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Discussion Starter #21
Whether using the word "loyalty" to describe a dog is anthropomorphic depends on the expectations that are being attached to it. Definitionally the shoe can fit. And I actually think that the reluctance to describe individual dogs as unloyal ("disloyal" is a little different because it implies a deliberately broken bond of loyalty, and nobody's dog ever signed that contract) is more plagued by idealization of canine nature than using "loyal" is.

I don't really consider most dogs loyal enough for it to be worth remarking upon. Most dogs will show affection and attention to the people they're with most often or who give them the best things - attention and affection aren't necessarily "support and allegiance", though. And there's nothing wrong with that. I don't really know that I consider myself loyal, either, and I'm much more culpable than a dog, so far be it from me to demean an animal for its personality. In fact, I'd say they're probably on par with people as far as prevalence of "loyalty" in the remarkable sense - most are more social than loyal, somewhat loyal, not really reliable about it.

By contrast, there are some dogs - like a cocker spaniel I once had - that will bond with a given person or people and maintain that bond even if said person or people are not (or are no longer) their primary caregiver or trainer, who are unusually attuned to an owner's emotional state and seem to comfort them with more deliberation, who will come out of character to protect their people insofar as they're capable, who will go to pretty massive lengths to be with their person not because they're a fearful animal but seemingly because it's lodged in their brain (in some vague doggy way) that that's what they're supposed to do. Those are the dogs I'd call loyal.

I should have known I could count on Liminal to break it down to the most granular possible explanation!

Particularly discriminating between "unloyal" and "disloyal" is extremely relevent.

Based on your explanation of loyalty, I think that of course, who wouldn't appreciate a more loyal dog, a dog who would love them even if someone else was feeding them and looking after them because there was a genuine and deep bond.

In that sense, and in the sense that @AmandaNola explained, I do actually feel that Layla is loyal. I was thinking about this a lot on my bike ride home today.

I guess the only way I can sum it up is Nola is MY dog. No question, and it's visible to anyone. My other dogs (save for Pike, but that's because he's...Pike), while they are my dogs, aren't mine in the same way she is. She's my dog, and I'm her person. It makes sense in my head. :p
THIS!

Layla would not rescue me (or likely try) if a bear attacked me. She's my baby and I'm her mommy (reminds me of the comment that @Rileysaur made actually). She's definitely extremely reliant on me, for food and caring and protection and everything. But I do believe our relationship is just as much about her being my baby and me being her mommy, as it is about me being the one who feeds her and walks her. I feel VERY confident that if I rehomed her, she'd have a very hard time adjusting and be quite depressed for a pretty long time, even if she did bond with someone else. I actually imagine that she would bond quickly with her new person, because she'd be very vulnerable and needy, and she's incredibly people-oriented and really needs closeness with someone who she can trust. But I also know that it would be massively traumatizing for her to lose me.

Come to think of it, I also really feel that our relationship blossomed enormously when I began using non-aversive approaches with her. I definitely think one could argue that using training approaches that build trust and closeness can actually increase your dog's "loyalty" to you. Yes, I know that abused dogs will still turn to their owners but to me that seems far more akin to the way an abused person relies on his or her abuser for direction. I think it would be interesting to see what would happen if a dog in that situation was rehomed and trained differently by a person who truly treated it right, and then a year or more later saw its previous owner again.
 

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To me loyal is sticking by an existing relationship even in the rough patches.

For a dog, this could be the loyal mutt who waits every day at the bus stop for his beloved human to disembark, even in the cold or rain, dissuaded by the well-meaning shop keeper who offers a bone if only the dog abandons his post.

But blind loyalty as found in dogs can be a bad thing too. Many dogs are loyal to people who mistreat them, guarding that person's property, showing affection toward that person, even defending them ignoring the fact that the human in their life treats them like dirt.
 

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Loyalty to me is:

A dog that sticks through thick and thin with you and you with them, getting you through all the hard rough patches, being there, supporting you. Loyal to me is also a dog that can move on and forgive you for trying in the past to take your life who sticks by your side when your unwell (charlie) a dog that if you end up in bed with bad endometreosis pain, seizures, flu, headache etc will stay on the bed with you to take care of you, curl up into you to comfort you. (Jessie)

Loyalty is also to the point where both my dogs but mostly jessie as she lives with me , follows me outside to pick up her poo, to hang out the washing, check on me when i go toilet, When i go have a bath sits there watching me (charlie and Jessie) or waits for me in my room whilst i dry myself, moisturise myself and get dressed or in jessies case waits for me under my bed covers these days LOL.

Back in the days had rocky as well as charlie and i was suicidal charlie would be pissed off that id cut myself, over dose or whatever it was at the time but he always stuck by me and forgave me, him and rocky were always by my side when i had a social worker, mental health team come visit me wouldnt budge.

