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CBC news- Tucker the spinning dog

 

 

I hope the video is available to watch in the US since it comes from a Canadian channel. But here's the story in a nutshell:

 

Some dogs have a habit of chasing cars, but a border collie in P.E.I. has put a new spin on the sport.

 

Two-year-old Tucker spends hours lying by the roadside in Emyvale in central P.E.I. When a car goes by, he leaps to his feet and spins madly on the spot.

 

His owner, Clifford Green, said Tucker wasn't trained to spin — it was just something he started doing on his own. And Green has noticed his dog doesn't spin every time a vehicle goes by.

 

"He's not that stuck on the red [ones] and he don't like big trucks," said Green.

 

Clifford's wife, Donna, said the dog has become a local celebrity.

 

"I even get introduced to people who say, 'This is Donna. She owns the spinning dog.' So we're the owners of the spinning dog," she said.

 

Since an appearance Tuesday on CBC News, Tucker's fame has spread, with an appearance on NBC's Today show Wednesday morning.

 

Border collies are high-energy, working dogs. Traditionally, they're used on farms to herd livestock.

 

But Tucker has never had a job like that. The Greens got out of farming years ago.

 

"I think that may have something to do with his twirling," said Clifford Green. "They've got energy to no end. That's where he's trying to burn it off, by doing this twirl."

 

While herding sheep or cattle is not in Tucker's future, he may have found his calling as a roadside performer.

 

 

Also interesting is the debate going on in the comments section.

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CBC news- Tucker the spinning dog

I hope the video is available to watch in the US since it comes from a Canadian channel. But here's the story in a nutshell:

Also interesting is the debate going on in the comments section.

 

If I had a dog that did that, I would work with him to help him learn to remain calm as cars went by. I don't see that kind of spinning as something that is actually good for the dog, even if it has earned him celebrity status.

 

I'm not passing judgment on the dog's owners - I don't know them. I'm just saying that I would handle it differently.

 

I saw the video, but actually could not hear the audio that went with it. Our computer isn't playing audio right now for some reason. My comments are based only on what I saw and read.

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If I had a dog that did that, I would work with him to help him learn to remain calm as cars went by. I don't see that kind of spinning as something that is actually good for the dog, even if it has earned him celebrity status.

Well, compared to chasing the vehicles, it's relatively benign, but I agree that I wouldn't let a dog of mine do that. Getting him to stop now might be difficult; it's harder to unlearn things that to learn. It appeared to me that the dog sees this as his job and by some quirk believes that the spinning causes to vehicle to go away. As the vehicles actually do go away, the spinning is self rewarding.

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Well, compared to chasing the vehicles, it's relatively benign, but I agree that I wouldn't let a dog of mine do that. Getting him to stop now might be difficult; it's harder to unlearn things that to learn. It appeared to me that the dog sees this as his job and by some quirk believes that the spinning causes to vehicle to go away. As the vehicles actually do go away, the spinning is self rewarding.

 

I disagree that it is relatively benign. This behavior is caused by stress and anxiety and, likely, boredom. Tucker is not the first dog to ever develop this OCD spinning behavior. It is also seen with kennel crazy dogs (just ask Friends of Pep). The dog develops the behavior in a response to stress, anxiety, and boredom. I think most would agree that the stress that the kenneled dog with OCD behaviors is bad. It's no different for Tucker, maybe just a little less obvious.

 

It's not healthy and will only get worse or could spawn other OCD behaviors without some sort of intervention. But, it doesn't look like Tucker will ever get any help, since he is apparently a local attraction, and the owners don't see anything wrong with it. Sad.

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"I think that may have something to do with his twirling," said Clifford Green. "They've got energy to no end. That's where he's trying to burn it off, by doing this twirl."

In one sense, the owner knows exactly what the problem is, but doesn't actually see it as a problem. It's a symptom of boredom/lack of stimulation and if it were my dog I'd probably try to find something more interesting and productive for it to do, not because the behavior itself is bad, but because I don't want my dog to be bored and unhappy.

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I disagree that it is relatively benign. This behavior is caused by stress and anxiety and, likely, boredom. Tucker is not the first dog to ever develop this OCD spinning behavior. It is also seen with kennel crazy dogs (just ask Friends of Pep). The dog develops the behavior in a response to stress, anxiety, and boredom. I think most would agree that the stress that the kenneled dog with OCD behaviors is bad. It's no different for Tucker, maybe just a little less obvious.

