View Poll Results: do non-human animals have emotions, feelings?

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Thread: do non-human animals have emotions, feelings?

  1. #31
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    Re: do non-human animals have emotions, feelings?

    Quote Originally Posted by rivrrat View Post
    Not discounting the rest of your post, but I did want to address this. The immediate switch you're talking about has to do with motivation and intent. When you're playing with a dog, they're playing. And they are not being aggressive. Even if they're trying to rip the training sleeve off the trainer. They're playing. That's what dogs do. They do it with us, they do it with each other. You can watch two dogs go at each other - playing - and it may sound and look like they're trying to kill one another. But the second one of them whines in pain or *actually* gets pissed... the playing abruptly STOPS. This is how they learn, and socialize.

    This is the difference between true aggression and playing. If the same dog who switches in an instant with a trainer were *actually* fighting for his life, he would NOT switch off like that. If he actually felt threatened. If he was actually being aggressive (and not on command). Even a dog who relinquishes a grip on a person by command is still going to be standing alert and attentive and ready to attack again. He's not going to roll around and play if he's truly in an aggressive mode. (i.e., a police dog subduing a suspect) The cop may be able to call him off on command, but the dog's mood isn't going to switch to lovey dovey like it would if he were actually playing.

    This is how you can tell the difference between your dog playing and actually being pissed the **** off. If they stop abruptly and lick you, show you affection.. they were playing. If they perhaps just back off and move away, they were pissed.

    This is much like humans. Take a boxing match, for instance. Two guys beating the **** out of each other but when the bell rings... (when they're commanded) they back off. They're still in fight mode though.

    Or, two friends wrestling around or even boxing it out for fun. When one of them expresses TRUE anger or pain, the bout stops.

    So yeah, humans DO turn those drives or modes or whatever on and off. They can, anyway.

    I concede that you have some point, in that it is possible that (in the context of training) that the dogs consider what they are doing as play.

    However, I've seen it "in the field" under uncontrolled circumstances as well.

    There was a police officer I knew who was a K-9 trainer. At his home he had four "retired" K9 dogs in a fence in his back yard.

    Those dogs, one in particular, didn't like me. The alpha male would engage in territorial-defense mode to an extreme degree, biting the fence and pulling at it until blood ran from his gums in an effort to get at me. I think there is no question that he was serious and that there was no "play" involved.

    One day I went by there and he wasn't at home. The dogs were freaking out, and Alpha Male was biting the fence and pulling on it again...actually he was biting the GATE and pulling on it, and to my amazed horror IT CAME OPEN.

    Out came four ex-K9 dogs, slavering for my blood. This was like my own personal Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse here.

    I turned sideways and dropped into a fighting stance, determined to go to Valhalla with an honor guard.

    The dogs came straight at me... and suddenly veered left and right, parting like the Red Sea, ran right past me and down the street, suddenly prancing and playing and looking like everything was super-cool.

    I was left standing there, in my fighting stance, going "humina humina humina WHA' HAPPEN?? I thought there was supposed to be an apocalyptic battle? An Earth-shattering Kaboom?? Wassamatter, I ain't good enough for ya??" LOL.

    Anyway, when I got a chance, I told the professional dog-trainer the story. She told me that it was because of how a dog's drives work. Yeah, those dogs wanted to rip me to shreds whenver they saw me... but they spent maybe 5 minutes a month thinking about killing me, and HOURS every DAY thinking about "boy I'd really like to pee on that mailbox, and run down the street and see those other dogs I can hear and smell half a mile away, etc".

    When dogs are confined within a given space, like a fenced back yard, their territorial-defense drives are often "primary". The INSTANT they are no longer restrained to a specific space, territorial defense may very well take a back seat to other drives, depending on the circumstances. She said this is exactly what happened in my case; as soon as they were outside the fence they were no longer in their territory, so the defend-territory drive went secondary and other drives instantly came into play. They decided that eating me wasn't nearly as important as peeing on that mailbox and visiting that other dog down the road.

    QED: Animal feelings and drives are different from humans. (and boy am I glad of it!)
    Last edited by Goshin; 05-23-10 at 04:06 PM.

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  2. #32
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    Re: do non-human animals have emotions, feelings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Goshin View Post
    I concede that you have some point, in that it is possible that (in the context of training) that the dogs consider what they are doing as play.

    However, I've seen it "in the field" under uncontrolled circumstances as well.

    There was a police officer I knew who was a K-9 trainer. At his home he had four "retired" K9 dogs in a fence in his back yard.

    Those dogs, one in particular, didn't like me. The alpha male would engage in territorial-defense mode to an extreme degree, biting the fence and pulling at it until blood ran from his gums in an effort to get at me. I think there is no question that he was serious and that there was no "play" involved.

