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Ltryptophan's avatar

Could animals be taught to purchase from us?

Asked by Ltryptophan (9100 points ) February 24th, 2011

There is a sort of economy between us already. I am not arguing that they could grasp what they are doing fully. More like some behavioral training.

Two instances come to mind. The affection of cats that are hungry, and aphids that secrete nectar for ants. Sheep dogs….

This could be a new ecologically relevant area of economics.

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20 Answers

thorninmud's avatar

I sometimes wonder if cats and dogs think that Humans are after their poop. Why else would we so carefully collect it in little bags and then put it in the big piggy banks with all the other wonderful smelling stuff? Or why would we use those little slotted shovels to sift the precious nuggets out of the cat box? For some reason, it must be of some value to the humans if they go to such trouble to harvest it. Ah well, it’s not much to pay for room and board.

ragingloli's avatar

“There is a sort of economy between us already.”
Unless you consider slavery to be an economy, I have to disagree with that.
To answer the question, I deem it unlikely, because only few animals have the necessary mental capacity, and humans have no way to communicate with those on the required level.

coffeenut's avatar

Lol….I saw a dog that went to the store for the owner, I think it was once a week…bought milk and bread and brought it home…. had a carry harness on

cynicaldeath's avatar

Well…I know this isn’t what you are really asking for, but yes we can train animals to purchase from us.

A penguin that buys fishes

Coloma's avatar

My goose will give kisses for a slice of bread. A fine trade. ;-)

I havn’t had him network with Orowheat yet though.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Ltryptophan While I’d LOVE nothing more than to answer with a resounding YES! The unfortunate answer to your specific question is no.

However, if you re-worded this to be, “Could we be taught to purchase from the animals?” I’d say yes. As an animal lover/activist, I’d be delighted to see animals benefit from us putting them in captivity and taking their goods.

If as an evolved culture, we gave back to the land and the animals equally to our taking from them, obviously, our lives and in return theirs, would benefit.

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Zaku's avatar

I think it would be far more progressive and beneficial if humans would re-learn to behave more like animals and pre-agricultural humans, only taking what they needed and leaving the rest.

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crisw's avatar

Yes, absolutely!

Monkeynomics.

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wundayatta's avatar

Are you seriously expecting a serious answer to this? Because think about it. It’s right there in your question. We’d have to train them to do it. They are still our property or “slaves” as some might say. Unless you’d say we’re their slaves.

But we’re the ones who provide the food and shelter. They pay for it with affection and/or work. An economist could certainly look at it and analyze it because there is exchange going on. Just not monetary exchange. The same is true in many human relationships. We exchange a lot without money changing hands.

But money? Animals? Don’t be absurd. Money is irrelevant to animals (and it probably should be to us, too). They will never learn what it means, and the only important thing about money is what it means. So what’s the point? Exploitation of animals to have them learn a new trick?

I’m sorry, but I’m calling the SPCA for attempting to teach animals the meaning of money. That is serious abuse.

I hope for your sake that this question is a joke. Oh dear. It’s in general. I’m serious. Take this question back before the SPCA finds it. You probably thought you were being nice, but you aren’t. This is cruelty.

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Neizvestnaya's avatar

My dog will nuzzle my face and paw at my hand when he wants a drink of water from the faucet rather than drinking from the community pet water bowl on the floor. If I ignore those gestures then he’ll run around in little circles, prancing like a pony until I laugh. Once I laugh then he’ll come over and offer me a paw- I know he’s trying to buy something then.

DancingMind's avatar

I’m with what some others said. Rather than trying to teach them the artificial system we’ve created of ‘you do this, I give you some green paper’ we should try to remember ourselves how to take only what we need, and to respect other life.

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lifeflame's avatar

@wundayatta
Sometimes I wonder if it’s us that’s training our pets or our pets that are training us.
My cat keeps nipping my mum to remind her to feed him; I keep telling my mum NOT to feed the cat if he does that.
Similarly, I’m sure my dog thinks: Look, I can make the humans pet me if I sit down! And growl “Good Dog” on command!

mattbrowne's avatar

According to Matt Ridley animals can do a bit of exchange, but they can’t be taught more complex trade.

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