Can anyone help me understand dog's behaviour ?

(21 Posts)
Babyroobs Sat 16-May-20 15:04:33

I know there are some people on here who really understand dog's behaviour so looking for some advice.
Our two year old working cocker spaniel was in the garden for ages on Thursday and when I called him in her dropped a dead baby bird which was upsetting. We disposed of it in the bin. Obviously we don't know if he found it dead, or whether it was alive and he killed it, we have no way of knowing. Anyway ever since this happened , he keeps going back to the spot where he was when I called him in and lying there looking mournful and moping around, won't come in when called etc. Is it just that the bird has disappeared and he's looking for it ??

OP’s posts: |
StillMedusa Sat 16-May-20 15:57:36

You stole his precious find !!!
He's probably hoping it will reappear smile I wouldn't worry , he'll get over it eventually. We often have deaths in the garden as have birds nesting and the dog hunts for the bodies for ages sad

raspberryk Sat 16-May-20 16:25:36

It's his working instinct and I doubt he killed it they have such soft mouths, my old Springer brought me a live baby bird once not a mark on it.
If our sprocker does anything like this we make a fuss of her and get her to bring it to us and swap for a treat. As a result she will often go find any old thing, could even be something out of the washing and bring it to us for a swap grin

hopeforlucky3 Sat 16-May-20 16:27:30

I remember years ago my cat brought me a "present". I wasn't quick enough and my lurcher gobbled the mouse in one confused

PolloDePrimavera Sat 16-May-20 16:32:57

They do have a prey instinct, cockers were trained to be gun dogs. So admittedly not great for you or the bird (!) but not strange.

Babyroobs Sat 16-May-20 16:37:36

Thanks all for the insight. Hopefully he will get over it soon then ! And good to know he may not have killed it, he is so gentle and loving.

OP’s posts: |
Moondust001 Sat 16-May-20 16:43:39

If he normally "works" (not all "working" cockers actually work, but they are generally very active), and you've been in lockdown, he's probably missing his "job". It sounds like you maybe haven't realised that, so he found a job for himself, and is waiting for the "job" to happen again!

I would suggest that you think about what has changed in his life during this time and try to recreate it for him a bit more. Or, since he's a youngster, have some fun finding him new "work" to do as he's young enough to pick up new training quickly.


Babyroobs Sat 16-May-20 16:49:40

Moondust - he doesn't normally work, he's had a lot more company and stimulation than normal as we've all been working or studying from home so someone around all the time, lots of extra walks etc although he may be missing his gang of mates that he goes out with when our dog walker takes him out. Might try and find him some extra activities to do.

OP’s posts: |
tabulahrasa Sat 16-May-20 16:57:47

He’s hoping it’ll appear back, or a new one will arrive...

Dogs are optimists, lol.

Babyroobs Sat 16-May-20 17:00:33

tabulahrasa - I can't believe he's still moping about it 3 days later !! I thought dogs had very short term memories?

OP’s posts: |
Moondust001 Sat 16-May-20 17:00:46

All working dogs "work" - you just maybe don't notice it. But that is why I used the inverted commas. I have a Border Collie, he's not employed as a herder, but if I don't find him work to do he finds it for himself. And it's not always been work I might approve of!

The lockdown is a different experience, and working dogs are especially sensitive to change. Mine is definitely missing his pals, as he doesn't see his "best friend" at all right now, and many others are not around. And despite the fact that we already live in a quiet place, in the first weeks he became very "sound reactive", barking at any sound at all, when he would normally have ignored everything. But he has lots of work to do, and keeping him to his routine of, for example, putting his toys back in his toy chests, has calmed him back down.

TemoraryUsername Sat 16-May-20 17:02:04

He probably didn't go in a nest and get it- it had likely fallen out of a nest or had already been predated.

Moondust001 Sat 16-May-20 17:03:19

* I thought dogs had very short term memories?*

Not any dog bred to work! One of my previous collies once totally, and unusually, disappeared during a walk. I eventually tracked him down having a tasty meal (that he knew he shouldn't be eating!). He went back to the same spot for several weeks to check if there were any more hamburgers going....

tabulahrasa Sat 16-May-20 17:03:23

“I can't believe he's still moping about it 3 days later !!”

One of mine found dry cat food on my mum’s neighbours doorstep when he was about 8 months old... he checked that doorstep religiously every time we came in and out of her house until he died...

They have real long memories for some things, lol

Booboostwo Sat 16-May-20 17:12:41

A nice example of operant conditioning. This spot gave him a very rewarding treat so now he goes back in the hopes it will happen again. Behavior that is rewarded is strengthened, in action.

fivedogstofeed Sat 16-May-20 17:14:28

I thought dogs had very short term memories
One of my sprollies stops without fail at a house where she saw a cat, on a walk we normally do a couple of times a year. The first time was 12 years ago.

raspberryk Sat 16-May-20 17:27:55

Working dogs have fantastic memories, I agree with the working thing, you may not notice it but your dog will be working when out on walks maybe more so with the dog walker. We make ours work by getting her to walk right next to us off lead, or allowing her to sniff around and tell her to "find it", returning to us where we cross roads, coming back and sitting to allow cyclists to pass, waiting at corners or roads we will cross, playing ball, hiding from her and getting her to find us.
Anything at home we ask her to do is work I.e. sit and wait somewhere.
We have seriously been considering some kind of agility or flyball or something as she loves to have a job to do and loves the kids play tunnel ha.

Babyroobs Sat 16-May-20 18:02:47

Yes come to think of it my older dog always stops and barks at a particular house on our road where a huge dog used to live many years ago. It frightened her when she was young and even though I've not seen it there for many years she clearly still remembers it spooking her.

OP’s posts: |
vanillandhoney Sat 16-May-20 18:32:36

You stole is snack grin

Mine has an amazing memory when it comes to anything edible!

pigsDOfly Sun 17-May-20 00:26:38

Oh no, dogs will keep returning to the same spot if they think it's worth their while.

My dog is very far from a working breed and I've had many examples of this with her.

If she finds something like cat poo on one of the places we sometimes walk she'll keep trying to go back to the same spot for days.

She gets quite upset if she loses a ball somewhere and can't find it and will return over and over looking for it.

Some time ago she lost her ball in the undergrowth on one of our walks and went back several times looking for it. Never seen her so pleased when she managed to unearth it after more than a week; she just had to dig a bit more deeply into the bushes to find it.

It was definitely her ball, unusual size and she'd had it for ages and it was pretty easy to identify it, also she won't touch a ball belonging to another dog for some reason. I imagine they don't smell of her.

Your dog probably found the dead bird and is probably hoping he'll strike lucky again.

F0RESTGRUMP Sun 17-May-20 00:30:58

One trial learning.

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