Why Does This Doberman Arrange His Toys?

donnie doberman creating toy circle

The Strange Doberman Who Arranges Stuffed Animals

Donnie is a very interesting doberman. National Geographic featured him on their “Genius Dogs” show.  He displays an unusual behaviour where he arranges his stuffed toys into specific patterns of circles or triangles. It’s unknown why he has this behaviour is although.  Is it thought out, random or is it just creative expression?

Donnie the doberman is a rescue dog and little is known about his past other than he was kept in a kennel for about a year and he was slow to adjust to his new home and owner. He had to learn basic things like how to climb stairs and go through doorways.

Donnie eventually started arranging his stuffed toys in specific patterns.  The toys would be purposefully laid out one by one in patterns of circles, triangles or straight lines. He would also create similar groupings  of all frogs or all monkeys, face up or face down. Even more interesting is that his toys would sometimes be laid out with the hands touching.

It is bizarre to watch Donnie in the video. It is also especially touching and fascinating how Donnie let his owner put her arm around him and then began organizing his toys in hugs.

Babara Smuts, a professor at the University of Michigan is researching this dog behavior. She suggests that this behaviour may be self-entertainment or it may be linked to his time in a shelter with only one toy.  Since there have not been enough cases of this dog behaviour, a scientific explanation cannot be made.  If you have a dog that displays similar behaviour, you may wish to contact the professor and help contribute to her research.

What do you think Donnie is expressing with his toy arranging behaviour.  Does your dog also arrange his toys in patterns?

Frog triangle
dog toys in circle
Completed circle of toys


  1. Carol Thelen said:

    I too have a dog, lab-boxer mix that we gave a forever home from the area animal shelter when he was a year old. Chase is now 5 years old and has lots of toys that he places in patterns on the area rug in the living room. I was googling what this might mean and found this post of others with similar experiences. I have never seen this happen with past dogs so I would love to know if he is trying to tell us something. It’s strange how perfect they are laid and sometimes by pairs. If you ever come up with any findings, I would love to hear them.

    November 21, 2017
  2. Tracey Mann said:

    I have a mixed breed dog and a weekend service lab in training I pickup every Friday. Somehow my mixed breed knows when it is Friday and she pulls out the service dogs favorite toys and arranges them in the foyer. She places them down, looks at them, walks around them, then will move one to a better spot. Once arranged she doesn’t touch them again. She greets the service dog at the door and let’s him choose the toy to play with. By the way, the service dog, doesn’t like any of his toys in the toy box. If I put them away, he will pull them all out.

    September 15, 2017
  3. Bo Andersen said:

    Our dog is of mixed breed. Short flat coat; about 50 lbs. He likes to arrange his toys along the straight lines found in the patterns our Persian rugs. The toys are placed with 18″ equidistant spacing. The first few times, I accused my wife of having done it. When mom was away, he lined her side of the bed with a rectangle of toys in the same way. He knows which toys are squirrels, rabbits, bears, etc. He’ll fetch you a bear if you ask him for one. He also carefully selects one toy each night, always a different one, to take to bed. Sometimes, he will come to bed having forgotten. He will then perk up when he remembers and go upstairs to find the toy of his choice. He also self-trained himself on being housebroken, not pulling on a leash, not needing a leash at all, not damaging anything when left alone in the house even as a puppy. Lastly, he is easy to teach new words AND he will teach himself new words from listening to our conversations. He will then shock you by displaying the correct response when the word is used even if he is not being addressed directly.

    June 28, 2017
  4. Rosanne Volpert said:

    My cat, a rescue cat, also arranges stuff animals and dolls. In the middle of night he lets out a cry as he carries his stuff animal. Not sure if it is for comfort or missing his mother.

    March 21, 2017
  5. Carol Young said:

    Hello Gayle 🙂 I don’t know if you check these replies but hopefully you do. My name is Carol Young and I was the owner, mommie of Donnie The Doberman featured on National Geographic Dog Genius. Donnie passed away 9 months after the show originally aired from Cardio Myopathy , common to Dobermans. It has been 9 years and only now can I go back and review these tapes and photos without breaking down. Losing him was crushing but living with him was golden! I was so fortunate to take that journey with him. I would love to see some pictures of what your dog does. You are the only one I am responding to as your experience with your dog seems closer to Donnie then others. Hope to hear from you soon.

    March 14, 2017
  6. Pam Biggs said:

    My Stella is a chihuahua/terrier mix. She was rescued off the street at an unknown age. She started stealing my things, like lip gloss, pens, combs, etc, while I was at work or out on an errand, and would arrange them in a circle on the living room carpet. She only did this for a couple years. I’ve had her for 12 years now. She’s had toys, but never showed an interest in them – just in objects that belonged to me. I got Stella from a lady who rescued her. That lady put a neck scarf on Stella. I bought a collar, harness and tags the 2nd day I had Stella. I took her neck scarf off, placed it on the coffee table, and put her collar on. I left the room a few minutes and when I came back I found Stella lying on top of her neck scarf. I put it back on her neck.

