This recent headline caught my eye, mostly because it reveals a startling discovery: "Scientists say dogs are becoming increasingly more intelligent and are even learning morals from living in close contact with humans."
Whoa, hang on here! Dogs learning morals from humans?
First off, what does a moral dog look like? More importantly, what does a moral dog act like? Does he relieve himself on the toilet rather than the neighbors front lawn, or does he just bring his own pooper scooper and pick up after himself?
Does a moral dog refrain from wolfing down a plate of unattented prime rib? Does he at least ask permission first? Or maybe he wolfs it down but then apologizes and takes responsiblity for it?
When his owner takes him to breed does he say, "I'm sorry, I can't do this. I don't feel good about it. You pimping me out like this just feeeeeels wrong."
Here is the actual photo that ran with the article.
Is this the most intelligent, moral looking dog they could find? This dog will obviously mess with your head.
Why not use a photo like this:
Here's an intelligent looking dog.
But is he moral? Hmmm . . .
Maybe these photos would have been better:
Mentally awake and morally straight.
This dog could help a little old blind lady across the street, and call 911 when she gets run over.
Don't get me wrong. It's not that I don't think dogs can learn. In fact the article did make some valid points. For instance, it claims that animals abide by social rules.
Researchers also found that when they tested two dogs together but rewarded only one, the dog which missed out soon stopped playing the game.
This dog cracked the dating code almost as quickly as the human female.
One study observed dogs in an experimental setting where when they held up a paw, they were rewarded with a food treat, but when a lone dog was asked to raise its paw but received no treat, the researchers found it begged for up to 30 minutes.
This dog learned the mating game almost as precisely as the human male.
Overall, many scientists believe that the human inclination to invest dogs with human-like states of mind isn't as unscientific as it might appear. I think there's plenty of evidence to back this up. Dogs are definitely learning a lot from human contact.