« Freakonomics Radio

436. Forget Everything You Know About Your Dog

2020-10-22 | 🔗

As beloved and familiar as they are, we rarely stop to consider life from the dog’s point of view. That stops now. In this latest installment of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club, we discuss Inside of a Dog with the cognitive scientist (and dog devotee) Alexandra Horowitz.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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If you'd like to listen to F Economics, radio without ads the place to do that is stitcher premium. It's five dollars a month and you can get a free month trial by going to stitcher premium com and use the promo code. Freak you'll also get access to all our bonus. Episodes and you'll be supporting our show too. Let's stitcher premium com promo code, freak thanks. No Erika is a dog, loving nation, hard numbers? aren't easy to come by, but its estimated there are between seventy seven and ninety million dogs in the? U S, with roughly forty to fifty percent of households having at least one. We also have a lot of cats, but dogs appear to be a bit more part The pandemic has brought even more dogs into our homes and made us even closer, so
Well, do you know your dog? We may think we know them pretty well, but the fact that they are so familiar can actually make it harder to see dogs as they really are, initially studying dogs having familiar species, as my chosen subject was a little bit of a deficit because people felt like We're already understood right image. Hopefully we know something. about them because their living in our house and there in my bed right now, you know in the thought, was you don't really need Research in this field, Alexandra Horowitz, runs the dog Cognition LAB at Barnard College in New York, which is part of Columbia University. She is the author of several books about dogs, the best known of which is called inside of a dog. What dogs see smell and no here's one brief passage that we asked her to read page seven of the paper back. You wanna, follow along I've gotten info.
If the dog and have glimpsed the dogs point of view? You can do the same, If you have a dog in the room with you, what you see in that create furry pile of dogmas is about to change inside of a dog was heart, which is first book was published in two thousand and nine, and it was a significant best seller. Now it's considered a classic I consider the classic goal, get a dog go on. Look maybe at one lying near you right now curled around his folded legs on a dog bed or sprawled his side on the tile floor, pause flitting through the pasture you're a dream, take a good look and now forget everything you know about this or any dog today of economics, radio, we will take a good look at dogs. Try to forget everything we know and try to understand them from but the inside out it is another.
Installment of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club, in which we interview the author of a noteworthy book, and here are some of the best passages read aloud. You're gonna like this one. I promise, even if you are a cat person I'm happy from stature and Gunnar productions. This is Freakonomics radio. The podcast explores the inside of everything. Here's your home Stephen Governor Alexander Horwitz grew up in Colorado and always loved dogs, but it took her a long time before realizing she could study them for a living as an undergrad. She was a philosophy major at Penn. She moved to New York and worked as a lexicographer for the Marian Webster Dictionary and then as a fact checker for the
The new Yorker there she worked on some pieces by Oliver Sex, the three willing neurologist best known for writing awakenings and the man who mistook his wife for Hat- and I just ordered his combination of this empathy, Eddic science and sort of philosophical musings. At this point she thought she might like to become that kind of writer. He went back to school and wound up with the peach d in cognitive science from the University of Color, when you Santiago, it's basically a phd, that's interdisciplinary so far the first are asking: what is the mind neurosurgeon, Tests are interested in examining the brain. Psychologists want to look at behaviour, so those fields play computer science, with their interest in artificial intelligence and anthropology. All kind of convert in this one interdisciplinary field, which wants to use different methods and approaches to tackle the questions of mine,
and when you set out to get a Phd in cognitive science. Did you imagine that you, would specialize in the cognitive science of not humans, but dogs. It was actually surprise the price to me, but I was very interesting how you get answers about what animals who can't give verbal responses are thinking and dogs wound up being a good model for looking at behaviour and making inferences to mind so it happen that way, but it hadn't happened that way to people before there wasn't cognitive sign. Dogs, so you were a dog pioneer. We should say don't be shy when I started looking at dog mind, there were other people around the world who are started looking at dog mine. So there was this interesting convergence. of thinking, so there must have been something in the air something smelly. You know all of us are familiar with the study of
cognition of non human animals, especially different kinds of know, monkeys, monkeys, pences, gorillas and so on, but it strikes me that most of that is done as a kind of means towards an end of a better understanding of humans, at least to some degree, whereas it seems as though once you got into dog cognition. You just really mean you care about humans plainly, but you really went home whole dog ray I'm just interested a dog as a dog right and because there is so much in a room. to grow in the field. It's not, as Everything's everything's already been found out. So there's a lot of territory could cover here again and is Alexander Har with reading from inside of a dog. It perplexes me
In some of the questions I have most often been asked about dogs, and that I have about my own dogs are not addressed by research on matters of personality, personal experience, emotions and simply what they think about. Science is quiet. Still the accumulation of data about dogs provides a good foothold from which to extrapolate and reach toward answers to those questions, the questions are typically of two kinds: what does the dog now and what is it like to be a dog? So you started the book writing about dogs at play. Why is that is plain? really so central to darkness. One of the things I was super interested in was met a cognitive states like thinking about thinking and theory mine thinking about my self, and others mines is having different information than mine. We
