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Can anyone help me explain this behaviour?

Discussion in 'Dog Behaviour and Training' started by BaffledQueen, May 5, 2018.

  1. BaffledQueen

    BaffledQueen New Member Registered

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    I did think it was because my husband was putting stinky wet cat meats, attracting several cats (and a very large sewer rat so brave and large I call him Brutus, and I worry Brutus may bite our pets) outside at night, but I am not so sure now. Brutus does not bother me, I am a rat sympathizer, but we live in close quarters with others and it is not fair on them.

    Every night about 8pm our dog Beauty starts pacing back and forth between the living room and the kitchen.

    This will go on most of the evening, usually resulting in arguments between us when she starts barking and crying at bedtime.

    She absolutely does NOT display this behavior at any other time and is very responsive to me.

    I have been through many theories, including:

    • Possible human activity on the back gardens, including snoopers or burglers, it's a problem on this road, is it possible she is trying to tell us something? However, why doesn't she do this each time a car passes or a person walks by in the daytime?. The type of bark she does at the back door in the evening is what I call the 'human bark', the one she will do to alert us when someone comes to the door or walks by etc. Although she may bark at passing people, once she's barked, that's it, no other behavior goes with it.

    • Changes in daylight, but dogs don't see colour or light shades very well, so how could she pick up on this?

    • Noises being more prominent at night, my mum suggested this, that once the TV goes off, neighbors go to bed, we have no background noise like music or talking going on in the house, other sounds, such as birds, doors closing, the neighbors coming outside for a cigarette, the list is endless, become more audible to the dog. However this behavior starts even while the TV is still on, while we are still up and about.

    • Birds going to roost, changes in birdsong as the day comes to an end. Possible, but again why doesn't she display this behavior during the day, when birds are singing outside? She shows no interest in birds when out either, she will chase ducks and pigeons if she's able to get close enough, but she doesn't react at all to birds really.

    • Other animals such as mice and rats coming for the cat food.

    • Our cat, the one my husband does not want to admit may be the reason for the dog's behaviour, who has now gone semi feral and very probably needs to be found a new home. We are unable to rehome him though due to the fact we cannot catch him and he comes home at 10-11pm each day, usually when his food has long since filled the stomachs of everyone else's cats, rats, mice, pigeons and whoever else wants a free meal. I don't think anyone would be willing to collect him at this time, and we can't keep him inside the house at all because he shrieks and runs in fear of his life.

    The dog was slightly better behaved last night when there was no wet cat food outside. I made him stop this as the weather is getting warmer and my biggest concern is flies.
     
  2. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    When did this start? Can you tie it in with when you started putting cat food out? I'd definitely see if it decreases now you've stopped putting cat food out (you could try putting kibble out instead as it will last longer without spoiling, but it's obviously not great to be feeding the local rats).

    Also, what does the dog do if you let her out? I'd try taking her out on a lead. This way you might find out what it is she's after (e.g. if she searches for the food), but you also show her that even if she does go out, she's not going to be able to get to whatever it is she wants to get to. (My dog stopped asking to go out in the middle of the night within 2 nights when I coralled off an area where he could toilet if he needed to but couldn't go & chase the 'monsters' at the bottom of the garden.)
     
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  3. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    You have covered several things that it could be, and as a dog's hearing is so much better than ours it could even be something further away that you never find as the cause. If you want to stop it, I suggest a distraction around that time - a walk, a training session, play time. You can train a dog to settle down but if her drive to monitor this perceived problem is too high, it would be a lot harder to do.
     
  4. BaffledQueen

    BaffledQueen New Member Registered

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    When I take her out, she goes straight to the old rabbit hutch where the cat food is inside. However, after not leaving any wet meat out there last night, she did not go straight to it. I have thought about this, and I think she is picking up on louder sounds at night that we cannot hear, that would usually be drowned out by everyday noise.

    I am also 99.9% sure she can smell the wet food from inside the house too. If dogs noses are acute enough to smell explosives under a concrete floor, then they sure can smell meat left outside from inside the house.

    I've tried all kinds of distractions, balls, toys, treats, the lot, but once that food goes outside, something is setting off this habitual behavior.

    I think it is possibly Brutus the rat coming out for the food, as cat food stinks. If he cannot smell the dry food so much, it may deter him. She goes berserk for rats when we are out.

    It's probably a case of 'if at first you don't succeed, try again'.

    I am glad S/O has stopped putting wet cat meats outside though, I had images of that scene from the Amityville movie, where the room fills up with flies :eek:
     
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  5. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    It sounds to me as if the food could be the sole reason for the behaviour - see how it goes now OH isn't putting any out.

    If you definitely want to catch the cat so he can go to a better situation, I'm sure we can brainstorm some ideas - maybe he's become friendly enough with some neighbours that they might be able to catch him.
     
