Yup, Dogs Can Be Disgusted!

Well, it seems appropriate now to talk about disgust after a weekend of gluttony. (But what fun cooking paprika chicken and pot roast and roasted brussels sprouts and home made bread and pumpkin and cherry/raspberry/rhubarb pie. Not to mention eating all the turkey that others cooked and I ate up as if I was starving.)

It’s been interesting reading about whether dogs people believe that dogs can experience disgust. Recall that 66.2 % of seminar participants said yes, and 78.3% of blog readers who responded said yes (this may have changed as later responses came in, but not significantly). (The Morris research listed only 34% of people responding yes, but a blog reader commented wisely that the question wasn’t “Can your dog…” but “Have you observed your dog experiencing disgust.”)

But here’s the deal. Disgust is perhaps the most basic of all emotions. Disgust, or “an aversion to something offensive,” is seen in all mammals, most often in response to a smell or taste that is aversive for some reason. Our expressions of disgust are similar across species, as Darwin noted in The Expressions of the Emotions in Man and Animals. Here’s is a more current illustration of that from Youtube:


Disgust is registered primarily in the Anterior Insula of the brain, an area that is active both when one feels disgusted and when one views a disgusted expression on the face of another. Because of its close association with the sense of smell, disgust has been postulated to be the “first emotion,” designed to prevent the ingestion of dangerous substances. However, I was surprised to find very little about disgust in Panskepp’s classic book on emotions in animals, Affective Neuroscience. In spite of that, I know of no biologist who argues that other mammals don’t experience disgust on a basic level.

Of course, what is perceived as disgusting is both species specific (the stink of fox poop not being a human favorite) and culturally transmitted. Not surprisingly, this¬† is especially true of food: for example, some cultures find big, fat juicy insects and their larvae highly palatable and others, not so much. There’s an interesting article in Time Online about the research of Andrea Morales and Gavan Fitzsimons who found that just being next to something perceived as disgusting made an item less attractive (ie, don’t try to sell cookies next to Kitty Litter at the supermarket.)

That brings to mind a seminar I did in Canada in which the host hotel thought it would be a hoot to serve the chocolate pudding desert in the shape of dog feces. Seriously. It looked exactly like poop sitting on a white plate. They were actually surprised that no one ate it, but not as surprised as we were that they did it in the first place. We all laughed, and then looked at each other with somewhat stunned expressions on our faces, and pushed the plate away.

It also reminds me of John Rogerson’s technique of inhibiting dog-dog aggression by throwing a bag of dog feces into the face of the offending dog. I’ve never done it, but I’ll bet it would absolutely get a dog’s attention. Of course, some dogs eat feces, but I doubt they’d enjoy poop-in-the-face. Personally I’d rather not use it as a training technique (pretty negative for the person too), but I have thought it would be a great last ditch tool if you were walking down the street with a bag of poop in your hand and a dog charging at your reactive dog.

This all gets me thinking about the use of ‘disgust’ in behavior modification. You all know I’m a positive trainer, but that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t suggest someone use something aversive to prevent some behavior problems if the solution is humane. I’m thinking about Bitter Apple for example: I just sprayed a plant with it to prevent Tootsie from chewing on the leaves.¬† But what about an aversive scent versus taste? Any use for that? I’ve seen commercial products that are supposed to keep dogs out of plants, etc, but frankly I’ve never seen them work very well. You?

Here’s another great example of the expression of disgust, by the way, sent in by a reader from Europe of her Pap at a show after being forced to be in cold, wet grass and then touched by a judge with cold, wet hands. Thank you Ute for sending these photos, they are great!



MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Willie’s shoulder is as good as it’s been since the injury last February. He is allowed to run around outside for brief periods with no hobbles and longer ones with the hobbles. Great news is that my adrenals are now getting used to seeing him running around, so I don’t suffer from cortisol toxicity every time I see him run anymore! He is not a fan of the treadmill now, he came out of it yesterday and sniffed the floor of the room for a full three minutes before acknowledging me or Courtney. But it’s helping him, so I sympathized, gave him lots of cuddles when he did come over and then told him to suck it up.

