Question 2. 'Desire to please'

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by Laurelin, Jul 15, 2012.

  1. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    I heard a couple people recently say that they thought dogs do not purely desire to please people in any situation. That the dog acts on what is beneficial to it. Agree? Disagree?

    I am honestly unsure.
     
  2. Linds

    Linds Twin 2

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    I think if you look at it at a purely unemotional way you could say that making you happy equals good things for them, something they find pleasurable so working for the act of pleasing you makes it in turn pleasing to them. So you happy, means happy time for them, which means working harder for happy time.

    But I've got to say Traveler works very hard for me. He will bend over backwards to make me happy. Kaylee? Well if she doesn't get food then it is pointless. Traveler will work for a smile and Kaylee will leave and find the garbage.

    But I could be misunderstanding what you're saying too, kinda multitasking.
     
  3. Shai

    Shai & the Muttly Crew

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    I guess it depends on how you look at it, but I'd disagree. Mira has a lot of, for lack of a better term at this moment, social drive and she will do stuff just for praise and attention. And since praise and attention is how she knows that's what I wanted, I guess I would call that a "desire to please."

    But again I suppose it depends on how one defines such things.

    Doesn't mean she'll do anything for that. But it definitely plays a roll in many situations.
     
  4. sassafras

    sassafras mushinois

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    I think how people act when they are pleased can be rewarding/motivating to some dogs. So in a sense I guess the desire to work for that reward is the same as the desire to work for any other reward.


    ETA: I think what some people don't like about the phrase is that it can be interpreted as having an implication that a dog who has "a desire to please" understands the situation with enough sophistication to want to do something purely to make a person happy with no thoughts of itself. But personally, I don't think even among humans ANY of us achieve that level of purity - pleasing other people almost always gives us some benefit as well, derived at least in part by how another person acts when we do something that pleases them.
     
  5. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    This is kind of the dilemma I'm having. Both my dogs are the kind that I can just point them to something and they'll do it. They often seem to just listen just because. So I have often said they are the type of dog that wants to please.

    But I suppose a social factor is the drive there. I can't think of much of anything that is more rewarding to my dogs than getting to be around the people they like.
     
  6. Cthulhu7

    Cthulhu7 Mitch & Erin

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    I think it depends on the dog. I've seen some that were truly wily. They'd do what you wanted just long enough to get what they wanted. I've met others that would know exactly when you needed a smile or a head in your lap. It's not even a breed thing, just personality.
     
  7. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

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    I have a girlfriend with a BC that always amazes me. She can offer treats and toys but in the end the dog really just wants mom to scruff him up and say good boy.

    If I work my two too much without a toy they begin to look at me like whats it in for me? and then they begin to search me for a reward by systematically biting my normal hiding spots. I have sweet dogs. lol
     
  8. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    I think the dog/breed makes it vary wildly. Sport LIVES to be given things to do. He will do things for the joy of being able to follow cues. He get so excited over any interaction.

    Then we have the JRTs :) They are very into people, but aren't slavishly interested in doing random behaviours for human amusement. They either need to have nothing else more interesting going on or the chance of there being something in it for them.

    The whippets fall in the middle closer to Sport. They desire the increased interaction that following cues usually provides. Though if its difficult or unpleasant (lying down is horrible if you ask them lol) they often look at you like 'why' if we arent' in 'training' mode. Simple or fun cues are met with swift and enthusiastic obedience.
     
  9. Southpaw

    Southpaw orange iguanas.

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    Depends on the dog. Some dogs just do things with little or no reward, and maybe all they want out of the deal is a smile from their owner or a pat on the head. To me that's working to please.

    Then there are dogs like Juno who want something more out of it. She'll do anything for anyone as long as there are treats or toys involved. There's no sort of motivation to please me - she just wants something worth her while.
     
  10. Red.Apricot

    Red.Apricot Active Member

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    Elsie's favorite thing is making me laugh. I don't know why she loves it, but she does. It sucks, because she'll act up and do ridiculous stuff to get me going, and it works.
     
  11. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    I don't often like to say my dogs have a "desire to please", because I think it sets other dogs up for huge failure, and plays into some beliefs that people need to get away from. "My dog should want to please me" is a regular justification for not using rewards, expecting dogs to do things without actually training them, and punishing dogs who are 'wrong'. People want to believe that all dogs should just want to do everything they ask of them.

    Meg will work for a short time with just praise and love as long as the 'work' isn't too scary for her. Gusto will work forever for most types of work, because doing stuff is very self-rewarding for him. That along with pairing my pleasure to rewards makes him come across as a dog who works to please me. I think he's getting a lot of pleasure from it himself though.
     
  12. RD

    RD Are you dead yet?

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    I don't think dogs have a real desire to please because I don't think they understand much beyond what pleases them. If pleasing us brings pleasant things to them, then they learn to please us in certain ways. I don't think dogs are born with an understanding of human emotions, it's something that they learn to read as they spend years living with people. My dad and grandpa used to call older dogs "professional dogs" because they can often read and respond to every little visual or verbal cue we give them, consciously or not.

    Everyone says BCs are eager to please, but they're really not any more eager to please than any other dog. They are just workaholics, and bred to be that way. Lots of breeds are. Activity and interaction of any kind is often self-rewarding to BCs, especially if they feel like they're accomplishing something.
     
