Time for another dog video

Saturday, February 25th, 2012 · 24 Comments »

It’s of a Siberian Husky talking to his bone. Yes, he’s talking to his bone:

Now, if I saw a Sheltie doing that, I’d think there was something wrong. I would think he was lonely, bored, lacking in stimulation, sorely in need of environmental enrichment. I do know that wolves sometimes roll around exuberantly in the blood and bones of whatever they’re eating, and I imagine feral dogs do as well. And being excited about food or a toy in general is perfectly natural canine behavior. But still, if this were a Sheltie, I would say that somebody needed to give that dog some attention. Play with him, throw a ball, do pull toy, give treats, interact with him, do something. He’s lonely and bored and trying to create some excitement. Like a dog chasing its tail.

That’s if this were a Sheltie. But the comment thread on YouTube is full of people saying things like, “oh yeah, my Husky does that all the time with his bone.”

So is this normal for Huskies? Is talking to one’s bone another one of those Nordic breed traits? Is this like sled dogs barking in excitement and rolling around on the raw meat they’ve been thrown?

Filed under: dog videos · Tags:

24 Responses to “Time for another dog video”

  1. Delphyne says:

    My first dog was a St. Bernard and she did that bone dance all of the time. None of my other dogs ever did.

  2. Vera says:

    Funny you should bring this up. Blue has a bone she carries around. She inherited it from her best friend, a pit bull-retriever mix. Being a miniature dachshund, Blue finds it challenging to lift and carry this heavy bone, but apparently it’s worth the effort.

    Yesterday Blue started a new game of placing her bone “just so” against the bottom edge of the sofa, wedging it in place. Then she commenced to gleefully jump and roll around on it. We couldn’t figure out what she was doing — scratching her back, maybe? Her brother Alfie, who had never shown any interest in Blue’s bone, suddenly decided that he might want to take it away from her. Blue promptly put herself in a defensive position in front of the bone and growled severely at Alfie.

    This morning the bone is lying neglected and ignored in the hallway. Who knows what goes on in a dog’s mind?

  3. Violet Socks says:

    I’m sure dogs are capable of creating exciting imaginary scenarios. I used to have a cat who would scare himself on purpose. Suddenly decide that the wastepaper basket was a terrifying new threat, etc., etc. So I’m sure dogs do that.

    I guess with Shelties, though, they’re such person-oriented dogs that they seem to always seek interactive games with their people or with other dogs. Though my girls certainly had their solitary hobbies, as all dogs do: Molly’s hobby was methodically shredding the paper towels she got out of the waste basket; Katie’s hobby was methodically pulling the threads out of a wool rug. Fun hobbies for dogs.

  4. quixote says:

    Honestly. You people need to get llamas.

    Rolling around on a bone? Pfft.

    Llamas for excitement.

    :D

  5. anna says:

    Somewhat off topic: Violet, if you don’t mind answering, are you a vegan? I’m not trying to start a debate here, I just thought I heard it somewhere and I was wondering if that’s true.

  6. tinfoil hattie says:

    My friend’s dog once dragged her basket full of clean laundry into another room and buried his bones in it.

    Who INDEED knows what goes on in a dog’s mind?

    I love ‘em.

  7. Violet Socks says:

    Not a vegan; more like a half-assed vegetarian. I’m a Secondary Products Revolution kinda gal, as long as the animals are treated well.

  8. Violet Socks says:

    Our Shelties have never buried their bones. Never buried anything, as far as I know. They all dearly loved a bone, gnaw gnaw gnaw, but never got into burying or hiding it. Or talking to it.

  9. Cyn says:

    I grew up with a Husky Samoyed mix. He was very vocal. He would follow us kids to school and peek in the windows and then follow us home after. Most people were afraid of him because he was so vocal and they found that confrontational. I highly recommend the breed. My niece has a Husky and she is a great dog.

    Glad to hear you are thinking of another dog. :)

  10. Delphyne says:

    Re: shelties being people oriented dogs. I think that’s part of the herding breed. I have a border collie and, rather than dance around a toy or bone, she brings it over to me for a game of toss/fetch. Sort of like this video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8DiOthAKek

  11. Violet Socks says:

    Ha! That video is amazing. Funny but true. How on earth do you manage to keep your bordie collie challenged and stimulated?

    One of my brother’s Shelties is a tad neurotically obsessed with a particular toy, but what she wants is for you to throw it for her. She never spends time with it or interacts with it by herself, much less talks to it or anything. Her focus is on getting you to throw the toy for her.

    The differences between breeds are fascinating. I don’t mean to overstate them, because all dogs are dogs, plus they’re all individuals with their own personalities. But some of the breeds do have specific suites of behaviors that the other breeds don’t have.

    Shelties herd their people, for example. I imagine the other herding breeds do too, but I’ve only lived with Shelties. Shelties herd their people through the house, bump bump bump with their nose on the back of your leg, herding you to the kitchen to fix dinner or herding you to the living room to play ball.

