do dogs learn from cats?

I’m doing this in poll form because I don’t think there’s a definitive answer to the question, but I want to know people’s experiences.

When I was little, I used to walk neighbors’ dogs for extra money and help look after their other pets whenever I was needed. Some of the dogs I walked, after doing their business, would kick the dirt behind them as though they were burying it. Others didn’t. One day, I went over all the dogs I knew who did and all those who didn’t and realized that, at least out of the dogs I walked (five or six of them total) Only the ones who lived with a cat kicked the dirt behind them.

I thought the two might be related, but still thought it was probably a coincidence.

Then, I got my own cat. Almost immediately, my dog started kicking the dirt behind her after doing her business.

The odd thing, though, is that I don’t think dogs normally SEE cats in the litterbox. It’s not like they’re picking up something they see every day. It doesn’t make sense that a dog should see a cat in a litterbox once and think, “bury my poop! good idea!” Even if they did see it, why would they pick up behaviors from a cat? Dogs are smart, but I can’t imagine they have the capacity to see something and decide that it’s a better way of doing things than the one they already use. Even if they do have that capacity, why pick up this particular behavior? why not something else?

The second odd thing is that, after that dog died (prematurely and unexpectedly), we got another (not as good) dog. From probably the first time I walked the new dog, she did the kicking dirt thing. There’s very very little chance that she saw my cat in the litterbox becuase he’s an indoor/outdoor cat (yes, dangerous, I know. My next cat will be indoor only.) and uses a patch of dirt on the side of the house. Perhaps the new dog lived with another cat before she lived with us.

Or perhaps my theory is just bunk and will be disproven here.

boo, and becuase I’m stupid, I forgot the question part.

Does your dog kick dirt behind him/her after doing his/her business, and do you also have a cat?

Well, MY dog has learned:

When the window is open and the cat is on the other side of the window (Setting on the window seal) Do not, I repeat do NOT stick your wet little nose up against the screen. As kitty will soon make hamburger out of your snout!!

It’s quite funniny to see a 1/2 pound kitty make a 45 pound dog cry.

But I’m evil like that. :smiley:

My dog kicked the dirt behind her after doing her business before we got a cat.

Had another dog who did the same thing, and we never had a cat.

I think it is instinct to either cover or spread their scent, I can’t remember which, but I know I read it somewhere.

You’re welcome for this amazingly insightful and helpful post. :slight_smile:

Neither of our dogs that lived with cats kicked, although one did learn a useful trick: the cat was able to pull open the cupboard where we kept the cat food, and the dog was able to pull off the plastic lid from the can that had already been opened that morning. They’d work together and split the profits.

Both my dogs kick dirt. It’s a macho (or macha, some high status females do it) territorial thing. Your dog wasn’t learning from the cat, he got a bit more emphatically territorial because another animal moved into his house. They do it to disseminate their marking. He would’ve done the same thing if you’d brought in another dog, or maybe even a bird.
Side note - notice how many small dogs (especially intact ones) lift their legs much higher than big dogs when marking something; the higher the mark, the more important dogs consider it.
I’ve had dog & cat households for over 20 years…the dogs learn where the cat food is & the cat poop is - kittie krunchies, ya know. :stuck_out_tongue: I don’t think I’ve ever noticed them learning from the cat, though.
Cats seem to learn from dogs. At least, they can get very attuned to dog body language and become more dog-like.

My current cat Elvis is best friends with my little Rottie and they often play and nap together. Like this. He’s learned my big boy doesn’t care for close Cat Proximity. They sniff noses in greeting, but if Elvis tries to curl up next to Coop or playfully bat his face, he gets grrr’d at, so he doesn’t bother any more.

We figured our dog had been raised with a cat, because she will lick her feet and “wash” her face. She doesn’t kick dirt behind her after she does her business, but she’s very arthritic now.

Maybe the dog kicks the dirt behind him because he senses there’s another animal in the vicinity, and has to “protect” his scent more than he did before? Just a theory. I’ve never had a dog and cat at the same time, but my old dog didn’t do this.

Over the years we had four dogs (two females that we didn’t have long, and a male & female we had 11 and 15 years), and all but one lived with cats. None of them did the kicking of dirt you’re talking about, not even the two who spend a decade plus with cats.

Yours does this too? :eek: Mine was doing it the other day. I almost included it, but I thought it had to be some kind of odd coindidence and it just sounded too crazy.

My dog is weird.

bonobo jones that makes a lot of sense! thank you.

For most of the years I was growing up, we had a dog who was allowed outside only on walks, and confined by a long chain, and a cat who was allowed to roam at will. Whenever the cat came back in the house, the dog would always drop whatever he was doing to go over to the cat and carefully sniff him down from head to tail. It was always amusing to watch the dog get the Scent Report from the cat.

My dog has never seen a cat and she occasionally kicks after going potty but not every time.

She also licks her feet and “washes” her face all the time.

I think they learn it from TV :slight_smile:

It works the other way, too. My cats have learned to bark by listening to the neighboring dogs. Weird, that.

1.) Dogs instinctively kick dirt behind them after excreting. They don’t need cats to teach them. Our dog did it long before we got a cat.

2.) Our friend’s dog learned not to eat from our cat Maggie’s dish. She just barely tolerated his presence in the house, but when he dared eat out of her dish she went ballistic, and scratched him right across the nose. So, yes, a dog can learn from a cat. Painful lesson, though.

When I went to Venice a few years ago, I noticed dogs kicking after eliminating. Thing is, there’s no dirt in Venice for them to kick- they just kick against the stones of the pathways. I assumed that the people I saw walking their dogs there were residents of Venice. So it’s probably a hard behavior for a dog to un-learn.

We also have a dog that will wash like a cat. We have 4 cats, but none of our two male (neutered) dogs ‘kicks’ when they go.
Two of my cats will growl when the doorbell rings, or if they catch sight out the window of someone close to the house. So many traits apparently are similar in both species, or maybe they are learned. I have owned both dogs+cats for so long I don’t have an inkling.

Well, dog can certainly learn some things from cats- our dog, which we got as a puppy, was raised with cats and attempts to “play” with them in the way he percieves they “play” with him- he swats them in the head with his paw, exactly like a cat trying to scratch his nose.

My dog taught my cat to bark. The cat taught the dog to flip open a box of Milkbones. The dog dosen’t kick.