My Dog Has Beliefs … or, do you disagree?

I’ll make the case, perhaps you can tell me where I go wrong? 

Since acquiring our dog, we trained her through standard “operant conditioning” to ring a small bell by the back door whenever she wants to go outside.  Multiple times a day she goes to the back door, rings the bell and waits expectantly for us to respond to her demands.  (Who is conditioning whom?)  This is fact. 

Now, let’s establish a debatable definition:  Belief is memory of previous action and its consequences, inspiring new action which we perform because we expect to achieve a specific result.  

So, my dog has beliefs. It seems no different than my own “belief” that flipping a light switch will result in a light turning on, or a squirrel returning to the site of a buried acorn because it “believes” in the permanence of burying objects. 

The question at hand is, “Can you distinguish this “kind” of belief from some other kind?  Or, if this is NOT  a belief, what is it?”  If you believe you can answer either of these questions, please elaborate in comments. 


2 thoughts on “My Dog Has Beliefs … or, do you disagree?

    • I spend a lot of time trying to figure out exactly what we’re talking about when we make “belief statements.” So its purpose is an attempt to define or distinguish by comparing. I see no grounds to distinguish my dog’s belief from human beliefs. Do you? If yes, what is the distinction?

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