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The Disney Dog

The Disney dog myth and its impact on real dogs

So I’ve been listening to the culture clash audiobook since yesterday and I am obsessed especially with the ‘ Disney Dog ‘ concept,

It is fascinating and sadly true the world's love for dogs and putting them on a pedestal and manufacturing and pushing intellect onto them that is not there is actually hurting dogs all over the world, as we humanise them and think they are capable of understanding and thinking complex thoughts that they simply cannot.

This often leads to punishment or more complex punishments that are unwarranted, with the thinking that dogs knew they were wrong or ‘should have known better

We see this a lot when owners call their dogs stubborn, sly , spiteful or guilty - often pet parents don’t know any better and as it’s so common to humanise dogs it seems a natural conclusion to assume a dog is stubborn when they exhibit behaviours like - not performing a sit when asked outside when the dog has performed it before countless times at home with no issues.

When in reality the dog is a contextual learner and has either not proofed the behaviour in other environments, isn’t finding the behaviour reinforcing enough or is anxious or distracted by something else and thus not performing the behaviour, this often ‘warrants punishment’ or the pet parent deems it appropriate to use some force ( pushing dogs bum to the ground) because some don’t understand the reason behind the dog not performing the behaviour and then assume the dog is deliberately refusing to perform a behaviour ‘for the sake of refusal’

For a nation that loves dogs, we do often fall incredibly short of truly taking the time to further our knowledge and understand them and as the media pushes the old ideology and myths about dogs despite having known better for decades people will continue to fall into the Disney dog trap

Really enjoyed listening to this audiobook! And seriously recommend it to EVERYONE But you can grab the book on Amazon too, some elements are a touch outdated, and there's a lot of -P which a lot of reward-based ( + R professionals would likely build from errorless learning instead )

Check the book out here

The Walt Disney dog: he is very intelligent, has morals, is capable of planning and executing revenge, solves complex problems, and understands the value of the artifacts in Walt's home.

Quoted The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson

Nobody wants B.F. Skinner's dog: the input-output black box who is so obviously not the furry member of our family. It's been marketed all wrong.Skinner was right but has gotten bad press. The truth must be presented in a way that people will start to buy into. They have to, because not getting it has led to the death of countless dogs. Here is an example to illustrate the difference.

Quoted The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson

Here is an example to illustrate the difference.

A dog has been reprimanded every time he was caught chewing furniture. Now the dog refrains from chewing furniture when the owner is home but becomes destructive when left alone. When the owner comes home and discovers the damage, the dog slinks around, ears back and head down.

Walts View:

The dog learns from the reprimand that chewing furniture is wrong, and that the owner hates it. The dog resents being left alone and, to get back at the owner, chews the furniture when the owner leaves. He deliberately, in other words, engages in an act he knows to be wrong. When the owner comes home the dog feels guilty about what he has done.

B.F. Skinner's view:

The dog learns that chewing furniture is dangerous when the owner is present but safe when the owner is gone. The dog is slightly anxious when left alone and feels better when he chews. It also helps pass the time. Later, when the owner comes home, the dog behaves appeasingly in an attempt to avoid or turn off the harsh treatment he has learned often happens at this time. The owner's arrival home and/or pre-punishment demeanor have become a predictor: the dog knows he's about to be punished. He doesn't know why.

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