Rupert Sheldrake by Al Magaw

Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist and author of works on telepathy research, and morphic resonance that explains the ability of dogs and other animals to communicate by a term he calls “Morphic Resonance” . He uses that term to explain many behaviours that others put down to genetics, or family or species memory. I like the term “Learned instinct” to explain behavior that is passed from one generation to another for as long as the instinct is needed or cultivated. Examples of Learned Instinct have included pair bonding in humans when that behavior was needed for species survival. When human ancestors first walked upright and hunting became the main way of life, society went through major changes. Previous to the hunting lifestyle, so research claims, our ancestors lived in close knit groups where the group was responsible for the safety and teaching of the young. Pair bonding was unnecessary and even detrimental to the groups survival. Once hunting became a way of life, the group was no longer viable because of the distances traveled for successful hunting. Pair bonding became necessary for the upbringing of the slow to mature human offspring and the assured return of the hunting male to the homebound female. Todays society is changing in such a fashion that the community offers the support to the mother and offspring that hasn’t been available for 10’s of 1000’s of years. Some researchers give that reason for todays high divorce rates and the seemingly lack of strong pair-bonding is given as the reason for the high incidence of divorce. My question is this, are the specific behaviors bred into dogs, genetic or are they a learned instinct? Will the behavior of dogs that were bred for a specific purpose that are now bred for show alone, lose the natural desire to do the job they were specifically bred for? Does a specific behavior, not required when dogs were wild, become a genetic trait, a family memory, or a learned instinct? Will the siberians and other working type dogs lose their true desire to do a job when the family has no job?


Al Magaw is a musher from Salmo, BC. Al keeps a medium sized kennel of 20 – 45 alaskan huskies as well as several pet dogs of various breeds. Al has been training and racing for the last 33 years. Before becoming involved with sled dogs, Al, along with his family, kept and competed with horses for many years. Al can be reached through his website at Al is a guest blogger for Denver Dog Works and can be reached through our website at


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