November 10, 2017
One clever canine employed an age-old tactic used by kids to skip school in an effort to get more attention from his owners.
In a viral social media post, Utah resident Kennady Longhurst said last week that her husband Alex stayed home from work and took their dog Sullivan to the vet because of a strange sound he kept making. Turns out, their pet was fake coughing.
husband stayed home from work cuz our dog was coughing. We took him to the vet and paid 85$ for him to tell us OUR DOG WAS FAKE COUGHING— Greg Expectations (@Kennnaughty) November 2, 2017
Apparently creating phantom symptoms to get some love isn't an unusual behavior for dogs. Per The Dodo:
Just to be sure, the couple consulted several more vets to ask about Sullivan's symptoms.
"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," Kennady said.
Turns out, such fakery in pets is not unheard of — especially when it inspires sympathy TLC from their favorite people.
Several other dog owners replied to Longhurst's viral tweet, noting they had similar experiences with their dogs.
My dog did similar. He stopped walking, I rushed him to the vets. £36. Nothing wrong, he just didnt like the feel of something on his paw.— Chroma Stationery (@chromastatnry) November 4, 2017
My dog milked his bad paw by limping & holding it up...got extra treats, etc...friends came over, limped & held paw up again...on other leg— Entranced Beef (@EntrancedBeef) November 8, 2017
Colin Allen, a professor of cognitive science at the University of Pittsburgh, told BuzzFeed that Sullivan's cough may not be intentional deception, but instead a mirroring of his owner's behaviors.
"I’d be less willing to agree that it’s a deliberate deception such that the dog realizes that by coughing the owners will assume it’s sick," Allen told the website. "I’m going for the explanation that it’s learned behavior."