Conrad Lorenz’s pet bulldog Bully, having recognized and barked at the owner, did not get lost and ran further along the path, pretending that he was barking not at all at the owner, but at the neighbor’s dog. And a dog named Stacy learned to pretend to lame if, during a bike ride with the owner, he turned onto a road that she did not like. I am sure that any pet owner can recall similar examples from the life of pets.
By the way, Lorenz believed that a cat is an honest animal and does not know how to pretend. But the dog has learned – and this proves that the mental development of dogs is higher than cats.
Whether to agree with the statement of the great scientist is up to you. But there are “pretenders” not only among domestic animals, but also in the wild.
For example, anteater spiders have learned to steal ants (which, as the name suggests, spiders feed on) from anthills, but in such a way that the ants do not suspect something is wrong. The fact is that, penetrating into the anthill, the spider begins to move on six legs (like an ant), and holds two more in weight, like antennas. And when he catches and paralyzes prey, he pretends to drag his friend to the ant cemetery.
There are animals that can pretend to be dead, like opossums. Moreover, scientists have found that while the body of the opossum very reliably resembles a corpse, its brain works at a frantic pace. That is, pretense requires incredible intellectual effort and self-control.
However, there are animals that, on the contrary, pretend to be healthy, even if they are sick. For example, horses, especially those living in the wild, hide lameness to the last. After all, to show that you are sick and therefore vulnerable is to become a target for a predator.
Why do animals pretend?
If we take wild animals, everything is clear here: pretense for them is literally a matter of life and death. If you don’t pretend , you will be eaten – or you won’t be able to eat and you too will die. And what about pets? Why are they pretending? After all, they are not in danger of being eaten or starving to death!
Domestic animals for long centuries and millennia of existence side by side with people have learned to adapt to us and have studied a person up and down. And in a sense, they learned to train us no worse than we trained them. And if the things people call “pretending” are backed up, why not use them?
However, do not write off everything as a pretense. Before thinking, for example, that a dog is lame, “pretending” (because she noticed that when she is lame, she is treated differently: more caress and tasty food), you should still contact the veterinarian.
The pretense of our pets, even if it takes place, cannot be called manipulation in the negative sense that we usually put into this word. It’s just that if a person rewards a behavior, it will be more likely to occur.
And, in fact, it is the person who teaches the dog that what he calls “pretending” will be rewarded with attention and treats. And the dog is happy to try to please his beloved owner!