definitely learn a lot about others mines in social plan. And so I thought well? What are we look at the behaviors shall play of another animal and see if there's some of this complexity like taking different. Rolls taking turns you know, and dogs just well. being a really great subject to study, because they're playing all the time hey. I could just go down to the dog park and suddenly I was researching my subject. It almost seemed like a cheat I mean I able to say it took me six months to go. upon this realization that I should be studying dogs even living with a dog and taking her to May a couple times a day, but I finally did there are two ways to learn how play works and what playing dogs are. Thinking perceiving Bang be born as the dog or spend a lot of time carefully. Observing dogs, the former was unavailable to me- come on
long as I described, but I've learned by watching in my study of die play. I shadow dogs with a video camera rolling and controlled my own delighted, laughter at their fun long enough to record bouts of play from a few seconds to many minutes long. After a few hours of this, the fun stopped, the dogs would get packed into the backs of cars and I would walk home reflecting on the day. I'd sit down in front of my computer and play back the videos at an extremely slow rate. Only at this speed could I really see what had happened in front of me. What I saw was not a repeat of the scene I witnessed at the park at this speed see see the mutual that that a chase chase. I saw the head jockeying, open mouth volleys, a blurred into unrecognized ability in real time. I
count how many bites it takes over the course of two seconds before a bitten dog response. I could count how many seconds it takes for a paused bout to resume. I also noted their postures. There proximity to one another in which way they were looking at every moment then so deconstructed the play could be reconstructed to see what behaviors match. What postures so can you quickly describe? I guess the status of dog research now verses. You know twenty or thirty years ago I mean it There were no research groups studying dogs, and now there are dozens of dedicated dog, cognition labs
it's all over the world, so there is a huge amount of research being produced. No, not that you're, the type of person to say I told you so, but if you were in you, look back at the beginning of the peers, are elders who discouraged or maybe even disparage you for wanting to do serious cognitive science, research dogs who are so familiar and so on. If you were to want to rub it in a little bit now, what would you say would be the central findings or understandings of dogs the prove that, They have been really worthy of serious study. It's not really like me, to go back and rub their noses in it, and in fact some of those people have come to study dogs themselves. So they already know the error of their ways, and I can just sit back and satisfied in the knowledge that they had have that realisation. But I do think that done
amazing, social, cognitive skills. Their ability to himself puzzles use thing, others thinking of Others mines is one of the things that makes them extra. And something something we didn't expect to see, except for in other primates we don't even see it in all primates. So that's one thing. The other aspect is just the real interest in engineering a point of view which is not visually base. So let me ask you a quick ass, a t style question. The sense of smell is to a dog as blank is to a human vision. They have this really dedicated instrument. There knows the very outset of their noses. Actually, design to catch a lot of odor molecules its voice that helps doing that. The area in the back of their nose Factory at the failure that has the cells that translate this odor molecule
into experience of smelling something in that area. Has hundreds of millions of cells in the dog, three dread million compared to a human, we have about five million cells so does that mean they smell quote better than us? like sixty to one or is it not translate that easily? I think it's probably wrong, headed for me to try to translate it in terms of the smell. Times better than we do. But we do know in some cases they can smell many many more minute particles of odorant than we can imagine if each detail of our visual world were matched by a corresponding smell. Each pedal on arose may be distinct. Haven't
visited by insects, leaving pollen footprints from far away flowers? What is to us, just a single stem, actually holds the record of who held it and when a burst of chemicals marks where a leaf was torn, the flesh of the pedals plump with moisture compared to that of the leaf, holds a different odor. Besides the fold of relief, The smell so does I do drop on a thorn and time is in those details. While we can see one but the pedals, drying and browning? The dog can smell this process of decay and aging. Imagined, smelling every minute, visual detail that might be the experience of a rose to a dog here's a small question with the perhaps gigantic
answer, but why dogs wired they the animal that have become the primary human companion? It might be that dogs part we chose us right so somewhere out there there's a wolf, podcast saying you know why humans, what was human about them and they think maybe humans were going I want to hear that podcast, so me too, but I think they partly chose us there was a coincidence of mutual interest or mutual tolerance and, and there were some things about wolves cost so that makes them good for pairing with us So you want to make a dog. There are just a few ingredients. You'll need wolves humans, a little interaction, mutual, tolerance mix. Billy and waits oh
A few thousand years or if you're, the russian geneticists Dmitri, believe you simply find a group of captive foxes and start selectively breeding them in nineteen fifty nine belay of began a project that is greatly informed, our best guesses as to what we believe the earliest steps of domestication were instead of observing dogs and extrapolating backward, he examined another social social species species and propagated them forward. Full pays full pays. The silver Fox is distant, They related to wolves and dogs. It had never before been domesticated. Despite their evolutionary relatedness, no canons are fully domesticated other than the dog domestication doesn't happen, spontaneously What believe showed was that it can happen quickly, begin