    A few years ago I rescued a lost Jack Russell terrier, my only experience living with a terrier. She was a lively, frisky little girl, and I took her for walks a lot. She would drop down and put her ear to the ground to listen for critters underground, and investigate every single hole/culvert/ditch on our walks. Never in my life saw one of our Shelties do anything remotely like that. Especially the ear to the ground thing. I was amazed the first time I took the terrier on a walk and she started doing that. “Wow! She’s doing terrier stuff!”

    My brother has recently been around a neighbor’s giant retriever, who lumbers around and tears into things she’s not supposed to (pack of hamburger buns, for example) like a bear. Not at all like our Shelties, who are sensitive, almost delicate little dogs.

    And then the northern breeds have their own fascinating behaviors, like the talking thing they do.

  12. Violet Socks says:

    My mother watched that video, Delphyne, and we were talking about how it’s actually kind of strange that a dog would be fooled by a statue. No smell, made of metal…I told my mother that border collies are so smart, I wouldn’t be surprised if that doggie was just putting on a show for its people.

  13. Violet Socks says:

    We couldn’t figure out what she was doing — scratching her back, maybe? Her brother Alfie, who had never shown any interest in Blue’s bone, suddenly decided that he might want to take it away from her.

    Vera, this reminds me of a dog book I read eons ago. In the section explaining to new dog people how to handle sibling rivalry between dogs, the author said something like, “Giving them each identical toys will make no difference. Giving them each a toy at the same time will make no difference. No matter what, each dog will want what the other one has.”

  14. Delphyne says:

    Hi, Violet! Glad that you liked the video – it made me laugh. At Christmas time, Kylie ran over to a neighbor’s kiddie decoration, thinking the elves were someone she could play with. It took her a few seconds to figure out that they weren’t human. The dog in the video I’m sure was encouraged to continue because the humans were laughing so hard – I know when I’m laughing at something Kylie has done, she just continues doing it as if she enjoys the laughter.

    After I sprung Kylie out of the Houma high kill shelter in Louisiana and flew her to NJ, I discovered she was epileptic. She takes pheno which does make her a bit calmer than some borders who are really intense and need to be doing something all of the time. She has her favorite toys which I am obliged to toss to her – we walk several times a day and she’s off leash, free to explore the woods – and she does have a job to do around here: the laundry. She loves the washing machine and the dryer. She keeps vigil over the clothing in the basket, while they are being washed and lets me know when the dryer is finished. I don’t need the buzzer on – she just knows! She watches every move I make when folding clothes and keeps an eye on the clothing that left in the dryer.

    When I was taking care of my parents, their old machine just about went walkabout during the spin cycle and she tried to herd it back into place, doing the crouching eye stare thing and barking at it – she even nipped at it. It was hilarious. When I moved into this place, I bought a new front loading washer thinking she would enjoy seeing the clothing spinning around. No way – my machine is way too quiet and sedate for her! She still runs up and down the stairs to get me to watch with her, though.

    She’s also pretty nutty about the microwave. I actually started spelling that word because the mere mention of it sends her into the kitchen at full speed where she waits for the noise to begin, whining at it. She now knows how to spell microwave. One day, while watching The Barefoot Contessa cooking show, Ina started the microwave to melt chocolate and Kylie headed right out to the kitchen to check on my microwave.

    Dogs are just wonderful and you’re right – some of them have specific behaviors that are fascinating to watch.

  15. LabRat says:

    I’ll note the dog in the video is not alone; s/he IS interacting with the person taking the video, with glances and implicit offers to share. If I had to I’d guess the dog is talking about the bone, not to the bone.

    Nordics don’t generally like the same kinds of interactive games that many breeds do; most could not care less about, for example, fetch. (If you ever doubt that dogs attempt to communicate with humans, throw a ball twice for an Akita. The first time he may go get it… the second time he will look at you, huff, and ask why the hell you threw it away again.) Most of them prefer contact chase and wrestle games, which you can’t really involve a human in without hurting them, which a reasonably well-socialized dog understands.

    Ours spend a lot of time playing around us. If we leave, they stop playing; it is clearly about us even if we are not directly, physically involved. We have a lot of games also that are about letting the dog get worked up and playful with minimal contact- there’s just as much dancing and wiggling and talking, but no contact beyond, say, us tapping the backs of a paw while they try to tap the back of a hand. They also played minimal-contact games with the cat when he was still alive- lots of noise and gesturing, no contact beyond claws-in paw taps from the cat and nose touches from the dogs.

    If I were to interpret the dog in the video, she is very happy to have her bone and is, after a fashion, enjoying it with her best friend.

  16. simplywondered says:

    ‘Not a vegan; more like a half-assed vegetarian. I’m a Secondary Products Revolution kinda gal, as long as the animals are treated well.’

    and you are of course, imaginary. unlike raoul, naturally.