    March 7, 2017
  7. Millie said:

    My 4 month old chihuahua lined her toys side by side a lot. She was never in a shelter purchased her from the fathers owner at 10weeks. I think it’s a sign of a really smart dog. She stubborn but very smart. Maybe there should be a study on this we my finds something out new

    March 5, 2017
  8. Saabria Greene said:

    My roommate’s dog is about 8 months and less than 20 minutes ago we discovered she arranged all four of her bowls from largest to smallest in a straight line in the backyard. We were a little creeped out, thinking someone pranked us, but glad to find this is not unusual behavior.

    February 7, 2017
  9. cyndi garr said:

    Hi! My cat who I adopted as a feral from a pond and all it’s siblings had been shot. Lived in our basement for several months with me spending most of my time on the floor trying to make friends and finally coached the cat into intermingling with me, my husband and our 4 year old Norwich Terrier. This cats favorite toy is the white caps that cover the toilet bowl and now I have to buy them by the bag full. He will also arrange these in lines and half circles. This weekend however he got into our dogs basket of toys and pulled out all the balls and arranged them into a perfect line, going smaller to larger and they were perfectly spaced apart. I thought this was almost an alien behavior. LOL so glad to see others dealing with this same issue.

    December 19, 2016
  10. Bobbyt said:


    We are a modest couple with our only parent hood, is thru our precious, fur baby, Oreo. Now, we are not seeking any fame or publicity, but Oreo has been lining his toys, in a straight line, since he was 8 months. His is now 42 months. I hopes this aids the cause.

    October 30, 2016
  11. Nicky Colohan said:

    My 2 year old Border Collie called Shilo does something similar. He arranges his toys by colour. They can be any toy either balls or frisbee a long as they are the same colour. He will arrange them in a line all the blues together then the yellows and oranges etc. The newest one is we got a blue and purple doorstop for the kitchen door and he keeps putting one purple and one blue frisbee up beside it. I would love to know what that’s all about.

    September 4, 2016
  12. Jackie said:

    My Ocicat, Fanch, lines his toy balls up when we are gone or at night. I have never seen him do it, only find them when I arrive back home. I would love to know why he does it. He also places them in our shower . Hey are always lines up in the general pathway of the home.

    August 27, 2016
  13. Jackie said:

    Bobby Jean, I was searching on Google to find out why my cats lines his toys up in a line or semi-circle and I found this. I like you, have never seen him do it. Fanch does it when we are gone or at night. He only like to play with the small foam rubber balls I get at the pet store. They come is different colors. He lines them up in the hallway, in he office , or our bedroom. Fanch is an Ocicat and very intelligent. We love him so much. He is an amazing animal. Fanch is very connected to me. He knows when I am going to be sick before I know it and he will behave very differently toward me during this time. He stays very close to me and will not let me out of his sight. It is different then when he wants me to hold him. I am amazed how connected he is to my being. Love my boy.

    August 27, 2016
  14. Gayle Snook said:

    I have a 5 yr old English pointer who arranges his toys into patterns. It took me awhile to catch on but it’s amazing what he does. Triangles, straight lines, an L, other various patterns. He usually will either put the stuffed toys face up, or all face down with their noses lined up with the lines on the rug. I have started keeping pictures and it’s amazing to see the intricacies involved. Things perfectly spaced…you can’t randomly drop balls and toys and have them so perfectly lined up and spaced. As with others, I wish I could know what’s going thru his mind!

    July 18, 2016
  15. Carol Wren said:

    Hello, I have been trying to figure all this out. About six or seven months ago I noticed something strange about my sweet dog. She was taken her toys and making patterns . I always have a feeling she is trying to tell me or show me something. These patterns are different not the I’m playing type they are lined in a special way. When she is done with her pattern she lays on her pillow and looks at them . I have ask my husband to take pictures of her work because I strongly feel there is something to all this at first he thought I was being foolish, but as it goes on his mind is changed. She isn’t in a sad ,or mad ,or over happy mood when this is gone. My Sweet dog is a
    Maltese : Female Name : Miss Bella Age: 11 years old oh and lately she will let us take her picture where in the past she didn’t want her picture taken . Miss Bella does this with her toys 3 to 5 times a week . I really think there is something to this and I’m glad others are having this experience too. Anything that is found out about this I would like to know. I have started a book on her patterns and I will keep it up as long as Miss Bella does it. Thank you Carol

    July 16, 2016
  16. Kristie said:

    My dog is mix chihuahua and JackRussell. I had him since he was 2 months old and now he’s 2 years old. He’s very smart and easy to train. Little over year ago I noticed him arranging his treats. At a young age he lined them up in a roll from smallest to biggest all facing same direction. I didn’t think anything of it. As time goes by he makes arrow shapes, triangles, squares or fans out his treats with one on the bottom center. He only does it when I’m not in the room and I have many photos of his art. If anyone knows why he does this or who I can talk to that would be great. I’m curious to find out.

    July 15, 2016
  17. Becky said:

    Wd gv my Chihuahua his three tennis balls to play with, then I wd leave the room. When I returned, balls wd always b arranged n the form of a triangle. He ws never n a shelter. Always loose & hd access 2 the whole hs. Got him when he ws an 8 month old puppy.

    July 2, 2016
  18. amy smallfruit said:

    i have a 6 year old pitbull cross. he dives for rocks when he is swimming and arranges them in piles. it seems like he has a system of deciding which rocks go in what piles but i cant figure it out. he also likes to place the rocks on things such as logs, stairs or other larger rocks. he as done this his entire life he is not a rescue, ive had him since he was 4 weeks old and i dont know where this behavior came from. he gets very single minded about this and does it whether i am there or not. nothing can distract him from this he ignores all other dogs and people while he is doing this he just goes around them like they are not there, he even stops to pee with the rocks in his mouth he doesnt put them down.

