But what about the way dogs think? Can they think through certain problems or situations in a rational and logical manner or do they only rely on emotions or instincts? Although there is still a lot to learn, scientists believe animals can think rationally to an extent.
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Signs of a Dog Thinking Rationally
Research has shown that animals, including dogs, are able to think rationally because they have been able to remember past events, use different tools, and can find ways to solve various issues. It is important to note that other animals are better rational thinkers than dogs and it is hard to know to what extent a dog can think rationally.
Although it is hard to tell the signs of a dog thinking rationally, there may be some signs that can help to observe their thinking logic. For example, if your dog can figure out how to walk through a door with a stick, identify your face in a group of pictures, recognize other dogs by sight, or figure out what toy to bring you when you say "bring your green alligator," these may all be signs your dog is able to think on a rational and logical level.
These are some signs you may notice if your dog can think rationally:
- Head tilting
- Raise ears
- Identifying objects correctly
- Ability to think through issues
- Problem solving
History of Dogs Thinking Rationally
One of the oldest questions that has yet to be definitively answered is "what sets humans apart from the rest of the animal world?" Even ancient philosophers have debated and tried to answer this question without much avail. It was once believed that the complex human thinking process is what made us so special, but with the number of scientific experiments and research conducted over the years, and the conclusions that many animals can think on a rational level, this differentiation is no longer accepted.
For instance, as early as the times of Plato and Aristotle, many believed that animals lacked a rational mind because humans were rational and other animals could not be. Aquinas stated that animals are only irrational because they are not free, and Descartes suggested that in order to be a rational thinker, one must speak a language, and since animals cannot speak, therefore they cannot be rational. However, we have come a long way from the time of our ancient philosophers and we now know what animals can indeed think rationally, at least on a basic level.
Science Behind Dogs Thinking Rationally
A wolf has the ability to evaluate the risks in a situation and act in accordance with such risks. Wolves do not hunt alone, generally, because they know it is unsafe to do this. Even if they are in a large pack, if they are hunting and the prey poses too much of a treat, they will collectively decide not to go for the prey. This requires a level of rational and logical thinking that we know dogs have as well, particularly because their far less domesticated ancestors can think in this manner.
Training Dogs to Think Rationally
The second reason is that dogs, and other animals, can only think rationally to a certain predetermined extent. You cannot force a dog to think in a more complex, rational, and logical way if their brain does not have the capacity to do so.
However, what you can try and do is test your dog's rational mind to see how their thought process may work! For this experiment, all you will need are a few simple items. You will need a ball and a large piece of cardboard, wood, mirror, blanket, or anything that is solid and can be held or stood up. Take your cardboard, mirror, etc. and have someone hold it up, or you can put it into place on your own. Have your dog sit on one side of the solid object and roll a ball behind the object.
Wait and see what your dog's reaction is. Will your dog run to the other side of the object and wait for the ball to emerge or will they simply not understand where the ball went and just sit there waiting for it to come back to them? If your dog runs to the other side and waits for the ball to come back out, this will suggest they have some capacity to evaluate what happened, where the ball went, and that they have an idea of where the ball will come out from. This shows their ability to look into the future, which can suggest they have the ability to think rationally.
How To React If Your Dog Thinks Rationally:
Praise them for a job well done!
Just observe their actions.
Train them to expand their brain power.