Dog Training World Forums General Dog Training Discussion Learning Theory Cool article on “Learned Helplessness” Reply To: Cool article on “Learned Helplessness”

  • Arthur Lopatin

    January 19, 2023 at 3:13 pm

    Deer freezes in headlights, sick prey animal singled out by wolf, person about to be decapitated, people on subway car near thug/lunatic, ……. so many examples of this. More broady, re: dogs, I watch so many of them being walked, often on a harness, by owners who ‘love’ them, never/hardly ever are rough on them, but don’t know how to relate to the dog and have fun satisfying his real needs. I’m not sure this meets the criteria for ‘learned helplessnesss’ described in this article, but IMO, it is a kind of learned helplessness. Dog thinks, ‘OK this is my life. There’s not much point pulling on the leash or getting too rowdy when I’m out w/the boss, but this really isn’t very much fun. Not what I really wanna do.’ After a while, they forget what it is they really wanna do, and the owners think they’ve got a happy dog that they have ‘trained.’ I used to tell my wife that most dogs live lives of silent desperation. I think Thoreau said that about people, but it’s true of dogs too. Ironically dogs w/serious, often dangerous issues and dedicated owners often are the ones that get to lead better lives.