THANKS to you all for contributing to the survey! I’ll give you the results of the blog survey first and then compare them on the right with a survey done at the Madison Seminar (thanks!) and with research done by Morris et. al. in 2008 (Cognition & Emotion 22(1), 3-20). First, emotions and dogs (of course!)
CAN DOGS EXPERIENCE THE FOLLOWING EMOTIONS?
EMOTION BLOG YES SEMINAR YES MORRIS 2008 YES
FEAR 100% 100% 93%
JOY 100% 99.5% 99%
ANGER 85.7% 95.1% 65%
DISGUST 78.3% 66.2% 34%
GUILT 22.9% 40.0% 74%
JEALOUSY 82.9% 84.6 81%
Pretty interesting, hey? Note that Fear, Anger and Jealousy have relatively similar responses between blog readers, seminar attendees and animal owners as asked by Morris et al. (Although isn’t it interesting that only 93% of dog owners thought dogs could experience fear? Oh my. Look, though, at the answers to Disgust and Guilt. Wow, quite a difference, hey? And only 65% of Morris’s respondents thought dogs could be angry, while 86% of blog readers did.
IF ONE ASKS THE SAME QUESTION ABOUT “ANIMALS:” (And yes, the question does arise, as well it should, what animals? Grasshoppers? Morris’ research actually asked animal owners: “Is your animals ever fearful?” The respondents could have birds, horses, hamsters, etc. So in that sense I didn’t follow the methods of the research, but I was curious what folks would say to the general question and would like to compare it later to my UW student’s answers, so bear with me….). You’ll see that the Madison seminar attendees were not asked this question:
EMOTION BLOG YES MORRIS YES
FEAR 100% 97%
JOY 98.4% 98%
ANGER 93.5 % 68%
DISGUST 82.3% 33%
GUILT 47.6% 41%
JEALOUSY 87.3% 63%
* Percentages don’t always add up to 100% because some answers were “don’t know.” In addition, some respondents included humans (logically) and I think answered if ANY animal could, while others answered if ALL animals could. A good example of a poorly worded question! Note to self.
AND HAMSTERS? Fewer of you responded here, 50 versus 70 for dogs (understandably, and good for you for saying you didn’t know!). Summarizing, all three groups are less likely to attribute all emotions except Fear to hamsters than dogs (Yes to Joy in Hamsters was from 80 to 91% — the highest number from Morris’ research interestingly enough!). For example, 83% of blog readers thought dogs could be jealous, but only 36 % thought hamsters could.
Interesting stuff, hey? Here’s what I plan to do next week: Enroll you in why ALL mammals can experience Disgust, Fear and Anger, show you some research that suggests that indeed dogs can experience something akin to human Jealousy, and agree with many of you that Guilt is a complicated construct that of all the emotions is least like to be similar in dogs and people. (Great research on that to come too!)
Til then, see you in Cleveland I hope this weekend, and if not, definitely in Orlando January 7th for an all new seminar on Canine Communication that I am having a ball working on, or Naples on January 12th for a half-day seminar on using dogs in AAT and AAA (details to come VERY soon.)
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Oh the weather! Why am I inside for heaven’s sake! It’s been sunny and 50’s, and everyone who has lived here a few years know how very sweet the weather is for this time of year. Tootsie did beautifully with the snow after a few days, but now the ground is dry again so I’m sure we’ll have to start over once it snows or rains again. Her biggest strides in the last few weeks have been coming when called. She’s doing so well I am even taking her outside off leash, but only under certain circumstances: I have incredibly good food and she knows it; we’re behind the house and she can’t be distracted by cars on the road; I know she needs to pee; Willie is beside us and is under 100% vocal control and she pays some attention to where he goes; and, most importantly, we only stay out for 3-4 minutes maximum. In other contexts she’s on leash and I practice calling TOOTSIE COME! and run the other way and give her treat treat treat for turning and running to me. I gotta tell you, there’s not much cuter than watching her fly across the grass, ears flapping like Dumbo, tail turning like a crank, mouth drooling in anticipation of treats.
And good news on the Willie front too. He’s progressed enough that he gets occasional times outside without the Hobbles (rare and short), and today, for the FIRST TIME since February, I took him up the hill behind the house and let him run free (with Hobbles on, but still…) I’ll take it back a notch tomorrow and keep him extra quiet until I see how he does. We go one two steps forward and one step back, but mostly we’re going in the right direction. My dream of working him on sheep in November is gone (today was going to be the day, by the way. I circled it on the calendar many months ago.) His PT says probably not until well into 2012. Deep breath. We’ll be okay, it’ll come before we know it, and at least he can be off leash outside now for awhile.
Willie and Tootsie are about the same with each other. They continue to pretend that they are the only dog in the house. They do sneak sniffs more often when the other isn’t looking, and Willie gets my eternal gratitude for tolerating all kinds of rude behavior from her. He lets her lick food out of the same plate (allowed after the humans are done with dinner), ignores it when she dances on his head to get up to our faces, and let’s her take over a sleeping place without so much of a grumble. Again, I see no love lost, but they seem to be accepting each other as the new normal. I’ll keep you posted.
It’s gorgeous outside. I just wish I was able to spend more time out there. But it is great to feel like we’re getting ready for winter. Our chest freezer (large enough to put a cow into. Standing up. Well, okay, not quite, but it’s HUGE) is full to the brim with strawberries and raspberries and rhubarb and apple butter and chard and broccoli and spinach and 1/4 of a kindly raised hog, an entire lamb from the farm, and 15 organic, local chickens. And a gazillion other things. Trips to the market will be little more than orange juice and toilet paper, flour and sugar. And best of all, all the ewes have been bred by the new ram, King Charles. (I named him KC because he seemed tiny to me when he arrived. I named him after, you guessed it, King Charles Cavalier Spaniels).
Here’s the evening sun on the back hills behind Lady Godiva, Spot and Rosebud, who have come down for their nightly alfalfa. This was last week, now the snow is long gone, the sun is shining and it’s warm and balmy.
I love the patterns of snow on branches and sun on leaves:
Thanks for the results! I’m definitely looking forward to next week’s enrollment!
My last experience with a hamster was when I was 11 or so, and not very knowledgeable about animals behavior. I very desperately wanted a dog, and had a “business” walking a couple of dogs in the neighborhood for 50 cents each. Thinking back, Nutter Butter (the hamster) in fact seemed rather “blank” to me; I can’t remember much in the way of emotion or interest that I specifically noticed. (maybe I should have posted this stuff last time, hmm?)
Fascinating stuff but maybe more for what it says about human perception than about what might be going on in the heads of dogs or hamsters or the chickadee who scolded my dog and I so fiercely this morning. And yes, I meant who. That’s my perception, at least…
This is unrelated, but I was watching this video…
How do you feel about these dogs being flown to the states to be reunited with their human ‘caretakers’?
Beth with the Corgis says
I find the differences in perception of guilt interesting. Your blog readers seem to say “no” at a much higher rate than the study. I’m guessing that’s because many of us have read over and over that the dog doesn’t put his ears back when you see the spilled garbage can because of guilt; the dog puts his ears back because he knows from experience that the spilled garbage makes you unhappy and he’s appeasing you. The dog would also put his ears back if YOU spilled the garbage in front of him, since it’s the spilled garbage on the floor and not the act of spilling it that the dogs associates with your displeasure.
Very interesting results to see what people think and how much peoples’ perception about their fellow animals seems to change acros sthe different groups. I had a great hamster named Theo in my teens and I’m sure he felt joy (he had so much fun navigating leftover cardboard tubes, chasing my cat in his plastic ball, and what is fun but an expression of joy anyways).
And a big yay for Willie!! A run free, however brief, is a great sign. And him still tolerating Tootsie, another welcome sign.
It’s good to read about Tootsie and Willy. Since we added Finna to our menagerie I’m eager for all encouraging stories and happy progress. I’m also extremely grateful that you’ve devoted so so many blog posts to leash reactivity and other fear based behaviors and very grateful for all of your blog readers that have weighed in with their experiences and generously shared their knowledge. Finna is making steady progress but she has such a long long way to go. It’s been almost two weeks and she still barks and growls at my husband when he comes into the room. I had to laugh tonight though as she went bounding over barking and barking then sat and waited for her treats. “Go away you scary man/where are my treats?” He’ll be able to spend a lot of time with her this weekend. That should help a lot.
As Denise says, it is very interesting to see different human perceptions of animal emotions – and would be fascinating to see how these correlate with choice of training methods. The many different ways we can interpret the same question was a bit of an eye-opener for me, too! I am beginning to have far more sympathy than I did with Skinner’s preference for working solely with observed behaviours!
Beth with the Corgis says
Denise, my understanding is the chickadee “scold” is actually a warning and that they are among an increasing number of animals who has been demonstrated to have a different warning for different threats. If you listen carefully, you will probably find that there is a different number of “dee dee dees” if you go out alone, or out with your dog.
The most interesting was when I read that prairie dogs can actually develop different warnings for, say, “coyote” vs “dog” and for “Tall man in red hat” vs “Hatless woman”. And so on. Moreover, when the chickadee gives its warning, there is a good chance that some unrelated creature on the ground hears it, and knows what it is.
So it seems that the critters are more complex than scientists previously gave them credit for.
