The Problem of Fault in Dogs

The other night, I was having a conversation about a couple of dogs that had attacked my little puppy while he was on leash and the attackers were not. During the course of the conversation, we used words like “fault” and “responsibility,” which turned the conversation decidedly philosophical.  What is “fault” and “responsibility” as it applies to a dog?  One end of the continuum would say that no dog is at fault — only the human (owner) is, because the human is supposed to be the Alpha (dominant ranking) of the pack that includes this dog and, therefore, the human establishes the pack parameters.  Apart from a dog having an owner, how does “fault” and “responsibility” shake out, if it can — is it true “no dog is at fault”?

I like philosophical questions, especially for matters that I know will come up time and time again. And while I can’t hold a candle to one of my favorite theologians, C.S.Lewis (with particular relevance to his book, “The Problem of Pain”), let the exploring begin!

We’ve got the following elements all mashed together that we’re trying to sort out:

  • Nature of dogs.
  • Individual dog personalities.
  • Human affect on dogs.
  • What is an environment.
  • Reasoning, free will, and responsibility.

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