While I certainly would prefer for a dog not to spin and I'd worry about some asshat swerving and hitting him, even if he is well off the road, I disagree with the comments here and on the news website that spinning is *always* a sign of boredom and frustration. Hi, my name is Julie, and I have a spinner. I have tried meds and behavioral modification. I have simply kept her leashed or crated at times when she is most likely to spin. This is not a dog who is kennel crazy (rarely kenneled), nor is she bored (she has the same lifestyle as the rest of my dogs, including her close relatives, and does get near-daily work). She does have a great deal of tenseness when working, so I would buy that anxiety could be a contributor to the spinning, except that the spinning actually occurs when she's excited over something ("Mom's going to feed the sheep!" "We're going for a walk!"). Interestingly, I was at a trial this past weekend and she was crated quite a bit because I was working at the top for 10-11 hours a day, with a quick break in the middle of the day to get food and walk dogs. One would think she'd have a ton of pent-up energy after days of this regimen, but I don't recall her spinning *once* on our walks and times hanging out after the trial. Odd. I do know that both her mom and littermate brother will spin (once or twice) when excited, say, when I turn the hose on. But they can control themselves beyond that first spin or two. Phoebe, on the other hand, can't seem to stop herself easily once she gets going. So I'm sure there's a genetic component to it as well. (She's also had seizures in the past, so I can't help but wonder about a chemical imbalance or "wiring" issue in her brain as well.) But boredom, unhappiness, kennel craziness, or anxiety? I don't really think so.

 

My Farleigh runs circles. He's a rescue who did start circling out of boredom. After his owner died, he was left to his own devices out in the yard, with little interaction from the owner's widow, except to feed him. When I met her she told me that when she would go to feed him, he would "show me how much he loves to run and run." She didn't realize that his "running and running" was a sign of boredom.

 

I'm not saying I approve of what this dog is doing, and even if everyone knows him and they're sure no one will ever accidentally hit him, I just wouldn't be comfortable with my dog hanging out that close to the road. Accidents happen. And what if he does spin into the road (Phoebe sometimes spins into things) and a driver swerves to miss him and wrecks? That's not something I would want on my conscience, even if I thought his behavior was harmless.

 

But I also just wanted to point out that a spinning dog isn't *necessarily* a bored, unhappy, or stressed dog. Tucker probably has made up a game to entertain himself, so I'm not even saying *his* spinning isn't out of boredom, just that blanket statements about all spinning being the result of boredom probably aren't true. Phoebe's spinning makes me unhappy, but I can't assign an emotion to her for it. I sometimes wonder if she realizes what she's doing and just can't stop herself, but since she can't talk, I'll never know....

 

Oh, and I just *loved* the comment on the website about the spinning being "herding behavior." Uh huh! Dog spins and it impresses the stock so much that they go exactly where they should. Right!

 

J.

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In response to Julie's comments, I think the behavior that this dog is exhibiting is profoundly different than what your dogs do. From your description it sounds like your dog does a spin or two when he's excited. That doesn't sound particularly abnormal to me and I don't think it's the kind of behavior than anyone here would qualify as "spinning" in the sense that Tucker does it. His owners said that he sits out there for hours doing this routine, which really strikes me as obsessive. Maybe we should make a distinction between a "spinning dog" and a dog who spins in a circle when she's excited. :rolleyes:

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Guest echoica

how odd! and why are they letting the dog spin that close to the road off lead! eeeeeeek. that's an accident waiting to happen. could be boredom or frustration. or like someone said above a job and self-reinforcing behaviour. or the latter could be a spawn of the former. in any case, the dogs needs a bit of a behavioural intervention at least (assuming it hasn't already had one)!! i think that is kind of sad...

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I disagree with the comments here and on the news website that spinning is *always* a sign of boredom and frustration.

 

I said it was "likely" boredom and I was speaking specifically to this dog, not all spinning dogs. The difference, too, I think, Julie, is that I suspect that you don't encourage or let Phoebe spin as a way to keep her occupied/entertained or burn off energy for "hours a day."

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In response to Julie's comments, I think the behavior that this dog is exhibiting is profoundly different than what your dogs do.