  13. Taqroy

    Taqroy Active Member

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    I was trying to think how to say this and now I don't have to. Thanks for enabling my laziness? :p
     
  14. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

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    I don't think dogs work to please people. I'm not so sure they are capable of the empathy needed to know they are making you feel happy. They can obviously see your behavior change when you are happy, and they might like that, but I don't think they can truly understand how you feel. I do think some dogs find praise and petting rewarding, and some find you getting excited rewarding. I also think some dogs truly enjoy working, they find solving problems fun and enjoy working with people, whatever the task, they find the work itself fun. For instance Tucker was taught to high five, we ask him to high five all of the time, he hasn't gotten a food reward for high fiving in over a year, the most he gets is petting but usually just cheering and good boy! Tucker LIKES high fiving, he finds the action and the excitement around the action rewarding. He also doesn't see it as a lot of work, it's super easy for him to do, he doesn't even have to get up. So there's really no down side to do it. It's also not something that is ever used to prevent him from getting his way like a sit or down or come might be. It's not like he sees a dog he wants to go see and I start telling him to high five, I'd tell him to sit. High five is always low pressure, never difficult to follow. If you had a dog who felt that way about every command or actually enjoyed challenges you'd have one easy to motivate dog.
     
  15. release the hounds

    release the hounds Active Member

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    I think dogs are more like people than they get credit for. In general I think the human race is a bit egotistical in thinking they have the market on every emotion under the sun and animals have nothing.

    Some people are great at reading other people's emotions, others are pretty terrible. Some dogs are great, some don't have a clue. Some people know how to react to the emotions they are reading, some people can read them, but don't know how to react, same with dogs and some are just oblivious to everything going on around them, people and dogs alike.

    That said, my last dog could certainly read me, that was probably the tightest bond i've ever had with a dog in my life. but concerning the training we did, she was certainly more concerned with herself than with me. Outside of training for sports or "training" she was on with me and it was kind of weird.

    My current two couldn't be more opposite. One is oblivous usually to what is happening and is mostly concerned about herself. She works to get that ball, and when there isn't one, she works in hopes that I give her one from somehwere. My other is in tune on off the field and off, always aware and making me happy brings always seems to be on her list of things to do. I was just starting to think that dogs don't do anything for "us" just for themselves and we manipulate it through training, then I got her and found out I don't give dogs enough credit.
     
  16. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    You guys make it easy for me. I agree with all that. I don't think dogs are sophisticated enough to think it all through logically...the way they'd have to, in order be cognitively aware of the things we desire, how we feel (empathy and complex understanding. I don't think dogs have the ability) so they can act accordingly.

    I do most definitely think they have a much richer emotional life that people give them credit for and love for us. But to do things solely for the purpose of pleasing us....hmmm...no.
     
  17. Danefied

    Danefied New Member

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    I have one of those too. :D He finds laughter (mine or anyone’s) really rewarding for some reason, and has developed some lovely obnoxious behaviors because of it. :rolleyes:

    I don’t know that dogs want to please in a purely altruistic sense that they just want us to be happy. I think its that they have figured out that happy mom or dad = good things for them. Some figure this out better than others :)
    It makes sense when you look at how dogs evolved alongside man - those who worked with man got the better food/shelter/treatment and were selected to breed. Those who were in any way “uncooperative†were discarded.

    It is a peeve of mine though this attitude that dogs should automatically just want to please us.
    A while back a gal I knew from another forum decided to go with some rather questionable training tactics. She noted that after being “corrected†the dog was much more affectionate and clearly was thanking her for finally assuming the role of leader.
    Sadly not everyone understands that appeasement does not equal affection.
     
  18. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    Exactly this.

    Yeah, it is such a disservice to dogs and so rampant that people think they should because they "DO"....want to please us and when they don't, the poor dogs get blamed and punished for being less than what they "SHOULD" be.
     
  19. Kaydee

    Kaydee Guest

    IMHO humans who feel dogs or cats don't have a desire to please, probably don't seriously believe other humans don't either. How cynical do we need to be really???

    I know when the dog runs to me on the trail with that big doggie grin on her face and plants herself beside me, that we're sharing the moment together. Pleasing someone else is a choice. She could be running through the woods and not even acknowledge me. But she is choosing to sit beside me. I didn't teach her that.

    When the cats chirrrrup and reach out a paw or climb up my chest to rub and lick my face that's mutual affection absolutely. They aren't grubbing food and I haven't called them, it's just spontaneous acts of love through the day...that's why we have companion animals
     
  20. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    It's not being cynical Kaydee. It's about animal behavior and the fact that animals have less complicated brains. No one said they don't like to be companionable or that they don't love or have many similar emotions to humans. But a lot of animal behaviorists/scientists don't see any evidence of the sophisticated, complex cognition that it would take to have the empathy to see and be aware of what others are thinking or feeling. Therefore, it would make it difficult for them to do things for the purpose of pleasing someone else. UNLESS...there is an subconscious, ulterior motive. And that would be self preservation, survival (how dogs evolved etc)...the ones that acted the way humans like, were the ones to thrive, survive and reproduce. Whether or not they see deeply enough into what makes us tick....in ORDER to care about what we're feeling and adjust their behavior accordingly isn't something likely to be proven. But there really isn't evidence of that. In fact, one of the tests they came up with which they think shows an animal has self awareness is the ability to recognize one's self in a mirror. Dogs do not. Chimps do. (for example) At a certain age, humans do, but not at a very young age. So, they think one has to have a sense of self first before they can have real empathy. They may prove something else at some point along the way. And maybe proof isn't all she wrote. We do see things that seem to defy a lot of science. So, who knows what's really in their minds? Maybe more than we think. But I think bottom line: They do things ultimately...to please themselves. It's how they evolved.
     

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