Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dog Indicates Owner In Trouble

We all used to watch Lassie go and tell people that something was wrong, or that someone was in trouble. It made for a fine TV episode... and then we wondered if our dog would do the same for us.

Some dogs, not all, but some, will do this very thing. They will go get help when someone is in trouble. Here we have a German Shepherd Dog alerting firefighters that its Master was in trouble. The firefighters were smart enough to trust the dog, which helped them locate the owner in a wrecked vehicle about a quarter mile away. Now think about that. How does that jive with all we oftentimes hear about dogs? We hear from the Operant Conditioning and Classical Conditioning folks that dogs are pretty much stimulus - response robots. How did this dog learn to do what it did? Did it have previous lessons? Did someone do clicker training with this dog? Was Pavlov's whistle blown? Nope. There is more to behavior that those sterile theories.

Unfortunately, when the owner was found, the dog was injured and the owner was dead. But, the dog's loyalty and it's pack behaviors made this story what it is. Dogs are a lot more complex than many people realize. This was a perfect example of that.

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