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How has your dog(s) surprised you?

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These dogs are so intelligent they never cease to amaze me. They know more than we give them credit for. Just to recall a few times…..

 

Back in ’08 DH and I took a vacation and took JJ & Jake with us. (Josie wasn’t a part of our family then.) We rented a dog-friendly cabin next to a river. One time JJ & I walked out on the screened in porch. I told JJ “I wish I could trust you off leash. If I could, I would let you go swimming without one”. Next thing I know, I hear a door slam. When I looked around, there was no JJ! JJ had never opened a closed door before-much less one that swung in. I looked on the path leading down to the river and there was JJ….running towards the river. I screamed and took off after him. By the time I got down to the river, JJ was standing in the middle of it with this “Throw a stick!” look on his face.

 

Yesterday after I fed the dogs their 1st meal (I feed them twice a day) I asked Jake if he wanted to go out. He perked up his ears. I wanted to check something on my computer before letting him out so I told him “OK but wipe your mouth first”. After I sat down I looked over to find him going to town wiping his mouth on the rug. When he was finished he walked up to me which was my cue to let him out. I never taught Jake a “Wipe your mouth” command.

 

Night before last I went outside to call the dogs in. JJ & Jake came to me instantly. When Josie didn’t come, I called her again. Instead of coming, I heard a strange noise. We have one of those black hose/tube things that you put on the end of a downspout if you want to direct the rain water under the deck. I thought Josie might have gotten her head stuck in it. I ran back the door, yelled at DH I needed his help but before I could run down the steps Josie ran up them. We still wondered about the noise I had heard so DH told Josie “What is it?” That command didn’t sound right to me so I asked her “Show me”. Josie ran down the steps and under the deck to the black hose/tube thing and started investigating it. The best we can figure out something must have run in there and she was trying to get it. We never taught her the “Show me” command.

 

If one, two or all 3 dogs are outside and ignore me when I call them all I have to say is “Now!” They’ll stop what they’re doing and come. I never taught them the “Now!” command.

 

What has your dog(s) done that you didn’t teach them?

 

Edited to correct spelling.

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When we went on a quick stroll together and came upon an intersection, my flat coat would always pull me down a different path than what we were originally going to head down. Why? I'm positive that she could tell when we were taking just a quick walk, so whenever I tried to steer her down the shorter route she figured the other one must be longer. Even if we were in an unfamiliar area! I always tried to find what was cueing her into the fact that we were just taking a short stroll, but never figured it out. She never acted like that when I decided to take her on a long walk, and she would willingly follow me then!

 

The cases you're describing sound like you're underestimating your dogs' observance :) . I believe that dogs pick up on many, many more words than we think they do. Much like toddlers! They can't speak back, but they understand our point and tone.

 

Also, you may have unknowingly trained them things like "Now". I'm thinking something along the lines of how people unknowingly train their dogs to jump up or bark to get attention. They reward without meaning to. Of course, it sounds like much of what you're saying isn't exactly bad behavior! :lol:

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We probably inadvertently trained them. We talk to them as if they are human. Not because we think they are it’s because we respect their intelligence….that and the fact I got tired of JJ giving me his “stupid human” look. :lol: (We kept underestimating his intelligence.) I’m sure they’ve picked up a number of words over the years.

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My younger Papillon grabs a toy when he is excited, and so he has a tendency to grab one when he thinks I am going to let them out. It would then get dropped in the yard and wet and stuff. I should also mention he is terribly mouthy and took a ridiculously long time to learn to drop something when I told him "drop it" or to release something into my hand when I said "give."

 

One day I looked at him as he ran past me with a stuffie in his mouth and I said "Jasper that stays in the house" and ptoey he spit it right out and ran to the door. I thought it was a coincidence, but every time ever since he spits it out of I say that.

 

I have no idea how he learned that.

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I love that you have Papillon and BC, I love the Papillons, I have said for a few years that my next dog will be a Papillon or a Border Collie, Gidiget made that decision for me. To be honest I was leaning for the Papillon due to size and not as strong of a dog, fearing a BC would be too much for me to handle with my dissability, to my amazement I think I will do better with the BC, she will make a great service dog for me when she grows up :)

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One day I looked at him as he ran past me with a stuffie in his mouth and I said "Jasper that stays in the house" and ptoey he spit it right out and ran to the door. I thought it was a coincidence, but every time ever since he spits it out of I say that.

 

I have no idea how he learned that.

 

I've never been able to figure out how my dogs know what "What did I ask you to do?" when they didn't take a cue the first time.

 

I could understand it better if it were limited to only one cue, but it's not. They understand that it refers to whatever it was that I asked them to do and they didn't, no matter what it was.

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I've never been able to figure out how my dogs know what "What did I ask you to do?" when they didn't take a cue the first time.

 

One night I taught JJ to give me his left. When DH got home that night I naturally wanted to show him what I taught JJ. When I told JJ “Give me your left” he offered me his right paw. Without thinking I said “Other left”. JJ dropped his right paw and offered me his left one. DH asked me how I taught him that so I told him I just kept rubbing his left leg and repeating “Left, left, left….” DH said “No, how did you teach him to give you his right paw first and switching when you said other left?” I looked at DH and said “I didn’t”.

