The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Poll

Dog (A) seems to be reacting to the possibility that dog (B) will view (A) as having been responsible, after it (B) has just been struck by play object (X)

Dog (A) knows it did it but, it doesn't know if dog (B) knows
4 (80%)
Dog (A) thinks dog (B) will be angry at it because (A) was playing with (X) when (B) was accidentally struck
0 (0%)
There is actually a spider (S) underneath dog (B) and dog (A) is terrified of spiders (it really is)
0 (0%)
Some other reason
1 (20%)
I am completetely misinterpreting the body language of the black dog
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 5

Voting closed: 07/10/2013 05:42:35

Author Topic: Are there any documented cases of canines using objects as weapons?  (Read 7418 times)

Offline Bonaparte

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 23
    • View Profile
Hullo,

I have become convinced that I have seen my dog use a found object as a weapon.


It used a rope toy to reprimand a more dominant (though smaller) dog that wanted to stroll through it's playing area.



I was fortunate enough to be filming with my ipad at the time (because I have not observed it happen again) and have been able to study the event in detail.



I would very much like to know if there are any documented cases of canines using manipulated objects as 'weapons' in the way some primates and perhaps elephants are said to do?
« Last Edit: 01/09/2013 14:09:30 by Bonaparte »


 

Offline alancalverd

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4721
  • Thanked: 155 times
  • life is too short to drink instant coffee
    • View Profile
I haven't seen actual weapon use, but my dog will deliberately tease others into chasing her by "offering" a stick or toy and backing away. If the victim doesn't respond to the stick held in her mouth, she will drop it in front of him and snatch it as he goes to pick it up.

It's difficult to imagine a weapon that (a) a dog could handle and (b) would be more effective at close range than teeth and claws (humans use dogs as weapons, after all!). The "rope trick" seems to be the optimum, and only of limited application and availability. 
 

Offline Bonaparte

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 23
    • View Profile
Yes the stick trick is definately using the stick as a tool in my opinion, to get the other dogs attention. I have a friend who's dog whacks visitors on the legs with his favorite stick when they walk in the house - though this is again probably more an attention gaining device then an attack of any sort.

They are remarkably dextrous at manipulating objects and the whole point of using a weapon is that the wielder can remain at some distance.

The attached gif gives an idea of what I am talking about but due to the upload restrictions, it is little more then a slide show - it looks like he is shaking the thing rather then carefully lining it up as he seems to be doing in real time.

A much better quality slow motion sequence I uploaded to youtube.

I would really like someone more qualified then I to tell me if this dog is actually using a 'weapon' or not because I thought only primates did that.
« Last Edit: 01/09/2013 14:09:53 by Bonaparte »
 

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1441
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
I don't think it's possible to tell from a single incident. Dogs can be very clever (some have remarkable memories), but it's hard to tell quite what the motivation is for shaking the toy here, and impossible to tell whether hitting the other dog with the toy was intentional. It's very easy to anthropomorphise animal behaviour.

Even if this happened on several occasions, each time with the same result, I still doubt one could be sure why.

As Feynman said, "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool".
« Last Edit: 01/09/2013 21:49:16 by dlorde »
 

Offline CliffordK

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6321
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • Site Moderator
    • View Profile
I would have to ask how the black dog plays with the toy, and plays with the little dog.  Spinning the toy appears to be a playful gesture. 

Dogs usually are vocal with their aggression, as well as showing teeth.  Having something in their mouth limits the ability to vocalize.  They will try to keep a choise morsel to themselves, but may have difficulty growling, nipping, and protecting their treasure.

I would also find it odd that a dog would allow an enemy to approach to the side.
 

Offline Bonaparte

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 23
    • View Profile
The tendency to anthropomorphise, especially if an animal is much loved is very strong which I why I am after an expert opinion.

My dog and I had been staying at a friends house. He has two small dogs, a jack russel and a chihuahua (who is the 'pack leader'), a sterilised 12 year old female. I do not allow my dog to be aggressive and when there were arguments between the dogs he would always lose because I would bring him under control.

The incident happened after we had been there two or three weeks, I had found an old toy in the boot of the car and tossed it out to him to play with.
The chihuahua has probably just woken up and is on it's way down to the garden shed where everybody else is.

There were no more fights after this, the two small dogs even stopped howling whenever the phone rang, which is something they had always done according to my friend.

If I am not breaking any rules I posted a short segment of the events leading up to and those immediately after on youtube, with a link to a very slow motion view of the strike.

(Link removed by poster - Sept 13)

I don't want to give the impression I am 'self promoting' but I feel this is a previously unobserved canine behavior. The dog does play with the toy by spinning it around and several times hits himself with it.
« Last Edit: 04/09/2013 04:35:00 by Bonaparte »
 

Offline CliffordK

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6321
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • Site Moderator
    • View Profile
I think he was just playing and the little dog got in the way. 

Dogs can be selfish and not wish to share their toys.  It is quite possible your dog could learn to use the toy's swinging properties to play keep-away.
 

