Video: Are dogs like people?

msnbc.com
updated 10/19/2005 10:33:53 AM ET 2005-10-19T14:33:53
TRANSCRIPT

Pampering dogs is a huge problem for dogs, apparently, though maybe not for dog owners.  According to John Katz, an expert on dog behavior and training and author of an excellent new book, "Katz on Dogs: A Common Sense Guide to Training and Living With Dogs,"  it's important to remember that dogs are not human.

Katz joined MSNBC's Tucker Carlson on Tuesday's 'Situation' to discuss the way Americans treat man's best friend.

To read an excerpt of their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

TUCKER CARLSON:  So the instinct most people have, very much, including me, is to feed the dogs from the table, treat them like slow but beloved children.  That's bad for dogs? 

JOHN KATZ:  Well, it's become a problem for dogs.  You know, people see them increasingly as kind of kids with fur, or human-like.  They attribute all kinds of human thoughts and motives to them, and it's a problem.  I mean, most dogs, only 3 percent of Americans train their dogs at all.  And it's hard to train a dog when you think they're a kid. 

CARLSON:  I think most Americans like middle class people hate telling the housekeeper what to do, right, I mean, famously?  I think a lot of Americans feel bad about training a dog or being too harsh with the dog.  It seems so old-fashioned and kind of mean. 

KATZ:  Well, there's a huge amount of guilt about dog ownership.  People are afraid to leave dogs alone.  I have heard people tell me they don't want to go to the movies, they don't want to go on vacation. 

You know, dogs are really very simple creatures.  They are not as smart as a 3-year-old kid.  And they are not aware of time, and of course, they don't think.  People are always telling me, their dogs are angry about because we are going to work, or they're angry because we have a boyfriend.  But dogs are not thinking at all.  they don't have words.  They don't have narrative.  They don't know the difference between being home for half an hour and three hours. 

CARLSON:  What do they want? 

KATZ:  They want food and they want attention.  They like to go outside and sniff things.  They like to roll in disgusting stuff.  They want to have sex.  They want to squabble with each other.

CARLSON:  And you are saying they are not like people? 

KATZ:  Well ... I guess there are more similarities than I thought. 

I think what people are always doing is they are telling you what their dogs are thinking, and of course it's hard for them to kind of get their dogs really aren't thinking much of anything.  I mean, if you ran the inside of a dog's mind, it would probably look like a DVD or a video, sort of sensory video streaming, but they certainly don't have these human-like revenge motives and they don't act out of spite and they don't have guile, and they are not able to put together these scenarios about when you are leaving them and who you are with, and how they want to get back at you by peeing on the floor. 

CARLSON:  You say that, but then you have this amazing story about your border collie, Orson. Border collies are famously the smartest dog in the world, supposedly. (You have a story) how your dog learned to open your refrigerator while you were gone, take certain food items out, open the plastic container, consume the contents, and then hide the empty packages.  My kids can't do that. 

KATZ:  You don't want your kids to do that. 

CARLSON:  No, we don't. 

KATZ:  Of course, you know, he wasn't doing it out of calculation.  You know?  He was interested in food.  He was a scholar of food, and he followed the movement of food.  You know, my lab is like that. 

CARLSON:  But then he hid the evidence.  Isn't that evidence that he's brilliant? 

KATZ:  I think it's evidence he just really wasn't that hungry.  You know, he wanted something to do.  If you don't give border collies work, they will find work.  He also liked to move my magazines from the downstairs to the upstairs.  He didn't like where I kept them. 

But border collies just want to be busy.  They want stuff to do. 

Watch 'The Situation with Tucker Carlson' each weeknight at 11 p.m. ET

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