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Animal's ability to plan future events

  1. Mar 9, 2009 #1
    Can dogs/cats (or wild animals [elephants]) anticipate future events and plan accordingly?

    I am sure that they can remember events and know how to respond to a particular event (like
    see stranger => bark
    hear a name => if its calling name => respond to it
    winter is coming => migrate etc)
    but do they think of future events (or past) or they always respond to the present.



    There's a pretty interesting story about one chimp who pre-planned attacking the zoo-visitors.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7928996.stm
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 9, 2009 #2
    Yeah its weird to think what goes on inside their heads that makes them thing "i gotta go do this now".
     
  4. Mar 9, 2009 #3

    Averagesupernova

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    Anyone who has spent any time around animals at all can tell you that they plan for future events. How far into the future is the question.
     
  5. Mar 9, 2009 #4
    My cat seems to have a natural drive for eating, cleaning, and going to the bathroom. For the rest of the things that she does, it seems like she just reacts to things that catch her interest. She'll be laying, and staring into space, and then something moves and that's where her attention goes. Or she'll get up and walk, and whether she has a purpose isn't important, because if she did, it was completely forgotten when she heard the birds chirping outside and rushed towards the window, or when she heard the keys jiggling in the door and she rushes to it.

    With the food, she has learned that if she meow's near her bowl, it will get filled by me or my girlfriend. If we don't here her, she will come find us and cry to our faces. Then, as soon as we make the slightest movement in response, she seems to conclude that we are going to feed her, so she runs to her bowl without seeing if we are following her. This might seem like it's something she thought on, and then did it. But I could just as easily conclude that the reason she comes to find us is because she was stricken with the feeling of hunger, and out of habit she knew to come find the food-bearers.

    I'm not sure where I was going with this, but there it is.
     
  6. Mar 9, 2009 #5
  7. Mar 9, 2009 #6

    rcgldr

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    When our dog Phoebe would get something she wasn't supposed to have, my wife would say drop it and then give our dog a treat. Now our dog looks for one of these "forbidden" objects (like a sock or a stick), walks in to the room, drops the object at her feet to make sure we see it, then waits for a reaction from one of us, nabs the object, gets the thrill of a short chase followed by "drop it" and receiving a treat. I'd call that planning.
     
  8. Mar 9, 2009 #7

    Ivan Seeking

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    Someone once posted here saying that his dog had learned to retract its claws when going after catfood in the kitchen. The dog realized that the clicking on the linoleum betrayed his intent.

    Our dogs once learned to wait until Tsu and I went to bed before sneaking past the house to get off of the property. They never let us see them doing this so we had no idea that they were getting out. Once we got wise to their program, we caught them trying to sneak away almost every night for time.

    Goats are clever. We discovered after getting rid of our goats that they had been eating the dogfood for years. We only realized this because the food bill was suddenly cut in half when the goats left! For something like five or six years, they had never let us see them doing this. they are also notorious escape artists. We used an electric fence to keep them in. Over time they learned to put their noses very close to a wire without touching it, for testing purposes. If the fence was in good shape, they could sense the electric field. If weeds or branches were short circuiting the fence somewhere, they could tell, and they would make a break for it.

    You haven't lived until you've chased 4 goats at 3 AM.
     
  9. Mar 9, 2009 #8
    Has no one heard of a dog burying its bone?!?
     
  10. Mar 9, 2009 #9

    baywax

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    Yeah... you haven't been around many animals have you??!

    Let's just say that at 4 every morning I don't have to go very far to find all 125 horses on their way in to feed and get corralled and ready for guests.

    I can drive up everyday at 9 pm and the dog will be there waiting, not for food... just for fun.

    There are plenty of examples. Even the skunks know when you're going to be around and when your not. Not that they really care... no one effs with skunks.:surprised
     
  11. Mar 10, 2009 #10
    Our cat jumps off something on the porch making a loud thud when it feels/hears the footsteps so that someone will let it inside.

    Watching this cat hunt is actually pretty fun. They crawl up on their stomachs and then pounce. Gotta be some planning involved in that.
     
  12. Mar 10, 2009 #11
    Few dogs (German shepherd) when young. I don't remember much now but they were pretty interesting :)

    Obviously, animals are capable of learning things. But, there are limitations to how complex activities they can perform relative to a 5 years old kid. I am convinced that the world of a small kid is much larger than that of pet and kids think much more than an animal. But maybe because animals don't have many goals or things to think about - just food, sex, and shelter and some emotions. I wonder they ever think about events that never occurred before. Had ever cat thought about enslaving his owner? (this might be somewhat true).
     
  13. Mar 10, 2009 #12
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  14. Mar 10, 2009 #13
    Looking on youtube, there are actually alot of cool videos displaying animal intelligence.
     
  15. Mar 10, 2009 #14

    baywax

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    I don't know how far into the future an animal would be able to calculate. But that's usually a foolish thing to do in the first place and animals are pretty savvy. There seems to be more of a focus on what's necessary rather than what might be necessary later for animials.

    Many species do store food for future use... out of instinct rather than out of intelligence. I doubt that geese and other birds flying south have a picture of Miami Beach in their little heads as a motivation to get there. They are flying on the auto pilot of instinct, much like salmon.
     
  16. Mar 10, 2009 #15

    Ivan Seeking

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    They must not think too far ahead. When we catch our cats adding things like catnip to the grocery list, they don't even try to fake the handwriting.
     
  17. Mar 10, 2009 #16

    Tom Mattson

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    BWHAHAHAHA!!! :rofl:
     
  18. Mar 10, 2009 #17

    f95toli

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    The main point in the story about the chimp is -as far as I remember from the article in Science- that not only is he planning for the future (which apes are known to do to to some extent); he is anticipating a future emotional state.
    I.e. he understands that he will occasionally get angry when there are humans looking at him, so he spends some of his time when there are NO visitors around gathering stones that he can then throw when he gets angry (he doesn't throw stones all the time, only when he gets upset for some reason).
     
  19. Mar 10, 2009 #18

    baywax

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    :rofl: but you have to wonder about bees. They have enough neurons to go out, gather information about the weather, sun angle, location of food source then return to the hive and communicate the whole report through interpretive dance. Must be instinct.
     
  20. Mar 10, 2009 #19

    baywax

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    And that's where we get our brains.
     
  21. Mar 10, 2009 #20

    Ivan Seeking

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    Something else that comes to mind: When you think about it, catching a ball or frisbee is a fairly complex process, and some dogs may be better at this than some humans!
     
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