Offline Bonaparte

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 23
    • View Profile
Yes that is certainly a very plausible explanation and indeed a very likely one.

I have a friend who watched and said the leadership of the pack changed in those few seconds, which brings me to my question actually, now I have set the scene a little.

I don't think the tendency of humans to breed them from intelligent stock could make a difference. Surely the timescale there is way too short but...

How likely is it (millions of years after primates achieved it), that dogs may have developed the capacity, to reason that an object can be manipulated and used in an attack on another animal, in such a way as to lessen the personal risk that would be normally involved?

ie. could dogs today be getting as smart early primates, about the time they started using tools and weapons?
« Last Edit: 02/09/2013 10:54:47 by Bonaparte »
 

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1441
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
The longer video looks to me entirely consistent with a dog playing with a toy (note the tail wagging all the time) by shaking it, and a small dog accidentally coming within range of the flailing toy. The toy seems to be shaken in the same way throughout; I don't see any change with the arrival of the smaller dog.
 

Offline Bonaparte

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 23
    • View Profile
indeed but the slow motion tells a different story doesn't it?

I thought the same thing at first "oh funny, little dog gets hit". Perfect youtube stuff. It was only after I started making the vid and slowing the thing down and viewing it many times I suddenly had the strong feeling that I was missing something important.

The opinion of intelligent, objective and rational people is very valuable to me, I suppose because it is so rare and i'm getting a bit old for any personal crusade lark.  :)
« Last Edit: 02/09/2013 09:47:06 by Bonaparte »
 

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1441
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
indeed but the slow motion tells a different story doesn't it?

Does it? what makes you think so?
 

Offline Bonaparte

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 23
    • View Profile
...The toy seems to be shaken in the same way throughout; I don't see any change with the arrival of the smaller dog.

Hmmm, well a few things make me think so but, the most obvious to me is that when he is "shaking" the toy, it travels in an almost horizontal plane - hitting him on the sides but, when the other dog arrives the swing is almost perfectly perpendicular. It swings in a plane at roughly 90 degrees to the plane it travelled in when he was swinging it before.
« Last Edit: 02/09/2013 19:27:02 by Bonaparte »
 

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1441
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
...most obvious to me is that when he is "shaking" the toy, it travels in an almost horizontal plane - hitting him on the sides but, when the other dog arrives the swing is almost perfectly perpendicular. It swings in a plane at roughly 90 degrees to the plane it travelled in when he was swinging it before.
The toy is also swung vertically well before the smaller dog appears. To me the shaking looks pretty random. I think you're reading more into it than it merits.
 

Offline Bonaparte

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 23
    • View Profile
I may very well be, that is what I need to know.

Primitive weapons I think, were all gravity assisted to some degree. To be most effective they were swung in a perpendicular arc, I am pretty sure. It's a characteristic of weapons that rely on their mass to be effective that the impact is at the end of a downward swing.

It seems to me that when a dog is "shaking" something the thing moves from side to side, randomly. It does not arc in an almost perfect ellipse in front of the animal, in a perpendicular plane with the dogs nose at one focus and the other dogs nose on the downward trajectory. So whatever he is doing to cause the other dog to get struck it is not 'shaking'.

Also the dogs attention is wholly on the other animal just before impact. It even seems to make a minor adjustment just before impact. If it was an accidental hit why would the dogs attention be focussed so completely on the target?

Immediately after the impact the dog starts to go into a submissive posture (this is after all the 'pack leader' it just hit), but then relaxes when it sees the other dog is dazed and confused. If it was an accidental, random hit, why would the dog even be aware it had happened let alone prepare to appease?

Toys do not last long with my dog so a few days later the thing was chewed to bits and gone. I haven't got him another one yet, maybe I ought to.

Thanks for taking the time to examine this, your opinion is valuable to me.

Any animal behaviorists out there?


 

Offline Bonaparte

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 23
    • View Profile
If dogs, over the millennia have developed the intellectual capacity of earlier primates, then where are the primates now?

Can we expect to see them drawing diagrams for each other soon?

Anthropologists studying primates looking for insights into early hominids would be studying animals far more advanced then the primates of the time.

Perhaps they would be better off studying modern dog behavior.
« Last Edit: 03/09/2013 04:24:14 by Bonaparte »
 

Offline CliffordK

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6321
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • Site Moderator
    • View Profile
I just don't see what you're seeing in the film.

The dog was playing with the toy before the little dog arrived on the scene.  And had in fact swung it in a loop at least once before the little dog came.  Nor did there seem to be any repeated aggression against the little dog.

Dogs, however, do occasionally bump people with sticks, hoping to find playmates.

As far as primates, certainly not all primates are the great apes, so various monkeys could also evolve into a hominid-like niche.  Yes, the chimps and great apes have had 5 to 10 million years of evolution since the last common ancestor with humans.  But, that followed about 60 million years of evolution from proto-primates, so they may somewhat still resemble our ancestors.