    June 23, 2016
  19. Barbara Johnson said:

    My puppy, age 10 months is a mix (maybe Doberman, Rottweiler, Australian Shepard, and/or Border Collie) arranges her tennis balls in equilateral triangles and uses balls, rocks, leaves, and bones to line up equally spaced to go across the room and curve around to go down the hall. I found this information here interesting as I decided to research online regarding this. She learns tricks quickly. She is a rescue.

    June 17, 2016
  20. Linda Eckel said:

    I would love if all of us who have our pets that do this to start a Facebook page. Maybe it could be used for the professor’s research? I have a chocolate Lab that has done it for years. I’ve always been baffled and chuckle at it. She takes one item of all of ours, plus her stuffed animals and lines it all up. Sometimes in different patterns.

    February 6, 2016
  21. Ava Kim said:

    I think Donny (in the picture where the bear is hugging the frog) was trying to show he wanted more love. Also, I have a dog named Blizzard an English Cream Golden Retriever and he organized his toys in a straight line… I was in the middle of looking for why he did that and bumped into this!!!

    December 1, 2015
  22. Jay said:

    Hi my Yorkshire terrier mix of 1 year and 2 months started to arrange his food in straight lines along the wall but before that we would take some and take it to corners and place a few there but now he just arranges 3 foot lines . I just find it interesting how a dog can do that without ever being trained .

    September 18, 2015
  23. Bobbie Jean said:

    My cat has done this for years. He has one particular type of ball that he likes to play with. It comes in a few different colors, and also in soccer ball print or solid color. He will make straight lines or curves with the balls spaced evenly apart, and yesterday he made an equilateral triangle. He will also make patterns with the colors (for example, a straight line that is purple, green, purple, green). He also will sometimes use only soccer ball print balls for an arrangement. I’ve never seen him do it because he usually does it at night, but it would be interesting to see! He is an extremely intelligent cat, so I wonder if he does it out of boredom.

    June 2, 2015
  24. Aurora Hamm said:

    My dog, Darcy, arranges her toys all the time. She started with half-circles and moved on to full circles. She has also arranged her toys in parallel lines, a quadrilateral, and a triangle. Her favorite seems to be a circle though. I would love to know why she does this. She is a rescue and one of the sweetest, smartest dogs I’ve ever met. She is some kind of spaniel mix. My guess is that she is also part border collie.

    April 3, 2015
  25. cindi said:

    Sazi is 13. I got him as a puppy, when he was younger, he had to be touching me, leaning against me. Older, he just keeps me within eyesight.

    We became reclusive when I retired 9 yrs ago, goes everywhere with me.

    He started to ‘arrange’ his toys when I started being away from home a couple of days a week; sometimes a semi-circle, sometimes a straight line both when I’m away or at home always in the living room in the walk through path.

    Several people have commented that he doesn’t know he’s a dog.

    I would love to know what, if anything, it means.

    March 6, 2015
  26. Katie said:

    How amazing. We just rescued a Border Collie\Corgi mix, and noticed she takes shoes, socks and toys and arranges them in straight lines! It is the weirdest thing. She sometimes comes to her lines of stuff and chews on one for a bit but leaves it there and goes away to do other things. She sometimes sleeps amongst the lines she made.

    February 25, 2015
  27. Carol said:

    I’m so happy that I found this article. My husky lab mix, Marley, has been doing this same thing with her stuffed animals as well, and most of her life. For example, just this morning when I woke up I found that she laid 8 stuffed animals in a half circle, alternating position, butt to head, head to butt, butt to head; with two pink dragons on each endif the half circle. She then placed one animal outside the circle , mid way facing the others in the half circle and one animal behind the half circle (mid way. This amazes me each time she does this, it happens quite often. I

    Marley has been arranging her toys most of her 6 years; I’m thinking it began when she was about 3 months old. I’ve had Marley since she was 4 weeks old. She has done so many different compositions, each amazing to look at. I’m convinced she is trying to communicate something and I wish I understood what it is. I never thought about video taping Marley. I believe I’ll look into it then I can share the video with anyone interested in seeing it.

    It would be both wonderful and interesting if the two dogs were able to interact with each other.

    February 21, 2015
  28. Lana said:

    We have a 1 1/2 yr old Shih Tzu who arranges his toys in different designs each day. When we get up in the morning we go to his playpen/home and see what design he has created. Sometimes all lined up in a row, triangles or separated in different piles of toys.

    He is very intelligent and knows every toy by us just calling out the toy name. Go get your Monkey,Tiger, Donut etc. We never trained him to do this task. He just knew after we just assigned a name to the toy.

    I will say the breeder told us he was the first puppy out of the whelping box and he demands a lot of attention with lots of hugs and kisses. Since we work out of our home, he does not like when one of us leave and will take his Teddy Bear and lay on it like a pillow till one of us comes home.