Tootsie continues to make tremendous strides. I am so proud of her. Her recall is coming along beautifully, and I can now take her up into the pasture and keep her from hysterically and desperately eating as much sheep poop as it is possible to cram into her mouth. She gets lots of more appropriate treats and is actually spend time sniffing around the grass, apparently interested in something besides gobbling up sheep poop as if she was starving to death. And for one brief magical moment, Willie and Tootsie actually sniffed each other at the same time a few days ago. Will wonders never cease?


  1. Lacey H says

    Dogs are variable in what disgusts them. Years ago I had two dogs – a big young male and a tiny elder bitch. He was attacking my plants, so I purchased a perfumy product supposed to repel dogs. It did at least slow him down a lot – but she found it exciting to roll in! More recently I’ve found that several fosters were deterred from repeat marking in certain areas if I sprayed a citrus air freshener there.

  2. says

    Though I knew this topic was coming up, I read the title as “Yup, dogs can be disgusting!” and thought “Oh, boy howdy, can they!” Elka sneezed in my mouth once.

    Glad to hear that Willie is mending so well, and that Tootsie is mending so well (same word applies to different types of problems!)

    I never tried to use an aversive scent, but I did try to use hot sauce to keep Elka from chewing on the wall (she wasn’t eating any of it, just chewing the corner). It rather didn’t work; she licked the sriracha/tabasco sauce mix off of the wall with gusto. Your results may vary.

  3. Kerry M. says

    I had no doubt about the disgust. Fair warning – this anecdote does contain poop stories!

    I have an older dog who doesn’t always know that she needs to go before she is already going. While she may find novel dog poop interesting, her poop is far from interesting to her. She will hightail it out of the room leaving me and the other dog alone with it often before the smell even hits me and I know what has happened. As I clean it up, she peers out of the other room checking on the clean up progress and when it is all gone, she will lightly put her head back in to check out the situation as if she is grading my clean up efforts before committing again to the room. It always amuses me that she is so disdainful of the mess. She hasn’t said thank you yet for my clean up efforts but I choose to believe her willingness to re-enter the room is its own form of thanks.

    She never gets scolded for this medical issue – I hope no one scolds me when I’m 90!, so I always took this to be a personal distaste of hers – and I don’t blame her for that, either.

  4. Annie R says

    Love your healthy boundary setting with Willie! It sounded familiar, and I figured out I’m doing something similar with my recent rescue who has some anxiety, I just hadn’t scripted it quite like “Love you, big guy, now SUCK IT UP!”

    When Archie starts his anxious-sounding-but-seemingly-without-a-reason whining. I go over to him, say “Hey Buddy, what’s the story?” give him a big but brief rub or snuggle, then tell him to down-stay, and mark/treat after about 30 seconds. He generally quiets down. If I “buy in” too much he keeps it up for hours.

    I also see you’re back to the topic of “coprotossia”. LOL!

  5. Beth with the Corgis says

    Madison thinks that Bitter Apple is a tasty condiment, much in the way some people like vinegar on their fried fish.

    Jack avoids something that was sprayed with Bitter Apple…. for the 15 seconds that it’s wet. The second it dries, he’ll go right back to it. As a puppy he was a fanatical wood-chewer and I was disappointed the Bitter Apple didn’t help. He didn’t like to chew on any other toys (he’d play but not chew). I had read that you should offer pups toys with similar textures to what they find appealing. For obvious reasons, they don’t make wooden puppy toys. I hit on something else and gave him large corrugated cardboard boxes to shred, and presto! gerbil-like wood-chewing habit vanished.

    He still loves boxes, but he’s the type of dog that will only take a box if it’s handed to him and I can safely leave boxes around without him bothering them. Not that I often do.

    I have heard citrus is a good deterrent. I found it works for the cats, but alas my dogs looovvve citrus fruit so that doesn’t work either. If anyone finds anything, let me know. Maddie can’t ride in a seatbelt harness because she chews right through either the harness of the seatbelt, so I need to lug a crate to the car whenever we take her anywhere.

  6. says

    I’ve observed the same thing that Lacey H has–dogs being disgusted by perfumey smells. My dogs have reacted with disgust to Bach’s Rescue Remedy.