    One day I went by there and he wasn't at home. The dogs were freaking out, and Alpha Male was biting the fence and pulling on it again...actually he was biting the GATE and pulling on it, and to my amazed horror IT CAME OPEN.

    Out came four ex-K9 dogs, slavering for my blood. This was like my own personal Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse here.

    I turned sideways and dropped into a fighting stance, determined to go to Valhalla with an honor guard.

    The dogs came straight at me... and suddenly veered left and right, parting like the Red Sea, ran right past me and down the street, suddenly prancing and playing and looking like everything was super-cool.

    I was left standing there, in my fighting stance, going "humina humina humina WHA' HAPPEN?? I thought there was supposed to be an apocalyptic battle? An Earth-shattering Kaboom?? Wassamatter, I ain't good enough for ya??" LOL.

    Anyway, when I got a chance, I told the professional dog-trainer the story. She told me that it was because of how a dog's drives work. Yeah, those dogs wanted to rip me to shreds whenver they saw me... but they spent maybe 5 minutes a month thinking about killing me, and HOURS every DAY thinking about "boy I'd really like to pee on that mailbox, and run down the street and see those other dogs I can hear and smell half a mile away, etc".

    When dogs are confined within a given space, like a fenced back yard, their territorial-defense drives are often "primary". The INSTANT they are no longer restrained to a specific space, territorial defense may very well take a back seat to other drives, depending on the circumstances. She said this is exactly what happened in my case; as soon as they were outside the fence they were no longer in their territory, so the defend-territory drive went secondary and other drives instantly came into play. They decided that eating me wasn't nearly as important as peeing on that mailbox and visiting that other dog down the road.

    QED: Animal feelings and drives are different from humans. (and boy am I glad of it!)
    My dad is and has been the head K-9 search and rescue trainer at a state prison for over 20 years. I've helped him train the dogs in search (he used us kids whenever he could to run around the woods and hide from the dogs - doubling back, running through water, up trees, etc) I've seen the dogs in action training for subduing escaped prisoners or wanted suspects. When they're training, they do see it as a kind of play, much like when two dogs are playing with one another and it seems as though they're trying to kill each other. I've watched him whisper in his dog's ear and that dog go from friendly to *attack* in a split second.

    But, *we* didn't play with the dogs in a usual playing manner. The trained dogs were fed, bathed, trained, and played with by their master and their master only. His attack dogs were not 'family pets'. They were too dangerous for that, and it hindered their extreme adherence to their master's commands. In a real life situation, there can be no mistakes or hesitation. They listen to their masters and their masters only. At least, that's how they train them up at the prison. Not that other K-9 officers couldn't give general commands to any dog and expect them to obey. But if a dog was being taken over by another master, they had be retrained, in a way. That trust, that connection, had to be rebuilt. But I digress.

    No doubt that their drives are different. That's not in contention. But I just don't think they switch from true aggression to play in a second. I think in those situations you speak of, they're always playing. Yes, I think their motivations and attention span are much more simple than ours are, but I still think they feel different emotions, and can make meaningful connections.

  3. #33
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    Re: do non-human animals have emotions, feelings?

    Quote Originally Posted by rivrrat View Post
    My dad is and has been the head K-9 search and rescue trainer at a state prison for over 20 years. I've helped him train the dogs in search (he used us kids whenever he could to run around the woods and hide from the dogs - doubling back, running through water, up trees, etc) I've seen the dogs in action training for subduing escaped prisoners or wanted suspects. When they're training, they do see it as a kind of play, much like when two dogs are playing with one another and it seems as though they're trying to kill each other. I've watched him whisper in his dog's ear and that dog go from friendly to *attack* in a split second.

    But, *we* didn't play with the dogs in a usual playing manner. The trained dogs were fed, bathed, trained, and played with by their master and their master only. His attack dogs were not 'family pets'. They were too dangerous for that, and it hindered their extreme adherence to their master's commands. In a real life situation, there can be no mistakes or hesitation. They listen to their masters and their masters only. At least, that's how they train them up at the prison. Not that other K-9 officers couldn't give general commands to any dog and expect them to obey. But if a dog was being taken over by another master, they had be retrained, in a way. That trust, that connection, had to be rebuilt. But I digress.

    No doubt that their drives are different. That's not in contention. But I just don't think they switch from true aggression to play in a second. I think in those situations you speak of, they're always playing. Yes, I think their motivations and attention span are much more simple than ours are, but I still think they feel different emotions, and can make meaningful connections.
    I see your point, and I agree that dogs do have feelings and can make meaningful connections... not in the same sense as humans, but meaningful.

    However, I don't for a moment think that Alpha K9's desire to kill me was any form of "play", he was way too serious for that. Biting the fence till his gums bled, as I noted. I've also seen similar quick-switches in behavior/drives in dogs that were never K9s.

