The habit in this house is that when the three adult dogs, Nexus, Owl, and Viljo, come in on lead, they sit nicely inside the door while I remove their collars and leads. They are all required to stay sitting until I tell them "okay." <Mad dash>
Sometimes the stay is for 10 seconds. Sometimes it is for 60 seconds. Sometimes I stay with them, other times I walk into another room, remove my jacket, take a water from the fridge, get a Kleenex...Then I walk back to them, tell them how good they are, and say "okay." <Mad dash>
Taya has not been a part of this process. She is nearly always coming in without a lead because she nearly always doesn't need one. And in all of the many times that she has come in without a lead, she has just mozied around wherever she wants to go - until last week.
Last week, I saw Taya sit and stay with the boys when I left and went into the kitchen. She was still there when I walked back. She was looking at me intently but I didn't really think it was deliberate behavior on her part. A fluke. Yes, must be!
But the same thing has happened several times since then. And of course I am now aware that the behavior is deliberate. She sits with the boys. She waits with the boys for however long they wait. And when I say "okay" <Mad dash>.
The behavior is completely self-taught and she learned it by watching.
Then...today. Today, I gave Owl a bath. Afterward, I wrapped him in a towel and carried him outside. Taya was all happy that Owl had gotten a bath; she was jumping up and carrying on and she came outside with us. I rubbed Owl with the towel, then I removed it. As soon as I took the towel off Owl, he gave a vigorous shake. And you know what? Taya, who had been bouncing around Owl being a nuisance and even vocalizing a bit, stopped right then and shook herself, too. haha! I believe the term for that action is "automatic imitation." I would love to have it on video!
That dogs can and do imitate the actions of other dogs is not a new concept to me. However, seeing such explicit demonstrations of imitation in one of my own - young - dogs is new.
This evening, I googled "canines imitating canines" and have read two interesting articles so far. The first, in the Washington Post, is titled What Were They Thinking? More Then We Knew. The other is Imitation #2 on Patricia McConnell's blog The Other End of the Leash. Some interesting stuff.