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Animal Behavior: Two Dogs And An Ice Cream

Anyone who's lived or bonded with dogs knows that they express their personalities in distinct ways. Once in a while, a video clip comes along that highlights this fact for us in an amusing way. Have a look at this video — it's less than a minute — published earlier this year and sent to me last week by a friend:

YouTube

I burst into laughter seeing Cooper's method of ice-cream consumption. Among my family and friends, my sweet tooth is well known, and watching these dogs I realized that while I endeavor to comport myself in public around treats with Daisy's self-restraint, the inner Barbara sometimes just wants to channel Cooper.

One important note: It's not a great idea to give more than a little ice cream to your dogs. Some dogs are lactose intolerant. In any case, there's a lot of sugar in ice cream, and chocolate should always be avoided. Daisy and Cooper's human companion clearly has done this before and, presumably, knows the dogs well enough to know that their digestive system does tolerate the dairy treat.

I asked canine behavioral researcher Julie Hecht earlier this week, by email, why a clip like this would become as popular as it has. Here's how she responded:

"To live with a companion dog is to share rituals, from what leads up to bedtime to what happens before a walk. The video of Daisy, Cooper and the ice cream cone captures a particularly endearing ritual shared between two dogs and their owner. Viewers quickly find out that Cooper has a different way of consuming ice cream than Daisy. The owner, of course, knows this and has taken steps to ensure that both dogs get some. I assume audiences are charmed by the anticipatory build and expectancy violation when it's finally Cooper's turn with the ice cream. Also, it's particularly funny when contrasted with Daisy's seemingly dainty approach. The video humorously highlights that dogs are individuals with unique preferences and approaches to life (and food).

"It could also be attractive to audiences that Cooper plays along with the ritual despite really really really wanting that ice cream. His behaviors are very human-like, we see restraint and anticipation — like lip licking, air sniffing and pulling forward — as well as turn taking, and rule following. It's a storyline that people understand, and it contributes to the final moment when Cooper and the ice cream meet."

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I'm more of a cat person, as regular 13.7 readers already know, but sometimes, dogs just rule!


Barbara's most recent book on animals was released in paperback in April. You can keep up with what she is thinking on Twitter: @bjkingape.