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Are dogs capable of love towards humans?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/6/2013 Category: Science
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,097 times Debate No: 38563
Debate Rounds (2)
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Personally I think they are, I own many dogs and feel as though they love me just as much as i love them, although people have said that only humans are capable of love (even though we are basically a type of animal also)


Whether or not dogs can love, is an interesting question, I accept herewith the challenge. I will give arguments to disprove the possibility that dogs can feel this way about humans.

First of all, a general description or definition of love needs to be agreed on. I would like to argue that love is an idea, a concept, a word humans came up with to explain their attraction to others. Love is used in so many ways, like saying "I love peanuts." Ok, you really can"t "love" peanuts, you just like their taste.

To get to the point, I have watched my dog for a while, and read much about wolves. As well know, dogs are descendant of wolves, so I will base my first argument on their ancestors. Wolves live in groups, and their daily way of life is centered on that group. They hunt together, but the alpha male eats first. The group has its own social system, even if not that sophisticated like many of the systems of our civilizations (take the Indian Caste system for example). The strongest is the alpha, and he can be challenged and defeated, or he keeps his position if his opponent loses. The pack protects one another, but I"d like to consider that an instinct needed for the survival of the species. Same with reproduction, wolves and dogs don"t love each other, they only provide children for the continuous existence of their own.

I"d like to argue that dogs are "humanized wolves" in a way, when we tamed them in early historic times. I"d also like to state, that to the dog, we humans are their pack, and that they see the head of the family as the alpha. They seem to see themselves in a lower rank on the social scale, which requires their full obedience and care for the other members of the group, or their immediate expulsion from the family, and followed by their death if they haven"t acquired survival skills.

Let me state that these are just my opinions on this topic. On the next round I will provide arguments based on scientific sources.
Debate Round No. 1


don10053827 forfeited this round.


It"s a pity to see that Pro was not able to continue the debate (?). But for the readers of, I will provide a final argument, and end herewith the debate.

Are dogs capable of love towards humans? No.
The concept of classical conditioning speaks against it. Just like Pavlov"s dog was conditioned to salivate in response to the ringing bell, our dogs today come running to us in need of attention, food, play-time, etc. With our responses we have primed them to do just that.

In the experiment, Pavlov put a bowl of food in front of the dog and rang a bell, and in response the dog salivated. After repeating this several times, the food was removed, but when he rang the bell the dog salivated. This is a conditioned response.

What we see as love from a dog is a conditioned response as well. We respond to their daily needs, and in turn they show us "affection", or their response to what we give them. We are the bell, the announcement to satisfy their needs. Wagging tails, licking our faces, that"s the saliva. The conditioned response.

This experiment can be found in any psychology book, but a few possible sources for review can be found below:
Psychological Science. W W Norton & Co Inc, 2012. Print. (

Thank you everyone!
Debate Round No. 2
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Vote Placed by NiqashMotawadi3 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: FF.