It’s been awhile since I’ve put pen to paper, but a few stories related to me recently have got me wondering about a lack of cognitive dissonance where it seems that is should clearly exist. My quandry is this; if you believe that a dog, or any animal for that matter, is intelligent enough to be taught complex tasks, then shouldn’t it follow that the animal has emotions that play a part in their learning?
Anthropomorphizing aside, I have to believe that animals of high intelligence have basic emotions similar to mine; including fear, frustration, and happiness. Yet time and time again I see and hear stories of those who seem to think that a dog should just learn in any environment despite fears and frustrations just because we command them to do so.
While I have to concede that for some humans, making them “face their fears by fire” so to speak, does work. It does so because they are able to understand the process in which they are involved because they share a common language with their instructor.
On the other hand, it seems to me that expecting an animal to learn simply because we discount, disregard, or don’t believe in their emotional state, should bring on a cognitive dissonance migraine.
Refusing to change a student’s (human or no,) environment so that learning can take place strikes me as either arrogance or a lack of empathy for the animal being taught. “Because I said so,” does not work for an animal that cannot speak.
I will climb down of my soapbox now and patiently listen to your thoughts on the subject. After all, we speak the same language, don’t we?