March 14, 2008

Very obedient doggies.

And a chimp who's obedient — but wily — and only up to a point.

Via Metafilter, where someone says no cat would do that which provokes a link to this.

Is this wrong? Is there an ethical violation in using animals for comedy? Speaking of animal ethics, did you watch "America's Next Top Model" this week? Whatever you think about meat generally, what do you think about a reality show competition where the women have to pose in meat panties?


Middle Class Guy said...

There was an article in the local paper today that claimed the use of Chimps in various commercial and entertainment venues causes harm. Evidently, people lose awareness that chimps are endangered and habitat conservation efforts suffer due to donations drying up.

dbp said...

You might notice in the cat pictures, that the cats don't have anything on them that they would like to eat.

rhhardin said...

The dog obedience is easy.

Spectacular essays in Vicki Hearne's _Adam's Task_, the one on Washoe and ``How To Say Fetch!''

The deal is that obedience teaches a place the dog can inhabit that he takes pleasure in, owing to the introduction of language.

The trainer is as obedient to the dog as the dog to the trainer.

``I am not the sort of dog who breaks a sit-stay just because of some squirrel bounding by...''

She deals with the Nazi attack.

rhhardin said...

In fact just a couple days ago I photographed my Dobie Vicki with cheese (that she likes) here


``Vicki, down.''

(Vicki goes down. I put cheese in front of her, she sniffs it, I say ``Leave it alone, Vicki.'' And took the pic.)

There's nothing at all tricky about it.

Skyler said...

It's not unethical, but it is undignified.

Hoosier Daddy said...

what do you think about a reality show competition where the women have to pose in meat panties?

I still have a hard time comprehending the 'runway coach' who is a black male that insists on being called 'Miss J'. After seeing some of the outfits he puts on, meat panties seem downright sensible.

Alan said...

I'm not sure I'd call this an "ethical violation," but it definitely strikes me as a little mean-spirited. Particularly toward the first dog, who's really suffering as he watches the snacks pile up. It's a form of humiliation, and not funny at all.

And I'm no left-winger or animal rights activist (although I am a dog lover).

Plus I hope they don't let the dogs eat all the treats once they're done tormenting them. It's enough to humiliate them; hopefully they don't make them get sick too.

rhhardin said...

As I trainer, I wouldn't load the dog up with food until he breaks, but rather until I gave him a release.

You'd gradually increase the number he has to hold for.

But he'd always get a release and praise for a successful hold.

It isn't necessary that his reward be some of the food, even. Just the performance has satisfaction for him, if he sees you're pleased with him.

rhhardin said...

I'd add that it's doubtful that a trainer would compete in an exercise that tests a dog until he breaks the command. I wouldn't.

That's betraying the dog's trust of the trainer, that there is a point that he is expected to hold for.

It's fine to have a contest with a large fixed limit, so success is an actual possibility from the dog's point of view. That's what he's trusting.

Methadras said...

This is typical Japanese faire. They are such an insular people that they turn to this type of entertainment. While I don't find it as a mistreatment of animals (I am also a dog lover, 2 boxers), it is however, to me wrong to use an animal this way for the sake of entertainment to a national audience. Someone could make the claim that if this was America's funniest home videos, we would all chuckle, clap like retards, listen to the host make a dumb joke and move on to the next video of a guy taking it in the nuts.

I personally abhor circuses & zoo's just because I don't like to see animals used that way. They should be at least treated with some modicum of dignity. They are our charges afterall.

rhhardin said...

Performance is fine for an audience. It's an acknowledgement of the training that goes into it ; probably one or two people out there know what you're doing, and that's enough.

The Japanese mostly won't get it of course.

Circuses are the same way ; a few people will know what you're doing, and you do it for them.

Lance Burri said...

I've wanted to do this same thing with my children. Pile the birthday presents around them, then make them just sit there while we take pictures before they can open anything. I bet I could power my house with the impatient energy they emit, waiting for present time.

But my wife won't let me.

rhhardin said...

See, the trick would be that the dog holds still while you pile anything on it. The rule is hold until you're released.

You start with any old thing piled on, just a few, and work up.

As a distraction, sometimes you pile on food; if the dog doesn't hold, you correct the dog ; if the dog holds, you give him praise.

Pile few enough things on so it's not trivial to hold till the end, but also so that he has lots of successes.

Sometimes he will break ; these times are questions! He's testing what the rule is. Do I have to hold even though this has an interesting scent? Answer, yes.

Gradually all the questions are answered : I am the sort of dog who holds until released no matter what's piled on.

For the audience, in the performance, you pile on food, because it tricks the audience into thinking it's a race against temptation. But that's not what's going on. The dog is holding because he's the sort of dog that holds no matter what's piled on.

He's proud of that.

Some in the audience will realize that, and most will not. But the performance also has to entertain those who watch for the wrong reasons, so that's what you do.

And as I say, I'd not make the dog hold until he breaks, but only to a definite limit.

For if he breaks, then you owe him an answer to his question whether he has to hold, and you can't give him the answer. He sees you're not as dedicated to the exercise as you expect him to be, that at that point, no sooner, it's corrupt.

rhhardin said...

If there is a cat available, and the cat is not hostile to the idea, sometimes in training pile the cat on.

The tougher you make the distractions, the greater the satisfaction the dog gets from getting it right.

Michael said...

And the difference between this and contrived reality TV shows showing stupid humans doing stupid human tricks for cash and prizes is what, exactly?