Also i call this loyalty and this was in 2005 year i got charlie who was 7 months old then is a dog (rocky) knew and i dont know how he knew that i was in trouble with seizures and he kept insisting on waking my dad up and kept bothering him till he got out of bed and went in the direction of my room showing dad i was seriously unwell. Also one guy fawkes seizures happened due to fear of fireworks and when i woke up charlie was right by my side with rocky waiting patiently making sure i was ok then both dogs came on my bed after brother helped me up to bed.

Jessie to get me to come out a seizure will keep licking my face and in the past after a seizure she has curled up next to my head on the pillow all night long not moving.

If all that isnt being loyal then i dont know what is. those are my definitions of loyal
 

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Erik isn't a withholding kind of dog. If he likes you, then he loves you, and it's that easy. I think he'd be okay with equally attentive and caring owners. But the other night, someone tried to open the front door, and Erik threw his whole weight against it and blocked the door with his body. It took me a while to even get him to move away from the door. He kept resisting me and was giving me this face like, "Girl, I ain't leaving this door." So even if he's not particularly loyal, he is fiercely protective. That also earned him double cookies that night.

Eva, on the other hand, is MY dog. She's got lots of affection for the BF and loves to get his hugs and tummy rubs, but it's my side by which she stays. In the year and a half that we've had her, no one has been able to get a response from her like I can. In a lot of respects, she's like my glue; she holds me together on my bad days. She can tell now when I need her and will stick close to me. Whether or not that's loyalty, I can't say, but it certainly feels like it.

Gracie's primarily loyal to herself, but we're okay with that. She's very much about following her hierarchy of needs, and everything else comes after that. Given that the first half of her life was so difficult, Gracie's learned to look out for Gracie.
 

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My previous dog Samson(lab/chow) I would consider loyal. He would listen to someone else when I was not home but if I was home he would always look at me, like he was asking if it was ok. He went pretty much everywhere with me and if I left him at home or inside he would lay staring at the door until I returned.

He really showed his loyalty to me one night when I was out checking on a pregnant mare. I left him in the yard and went down to check her. Was out there maybe 20 minutes when I heard movement and the horses started acting strange. Looked over toward the woods and about 15 sets of eyes looked back at me. Right about this time Sam started barking and the herd spooked!

I took off with the herd, they kept me in the middle still amazed I didn't get trampled! Sam was trying to get through the fence, he was going crazy! Soon as we all got through the gate he planted himself right in front of me, looking all kinds of fierce. He was all of 14 years old, with bad hips and almost no hearing or sight but by golly he was gonna take all those coyotes on!

Thank goodness my dad came out with the gun and popped off a few shots and sent them on their way. That night though proved to me that he would stand between me and death if he had to! It was the hardest thing I ever did saying goodbye to him this past June but I will always remember my brave boy!

Now I have rocky and I feel that we have bonded but our relationship is still new. He is a social butterfly who has never met a person he didn't like! I don't mind this at all and even encourage it!
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Tigger's sort of an odd one with loyalty. He will play fetch with anybody who has his ball. And he's your best friend if you've got food.

But at the end of the day.....He still looks to only one shepherd. Me. He's always concerned about where I'm at and what I'm doing. He's happy to sit while I talk to a stranger and just stare at my face as I'm talking. Plus since I'm the only one that really trains and works with him, he's able to read me a lot better.

He'll play with others and work for others, but only if I'm around. If I leave, he panics lol.
 

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Discussion Starter #27
Surely playing with someone with a ball is no reflection at all on his loyalty to you, particularly for a BC!! That's like another dog chasing squirrel lol :)

Love that BC stare lol.
 

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Discussion Starter #28
My previous dog Samson(lab/chow) I would consider loyal. He would listen to someone else when I was not home but if I was home he would always look at me, like he was asking if it was ok. He went pretty much everywhere with me and if I left him at home or inside he would lay staring at the door until I returned.

He really showed his loyalty to me one night when I was out checking on a pregnant mare. I left him in the yard and went down to check her. Was out there maybe 20 minutes when I heard movement and the horses started acting strange. Looked over toward the woods and about 15 sets of eyes looked back at me. Right about this time Sam started barking and the herd spooked!

I took off with the herd, they kept me in the middle still amazed I didn't get trampled! Sam was trying to get through the fence, he was going crazy! Soon as we all got through the gate he planted himself right in front of me, looking all kinds of fierce. He was all of 14 years old, with bad hips and almost no hearing or sight but by golly he was gonna take all those coyotes on!

Thank goodness my dad came out with the gun and popped off a few shots and sent them on their way. That night though proved to me that he would stand between me and death if he had to! It was the hardest thing I ever did saying goodbye to him this past June but I will always remember my brave boy!

Now I have rocky and I feel that we have bonded but our relationship is still new. He is a social butterfly who has never met a person he didn't like! I don't mind this at all and even encourage it!
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Great story of your boy, you must miss him like crazy. He sounds like a very special pooch. Big paws to fill for Rocky but he'll rise to the challenge in his own unique way, I have no doubt :)
 
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