with one hundred and thirty foxes. He selectively chosen bread, those that were the most tame as he described it. These t, foxes were allowed to meet the tamest of those were made it when they were old enough and their young and fair young. After forty years, three quarters of the population of foxes were of a class. The researchers called domesticated elite, not just accepting contact with people but drawn to it. He had created the most decorated Fox incredibly, by selecting for one behavioral trade, the gene? among the animal, was changed in a half century and with that Genetic change came a number of surprisingly familiar physical changes. They have floppy ears and tails that her lap and over their backs they're here, ads are wider and their snouts are shorter. They are
probably cute When you read about why dogs fit so well humans. You also make the point that physiologically they're, not that, unlike some in their quadrupeds, but you know they face forward, they don't hopper slither or whatever they walk with us. things like that, and there are a lot of things absolutely just about them that appeal to us these are furry. animals that have a face which was somewhat recognisable right and in fact, as we bread dog, it made them even more recognisable with flatter faces sort of more primate like, and then they had this feature at least somewhere along the history of domestication, that that they would look us in the eyes in a that it actually Wolf's, don't usually do with each other unless they're threatening each other. But that is super meaningful for us with dogs, it's quite normal that Douglas
there is you talk to them and look at you with their head cocked in part, because they actually do pay attention to us. Don't they yeah I mean not always with understanding but certainly they're, paying attention to us. We are important to dogs, and I guess we like that feeling you rate that dogs are intuitive anthropologists, that they pay attention to us and continue to do so, even after the novelty wears off. Unlike many humans, you point out who kind of stopped paying attention to all, but the biggest- changes, are the noisiest signal. So does this mean that on some level, dogs are kind of more? I guess the phrase these days is like long learners than many or most humans are. I you consider them little anthropologists, the room watching our behaviour and learning We all get adapted to
no you're environments and noticed differences. That's how the mechanism of attention works without some. That's what it's four, but I think the different says what counts as ordinary, for them might be different than what counselor. For us, so I walk outside in the morning and if I'm looking my New York City, a block know it looks pretty much it to yesterday I'll notice that there's something fabulously different right. If there's no cars at all or if there's a giant car or if there's a person standing in front and notice that, but that's not what the scene is for the dog every time the dog comes outside right, it's a tough really rewritten seem also. Two things have happened that have left smell traces. For instance, what people have come by Animals have come by garbage has been the positive in the air his change. Maybe the weather is change, announced, brought sense from other places, barometric pressure. Actually,
leads to an old factory difference in the air really well. Have you ever gone outside before a thunderstorm you're like it smells like rain once in a while but I've been outside with my dog and she didn't want to go far from the apartment at all, like we'd, be going into the park off the leash, and she just didn't didn't didn't didn't want to go and we went home and fifteen minutes later it rained, and I had no idea it was going to rain right. Well, first of all, you just weren't that perceptive, probably Steven, but to give some credit to your dog. I do think that What happens when barometric pressure Changes- and that happens in a well before the storm is about to come? Is that the pressure lowers than smells that are in the ground can kind of come into the air. And many dogs are not fond of the rain. Yes No, I don't think that's necessarily true this France and personalities they know even variants within a breed. I would not
say: dogs, don't like the rain on general. So tell us why outfitting your dog in US yellow raincoat, maybe not the best idea here, I think that's a perfect example of our pudding our experience in our feelings in the best attention way onto the dog, without considering whether its relevant for the dog, I don't let's go let's put on a raincoat or rain hat, but are dogs are mostly pretty much fine with getting what, after they ve gone when and certainly arrange, jacket, won't prevent that feeling and in fact, It introduces a new feeling which has some pressing down on you. If your dog dresses, themselves in a raincoat before they go out into the rain which they ve smelled. Then you should Thirdly, let your dog, where their raincoat, but otherwise we are forcing the dog they freeze in place like there being scolded by an older wolf
and then they endure it. Because you're saying pressing down is a submission signal? Yes, well being pressed down is a kind dominant signal, and I would think that the raincoat probably reintroduce this little bit of that feeling I mean, don't put up with it, but I don't think, proves the situation for them, the way it improves it for us to go out in the rain. I want to talk about a recent tweet of yours. You posted a photo from a stock agency, and it showed a little girl with a big smile. Hugging, her dog and the caption provided by the photo agency was cute little, girl, hugging golden Retriever with love, eyes, closed, smiling and in the tree you suggested a more accurate captain would be Dog, mightily, Selfcontrol Self Control, squeezed being squeezed around the neck ways. Uncomfortable way talk a bit more about that. Does this mean first of all that dogs, the dogs, don't like to be hugged? For instance, some dogs, all dogs
