Monday, January 9, 2012
Do dogs have an imagination?
I've been hearing for years that dogs are unable to imagine things. They're only driven by instinct. They're not like people and shouldn't be treated like people. Well, I agree you can't reason with a dog quite the same way you can with people, but imagination? I say hell's yeah they do!
Take my dog Kinsey, for example. She makes stuff up all the time and if that's not an imagination I don't know what is. Perhaps it takes a really smart dog to have what it takes to mentally imagine something. Kinsey has quite the vocabulary for a 3-year-old border bully, and I think she's learning how to spell, too. It's best not to say B-A-L-L in her presence or you'll have a slobbery tail-wagging 50 pound canine up in your grill.
I'm no dog behaviorist, but I must say my dog has taught me a few things about dog behavior. She's stubborn, willful, mischevious, playful and affectionate. And very sensitive, which is where I think her imagination comes into play.
Kinsey has irrational fears, and one might think that's a canine defense mechanism, which it could be. But some of the stuff she's afraid of makes no sense so I think she's making it all up.
For instance, one day my husband and I were walking Kinsey, like we do every day, and we passed some kids with a kite. Kinsey was very excited to see the kids because she adores children, but when she saw the kite flutter high above her head, she cowered and nearly pulled me off my feet trying to get away. What would cause such fear? A kite never threatened or hurt her before, so I'm thinking she imagined a future event that involved a kite swooping down to either attack her or lift her up and carry her away. She's okay with birds, though she doesn't much care for helicopters.
There's also a certain area on our regular walk that always makes her drop her tail, lower her head, pull her ears back, and make a beeline to get away as fast as possible. That all started when the dog in a neighbor's backyard got its leash wrapped around a chair and it dragged it across the concrete porch, making a loud scraping noise. The little dog that weighed about 10 pounds soaking wet didn't pose a threat, didn't bark, just sat down, but the sound of that chair scraping the concrete freaked out Kinsey and she remembers. Now every time we pass that house she behaves like that chair is coming to get her. She also recognizes the dog and and if we see it on our walks, she cowers, though the dog couldn't care less about her. I blame her behavior on an active doggy imagination.
Does your dog or cat or horse or other pet have an imagination? Want to share some examples? I'd love to hear it. :)