  7. Rebecca Rice says

    Speaking of the hotel serving dog-poop shaped pudding, I have had the experience of eating a well-made kitty litter cake. For those of you who may not have heard of this, it is a dessert made to look like a used kitty litter box, with tootsie roll cat feces, and cake “litter”, made in a kitty litter box and generally served with a kitty litter scoop (both new and unused, obviously). Eating that was an interesting experience, because it actually is quite tasty. But getting past the psychological barrier is a bit daunting. I have wondered about performing an experiment where you take the same basic idea, but instead of making a kitty litter cake, put it into a flower pot with possibly gummy worms and fake flowers, and offering that and the kitty litter cake to people and seeing which one the thought tasted better. I have a suspicion that people would think that the flower cake tasted better, even if you made it the same way.

  8. Thea Anderson says

    Ohhhhkay, I was assuming a very human and very strong meaning of disgust, in the sense of “you disgust me” rather than “ew, how disgusting.” And I think I would be really, really sad if my dog ever looked at me with disgust. But the video of the babies and rats tasting quinine is great, and I see the same mouth movements from Sylvie when she gets dust or dirt or fluff from toys in her mouth (her tongue flaps around though.) It’s like a gag reflex localized to the mouth, right?

    The other thing that disgusts her is dog poop. She is sometimes curious enough to sniff, but once she gets one sniff she recoils, jumps back, and then avoids the area. I bet she’d like it if the other dogs could leave their scent on a more hygienic medium.

    For Tootsie, you could try spraying perfume on the plant…

  9. Jennifer Hamilton says

    Our dog trainer suggests that if you want to optimize the use of bitter apple as a deterrent, you first need to put a drop on their tongue. This action, will apparently pair the disgusting taste with that corresponding smell. Then you can spray bitter apple on whatever you want to be avoided and the smell alone will stop the eating or chewing of the item. From her experience, if you skip the first step, the desired object may have enough of a good or desirable taste/texture that it will outweigh the taste of the bitter apple. By pairing the taste and smell together, she says that just the smell alone after that will often be enough of a deterrent. I have never tried this myself, but the theory makes some sense to me. She has had some success with this approach with dogs that self-mutilate.

  10. says

    The picture of the pap made me sad. So often you see not just lay people but professional dog people that “love” and are “knowledgeable” about dogs do not see their dogs. They can not tell the diffrence between the happy dog, the stressed dog, the anxious dog. This must be where we educate the masses.Patricia has made so much progress in this area. So many more must learn to see.

  11. trisha says

    Jennifer: Great idea about first dropping Bitter Apple on the tongue. I agree it sounds logical. Like some commenters, I too have had mixed results with it. It’s working with Tootsie so far, yeah, but not by any means with all dogs. Some appear to love it. [Did anyone else see an Anderson Cooper show in which the audience tasted a bitter substance at the same time? Some people didn’t taste a thing, others noted a slighty bitter taste and some people gagged and were appalled. Said it was the worst thing they’d ever put in their mouth. This wasn’t the kind of substance that some people can taste and others can’t. It was a bitter taste that all can perceive. But it turns out that we all have a different number of taste buds and this has a profound effect on our perception of food. Dogs must too, yes?]

    And Rebecca, maybe we should try your experiment? But it sounds like the research is already clear that the flower cake would be perceived as much more palatable. I think I’ll sit back and let others eat the cakes, then I’ll enjoy looking at the data (and eat up what’s left of the flower cake, leaving the kitty litter cake to others…..)

  12. says

    I have Bichons, and if “I” have some flatulence, I have had two dogs that if cuddled up with me on the couch, look at me with such disgust, get up, and go somewhere else to lay down. There is really no other way to describe it then disgust. The look they give me is hilarious.

  13. Fjm says

    Love the video – you can practically hear the “Nyum-yum-yum” and “Blergh!” from both babies and rats.

  14. Beth with the Corgis says

    Trisha, regarding the taste of “bitter” and how we perceive it: I have often said that if bell peppers tasted to other people the way they taste to me, no one would eat them. It’s not a matter of getting to “like” a certain food (say, mushrooms). The bitter taste is so strong for me that they are inedible. Everything in me revolts against chewing and swallowing. Conversely, I have retained a strong sweet tooth well past the age when many people stop caring. I agree that different people have different responses based on physiology, not preference. It makes sense the same holds true for dogs.

