Psychology of Dogs

The whole field of training of the dog is conditioned upon the ability of the trainer to break down the barrier which exists against communication between man and dog so that each can understand the other.

The dog understands man better than man understands the dog. Man looks at the dog and comprehends him almost entirely by sight whereas the dog comprehends man both by sight and smell. Therefore, it is more important in training the dog that we learn how he regards us than how we regard him.

Jealousy, memory, identification, possessiveness, imagination, curiosity, humiliation, and a desire to please are mental qualities of the dog.

The desire to please colors all other of the dog’s actions because he is ever trying to do what he thinks his master wants him to do; he knows only two general mental conclusions, namely, that he has pleased his master or that he has displeased his master. His own self is effaced; he will do painful acts, will go willingly thru suffering, will exert himself into physical exhaustion in order to carry out his master’s wishes.

The dog does not understand human speech by words. He can be taught to lie down by the command “stand up.” He knows that the master is either pleased or displeased with him, and he knows that when certain sounds are spoken in a certain way, he must do certain things, else suffer his master’s displeasure.

The whole psychology of training insofar as the dog’s mind is concerned is that a certain thing always happens immediately after his master speaks certain sounds or makes certain movements. The sounds or movements and the act of the dog, that is, command and obedience, must follow closely upon one another; for him they must be cause and effect, having all the certainty of natural law.

Thus, association, based upon memory of previous like instances, is the mental process used by the dog, and imitation the art which makes up the process.

Because association or memory, followed by imitation, are the dog’s mental background, the mind of the dog does not function abstractly; an abstract idea must be presented in concrete form. For instance, I say to my dog: “In the next room is a round object whose color expresses warmth; bring it to me.” I He only looks at me with wide eyes and wags his tail hesitatingly. If having taught him to bring ohjects and I wish him to bring the red ball from the next room, I say: “Buster, ball, fetch-ball, fetch,” he runs away and quickly returns with the ball in his mouth.