PROOF THAT DOGS CAN REASON
by Barbara J. Andrews, AKC Master Breeder, SAAB
I’m tired of hearing that dogs can’t reason. Of course they can’t do calculus but then they don’t rob banks either! Charles Darwin, naturalist, geologist, father of The Theory Of Evolution, wrote extensively about dog behavior and something dogs were said NOT to have during the 1800s, emotions. Using his own dogs as study subjects, he concluded that dogs experience human emotions AND that they could figure things out.(Darwin, 1871).
In March 2015 the media bombarded us with a “human interest story” about a mother dog that buried her puppies to protect them from a forest fire. While humans do find it interesting, a fox would say “ho hum” because having been chased by hounds, he knows darn well that dogs can reason!
So a mother dog dug a hole and put her puppies below the raging forest fire, then dug a hole for herself and thus survived? That is
pretty incredible to those of us who can read a newspaper but can’t follow a scent trail!
How did she figure that out? Let’s think about what she did.
According to Wikipedia, dog intelligence is the ability of a dog to learn, think, and solve problems. Obviously the mother dog had no previous experience in that situation. Whereas
even a domestic dog will instinctively dig a “den” to whelp and rear
her puppies, how could any dog know that her puppies would be safe in a deep hole below fire?
“Negrita” was reunited with her nine puppies after their rescue.
Credit: Megavision via CNN
It is highly unlikely that she had any previous experience which taught her that fire makes heat and heat RISES? Even so, to extrapolate that experience into the action she took would require her to be able to reason that if heat rises, her puppies would be safe below the fire.
Either way, we are confronted with the inescapable fact that she instantly figured out the only possible solution as the forest fire raced towards her babies.
Surely she felt the same paralyzing fear any human mother would experience. When you, the sentient human being, stop to think about it, what that desperate mother dog did was the only logical
Right. So now you are thinking – just like that frantic animal must have done. Now that you’ve had time to reason it out, it makes perfect sense. Now think
That mother dog instantly computed the only solution. Let’s concede she was of superior canine intelligence but she didn’t read instructions nor ask advice. The “dumb dog” connected two and two and reasoned that if burying a bone kept it safe, then surely burying her babies would keep them safe.
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