Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Imitation or Treat-Induced Action?

From the Discovery News article Dogs Automatically Imitate People:

"New research has just determined dogs automatically imitate us, even when it is not in their best interest to do so.

Ten dogs received training to open a sliding door using their head or a paw. The dogs then watched their owners open the door by hand or by head. The dogs were next divided into two groups. Dogs in the first group received a food reward whenever they copied what the owner did. Dogs in the second group received a food reward when they did the opposite.

All of the dogs were inclined to copy what the owner did, even if it meant receiving no food reward.”

From a Dog’s point of view:

This experiment is nothing more than us throwing you a pork bone (because we can’t eat those), for goodness sakes. Of course the dogs were inclined to do what the owner did…usually that is how we get a treat!

Under normal conditions, would we get a treat for NOT following your commands? No, we wouldn’t and we know it.

So why take the chance?! Why take the chance that if we did the opposite of what you wanted, we would actually get a treat?

The Marrow: the whole experiment is preposterous! You know after the experiment was over, every dog got a treat anyway!  Dogs 1, Humans 0.

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Oz the Terrier