'Good' vs 'bad' dogs

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JudyN
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'Good' vs 'bad' dogs

Post by JudyN » Tue Dec 10, 2019 9:15 am

I got into a discussion on a non-dog forum this morning about whether there were bad dogs, or only dogs with undesirable characteristics, the wrong owners, with unfulfilled needs, etc. I was using the argument that as dogs don't have a conscience or moral compass, they can't be 'bad'.

Only, when I was mulling later, I realised later that by my own argument, there are no 'good' dogs either :shock: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Now, I know perfectly well that when Jasper does a perfect recall, it's not because he's 'good' but because he shamelessly wants the treat I anticipate - and/or because of the training, coming is almost an automatic reflex. But if I tell myself he's 'good', and respond accordingly, doing a happy dance, I will reinforce his recall. If on the other hand he does something 'bad' and I shot at him/punish him, this won't help in the slightest - well, it might deter him from doing it in the future but we all know that at best, that's not the most effective approach, and at worst, it could destroy trust and impact behaviour badly because of that.

So are there no truly good or bad dogs, in a moral sense? Are they only good or bad in the way that a car can be good or bad? (Treat a good car nicely and it will keep running well, give it an almighty kick and if you're strong enough, you're going to make it worse...)

This is, really, a philosophical matter, particularly if you bring in humans who don't seem to have a moral compass or conscience. I will of course carry on thinking of Jasper as being a very good dog apart from when he's being a little sod!!
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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Nettle
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Re: 'Good' vs 'bad' dogs

Post by Nettle » Wed Dec 11, 2019 4:02 am

Ah, I love these discussions - I do hope others join in!

Did you ever read "The Count of Monte Christo"?

I have to paraphrase because my copy isn't to hand - but right at the end, the author says words to the effect that there is no such thing as happiness or sadness, just the constant comparison of the one with the other, and therefore the person who has known the greatest sadness has from that the capacity to feel the greatest happiness.

From there :wink: I'd say the person who has experienced the more difficult dog behaviours is more appreciative of the delightful ones, especially in the same dog.

From a dog behaviourist point of view, there is no such thing as a 'good' or 'bad' dog - there is wanted and unwanted behaviour. What is wanted or unwanted is not about the dog, but the owner and their circumstances. Everything a dog does makes sense to the dog.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

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JudyN
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Re: 'Good' vs 'bad' dogs

Post by JudyN » Wed Dec 11, 2019 7:43 am

Nettle wrote:
Wed Dec 11, 2019 4:02 am
From there :wink: I'd say the person who has experienced the more difficult dog behaviours is more appreciative of the delightful ones
Sadly, the person I've been arguing against most thinks that the most difficult dogs don't deserve to live... She - and possibly others - seem to think I'm saying that dogs only show bad behaviour because they have bad owners and that any dog can be trained to be 100% lovely - which, as you well know, isn't what I think at all :lol: She also thinks a dog who presents a risk to life and limb should be destroyed... which I wouldn't actually disagree with depending on the circumstances. My point is that it's no more the dogs' 'fault' than it would be a wolf's fault if you brought it in as a family pet and it didn't go well, so it's not a matter of 'deserving' to be punished/destroyed.

But the discussion is in a general chat thread and I need to drop the subject or a mod will come in and remonstrate which would be a bit embarrassing as it's me who runs the forum :lol:
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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Nettle
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Re: 'Good' vs 'bad' dogs

Post by Nettle » Thu Dec 12, 2019 9:36 am

:lol:
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

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Dominika
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Re: 'Good' vs 'bad' dogs

Post by Dominika » Sun May 24, 2020 5:53 am

I recently listened to a podcast with Jean Donaldson and she has a "thing" called FOD - fear of dogs. But I think it comes more from what she's used to in the US where shelters are more saturated and something like food guarding is considered very dangerous. That's one of the things she mentioned anyway. That dogs with behaviours relatively easy to change can be considered very bad. She went on to talk about how people argue and that just because someone argues we wouldnt automatically consider them to be murderers or extremely violent people.

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Nettle
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Re: 'Good' vs 'bad' dogs

Post by Nettle » Mon May 25, 2020 3:19 am

Also - when people argue, it is often because they want the other person to think they way they do. But really, it doesn't usually mean one person is right therefore the other is wrong, simply that we come to each situation with a different skills set and background of experiences.

Same with dogs - a dog that has been attacked by another dog is always going to be more wary and inclined to react than a dog that has only ever met well-mannered dogs.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

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