 

I've heard people say dogs don't understand sentences that it's the last word in a sentence they pick up but JJ also knows the difference between “You don’t have to go to bed” and “Let’s go to bed”.

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Today the little buggers opened a drawer full of food, took EVERYTHING out of it and dumped it on the floor (I'm talking hot chocolate, several kinds of chocolate, cake, marshmallows, biscuits/crackers), then went rooting through for the 'good stuff'- snickers, crisps, ritz crackers and dried soup.

 

Boy was I surprised.

 

Edit: forgot to mention, this was a fairly high drawer which had been firmly closed.

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I've never been able to figure out how my dogs know what "What did I ask you to do?" when they didn't take a cue the first time.

It's clear (to me, at least) that dogs understand a good deal more than they let on. I was once asked for a list of all the command words a foster dog knew. Just one, I answered; his name. But he knows at least 10 different meanings of that one word depending on the tone you use to say it. One of my examples was using a scolding tone to mean ''Do what I just told you!. I have used it successfully with many dogs; they do know what you told them to do, even if they ignored it the first time. You just need to tell them that you were serious.

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Yep. I guess I misspoke when I said I didn't understand, because I really do know that the know and understand much more than what we specifically teach them. I see it almost every day and have seen it over the years with many dogs, and especially with border collies.

 

My favorite, really, was when we (ex and I) would be talking about going somewhere around my long gone but still sorely missed Mirk. We might be talking about going somewhere the following weekend, but nearly a week in advance. He'd get very excited, prancing around and going to sit by the door ready to go. We'd have to tell him, no, we're not going today; we're leaving on Friday. So he'd settle down and go about his business as usual. But Friday morning, he'd be waiting at the front door ready to go. We usually had to go to work first, and would have to explain that again, and he'd repeat the routine of settling back in to wait. But as soon as we got home from work, he was again ready to go and we couldn't pry him away from the front door then.

 

And, yes, that did always surprise me, because it didn't matter what day we were originally talking about leaving or what day we'd tell him it would really be, he knew when that day came that it was the one we'd said. And it had nothing to do with his picking up on clues from our getting ready. We could prepack in between without much interest from him, or if it was a day trip that didn't require packing he still knew.

 

The dog was telepathic (as I believe all of them are at least to some extent).

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Had a Border Collie I dabbled in tracking with, plus trained lots of tricks and service dog tasks. I was hiking with him in the woods of VT. Heavy fog rolled in and I got lost. I gave him the commands for following a trail and told him to "go home." He took me right back to the cabin.

 

I was getting ready to leave the house and I realized I forgot something inside. I shut the truck door, not realizing my keys were sitting in the center console. The doors were locked. My Border Collie handed me the keys through the crack in the window.

 

My sister was home alone one night. Dog suddenly ran to the basement door but never made a peep. A guy had broken into the house via a basement window. When he opened the basement door he got a big surprise. My dog was so proud of himself when the cops showed up. They gave him plenty of pats for his good work.

 

Another of my Border Collies liked to get really low onto the floor of the truck, curling up as small as he could. When someone would walk past he jumped up, roaring. When they screamed and leaped back he would make a chuffing sound and get a big grin on his face. I swear he was laughing and thought it was a great joke. This dog was as gentle as they come, so I am certain he was doing it for fun and not as an act of aggression.

 

One of them was always finding injured animals and doing the Lassie routine, leading me to them. He was so proud of himself when I found his "presents."

 

We had a hurricane bearing down on us and I needed to move the goats to safety. At one point I had to leave them in a pasture with essentially no fencing (certainly not good enough to hold any animals). Instead, I left one of my dogs with instructions to keep them in place. I was gone for almost 2 hours. Despite the raging winds and rain, she held them. They were right where I had left them.

 

I had one who went deaf, but I hadn't realized it yet. Sent him out to get sheep (6 or 800 yards). About halfway back he needed to make a 90 degree turn and cross drive them down a fence to get to a gate (the dog had just hopped the fence) that was several hundred yards away. He could hear my commands to turn them, so brought the sheep to the fence and looked at me expectantly for a few. Finally he decided that if I wasn't going give him directions, he would figure it out on his own. He found the gate, drove them through and got them back to me.

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I Kolt followed into my bedroom today. He looked suspiciously at the crate then trotted over and attempted to jump on the bed. He was unsuccessful so I picked him up and set him on the bed. The pup who wouldn't stay on the bed for 2 minutes a couple weeks ago stayed put for 20 min while I took a shower. Guess he didn't want to get put in the crate.

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My younger Papillon grabs a toy when he is excited, and so he has a tendency to grab one when he thinks I am going to let them out. It would then get dropped in the yard and wet and stuff. I should also mention he is terribly mouthy and took a ridiculously long time to learn to drop something when I told him "drop it" or to release something into my hand when I said "give."