yeah. I think the hug is a very human way of showing affection right and, if you notice that very few dogs hugged each other. Not in greeting than they do. In often dogs. We'll be fine with it, because they put up with a lot from us right. That's part of what dogs constitutionally are they're, flexible and adaptable to different behavior. You're toward them, but you never see a dog work. To get inside of a hug of yours right and that's. Why lot of these type of photos are about here's a little person with hugging a dog, and you just see the dog like keeping it together like what they had like looking over this side, and it's it's scary, because you know the next Ex move of the photo could be the dog biting the face of the child and not meaning to be aggressive, but just trying to get out of this uncomfortable position and then suddenly it's an aggressive dog that has to be returned to the shelter the breeder. I feel very concerned about photos like
because they give the idea that that's the kind of embrace we should be in with our dogs at the appropriate dog relationship and that to me looks like a problem about to happen? If I put my dog in a tuxedo, let's say, and she looks like she's smiling in the tuxedo, is she smiling The dogs don't have muscular control of their lips. It's not an actual smile. It's like the dolphin smile where their faces just fixed. In that position, hard to not see a quote. Smiling dog is a happy dogged. It's our impulse, but that impulse we should just be hesitant about making a attribution in this case. It's almost definitely not a sign of happiness. You do warn against anthropomorphized being our dogs too much to see you know everything I do and think as having a human parallel, but that's you as a sigh interests and a writer? What about you is a dog owner? Do you follow your advice? I do make
contributions to my dogs that I think are anthropomorphic items absolutely I see Finigan, especially as being proud with, like a large stick, for instance, but I all So at the same time have the experience of saying you know if you have a large stick, you have to hold your head up more because you're trying to balance stick. So I can't really say anything about his experience and now also? Okay with me, I kind of like that, the. mystery there that it's not just automatically what I assume it looks like, and I think anthropomorphisms. Actually have a use in so far as they get us interested in looking at dogs in thinking about them as creatures who have experiences? And then the question is, can you just suspend for a second, the feeling that we know everything about them and just wonder: Org, good question that can be tested instead of just assuming
I frequently hear dog owners verify their dogs, love of them through the kisses delivered upon them when they return home. These kisses are licks slobbering links to the face for guest, exhausted, looking at the hand, solemn hung polishing of a limb. I confess that I tree pumps licks as a sign of affection, affection and love are not just the recent constructs of a society that treats pets as little people to be shot and shoes in bad weather, dressed up for Halloween and indulged with spa days before there was Is such thing as a doggie day care Charleston when who I feel confident, never dressed up his pop as a witch or goblin wrote of receiving lick kisses from his dogs. he was certain of their meaning dogs. Have he wrote striking way of exhibiting their affection, namely by
licking the hands or faces of their masters was Darwin right. The kisses feel affectionate. To me, but are they gestures of affection to the dog? First, the bad news. Researchers of wild cannons report that puppies the face and muzzle up their mother when she returns from a hunt to her den in order to at her to regurgitate for them. Looking around the mouth seems to be the queue that stimulates her to vomit up some nicely partially digested meet. How disappointed pump must be that Not a single time have I regarded hated half eaten rabbit flesh for her now the Good NEWS, as all of this functional use of mouth licking, kisses to you and me, the behaviour has become a ritual eyes greeting and other words and no longer serves only the function of asking for food.
Now it is used to say hello, dogs and wolf. Muzzle lick simply to welcome another dog back home and to get an old factory report of where the Comer spin or what he has done since these greeting licks or and accompanied by wagging tails mouths place? lay open and general excitement. It start a stretch to say that the links are a way to express happiness that you have returned. You do read about this. One experiment, I'm pretty sure, was not of fierce designed to tease out how dogs respond in an emergency where the owners were instructed to fake a heart attack or to pretend avid bookshelf collapse, often him- and you know that the dogs didn't really do that much to signal for help. But you also told us, in the book
dogs sense a great deal about our inner lives by observing our behaviour in also by sniffing out our excretions or sweat and testosterone, it may be cortisol whatever. So I wondered and experiment like that if the humans are faking it when the door it's gonna, know their faking it or at least not be concerned that Israel, I think, that's a really good complaint about the expense and those experimenters, I think, realized it after the fact that oh Maybe the dog was responding because the person smell like they were stressed or we're having a heart attack. So why should the dog respond? Another part of it is even if there really sensitive to our fears, illogical, a behavioral changes which I think they are that doesn't mean they always know the meaning of those changes. So dog, who come to me, if I'm crying, isn't necessarily doing this
type of thing that a person is if they come to me when I'm crying, you know as a comfort. The dog may, in fact be a comfort, but what the dog definitely knows is You know I'm doing something different. I make a lot of noise. I price smell diffrent like let's go, see what's going on here and seven, the emergency example, even if they had succeeded at that test, it wouldn't makes sense to me to say. Oh that's, because the dogs understand that there is an emergency situation. This type of reach, which was generated from the kind of hero dog narration, where you read it, in the news, a dog that pulled three children from the water. You know where they were drowning and you think, oh, my god, it's amazing. I love that dog and then people extrapolate and think all dogs are like that or, as you write people, I actually believe those stories
