A question I keep hearing is : “do you really perceive animals as such intelligent creatures? So emotionally deep" How come? Our dog seems sweet and kind, But….. kind of dumb to us, he doesn't really learn what we need him to learn."
Or I would hear it from horse owners "horses are a big and strong animal that is totally submissive to humans, if they were smart, they would understand they are stronger than us, and how can you say they are emotionally deep if all they think of is eating all day?"
I know I have a very different point of view of animal intelligence, also emotional intelligence.
For me animals are as intelligent, as complex, as deep as humans, sometimes, even more so.. 😊
People would tell me “but look these animals aren’t so smart, we can do whatever we want to them, think of horses, these giant 500kg animals that yield at our “power”. So how can such a yielding animal seem to be smart. They tend to run into poles, run into walls, get themselves hurt in all kinds of manners and none of them seem intelligent."
Look at dogs, takes them ages sometimes to learn even the simplest of commands, how does that seem smart to you?
So, one of the "things" I love doing most is reading researches, all kinds, health, supplements, veterinary, but especially behaviorist’s research about animal behavior and animal’s emotions, so many researches telling us what a new amazing finding “dogs feel envy”, what another new finding “dog’s intelligence was measured to a 4 till 6 year old child” – imagine the intelligence…..
I would like to share my opinion and my professional experience about my perception of intelligence, or more accurate, my perception of how it is perceived, the "lack" of intelligence in animals.
First, I'll start with giving you a macro look on animal behavior, research, emotions etc., etc.', and then I will write about how I see it.
Research is endless, and yet, people have varying perspectives on animal intelligence and emotional depth. Some individuals may perceive animals as less intelligent based on their own expectations or limited understanding of their behaviors and capabilities – I usually say "your animal is as smart as you think he is". However, scientific research provides compelling evidence that animals possess intelligence and emotional intelligence.
When it comes to dogs, their intelligence should not be solely judged based on their ability to learn, or even learn specific commands quickly. Dogs exhibit a wide range of cognitive abilities, including problem-solving, social cognition, emotional understanding, and communication. They can form deep emotional bonds with humans and display behaviors that indicate empathy, loyalty, and understanding.
Similarly, horses are highly intelligent animals with complex emotional lives. Although they may appear submissive to humans, it's important to understand that they have evolved as prey animals and have unique instincts and sensory perceptions. Horses can learn, form bonds, and experience a wide range of emotions, including fear, happiness, stress, and curiosity and much more.
Perceptions of animals as "yielding" or "dumb" often stem from anthropocentric biases and limited knowledge of their natural behaviors and cognitive abilities. However, numerous studies conducted by behaviorists and researchers highlight the intelligence and emotional capacity of animals.
Research continuously uncovers fascinating findings about animal behavior and emotions. It is important to remember that animals have their own unique ways of perceiving and responding to the world. While their cognitive processes may differ from humans, this does not diminish their intelligence or emotional depth.
So…. How come people keep saying : animals are “stupid, only force works on them, they don’t have memory, they do not know how to connect situations, they don’t have the ability to remember past situations etc etc
Now … my point of view
Animals, all animals that live with or by humans are all in some amount of stress, some less some more. They all live in a detached environment from their natural base, that means, that apart from stress from the surrounding, there is inner stress that is formed from unbalanced nutrition, lack of proper supplements, inadequate life environment and so on and so on.
Stress and anxiety can have significant effects on cognition, both in humans and animals. When an individual experiences stress or anxiety, the body's stress response is activated, leading to release of stress hormones. These hormones can impact various cognitive processes and functions.
Its important to note that the effects of stress and anxiety on cognition can vary among individuals. Some individuals may be more resilient to stress, while others may be more susceptible to its negative impacts.
Taken from the book of Oprah , research by Dr Perry "What happened to you?"
“…. The way the brain processes our experiences is sequential. All sensory input (physical sensations, smells, tastes, sights, sounds) is first processed in the lower areas of the brain; the lower brain gets first dibs. This means that before any new experience has a chance to be considered by the higher, “thinking” has already interpreted and responded to it. It’s matched the sensory input from the new experience against the catalog of stored memories of past experiences – before the smart part of your brain even has a chance to get involved.”
"in my work we talk about "getting to the cortex" – getting to the place where you can communicate rationally with someone. If the person is regulated, you can connect with them in ways that will facilitate rational communication. But if they're dysregulated, nothing you say will really get to their cortex, and nothing already in their cortex will be easy for them to access. This is essential to understand if you're a teacher, because while the regulated child (animal) can learn, the dysregulated child (animal) will not."
Now I want to talk about Trauma and post trauma – PTSD
Post-traumatic disorder can occur in animals just as it does in humans, especially in response to traumatic events or chronic stress. PTSD in animals can have various effects on cognition and on the general health, and especially on gut health – the center of their health.
PTSD affects them in various ways, but mainly:
· Memory and learning
· Attention and concentration.
· Emotional processing
· Executive functioning
· Spatial awareness and navigation
So my answer to this question, how do I perceive animal intelligence and emotional intelligence and depth, is that, they are, but we need to go through layers of stress, trauma and post trauma to see it.
What I have been doing, for 19 years now, is to teach, treat and promote the effects of stress and trauma on animals and what we can do to change that in their day to day life.
The question "what happened to you?" is very accurate in every encounter with animals.