Monday, June 15, 2009

The Dog's "Guilty Look"

M's friend showed her an interesting article about the guilty looks we give our hoomans when they think we've done something wrong.


What Really Prompts The Dog's 'Guilty Look'

ScienceDaily (2009-06-14) -- What dog owner has not come home to a broken vase or other valuable items and a guilty-looking dog slouching around the house? By ingeniously setting up conditions where the owner was misinformed as to whether their dog had really committed an offense, researchers uncovered the origins of the "guilty look" in dogs.

Horowitz was able to show that the human tendency to attribute a “guilty look” to a dog was not due to whether the dog was indeed guilty. Instead, people see ‘guilt’ in a dog’s body language when they believe the dog has done something it shouldn’t have – even if the dog is in fact completely innocent of any offense.

During the study, owners were asked to leave the room after ordering their dogs not to eat a tasty treat. While the owner was away, Horowitz gave some of the dogs this forbidden treat before asking the owners back into the room. In some trials the owners were told that their dog had eaten the forbidden treat; in others, they were told their dog had behaved properly and left the treat alone. What the owners were told, however, often did not correlate with reality.

Whether the dogs' demeanor included elements of the "guilty look" had little to do with whether the dogs had actually eaten the forbidden treat or not. Dogs looked most “guilty” if they were admonished by their owners for eating the treat. In fact, dogs that had been obedient and had not eaten the treat, but were scolded by their (misinformed) owners, looked more “guilty” than those that had, in fact, eaten the treat. Thus the dog’s guilty look is a response to the owner’s behavior, and not necessarily indicative of any appreciation of its own misdeeds.

This study sheds new light on the natural human tendency to interpret animal behavior in human terms. Anthropomorphisms compare animal behavior to human behavior, and if there is some superficial similarity, then the animal behavior will be interpreted in the same terms as superficially similar human actions. This can include the attribution of higher-order emotions such as guilt or remorse to the animal.

The editor of the special issue, Clive D.L. Wynne of the Department of Psychology, University of Florida, explained, “this is a remarkably powerful demonstration of the need for careful experimental designs if we are to understand the human-dog relationship and not just reify our natural prejudices about animal behavior.” He pointed out that dogs are the oldest domesticated species and have a uniquely intimate role in the lives of millions of people. Recent research on dogs has indicated more human-like forms of reasoning about what people know than has been demonstrated even in chimpanzees.

Elsevier (2009, June 14). What Really Prompts The Dog's 'Guilty Look'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 15, 2009, from­ /releases/2009/06/090611065839.htm#


M: I have seen the guilty look from all of my dogs but Kola. (St Kola: Of course! I am NEVER guilty.) It does make sense that dogs give the "guilty look" in response to our behavior (at the possible wrong-doing), but it never really struck me that way. This is food for thought..

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Life of a Puppymill Bitch

A bitch (female dog) in a cage so cramped that she can't stand up straight. She has never seen daylight. Covered in her own faeces, she wonders what her purpose in life is..

Footsteps approach. The rusty cage door swings open and two greedy hands reach out for her. She is nearly choked to death as the man holds her up by the chain on her neck.

She is brought to another place. There stood a male dog. Same breed, same condition. This was her purpose in life. To breed and give birth to as many puppies as possible. Puppies which she would never see again after they were weaned. Puppies - some were lucky enough to find a good home, others would suffer the same fate as their parents.

Have you bought from a pet shop or farm? The parents of YOUR puppy were most likely suffering this fate.

The Evils of Puppymills

A cute puppy at the pet store begging you to take it home.. Awww.. How cute.. NOT

Behind every puppy at most of the pet stores/pet farms, there is a tragic story...
(the ONLY exceptions are pet stores/farms is owned by an ethical breeder who cares about his dogs and the homes the pups go to. Continued later.)

Puppymills are exactly what they are named. They breed a dam and stud (female and male dog) as often as the dogs are fertile, then take the puppies and sell them. They do not care where the puppies go to, nor do they care whether the parents are healthy or not. It is a business to them. Money is of essence. NOT animal welfare.

More about puppymills:

We have often heard excuses from many pet owners.

They say, they looked around already. The place seemed clean. Therefore they bought the pup.

Another said, it was love at first sight. They admit it was selfish. So what if you admit? Will it save your dog's parents? No. You are admitting you are selfish because you think that will ease your guilty conscience. And boy you better be guilty.

One more said, not ALL pet shops are bad.

The worst part about the three real life examples, were that they KNEW about puppymills already. We feel so disheartened when people know about puppymills but still continue to buy from them.

It is true not ALL pet shops are bad, but remember. An ethical breeder:

1. Breeds for the sake of bettering the breed
2. Does NOT breed for earning money
3. Lets the bitch rest in between heat cycles to recuperate
4. Cares about the homes the puppies go to.

Does YOUR pet shop/farm do ALL of that? 3 out of 4 is not good enough. There are NO negotiations about this.

Some people say that their dogs, albeit from a pet shop/farm, are imported from Aussie/USA/Taiwan or some other country. And that makes their dogs "good quality" and "non-puppymill". We cant stress how wrong they are. There ARE puppymills overseas too and a dog that is imported from say USA can jolly well be a puppymill dog from USA. It does not mean just because the dogs are imported they are of good quality.

Think about this: Will an ethical breeder overseas sell its puppies to a pet shop/farm without being able to know what homes the puppies will go to?

So beware of dogs from pet shops/farms - whether they are imported or not. If you want an imported dog, be sure to sound the breeder out. In turn, an ethical breeder would sound you out as well because they want to make sure you can provide the puppy a good home.

Advantage of buying from an ethical breeder:

1. You will be guaranteed that your puppy will have no genetic physical defects, health problems, and temperamental problems.
2. Your breeder will teach you many things, including how to raise a puppy.
3. Your conscience is clear.

Can you do that just to save dog-kind?