It's profoundly different than what Phoebe's mom and littermates do, but not so different from what Phoebe does. She'll spin herself into objects (like my van) and can't seem to easily stop herself, even if I correct her for it or physically grab her to stop her.

 

I said it was "likely" boredom and I was speaking specifically to this dog, not all spinning dogs. The difference, too, I think, Julie, is that I suspect that you don't encourage or let Phoebe spin as a way to keep her occupied/entertained or burn off energy for "hours a day."

I wasn't speaking to just your quote Mary, but to the numerous comments here and on the comments section for that video wherein people stated spinning = boredom/anxiety/unhappiness/pent-up energy. Those reasons are very likely the case with the dog in the video. I'd just hate for people to see a video of Phoebe spinning and automatically assume that she's bored, anxious, or unhappy and that therefore I'm a bad owner, and that's the point I was trying to make (especially since one of the owners posted to that site saying that the dog also gets a lot of fetch and other activities). I also tried to make it clear that I thought what this particular dog was doing is unacceptable and that if he were mine I'd intervene, but that not all spinning dogs are the result of bad owners (even if *most* are). I'd also take exception to all the comments on the website that noted that border collies need tons of exercise and lack of exercise is the only reason the dog is spinning. In other words, I just wanted to point out that there are no absolutes in any situation--not trying to piss people off.... (And the fact that the owners see nothing wrong with the behavior or where it's taking place is rather mind boggling, but also, I suspect, not uncommon for the average pet owner.)

 

J.

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In other words, I just wanted to point out that there are no absolutes in any situation--not trying to piss people off....

 

I certainly wasn't pissed off. I just wanted to clarify that my comments were about the dog in the video and the attitude of the owners taken towards the behavior.

 

I know what you mean about not wanting to paint all behaviors with a broad brush. I also get my hackles up a bit when people insist that all behavioral issues are a result of lack of training.

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I wish I could see the video but, it keeps stopping after the beginning commercial. I have had all types of spinners this year. Happy (Dave) Deaf (Gwen) Anxious (Gypsy) Bored (Pierce). I would say Gwen and Gypsy spun for the same motive (excitement anxiety) and it's a very different type of spin much harder to stop. It was faster and tighter.

 

Gypsy now only spins like that when she percieves she is doing something wrong like a poop accident on the floor. Which will then be smashed into the floor. You can distract the spin but, it may start up if you drop your guard.

 

Dave spins when he's happy It's bigger circles and Only he decides when. I've tried to see a cue and it's only known to him.

 

Pierce was reported to be a terrible spinner which is why we took him but, he circles slowly and it's disappearing. The less he has to be crated and given exercise he's forgetting.

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I know a woman who got a dog that spins for hours a day and not in response to cars. Whenever the dog is outside he spins and will do so for hours a day non stop. In this case there is nothing that should cause anxiety for this dog. He has a wonderful home, loving owner and is not a kennel dog. He was bred and his offspring have a tendency to spin also. It can be very difficult to get this dog's attention to get him to stop. It is really bizarre to watch the dog spin for hours while other dogs are out running and playing or other dogs are working sheep.

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She does have a great deal of tenseness when working, so I would buy that anxiety could be a contributor to the spinning, except that the spinning actually occurs when she's excited over something ("Mom's going to feed the sheep!" "We're going for a walk!"). Interestingly, I was at a trial this past weekend and she was crated quite a bit because I was working at the top for 10-11 hours a day, with a quick break in the middle of the day to get food and walk dogs. One would think she'd have a ton of pent-up energy after days of this regimen, but I don't recall her spinning *once* on our walks and times hanging out after the trial. Odd.

 

If her spinning is due to excitement/anxiety, and she spent alot of time relaxing in a crate, perhaps that helped keep her more calm when out of the crate. She didn't get a chance to build it up because she was crated. So it doesn't seem that odd to me.

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I had a dog who spun at cars...we didn't let her hang out in a ditch (!) but when she rode in the car, she'd sit on the drivers side in the back seat and if a car came the other way she would spin madly in her seat, until it passed. She wasn't bored or anxious at all.

 

She was pretty normal otherwise. It was just one of her Border Collie obsessions.

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There is a genetic OCD study in the works for Border Collies. They are not ready for samples yet, but when they are I'll certainly let everyone know. The goal is to firmly identify the gene that causes OCD behaviors in dogs and people.

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