    December 18, 2014
  29. Jesseca said:

    My dog Harley, a chihuahua mix found on the road ( the road being next to a highway and a ghetto neighborhood) in the rain, his short fur covered in mud and his dog seemingly cut from his collar. (Okay enough sad backstory) It took a few weeks of sitting and basically hanging out with him to notice he had been sickly and was now gaining fat and mucles but even though he’s physically improved after being my best friend for three or four years now hes gained a habbit of creating perfect circles (which he chewed) in my blankets but not like iv seen before ( not the im bored and tearing things apart) he does it in rather straight rows and columns. I don’t know if that’s weird or normal.

    October 7, 2014
  30. Jan Thomas said:

    I have a rescue approximately 3 year old. Pit bull female. I’ve had her one year.
    About three months ago, she began to arrange objects in my back yard in a circle.
    The circle still exists. My dog changes the objects, sometimes having a toy in the middle
    of the circle. She adds objects from time to time and the circle keeps changing.

    August 1, 2014
  31. Karen said:

    I came here looking for info on cats who do this. I have 6 indoor cats and one of them lines toys up in a single line, equal distance apart. First, several different types of toys were lined up in front of the toilet, which is where the cats like to get attention. Today, they were all toys of the same type – sparkly balls, that were lined up in our living room, right in the walkway. They weren’t color specific or anything, but equal distance apart. I’m not sure which cat does it, as I am at work all day, or the first time they were that way when I got up in the morning. I thought maybe it was a sign of creativity or OCD, but none of them show any other signs.

    July 8, 2014
  32. Sam said:

    I have a 7 year old red Doberman that I got as a puppy. When she got to be about 6 months old she started collecting objects around the house and putting them in the corners of her kennel. Matchbox cars in one corner, 3 pairs of sunglasses in another corner, little army men in another corner and pens and pencils in the other corner. Once she got them in place she was very careful not to disturb them. She never mixed them and sometimes put keys together in a corner. Up until then I thought she wasn’t very bright but now she is incredibly smart. I saw the Donnie program and i think they’re trying to tell us something.

    March 31, 2014
  33. Sherri said:

    I came across this page because I was searching for an explanation of my dog’s behaviour. I thought maybe she had OCD, but she doesn’t have any obsessive behaviours.
    She has a favourite treat (Purina hugs) that have a meaty center and a crunchy outside. She likes them broken into small pieces because she’s a toy poodle and has a small mouth. After a while, she started pushing the pieces into two separate piles, with the crunchy pieces in one pile, and the meaty pieces in the other pile. One day, she lined them up in a line with equal distance between them, and then ate them one by one. I have never taught her anything like this. It’s something she started doing on her own.

    March 12, 2014
  34. Ingrid Knox said:

    I also have a rescue dog that rearranges his toys also. I have lots of photos posted on my FB Timeline under ingrid Varness or peppers page. I also have some videos posted on YouTube. I find it fascinating how he knows the different animals faces. He will lay them face up or face down in a line.

    March 2, 2014
  35. lindsay said:

    I am unable to see the video in candada :(. I also have a doberman that does this. He lines up his bones and toys parallel to each other and evenly spaced out in the living room and yard. He eats plush toys, so he isn’t allowed them. I haven’t seen him make a circle, but there really isn’t room in our yard for him to spread them out evenly in a large circle.

    December 1, 2013
  36. Ted Gold said:

    First contact:

    2 parallell lines describes a landing field ,
    a triangle describes the ship
    2 toys hugging says , we come in peace

    They are trying to make contact

    June 24, 2013
  37. Ingrid Elizabeth said:

    I have a toy rat terrior I rescued a year ago. After my husband left me I put my dog on the bed with me with his toys. Every morning I would wake up his toys would be arranged in different designs. He does it sometimes 2X daily. I have about 20 pics I’ve taken of the amazing designs he does. It always makes me wonder what he’s trying to say. It’s good to see other pet owners have experienced the same!

    June 12, 2013
  38. Michele said:

    My cat has been arranging his toys in single lines near doorways for the past year. He’s a very intelligent cat, but he is also easily alarmed, so I wonder if lining up his toys is somehow comforting…

    April 28, 2013
  39. Suzanne said:

    Our 4 year old male Cockapoo (Sparky) has a metal toy bucket, but he really does not like to put his head inside due to his neck touching the rim. Typically we dump it out or pull one out for him. In his bucket are all sorts of colored toys with a variety of textures. He loves them all! But twice now, he took everything out, in order and when I say in order, both times Sparky made a rainbow! My daughter watched part of this and said Sparky was very methodical, pulled each toy out and found a specific place for it on the wood floor in our kitchen. The first time he did this, he made an arch shape! My daughter was amazed and recited the order of the colors..right down to blue and then purple! Another day, he took the same bucket of his toys, and was playing more quietly in the same spot. We looked over and he had made a LINE of the rainbow colors, all equally spaced! The last two toys had the most texture and were multicolored so did not fit in the rainbow order. We feel this is amazing and want to try to catch Sparky on video. He seems methodical the way he eats at times, an example would be banging the crate door twice before eating. He does not “like” things moved in his area, almost like OCD behavior. We think he was from a puppy mill as we rescued him and never saw his parents at the “farm”, just a bunch of puppies and other animals running around. We look forward to Sparky’s new creations soon!