  15. says

    I do hope that you plan to cover the other emotions in a similar manner! I am very interested to hear your opinions and perhaps see a bit more research on the subject.

    I suppose I am most interested in anger. I still do not think dogs experience anger as humans do and I know was in the minority of the posters on this blog! I think that many times behaviors we might label as anger are actually resource guarding, reacting to stimulus, etc. I think the emotion of anger involves harboring ill will towards someone or something and I feel that dogs live in the moment and are not capable of this.

    I would really love to see a similar post to this one on anger if you find the time!

  16. says

    Those pictures are perfect for illustrating doggy disgust. I don’t know how anyone could look at that dog and not see that it’s totally going “Ugh, iiiiickk.” It surprised me a little how close the look is to humans when we’re grossed out about something, but it probably shouldn’t.

    And if a hotel tried to serve me a dog-poop-shaped food, I would totally react the same way (I think the majority of people would). I can only think that the reason the hotel people didn’t get how gross it was is that they saw how the whole thing was made — as in, they saw the chocolate pudding getting mixed up, then squeezed out of a pastry bag or whatever. They didn’t get that none of you would have had the same… uh… definite verification needed to assure your instincts that it did not actually come from a dog.

  17. Thea Anderson says

    Karissa, to me anger seems much more primal than disgust. I think a lot of human anger could be boiled down to resource guarding or responding to an unpleasant stimulus. Like “ARRGH that #%&%^ stole my place on the road!” or “hey wtf that really hurt!” Anger is how you recognize that the world isn’t going the way it should be. Or how you recognize that someone in your society is behaving way out of line, and how your body knows to start pumping adrenaline so you can go confront them. I agree that sometimes when dogs snick at each other it’s just a correction, but if a dog reacts with aggression when another dog encroaches on its food or its toy or its favorite person, and then keeps up the aggressive display even when the offending dog backs off, why shouldn’t we call it anger?

  18. says

    I have a lab that is really disgusted by any kind of poop. He is retriever obsessed but not when the ball lands by any poop, his or any other dogs. When the ball does go near any waste, he does a circle around it then very gingerly tries to get the ball away from it with a foot. If he succeeds moving the ball he then rolls it farther away before he picks it up with his mouth. And when he does retrieve, he will do big circles the long way around any messes bring the ball back and fetching it. The look on his face when he has to get a tad bit close to it to get a ball is priceless. if the ball happens to land in it….forget it, He wants nothing to do with it. Well, I guess I should be glad he doesn’t eat it. :-)

  19. Beth with the Corgis says

    Karissa, I find your explanation of anger very interesting. I think that my experience says that in most PEOPLE, anger is one of the “primitive” emotions that wells up before we even have time to think about it. It seems primal and instinctive to me.

    And yes, I have definitely seen one of my dogs angry. My girl sometimes harrasses my boy when he plays, and normally he ignores her but sometimes she gets on his last nerve and yes he’s mad, no other way to describe it. She’s not stealing his toy, so he’s not resource guarding. He’s mad that he’s trying to play and she’s trying to nip him.

    I don’t consider harboring ill will to be anger at all. Anger is that flash of a feeling when you feel the adrenaline rush. Harborning ill will is colder and involves replaying the event that caused you to become upset, and I would agree dogs probably don’t do that since they seem to live more “in the moment.” But anger? Very primitive. I think that even some fish can be angry.

  20. JJ says

    On the topic of anger: The comments so far are very interesting. I agree that anger is not about ill will. I’m not sure how I would define anger myself. What keeps running through my head for the last few years was hearing from several sources that anger is not a primary emotion, but a secondary one. What they mean by that, is that anger springs from some other source. A typical example is that some people react to feeling frustrated by getting angry. Or maybe someone reacts to being afraid by getting angry. (Think of (fictional?) books where soldiers are first described as afraid, but when the battle starts, the character gets very angry.) My thought: Perhaps being ‘angry’ is an easier way for someone to deal with the original emotion – rather than having to deal with the original emotion.

    I can see biological advantages to this theory. For example, when I’m feeling afraid, I usually want to freeze or run away. But if I’m angry, then I’m much more likely to be aggressive. Sometimes the right approach in nature will not be to run, but a good offense.