he's a hundred percent when, in fact there might be a lot of other factors going on in that hero seeming situation, exactly where they trained to do that they just accidently, do it where the children actually okay, you can't tell, and we also never get news reports of you know. Three children drown because the dark sailing on the bank failed to see that they had to be saved. We never get bad news story right. Dog stands. Thirdly, by riverbank people are drowned, after the break. We all know some dog breeds are naturally aggressive. Right, no breeds are not naturally aggressive period. Also, It's great to see that so many for economic radio listeners have subscribed to our other two podcast. No stupid questions and people I mostly admire if you haven't yet subscribed to those, I invite you to do so
I also invite you to check out another Newport guess that has nothing to do with us, but we like the people who make it and we thought you'd like to know about it. It's called think like an economist and its hosted by Betsy Stevenson and wolfers they are. They are a pair of the at University Michigan Michigan who partners partners in life and now partners in podcasting over the years both of them on Fr Economics, radio, quite a bit on think like an economist, they promised to teach you economic. Super tools to learn how to make no regrets decisions and why it makes economic sense to let Bygones be Bygones notice. They dont promise you think, like a dog, that's the kind of stuff you can only get here. economics radio. But if think like an economist sounds like your kind of thing, you can get it wherever you listen to podcasts, we we will you're right back with Alexander Horwitz in inside of the dog.
Today we ve been getting inside of a dog with Alexander Horowitz cognitive scientists at Barnard College, whose first book is called inside of a dog. It turns out. We make a lot of assumptions about dogs at her half true. At best we took a microphone out to the streets of New York Ass, some people with dogs what they know or think they know about how their dogs think and behave. Why, for instance, dogs urinate, where they do here's one response. We got their mark on their territory. The sectoral they're gonna like playing little flags around the neighbourhood to, but even though its errors in, what's Alex The Harwood think of that explanation. It's totally right to think of the marking behaviour just paying a little bit on lots of different things as leaving little flags. That sort of like little calling, parents that same me me me, but it's our territory. Right, I mean if dogs were really mark in their territory. We expect that they go around the perimeter of your apartment, our house,
and are marking every spot along the wall because that their territory, you know instead it's just leaving information about themselves and places that other dogs can sniff it Alexander it. If I may like to ask you about another behaviour, my dog does, because I am sure you know ever get people asking you questions about their own dogs behaviors, I'm gonna play a piece of tape. You will hear sounds on this tape. One of the sound making objects on the tape is my dog and the other? Well, it's easily recognisable here here we go
So I know that my little Havanese is very far from her wolfy roots, but you do write in your book that, among adult wolves quote a chorus of howling, may help coordinate their travels and strengthens their attachment, is it possible that little eleven pound fever He is trying to do something like that with the ambulance. What going on there any idea, no going back to her ambulance yes, yes, I think that's what she's doing. I think that she's kind of howling the pact essentially wins. I think that's totally charming looks very delightful, so my interpretation went a little bit deeper and I'm sure it's a hundred percent wrong, but my interpretation was because she's so brilliant. She learned the ambulances are transporting sick people that she's empathizing calling ahead to the hospital. Hey, take care of these people, you think that's true
I mean, as I say, we readily make attribution stir. How often are you asked to answer a question like this from someone who manages to get hold of you all the time. It tells me a little bit more about you than it does about the dog. Frankly, and that's the case with most questions, so dogs plainly can't speak at least not the way human speak, but how much and how well do they communicate to humans? If you know Oh, what to listen and look for a lot of things that we would ask of dogs are done, might ask of us are showing us all the time with their behaviour. If a dog needs to get my attention he'll do a number of things before he comes in here and barks at me: Finnegan, for instance, fee they go out or wants to play. He'll come to my if a store and just hang out there, so subtle right but I now recognize that that's a thing so there
one or a handful of things that you as a dog lover and dog scientist, would most like to know about dogs, but because dogs can't speak, you don't yet know. Well one thing: that's notoriously difficult to discover is the extent of their kind of autobiographical memories. Do they tell a story of their life, you know if they, of course, they have perfectly good memories for places and people and things that have happened but sort of what shape it is. You know I certainly treat them as though those issue there, but what did they? think of themselves themselves. So a lot of what you know about dogs interior I've comes from your own research lab at Barnard, the dog cognition lab. Can you describe how a dog Albert least your dog lab, actually works. Sure might be a little bit unusual, man there's not a love, that's constantly staffed. We work together
through the course of a year on one. Several studies on mass where's spending the year developing an idea that we want to test developing a method ology with which to test it, recruiting subjects and then having people come in with their dogs to run them through the experiments. So the dogs are not living there. No dogs are kept at the lab, it sounds like we must have done cages stacked on top of each other. All of her dogs are owned dogs Most of them are New York, city dogs, but sometimes people the drive in from hundreds of miles away to be part of the study and they come with the people. The person is in the room with the dog. Our lab is physical Please just like an office that has nothing in it, except for a dog, related paraphernalia and some very the cameras, and