    April 13, 2013
  40. Kathleen said:

    Someone I work with sent me this article because I have a chihuahua that lines everything up. His dog food, toys, especially the small tennis balls that he plays with most of the time. I have watched him do this…he will take one item at a time, put it down somewhere then he will gather the same type of item whether it’s bones, food, or toys, and start dropping them one at a time forming a straight line. When he is done he will push with his nose or paw any item that is not in a straight line into place.

    February 14, 2013
  41. Diana said:

    We have a Parson Russell Terrior Mix and a Flat Coated Retriever/Collie/Rotweiller mix who are from the same litter and had different fathers. (We did the DNA) They are a year old and since old enough to “hunt” they have been placing their collections in a straight line. We find “lines” of geckos, rocks, roaches, etc. Yesterday they stole potatoes I had just washed off of my kitchen counter and when we found them on their pillow they were lined up in a perfectly straight line with a bite out of each one! Amazing to find other dogs do this same kind of behavior. Wish I knew what was going through their minds!

    January 26, 2013
  42. […] Dr. Barbara Smuts at the University of Michigan may have found an example of art-like behavior in a Doberman Pincher named Donnie. Donnie has a very unusual habit of arranging toys in geometric patterns, particularly triangles. […]

    January 23, 2013
  43. From my experience seems that Donnie is autistic. The way you described his behaviour and his long adjustment time etc.
    Please feel free to contact me for more info.

    January 20, 2013
  44. Trudi said:

    I have 2 female chihuahuas, 1 is 9 yrs old from a puppy mill & the other is 5 directly from a breeder. The oldest has been arranging her toys since she was a baby. Everytime I mention it to anyone, they look @ me like I’m a nutcase or just flat out don’t believe me. Each toy is equally apart in length & generally upside down. Most of the time the pattern is a straight line or semi-circle. I never see this being done, but when I discover it, she looks up @ me & seems very pleased about and/or protective. If I try to remove them, she gets very upset & becomes agitated. She stopped doing it for awhile, but the other day, she started it again. This time she made a line from my bedroom to my daughter’s room. As for the five year old, she has imitated this behavior, (I think) and brings the toys up to my bed. They are put where she usually sleeps w/me. The other day I found one in my bed, face up, head on the pillow, with covers pulled up to its chin, just like a child would be tucked in at night. I left it that way for a few days & noticed she came back several times to poke it with her nose & left it there. I removed it eventually & she just found another place to put it. I must add both chihuahuas were “fixed” @ a very early age & they both love my daughter & myself equally. We’re an all female household. 🙂

    January 8, 2013
  45. SL said:

    With all the shelter dogs forming parallel straight lines with toys, I just can’t help but wonder if this pattern is representational of ‘rows’ of dogs in a kennel. I am a life long shelter adopter and most that I have visited in search of the perfect Doberman are the typical layout of rows of interconnecting chain link kennels each with 1 dog. It’s a stretch I’ll admit it but after sharing my life with animals I have learned they are so much more capable and intelligent than we give them credit for. I, too, would love a Donnie update.

    December 16, 2012
  46. Beverly said:

    We have a 4 year old Shepherd/Rottweiler mix. We adopted him from a shelter when he was a puppy. We began to notice this behavior several years ago. He arranges his toys in parallel lines with the toys layed out parallel to each other. The distant between each toy is similar. At first I was sure my husband was doing this as a joke but it has occured when he is not at home.

    He does not appear to be a genius but he is very neurotic.
    If furniture is moved he will not walk by it until it’s
    moved back to it’s usual place. He’s terrified of loud noises and even runs away and barks at any strange noises from the tv. It took us a long time to teach him to get out of the car. He would get in but stepping down to get out on his own scared him. We finally conquered this but he still exits the car very slowly and carefully and only after several attempts. In spite of his fears he loves people and other animals. His fear seems to be of objects, that he feels don’t belong there and noises.

    December 13, 2012
  47. Helen M said:

    We have a 2 year old black labrador who has been doing this too. During the times we are out he is left with a number of chew bones (he tends to shred any cuddly toys to pieces if not supervised!). When we come back he has arranged them into either squares, triangles or straight rows.

    It’s become an entertaining game for all of us now and he gets lots of praise from us, which just seems to encourage him! We didn’t know of any other dogs that did this (until seeing this!) and have always assumed it is a way he has found of entertaining himself!

    November 24, 2012
  48. Deana Kohn said:

    I have a Great Dane who is 2 years old now and has been lining up her toys and making different patterns with her toys. I have asked several people; vets, dog trainers, and pet lovers if they have known any dog to do this and everyone has said no. The only comment that was made was that my vet said she had OCD ha ha. Anyway, I am so curious as to why she does this. If anyone has any info. email me

    October 17, 2012
  49. john d said:

    thats really cool but did any one see the monkey in the window move on its own at 40 check that out

    September 18, 2012
  50. Brady said:

    I have an almost 9 yr old blue heeler that has recently been going through chemotherapy. I was cleaning house one afternoon and noticed 7 toys in a perfect line and spaced exactly 3 feet apart. I quicly went and got the wife to show her this. As I was showing her, my dog added her favorite toy on an end. I’m very curious if she is trying to tell me something. The toys were aligned from one window to another.

