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Do you think dogs can imagine things/ events? Obviously they can make short term predictions on what is about to happen, say when cutting off a sheep's escape attempt, or listening to a rattle in the dinner bowl, but what about something that might happen, but is not imminent?

 

And what about pretending? I took a survey animal behavior course in college, and pulled the topic of play in rhesus monkeys for my term paper. One of the recurring themes in my reading was that 'play' in juveniles consists of imitations of adult survival skills - fighting, hunting, etc., but stylized and moderated. Like in the kids game "cops and robbers" - there's no bank safe, no money, and no guns (hopefully), but they run around with hands in a trigger position yelling "bang!". Do dogs playing together agree, "ok, I'll be the elk this time, and you can be the wolf, but we switch in five minutes!"? Does the border collie say "my dang human wouldn't bring me a sheep, so that woolly-doodley thing will have to do"?

 

Thoughts?

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I don't know if she's imagining or she just knows, but she lies on the rug in the kitchen when the dog-walker's coming. I don't even know when he'll be here - but he comes three or four times a week, different days, different times of day, and on the days he comes she spends her "down time" on the rug by the door in the kitchen.

 

I think she imagines my cat is another Border Collie. (Based on the way she rough-houses with him.) But then, I think the cat thinks he's a dog most of the time. Sometimes he even play-bows to get a rumpus started - other time he arches up his back, frizzes his tail and runs sideways at her. When the dog starts doing that I'll know they are both confused about what their own species is.

 

I'm pretty sure Sugarfoot imagines that if she does cute puppy head-cocking and ear waggling enough that I'll give her a bully stick or a cookie. :rolleyes:

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I feel pretty much the same way about all comparisons of dogs to humans: we're both mammalian species, and we're both social animals. Our brains and bodies have evolved to utilize very different ways of taking in the world. (Visual vs. olfactory... language vs. body language, etc.) But the bare-bones minimum of behavior we exhibit is pretty darned similar. We protect our young. We seek food. We spend an inordinate amount of time on mating rituals.

 

So, if we watch kids playing "cops and robbers," then watch puppies playing "sheep and sheepdog," I think we're seeing essentially the same wiring from the brains, only maybe more sophisticated in humans - but then I'm obviously using a human-centric definition of "sophisticated." The actual reason for the pretending and game-playing is evolutionarily the same: practicing of adult skills and behaviors.

 

Can two puppies strategize about who gets to play shepherd this time? Probably not. Do they have any idea about why they like playing this game? I'm sure they don't. We humans aren't terribly good at figuring out why we like to watch men dressed up in funny costumes run around a field tossing a little spherical object, either. (Evolutionary need to wage war for survival against other tribes subverted into sport? I'm guessing?)

 

I think that within their own sensory parameters, dogs are probably "playing" and "imagining" as much as we are. Sure, the experience has to be fundamentally different because our brains are different.

 

I can't help but think our dogs walk around sometimes, thinking in their canine ways... "Those humans can't smell ANYTHING. I wonder if they're even able to imagine what lies around the corner, since they can't smell it?"

 

Mary

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I feel pretty much the same way about all comparisons of dogs to humans: we're both mammalian species, and we're both social animals. Our brains and bodies have evolved to utilize very different ways of taking in the world. (Visual vs. olfactory... language vs. body language, etc.) But the bare-bones minimum of behavior we exhibit is pretty darned similar. We protect our young. We seek food. We spend an inordinate amount of time on mating rituals.

 

So, if we watch kids playing "cops and robbers," then watch puppies playing "sheep and sheepdog," I think we're seeing essentially the same wiring from the brains, only maybe more sophisticated in humans - but then I'm obviously using a human-centric definition of "sophisticated." The actual reason for the pretending and game-playing is evolutionarily the same: practicing of adult skills and behaviors.

 

Can two puppies strategize about who gets to play shepherd this time? Probably not. Do they have any idea about why they like playing this game? I'm sure they don't. We humans aren't terribly good at figuring out why we like to watch men dressed up in funny costumes run around a field tossing a little spherical object, either. (Evolutionary need to wage war for survival against other tribes subverted into sport? I'm guessing?)

 

I think that within their own sensory parameters, dogs are probably "playing" and "imagining" as much as we are. Sure, the experience has to be fundamentally different because our brains are different.

 

I can't help but think our dogs walk around sometimes, thinking in their canine ways... "Those humans can't smell ANYTHING. I wonder if they're even able to imagine what lies around the corner, since they can't smell it?"

 

Mary

 

The part about sport is true. Native Americans invented lacrosse as a way of putting war in a sports theme. Sometimes entire villages would be wiped out and a game could last days, with the goals being miles apart. I grew up an athlete and football is as close to waging war on another person as you can get without using weapons. Like war, football takes a certain mentality and discipline to play or you're going to get very hurt very quickly, much like war.

 

With dogs, I like to think a lot of what they do reverts back to wolf behavior and it's all about survival. A good game of bite face is play fighting. My two do it every night on our bed whilst we brush our teeth, you can hear them from the bathroom, and when we stick our heads in to watch, they stop and pretend to be lying still... :rolleyes:.

 

When one is chasing another they are playing, but I like to think they're practicing for having to take down another animal to kill and eat.

 

Tim

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Well, anyone who has seen a dog running it its sleep knows that they certainly dream, so it's not terribly far fetched to think that in its wakeful state a dog can be imagining the same sort of things. It would be hard to convince me that when Daisy is staring intently out the window that she is not imaginign herself outside chasing after squirrels.

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I often look at Jin and wonder what he's thinking. He'll just lie there, awake eyes open and looks like he's thinking about something. It's quite different than when he's listening to the area or sniffing the area. Then there's play with Abby;. You can see the thoughts going through Jin's head as he notices Abby then starts to stalk her ending up with some sort of play attack. There are other times when he wants something and he air barks or stares at me with his, "I want____________, please get it for me." look. The problem is I abotu half the time I don't know what he wants and I imagine him just opening his mouth and asking for it in English.

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