Dog Learned Funny Trick So Dad Would Stay Home From Work
Cailyn Finkel 8/29/2018
Even though humans and canines don't speak the same language, we can often communicate effortlessly. We understand their wants and needs, and they understand us on a deeper level. This type of unbreakable bond is exactly what Kennady Longhurst and her husband Alex shared with their sweet pupper Sullivan.
Sullivan lives a cushy life in their Utah home and loves to spend time with his humans more than anything. So when Kennady had to leave for work after eating lunch at home one afternoon, the clever pup took things into his own paws...
Kennady told The Dodo that Sullivan began coughing in a horrific, exaggerated manner that immediately made her take notice.
"It really, really freaked me out. He was wagging his tail and running around and just wanted to play but also kept making this horrific noise."
Instead of panicking, Kennady called her husband and explained the frightening noise coming from their dog. Since she couldn't leave work early, Alex volunteered to come home and keep a close eye on Sullivan. The young couple hoped whatever cough Sullivan caught would go away on its own soon!
Sure enough, Alex's presence did the trick. Sullivan's nasty cough disappeared, and he seemed to be in perfect health once again.
But when the morning came and his humans packed up for work, the mysterious honking cough returned. And this time it was worse than ever...
Alex volunteered to stay home with his ailing pup and take him to the vet. But when the tech revealed the cause behind Sullivan's funky cough, Alex's head spun. They told him Sullivan was faking the cough in order to get extra attention.
Confused, Alex made several other appointments with different vets around town. He didn't want the cough to be misdiagnosed and go untreated if something was seriously wrong. But veterinarian after veterinarian told Alex the same thing: Sullivan was faking it!
Kennady told The Dodo that it all came down to spending extra time with Sullivan.
"Almost all of them said he could be acting sick in the mornings or when we leave him because he knows if he acts different or sick we pay more attention to him and stay with him."
In an exclusive interview with The Dodo, Dr. Jill Sackman, head of the Behavior Medicine Service at BluePearl Veterinary Partners, explained that Sullivan's behavior aligned with "operant conditioning."
"Dogs certainly can learn that certain behaviors result in things that are good - such as a cough or a sneeze results in owner attention. I wouldn't say that this is faking it ... but rather they are so clever that they realize that the behavior results in a reward."
Kennady told The Dodo that Sullivan's sneaky behavior wasn't exactly surprising. It was quintessential Sullivan!
"I'm actually not surprised at all that he could pull this off. He has been an insanely smart dog since we got him when he was a puppy. He learned and picked up on stuff really fast. He's a really great dog."
Now Kennady and Alex know to take his fake cough with a grain of salt. He's not going to fool anyone anymore.
Sullivan certainly is a clever little pup!