Pooper Scooper
February 4, 2005 10:09 PM   Subscribe

What goes through a dog's mind when it sees you picking up their shit? What goes through a dog's mind when it smells human pee while out on a walk?
posted by vito90 to Pets & Animals (30 answers total)
 
What goes through vito90's mind when (s)he's thinking up this question?
posted by krisjohn at 10:58 PM on February 4, 2005


Just trying to be one with the canine friend, man.
posted by vito90 at 11:00 PM on February 4, 2005


Can't say on Q2, vito. But, since I've found my new (stopgap) career as a dogwalker, re: Q1...

I'm not really sure where you're coming from, but I *think* you may be stemming from the POV that dogs might poo territorially like they pee (males, at least)? In my recent experience, this is not the case, for two reasons:

1) They seem to be indifferent as to where they'll drop a load, hence, there's no territorial significance there

2) I've yet to see (among the roughly 13 or so dogs I'm around daily/weekly) any dogs pay any mind to me bagging their junk. All of them (regardless of gender) just seem ready to move on and go about their business.

So I'd say, basically, nothing extraordinary. YMMV, of course. If you elaborate a bit, well, we'll see.
posted by Ufez Jones at 11:07 PM on February 4, 2005


My cats like to run into the bathroom as I close the door, and they often stare at me oddly when I take a piss. I've always wondered what they are thinking as I pee.
posted by mathowie at 11:08 PM on February 4, 2005 [1 favorite]


What goes through a dog's mind when it sees you picking up their shit?

What's in your pocket? Is that a treat? Is it? Is there a treat instead of that thing? Are we going to play now? Are we going to play now? Are we going to play now? Where's that treat? re we going to play now? Are we going to play now? Are we? Where's that treat? Is that the treat? Are we going to play now? Are we going to play now? Where's that treat?

What goes through a dog's mind when it smells human pee while out on a walk?

What's that smell? Do I know that guy? Do I? What's that? What is that? Is it familiar? Can I eat it? What is that? Who is that? Do you have a treat for me? Are we going to play now? Why won't you let me lick this? Are we going to play now? Are we? Are we? Are we? Where's that treat?
posted by werty at 11:11 PM on February 4, 2005 [10 favorites]


When I take my dogs to the dog park, sure, they don't pay me any mind when I clean after them. But if we are on a walk, and they're on a leash and have to wait for me, I have noticed them giving me the big stink-eye while I bag the turds. What prehistoric caveman ever did that? I never considered the territory marking angle because I agree that is what the pee's for.

As for the pee, I read once that when a dog smells another dog's pee, they can ascertain all sorts of useful facts. How long ago the dog was there, if it is male or female and if female whether or not in heat, etc. But depending on where you might be walking, well you know as well as I do that dudes will piss anywhere, and what might a dog think about that if they came across it?
posted by vito90 at 11:15 PM on February 4, 2005


Also Matt, my cat does the same thing. FASCINATED by urination.
posted by vito90 at 11:20 PM on February 4, 2005


I can't speak for dogparks, as my experience there is pretty limited, but I do know that a certain segment of dogs - and this is actually gender based, in my experience, towards males - need a bit of a trot before they dump, and then feel great and want to run a bit afterwards, so restricting them to the leash kind of hinders that. This is especially noticable based on the leash, i.e. those that have the retractable leashes will take off afterwards, those that are used to normal, static leashes and know they can't, kind of wait impatiently for the 'ready, set, go'.
posted by Ufez Jones at 11:31 PM on February 4, 2005


I don't buy the line that dog turds are not territorial.

Dogs have anal glands - I know this, from first hand experience of what happens when they malfunction. What are the glands for if not some kind of scent marking? And dogs are interested in other dogs' shit (all kinds of shit, in fact, but definitely other dogs' shit).

The reason your dog doesn't care when you clean up after them is that honestly, and I say this as a dog person who loves dogs, they're just not capable of that kind of reasoning.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:50 PM on February 4, 2005


Matt, our cats are (dangerously) fascinated by the male pee--in fact I've had to be careful to redirect the stream to avoid the curious little beasts--but they are quickly distracted by the much more interesting flushing process.

Sorry to be off topic.
posted by lackutrol at 3:10 AM on February 5, 2005


I think that their instincts haven't prepared them for either of these odd flows of water.
posted by lackutrol at 3:14 AM on February 5, 2005


My cats like to run into the bathroom as I close the door, and they often stare at me oddly when I take a piss. I've always wondered what they are thinking as I pee.

Maybe "where are the splinters?"

My partner's dog barks loudly any time I shut a bathroom (or any other, but especially a bathroom) door in his face, but since he's a sheltie, I think he's just following his shepherding instincts. He accompanies me everywhere I go in the house, often walking between my legs. I doubt that there is anything like thought involved, just some bizarre, misplaced, annoying but occasionally endearing sense of responsibility.

He always seems to defecate in the neighbor's yard, so I'd like to infer some thought behind that, but I'd probably be wrong.
posted by anapestic at 5:07 AM on February 5, 2005


werty: LMAO !
posted by lobstah at 6:29 AM on February 5, 2005


IANAV, or Temple Grandin, but I doubt dogs devote much, if any, brainpower to "why?" questions in general. werty's read seems pretty accurate to me.

vito90, re "pee-mail" -- I remember reading that dogs can gather similar info from dog turds, too. (See also the "nice-ta-meetcha" butt sniff -- I think this is where those glands come in, IANJS.) Dogs don't seem to pay nearly as much attention to the calling cards left by other species (at least, my dogs don't and my neighborhood is full of possibilities) so I'm guessing their onboard sensors are calibrated for dog-products only. Human pee is just another thread in the rich tapestry of smells. Might be different if the dog is familiar with the human and the pee, I don't know.