    I may not have explained it very well, but the concept makes sense to me. What I have been trying to decide is if I agree that anger is *always* secondary emotion or can at least sometimes be a primary emotion. If anger is always a secondary emotion, it has implications for people (and other animals?) who have anger-management issues. The idea would be to treat the underlying emotion/situation causing the anger rather than trying to focus on the anger as the boggieman itself.

    If one thinks of anger as a reaction to say fear or frustration, I don’t see why dogs could not experience it. We see dogs experiencing frustration and fear all the time. What if some dogs just can’t handle the fear and/or frustration and feel that anger is a more comfortable emotion?

  21. trisha says

    Very interesting discussion re anger. I was going to choose Jealousy as the next emotion to discuss, but now you’ve all got me motivated to jump into the anger question. Stay tuned….

  22. JJ says

    to “Beth with the Corgis” on the topic of bell peppers. I read your post with such interest! I grew up with my mom feeding us raw slices of green bell peppers as our veggie for dinner. Bell peppers were one of the few veggies I actually liked–because I didn’t think they tasted bitter at all. They taste as sweet to me now as they did back then. However, I have always felt that dark green leafy veggies (say real romaine lettuce or kale) taste very bitter and I struggle very hard to eat them. (I do, but it’s not easy.)

    I’m a bit curious if you think all green veggies taste terribly bitter, including say romaine lettuce, or is it just the bell peppers? Wouldn’t it be interesting if you find that green bell peppers taste bitter but not say kale, and I taste the exact opposite? I’m also curious if you have tried other colors of bell peppers, such as red or orange. The different colors are not a guarantee of being sweater than green, but they often are.

    No pressure to answer of course. I was just very interested. Eating pepper was one way I could always get my veggies in my diet when nothing else appealed to me. I’ve never met someone who didn’t like them. I usually eat 1-2 peppers each work day just like I would eat an apple. And to work this back to the real topic at hand: Try not to be too disgusted with me!

  23. says

    Didn’t Karen Pryor write something about keeping a dog out of the wastebasket in Don’t Shoot the Dog? She diluted some vanilla extract in water and sprayed it on/around the trash can every so often, and she sprayed her dog directly in the face with it, but she only had to do that part once. He stayed away from vanilla scent after that. Funny how dogs enjoy the scent of dead animals and bumshits and they roll in gross stuff all the time, but perfumes and fragrances can be such a powerful aversive.

  24. Mary Beth says

    My brother’s German Wirehaired Pointer, Duncan, can show disgust. After the good and noble pointer has gone to all the effort of finding the pheasant, if the human does not do their job and deliver a bird, Duncan has thrown a serious long, look of reproach at the human. More recently, knowing full well that a bird was not shot, Duncan canvassed a small area for a bird that is obviously not there. Seemingly, dissing the failed hunter by a feigned search. Did not see sarcasm in the list of things a dog would emote…

  25. Thea Anderson says

    JJ, that’s a really interesting framework for anger. I read something that used those terms primary and secondary emotions–this author was differentiating between “primary” emotions that have their own distinct facial expressions and postural changes, which the author claimed were the same across all cultures and even among people who had been born blind, and “secondary” ones that are more about how our cognition colors the primary ones. (The book was about dance.) But when you get down to biological processes, the idea of primary versus secondary emotions is sort of rhetorical (I mean in the sense of rhetoric and logic, not irrelevant) because all emotions happen through long chemical signaling pathways with many steps. And anyway, an organism’s emotions don’t go through different feelings one by one like powerpoint slides, it’s one continuous flux.

    I know I sometimes “choose” to be angry because it feels more powerful than sadness or frustration. Actually I guess it feels more like an escape route than a choice. Anger is definitely self-reinforcing, for sure. Does my dog make a similar tradeoff when she decides to approach some unpleasant thing to lunge and snarl it or is that comparison hopelessly anthropomorphic? At least I’m certain she doesn’t stay up at night thinking about how and why she feels the way she feels.

  26. Rebecca Fouts says

    LOL — Re: the pudding poop. In Japan, there is a very popular novelty restaurant that sells various types of curry served in bowls that look like toilet bowls. And as anyone whose eaten curry knows — it can sorta look …..well. They also sell ice-cream that looks like poop, too. I guess it’s very popular there in Japan. The whole store is branded around this toilet bowl theme. I saw video of new customers first response to their meal coming out in a toilet-bowl dish — and curry kinda looking as it does anyway…well…some were able to get over their initial disgust — while others simply couldn’t get past it. For me, just the sight of others reactions and seeing it in video was enough to turn me off curry.