The canines certainly have evolutionary advantages of numbers, and the close association with humans, as well as rudimentary communication with humans.  Perhaps future selective breeding will select "smart" and sociable dogs which could lead to increasing intelligence.  However, I believe that hands are very important to our intelligence.  Using the mouth as the primary grasping and manipulation appendage puts the dogs at a significant disadvantage from the primates.  Some animals such as raccoons, and even cats are better at manipulating stuff with their paws than dogs are.
 

Offline Bonaparte

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 23
    • View Profile
Ok I have to accept the opinion of experts.

I am suprised that no-one has asked the age of the dog, which would be a factor in critical analysis I would think. A young pup might do things out of simple curiosity, an older dog might have more serious intentions.

The dog is forbidden from showing aggression to other dogs, it is a therapeutic companion animal, a 6 year old labrador cross.

Cetaceans do not find the absence of hands to be detrimental to intelligence and elephants manage to manipulate objects very well using their noses, which I think is pretty smart.

So I will leave it to others but, just so you know the extent of my madness, here is what I see in the vid as a sequence of 5 stills.

1. Waiting: (other dog is approaching but off camera)
2. Avoidance: (dominant dog is getting close and is expecting the younger dog to get out of the way)
3. Focus: (the dog is looking directly at the other dog).
4. Submission: It has just "bit" the pack leader, has it got away with it? It is the last thing many dogs ever do)
5. Escape: No retaliation is forthcoming the pack has a new leader.
« Last Edit: 03/09/2013 07:12:48 by Bonaparte »
 

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1441
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Ok I have to accept the opinion of experts.
I'm no expert in dog behaviour, but I have some experience in critical thinking, and a little knowledge of animal behaviour in general. It seems to me that you're drawing inferences and attributing motivations that are simply unjustified from this evidence. Neither CliffordK nor I interpret that video as you do; to us it looks mundane; to you extraordinary. Dogs, like other mammals, already have an effective and mutually understood set of body language and signals for establishing dominance, displaying aggression or submission, etc. They have no need to improvise awkward and confusing ways to communicate.
 

Offline Bonaparte

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 23
    • View Profile
Ok, thanks to both of you.

It is a bit much to expect someone to believe that this dog has used a 'weapon' because its human companion forbids it from initiating aggression (and it figured the humans would think it was an accident), without very convincing evidence.

I acquiesce

I hope you haven't felt I have wasted your tiime
 

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1441
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
It is a bit much to expect someone to believe that this dog has used a 'weapon' because its human companion forbids it from initiating aggression (and it figured the humans would think it was an accident), without very convincing evidence.
That, as it requires a more complex 'theory of mind' than dogs are known for, seems particularly far fetched...

Quote
I acquiesce
The important thing is whether you are persuaded by our arguments or not.

Quote
I hope you haven't felt I have wasted your time
Not at all. It was quite interesting.
 

Offline Bonaparte

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 23
    • View Profile

That, as it requires a more complex 'theory of mind' than dogs are known for...


The whole point of the post in 15 words, I wish I had thought of it :(
 

Offline Bonaparte

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 23
    • View Profile

Quote
I acquiesce
The important thing is whether you are persuaded by our arguments or not.

well...no to be honest because even when the dog swings the thing high, it always goes behind his head. When the little dog gets hit is the only time it swings in front of his head, a radical change in polarization, which to me is an important difference.

So there is still uncertainty in my mind.

I have deleted the link from my above post as it is no longer required for the discussion.

I would like the 5 frame gif to stay though because it shows a 30kg, six-year-old male, non-desexed, labrador/staffordshire bull terrier cross (who fears nothing but the vet), preparing to submit and appease a 3kg, 12-year-old, sterilised female chihuahua - which I think is interesting in itself.
« Last Edit: 04/09/2013 04:45:19 by Bonaparte »
 

Offline Bonaparte

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 23
    • View Profile
Domestic dog reacting to imagined threat.

This is my favorite photo of my dog at the moment. I call it:

"stimulus/response - stimulus/response - /response.....oh....wait a sec"

Thanks guys, this is a great site and your radio show is great as well.

This will be my last post but if anybody out there reads this and would like to discuss it, please post the below picture, with a circle around the location of the stimulus (cause) for that response (effect).

Thanks again everybody.

I have left what I hope will be an interesting and amusing poll for your members and guests.
« Last Edit: 07/09/2013 05:46:17 by Bonaparte »
 

Offline Bonaparte

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 23
    • View Profile
Oh sorry guys, I see from the Youtube view reports that you haven't looked at the slow motion vid:

Here is a brief rundown of what happens.

http://www.labradaffy.eu.pn/analysis.pdf [nofollow]
 

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1441
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Here is a brief rundown of what happens.
It's more your interpretation of what happens.

Repetition doesn't make it any more plausible.

I fear you may have an unhealthy obsession with this unremarkable event ;)

p.s. your poll question and answers are loaded (i.e. not unbiased). I disagree with the premise and also would select 'I am probably misinterpreting some or all of the body language of the dogs' if it was an available option.
« Last Edit: 09/09/2013 00:38:58 by dlorde »
 

The Naked Scientists Forum


 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums