Obedience Class, week 1

Last night was the first night of Dog Obedience class, sans Dog.

The instructor had just the "pet parents" come to the (3 hour!) class, where he explained his training philosophies and laid out the ground rules, along with some behavioral tips to use at home. At times I felt I was being yelled at by a drill sargent, so that will make these classes interesting... His dogs were amazingly well trained, staying in a two-hour Down while he talked to us and waved treats or toys around.

Anyway, he is convinced that dogs are dogs, not little people in fur coats. He had ANTHROPOMORPHIZE written in big letters across the white board. He said part of the key to understanding how to train the dogs is to understand they don't communicate or have the same needs as humans.

And then the deep philosophy lesson of the night. He asked us how many of us thought we could come home, and find our dogs looking guilty because they did something wrong. Or we thought they did things out of spite after not getting what they wanted. Many, many people raised their hands.

He said that Guilt and Spite would require that the dog have a Conscience, and a Conscience requires a dog to have a Moral Sense. Dogs don't have Morals, and don't know Right from Wrong, so we can't think teach them the Right and Wrong thing to do; we can only teach actions that have positive or negative consequences.

I had to think on that one for a little bit: Does having a Conscience = having Morals?
Because I'd swear Casey makes trouble in the house out of spite!
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ashley @ twentysixcats said...

Our trainer said the same thing - that dogs only know "dangerous" and "safe" - not right/wrong. So when trying to train them, you need to communicate "this is dangerous". I thought that was interesting.

Anonymous Cogitations said...

Interesting post. I hadn't thought about it before. I guess I just naturally ascribe human characteristics to animals. Maybe it's because of all the cartoon characters that are animals.

Marie said...

It's funny how animal training is really training humans to work with animals. We are the ones who need to be trained, apparently!

And I do think Disney is guilty of making us think animals are just mini people! They are not and never will be.


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