Larry C. says
Guilt is an artificial emotion. Even humans only feel guilt when they do something they have been taught is wrong, and that emotion is based on a fear of punishment. I doubt that any feral dog feels guilt. Among domestic dogs the capacity for guilt seems to vary with the individual. I have known some dogs who never act guilty, and others that do. Unlike humans, who can be racked with guilt for years or even decades, even the guiltiest dogs never managed it for more than a very few minutes.
Doggy Doogle says
Very interesting statistics. I wonder if human perception of animals would be correct 100% of the time, or if it would it be far less. A whole other study within itself I suppose.
Pictures were beautiful. Especially the second one with all it’s different shades of color. I love nature.
Marcia in NorCal says
I’m trying to figure out how anyone in the Morris study could think that dogs don’t experience fear. I can only imagine that they have never owned, lived with (or even lived near) a dog. I can sort of understand the smaller numbers for anger, disgust and so forth… but not feeling fear? Even if there were a fair number of “don’t know” responses, it still seems odd.
Anyone else surprised by that?
(And three cheers for Tootsie’s courage, and for Willie’s patience — I can just see her “dancing on his head” — and three more for Tricia and Jim for taking her in. Such lucky, lucky critters!)
chloe De Segonzac says
the photo with the sheep in evening light is really beautiful. Took me back to my childhood visiting my cousins in the country, and playing outside until the last possible light.
Dogs & disgust: I recall reading a line Trisha wrote, either on this blog or in one of her books. It goes something like, “If you want to see a disgusted look on a dog’s face let them take a good sniff of your cologne bottle.” Ya, I totally believe dogs feel happy, angry, fear, jealousy & disgust.
Dogs & guilt: Its my opinion but I think what a dog displays is not guilt but fear. My way of thinking is that a dog cannot tell right from wrong. It does what it does through training and instinct. Using the garbage on the floor example I’d say the dog is reading the human’s body language and experience tells it that type of display from the human generally doesn’t end well (for the dog or anyone else in the house at the time).
I’m glad Willie is mending well. I look forward to hearing stories of his herding trials in the future.
And for more on animal emotion and intelligence, anyone listened to this? http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/audio-video/item/sy_montgomery_and_guests_discuss_animal_intelligence/
I’m about 1/2 way through (it’s almost an hour long, hard to grab that much time for 1 sitting) and am enjoying the examples of fish and birds.
Guilt is a very interesting one – I say very firmly that dogs don’t feel guilt, but there is a definite difference when mine are interrupted while doing something against the rules (typically balancing on the back of a chair to lick the human plates that are meant to be out of reach), and while doing something that is not. They seem to understand the concept of “If she catches me doing this she will be cross”, (or possibly tongue on plate + owner coming through the door = probable bad stuff for dogs), as do the cats. What they don’t seem to do is to extrapolate from that to “If I lick the plates I am a Bad Dog, and being a Bad Dog makes me feel uncomfortable inside. If I don’t lick the plates I am a Good Dog, and being a Good Dog makes me feel happy inside”, in the way a human learns to do.
As one who was raised as a good Catholic child in the 1950s, I have spent rather a lot of time thinking about guilt, and how it is engendered!
Regarding guilt, there has been some research about a dog’s sense of “fairness” – they’ll stop working if they see another dog getting a greater reward. My feeling is that the dog who gets the greater reward knows that something is amiss, too. It may not be Dostoyevskian guilt, and how “bad” they feel about it is open to question – they’re not turning down the extra treats – but even with people (or maybe especially with people) it would be difficult to “measure” guilt strictly by observing behaviors.
Thea Anderson says
If Morris et al simply asked “Is your dog ever fearful?” then maybe up to 7% of respondents had dogs who were either so stoic or so fortunate as to never display fear to their owners.
By that same token, if Morris et al asked respondents “Is your dog ever guilty?” then that means something very different from whether or not dogs can feel guilt. I don’t believe my dog feels particularly culpable about going through the trash, but if I find a bunch of chewed-up q-tips on her bed she’s definitely the guilty culprit.
On the other hand, I’m skeptical about disgust. After reading one of your books, Patricia, I tried offering my wrist sprayed with perfume to my dog to sniff, but she always tries to lick me if I’m wearing perfume or lotion. I’ve definitely seen disappointment when I offered a treat of something she apparently didn’t think was edible, but she seemed more as if I’d hurt her feelings than disgusted.
To me, disgust means visceral contempt and sustained resentment for a perceived insult to decency or morality or taste. I just don’t believe dogs are that complex. If I give my dog something she doesn’t want, she moves her head away, but it just feels like communication.
Debra Ludwig says
Very interesting. I found this article while searching for information to help me with a blind pit bull who has terrible anxiety to the point of hiding in the bathtub, outside in corners, etc. I have no idea what to do for her and our vet seems unconcerned! So frustrating!!