we run the dog through a little problem solving test, and then they go home with their person. And how representative do you think the dogs that you get in New York City? Are it's a great question because we certainly have to things that change are pool of dogs from sort of Dogs generally one is there mostly New York dogs, so their dogs who live in an urban environment store usually really well socialized with other dogs and with people, because they are around other dogs and people all the time, and then on top of that, of course, the people who who interested in doing this kind of research. Pseudo participating in these kinds of studies are, maybe not the average diagram right. Can I tell you, I once tried to sign up to bring my dog into your lab for an experiment and the paperwork required some information. That I didn't have handy. I think it was a vaccination record like it needed a number or something. So I had to wait till
I went home that evening, but by the time I filled it out, I was told the experiment was already full. So then I was thinking well like well, this lab its selecting for the kind of dog owners who are not only able to immediately respond to the email solicitation on behalf of the dogs, but they also have their complete vaccination record fingertips, and so maybe these dogs, or at least the dog owners, are not super typical. I hope you have since corrected your way. Stephen. Can you just tell me vaccination records right now? I can't I feel like such a failure as a dog owner, but I guess again This goes to the point of how representative the dogs, but more the dog owners are so your overall answer is what representative enough the best you can get. You know what we do wish we're just transparent, we'll say like like this is: the goal of dogs we can proudly generalise to other dogs like these dogs rate? So that's all we can
I mean they're, more stray dogs and owned dogs in the world, and I hesitate to say that I know everything about dogs because we run ones with New York City dogs. So in some ways this is a parallel to a lot of different kinds of reason. which has been done over the years. You know a great deal of what we know about psychology and even economics, and an experimental setting comes from basically college undergraduates, it big research, universities and so on. So do you feel like there is any major component of dog cognition that you haven't really gotten to yet because you're, mostly studying city dogs. I think, if I really want to have a sense of Dogs perception of the world through smell, which is one of my great interests. I have to get the person out of there a little bit. It would be more into to study dogs who don't have person dragging them
by the leash and don't restrict in a where they can go, but just dogs being dogs and really track what they know by smell, because people really restrict and control their dogs environment, and so you do get this kind of adulterated subject at some level again. That itself is interesting right. These dogs do quite exist independently of the relationship with their people. So we intentional include the people and our studies, but you're not getting the dog claw dog. That's right and I would the interested in that for sure. So some dog breeds are thought to be naturally aggressive pit bulls and Rottweiler There is an Dobermans, are they know, breeds are not naturally aggressive period and in other people's the current, but nor are they have
horrible reputation. The aggression is more complicated than that does aggressive mean that they bark at stake, that aroused them that simulate them does it mean that they attack somebody. What counts is behavior is really changed according to context So, for instance, the reason that dogs, like german shepherds were thought of as aggressive for so long is because they were used to attack to bite people to catch people, but is the breed therefore, always more aggressive, know those dogs were trained to do that. Behaviour, wouldn't naturally have done that behaviour and there is nothing about the breed which is different, so I think it's how we use dogs, that's led to there being tainted as aggressive, and then they can't ever get rid of that handle had then it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy earth becomes a selection issue. People who want aggressive dogs get those breeds and
teach him to be aggressive. Your thing at some level and its also, information by us, where we remember the cases of people who attacked a woman in the face or killed a child or another dog? And we don't remember the case of the gold retriever say who better child in the face. Because we want it to be as simple as some are aggressive and some breeds are not, but it's not that simple and you write. Research found that of all breeds. Dawsons were the most aggressive to both their own owners. Test Rangers re little wiener toxin both address so how, measured and concluded. So this was based on a very large survey of dogs. That's been going on for maybe a decade and a half the s, bark that stands for something yeah, I'm sure it does,
and it begins with canine ends with questioner, but I dont remember the middle and it's a battery of questions that owners that dog people answer about their charges. And then the researchers look at you know. Are there differences we can see by breeds by sex by age etc, and they found that in turn of owner, reported aggressive acts, things like barking biting snarled. and growling dioxins, showed far more than the other breeds. And then, if you go around looking at boxes and thinking Are you and aggressive little die there probably barking at you now. Are they in fact seven, this other way we mean like can they hurt me, can pick up the docks and stash them to bag and then they're non aggressive anymore. That's harder
with a german shepherd. So should we conclude that it's good that Dawkins aren't much bigger, in which case they could do damage, or should we conclude that Dawkins are aggressive because small, and they just need to kind of make themselves known. We would be terrifying to imagine a really large stocks, and wouldn't it be like one of those stretch, Suv limos that you see on prom night. I think It would be a failure as a brief but its reasonable to hypothesis. but not conclude that they're doing that behavior, because they're small dogs right, I think it's, maybe a compensatory element it. You know in all animals, including the human animal there's something position that you gain by being larger, louder and so, if your small, maybe you could be louder, but you do right that small dogs dont think of themselves as lesser then big dogs, correct ray, I don't think they think of themselves.