 

One day I looked at him as he ran past me with a stuffie in his mouth and I said "Jasper that stays in the house" and ptoey he spit it right out and ran to the door. I thought it was a coincidence, but every time ever since he spits it out of I say that.

 

I have no idea how he learned that.

 

My younger papillon picks phrases up like crazy. I am certain she (and many other dogs) know a lot more of what words mean than people assume.

 

Two examples coming to the top of my head. She knows how to dig on command. I never taught that. I think I once said something about her digging and laughed. I can point to a spot on the ground, say the word dig and she will.

 

I also spent a long time fighting with her to eat her medicine. She would clench her teeth, spit it out, put up this huge battle. She was NOT going to take her medicine. One day I got exasperated and just told her 'Please eat it'. And she did. Now every time I hold out a pill and say 'eat it' and she will. She gives me a look like 'Do I HAVE to?' then she'll do it.

 

She picked up that the word mouse meant a mouse on one occasion where I said the word maybe twice. Since then the word mouse makes her incredibly excited.

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Purely by chance, my friend told me a story today that fits this topic perfectly. When she was a child in Wisconsin (35-40 yrs ago), her family had sheep. [i don't know how many, but probably a small herd (5-10) as might be found on a small farm along with other animals.] Her neighbors also had a small flock and a BC. Apparently the sheep co-mingled and grazed together. The neighbors would let out their BC in the morning to gather up the sheep - by itself - and bring them back to the barn(s). OK, we have heard this story before - particularly as based in Scotland. What was cool about this story is that the BC would bring each owner their own packet of sheep with no instructions as to how to do it (i.e. sheep A went to owner A, and sheep B went to owner B.) I thought that was pretty incredible.

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I wish there was a "like" button. I really enjoy reading these posts.

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I am constantly surprised by what my dog understands. I talk to him in a conversational way so I know he's just picking up on cues and words but it still blows my mind sometimes. It's also amazing to me how keyed in he is to physical clues. For example, if he sees me putting on my ski pants he just hops right into his crate and settles down because he knows we're about to go out for a few hours and leave him at home. And, of course, this is just one of dozens of similar examples.

As much as I watch my dog trying to understand how he's feeling or what he's up to, his observational skills clearly put mine to shame.

I will share the instance that (thus far) Camden surprised me the most: Our herding lessons are normally early in the morning. Before we load up in the car I'll say "It's time to go herd sheep". This gets him excited, of course, but more then anything it gives him a heads up that we're going for a 60 minute car ride. IOW it really means: go do whatever potty you need to do, settle down once we're in the car and in an hour you get to herd sheep. ;)

One night I was telling hubby that we had a herding lesson the next morning. I just looked over at Camden and said "that's right, tomorrow you get to go herd sheep". Camden perked up, got excited and then ran... not to the door... but to his crate!!!! I swear the only thing I can figure is he knew that we weren't going at that moment (it was in the evening) so he figured if he just went upstairs, fell asleep then woke back up it would be morning and we'd get to "go herd sheep". It made me think of a little kid on Christmas Eve, lol.

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So yesterday Kolt was playing a game of "wrestle and bite the arm". I told him "wait" so I could go get something. Wait has been used thus far in exiting the crate and going outside. Even though it had never been used in the context of "quit playing", he backed off, looked at me and waited for me to release him. I did and let him go back to wrestling with my arm. I've since tried it a few more times to see if it was a fluke. Nope - "wait" means back off and wait for permission to do something else. I like it!

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I just wanted to say that I adore this thread. It's things like this that make brilliant dogs so, so worth it.

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My daughters chihuahua was growling and barking at her one night.

I was trying to figure out why then i realized she was wearing a new kind of perfume.

it was the weirdest thing he ran back from bath room jumped on my lap and growled at her every time she walked close to us.

No matter what she said to him he wanted nothing to do with her.

 

Dan & Tilly

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Every once in a while, after dark, Josie sees something down in the lower part of the backyard that’s not fenced in and she’ll start barking. It’s a very serious bark so I know she means business but barking after dark isn’t allowed. When she’s in serious mode she blows me off. She doesn’t respond to any command. I’ll come in the house, grab the training wand and a flashlight and go back outside and start walking her down. I never say a word. I’ll hit the ground a couple of times and/or wave the training wand to let her know I have it in my hand but I never say a word. The last couple of times she ignored me I stood on the deck and said “Josie, don’t make me walk you down. Get up here”. She quit barking and came in the house.

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Lee and Grant have found a couple of holes in our yard fence (note to self: secure the yard fence). One day the sheep were along side the yard and Lee was standing at the fence looking at them. The light bulb went off in his head and he ran to the other side of the yard to one of the holes then around the yard into the sheep field.

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fun to read!

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Cody, the dog that never does anything wrong..at least intentionally, tells on the other 3 if they do. About a week ago he woke me up in the middle of the night because two of the other dogs decided to do rare adventure into the kitchen garage. He was all concerned and would not let me sleep until I got up to investigate. After I did he went promptly back to sleep.

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