August 15, 2009

From R. Gerald Smith:

Re: “Guilty look” in dogs mostly owners’ fantasy, study finds (June 15): Alexandra Horowitz may be a wonderful psychology professor, but she quite obviously knows virtually nothing about canine behavior. Her study concernig dogs feeling guilty is incorrectly done on so many levels that it’s hard to know were to start. A couple of points:

Of course the dogs “look guilty” when scolded by their owners; it’s call submissive behavior. The dog is reacting to disapproval by the head of it’s pack. It has practically nothing to do with the dog’s previous behavior. If the dog didn’t respond in that way to it’s owner’s disapproval, that is a dog that isn’t “people oriented” and would not respond very well to training. It considers itself the head of the pack.

If the elapsed time from the canine behavior until the scolding is more than a minute (actually much less) the dog makes no connection between the behavior and the negative stimulas. It probably doesn’t speak much English and hasn’t the foggiest notion why the owner is scolding it (and it doesn’t matter) - it only senses disapproval from the head of it’s pack.

Please don’t publish such drivel and call it a valid study. It’s a bad joke, at best.

R. Gerald Smith


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please don't denigrate a scientific paper based on a press release and still expect anyone to take you seriously. I've read the actual paper, and what it says is that the dog's reaction has almost nothing to do with its previous behavior. Surprisingly, this is the same claim you make. So why would you call the paper drivel? The only reason I can think of is that you didn't actually read it, in which case you're simply a fool.

August 15, 2009 9:38 AM  

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