a lesson in zoology

I was going to write about a reaction I had to something on my Facebook wall, but instead I shall write about a conversation that just occurred here at work between two of my co-workers. I shall call them by the initials D and J.

D: All I’m saying is that big dogs are easier to train than little ones.

J: That’s not necessarily true.

D: Sure it is. If a small dog sees a threat, you can’t stop it from barking. But you can train a large dog to be quiet.

J: Again, I don’t think you can generalize like that. It depends on the temperament of the individual dog, among many other things. Look at the movies! You can get dogs of various sizes trained to do all sorts of things. It just depends on the trainer of the animal.

D: Well, you can’t just train any animal. Look at a snake!

J: Snakes aren’t dogs!

An alarm went off at that point, thereby interrupting what would have surely been a rousing rant from D about dogs, snakes, animal training, and knowing D, animal husbandry. But fortunately, by the time we were done with dealing with the alarm, D was sufficiently distracted that we did not return to the discussion.

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4 responses to “a lesson in zoology

  1. what happens if someone just gets in there and says: “It may be true that on average, large dogs are easier to train… that more of the popular breeds of large dogs are more docile than the popular breeds of small dogs, so that if you saw some random dog on the street, if it was big than it might be more likely to be calm than if it was small. **But** there exist docile small dogs and aggressive big dogs, and there exist people who can train aggressive dogs to be calm and people who are very bad at training dogs so even their normally docile dogs are rambunctious, so although your random dog on the street might be likely to follow your rule, if you picked 100 random dogs or more there’d likely be several who did not follow your rule”.
    Because, I mean really, neither person was entirely right. For argument point I: There are behavior patterns along breeds (so the deciding factor isn’t **only** the individual dog or the trainer), and then for argument II: trainers can do a lot but aren’t omnipotent.

    • Well, truthfully J was not really arguing that trainers are the sole cause of behavior. He admitted in the beginning that there were a lot of factors in any animal’s training.
      But from experience, if I had jumped in before the alarms and stated something along the lines of what you had said, J would have agreed and D would have denied the whole thing and moved on by talking about a non sequitur and trying to explain (after about fifteen minutes of talking about something odd like carpet cleaning or tax collection) how it actually supported his argument.

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