    As for bitter apple — and the possibility of using scents — My experience with the bitter apple, at least, has been it’s all about how it’s introduced. The “Sour Milk” introduction is a MUST. Otherwise, the dog just becomes desensitized to the taste. Every client I’ve had call who says they’ve tried it and it didn’t work I find they didn’t introduce it properly. They just sprayed it on stuff. I remind them, puppies chew on furniture legs — varnish can’t taste very good tasting either. So there’s more to it than just spraying and forgetting it.

    I think if scents were to be affective — and I would imagine that there’s a good possibility — after all, they’re now pushing scents into grocery stores to make you buy things, and there’s research to back up the practice — that some sort of sour milk like technique would probably need to be used, if it’s to be used as an aversive.

    For those who don’t know, the “sour mil” technique is when you put the bitter apple product on a cotton ball, walk up to the dog in a neutral manner, squirt it in their mouth, and simply walk away. It’s hoped that the unexpected “YUCK!” of the product in their mouth produces the same reaction humans get after accidentally taking a drink of sour milk — for weeks later, you tend to automatically sniff the milk carefully before drinking, recalling the unexpected awful taste.

    I’ve also found that the technique bares repeating now and then, to keep the reaction fresh. Otherwise they just become desensitized to the taste anyway.

    So if you could maybe figure out a way to do with scent — but what scent would you use? In all likelihood, the scents we most hate, they probably like. And vice versa.

    My boy Ammon HATES the doggie cologne so much, that all I have to do is get out the bottle and he runs and hides — then acts like I’m punishing him while I spray him. He sulks for a good 20 minutes afterward. He’s a service dog – so it’s either the doggie cologne, or more baths — and he gets enough of those as it is.

    In a way, we DO use scents — not as an aversive — but to train our pets to be toilet train. You put a bit of urine on the pee pad, box, or area in the yard you want them to go. They make those yellow posts with urine smell to teach dogs to go in the same area.

  27. Beth with the Corgis says

    JJ, it seems like only peppers to me. I don’t know if I’ve tried Kale but I think spinach tastes mildly sweet (especially raw spinach) and I like cruciferous veggies and the like. The only peppers I actually enjoy are sweet Italian peppers, but of course they are marinated. If a recipe calls for fresh bell peppers, I get jarred roasted ones instead; the roasting makes them tolerable to me, if not exactly enjoyable!

    It is funny, because it’s definitely a taste-bud thing. I grew up with a large vegetable garden and I wasn’t anti-vegetable. I even ate mushrooms and onions when I was pretty young, compared to many people who don’t come to appreciate them until adulthood.

    Every now and then I sample a pepper, hoping my taste has changed (they look so pretty!). But nope. Blech.

  28. D says

    I, and several others, definately witnessed disgust in my Border Collie one day when a kind friend brought a meal over to my mother, who was in hospice care at home. Mom wasn’t hungry, and the person left…and Mom said someone else should eat it. I took one whiff and said ewww, no way. Sadly, I don’t remember what it was but definately meat-based…but, two other people did the same thing. I then put it on the floor to see what my dog thought, and she approached it, then backed away from it, scrunching her nose and eyes in an incredibly clear look of disgust. My mother yelled out “Quick! Throw that stuff away!” We all laughed because my dog’s expression was priceless, and quite clear.

    On another note – not to hijack the thread (well, it’s sort of about emotions in dogs), but I just read this article in the New York Times. It’s pretty moving. Trisha, care to comment?

  29. JJ says

    Thea: Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I enjoyed reading them.

    I’m pretty sure I just made up “primary” and “secondary” for what I was trying to communicate. I can’t remember the exact wording of how I have previously heard “anger” as described. But your explanation of what you have read in the past in regards to facial expressions and dance was very interesting.

    I also think that “choose” is most often the wrong word. For most situations for most people/animals, I don’t think anger is a conscious choice. Though I do think that stopping anger can be a conscious choice. I also think that we can train ourselves to not get angry in certain/most? circumstances if that is what we want to do.

