Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Curious Bit of Animal Behavior

Newfoundland x Pit Bull Dog;
Claiming His Territory?

Since we brought Harry the Dog home as a puppy on a cold, sub-zero December 4, 2009, the majority of his time has been divided between being a willing house dog or a reluctant pasture dog. So much did he prefer the house that we had to bribe him with treats, or put him on a leash, to get him to the pasture (where we can shut him in).

On one occasion, recently, he lay down in protest and it took two of us to drag him by his legs all the way to the pasture. He’s getting to be a big boy! And he seems to think all this tussling is great fun.

Then, overnight, everything changed; Harry reversed his preferences. He still comes to the house when called. But, when he gets inside he’s antsy and into every kind of trouble he can think of until we put him out again. I was in the practice of giving him a rawhide-chew when I’m on the computer. He’d lie here under the table, and devour that while I typed. Now, as soon as he gets his square of rawhide he goes right to the door and asks to go out. Once out, he heads to the pasture and to his friends, Scout the Ox, and Peaches the Pony. He voluntarily stays out there with only short, occasional visits to the house-yard and doorstep.

I could go on-and-on about possible reasons he might change his behavior over time — but, the remarkable thing here is that it was a sudden one-eighty. Did he consider all his reasons and then make some kind of a conscious decision? Something like, “Starting today I will spend most of my time in the pasture because. . . .”

Can dogs even do this kind of reasoning and decision making?

 Click on "comments" just below and tell me what you think? Or share an experience you've had with your dog.



Sarah said...

I think they might have those kind of thoughts. Maybe he gets reprimanded less when he is out with the ox or maybe he knows that's where you want him to be and he's trying to be a good dog :)

Bitzi said...

Harry's change of taste may be a simple matter of testosterone kicking in...??? :D Maybe he is just entering his rebellious teen years.

LTD said...

He definitely gets reprimanded less out there. I think he's become king of the pasture! This was evident recently when he crowded both Peaches the Pony and Scout the Ox out of Scout's feed dish and held them at bay until I intervened.

Trying to be a good dog ...ha, ha...he loves to push buttons, anything to get a rise out of all the rest of us. If I may anthropomorphize some more, he has a great sense of humor.

Bitzi, I think you are right that it may have something to do with stages of maturity. When we had guard dogs with the sheep their guarding instinct didn't really kick in until they were two-years old. Maybe his is starting early. He does bark at anything unusual now --- though he still is overcome with exuberant, hyper-friendliness when anyone comes around. (He did get his dander up, though, one day when I snuck into the pasture and he hadn't identified me yet. That's when I took the picture I posted.)