Decoding the Mystery of Dog Behavior

I was never much of a dog person. I’m definitely more attuned to the nature of cats, which are fickle, independent creatures. The pack nature of dogs and their inherent loyalty is lost on me. “Dogs Decoded” definitely helped me better understand how the intelligence of a dog is different from that of a cat, and I feel like I appreciate dogs a lot more after watching the documentary.

Dogs, with their often ridiculous appearance, are easy to dismiss as being unintelligent. It was hard not to laugh every time the owner of two pugs spoke of their emotional intelligence only for the camera to cut away to their bug eyes and happy panting. Still, the information presented was definitely eye-opening, especially when the test to determine whether dogs can read facial expressions was conducted. It’s incredible that dogs have imitated human behavior to the point that they look at the same side of the face we do when trying to figure out what someone is feeling! It’s also easy to say that being able to read the emotion in a bark is obvious, but in reality it’s fairly impressive that dogs have developed a “language” close enough to our own that we can understand what emotion they’re trying to express.


Sadness, obviously.


I also found the part of the documentary that went into detail about breeding and making foxes tame very fascinating. It seems logical to come to the conclusion that if you continue to breed tame foxes, you’ll eventually end up with one tame enough to live with humans, but because we see foxes as wild animals it seems like a crazy assumption. It’s also interesting that dogs are so close to wolves in appearance, but distant in nature and demeanor.

I wish the documentary included more discussion about pedigree dogs and the many health problems they face. While the flat-faced look of pugs and bulldogs might be appealing, it also brings about a number of breathing problems. Dogs with wrinkled faces suffer from skin and eye problems, and dachshunds and basset hounds suffer from back problems thanks to their elongated spine. Designer dogs might be great for humans looking to win blue ribbons, but in the long run it’s an unethical practice that involves a lot of inbreeding. The documentary was overwhelmingly positive, but there are a lot of ethical issues present in the topics they discussed. Intentionally breeding aggressive foxes and antagonizing them while they’re in their cages, for example.

While an interesting documentary, I wish it had gone more in-depth into the topics presented. Still, “Dogs Decoded” was an interesting look into the lives of dogs.


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