    I don't assert that dogs lack feelings entirely, just that I don't think they have anything like the depth or complexity of human feelings, and that we err when we anthropomorphize them too much.

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  4. #34
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    Re: do non-human animals have emotions, feelings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Goshin View Post
    I see your point, and I agree that dogs do have feelings and can make meaningful connections... not in the same sense as humans, but meaningful.

    However, I don't for a moment think that Alpha K9's desire to kill me was any form of "play", he was way too serious for that. Biting the fence till his gums bled, as I noted. I've also seen similar quick-switches in behavior/drives in dogs that were never K9s.

    I don't assert that dogs lack feelings entirely, just that I don't think they have anything like the depth or complexity of human feelings, and that we err when we anthropomorphize them too much.
    Oh I definitely think that people infer much more complex emotions and intentions than what dogs actually think and feel. I think your friend was right in their assessment of your impending attack. Yes, the one dog was very much in aggressive mode, but then something much more important was realized - freedom. Did he want to rip your throat out? I have no doubt that he did. But he wanted to run and be free even more.

    That's still not much different than what a person would do. We can and do switch our emotions at the drop of a hat depending on the circumstance. A child can go from temper tantrum to giggling in 3 seconds flat, for instance. Or from giggling to temper tantrum for that matter. LOL

  5. #35
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    Re: do non-human animals have emotions, feelings?

    Quote Originally Posted by rivrrat View Post
    Oh I definitely think that people infer much more complex emotions and intentions than what dogs actually think and feel. I think your friend was right in their assessment of your impending attack. Yes, the one dog was very much in aggressive mode, but then something much more important was realized - freedom. Did he want to rip your throat out? I have no doubt that he did. But he wanted to run and be free even more.

    That's still not much different than what a person would do. We can and do switch our emotions at the drop of a hat depending on the circumstance. A child can go from temper tantrum to giggling in 3 seconds flat, for instance. Or from giggling to temper tantrum for that matter. LOL
    (By the way, this is a most intresting and enjoyable exchange, thx. )

    Good points again. I'd note that the example of a child going from temper tantrum to giggling in a 3 seconds is quite true, but that such behavior is common in children, less common in adults. Adults are more likely to hold grudges and pout for a long time, and bring up previous offenses at a later date.

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  6. #36
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    Re: do non-human animals have emotions, feelings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Goshin View Post
    (By the way, this is a most intresting and enjoyable exchange, thx. )

    Good points again. I'd note that the example of a child going from temper tantrum to giggling in a 3 seconds is quite true, but that such behavior is common in children, less common in adults. Adults are more likely to hold grudges and pout for a long time, and bring up previous offenses at a later date.
    Correct. And I would liken a dog's emotional/mental state to that of a child more than that of an adult.

    EDIT: However, I do know that dogs will hold 'grudges', so to speak. In that they can forever hate and be aggressive towards someone that really hurt them. One of my previous dogs was that way toward a guy who kicked her once. When he was in sight, she growled and never took her eyes off of him until he was out of sight.
    Last edited by rivrrat; 05-23-10 at 07:21 PM.

  7. #37
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    Re: do non-human animals have emotions, feelings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aurora151989 View Post
    This poll/question considers birds and mammals. I'm pretty sure reptiles, amphibians and fish have emotions, but not in a way we would understand.

    Also want to test a theory I have, feel free to discuss dare I say... debate,

    or tell if your view has changed over the years.
    I do believe all animals have instinctual emotion.

    As far as predictive emotion, I'm not sure yet.
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    Re: do non-human animals have emotions, feelings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aurora151989 View Post
    This poll/question considers birds and mammals. I'm pretty sure reptiles, amphibians and fish have emotions, but not in a way we would understand.

    Also want to test a theory I have, feel free to discuss dare I say... debate,

    or tell if your view has changed over the years.
    if human animals have emotions, I see no logical reason to assume that non-human animals don't have emotions
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  9. #39
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    Re: do non-human animals have emotions, feelings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bodhisattva View Post
    if human animals have emotions, I see no logical reason to assume that non-human animals don't have emotions
    Only if you accept that humans are animals. Not all of us do.

    Even from an evolutionary and neurological standpoint, the degree of complexity of the human brain is vastly greater than that of almost any animal, with the possible and debateable exception of chimps and dolphins.

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  10. #40
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    Re: do non-human animals have emotions, feelings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bodhisattva View Post
    if human animals have emotions, I see no logical reason to assume that non-human animals don't have emotions
    Every animal (almost) has emotions.
    The thing is how well developed those emotions are.

    Do most animals have fear, yes.
    Do most animals have fear of tomorrow, probably not.

    Most of their emotions are instinctual.
    Although, domesticated animals may be developing long term, non instinctual emotions.
    Last edited by Harry Guerrilla; 05-23-10 at 08:11 PM.
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