Home > Dog Behavior, Fun Stuff, Pet Ponderings > Hey dog. It’s just a topiary.

Hey dog. It’s just a topiary.

September 17, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

I don’t know about you, but I always find it really interesting to observe how a dog reacts to something new in it’s environment.

When the neighbor behind us hangs her laundry on the line, Jasper will stand at the fence and bark like the world is on fire at the sheets blowing in the wind. Lady is completely unfazed by the vacuum, and will even lie there as it approaches, but Daisy and Jasper run and hide in my bedroom until I am done.

When I walked dogs at our local animal shelter, I would always watch to see what new things each would find interesting, or in some cases, frightening. The fire hydrants we had on the shelter property were always of great interest to the young dogs. It might have been the fact that they were painted white with black polka dots (like a Dalmatian) that caused so many varied reactions. So many found them to be quite puzzling and frightening the first time they encountered them. They would back away from them in fear, or give them a wide berth, as if they feared it would attack them if they got too close. I would often knock my knuckle on the metal to show them it wasn’t alive. That usually seemed to settle their fears enough to check them out with some curiosity.

We had something else on the shelter property that also drew a lot of attention from the new dogs. A topiary in the shape of a dog (similar to the one below).

It always made me giggle to see some of the dogs’ reactions to it.  Some just peed on it. Others ignored it or gave it a cursory sniff and moved on. But it was the dogs  who would approach it with a wagging tail that were the most fun to watch. These are the ones who would  greet the dog nose to nose or would sniff its underside or back-end to try to get its scent. They were also the ones would greet the it with a play bow or two. Some even tried to engage it in a game of chase.

I can’t imagine what they were thinking when the topiary dog did not return the favor. Did they thing the dog was anti-social? Rude? Or, did they finally realize this dog was not a dog after all? I guess will always wonder.

There is so much you can learn about a dog, and dog body language, by watching them approach something new in their environment. It makes me wonder… What new or unusual things has your dog found interesting in his/her environment? How did he/she react?

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  1. Jen
    September 17, 2012 at 10:49 PM

    A garden along Elka and my regular walk used to have a small statue in it of Red Riding Hood with a wolf behind her. The first time she noticed it, Elka stopped mid stride, and backed up to stare at the statue.

    We also had a slight change in our walk route, due to construction. Along the new route is a hedge with an arch cut through it that the house’s front walk runs through. The first time she noticed that arch, she took a long hard look through it, like, “Hey, what’s that?”

  2. September 18, 2012 at 6:20 AM

    I put up a scarecrow in the backyard this weekend and the dogs had a difficult time figuring out what it was, they didn’t bark at it they just sat and stared at it, waiting for it to move!

    • Mel
      September 18, 2012 at 6:32 AM

      That is so funny! I love that they just sat and stared at it. Dogs are so funny sometimes. BTW – The scarecrow is adorable. 🙂

  3. September 18, 2012 at 7:51 AM

    My neighbor put one of those large cement Deers in his front yard and Max barked at it from inside until I brought him out to meet it. He dragged me across the street to get to it barking the whole time. After sniffing all over he peed on it. My female Lacy didn’t even pay attention to it.

  4. September 18, 2012 at 9:26 AM

    Its funny how different dogs react to the same thing. Every year we set up Halloween decorations, each dog reacts differently. The dogs’ reactions seem to be fairly consistent each year though.

  5. September 18, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    Every dog I’ve ever had reacted to dog sculptures or statues. One sniff is usually enough to convince them there’s nothing to smell here and move along.

    Cherie notices every new thing on a walk. Garbage cans, signs, litter, lawn chairs–if it wasn’t there on the last walk it attracts her notice and can scare her. Generally I’m a pretty observant person so I’ll know what items will spook her. But my husband is pretty oblivious and he’s continually surprised at her reactions.

    BTW, I was lamenting the fact that no one knows how to spell the word faze or unfazed anymore. Thank you for restoring my faith in humanity. 🙂

  6. September 18, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    Oh gosh, what didn’t Shiva react to? That’s a better question. Rocks, leaves, plastic bags… Garden gnomes were some of the most infamous reactions. That and the Dalmatian statues one of our neighbours had up in their front yard. Basically, if Shiva hadn’t seen something before, she didn’t like it, and she was going to make sure everyone knew it.

    These days she still starts when introduced to something new but luckily she (usually) keeps her cool. Now she just needs to get in a good sniff and we can move on. Although, the other day we were walking and a child stood near the road with a balloon in his hands. I guess Shiva has never seen a balloon before as she started barking and causing a fuss. More than a little embarrassing. Since I could hardly suggest she be allowed to sniff the balloon, we just got the heck out of there.

