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Dogs and levitating wieners

A magician does a trick where there seems to be a wiener floating in front of dogs’ faces. What surprises me is the reaction of two of the dogs. While most try to eat it, as I would expect them to, these two shy away from it in seeming fear. It is as if they realize that the laws of nature are being violated in some way and that hence something is seriously wrong and alarming.

Comments

  1. Curt Cameron says

    I don’t think it’s that the wieners are floating that is making the dogs hesitate – I think it’s the behavior of the human. Dogs are very attuned to reading humans, and he’s definitely up to something that’s confusing to the dogs.

    I’ve heard before that chimpanzees can’t understand when a human points to an object, that he’s referring to an object not near the hand. But dogs can understand this.

  2. Sean (I am not an imposter) says

    I used to dog-sit for my friend, who has a border collie. The dog is highly intelligent and picked out the warmest spot in my living room from the first time she came here and that became her spot. All I had to do to get her to go to her spot was point in the direction of that corner, and no matter what room we were in, she would go to her spot. But she did need direct eye contact to confirm the order: no eye contact, no response on her part.

    I later tried just glancing sideways in the direction of the corner, and then looking directly at her eyes to confirm the command, and she understood this gesture to mean the same as pointing to the corner, which amazed me. Merely looking her in the eyes did nothing it was definitely the sideways glance that got the response, which I did not have to train her for: she just knew or picked it up somehow.

    It seems dogs can sense and react to even the slightest variation of human body language, and I bet that the dogs that walked away had picked up body language from the magician that he may have been consciously or unconsciously projecting.

  3. starskeptic says

    Curt @ #2
    That’s an interesting point – especially watching the Sheltie maintain eye contact with the man the whole time, definitely wondering what he’s up to.

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