Dog loves to irrigate (video)!

The dog is called the ‘Irrigation Dog’ and you can see why. He or she is fascinated with digging a channel to allow the water to run towards him. I guess that he likes water as lots of dogs do and he has learned that if he digs a channel the bubbling water approaches him. It is a game with water and it’s a great game with plenty of activity.

The video begs the question why dogs love water so much. Well, not all dogs love water but a lot of them do and it might be fair to say that, in general, a lot of cats are a little reluctant to mess around in water. A lot of them actively avoid it but we do tend to stereotype and say that cats hate water when they don’t. They are good swimmers actually.

But dogs have a habit of jumping around in water, diving into ponds and as we can see in the video playing with the stuff. So, what’s going on? Well, firstly, some dog breeds have been bred to work with water. There is even a dog breed with the word “water” in its name: Portuguese Water Dog.

And you’ve got the Irish Water Spaniel and the Duck Trolling Retriever! These dogs are bound to be great swimmers and they will naturally like water.

But what about the random-bred dogs, the non-purebred dogs? I don’t think we have a really good answer. One expert says that cats don’t like to get their coats wet. There may be something in that because if we bathe a cat we take away all their body odour which is in effect their identity. So, a cat immersing themselves in water will lose their identity.

And when they come out, they will groom themselves for quite a long time to put their natural oils back into their coat. It could be a simple question of insulation and feeling right. Get their coat totally wet and they don’t feel right and it will no longer be as effective in keeping them warm.

It seems to me, also, that dogs don’t mind at all getting muddy, messy and dirty whereas cats hate being dirty. They are well known for being fastidious self-groomers, keeping their coat in impeccable condition whenever they can. That’s why it is distressing to see some feral cats with very dirty coats because they’ve given up.

This must be a reflection on a difference in mentality. The reason may be linked to the fact that essentially all purebred dogs were originally working dogs of some sort. The dog is a utilitarian animal whereas the cat has always been more of a companion and an animal to entertain their human caregiver. Except for the moment when they became domesticated because at that time, they were earning their keep by killing rodents. But the situation changed quite rapidly and they became pets and companions.

So, the fact that dogs are working animals automatically meant that they would become dirty in carrying out their duties or at least more likely to become dirty. So perhaps over those 20,000 hours of dog domestication they’ve learned to accept being dirty.

This may lead them to enjoying messing around in muddy water as you can see in the video. And there may be another factor which is this: dogs have got used to being bathed by their owner. This makes it less troublesome to become dirty.

On the contrary, domestic cats don’t need bathing unless their coat has become dirty with a chemical which would be dangerous for them to remove by grooming themselves.

I have a feeling that the reason for the difference in dogs and cats in this respect is because of thousands of years of domestication. If you go back to the wild dog i.e. the gray wolf and the wild cat ancestor, the African wildcat, I don’t think that there’s a great deal of difference between them in terms of a dislike or liking of water.

There are, for example, quite a few wild cat species that hunt in and around water. There is the fishing cat and the flat-headed cat. The serval often hunts in water. The tiger likes to sit around in water and is a great swimmer. All the small wild cat species are able to cope well with water. It’s just the domestic cat that can be troubled by it. That’s down to domestication.

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Post Category: Dogs > dog behaviour