How Do Dogs Make Decisions?
Last week we wrote about about the different strategies our dogs Jack & Maggie use when playing a game. It got me thinking more and more about how dogs think and how they make decisions. You may not realize it, but just like you, your dog makes hundreds of decisions each day…
- Do I go get a drink of water now or wait till after my nap?
- Do I follow mom to the bathroom or just wait here?
- Do I bark at that dog walking down my street or ignore him?
- Do I nap in the office with mom or by the door or out on the deck in the sunshine?
- Do I want to play with the frisbee or the squeeky toy or my new stuffie?
- Do I like carrots today or do I want to spit it out?
And the list goes on.
My sister sent me this photo of her dog Tally which perfectly captured the conundrum dogs face sometimes…goodness, which lounge chair should I nap on?
How does she decide? Many folks think that dogs act purely out of instinct and that may be so when deciding when to take a nap, but faced with equal choices like these lounges, how does she decide? Ultimately, she picked one in the middle – which left the one on the end for her big sister, Taj. Maybe she did that so Taj could have one closer to the door since she’s older and has been sick. Maybe the one she picked has more sun or smelled better or…who knows, but certainly some thought went into that decision.
I didn’t find much written about how dogs make decisions, probably the most work is being done by the folks at Dognition which we’ve written about before. The NPR piece listed below with the dog swinging from the tree branch is pretty interesting as is the work from the Dog Cognition Center in New York.
What do you think? How does your dog make decisions?