Social Question

6rant6's avatar

Is doing something good for your dog the same as doing something good for a person?

Asked by 6rant6 (13672points) June 18th, 2011

When we do something nice for someone we feel good about ourselves. The reasons we feel good are complex and varied. It’s partly about belief system, partly about expectations, partly about how we perceive the receiver of our good deeds reacting to them, and partly biological.

Without asking you to take apart the mechanism that allows you to feel good about doing good, I’m curious about your relative sense of “goodness” when helping another person or alternatively helping an animal such as a pet dog.

Do you feel the same uplift when you do a good deed for two-legged and four-legged friends? Can you say why it is that one feels better than the other?

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23 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

No, it’s not the same.

I believe good works should be done without consideration of reward, but with the best wishes for the person who is helped, and without prejudice of the position they are in.

Helping out your pet is to maintain the unconditional affection of the pet, but that affection is instinctual loyalty to the pack and its leader.

6rant6's avatar

@zenvelo Just so I’m clear, you’re saying that for you helping a person feels better than helping an animal?

zenvelo's avatar

@6rant6 Yes, I am saying that, but I am also saying it in general that helping another human being is more important than helping a pet. But helping some people carries no positive response, but helps one’s overall sense of well being.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, it is. Love is love, and spreading around the love, be it a human or an animal IS a loving gesture.

I take great pleasure in keeping my animals happy. Just came in from filling the goose pools with sparkling clean water for the day, set them up with a big tub of ice cold water and their floating salad bar, fresh feed, shade umbrellas open to shade the pools for the afternoon.

As I said, ANY loving care counts, love has no demarcation lines.

I help people and animals alike as my philosophy mandates care for ALL living things regardless of species.

Soubresaut's avatar

Your dog will love you unconditionally because they love you unconditionally, because they trust you. My dog didn’t love me any less when he had a non-cancerous, but irritating, growth on his side, and didn’t love me any more when I got it removed for him. He was grateful it was gone.

I think, sometimes dogs can be better at receiving good deeds, because they don’t expect—humans (not all, mind you) can get a sense of entitlement; you helped me once, you’ll help me again; I helped you, you’d better help me. We’ve built our societies based on the idea we’ll do nothing if we’re getting nothing in return, and so exemplify this. Dogs live.

But I do think the gesture, regardless of the recepient, carries the same worth, if we can measure it like that—help is help, and we’re all animals.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

It does make me feel good to take care of the living things closest around me first.

downtide's avatar

I feel good about making my dog happy. I feel better about making someone else’s dog happy. I feel better still about making other people happy. Dogs and other animals are just as deserving of love as people are, but helping humanity is important because humanity is the community we all belong to.

Cruiser's avatar

I treat my dog well but hardly takes the same effort as doing something nice for someone. Doing something nice for a person can and often does involve a lot of effort and sometimes planning and money.

6rant6's avatar

Does no one else have a disconnect between the philosophy and the actuality?

For me, I think people should be more important than animals, but I get at least as much of a spiff out of doing something for my dog as I do out of doing something for a loved one.

Kardamom's avatar

Being kind and compassionate is always a good thing, both for animals and people. Animals and people are certainly different and the things that we do for them are different, but kindness and compassion are still the best way to go, in whatever capacity you are able to give.

Kayak8's avatar

I feel really good about me when my dogs and I do certain things together. Like I feel awesome after the three of us play a little soccer in the backyard or go to a lake and go swimming or if we have a really good search training opportunity. For me, it is doing things with my dogs rather than giving them gifts (they could give a fig about a new tennis ball vs a well-worn tennis ball).

sarahtalkpretty's avatar

Maybe if I didn’t have kids I’d be more inclined to shower love on a pet and it would feel great, but I don’t have the time or energy right now. My particular focus at this time in life is people and doing something good for an animal is not as satisfying…as much as I do like them.

athenasgriffin's avatar

Its better with the dog because the dog will actually appreciate it.

Coloma's avatar


Haha…there is truth in that, animals are easily pleased and generous with tail wagging appriciation. Although they do take the Fancy Feast for granted too.
On the rare occasion I am out of the canned food and try to serve my cat something substandard like real chicken breast, she looks at me with a ” WTF is THIS?” evil eye. lol ;-)

athenasgriffin's avatar

My cat too. He will not eat anything but the orange fishy fancy feast. Not anything.

Coloma's avatar


It’s the special gravy I think :-D

john65pennington's avatar

10–4. Our border collie is just like my second son. The only difference is my dog minds me and never talks back. Well, he may talk back in dog talk, but thats okay.

Mikey does not care what I look like, he does not care if I wear any clothes, at home, or not. He does not care what I eat. He never complains, as long as his Pedigree is in his bowl at 10 am.

I feel as good taking care of Mikey as I do humans. If I make a mistake, Mikey does not care. If I make a mistake with a human, all hell breaks lose.

Give me Mikey any day of the week.

YARNLADY's avatar

Yes, the psychological benefit is the same.

tinyfaery's avatar

I actually feel better helping animals. People are so…ugh. They take things for granted and lash out at those trying to be helpful. I like to help people, but I’m often ambivalent about it.

With animals, they appreciate all you give them. I am fostering 3 kittens and the joy I receive from them is immeasurable. Conversely, I work with troubled teens and I make decent money, but I hate them, at times. They are punk-ass little brats and I get little reward from LOTS of effort.

Coloma's avatar


No shame in that honesty, people are far more effort intensive with intermittent reward. lol

Plucky's avatar

I think it’s basically the same. Good deeds are good deeds matter what species the beneficiary belongs to.

I agree with @tinyfaery ..helping animals can certainly be more psychologically rewarding than helping humans. Animals tend to have a quiet appreciation for even the littlest things we do for them’s a good feeling.

Ladymia69's avatar

I feel much better helping an animal…couldn’t really tel you why exactly. I feel it is harder for them, simply because not as many people are naturally biased in their favor. I think they need all the help they can get.

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