as weak or of a different species than a big dog right now. My place studies, small dogs are perfectly good at playing with giant dogs and vice versa. That large dogs moderate the behaviors to be more suited to the small dog. They don't just eat them. When you think about the symbiosis of the dog human relationship, who do you think, gets the better end of the deal? I don't know. I totally view it that way right. but I do think that we're getting a better deal in some ways. Our need to take a total. Troll in many cases over the dogs experiences you know when they go out when they eat when they can poop, they can deal with it, but I feel like there many fewer controls that they have our experience, so I think we ve kind of got the better deal
by standard intelligence tests. The dogs have failed at the puzzle. I believe, by contrast that they have succeeded magnificently they have applied a novel tool to the task. We are that tool. Dogs have learned this and they CS as fine general purpose tools to useful for protection acquiring food, providing companionship. We solve the puzzles of closed door. An empty water dishes. In the folks psychology of dogs. We humans are brilliant enough to extract hope lesly tangled leashes, from around trees. We can magically transport, than the higher higher or lower heights as needed, we can conjure up an endless bounty of foodstuffs and things to chew how savvy we are in dogs eyes. It's a clever strategy to turn to us. After all
Question of the cognitive abilities of dogs is thereby transformed dogs are terrific, it using humans to solve problems, but not as good at solving problems. When we're not around. So dog ownership is way up during the pandemic. How do you feel about this new army of dog owners? And how do you feel about that word owner apply to the humans that a dog lives with. I worry about ownership generally right. I wonder if that's the relationship we should have with our dogs generally, but I think it's wonderful that people turn to dogs as the kind of proxy for human company that weren't getting in this time of being isolated and it was true. For the shelters? You know cleaned out a lot of shelters. There is, of course, an asterisk on this. we worry about what has happened to these dogs and the people
you're going back to work. Are they all people who adopted dogs with a kind of full understanding of a life with a dog? Even if you're not working from home to think Others might fill up again in a year or two. I think it's absolutely civil and I know in some cases shelters already have had a lot of returns of dogs. So if someone is on the fence about getting a dog with it, I ve never had a dog. How would you advise they consider making? The final decision will is easy to get a dog. But what you're actually signing up for is you know if you're lucky a twenty year relationship with a living being whose needs you can't anticipate. Yet none of us has prepared how it's gonna change us and what we actually need to do to treat that dog well, so spent the little time, girding yourself for the fact that if you're doing it, write. Your life is going to change, ends It's not what you think you're signing up for often when you think I'm listening This is such a cue puppy. If there was you know,
just one or two things that you would want everyone to think about as they're getting their dog for the first time to try to really understand Adele. Organ away. That typically isn't talked about so much. Where would you start well, I would say not having preconceptions who that individual dog is or can be. I think that's really important and very right, when you decide to buy or adopt a dog, you already have an idea of where they're going to fit in in your family. Well, maybe they don't like they're, a different person and being open to that, would save a lot of aggravation. And I think the next thing is- and I dont study this per se, but I think it's important thinking what the role of training is in your dogs, life. I'm not a big advocate, have just training for training sake. Who cares if your dog can sit on command? I don't care the ring. You teach something like that is on the way to forming a good relationship with your daughter,
teaching your dogs. It is not about the dog sitting, that's not a trick that you should pull out and feel satisfaction for instead it sort of the beginning of your door. understanding that are sometimes you're, gonna need them to be still and that they can act. Own control, their own body. So that's like a beginning, understanding it doesn't and with learning to or lie down. A roll over. That's not the end point the end point as a relationship in our dogs come closer to being a benign gang bene, pack a gang of two or three or four or more. We are a family trainers who espouse the pact matter or extract the higher key component and ignore the social context from which it emerges. A wolf centric trainer
may call the humans, the pact leaders responsible for discipline and forcing submission by others. These trainers teach by Punishing the dog after discovery of, say the inevitable PETE upon rug The punishment can be a yell, forcing the dog down a shot word or a jerk of the color, bringing the dog to the scene of the crime to enact the punishment is common and is an especially misguided tactic. punishing the dog for his miss behaviour, the deed have been done. Maybe hours before with dominance. Tactics is a quick way to make your relationship about bullying the result will be a dog who becomes extra, sensitive and possibly fearful, but not one who I understand what you mean to impart. Instead, let the dog uses observation skills,
Undesired behaviour gets no attention, no food, nothing that the dog wants from you. Good behaviour gets it all that an integral part of how a young child learns, how to be a person and that's how the dog human gang coheres into a family, I want to know how much a given dogs temperament reflects the personality of the humans that they live with. So I play with my dog a lot we do allotted chasing and fetching in high in seeking, etc, etc? But I want to know: is she playful, because I play with her alone? Would she be playful if her human didn't play with her a lot, how much symbiosis is there in the person, quality dog banality dimension. I just love imagining you like, hiding with your dog. That sounds like a lot of fun and thy think
