At least that’s how your dog sees you, says Scientific American.
Unlike their wolfish ancestors, who hunted for their food, domestic dogs have become socially attached to humans, and see us as the route to dinner. Hence, those long, soulful – and, we must insist, no matter what scientists say, loving – stares we get when feeding time comes near.
To which we, being tools, generally respond.
Scientific American takes a look at how wolves and dogs have come to differ — when it comes to the source of dinner and more — in the 15,000 or more years since the domestic dog came into being.
The article focuses on a study done several years ago at Eotvos University in Budapest — aimed at determining whether the differences between dogs and wolves, socially and cognitively, were primarily genetic or experiential.
Scientists hand-raised a group of dog puppies and a group of wolf pups, starting six days after they were born.
For the first months of their lives, the wolf and dog pups were in close contact with human foster parents. They lived in the homes of their caregivers and slept with them at night. They were bottle-fed, and then hand-fed, and the human caregivers carried them in a pouch so that both wolf and dog pups could participate in as much of their daily activities as possible.
Both dogs and wolves traveled on public transportation, attended classes, and had extensive experience meeting unfamiliar humans.
At 9 weeks of age, plates of food were shown to both the wolf and dog pups. But the only way either could get it was to have eye contact with the human experimenters.
After the first minute, the dogs began to look at the humans. The wolves never seemed to catch on, staying focused on the food they couldn’t reach.
“In one sense, this is a remarkable example of tool use. Only in this case, the humans were the tools, and the dogs the tool-users,” the article notes.
In a second experiment, involving opening a bin, dogs spontaneously interacted with humans, while the wolves all but ignored the human caregivers.
“Despite the fact that they had been fully socialized, the wolves treated each of the situations as physical problems rather than social ones. Only rarely did they ever attempt to engage in a communicative problem-solving interaction with a human. It’s not that wolves are unintelligent; it’s quite the opposite, in fact. Wolves are cooperative hunters, skilled at negotiating within their own social networks. It’s just that even after being raised by humans, wolves simply do not see humans as potential social partners.”
Posted by jwoestendiek May 1st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, behavior, cognitive, differences, dog, dogs, domesticated, domestication, experiment, feeding, food, genetics, humans, hunting, interaction, nurture, partners, pets, science, scientific american, social, socialization, society, tool, wolf, wolves
Or maybe an entire pack of them.
School districts being bureaucracies, though – often quicker to look for reasons why they can’t do something, rather than actually trying something new — that doesn’t happen too often.
But in Bucks County, Pa., dogs are turning up in more and more classrooms, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
At Holland Elementary School in Bucks County, a 140-pound Rhodesian ridgeback named Kicho shows up regularly as part of a reading program.
“Sometimes, I get jittery inside when I read, but not with Kicho,” 9-year-old Conner Weinberg said. “He’s very kind and calm. He’s my friend. I think of him as my own dog.”
Kicho is one of a several dogs that have become beloved classroom companions, in Council Rock, three other Bucks County school districts and a private school, according to the Inquirer report.
The program was founded five years ago by Wendi Huttner, a Bucks County trainer and breeder of Labrador retrievers, and Deborah Glessner, a retired Council Rock School District librarian. Their nonprofit organization, Nor’wester Readers, now fields 34 teams of dogs and handlers who make weekly visits to classrooms in the Council Rock, New Hope-Solebury, Pennsbury, and Bensalem districts and to the Center School in Abington.
The basic idea of the reading program — much like the one Ace took part in with Karma Dogs – is to give children “positive reinforcement; they get the affirmation of these big brown eyes, a wag of the tail, and a kiss on the cheek,” Huttner said. Children who may feel shy about reading in front of teachers or peers can open up to a dog.
“When you are reading to your teacher, your parent, your uncle, or your librarian, and you don’t know the right word or you mispronounce a word, you are corrected,” Huttner said. Dogs, however, “are not judgmental,” she said. “There is a child in just about every class that nobody else can reach, but a dog can. They have magic. . . . It’s a wonderful thing to see.”
At Council Rock’s Richboro Middle School, Jillian, a retriever (pictured above) and her handler, Nan Muska, visit children with severe cognitive deficits who are getting training to help them cope with daily living, along with some others who have multiple disabilities and are largely nonverbal.
“My students light up,” said Tim Qualli, the school’s multiple disabilities support teacher. “They really enjoy being with her.”
(Photo: Tom Gralish / Philadelphia Inquirer)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 4th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bensalem, bucks county, cognitive, council rock, dog, dogs, holland elementary school, kicho, learning, new hope, nor'wester readers, pennsbury, pennsylvania, pets, programs, reading, reading to dogs, rhodesian ridgeback, richboro middle school, school districts, schools, solebury, students, teaching, therapy, wendi huttner
Your dog licks your face because he loves you, right?
Ah, if it were only that simple.
There are those that will assure you that yes, those licks mean affection — your “fur babies” are showering you with, in addition to a little slobber, love and gratitude.
There are also those more scientific types who will dissect the act so emotionlessly as to leave you never wanting another lick again — or perhaps even another dog, or at least not another dog book.
Thank Dog, then, for Alexandra Horowitz, who in her new book “Inside of a Dog,” manages to probe doggie behavior in a manner both scientific and passionate, without stomping on the sanctity of the human-dog bond like it’s a cigarette in need of extinguishing.
The book’s title comes from the Groucho Marx quote: “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”
What makes “Inside of a Dog,” released in September, one of the best dog books of the year is that it’s not too dark to read. Horowitz, a psychology professor, former staff member at The New Yorker, and long-time dog-lover is able — based in equal parts on her scientific research and her own personal experiences as a dog owner — to correct the many misconceptions about dogs without snuffing out the special light we see inside them.
As for those face licks, they have an evolutionary basis — it originally was a way for pups to encourage their moms and dads to regurgitate what they had eaten while hunting, thus sharing their prechewed bounty.
That doesn’t mean your dog is trying to make you puke everytime it licks your face, only that what’s now a ritualized greeting began that way.
The book gets to the root of other canine behaviors, as well, including:
· How dogs tell — and actually smell — time.
· Why it’s been futile leaving your television on for your dog all these years (and why this may be different now).
· How your dog really feels about that raincoat you make him wear.
· Why some dogs joyfully retrieve tossed balls and sticks while others just stare at you like you’re a fool for throwing them.
While not a training manual, it’s a book every dog trainer should read, and perhaps every dog owner who wants to truly understand not just what their pet means to them, but what their pet means.
The book goes into how dogs see, smell and hear the world, what their barks mean, what their tail wags mean. And it avoids the common oversimplifications associated with seeing dogs solely in terms of human behavior, or seeing them solely as modern-day wolves.
Horowitz, and the book, show some appreciation and understanding of the evolutions that have taken place, and continue to — the evolution of dogs, the evolution of humans, and the evolution of the bond between the two.
(Learn more about the latest dog books at ohmidog’s book page, Good Dog Reads.)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 8th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: alexandra horowitz, behavior, bond, book, books, books on dogs, cognitive, dog, dog books, dogs, evolution, good dog reads, human, inside of a dog, kiss, know, lick, misconceptions, psychology, regurgitate, relationship, scientist, see, smell, tail, understanding, wag