    September 5, 2012
  51. Deb Kubber said:

    Donnie is AWESOME! We have 6-7 rescue Chesapeake Bay retreivers at any one time. Their stories are all different, as are their personalities & intelligence levels. Ours run the gamut from dumb as dirt to Einstein dogs. My dumbest has been unable to learn to come, but he’s very very, cute, useless, but CUTE. Then there’s Earl. Earl has unbelievable cognitive abilities. He problem solves and understands a huge vocabulary. He’s had no formal training yet he’s as much of a service dog as any formally trained. He knows all the names of his toys and which are the newest. He takes extremely good care of his things and appreciates everything you give him. He just loves to be challenged by learning new things. My guess is that although he has no concept of time (everything in the dog world is now), he has an intelligence level similar to a pre-schooler. PLEASE, rescue a shelter dog if you can and consider two if possible. They are pack animals and social, they enjoy company and will keep each other company. They are WAY smarter than we think. DOGS RULE!

    August 28, 2012
  52. Ryan said:

    My coworkers and I were watching this today. In the clip, you can notice visible movement to two of the stuffed toys sitting on the window ledge behind the owner and Donnie while they are sitting on the white cushion seat. The movement is quite unexplained and there is also a shadow that seems to make the movement happen. I know this is a bit crazy and takes a bit of willingness to believe in the paranormal. However, do you think it is possible that ghosts have as much fun playing with our pets as we do? Would it be too far fetched that Donnie is retrieving and placing items based on the commands of another member in the home that only he is aware of. Something to think about.

    August 20, 2012
  53. JLS said:

    Did anyone see the stuff animals moving on their own in the video? Around 40 seconds into the video 2 of the animals move. Kind of strange.

    August 20, 2012
  54. JB said:

    I had a little terrier that looked like Toto from the wizard of Oz who was born blind in his left eye. Every stuffed animal that was given to him he would pluck the left eye out!I sure miss that little mutt!Long live Fidget aka Putzboy!

    August 17, 2012
  55. JB said:

    I think he was previously abducted by aliens!

    August 17, 2012
  56. Bob Price said:

    One of the most intriguing things about Donnie the Doberman’s incredible creations that is not highlighterd by the article or this particular video is that he can distinguish differently stylized versions of the same animal. For example, the video briefly shows an arrangement he makes using all primates, but if you look closely you’ll see they are not the same model toy and at least one of them looks quite different from the others. So how does he know they belong together? In the original Nat Geo special, it showed him combining at least three different model frog toys, none of which looks alike. One of the most interesting questions is how he is recognizing that these particular toys even belong in the same category. This type and level of ability has been thought a very unique human skill.

    August 12, 2012
  57. cece said:

    i forgot to put she is a year old now…

    August 9, 2012
  58. cece said:

    i have a maltipoo i got as a puppy and today she put her toys in an L shape, it freaked me out that she would do that, but at the same time cool! this is the first time she has done this, and i think its interesting to here others are having the same experience.

    August 9, 2012
  59. Elaine said:

    Here’s a new one! My CAT MIMI has been doing this for awhile. It’s bizarre and amazing.She uses only her oldest toy,a foot high ball on a spring base,as the lead of her arrangement, usually at some point directly lined up with our front door.Then she will line up extremely tiny pieces of paper, equally distant from each other. She does mostly straight lines, but has also done complex angles, AND CURVES! off of the main point, sometimes these will extend throughout two large rooms – 30 ft. Because the pieces of paper are so small,at first I didn’t think much of it and would sweep the paper up. The next morning a new one appears. I’ve looked for info on cats doing this, haven’t found any. So if anyone has any leads or shares please let me know. Thanks!

    June 12, 2012
  60. Shirley Carter Hill said:

    I have a four year old male boxer dog that has begun to arrange his toys and also gathers things from the household, socks, bathrobe ties, neckties, his chewy bones and makes arrangements in the dining room on a large rug that is just open space with no furniture on it. Like a blank canvas! He will not arrange if anyone is in the room or watching him. He changes the arrangements multiple times and when he is finished with one, he comes into the family room where I am for long periods of time due to a back injury. He levels a stare on me and makes low toned whinning tones (and he is very focused on me) I have begun to stand up and say “ok, show me” he then runs into the dining room and waits for me. When I get to the dining room, sure enough, there is a new design. He’s done geometric shapes, straight lines with evenly spaced items, circles, semi-circles, but does not place anything in the middle of the circles or semi-circles as I have read here that some other dogs are doing. I act suprised and say things like “Oh, how beautiful” or “what a good job”! he starts jumping up and down and barks while I am praising him….He is delighted and excited that I came to see his work and liked it! This can go on for a long time. We plan to get a camera that can video tape this activity, motion activated if I can afford that. He also places items in sets of threes at the end of a linear design but never in random places, always at the end. I would like to know who to forward a copy of the video to and also will I get any feedback from the person receiving the tape? This just came to my attention recently, My dog has been coming in my room and staring at me and whimpering for a couple of weeks and I just did not know what he wanted, He did not give up on me and was delighted when I finally noticed. I also have a one year old male boxer (Cubby) who alway’s follows us into the dining room, but does not change or take things that are incorporated into the design or pattern. He is not involved in this behavior but seems to get a kick out of watching the older boxer (Skip)in his joyful reaction when we come in to “see”. I will forward video after I receive the address and the name of the person who I should “Attention” it to..Thanks

    May 24, 2012
  61. Judy said:

    I got my dog “Maximus” from a breeder of mini schnauzers. He was 2 months old. He has been lining up his toys or putting them in circles since he was a pup. He is now 10 months old and still does it. Once they are lined up he does not play with them. I swear he uses a measuring tape for the distance between them. If they are in a circle he lays in the middle of them. I have tried moving them and he gives me a dirty look and puts it back where he had it. He takes his toys outside and won’t let me bring them in. If I do that he takes it right back outside. If I watch him he stops in his tracks until L leave. I’m not supposed to see where he is putting it. I have pictures and have called my neighbors over to see this craziness. He definitely has a mind of his own.