  7. Lauren @ Life With Desmond
    September 18, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    Oh gosh! Desmond seemingly thinks everyone and everything is a dog. And he either wants to play with it or chase it. 🙂

  8. g2-181676a647fc89e55aedc3f4eed1e54c
    September 18, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    One of my dogs (not a Poodle) barks at every new thing/toy/device she sees. They she play bows to it, followed by much sniffing. All this takes a good 15-20 minutes before she gets bored with it.

  9. M McCown
    September 18, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    My beloved Boxer, Rebel (passed away in May) would go mad at the sight of the 3 wooden bear statues a neighbor had on the front lawn. One evening he bolted breaking the lead and ran headfirst into the set, scattering them like bowling pins. The neighbors automatic lights came on, flooding the yard with bright illumination. Rebel looked around, seemed content that he thwarted the “threat” and came trotting back to my side. He never bothered with them again. My other 2 Boxers (Diego and Roman) always raise the hugh and cry when we walk past a mural in a local park that has mosaic tile dog sculptures. The run up and sniff at the wall dogs and no matter how many times we visit, they do the same. What lovely, funny creatures!

  10. September 18, 2012 at 6:08 PM

    Rita totally reacts to dog (or any animal) scultures/statues. We were in northern California with her a few months back in a little town near where Mark Twain wrote the short story about “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” – so there are BIG frog statues everywhere. She was terrified of them. Had to really work to convince her they were not going to harm us.

    Our previous dog, Bailey, was afraid of anything out of place. E.g. she had no fear of BBQs normally, but someone abandoned one in the park one day, and she would not stop howling at it! She knew it wasn’t supposed to be there.

  11. September 18, 2012 at 9:09 PM

    Ha ha ha! A few years ago, my dad thought he would be funny and he bought us this plastic statue that was the back half of a beagle. I guess it was supposed to look like it was digging a hole or something. Anyway, we took it home and put it in one corner of the living room and sort of forgot about it. Later, we started fostering Greyhounds, and I swear, nearly every new dog had to walk over and sniff that dog butt! It cracked us up!

    • Mel
      September 18, 2012 at 11:12 PM

      That totally cracks me up Carrie! I guess it was your own version of our dog topiary, only you had the half dogs are most interested in. LOL! 🙂

  12. Craig
    September 19, 2012 at 2:38 AM

    My room mate has had her dog for almost 2 years now and it always seems interested in new things when added to its environment. She decided this year to now get a kitten, the dog is absolutely afraid of the poor little thing, he will keep about a metre distance and will not even go to the other side of the house if the kitten is there. The other day he just circled the kitten as if something bad was going to happen and as soon as a person walks into the room the dog just clings. Dogs, such loyal and interesting animals. I like your blog and awesome pic, not many people include images when describing something.

    User 14422465

  13. September 19, 2012 at 9:43 AM

    Statues make Gambit mad. He has to do a bit of growling, backing up the first few times he sees it, then eventually some sniffing and learns to ignore it. We have to go through this process for every statue we see, even if they are six inches tall.

  14. September 19, 2012 at 7:57 PM

    I thought my new doggie, who had lived in an indoor/outdoor kennel (not cage, kennel run but no socializing) might be ready to come into the living room with us. She went nuts over the TV, barking, growling, barking. Poor thing. I will have to do some gradual introduction. She has been barking at her reflection in the windows as well.

  15. Craig
    September 23, 2012 at 11:58 PM

    My roommate has had her dog for almost 2 years; the place has become his territory. She decided this year to now get a kitten, the dog is absolutely afraid of the poor little thing, he will keep about a metre distance and will not even go to the other side of the house if the kitten is there. The other day he just circled the kitten as if something bad was going to happen and as soon as a person walks into the room the dog just clings. Dogs are loyal and interesting animals.

    I like your blog and awesome picture, not many people include images when describing something. I like how you introduce your topic with a question and highlighted it bold to indicate what your blog will be about, also great idea leaving a question to open up the topic for discussion. Very easy to read and flowed from one point to the other.

    User 14422465

    • Mel
      September 24, 2012 at 8:21 PM

      How funny that a kitten would be the one thing the dog would be afraid of Craig. So funny what some dogs are fearful of sometimes.
      Thank you for your kind comments. I love taking pictures, so I love sharing as many as I can. 🙂

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