    Which leads me to a chapter or appendix or something at the end of For Love Of A Dog by Trisha. Please forgive me Trisha if I get the details wrong here since I read this some time ago. But the gist was: one of the things you can do to help a dog with anger management problems is to work on skills like “stay” and other tasks that might help with frustration-tolerance. The idea was very interesting to me in two ways: 1) even dogs can learn to have a different response than anger and 2) for even dogs, anger might be more of a secondary thing – the primary being frustration. Fix the ability to tolerate frustration and the anger never happens. (In theory — and if I remember that right.)

  30. Chris from Boise says

    More on peppers: My husband finds the bitterness in green bell peppers very aversive, but loves red peppers and both green and red chile peppers. So interesting to hear that he’s not totally wacko. :-)

  31. Janice says

    I think that you didn’t find much about Disgust in Dr. Panksepp’s book is because it is thought to be a sensory affect rather than an emotion– an evolutionary defense response to not poison yourself or to avoid those with sickness. At least, that is what my notes from hearing him speak seem to say, I think…..to tell the truth, he is so brilliant and can put so much more information into a sentence than anyone I have ever heard speak, that my notes are not perfectly clear. But taken from everything that I managed to write down, this is what I interpret my notes to be saying. I would however expect all mammals to experience Disgust under the right circumstances. I’ll see if I can figure out more about his take on the subject.

  32. trisha says

    Janice, thanks so much for the information about Panskepp and disgust as a sensory affect versus an emotion. Make sense when you put it that way. And just for the record, I truly dislike green peppers, raw or cooked (cooked the worst YUCK), but like red ones (same plant, just later in the season).

  33. Kat says

    @D re: canine PTSD. I have a friend stationed in Afganistan. He’s a dog lover and suggested that any care packages to him include something for his canine comrades as well. He based this request on the enthusiasm exhibited by one of the working dogs for a new tug toy. I’m wondering if the taste of home (pardon the pun) the dog got by something as normal as a tug toy would help the dog cope with the stresses of war. I’ll definitely be including something in the package I’m creating.

  34. lin says

    Some great discussion and information here, reminding me again why this is my favorite blog. Thank you for the points about how to use Bitter Apple. We’ve used it on our dog’s hotspots, and it seems to work, but it’s good to know how to keep it effective.

    Re: bell pepper likes and dislikes. I wonder if it’s similar to how cilantro can be perceived as soapy-tasting by some people. And maybe dogs can be genetically disposed to finding some scents more adversive than others.

  35. Jonna says

    re: green peppers – have eaten them all my life but as I get older am getting more sensitive to them. Cooked a tiny bit can spoil any dish. Raw, I don’t mind them, don’t love them. But I find they are far more tolerable – as are red & yellow bells – peeled. And peeling requires roasting, of course, but the peels seem to be the key.

    As for smell aversives – many years ago – probably in the late 1980s – I bought a “pet repellent” that was pretty effective. It was an aerosol can, brand name “Boundary.” I think I used it to keep dogs off furniture (something I’ve long adopted a new policy on) and to stop cats scratching upholstery. Here’s the thing: it smelled exactly like cilantro.

    I have tried planting cilantro a few times, intending to experiment with it but I find it hard to grow and can almost always find better uses for whatever little bit manages to come up.

  36. Claire says

    Could you share how you stopped her from eating sheep poop? My dog eats cat poop when we are out on walks, and she usually snatches and swallows it (yuck, yuck, yuck) before I have time to do anything. Any tips? THANKS!!

  37. Michelle says

    Okay…how does one get their pups to leave disgusting critter poop alone. My extremely food focused husky mix can’t get enough of the disgusting things he finds when we hike. And if there is an animal to chase, he goes deaf. Husky’s, or at least my dog, have to think that doing something is really their idea or that they want to do it because the reward is greater-by-far than what they are busy doing/eating at the time. I hate to but I have resorted to keeping him on leash when we are hiking. My dog, Mowgli, is very, very smart. Although his first inclination might be to do what I ask (he’ll start the move), he’ll then stop and look at me as if to say ‘whaddya have to make it worth my while?’ Maybe a blog on tips for tough cases!! Thanks!

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