Do We Expect Animals to Act Like Humans?

Sabrina, All Dressed Up and Excited About the Halloween Parade!

Sabrina, All Dressed Up and Excited About the Halloween Parade!

Like Sabrina here, many domesticated animals enjoy spending time and doing things with their people. But, like their human counterparts, they have individual preferences for what types of activities they like to engage in and what types they absolutely abhor. Sabrina loves to be out and about — the more people and animals and excitement, the better. But many dogs would not love this scenario and eschew being in the middle of a hubbub. Being similar to humans in this way, does that mean that animals think like us? This is a somewhat fraught question with different folks feeling many different ways about it. What do animal communicators think about this topic?

As far as I can tell, there are two main schools of thought among communicators when asked the question, “Do animals think like we do?” Some would answer “yes.” Some “no.” I’m of the latter school, though “Not exactly” might be a better way to express my opinion.

Just because we can “talk” to animals and hear what they have to say to us doesn’t mean they are communicating with us just like a human would. I think the reason many people think it does is because what we communicators “get” from animals comes into our being as messages that have been, in so many words, “translated” into language, thoughts, or feelings that we humans can understand. I know, I know. Translated? What does that mean?! Don’t ask me how it works, but there is indeed a process that could be called translation during a communication between different species. It doesn’t take a genius to know when a crying puppy is scared, but the pup doesn’t tell us that in words. We  just know. If you’d like to learn more about how information is sent and received in animal communication, I invite you to check out my ebook, Animal Communication – A Primer. But for now, back to the topic at hand.

There is another way to look at this subject, a way that is near and dear to my heart:  When you approach an animal and expect them to communicate, reason, and act like a human, you are disavowing and dishonoring those aspects of that animal that make its species unique and special. If you are a true animal lover, you love horses because they’re horses and unique as such, not because they act like humans for God’s sake. Ask them to carry a leopard around on their back and expect them to reason this through like a human would and comply just because they can hear your request, and you are asking them to deny their most innate behavioral instincts. Now I ask you, is that fair?

I once had a client demand that I talk her highstrung horse out of his fear of trail-riding, convincing him that she would take care of him and that  no monsters would jump out of the bushes. This was a horse who was not only high strung, but who had never been out of the arena before. As hard as I tried, I could not make this lady understand that, just because I could communicate with her horse didn’t mean I could convince him of something so counter to his instinct, and that instead, training and conditioning were what would be required.

This is a very brief comment on an extremely complex topic, but I do hope it gives you food for thought when you find yourself frustrated because your animal is acting like himself and not like a human. If that Lab puppy has found the garbage can to be a source of culinary delights, there’s no way you’re going to talk him out of  it! You’re going to have to use more creative and conventional methods to curb his appetite. Set things up so he can’t get into trouble and you don’t have to scold him. Look at life from a canine perspective, and you will find new ways to help make your puppy a huge success instead of a garbage-breath mess!

2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    desalegn said,

    i think slightly they communicate

  2. 2

    desalegn said,

    they can not convey the message simalar to humans

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