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  6. Violet Turner

    Violet Turner Well-Known Member Registered

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    Just reading the above about you being un able to catch the cat, have you tried a crate trap? If you have and it hasnt worked you may want to speak to cats protection (or so i think its called). You could also install a camera and see where the cat travels around your garden. Then if your dog continues the behaviour after your cat has left for a new home then i reccomend you speak to your vet about your dog undergoing some tests for arthiristis, or more. If you could try not having the food out at night but in the day and see how things go from there, but if the cat isnt eating it then i reccomend putting the food in the frount of the house, somewhere the dog cannot smell it, as there is a possibility that he could just be smelling the food. Would you be willing to take a video of the behaviour as someone could mabye identify it. I really do hope it helps and if you need anymore information please ask :)
     
  7. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    What leads you to think that might cause the behaviour?
     
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  8. Violet Turner

    Violet Turner Well-Known Member Registered

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    @JoanneF i am lead to this because when a dog does something over and over, it indicates to something. Eather it be mentaly or Physicicaly, i was giving an example of arthiritis as a guide as if the dog paces then it could indictate a pain/ need to move the joints. but also if the cat is captured then the problem goes away then dont go to the vet whereas if the cat is captured then the behaviour doesnt stop then i would most definatly go to the vets as it could be an underlying problem that we cannot see. Also do you walk your dog if so how long for as it could be that the dog is bored. If i was in your position then i would most deffinatly speak to a canine behaviouirst as they my be able to observe the behaviour then give you a propper answer, if you need me to go into more depth in what i mean then dont hesatate to comment.
     
  9. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    .

    actually, dogs DO see color - they're red / green color-blind, so a red Kong on a green lawn lacks contrast, but they see white, blue, black, multitudinous shades of grey, & yellow very nicely. :) However, what we humans would perceive as deeply-saturated jewel tones are seen by dogs as middle-tone colors, & what we see as moderate colors are seen by dogs as near-pastels.
    So dogs' color-vision is far-less saturated than our primate version; dogs have many-more rods, while we humans have many-more color-sensitive cones in our retinae.

    Additionally, in their less-intensely colored world, dogs see almost-infinite shades of grey - so they have an extremely accurate perception of light itself, much-better than our own... plus, their visual acuity in dim light is much better than that of humans; in a dimly-lit environment, even young humans with 20/20 vision lack the visual accuracy of the average middle-aged dog in that setting.

    Both of these adaptations make perfect sense, when we look at what dog vision & human vision are used for - primates pay a lot of attn to vegetation & fruit, so the contrast of a ripe fruit, berry, or veg against foliage is important to us, & we're adapted more to daylight than dusk or nocturnal activity.
    Domestic dogs, left to their own devices, are primarily scavengers rather than effective hunters - but their common ancestor some 20K to 50K years ago, was a wild predator; dogs are still a crepuscular species rather than daylight or nocturnal, most-active in early morning & evening, when it's neither very hot nor pitch-dark, the sun is low & light is dim - that dim light is an advantage, especially combined with dogs' excellent low-light vision.

    With their rod-packed retinae, dogs' eyes are exquisitely sensitive to MOVEMENT - if U stand absolutely still & don't move yer high-contrast eyes [colored iris vs. white sclera], dogs will often walk right by U, as if U're a tree or an inanimate object; this works especially well if U confuse yer silhouette by standing against an object that breaks it up [a wall, a 55-gallon trash barrel, a branching shrub] or wear low-contrast clothing that's patched, ombre, or simply countershaded [dark above, paler below].
    A ghillie-suit is excellent camouflage to avoid detection by humans, but it's overkill when U're trying to avoid being seen / noticed by a dog.

    Sighthounds are obv intended for hunting visually, from a distance, in contrast to the many scenthounds for whom noses rule; sighthounds actually have an additional sensory advantage, a horizontal slice of the retina in each eye that is super-sensitive to movement, particularly DISTANT movement. // This is called the visual streak, & plays the same role for sighthounds as the fovea does in human eyes: a highly-sensitive narrow area of fine focus, our fovea is round, while the sighthounds' streak is a longitudinal slot across the retina's width.
    Greyhounds & their relatives can see a moving object a half-mile away, which is why it's best to keep them leashed, outside a fence - U can't possibly see what they're alerting on, let alone I-D what it is & rank its relative threat, & by the time U react, that off-leash 40-mph couch-spud is halfway outta the township, & gaining speed with every leap. :eek: :(

    more info:
    - Veterinary Article: "Does my dog see in black and white?" by Noelle La Croix, DVM, Dip. ACVO

    - Veterinary Article: "Can my dog watch TV?" by Noelle La Croix, DVM, Dip. ACVO

    - What Colors Dogs See and Why It Matters for Dog Sports

    - terry

    .
     

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