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Strauss's avatar

Have you ever see a dog that seems to "pretend"?

Asked by Strauss (21031points) February 17th, 2012

Occasionally I will play a game with my dog. I take a few kibbles of food in my hand and toss them to her one by one. She then catches the kibble, jumping or chasing it if necessary. She really seems to enjoy this.
Sometimes it seems she wants to play, but I am busy doing something else. She will take a kibble out of her food bowl, and run with it off to another part of the house (similar to her behavior when she’s given a treat) almost as if to say, “I can’t get anyone to play with me, so I’ll pretend they are”.

Something else she does that seems like pretending is this; she has several stuffed-animal type toys that she seems to treat like puppies. She will take one of these toys, lay down on her bed, and “groom” the toy with her tongue while holding it between her legs. (She was fixed before we brought her home about 9 years ago).

Is this pretending, or is it some other instinctive behavior?

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18 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

We had two dogs that love to play catch the rolling ball. If we didn’t get the tennis ball and roll it for them, one of the dogs would take the ball to far end of the hallway and roll it for the other to catch.

Coloma's avatar

Instincts don’t magically go away with spaying/neutering. I have a neutered male cat that still tries to mount my spayed female much to her upset. lol He latches onto her neck and straddles her and she screams and hisses, otherwise they play great together.
Animals are very clever, yes, I bet your dog is inventing her own little games with the kibble and the grooming toys thing is probably based on some sort of vague maternal drive.

The resident “shop dog” at my store “Crackers”, a Border Collie, is our official “greeter” and we keep a canister of dog biscuits behind the counter. She is very clever and often works the store, re-greeting the same customers returning behind the counter every few minutes and waiting for her biscuit. haha
When we figured out her angle, which is obvious, we started breaking the biscuits into tiny pieces so she can have her reward on demand. You can see her wheels spinning, she will run to the door when customers come through, dance around, they fawn all over her and she will look right at you with a gleam in her eye and then run to the counter and jump up grinning, until she gets her goody.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Sure. My Dutchess (she’s a spaniel) does that all the time with her food.

GracieT's avatar

@Coloma, I was at the bank and then at a gas station with a friend and her shelties and the dogs became very playful and friendly. I didn’t know why until I saw a person at each location give them treats. Apparently she takes them with her to both places often, and they became conditioned! Once I knew that, I started seeing places often that do the same thing. I was LMAO. I adore her dogs and have always known them to be intelligent animals.

YoBob's avatar

Yep.

One of my “girls” likes to chase lights. I’ll shine a flashlight on the floor and she will madly run around trying to “catch” it. Not too long ago she noticed that reflections from shiny objects produce a similar effect on the ceiling. So, now whenever we pull out a DVD and the case flashes a reflection anywhere she is all over it.

So… one day she found that her stainless steel food bowl also will shine on the ceiling. Now when she gets bored she will go over and whack her bowl and chase the reflection.

Coloma's avatar

@GracieT I love Shelties, great, smart little dogs.

ragingloli's avatar

All dogs pretend to be your friend. Yet it is guaranteed that they will rip your throat out as soon as you show weakness, so they can rise to the alpha male in the pack.
Unlike Cats. They are honest in their disdain for you.
Dogs are horrible, filthy and treacherous creatures.

Coloma's avatar

@ragingloli Are you serious? I prefer cats myself, but, really?

GracieT's avatar

@Coloma, me too! One of them, “THE” Max- part of his registered name, would like nothing better than to be the dog of a trucker, because he
loves to be with people, all of
the time if he could, especially if he could be exploring. The other one, Danny, is terrified of EVERYTHING, even his shadow. But put him around his people, where he is safe, and he’ll show how he is in his own mind. He is “mighty” Danny, afraid of nobody and nothing. They both have distinctive “personalities”, and I dearly love them both.

cazzie's avatar

Dogs pretend all the time. Every time they chase their tail, attack the hoover, or hump a stuffed animal.

One of my favourite YouTube videos is a dog that pretends his foot is going after his bone and he pretends that his own foot is an enemy. It is hilarious. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4BBGdRwQWQ

Sad part of some of these behaviours is that if it is done excessively and persistently past puppy-hood, it could be a neurological disorder. In other words, it’s a crazy dog.

marinelife's avatar

Yes, I have seen dogs that were stepped on limp on the other foot.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Coloma It seems to me that @ragingloli is rarely serious, but injects a streak of ruthless and hilarious irony into a lot of threads. I like it. :)

Coloma's avatar

@dappled_leaves If that’s the case then my misunderstanding.

blueiiznh's avatar

My dogs have always done this in some form or another.
Hendrix Can entertain himself for hours as observed in this enjoyment of the snowflake on his nose.
Playing Cards is his new trick.

Coloma's avatar

@blueiiznh Awww…cute puppy, great shot!

gondwanalon's avatar

It is astounding how a dog that I use to have would play-fight with me. I would sometimes pretend to be mad and show fake aggression toward the dog and the dog could see right through me and show its teeth and growl and act like it would bite me. All along the dog and I both understood that we were just playing a game of fake fighting.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

My younger dog makes up new games and will try to get the other dog or me involved in the game. She seems to know the rules and teaches us how to do it right!

YARNLADY's avatar

Our dog not only pretends, he lies. When there is a chewed up napkin on the floor, he looks away with an innocent face like saying “It wasn’t me”.

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