly after they happen. “(My emphasis) It’s just not like that. The author then says,” Well, that doesn’t mean dogs don’t remember negative experiences. “There is certainly a mixed message here, and then you cite an essay that claims,“ Dogs will forget an experience in about two minutes. ”That is ridiculous, and it is clear that the author is not really sure what they have written. They conclude: “… Scientists do not believe it is correct to completely rule out the possibility that dogs can recall past experiences. It just needs further research. “

You don’t have to be tied to a lab to learn about dog memories. We can learn a lot outside of controlled experiments. (See “Why It Is Important (and Fun) to Study Free-Range Dogs.”) There is ample evidence to suggest that dogs have very good long-term specific memories. Anyone who has been rescued or has had contact with a dog that has been molested knows that they will not forget certain events soon after they occur. The same applies of course to dogs that have had very positive experiences in different situations, e.g. B. frolic with friends in a dog park or other location. (See “Dogs Live in the Present and Other Harmful Myths.”) And if dogs didn’t have very good memories of certain events, why would someone go to a trainer / instructor to put an end to various undesirable behavior patterns? Certainly, memory is part of the training / teaching paradigm, and there is plenty of research showing that dogs have very good memories of things in the past. Research also shows that dogs don’t like to dissolve and remember when they were. (See “Dogs Know When They Broke Up And Don’t Like It A Little Bit.”)

Do individuals hold grudges when fair play collapses?

Because of my decades of interest in social play in dogs and other animals, my consideration of investigating whether dogs and other animals might harbor grudges led me to consider some data my students and I had gathered from playing young wild coyotes and animals, too Observations of the game in free-range dogs. While playing is fun, it’s also serious business: when animals play, they are constantly working to understand and obey the rules and to communicate their intentions to play fair. They optimize their behavior on the run, carefully monitor the behavior of their playing partners and pay close attention to violations of the agreed rules. Four fundamental aspects of fair play in animals are: Ask first, be honest, follow the rules, and admit that you are wrong. When the rules are broken and fairness breaks down, the game is up. (See “Dogs at Play: Fun Zoomies That Exercise the Senses and Body”, “The Power of Play: Dogs Just Want To Have Fun” and “How and Why Do Dogs Play Again: Who’s Confused?”)

Detailed research into social play among small domestic dogs and their wild relatives, coyotes and gray wolves, shows how important the rules are. Careful analysis of videos of people playing shows that these adolescents are carefully negotiating social play and using certain signals and rules so that the game does not escalate into fighting. When dogs – and other animals – play, they use actions such as biting, assembling, and hitting each other on the body, which are also used in other contexts such as fighting or mating. Since these actions can easily be misinterpreted, it is important that the animals clearly state what they want and what they expect.

In canids, an action called an “arch” is used to encourage others to play. When performing an arch, an animal crouches on its front legs. He or she sometimes barks, wags his or her tail wildly, and looks eagerly. So that the invitation to play is not confusing, the arcs are strongly stereotyped and show little variation. Game arcs are honest signals, a sign of trust. Research shows that animals who violate this trust are often ostracized, suggesting that breaking the rules of the game is non-adaptive and can disrupt the efficient functioning of the group. For example, in the case of dogs, coyotes, and wolves, individuals who do not play fair find that their invitations to play are ignored or that other group members simply avoid them. Data for the coyotes shows that those individuals who don’t play often leave their pack because they don’t form strong social bonds. Such loners suffer higher mortality rates than those who stay with others.

This is how the coyotes, dogs or wolves hold who ignore the gaming intentions of people who have not played fair before or who avoid holding one Resentment against them? After all, if the game had escalated into a fight, which happens among young coyotes, they could have been injured. There is no reason to believe that they did not trust the coyotes who played unfairly, and there is no reason to believe that they do not hold a grudge. In fact, my students and I talked about it as we went through our daily data. Nor is there any reason to claim that the coyotes wanted something bad to happen to those who were unfair, but they did make it clear that they wanted nothing to do with them by ignoring or avoiding them. It’s like saying something like, “You didn’t play fair, so leave us alone.”

What happens next with studies on demanding dogs?

Research clearly shows that dogs have the cognitive and emotional skills to hold grudges. You remember events from the past and those memories can last a long time. While it is possible that dogs may not spend as much time pondering their grudges or what kind of revenge they can get on others who have wronged them in the past, there is no reason to believe that they do not hold a grudge Canine-style “the kind other animals might keep. The data on wild coyotes suggest that the juveniles who were wronged harbored grudges against those who did not play fair and resolved potential conflicts by ignoring or avoiding them. It is also possible that animals hold grudges against people who do not behave fairly, not sharing food or participating in group activities such as buying or defending food or territory. These are mature areas for future research and will provide insight into whether dogs and non-humans harbor grudges.

I agree with Peter who said his dog Tommy had a grudge, Eric’s guess about how Henry Irving felt, and Marie who stated that dogs are not “unconditional love muffins.” It will be interesting to see if research into social play and other behavioral patterns can help us answer the question, “Do dogs have grudges?” Better to get a grip on. and help us learn about demanding dogs who judge well how others have treated them in the past. There could be very good reasons why they don’t want to interact with other dogs or different people, and we should stick to their decisions and not force them to do so. You know what works for you.

When Jessica Pierce and I fight Unleash Your Dog: A Guide To Help Your Canine Companion Have The Best Life Possible. To give dogs the best possible life in an increasingly human-dominated world, we need to understand who they are. Too many prevailing myths harm them and the relationships we have with them. There are likely good reasons why a dog would not want to do anything to another dog or to a human. They might hold a grudge and prefer not to be told, “Oh, it’s okay, go play or hang out with them” or, “Don’t be silly, everything is fine.” But while a human might think or feel this, a dog might not, and it is important that they make the decisions that will please them because they know what will and will not work for them.

What makes the field of cognitive ethology – the study of the animal mind – so exciting is that there is so much fascinating research to be done. Look forward to further discussions about dogs, resentments, and their cognitive and emotional lives. Nothing is lost assuming that dogs like us form and harbor grievances and resolve them in ways that work for them. We can also expect individual differences between dogs – there is no such thing as a “universal dog”; What annoyed Tommy and Henry may not have had any effect on other dogs who forgive and forget, or at least refuse to let what happened to them bother them in the future. In order to learn about resentments in dogs, we need to watch them carefully and be fluent with dogs or dogs. People need to put on an ethologist’s hat and pay close attention to what they are doing and why they are doing it. Citizen scientists have numerous opportunities to contribute to ongoing discussions.

There is nothing wrong with a dog who has a grudge or who pretends to have a grudge. Right now we really don’t know what is going on in their mind or heart after they feel wrong or wrong. This is a challenge for future research on these amazing beings and how exciting it will be to learn more about what they think and feel in various situations, including those where people would most likely hold grudges.

This story was originally published by Psychologytoday.com. Reprinted with permission.



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