Good O’ Instinct and Your Dog

Good O’ Instinct and Your Dog

What is an instinct?
is it an intelligence?
Does it account for dog emotion
Does it account for a dogs abilities
How does instinct factor into aggression and anxiety as well as other behavioral concerns.

1 : a natural or inherent aptitude, impulse, or capacity
So, one way to look at instinct is that it is an intelligence or talent that you are born with. As we know talents can be improved and brought into consciousness or working memory. They can also be transferred from one domain to another.  With enough training you can even create and instinct. This is a false statement… you can not do anything with an instinct.. read on to find out why. Strange that this is in the dictionary. Instincts are inherent they are irresistible impulse but, aptitude…. not sure.
2 a : a largely inheritable and unalterable tendency of an organism to make a complex and specific response to environmental stimuli without involving reason.
So, this is like a computer program you push the right button and the code is run. With us and our dogs this means that something in the environment occurs and we just react with a preset response that we can not change. This leads us to b… this all happens without our realizing that it is happening.
b : behavior that is mediated by reactions below the conscious level
So it is entirely possible that what we call emotions is just a complex set of code in the dogs head that occurs without the dogs awareness. It is also possible that every skill a dog has is the same and that is why selection is so important. Remember I am a proponent of the idea that we don’t really teach dogs we guide what nature gave us. Now as you can see even the definition of instinct allows for interpretation and contradiction.
If you are born with “aptitude” this means you have the ability to improve and master a skills set. This requires learning or adding to the programing that you came with./ Learning… The best definition of instinct is a SET program of instruction that you follow without thought. The best example I have ever come across is the mating dance of a bird. They come with what they come with and if they are not good at it… well no joy 🙂 You can not add to or improve and instinct. As a matter of fact an instinct is not even the same as a drive.
Remember in hunt drive “our fav” the dog has a strong desire to hunt but no preset instruct so they have to be taught to hunt. This is more adaptive then have and instinctual preset of instruction because they can learn, adapt and improve their success rate base on experience. If you properly define instinct this would not be possible. Back to the computer analogy instinct is just like your smart phone.. it is not smart in the least. It is only as good as the preset instructions given and they are bound by those instructions. That is why we strive for AI. If you were to put malicious code into an AI machine, it could possible sense, interpret, adapt and overcome the attack… at some point AI may even be able to commandeer the malware. alter it and use it to attack the perpetrator.

In conclusion, if your operational definition of instinct and emotion are truly scientific. The result is simple, with all my knowledge, which aint much, I have never come across any research demonstrating that they could change an instinct or add to and instinct. You can not teach a blue jay the mating dance of a dove. There is evidence that you can fool an animal during a critical development period to believe you are its mother… so seems that bonding is innate or and instinct but, research supports the theory that the animal is bound by the instructions in their head that seem to go something like… if …this … then … bond.. no mention of what to bond with. Weird no !  You can change and add even delete a drive or emotional response. This can be seen in “the strange situation” A person has an instinct to bond but, do to emotional factors this fails and results in the instinct to bond remaining but, not satisfied due to emotional complications. So, this maybe empirical evidence that an instinct is a separate animal from and emotion or other intelligence all together. it is Emotions intelligence may have evolved from instinct but in both dogs and humans they have become tools all their own.

Sorry guys, I was super excited and though I may have proven myself to be full o’ poo but, that’s all we got.

Love Motley

Its real simple after a critical period you can not change and instinct.. with the right tools and effort you can change an emotion. Very important in defining and instinct.  A more humorous observation may also survey as evidence the emotions and instinct are differentiated. When Zoo keepers try to mate animals there are two things they discuss 1. does the animal know how to mate (instinct) 2. do the animals like each other.

I certainly enjoy when I get confused and stuck, means I am thinking. I maybe full o’ poo! I just realized that I have not fund a situation were emotion and instinct occur independently. In every “emotional situation” I can think of, there is a cue that triggers the response and that is instinctual. OOOO no!  The only thing that maybe holding my theory together is the idea that, you can not change an instinct and if you miss the critical period you can not regain the instinct. As for emotion at least we like to believe we can change our emotions or at least our emotional response.  I would still love to see a situation where an emotional response can not be attributed to possible instinctual response. Isn’t science fun!

My first thought was that humans seem to be able to “act” like they are in a given emotional state some are far better then others maybe they have genius level EQ, were as the only example of a dog “acting” like it is in an emotional state is when the role over in a submissive state in a fight or when playing. Sometimes this is obviously submission and sometimes it is a ploy. It is a nice hypothesis that, instinct and emotion differentiation is positively correlated with intelligence. Simply, the more intelligent you are the greater the difference between instinct and emotion. The obvious problem with the “acting” proposition is the authenticity of the emotional state.

Sorry guys… I guess for right now I am stuck with the idea that the more evolved you are the more developed your emotions which are likely evolved from instincts.  It is also possible that as instinct evolved it became more malleable allowing for alterations and changes in our behavior and these are what we call emotions. Wow! what a bad day for me, seems this idea is a good explanation for why some humans have very low EQ and seem to just act in a given situation by instinct. They seem to have limited control. The one exception that comes to mind are antisocial pdo people. They can mimic the hell out of an emotion an yet over time you find a behavioral pattern of action on instinct. Perhaps we need to find a method of measuring or authenticating emotions. This is not as simple as saying we introduce the same chemical we get the same result. Two people can both smoke the same pot and have very difference subjective and biological responses. We have to account for individual differences within a group (people) and between groups (dog vs people .. same chemical) So, if you introduce oxytocin into a group of people they will statistically, have various degrees of a similar reaction. Dog will also but, each dog is different and people and dogs are different so, do these things really equate?

Hope you enjoyed this exploration and the only conclusion is that we don’t understand human emotion or canine emotion so, we should keep working on it and not take this as evidence of anything. Welcome to the real world of the science of behavior.



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