My Theory of Cooperation

Sunny, Lucca and Teacher cooperating

Sunny, Lucca and Teacher cooperating

I’ve been thinking about coming up with my own theory of why dogs do the things they do, and I’ve come up with one! I like it too. I figure since we’ll never really know why dogs make some of the decisions they do, I’m pretty safe ranting on about it. I just might even be right.

I’m going to call it, though I’m open for more creative terms, The Theory of Cooperation. Skip the dominance stuff, it’s all about being cooperated with and being cooperative to make stuff happen. Dogs are social animals right? When things need to happen in a social group what’s the most effective way to make them happen? Drum roll please….cooperation among the members of the social group.

I am going to love playing with this idea. If someone else has already expressed it, my apologies, and applauds to you.

Instead of looking at behavioral issues with dogs as power struggles, who gets to be alpha, or pack leader, or who gets their way, try looking at the behavior as the dog’s way of either getting your cooperation (grrrrrr……please do not touch me!) or the dog’s attempt to cooperate with you (we’re walking right? ok let’s go, good thing I have this leash on my neck or you’d never get anywhere without me hauling you along!).

Maybe it’s simplistic and silly, but is it any more simplistic and silly than assuming that dogs just need to know who’s in charge in order to get stuff done?

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2 comments so far

  1. cjswartz on

    I believe your theory makes sense. I’ve always thought that most (socialized) dogs “just want to have fun” and are willing to figure out ways to make that happen. We used to have an after work dog party in our subdivision’s park area. A retriever-mix puppy joined when he was young and small, and got along great with all the dogs. When he started growing (and growing), he became taller/larger than most of his dog friends. Without any training by humans, he learned to lie down in the grass to play with the smaller dogs. I think he learned that more of them would approach him to play when he lay down (and didn’t look so “big and scary”) plus more of them could actually reach him to play with him if he was down lower. I admired him for figuring out a smart and friendly way to play with dog friends that had “gotten smaller”.

    • fearfuldogs on

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I bet if people spent a bit more time watching their dogs they’d see cooperation all over the place, even if they insist on hogging the blankets!


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