Re: Every Dog Has His Day

Postby Coda » Thu Aug 06, 2009 4:48 pm

Well, yes, but I figure cats would be smart enough to know that a society of men and dogs would never invent such dishes left to their own devices.
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Re: Every Dog Has His Day

Postby Mitsukara » Fri Aug 07, 2009 12:05 am

This story is just pure awesome, and made me smile. It also resonated a bit with memories of my own past irresponsibility in caring for my family dog growing up, and made me think about it with a little more perspective. I feel a lot like that postsingularity person, full of rue and regret for not paying the dog enough attention or playing all the times I'm sure the ol' girl wanted to, sitting around inside spending my time on the computer instead. Still kind of feel like a jerk for that, but it made me think, and it made me smile after all.

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Re: Every Dog Has His Day

Postby Plasman » Sat Aug 15, 2009 7:25 am

Relevant to this thread!
A group of researchers at Monash University are conducting a study on the intelligence of dogs. They are conducting tests to see if it is possible for domestic dogs to be self-aware and empathise:

The Herald Sun wrote:Sure they are loyal - and lovable and cute and all the rest. But experts say it's high time dogs took a good hard look at themselves.
That's the plan, anyway, when Monash University's Anthrozoology Research Group starts two ground-breaking studies on Monday.

In a scientific kind of Dog Idol, they are searching for a super-mutt who knows itself in a mirror.
If just one pooch can, dogkind will join some elite company. Only bottlenose dolphins, great apes, Asian elephants and European magpies are proved to have that sort of self-awareness. And us!
It might also smarten up the sort of fashionista owners who put sailor suits on their pets.

The second study is to see if dogs pick up human feelings as much as owners think, and whether they come to us when we're sad - or turn tail.
To test that, humans will watch tear-jerker movies and the dog response will be observed.
{snip}


Basically they will be performing two tests on their subjects:

1) They will place the dog in a room with a mirror at their eye level. They will then place a tag or mark somewhere on the dog's body so that the only way they can see it is via the mirror. If the dog sees the mark in the reflection, then tries to remove the tag from their body, it can be said that the dog recognises its image in the mirror, and is thus self aware.

2) They will place the dog and its owner in the same room a short distance from each other. The human will watch a sad scene from a movie; the aim is to see if the dog is able to pick up on the human's emotional state, and come closer to their owner in an effort to comfort them.

This is an interesting study, and I would like to see how the results turn out. But what I'd also like to know is if anyone here on the forum who owns a dog would like to test these hypotheses! (Especially the hidden-mark game.)

This has some bearing on what Jennifer et al. have said earlier in this thread, about how dogs have evolved in parallel with humans. I quote from the same article (my emphasis):
"Dogs can do things that they really shouldn't be able to do with what we know about their brain structure and their evolutionary development," [Pauleen Bennett] says.
"They are able to understand human pointing. If I point, every other animal on the planet looks at my finger - except a dog. It will get that you're pointing at something over there.
"Somehow they are tuned into our body language much better than they should be."
If this last post seems ridiculous, please disregard it. Thank you. ;)
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Re: Every Dog Has His Day

Postby Jennifer Diane Reitz » Sat Aug 15, 2009 5:51 pm

My predictions:

1. Mirror Identity Test: A dog will achieve it, but this ability may not be common to all dogs. My guess is only the brightest breeds, and then only some.

2. Sympathy Test: All dogs will pass this test easily. I have seen this behavior myself, again and again. It is commonplace in my experience. Merely feel sad around some dogs, without any explicit show, and a dog who is close will come and show concern, worry, and attempt to express affection behavior. Possible error in the test: it would have to be a movie that truly affected the person deeply, as opposed to just some crappy manipulation-fest. I don't think many dogs would give a crap if a person was just feeling a little down because of some bad movie. Not a very robust situation.

You have an actual tragedy though, and that dog will be there fast and with great attention. I see the idea of using manipulative movies as being insufficient - unless the person watching actually starts sniffling and crying - in which case... clearly a dog will respond to the sound and body language. Every time.
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Re: Every Dog Has His Day

Postby Plasman » Sun Aug 16, 2009 11:11 am

The article did mention that a lot of dogs would probably fail the first test; they were expecting certain smaller breeds, like maybe the Jack Russell, to perform better at that task. I'd like to know how you are supposed to put something on their coat in a way that they can't feel it, because aren't they able to sense stuff brushing against their fur? Or maybe I'm just giving them too much credit. :P

As for the second one, who knows? We probably excrete a particular smell when we're sad, which we don't consciously detect but others - eg. dogs - can pick up on and act upon. (They also said that people who didn't feel sad at the selected movie scene were disqualified from the test. Icebergs Not Allowed.)
If this last post seems ridiculous, please disregard it. Thank you. ;)
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Re: Every Dog Has His Day

Postby Monthenor » Sun Aug 16, 2009 4:58 pm

How will they know the dog isn't also being saddened directly by the movie? As is asking for hugz from their owner?
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Re: Every Dog Has His Day

Postby draque » Mon Aug 17, 2009 8:31 am

Monthenor wrote:How will they know the dog isn't also being saddened directly by the movie? As is asking for hugz from their owner?


If the dog felt sad from the movie instead of the human, it would still be exhibiting empathic behavior though, which is what is being tested for in the first place.
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Re: Every Dog Has His Day

Postby Plasman » Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:30 pm

That would also imply that the dog is capable of watching and understanding the movie.
I know a lot of people who say that their dog "watches" TV, but does it actually understand that the flashy glowing chatterbox is actually communicating the same way that real live fleshy things do? Or is it just attracted to the strange appearance of the box? That would have to be another experiment in itself!
If this last post seems ridiculous, please disregard it. Thank you. ;)
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