Ae German Shepherds self aware ? - Page 1

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by Centurian on 09 April 2018 - 23:04

Considering the advances in understanding and training German Shepherds do we or do we not believe that GS have a sense of self awareness ? What experiences with your dog[s] either proves or disproves the existence of GS self awareness and what does that have o do with how we breed , train and live with them ? After all ... they are one of the most intelligent canines out of all breeds ..

by joanro on 10 April 2018 - 01:04

Not quite sure I know what you mean by self self preservation a manifestation?

I would think a dog being cautious about approaching a hissing hognosed puff adder would require self awareness?
I dunno.

by Jessejones on 10 April 2018 - 01:04

Good question and I look forward to the answers to come.
I think they do have self awareness.
I have to think about this some more...
but on the spur of the moment here is my first „proof“:
None of my dogs of 30 years ever looked at themselves in a large full-length mirror.
Even if I tried to get them to look at themselves, with coxing and movement and even treats, they ABSOLUTELY refused to look.
Yet, all pretty much barked at dogs on tv, even if they are not moving.
This leads me to think that they are aware that that image in the mirror is an image of them.
And seeing themselves makes them uncomfortable as they have no need to „see“ themselves...ergo, they „know“ themselves.

Edit: Maybe I‘m being too metaphysical in my answer...?

by Centurian on 10 April 2018 - 01:04

Self aware : What I mean is that the animal is aware of itself . That it has a sense of itself . People and some They have a recognition of themselves as an individual and differentiate that between them self another. Self recognition . People and some animals do , others animals do not . Science studies suggest that chimpanzees and elephants do , but orangutans and some monkeys do not. So I am asking , for a conversation , whether people think and / or have experiences that prove or disprove that GS are self aware ...aware of themselves and recognize themselves.
So , I'll start : Personally , yes I do believe GSs have self awareness and recognize themselves . My experience with thirty GSs lend me to believe this because just about all those GS have looked in a mirror , or the reflection form my mirrored stove door and recognized that it was themselves they were looking at from early puppyhood. However that is not proof , but an experience . What I am looking for , are other people to share their beliefs and stories to either support or disprove that GSs have a sense of self awareness. / self recognition.
And if they do .. how should that play a role in teaching them/ training them ?
Joan , I am not sure your example is an example of self awareness as much as an example of the dog simply recognizing danger.

by joanro on 10 April 2018 - 01:04

Your last sentence...yes, it's recognizing danger, but danger for whom, if not their self ? They must know self to recognize danger, not food source nor plaything....those evoke different 'feelings' or biological response, as in hunger, or feeling carefree.
Recognizing danger to self is being aware of foot placement, distance of nose to danger , as examples....

I understand what you mean about the mirror thing...come too think of it, my gsd do avoid looking at themselves in reflections, like chrome hubcaps, glass doors, but actually do watch dogs on TV, till it gets scent to pickup on and read.

by Jessejones on 10 April 2018 - 01:04

Haha, so much for my comment!
Many of my dogs did not have access to full length mirrors or shiny surfaces as puppies, and upon the first looking into one at a later age, they still recognized themselves instantly and refused to look.
I don‘t think their sense of self is as strong as a humans.
Perhaps they see themselves as less individual than a human...
...more of a pack or group soul (for lack of a better word) and therefore they would need less self awareness, but I feel they definitely still have some SA.

by beetree on 10 April 2018 - 01:04


It helps to be on the same page to have a meaningful discussion. One should also learn the difference between Theory of Mind when compared to being Self Aware in the developmental sense to make their case. 



by Jessejones on 10 April 2018 - 02:04

Quote from the article link posted previously might prove the mirror avoidance shows awareness - self cousciousness - self awareness:

“Ironically, it may have been the gorillas’ very capacity for self-consciousness that prevented them from exhibiting behaviours indicative of self-recognition in the test situation.”

...which was my point earlier about active avoidance.

by joanro on 10 April 2018 - 02:04

So, beetree, a person can't have a meaningful discussion using their own brain? They must Google information for the discussion to be meaningful?

How did you ever discuss anything before the mind- control -Google came along?

Just curious.

by beetree on 10 April 2018 - 02:04

No need for the defensiveness, Joan! Have any old discussion you want, of course. Whether or not it makes for good sense, would next be debated is all. Or. It should be. By all means, carry on, Indeed, I sure hope everyone has an example of their GSD showing self awareness.

I think dogs on the whole have that capacity, and not limited to breed. The instance of the mutt on the highway dragging its injured companion out of harms way, (I am sure you know the YouTube vid I am recalling), is a perfect example.

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