So who's ready for breakfast? Sausage links and hot lemonade!
posted by vetiver at 6:53 AM on February 5, 2005


Also Matt, my cat does the same thing. FASCINATED by urination.

When I was in high school, my mother's black and grey-striped coon cat came up behind me while I was peeing and quickly took a swipe at my urine stream. I was very surprised to see a cat's head and paw appear from between my legs while I was indisposed. And Chuck the Cat didn't like it when I held him over the sink and rinsed his paw.

I hope I got all of it off because he shook his paw a few times and went back into the linen closet to nap.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:53 AM on February 5, 2005


I'd say werty got it.

My cat is also intrigued by urination, and will meow outside the bathroom and swipe her paw under the door if she's not let in with the pee-er...
posted by mdn at 7:37 AM on February 5, 2005


Dogs have anal glands - I know this, from first hand experience of what happens when they malfunction.

My sister and I had to take the dog to the vet once by ourselves. The vet was so impressed he gave us a play-by-play of everything, including expressing the dog's anal glands. Somehow we both maintained straight faces when he turned thepaper towel to us and said something like, "See? It's a brown, runny solution." This has become code for stating the painfully obvious in our house.
posted by yerfatma at 7:55 AM on February 5, 2005


werty got it, definitely : >

but how about when dogs eat other dog's shit?
posted by amberglow at 8:03 AM on February 5, 2005


OH HEY ARE YOU THE THING THAT CRAPPED BY THE GAS STATION

YEAH DID YOU LIKE THAT

IT MADE A LOT OF SENSE TO ME

(source)
posted by breath at 8:46 AM on February 5, 2005


I don't think there are any dogs here capable of answering your questions, so I'm afraid they must remain unanswered (making this thread nothing but chatfilter speculation). Also, your presumption that dogs have "minds" is questionable.
posted by rushmc at 9:19 AM on February 5, 2005


amberglow: see this thread.

And what werty said.
posted by ambrosia at 9:51 AM on February 5, 2005


Rushmc, your opinions about dog related questions aren't worth the powder to blow them to hell. Please stay out of those threads unless you have something constructive to add.
posted by vito90 at 9:58 AM on February 5, 2005


Whoa. Steady there. Rushmc raises some valid points, even if they don't quite count as answers. We may never know "what dogs think" or even "if dogs think."

Still, I'll add an anecdote to the pile. When I was housebreaking my old dog, it was very hard getting him to pee outside. Even once we trained him not to pee in the house, we'd let him out into the back yard -- before bed, say -- and he'd just keep holding it and holding it.

But if I went out into the backyard with him and took a leak in the bushes, he'd get the idea immediately. "Oh!" I used to imagine him saying to himself. "Peeing! That's what we're doing!" And he'd join right in.

Well, that's anthropomorphizing. Still, he made some connection between seeing me pee and peeing himself. That suggests to me that he would have recognized human pee and dog pee as similar.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:08 AM on February 5, 2005


ahh.
posted by amberglow at 10:11 AM on February 5, 2005


To be fair, my initial reaction was much like rushmc's, but on the other hand, it's fairly obvious from the outset that this isn't a question with a determinate answer, and I still think werty gave us the best 'feel' of an answer that we as humans can probably get to.

Someone mentioned Temple Grandin already, so if you're actually interested in "what animals think" I'd check out her books - by no means proof of any sort, but interesting insights and speculation.
posted by mdn at 10:36 AM on February 5, 2005


My dog uses a litter box, so sometimes her poops are hanging out for a few minutes before I go clean them up. She often walks up to her poop, sniffs it, then shakes her head as if to say "Hey, that's poop! Where'd that come from!" Then, when I go get it with a plastic baggie, she just wants to run around and try to eat the baggie, with or without the poop inside.

I'd say, for dogs, poop just becomes part of their environment, as if you were picking up a rock or a leaf.
posted by MrZero at 11:27 AM on February 5, 2005


a certain segment of dogs - and this is actually gender based, in my experience, towards males - need a bit of a trot before they dump, and then feel great and want to run a bit afterwards,

It is always very obvious when Fanny has just pooped. She'll come bursting through the door with joie de vivre.

Also, we have to restrain her when we are hiking and my partner stops to water the tree, otherwise she will get her nose right into the stream. She's not so interested at home.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:30 PM on February 5, 2005


Oldie but goodie: What is it like to Pee BE a Bat? (And a response, in pdf.)
posted by orthogonality at 1:42 PM on February 5, 2005


We trained our dog to go in only one area of the yard; he never did learn to lift his leg. I wonder if it's because he was prevented from being a player on the block.
posted by Feisty at 2:48 PM on February 5, 2005


"So I'd say, basically, nothing extraordinary. YMMV, of course. If you elaborate a bit, well, we'll see."

Your Mutt May Vary?
posted by ParisParamus at 3:04 PM on February 5, 2005


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