Re “Decoding a Dog’s Brain” (Princetonians, Dec. 4): In a climate in which operant and classical behavioral conditioning have become the gold standard among humane dog trainers, these findings are really eye-popping. There is some intuitive resistance, among certain dog guardians, to the treat/reward/clicker methods that now prevail as operant/classical strategies, even though these methods are impeccably humane and very effective. Could it be that these guardians have some sense that their dogs are understanding their intentions in a way that opens the door to the novel social-conditioning approach suggested here? I can’t wait to see where this research goes. It also is gratifying to see animals employed non-exploitatively, in research designed for ends that benefit the animals themselves.
In Response to: Gregory Berns '86: Decoding a Dog's Brain