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lopezpor's avatar

Do dogs have a subconscious mind?

Asked by lopezpor (241points) June 9th, 2010

Pavlov’s dog…

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17 Answers

lillycoyote's avatar

We really have no way at this stage in our knowledge to observe or measure that in a dog so we have know way of really knowing.

DrBill's avatar

I believe they do.

gailcalled's avatar

Pavlov’s dog was not relying on its subconscious but on conditioning.

davidgro's avatar

I think it’s pretty obvious (and there have been studies that say so too) that at least some and probably all dogs dream. Dreaming is pretty well connected with the subconscious in humans and I think probably other mammals too.
(Also, this question’s description not a good one, as @gailcalled has pointed out – do you mean to ask if a dog’s conditioning is conscious or not? it’s a different question then the subject line.).

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CaptainHarley's avatar

I strongly suspect that they do because I have seen too many dogs dreaming while they slept.

ABushMed's avatar

I think that all animals have a consciousness but a different adaptation and manifestation than what we have, theirs is more focused on instinctual gratification and survival, and in domesticated animals conditioned responses and animalistic forms of territory, dominion, and defense.

chyna's avatar

Yes, my dog dreams, knows what day is Saturday and Sunday, the only day she gets bacon.
But I also believe she understands what I say to her.

mrrich724's avatar

Would this be a good enough answer?

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YARNLADY's avatar

There is absolutely kno way to know for sure. They apparently do “dream”, but there is no test for unconscious.

ipso's avatar

Test: does posting work again?

ipso's avatar

I’ll agree with others: @lillycoyote, @ABushMed, and @YARNLADY (in spite of the great link by @mrrich724 to the dog dreaming.)

The functional architecture is completely different. Comparing the notion of a hypothetical dog subconscious with a human subconscious (which itself is not wholly defined) is like comparing apples to parakeets.

You get into semantics real quick. In human terms, I should think dogs are nothing BUT “subconscious”. Consciousness can be defined strictly as that of being self aware. Deer blink – but are not self aware. Dogs also function, but are not self aware. They do not pass the mirror test. (Nor do human babies by the way, until they are ~18mo.)

Sure we all want to empathize with and anthropomorphize dogs. (Unfortunately I can’t find on YouTube the Simpsons scene where Homer talks to the dog as if he understands him – as if they were in the same universe – and they cut to the dog’s perspective and it’s blahblahblahblah in a completely obtuse visual perspective.)

See How Monkeys See the World – by Cheney and Seyfarth, or Daniel Dennett’s Conciouslness Explaind where there is a section “What it is like to be a bat” – which is long winded, and somewhat off topic, but provides oodles of interesting reference. Also see congnitive ethology.

So I contest that you can’t have a subconscious without a conscious first. Dogs have their own unique dog experience that is so far removed from our experience that making direct comparisons is disingenuous at best.

LostInParadise's avatar

To add to what @ipso said, Suppose that dogs can dream. What they can’t do is wake up from a dream and think, oh, it was only a dream. This would require a conscious mind.

tb1570's avatar

The fact that dogs and perhaps other animals may in fact dream, may not have any real connection to a subconscious mind. In fact, in regards to humans, we are still not sure what dreams are. They may be expressions of our subconscious mind, or they may just be the brain trying to make sense of random neural activity during REM sleep.

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