Dogs and humans are of equal importance??

A Korean show “TV Animal Farm” showed a weary family because of the aggressiveness of their dog towards their 16-month-old daughter, Sienna. The 4-year-old half-breed dog, Tobby appears as if it had two personalities: a cheerful and gentle dog to everyone including strangers and kids; a fierce dog which always growls or barks at Sienna when she is around. Although Tobby responds to Sienna when she calls it, it will start growling as it approaches Sienna, and following her while growling. Luckily, Tobby have not bitten Sienna before. Tobby also showed a strong jealousy when Sienna is playing with her daddy, Jamie.

A companion-dog etiquette educator* visited Sienna’s family and figured the reason behind the misbehavior of Tobby. Tobby was threatening Sienna—growling because it perceived as it has a higher rank in the family than Sienna. The reason behind the confusion of this hierarchy order was because the owner of Tobby, Jamie greets Tobby first when he came back from work. From Jamie’s point of view, he was greeting Tobby first because it greeted him first, where Sienna greeted him after Tobby did. It seems that Tobby and Sienna is in the same rank in Jamie’s mind, and the thought has been creating the tension of the family. As Jamie greeted Sienna first when he came back home, and after few trials of operant conditioning to view Sienna as a pleasing person, Tobby showed less aggressiveness towards Sienna.

In Chinese philosophy, there is a great debate whether humans are kind or evil in nature. Despite of the nature, the environment an individual grew up shapes her personality and behavior. I believe the same applies to the animals. Nowadays, many of the people perceive their pets as companion of life. Somehow, the importance of pet and human has become equal, and this was the reason of misbehavior in Tobby. If Jamie thought that Sienna was more important, he would have greeted Sienna first despite of who greeted him first, won’t him? Studies by Unshelm (1997) highlights that  dog management of the owner has a clear impact on dogs bahavior. Thus, rearing an obedient and nice dog is a responsibility of the owners and not that the dogs should be born with pleasing traits. It is not wrong to love pets, but we have to be aware that as pets become more and more important in human world, the significance of human to care for each other in the community might become more and more  less important. This trend can be due to the chaotic society where humans find no hope and no one to trust, but I still think that although dogs can be close friend of humans, humans should and would gain more effective help from humans. Are dogs as important as humans? Though dogs can be loyal friends of humans, humans are of utmost importance in the whole ecology, because humans shape the world. And to be frank, dogs especially the pets are products of sophisticated technology and science. 

 *Companion-Dog Etiquette Educator: (In Korea) A profession usually attended by veterinarians to educate etiquette’s of dogs. This profession also helps the owners to understand their dogs.

** Companion-Dog:  The perception towards pet dogs have changed in Korea recently. Pet dogs were previously called 애완견 (愛玩犬), meaning a dog you love such that you want to play with it and stay together. But nowadays, there are called 반려견 (伴侶犬), meaning a dog like a close friend of life, a companion of life. This shows that the view of Korean society regarding dogs have changed: from thinking the dogs are toys and an object to please ownself, to thinking that dogs are very important in daily life and thus adding humane trait to it–communicate with it and view it as a close friend.  


“TV Animal Farm-Tobby-SBS” by SBS. Tudou 04 April 2010. URL:

A. Roll, J. Unshelm, 1997. Aggressive conflicts amongst dogs and factors
affecting them. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 52: 229-242.

Our ‘Sleep-Talking’ Dogs

Ever freaked out on your canine when she starts yelping while supposedly asleep? Or her legs starts scurrying almost mid-air with her whiskers twitching and nose sniffing as if nothingness with her eyes closed? Apparently, our domesticated canines, otherwise known as Canis familiaris (Discovery Cove, Animal Bytes, Domestic Dogs, 2010), might experience dreams just as we do! Watch the following video for some comic (albeit rather painful) relief:


Dreams occur during the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep phase. The function of dreams in the Homo sapiens (humans) is that it helps us to consolidate memory traces from our waking hours via certain processes which occur in the hippocampus (a region of the brain that has been implicated in memory processes), strengthening processes of connections between regions of the brain (Macquet et. al., 2000). According to an article done by Firth, Perry, and Lumer (1999), when electroencephalography (EEG) readings were taken during the mammal’s sleep phases, “they show REM sleep characterized by a ‘waking’ pattern of EEG, rapid eye movements and inhibited muscle tone” (Firth, Perry, and Lumer, The neural correlates of conscious experience: an experimental framework, 1999). Simply put – animals appear to experience REM sleep phases as humans do.

dog dreams

(“Dog Dreams” by bobmarley753,

…Do they, really?

We observe our pet dogs letting out muffled yelps and see their muscles twitch, and scientists have recorded EEG readings that are akin to REM sleep. But these do not necessarily mean that our dogs actually experience the ‘mental representations’ of dreams like we do. Perhaps there could be an experiment run using Positron Emission Tomography (PET) which shows the areas of the brain activated whenever there is neural activity – so perhaps, the evidence might be more conclusive with tests run on mammals during their REM sleep phases, measuring both EEG and PET simultaneously. Should it show that the visual areas of the brain are activated in the animals during their REM sleep like we do when we dream, then perhaps animals do really dream with the mental representations as we do.

Thus far in my research attempts, I have not found an article measuring both EEG patterns and PET readings for animals’ dreams. But having lived with my dog for almost 11 years and catching moments where she sometimes seem to be happily scurrying and ‘sniffing’ while asleep – and sometimes – barking herself awake silly, I like to think that she is dreaming of runs within a field and chasing some rodent of sorts (my dog is a Smooth Fox Terrier – a hunting breed, after all). 🙂

Two of a Kind(“Two of a Kind” by schilfregen,


“Bizkit the Sleep Walking Dog” by MarinaHD2001. YouTube Channel, 10 February 2009. URL: (accessed on 01 April 2010).

“Do Dogs Dream?” by Niki. AssociatedContent, 13 June 2007. URL: (accessed on 01 April 2010).

“Dog Dreams” bybobmarley753. Flickr, 26 September 2006. URL: (accessed on 02 April 2010).

“Domestic Dog” by Discovery Cove. DiscoveryCove, URL: (accessed on 01 April 2010).

Maquet P., Laureys, S., Peigneux, P., Fuchs, S., Petiau, C., Phillips, C., Aerts, J., Fiore, G.D., Degueldre, C., Meulemans, T., Luxen, A., Franck, G., Linden, M.V.D, Smith, C., Cleeremans, A., 2000. Experience-dependent changes in cerebral activation during human REM sleep. Nature Neuroscience, Volume 3 no 8: 831-836.

“Two of a kind” by schilfregen. Flickr, 04 October 2009. URL: (accessed on 02 April 2010).