    March 5, 2012
  62. Rick Leslie said:

    My poodle, a puppy of 8 months, just started lining up her toys a couple weeks. I’m not sure what started her to do this, but it did happen while my wife was away for a week. She usually takes care of the dog, so maybe the trauma of her main squeeze has been a catalyst. Either that or I have a genius dog.

    February 20, 2012
  63. Rosey's Dad said:

    My dog Rosey is a female golden retriever chow mix.
    She is a rescue,and also a special-needs dog.
    She has canine epilepsy,anyway,for the first year we had her
    she would take her toys and arrange them either in a semi-circle,in front of the sofa I was sitting on,or in a straight line from me to her.
    She always seems to always have to be touching me in some way,whether holding hands,lying against me,or having a trail of toys from me to her.
    I love her so much,it is the most touching thing I have ever experienced.

    December 16, 2011
  64. Claire Maddlone said:

    I was very touched by the show featuring Donnie the dog genius. It is my feeling that he is a very sensitive dog, and he expresses strong emotions— especially when he arranged the hugging animals after his human hugged him for the first time. He is so intelligent and loving. I foresee a long, happy and love-filled life for them both.

    December 15, 2011
  65. Carleen said:

    We have a Dobi that my husband purchased for me from a breeder..runt and only female of 12. She does this! She’ll take her stuffed babies out to each of the 2 gates in the back yard (2-3 at each) arranged exactly 4′ apart in a straight row. We tease that she’s leaving them out as if to guard the area in her absence 😉 When I gather them, she puts them back when we’re not watching. She’s been doing this since about 3-4 mos old an she’s 15 months. Shes very smart and its good to hear others sharing this experience.

    December 1, 2011
  66. BRENDA said:


    August 11, 2011
  67. Lori said:

    My husband surprised me with a black law. puppy about a year ago. He purchased this precious pup from our hometown hardware store. She not only arranges her toys and chew toys, but she also takes drinks of water to one of our other dogs. No one would believe us until my sister and Hus and saw this occur with there own eyes in amazement. We have never known a dog that has performed this task. Our own vet doesn’t believe us. Is there a connection with the toy arranging and being a water drink dog?

    July 4, 2011
  68. Debi C said:

    My dobie lab mix lays his “babies” out touching hands too. I have pictures,it is so cute. Again, no idea what his story was before we got him. he was in and out of shelters until he was 2 years old.

    June 23, 2011
  69. sherry said:

    i’m dying to see donnie’s video.this one here is blocked.
    pls if u have any website that has donnie’s videos i’ll be very grateful.I have a 9 month old doberman whose one of the upper milk fangs hasn’t fallen out.i researched alot but there’s no mention of doberman’s fangs anywhere.i’m taking him to a vet tomorrow.i also rescued a stray when she was about 2 n 1/2 month and although she never gave birth she literally raised my boy dobie since he was of 35 days.my boy is very possessive of his toys he’d claim toys from Poppy gal and press them down under his front leggs and chew on only one while poppy softly barks him.poppy is one shredder

    February 13, 2011
  70. Oh my gosh my sanity is restored. The last month dog toys have been arranged in circles,groups, angles & I kept thinking I was imagining it since I have never really seen them moved. Tried peering around the door a few times but when she saw me watching she did not start the task.(why is it private?)I interpreted the hugging behavior of two toys a bit different:) not believing it was real until it recurred two more times. Since she is set on this being a privately arranged activity until I actually see her in action I will be in the dark. However, the work of Donnie is so similar in many ways it is scary! Who knows what they could construct together. There are a few pictures on my facebook account (dr-kislings-vision-tips) & I plan on posting a spot for her soon. Honestly a month ago I would have thought you made it all up!

    February 5, 2011
  71. Jake Walker said:

    I observed, admittingly with a expectancy bias, that the shapes that these dogs are creating are strikingly similar to the shapes attributed to the vast majority of UFO sightings: V-shaped, L-shaped, semi-circular and straight lines. Dogs can’t talk, and it may be that certain dogs that know certain things wish to convey this information by pictoral represantations of things they have seen in the sky. Or not. It’s just a thought.

    December 28, 2010
  72. Kathy said:

    I adopted a cocker spaniel about 3 weeks ago. She is 2 1/2 and came from a puppy mill. This morning she had a perfect line of 4 items. Spaced exactly 12″ aprart. She had a bouncy ball, a chew item, a bouncy ball and a red bow in that order.
    I took pictures because it was so unusal. She has not moved anything and it has been 4 hours. She gets other balls around the house to play with.

    December 26, 2010
  73. Jaki said:

    Yes, you’ll definitely want to record Foxy’s organizing. Very fascinating.

