Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Quick Episode From The Dog Park

This is a fun sequence that I got at the dog park this afternoon.

Our dog park has a communal water bowl that is fed by an underground pipe. From November through March, the pipe is turned off to avoid the risk of it freezing and bursting. So there's no water in the park, except for some rainwater that accumulated in the top of this overturned garbage can in the past couple of days. There was about an inch's worth of water when we arrived.

Soon after we arrived, the dogs got thirsty from running around like maniacs. Crookytail figured out that there was water on top of the barrel and how he could lean against the outer rim to reach it. Independent problem-solving puppy! (He was the only dog at the park who figured this out, too. Lots of other dogs got thirsty and checked the empty water bowl, but none of them found the puddle on top of the garbage can.)

Then Pongu observed him and demonstrated an ability to learn via observation by going to the barrel himself and imitating what he had seen Crookytail do.

Today I am pretty impressed with the intelligence of my mutt monsters.


We went back to the park again the next day and the mutt monsters did the same thing again. There were many more dogs at the park on the second afternoon, and several of them seemed curious about why Crookytail was in that corner of the park, but none of them tried to imitate his barrel-climb even though several were large enough to have done it easily.

This was something I had wondered about on the first day: most of the dogs who noticed Crookytail were too small to reach the top of the overturned garbage can, so I thought maybe that's why they didn't try. But it appears that even when the dogs are big enough to imitate his behavior successfully, it doesn't occur to them to do so.

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