Social Question

Dutchess_III's avatar

Can someone who knows dogs please explain this puppy's actions to me?

Asked by Dutchess_III (44145points) October 18th, 2020

I don’t want to anthropomorphize but it’s sure hard not to.

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23 Answers

janbb's avatar

Sure looks like empathy. I sent it to longgone for her opinion.

canidmajor's avatar

Animals tend to have distress noises that are recognized by other animals. An empathetic dog will understand the distress, whether from another dog, a human, a cat, a baby elephant, a young giraffe, etc. this is why most dogs will react to a crying human or another pet in the family with concern.

longgone's avatar

I have a few thoughts here.

First, I don’t doubt for a second that dogs can experience grief, or that they recognize distress in others. The book For The Love of a Dog is great, if you’re interested in this topic.

However, I do have some reservations about dogs understanding the storyline of a cartoon. This question is interesting because we’re trying to determine whether a dog understands another being’s internal state…and in the process, we’re trying to understand another being’s internal state. Turtles all the way down. Since we’re humans, we can try to reason it out and imagine what it’s like to be a dog.

Luna, this (very sweet) dog, is four months old. What does she know about death? What are the chances that she’d recognize death from a scene like this? Why would we even assume that dogs, who live in an olfactory world, would rely on visual cues for this important event? Why would Simba’s heavily anthropomorphized expression (he cries!) spell sadness to her – especially as she’s likely seeing a series of slides rather than fluid movement (since the framerate is human-appropriately low)?

Now, looking at Luna, she is definitely broadcasting anxiety. I don’t think she is particularly sad. If you mute the video, it’s easier to focus on her body language. She looks extremely interested to me, and confused. Watching her ears, she’s very alert. Her general posture displays a lack of confidence. Her tail shows how excited she’s getting, and her raised hackles indicate that she’s spooked.

Listening to only her vocalizations, she does sound sad. But then again, we humans tend to interpret all whining as sadness and pain. There’s another video of the same dog, anticipating a friend’s arrival. She’s clearly excited and happy, but her whining still sounds sad to me. My own dog sounds pathetically sad when he sees girlfriends, and he is head over heels in love with them all.

So, if I had to guess what’s happening: this is a young and excitable dog who hasn’t learned that what’s on TV isn’t necessarily real. There’s a weird cat-shaped being on the wall. It’s exciting, but strange. If the humans in the room are getting emotional, Luna is picking up on that through her amazing powers of observation and smell.

She’s clearly very sensitive and attentive. I bet she’s a lot of fun, and she seems loved. Thanks for sharing this!

Nomore_lockout's avatar

Wow! Just Wow! I’ve never seen anything like that. Either that film should be puppy restricted or that is super intelligent dog.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Interesting. I have never seen a dog recognize images on a screen. They’re oblvious. I had a cat who would look behind the TV for the birds in videos we showed her. But she was the smartest, most beautiful, best cat ever in all Earth’s history.

I loved that cat, in case it was not clear.

Dutchess_III's avatar

(Wow. Am I the only one who sees that red heart??)

Nomore_lockout's avatar

Huh? Lost in the ozone here.

canidmajor's avatar

@Call_Me_Jay I have had a bunch of different dogs who react to the TV. I had a Westie who would go nuts at nature shows that featured bugs, and a Chessie who loved anything with horses. Most of my dogs react to the sounds of crying, or animal distress.

gondwanalon's avatar

Dogs are so smart! Too smart for me. That’s why I have cats they’re pretty dumb. HA!

Dutchess_III's avatar

On my phone the heart is red. That’s the first time I’ve seen anything with color here.

Nomore_lockout's avatar

Oh I see it now. But Its grey on my lap top here. Go figure

Dutchess_III's avatar

It’s grey on my desk top. Only red onmy phone.

Nomore_lockout's avatar

Purty phone, Retro PCs, the wonders of modern technology.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

I copied the heart character and it’s red when I paste it into the address/search bar. It’s a black outline when I paste it into Excel. Different programs/features display emoticons differently.

LadyMarissa's avatar

Here are 2 other dogs…

This cat seems to understand it as well.

Nomore_lockout's avatar

Popular movie in the animal kingdom, it seems. Amazing.

janbb's avatar

My Mom always said that Disney always included things that were very disturbing to children – animals too, I guess.

Dutchess_III's avatar

He had kind of an obsession with death. Especially the death of a parent.

Nomore_lockout's avatar

Strange guy Disney was – in retrospect. Not exactly the kindly Uncle Walt we saw on TV.

janbb's avatar

@Dutchess_III Yes, that’s what my Mom was referring to – from Bambi on down.

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