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This Smart Dog Creates Formations Using Toys

This Smart Dog Creates Formations Using Toys

Donnie the Doberman has a favorite activity.  He loves to arrange his toys in his backyard.  So what’s so special about that?  He arranges the toys in circles, rows, and triangles.  He Donnie Toys holdinghandscategorizes his toys and places them into various positions into well thought out patterns.  Dr. Barbara Smutts, a professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan felt compelled to see what was going on for herself.  She was very skeptical until she rigged the yard with a camera and saw Donnie decorating the yard as he loves to do.  Donnie is a very special dog in that he was rescued from a shelter.  Sadly, he spent around a year of his life in a small cage where he had a limited ability to move around.  After his owner adopted him, he had to adjust to his new environment.  He had physical difficulties due to being forced to live in such a small space.  Emotionally, Donnie was unfamiliar with warm interactions with humans.  Interestingly, the first time Donnie allowed his owner to put her arm around him marked the beginning of a new theme in his constellations.  His toys were arranged in positions in which they were holding hands, lying next to one another, sometimes facing up, other times facing down.  He uses various combinations of positions and patterns.  Could this activity simply be a form of entertainment for Donnie?  Could this be Donnie’s attempt at communication?    It might seem so considering his patterns were affected by the milestone in his relationship when he allowed his owner to interact more affectionately with him.  Could his behavior be an effort to communicate his emotions?  His behavior is expressed through the use of thinking skills that are very rare to find in a dog.


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12 Comments

  1. Pattie

    I found this information very relevant to my own situation with my dog Zoey. She started making patterns with her toys about a month after she came to live with us after being in a shelter. She does this when we are not watching. At first we thought it was a coincidence but it happens every night or when we leave her alone in the house. Often the stuffed animals are found in a pattern that looks like they are holding hands or in a circle design or triangle. I would be very interested in learning more about this behavior.

    1. Janie

      Hi Pattie-

      First of all, thank you so much for visiting my website and for sharing. There is so much content on my site and I hope that you will find it to be helpful in keeping Zoe healthy.

      I love to hear stories like this. Have you considered using a nanny-cam? Maybe you could catch her in the act! It sounds like Zoey has developed an understanding of relationships. Dogs never cease to amaze me (especially dogs who have been rescued from the pound). Zoey is obviously a real gem. If only she could speak!

      All the best-
      Janie

    2. Lisa Beck

      My Labrador Mustang who is 5 years old and I have had since a puppy does the exact same thing, lines, parallel lines, circles. The toys are always touching, holding hands, all on their backs, tail to head, head to tail, always a pattern within a pattern.

      1. Janie

        Hi Lisa-

        Thank you so much for sharing your story. I love to hear about this stuff! It’s as if Mustang is trying to communicate a message. I wonder if when these dogs see people holding hands they recognize the same concept as they are creating when toys hold hands. These dogs are certainly recognizing body parts and connecting them. It is absolutely incredible!

        Please check out my other articles. I have plenty about food and a great vaccine article Are Dog Vaccines Really Safe?

        I hope you enjoy my articles. Thanks again for your comment.
        All the best
        Janie

    3. Cindi C Haddow

      I am so very glad I googled this phenomenon, I will go on to detail my recent experiences with my little 5 year old Border Terrier, Bailey, tomorrow, too late now. I will sleep better, tonight, though, knowing that am NOT crazy! lol night all…..

      1. Janie

        Hi Cindi-

        Thank you so much for reading my articles. It is amazing that people are coming out of the woodwork and sharing their stories. When you share these things with other people it is easy to feel embarrassed and to question yourself. Bailey has a gift and it is very real. Send my regards to Bailey!

        All the best
        Janie

  2. Craig

    I have a goldendoodle that puts her toys into geometric shapes daily. Lines two plastic bones parallel, then has them forming a right angle, next she may get another toy and they are in a perfect triangle. This usually happens several times throughout the day. We’ve had her since she was seven weeks old and she’s close to three years old now.

    1. Janie

      Hi Craig-

      Thank you for visiting my website and for commenting. I would love it if anybody could figure out where this ability comes from. I love hearing these anecdotes. Dogs are such amazing beings. Please check out my articles so you can keep that smart girl of yours as healthy as possible.

      All the best
      Janie

  3. Karen Searles

    i have two dobermans and have seen patterns for five years, i honestly thought i had a ghost in the house and have been thinking of moving, it is always in a pattern of three with toys and hard bones, sometimes touching other times in a line, i also have pictures, if you find out more on this subject please contact me i would love to learn more on this subject, what a relief to know it is my dogs making these patterns

    thank you
    karen

    1. Janie

      Hi Karen-

      You are not the only one! As you can see, others are coming forth and commenting as well. I wonder why some dogs do this stuff while other dogs don’t. Thanks for sharing your story. It is fascinating.

      Thank you for visiting my website and please check out my other articles to keep your Dobies as healthy as possible.

      All the best
      Janie

  4. Lulu

    I just found my 3 year old chihuahua laying her kibble in a semi circle this morning, quite far from the bowl. I’d never seen her do that before. It freaked me out! Never with her toys although sometimes I can’t find her mini tennis ball and then I see she’s put it back in her toy bin!

    1. Janie

      Hi Lulu-

      Thanks for checking out my website. I have many articles about food that you might want to check out.
      That’s so cool with the kibble. Do you think she saw this article? LOL
      Does she always put her kibble into a different place? Some dogs do that. Laying it out in shapes and patterns is pretty cool. If she does it on a few occasions I would guess that it is deliberate. Very interesting.

      I think the greatest thing about your comment is that you catch her putting her mini ball back!
      If she could do that, I wonder if your super doggie could do windows too!!! I wish my girl, Beverly would put her toys away.

      Thanks for writing.
      All the best
      Janie

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