DOGS ARE HIGHLY INTELLIGENT CREATURES AND MANY PEOPLE BELIEVE THAT THEY CAN UNDERSTAND US BETTER THAN WE CAN UNDERSTAND THEM.
So it’s no surprise that some dog owners think their pets know when they’re playing dead.
They may even be convinced that their dogs “play dead” to lure in potential predators.
What Does It Mean To Play Dead?
Playing dead is a common survival technique used by animals of all kinds (including humans) as a way to avoid being eaten or attacked.
In the wild, this would include hiding under rocks or logs or behind bushes or trees and remaining motionless until something passes by.
It’s also known as feigning death.
This is when an animal pretends to be unconscious or incapacitated so that another animal will leave them alone.
For example, if you see a cat lying on its side with its eyes closed, it might be pretending to be dead.
Other animals may mistake your pet for prey and pass them by.
When you play dead, your body goes limp, but your brain remains alert.
Your pupils dilate and your breathing slows down.
You’ll often hear other animals approaching, sniffing around you or making noises like chewing, scratching, or snorting.
When you feel safe enough, you’ll slowly open your eyes and watch what happens next.
Play dead is usually used by young, inexperienced animals who don’t want to attract too much attention from predators.
But it can also be used by adults, especially those who have been injured or hurt.
In other words, there are different reasons why an animal might pretend to be dead.
Here are just a few examples:
- To avoid being eaten.
- To escape predators.
- To avoid being hit by cars.
- To hide from hunters.
- To get away from other animals who are harassing them.
- To get help from others.
- To find food.
- To sleep.
- To communicate with others.
- To scare off other animals.
- To communicate distress.
- To signal danger.
- To signal pain.
- To find water.
- To avoid being caught.
Some animals actually go through the entire process of playing dead.
For instance, a baby deer may lie still on its side while its mother looks for a safe place to hide it from predators.
After the mother has found a spot where she knows the predators won’t look, she’ll drag her fawn into a bush and cover it with leaves to make it look more like a log or rock.
There are several ways to tell the difference between a fake and a real dead animal.
The following are signs that someone is playing dead:
- If you move or speak, they’ll quickly jump up.
- Their heart rate increases.
- They become stiffer.
- Their breathing becomes shallow.
- If they were really dead, their eyes wouldn’t open.
- Their pupils would dilate.
- If they weren’t really dead, their eyes would stay shut.
- If they were really dead, their skin color would change.
- If they were really dead, their fur would stand up.
- If they were really dead, their heartbeat would slow down.
- If they were really dead, their body temperature would drop.
- If they were really dead, their pulse would stop.
- If they were really dead, their blood pressure would decrease.
- If they were really dead, their stomach would grow bloated.
- If they were really dead, their intestines would turn black.
- If they were really dead, their lungs would turn blue.
But these aren’t the only ways to tell if someone is playing dead.
If you don’t know how to tell the difference, it’s best not to take any chances!
The History Of Playing Dead
In the animal kingdom, there is a well-established code of conduct between animals and humans.
The most famous example is the wolf pack, which is an extremely powerful social unit.
A group of wolves will hunt together, share food and protection from predators.
This is how nature intended it.
This is not always the case though, as modern man has interfered with this natural order by farming land, hunting game and setting up cities.
These changes have caused the wildness of our planet to be disrupted.
When man first arrived on the scene, he was forced to adapt to the world around him.
He learned to farm crops, hunt for meat and build houses.
But one thing he didn’t learn to do was play dead.
In fact, he had never seen anyone do it before.
He assumed that if you were hurt or sick, you just stayed where you were and died.
That’s probably why he didn’t understand when his friend started playing dead in front of him.
Dogs And Playing Dead
There is a long history of folklore about how dogs play dead.
In fact, the earliest mentions of this practice come from ancient Egypt, where it was believed that the spirits of the dead could take on the form of a dog if they were good.
The Egyptians would bury their mummified bodies with food and water for these spirits to eat.
However, there are also stories of wolves playing dead to trick hunters into thinking they were dead so they wouldn’t get eaten by the wolf pack.
This is still practiced today in parts of Asia — especially in South Korea, where playing dead to deceive hunters has become an art form.
In addition, there are reports of dogs playing dead as part of a ritual in some Native American tribes.
A story told in the Navajo language tells of a man who was killed while hunting, and his spirit took on the shape of a dog.
He then traveled to the underworld and became a guardian of the underworld.
However, he was eventually released back to Earth and returned to life.
This belief was also shared by the Hopi Indians, who taught that one could become a guardian spirit through being buried alive.
And the Hopi Indians have been practicing this tradition for centuries.
It’s still done today, although it’s now called kachina dolls.
Many other cultures around the world believe that dogs can transform into ghosts or demons after death.
For example, in Japan, it’s said that dogs will take on the appearance of their master after they die.
And in China, it’s believed that dogs can communicate with humans through barking.
But is any of this true?
How To Teach A Dog To Play Dead
While it’s true that dogs have been known to play dead for a variety of reasons — including for protection from an attack or to get the attention of another animal — the idea that dogs play dead to lure in predators is simply wrong.
It’s easy to imagine a scenario where a dog might play dead to protect itself from a predator, but it’s hard to imagine a situation where a dog would actually want to attract a predator.
Why would a dog do this if it doesn’t want to be attacked?
