Question 2. 'Desire to please'

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

  1. Toller_08

    Toller_08 Active Member

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    I don't think dogs necessarily simply work to make people happy. But I do think that some dogs view a happy handler as being of slightly higher value than some other dogs do, if that makes sense.

    Just observing my own dogs...

    Ripley is my most people pleasing dog. He tries very hard to do right and making me happy is reward enough for him. He definitely loves the added bonus of a food reward or toy, but he's pretty happy to just make me happy.

    Dance also likes to please me, but she thinks a lot more and would take a toy or a food reward over simply pleasing me anyday. But if those are not available, she's happy enough to just do something for praise or because I said so. Just not quite as enthusiastically/frantically as she'd be willing to do for another reward.

    Keira is the least people pleasing dog I've ever had. She certainly doesn't like to do wrong, but she doesn't go out of her way to do right or please us in any way either. If there is no food involved, she has no qualms about thinking of blowing you off a lot of times or giving you a look like a snotty kid full of attitude. I swear she'd do nothing but roll her eyes at me constantly if she were human, haha. She does what she's told because that's what she knows is expected, but she does it in an entirely different way than the other two.
     
  2. Kaydee

    Kaydee Guest

    Point taken, example I suppose might be Levon strutting in and dropping a mouse on my feet. I like to take that as affection, " Look I saved you the meaty parts". But it might be that he ate already...and it might just be instinctive that you bring prey back to share...still feel flattered it's my feet they drop things at...
     
  3. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

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    No one is saying dogs and cats don't enjoy being with their people or showing affection towards people, I certainly think dogs and cats are capable of love. They don't do these loving acts to make you happy but simply because they enjoy being with you and interacting with you or because it's instinctual to do these things to those they love (which I think would be the case of the mouse). I simply don't think they can see a person behave in a happy manner (happy body language) and know how the person FEELS. I don't think they can connect the dots and think *she's feeling the same way I feel when my daddy comes home from work...happy*.
     
  4. ihartgonzo

    ihartgonzo and Fozzie B!

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    I really do think that certain breeds & individuals of dogs LOVE to please and work for their people, while other breeds & individuals are much more involved with themselves.

    Gonzo is more than eager to work for me and can be trained with nothing but praise. I use rewards to train new behaviors & work around distractions, but they aren't necessary. It really helps keep him calmer when I have a toy or reward for him to focus on.

    Fozzie has NO natural desire to please people. He enjoys attention, but most of his love of praise and petting has been built up by me since he was a puppy. Being a much more primitive dog who is naturally concerned with survivial and self, he does need to know that something is in it for him before he'll work for you. I have conditioned him to the point that he'll perform tricks & behaviors willingly for anyone, but that is because I've taught him that those behaviors are rewarding. He seems to love making people laugh, but again, that feeds his ego. :) It has nothing to do with an eagerness to please. Surprisingly, Fozzie is actually much smarter than Gonzo and catches onto things much faster! It just requires more work, rewards & keeping him interested. He is as food motivated as a dog can be and will offer good/cute/hilarious tricks just for the slight chance that it might get him a snack.
     
  5. Bailey08

    Bailey08 New Member

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    I don't think that my dog Bailey listens to me because I give him treats. Certainly, it's easier to train him new behaviors with hot dogs, lol. But I think there's more to it than "this lady feeds me, this makes her happy, so I'll do it."

    Bailey and I have a very strong bond and he is extremely adept at reading me and figuring out what I am communicating (even when I'm not intentionally communicating anything to him). I do think there's something much deeper for him than make mom happy = good things happen. I agree with RTH; I think dogs have deeper and more complex emotions than we give them credit for.

    At the same time, I don't expect Grace or any other dog to be the same. And I totally agree that people in general shouldn't expect dogs to obey them just because. I strongly suspect that if that were my expectation with Bailey, it would really change our dynamic.

    Grace is still a baby, and at this point I think her biddability and eagerness to please has much more to do with genetics (she's a golden retriever), genuinely really enjoying training (so it's self-reinforcing), and the rewards that come when she listens. We have a genuine bond but it's a different type (and, of course, still fairly new).
     
