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Sheep Body Language

Sheep Body Language

Postby downwithapathy » Tue May 17, 2011 10:12 pm

I :heart: this video. http://youtu.be/C-aZkcG-Mt4

Does anyone know sheep body language? Check out that tail. :)
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Re: Sheep Body Language

Postby shananigans » Wed May 18, 2011 4:20 am

Don't know anything about it, but that pawing (hoofing?) move and tail wag seem very dog-like to me. In any case, that is one adorable sheep!
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Re: Sheep Body Language

Postby downwithapathy » Wed May 18, 2011 6:24 am

It's incredibly doglike! I've been pawed exactly like that by countless dogs through the years. It surprised me, considering dogs and sheep aren't close relatives. It really drove home the idea that farmed animals aren't terribly different from other domesticated species/companion animals.
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Re: Sheep Body Language

Postby Dugan » Sat May 21, 2011 5:47 pm

I'll agree, the paw-for-attention is reminescent of a dog's action, but I don't know if it is common to sheep. It has not been common among the small flocks I've known. There could be a number of explanations, including that the humans this sheep interacts with have inadvertently rewarded the sheep for acting in a dog-like manner, and that a sheep not with people would do nothing of the kind. I agree that farmed animals, who are domesticated, aren't terribly different from companion animals, but I don't know if I'd use this as evidence of that.

I stumbled across the following while searching iTunes U for a chem lecture to get a jump on studying for this summer's courses. From MIT's Professor Gerald Schneider is a series of lectures on Animal Behavior described as
Most of the major categories of adaptive behavior can be seen in all animals. This course begins with the evolution of behavior, the driver of nervous system evolution, reviewed using concepts developed in ethology, sociobiology, other comparative studies, and in studies of brain evolution. The roles of various types of plasticity are considered, as well as foraging and feeding, defensive and aggressive behavior, courtship and reproduction, migration and navigation, social activities and communication, with contributions of inherited patterns and cognitive abilities. Both field and laboratory based studies are reviewed; and finally, human behavior is considered within the context of primate studies.
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Re: Sheep Body Language

Postby downwithapathy » Mon Jun 06, 2011 6:04 pm

[quote="Dugan";p=2677]I'll agree, the paw-for-attention is reminescent of a dog's action, but I don't know if it is common to sheep. It has not been common among the small flocks I've known. There could be a number of explanations, including that the humans this sheep interacts with have inadvertently rewarded the sheep for acting in a dog-like manner, and that a sheep not with people would do nothing of the kind.

Do dogs without people do anything of the kind? I ask because I'm of the understanding that dogs paw for attention because it works on human beings specifically. Dogs quickly learn that there's a human tendency to give attention when said pawing occurs (dogs who aren't given attention for pawing generally abandon the strategy). I've not noticed much (if any) dogs pawing one another for attention. My thought isn't scientific because I don't have a flock of sheep to study, but it seems that both species would repeat this behavior primarily as a result of positive reinforcement (and that both species probably enjoy the attention that it brings).

*wonders idly how human-farmed sheep interaction differs from that between humans and sheep in sanctuaries (as in the video above)*

ETA: Video has moved. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Ua57q-W4eA
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Re: Sheep Body Language

Postby Miso Vegan » Wed Jun 08, 2011 4:17 am

Starfish did not come to us already doing the paw-for-attention move, from what I can remember. It seemed like there was a time when we noticed it "all of a sudden."
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Re: Sheep Body Language

Postby panthera » Sat Jun 18, 2011 2:38 pm

But it seems like such a natural thing to do. You have an appendage that can easily be brought into contact with your intended audience. I guess some animals use their heads. To use a paw/hoof, you have to feel comfortable enough to be close to the person, and in a stance that is not great for jumping away quickly.

I've noticed that cats paw humans quite a bit. Especially when waking them up for breakfast. [Pretend I just linked a "Simon's Cat" video]
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