Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Ontario Canada
Submit Photo: 3
Photo Submissions 119 Times in 117 Posts
Hard to believe it's been 20 years since Jean Donaldson's book Culture Clash came out. With her permission I can give you a couple of pages. Best dog book ever IMHO.
Walt Disney vs. B.F. Skinner
A book published in the early 1990s refers to the “moral code” of
dogs. It became a bestseller. It seems that most people still buy
into the Walt Disney dog: he is very intelligent, has morals, is
capable of planning and executing revenge, solves complex
problems, and understands the value of the artifacts in Walt's home.
Nobody wants B.F. Skinner's dog: the input-output black box who
is so obviously not the furry member of our family. It's been
marketed all wrong, I think. Skinner was right but has gotten bad
press. The truth must be presented in a way that people will start to
buy into. They have to, because not getting it has led to the death
of countless dogs. Here is an example to illustrate the difference.
A dog has been reprimanded every time he was caught chewing
furniture. Now the dog refrains from chewing furniture when the
owner is home but becomes destructive when left alone. When the
owner comes home and discovers the damage, the dog slinks
around, ears back and head down.
Walt's view: The dog learns from the reprimand that chewing
furniture is wrong, and that the owner hates it. The dog resents
being left alone and, to get back at the owner, chews the furniture
when the owner leaves. He deliberately, in other words, engages in
an act he knows to be wrong. When the owner comes home the
dog feels guilty about what he has done.
BF's view: The dog learns that chewing furniture is dangerous
when the owner is present but safe when the owner is gone. The
dog is slightly anxious when left alone and feels better when he
chews. It also helps pass the time. Later, when the owner comes
home, the dog behaves appeasingly in an attempt to avoid or turn
off the harsh treatment he has learned often happens at this time.
The owner's arrival home and/or pre-punishment demeanor have
become a predictor: the dog knows he's about to be punished. He
doesn't know why.
There is no question whatsoever that the second view is the
accurate one. The question is not which interpretation is the truth
but rather why anyone still argues the point. The medical
equivalent would be a significant percentage of the American
public thinking disease was caused by imbalance in humors, rather
The accurate information has been around for decades, yet most
people who own dogs haven't learned it yet. One reason for our
astonishingly poor understanding of dogs is extremely slow trickle
down from experts: those in applied behavior educating one owner
or one class at a time rather than something on the scale of public
service announcements or spots on Oprah. Not only is this
missing, fantastically inaccurate information about dog behavior is
actively disseminated on reality TV.
But I think there’s a second reason for the slow acceptance of
realistic interpretations of dog behavior: simple reluctance to let go
of anthropomorphism. Behaviorism, made famous by Skinner, has
suffered some serious backlash since its assault on the world of
psychology in the mid-twentieth century, largely because it could
be successfully argued that hardcore behaviorism comes up short
for understanding humans in all their mega-brain complexity.
When it comes to animal training and behavior modification,
however, the fit is incredibly good. But so far no amount of
evidence makes the behaviorist model palatable to the average dog
owner. The implications of this are really important.
Dave and Molly
Ian Dunbar was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award from I.P.D.T.A. Here's a picture of me accepting the award on his behalf.
Member of IAABC ,International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants , Member of Pet Professional Guild