  6. smeagle

    smeagle New Member

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    I don't think dogs work to make us happy at all. Dogs do things to avoid correction or to gain reward, if a dog values praise and finds it rewarding, then they will do what behaviour they think is necessary to gain it. It's nothing to do with making us happy, it's because that' the reward they are seeking.
     
  7. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    Agree. Dogs are selfish beings. LOL.:p (but innocently selfish)
     
  8. JacksonsMom

    JacksonsMom Active Member

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    I would agree that it depends on the dog. While I know that Jackson will do things sometimes just to please me... most of the time he expects something in return. He does really enjoy me just giving him attention but attention wouldn't get him to learn a new trick. If I sat down and tried to do a training session w/o food... he'd probably just look at me like I was nuts lol.

    But that doesn't mean that we don't 'communicate' without food. He's very in tune to what I expect him to do or want him to do, and we very much so understand each other if that makes sense. So while, yes, he's a food junkie and would do almost anything for a treat - that doesn't necessarily mean he doesn't want to please me. But yeah, I don't know, interesting subject.
     
  9. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    Oh, I could teach my dogs to do things like tricks with just praise. It just wouldn't be as quick or as dramatic a change in behavior. It isn't that dogs don't find praise rewarding or more importantly, paired historically with some better reward, so it has become a conditioned reinforcer for most dogs. Some do work well for praise, some don't. Some do marginally, etc, etc, etc. Praise can be a lot of fun and attention, so why not? Some work well for praise when historically, they've had a fair amount if punishment and the praise means they aren't getting punished. (even if mild) "Wooo hooo! This sure beats getting hollered at." The fact that dogs enjoy praise doesn't indicate that they do things in order to please us. They enjoy the response they get from us.

    The question though, is: do dogs do things to please us. Do they think... or are they aware of our state of mind. (are we pleased? what pleases us? how do we or how would we feel or think inside in various situations?) That takes a fair supply of empathy, a complex quality and a lot of logical, deep thinking.

    I think they do things because they've always done things since they started becoming domesticated. It was their ecological niche........to do things which resulted in their ability to find food around humans, to be sheltered and safe around humans. A certain kind of social relationship developed and a certain kind of understanding between humans and dogs developed as a result of living near each other. But does that mean that they evolved to actually know what is "pleasing" to us? Or what is inside our minds as far as what pleases us? Or.... are they just following the laws of behavior and learning and do things because those things pay off for them? Pay-off vs. altruism? I don't believe they have the ability to think that logically or that methodically to know what kinds of things make us happy inside or even what is going on inside our minds and then decide to do certain behaviors which they know will make US happy inside. That kind of contemplation would be awfully complicated for an animal I think. I do think dogs are smart. But I don't think they have that ability to run that kind of process through their minds. And I don't think they have a deep self awareness in an abstract kind of way. I think they behave in ways that we find pleasing because they're following the laws of learning, and following what their ancestors have done for thousands of years in order to fit into their ecological niche which would cause them to survive, reproduce and pass on their genes.....not because they do things for the underlying purpose of pleasing us.
     
  10. Kaydee

    Kaydee Guest

    As I've thought about this question I've realized more about Sophie's behavior. She obeys me better than anyone else. But she wiggles and wags for hubby in a different sort of way, like "Ahhhh meatball giver person wag wag master of ice cream, aren't I your favorite favorite doggie, wigglewiggle wag wag"...you can see her sucking up.
    I take her to pick him up late night at work. She has him well trained. We go into the back of the kitchen where he works and she leads him to the same cooler...there's about ten identical doors but she knows. Then she sits there smiling and batting her eyes at him until she gets the daily meatball.
     
  11. ihartgonzo

    ihartgonzo and Fozzie B!

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    I feel like this topic can go sooooo much deeper, into "what does desire to please MEAN?"

    We can say dogs are selfish, but aren't all animals? Why do we strive to please other people? Would we do it if there was absolutely NOTHING in it for us? Are we born with the desire to make others happy, or do we try to please certain people that we find attractive or rewarding? Idk. I fully agree that dogs do what is rewarding and don't do what is not rewarding, but I feel that way about all animals. I also think that natural selection and breeding purebreds/working dogs definitely creates breeds that are prone to be eager to please and breeds that are prone to be independent survivors.
     
  12. ihartgonzo

    ihartgonzo and Fozzie B!

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    double post :(((((((((((((((((
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2012

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