Monday, March 22, 2010

Dogs mirror human morality

Dogs quickly learn what is expected of them – crapping on the carpet and peeing on the furniture are forbidden, for example. The dog's unerring sense of right and wrong, and commitment to cooperation, closely mirror human behaviours:

Every dog owner knows a pooch can learn the house rules—and when she breaks one, her subsequent groveling is usually ingratiating enough to ensure quick forgiveness. But few people have stopped to ask why dogs have such a keen sense of right and wrong. Chimpanzees and other nonhuman primates regularly make the news when researchers, logically looking to our closest relatives for traits similar to our own, uncover evidence of their instinct for fairness. But our work has suggested that wild canine societies may be even better analogues for early hominid groups—and when we study dogs, wolves and coyotes, we discover behaviors that hint at the roots of human morality.

It's a short article, so read the whole thing to see why cats are pets but dogs are companions.

Update: Dogs have other advantages over cats:

An armed robber has come off second best after attempting to mug a man as he walked his dog in a Mirrabooka park.

The 23-year-old man was walking in the park next Boyare Pimary School earlier this month in Allamanda Gardens when he was confronted by three men who asked him what he had in his pockets before one of them threatened him with a knife.

The man released his dog, which latched onto the leg of one of the offenders as the other two fled.

It's surprising the dog owner wasn't charged with failing to leash his mutt.


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