  17. Violet Socks says:

    I’ll note the dog in the video is not alone; s/he IS interacting with the person taking the video, with glances and implicit offers to share. If I had to I’d guess the dog is talking about the bone, not to the bone…If I were to interpret the dog in the video, she is very happy to have her bone and is, after a fashion, enjoying it with her best friend.

    LabRat, I knew you would explain it perfectly.

    Re the minimal-contact thing with your giant dogs during play: do you compensate with lots of affectionate cuddling and side-scratching and so on to give them tactile stimulation? Or do they not need as much?

  18. Violet Socks says:

    The dog in the video I’m sure was encouraged to continue because the humans were laughing so hard – I know when I’m laughing at something Kylie has done, she just continues doing it as if she enjoys the laughter.

    Katie was like that too. My mother often watched us play, and it was her opinion that pretty much everything Katie did was designed to make me laugh.

    Speaking of my mother, I told her about your laundry, Delphyne. The thing is, laundry is my mother’s hobby, or so I kid her. The concept of “automatic washer” doesn’t register. She insists on getting involved in every step, stopping and starting to change water temperature, to soak, to add things, to do god knows what. Doing a single load of laundry for her is like an all-day event.

    I told her she needed to get a border collie like Kylie. They’d be perfect together. (Kidding, of course; I think border collies need to be placed very, very carefully.)

    She watches every move I make when folding clothes and keeps an eye on the clothing that left in the dryer.

    I read this bit to my mother and she said, “Of course! She has to get that last sheep out of the dryer.”

  19. riverdaughter says:

    I have only owned one dog in my life for a very brief period of time. It was a shih tsu and it didn’t much like brand new kid very much. Brand new kid tried to engage it and socialize, dog would nip at kid. My SIL, who had more experience with dogs, told me that as a pack animal, the dog wouldn’t dare challenge an adult. But a toddler is another thing altogether. A toddler is small enough that the dog felt it might be lower on the hierarchy. So, dog was just establishing the pecking order, seeing the toddler as a smaller, more junior dog.
    So, maybe this husky is demonstrating another feature of pack animal behavior. When presented with fresh kill, how do pack animals behave? Do they defer to other dogs first? Maybe this is just a ritual they have to go through to get a crack at their food.

  20. LabRat says:

    Re the minimal-contact thing with your giant dogs during play: do you compensate with lots of affectionate cuddling and side-scratching and so on to give them tactile stimulation? Or do they not need as much?

    They don’t need as much *overall* I’d say as a less independent breed, but it’s still important to them. All three show affection and acceptance by leaning on people they’ve decided are friends, which can be a bit much when a hundred-pound dog warmly shifts half his weight onto your legs. Kang comes to me in the evenings when she’s ready for bed and puts her head in my lap; she does not go settle in for the night until she’s had enough ear rubs, muzzle skritches, shoulder skritches, and hugs. Until she’s had enough she will just nuzzle me gently if I stop. Kodos doesn’t want as much petting and direct tactile attention, but it’s extremely important to him that he have pride of place next to or at the foot of the bed at bedtime. (Kang sleeps at the other end of the house. I don’t know what’s going on there, maybe because it’s cooler, maybe they’re dividing up guard duty.) Tank is still a puppy and doesn’t have their freedom of movement, but so far he is like his mom and wants a few good sessions of leaning and rubbing/scratching a day.

    Mostly, they seek out contact when they want/need affection and want your full attention… then move away when they or you are done and happily occupy themselves, rather than being shadows. Kind of more like cats than dogs in some respects.

  21. Nessum says:

    Delphyne, I think I just fell in love! With Kylie. ;-)

  22. Delphyne says:

    Thanks, Nessum – she’s an easy girl to love. She’s very sweet, loves everyone, never fights with other dogs – even lets visiting dogs eat out of her dish. I lucked out with her – I had only seen her picture online and had no idea what her temperament was before she arrived on that plane.

    She also loves having Happy Birthday sung to her daily.

  23. Ciccina says:

    Yay – dog video time!

    The bull terrier is notorious for breed specific behavior – especially the “hucklebutt” – a maniacal caper involving spins, ricochets against furniture and people, the purposeful upending of household objects, horrible sounds, and taunting poses… it is simply the most fun a bull terrier can have, and usually happens *after* they’ve exercised, rather than before… From the look of things, I wonder if they’re expressing left over pit fighting behavior, with all the aggression removed. Then again, I think rabbits do something similar (but without the nipping).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zs0yxUm15O4&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aK7o6LD1qk

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fBdbIrUmkE

    Bonus: a dog who trained his owner to play reverse-fetch.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NIfcOEm0Qc&feature=related

  24. Delphyne says:

    Hucklebutting – now that is a first for me, Ciccina! Those terriers are just full of – well, hucklebutts! And ears against the ground listening for critters that burrow and squeak under the earth – give me a herder focused on a sheep in the distance. Or a piece of laundry. THAT I can deal with….

    Ah, dogs – so much fun!