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My dog has this old rawhide bone end. It's kind of like a rawhide ball. He loves to play hide and seek with it. Lately, if I've been busy, he's been tossing it around the living room for himself. I don't watch - I'm in here on the computer. But I hear the ball hitting the floor, then I hear him pouncing on it.

 

There's this little fleece blanket that I leave out for Buddy to lie on, put his toys on, etc.. It's softer than the hard floors. Lately, I've been finding it all over the living room in a heap, rather than in the regular corner where it always stays. I haven't been able to figure out why all of a sudden, he's dragging it around.

 

Well, I just found out.

 

I walked into the living room whereBuddy was playing. He set the rawhide bone on the little blanket, and then quickly yanked up a corner of the blanket right near the bone. This effectively flicked the bone across the room for him, so he could chase it. He's made himself a simple and efficient pitching machine.

 

Little devil.

 

Mary

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That is very creative. I am told that dogs are not capable of abstract thinking. I am not sure about other dogs but I am convinced border collies are. Buddy is using his blanket as a tool. I believe that qualifies. Not a day goes by that one or more of my guys come up with something that is ver surprising and I hope they never stop.

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I am told that dogs are not capable of abstract thinking.

 

One of the first things that I did when we got Senneca was to insist that she sit at the curbside before we cross a street. The big issue was to get her to sit (and not just jump straight up again) even if there was no traffic. Stubborn dog; even more stubborn person. So now, she has figured out that if she wants to cross the street, all she has to do is turn and sit at the curb. That's smart. But the first time she did it, she looked at me with such a smirk on her face. I'll swear she was thinking how smart she was. That's abstract thinking.

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In Buddy's case in this situation, I'm not sure it's an example of abstract thinking. I'm pretty sure the behavior evolved from our original bone game: hide and seek. I used to wrap the bone up in a blanket or towel, and he learned over time exactly how to lift and drop the blanket so the bone would eventually tumble out of the bottom. When I was busy on the computer, I honestly think the dog was trying to do a bit of "hide and seek" for himself - move the blanket around the bone a bit so he could play the game all alone. I think the "bone flicking" side effect is something he's just discovered in the last week or so, because that's when the blanket started to move around the living room. I'm going to let him keep working on it, and see where he goes with it - if he develops a full-blown technique for ball-flinging the way he developed an "unwrapping" technique.

 

Is this abstract thinking? I'm not sure. Buddy is most definitely doing some serious problem solving and using "trial and error" techniques to improve the game for himself - which is just very cool to watch. He is definitely making connections and applying what he observes one moment to a situation that occurs later. (Which, now that I think of it, is one of those "higher order" thinking skills we teachers are always being told we should focus on in our classrooms!)

 

Cool story on the sidewalk-sitting. They do learn how to manipulate US, don't they?

 

Mary

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