Playing dead when you’re being threatened isn’t something that most dogs will readily agree to, so there must be a reason why they would willingly do it.
It’s possible that a dog could play dead while protecting its owner, but it’s unlikely that a dog would intentionally play dead to attract a predator.
In fact, playing dead to scare off a predator would only work if a dog could see the predator approaching.
If your dog does like to play dead, it’s probably because he enjoys the attention that comes with it.
There’s nothing wrong with letting your dog enjoy his favorite game once in awhile, but if you want him to stop doing it, you should try to discourage him.
Here’s how to teach your dog to play dead.
- Make sure that your dog has a collar with a leash attached. If he gets away from you, he’ll need to be returned home safely.
- Start by making sure that your dog knows what playing dead means. Have him perform the behavior as soon as you start to train him. Let him know that when he plays dead, you won’t react at all. Once he learns that he can make you look the other way when he plays dead, he’ll be more likely to continue practicing.
- Practice with your dog every day until he can reliably play dead whenever you ask him to. Make sure that you reward him each time he performs the behavior correctly.
- When you first begin training your dog to play dead, don’t expect him to do it perfectly right away. Some dogs take longer to learn than others, and it may take several weeks before your dog starts performing the behavior consistently. Be patient, and don’t rush him.
- Once you’ve taught your dog to play dead, don’t forget to regularly praise him for being a good dog. Praise him for any signs of progress that he makes, and give him extra attention if he completes the task successfully.
The Benefits Of Playing Dead With Your Dog
There are several benefits of teaching your dog to play dead.
- Reduced fear response – If a dog is taught to play dead when they’re frightened, they’ll have less reason to be afraid in the future.
- Improved training techniques – Teaching your dog to play dead will help you train them more effectively. This is because they won’t feel threatened by you or other animals when you play dead with them.
- Increased confidence – By playing dead with your dog, you’ll build up their confidence in themselves and their ability to deal with situations.
- More fun – It’s a lot of fun to teach your dog to play dead, especially if you get someone else to do it too!
However, there are also risks involved in teaching your dog to play dead, including:
- Potential injury – While playing dead with a dog is generally safe, there is always the risk of an accident occurring. Be careful with what you hold while playing dead, as well as where you place your feet, and ensure your dog isn’t around any sharp objects or dangerous machinery.
- Loss of trust – Some dogs may become suspicious about your motives after learning that you’ve been deceiving them for such a long period of time.
- Caveats – As with all things involving dogs, some dogs simply aren’t as easy to teach as others. For example, some dogs will only respond if they’re specifically called out by name, whereas others will respond to general commands such as sit or stay.
The dangers Of Playing Dead With Your Dog
Playing dead is a dangerous behavior for any animal.
In the wild, if you play dead, you could be eaten by an animal that thinks you’re dead or dying.
If you don’t move, then your predator will assume that you’ve died and won’t bother eating you.
But as soon as you start moving again, your predator becomes suspicious of your sudden movement and starts looking for a way to attack you instead.
This is why playing dead in the wild isn’t always safe.
Unfortunately, this same situation exists with domestic animals too.
If you play dead, it might make your pet seem more vulnerable and increase the chance that it’ll get injured or killed.
It’s best to teach your dog to play dead only when there are absolutely no other options available.
For example, if you’re trapped in a car and you see someone approaching, it would be best to play dead so that they don’t mistake you for a threat and try to rescue you.
If your dog is ever attacked by another animal, it’s important to treat its injuries immediately.
Even if you suspect that they were provoked into attacking you, it’s still important to provide first aid treatment.
Don’t let your dog become aggressive towards other animals either — if you do, it could end up being euthanized.
Some people claim that playing dead is useful at scaring off dangerous wildlife.
However, this tactic might backfire on you because it makes you look like prey, which attracts more dangerous predators.
Some experts say that you should only use this tactic if you want to scare away a specific type of animal.
For instance, if you live near bears, you might want to play dead to frighten away bears from your home.
But if you live in a neighborhood where deer are common, you probably shouldn’t play dead to scare off deer.
Another danger of playing dead is that it can cause your dog to bite itself while it’s pretending to be dead.
If your dog bites itself while it plays dead, it could end up getting infected, and this could lead to serious medical problems.
To avoid this problem, you should never allow your dog to play dead unless you have a reason to do so (for example, if you’re trapped inside a car).
A few people argue that playing dead with your dog is actually beneficial to both you and your pet.
These experts claim that playing dead helps to train your dog to behave properly in certain situations.
They also argue that it helps to protect your dog against other animals that might want to eat it.
However, these benefits come with conditions — you must practice playing dead regularly and correctly.
If you don’t, your dog might be able to figure out what’s really going on and decide to act differently.
Why Do Dogs Play Dead?
It’s a common misconception that dogs play dead to scare off predators.
In reality, the opposite is true.
Playing dead is actually a survival technique used by animals to avoid being eaten or attacked.
It’s a way of pretending you’re injured so your predator won’t realize you’re still alive.
If the animal goes away after seeing you pretend to be hurt, then you’ve successfully avoided being eaten.
This is why playing dead is such an effective survival tactic for many animals.
But what about dogs? Are they smart enough to understand this concept?
The truth is that most dogs will do anything to keep themselves safe from harm.
As long as they don’t feel threatened, they’ll play dead just like any other animal would.