you know, we find the things that enable us to work best together right. So if you have certain kind of play you like to do together than you will slowly find yourself doing that type of play. All the time did it, and a new first. Is it constitutional you or did it happen in her first? Was it constitutional? For I don't think. That's the right question really. Can really just talk about your playful together in this diet? Would she be as playful with another Person or dog. I don't know because it isn't necessarily of just a part of her. It's part of her you right in think that's what's interesting about dogs like other animals, is that there's a way that we're really appended together? And you almost can't talk about the owned dog in separation from the person? I wondered about that because
you write how we have an effect on our dogs, but our dogs have an effect on us and for me the effect is ninety nine percent salutary, but I grew up with dogs. I love dogs. I love the dog that I have now and until I read your book or we read your book for this conversation really thought about what effect she's had on me overall, especially my work like she's seven now and since we got her she's come with me to my office or wherever. I'm writing pretty much. Every day and spends all day with me- and I never really stuck to think how Might she have co, influenced my work? I mean change the way that I think and feel and move through a day. Some of the things are concrete temporal thing: like every day, there's a walk or two which I wouldn't take otherwise, and there are encounters on that walk, but there's also just a feeling of companionship that I'd love to know. If I could how that's affected everything. I've written and talked about for the past
years. I'm curious if there's any research on how a dog and daily life affects your trajectory, temperament and so on. the only kind of research out there is really ones that look out, for instance, levels oxytocin production when you ll guys with a dog or when you touch a dog. There are studies looking at the fact that well your oxytocin levels levels go up, and that's a good thing should say as this peptide hormone yeah those involved in feelings of affection and attachment. And so the It seems absurd, lately health giving a day Billy Basis and what kind of put you in a better place, Justin being in a great relationship with the person might put you in that place, So what are you writing now? I'm writing a look on early dog development, which is tentatively, titled year of the puppy, and do you think
we'll be writing about dogs when you're eighty, I would be so lucky to be writing about dogs, I'm eighty! So here's a short passage from your book that really intrigue me. Dogs are ingenuous. Their bodies do not deceive enough. They sometimes cajole or trick us. Instead, the dogs body the map straight to his internal state, their joy when you return home or their concern plotted by the lift of an eyebrow. So considering this ingenuousness and the fact that dogs dont speak, and you know, if you can't speak again, tell a lie. What does it say about dogs? I guess honesty, or decency. Does it suggest that we should all on that level strive to be a little bit more dog, like I do think, are are fundamentally it's the the perfect word to describe dogs and not only that the
unrelenting Lee cheerful in the face of non cheery situations right and I do try to model myself on that behavior or at least nudge myself in that direction and tone down the skeptical grumpy part of my self. Mean how fantastic that they don't hold a grudge against you. When you've left there's so delighted that you're back if I've ever met a person? Who did that you know like capture that person it stay with them forever, because it's a rare treat indeed that was Alexander Horowitz proprietor of the dog Cognition lab at Barnard? An author of inside of a dog what dog see smell and now her other books include being a dog, our dogs ourselves, and I'm looking, they can all be acquired wherever you acquire your books these days. Please let us know what you think.
of this economic for your book club format, we are at radio at for economics that come. We ve got a few more episodes already in production, including a book called eat like a fish, my adventures, farming, the ocean to fight climate change by Brenda So if you are the kind of person who likes to read ahead, go for it. Meanwhile, coming up next week on I'm right, one of the challenges is people, don't buy enough insurance because they slightly resent the need for insurance Let's say you are a small business owner who did buy insurance, including business interruption insurance. When the pandemic interrupted your business, you probably thought you'd be covered, but you weren't you get a book, it's about three inches thick and you'll, find Some things are missing. Why wasn't this
endemic insured? It's crazy? It's crazy! It's utterly crazy! It's next time on economics, radio until then take care of yourself and if you can someone else to whether the person dog even a cat, for economics radios produced by stature and w productions. This episode was produced by Brent cats. Our staff also include thousand Craig Low Gregg Ribbon Zack Lewinsky met Hickey, Daphne, and Karin Wallace, our intern, is Emma Terrell or theme song is MR fortune by the hitchhikers. The rest of our music was composed by Luis Gara. with additional music this week by Michael Riola and Stephen Allrick, you you can get We cannot make radio and any pod cast up. If you like to hear the entire back catalogue, use the stitched up or go to freak anomalies, dot com, where we also publish transcripts and show notes. As always thanks you listening,
so for the people who can't handle a dog just get them a cat who knew this was going to happen when I entered school that if I'm pro dog, I sometimes seen as anti cat right sharks jets, dogs, cats. It is the way it is stitcher.
Transcript generated on 2020-10-23.