    December 23, 2010
  74. Trina said:

    Foxy strikes again. I took Foxy a “litter of puppies” 8 little stuffed puppies. She rejected one right away put it away from the others. My Mom reported to me this morning, Last night Foxy arranded a line of shoes from the bedroom to the livingroom. In the living room was the circle of puppies 7 of them with her brush in the middle. The one she did not like was in the other room. I ordered a camcorder to give to my Mom today.

    December 23, 2010
  75. Jaki said:

    Trina please thank your mom for saving Foxy. She sounds like a great addition to the family.

    December 22, 2010
  76. Trina said:

    My Mom just adopted a puppy about 13 weeks old that came from a kill shelter in New Mexico. She looks like a fox so they named her Foxy. After just a few days, she started collecting all the shoes in the house and arranging them in a straight line, all right side up, all toes pointing the same way. Today she did a 1/2 circle. She does not chew on anything, but bones. She was potty trained in a day. She does not bark. She is just the smartest dog I have ever seen.. and I have 3 of my own. You can look at her and just know she understands everything you say. Just Amazing. Would love to have a animal behaviorist meet her while she is still so young. I’m going to take her a bunch of stuffed animals tonight.

    December 22, 2010
  77. Debbie said:

    This is so amazing how Donnie arranges his toys and certainly cannot be explained as just a random act. Dogs are much smarter than people ever imagined. I have a Great Pyrenese and a Lab mix (the Lab mix was acquired as a stray), both of whom occassionally get stuffed toys. They guard my 5 goats on 40 acres. They will take the toys and stash them somewhere on the property, then later the toys reappear again, but these dogs take care of them. Perhaps they have strategic points where they stash and pick and choose which toys get to come back to the pen and when. I saw the frog toy the other day in the pen I haven’t seen in quite some time, now it’s gone again. Dogs are remarkable, I can’t imagine a world without them. I believe Roy Rogers said when he died that if dogs don’t go to Heaven he wanted to go where they go. But of course they go to Heaven.

    November 4, 2010
  78. […] dismiss it all though. And it's not all painting *G* Donnie the Doberman dog is pretty amazing. Donnie the Doberman Arranges Toys | Dobermans Den (unfortunately the video is blocked where I am, maybe others will see it. I did see the program […]

    September 24, 2010
  79. […] his stuffed toys into specific patterns of circles or triangles. Check out this video about him. Donnie the Doberman Arranges Toys | Dobermans Den __________________ Cowboy GSD 6yrs Jesse Jane, Beagle 7yrs Dogs aren't space intensive; […]

    September 11, 2010
  80. Edie Johnson said:

    Our young chihuahua (2 years old) is sort of a rescue -from a friend’s grandmother who could no longer keep her. She does not arrange her toys in patterns, but does bring them to her bed at night. Recently she made very good friends with my parrot, Dakota. When I brought mom to her bed the other night Darla had a new item with her other tiny toys – (monkey, tiger, lambie,) – one of Dakota’s tailfeathers. (the parrot talks to her and is trying to help train her… if she goes where she’s not supposed to he says “No Darla, stop”. In the morning he’s very sweet to her “Cmon Darla, come here”. It was as if she brought his feather with her to keep her company and remind her of him.

    August 16, 2010
  81. mark velger said:

    Donnie the Dobie kicks ass

    July 4, 2010
  82. Karen said:

    I notice this video dates back two years. I would love an update on Donnie. Thanks, Karen

    May 7, 2010
  83. anna said:

    I saw donnie on tv in tokyo tonight and just think he is beyond precious!
    Its so great to also read about other beautiful people who rescued their beloved pups.(and everyone who treats animals with the love and respect they deserve)
    Animals are such a blessing!

    Give donnie a huge cuddle from me!
    (My crazy cats send meow greetings from japan.)


    April 22, 2010
  84. Cal said:

    This is fascinating, I’ll admit. If I were trying to gain a deeper understanding of what’s going on, I’d pay close attention to how the dog and his owner are interacting. Is the owner, perhaps, reinforcing the dog’s pattern-making behavior and, unintentionally, ignoring (i.e. not reinforcing) behavior that doesn’t result in a toy pattern? This might explain why the patterns are increasing in their complexity as the dog attempts to please the owner. Bringing in the researcher serves to increase the dogs reward for his behavior.

    I’m not suggesting anything purposely manipulative here. I just think we have to take a big perspective and observe all of the player’s involved.

    March 8, 2010
  85. Marcia K said:

    My dobie, Natasha, referred to as “Naughty” for reasons I probably don’t need to explain, does not arrange her toys. But we have had to lock doors because she knows how to open the front door (lever) and the sliding doors. Awkward when we are not home and the heat or air-conditioning is on. She often seems to do it so the older dog can get into the heat! She also sits on the couch and chairs like a human and grins widely when she’s done something wrong. Probably not that unusual, but she has proven to be extremely intelligent about many things.

    January 9, 2010
  86. Michelle said:

    I have a 10-year-old Lhasa Apso that I got when he was 1 year old as a second chance rescue. He was very sickly for a long time. He has always loved his stuffed squirrels and his toys were in as good a shape years later as when purchased new. He loved making them squeak. The first time I saw him arrange them I was working at the computer. I turned around and he had lined them up all facing the same way, equi-distant from each other. It startled me. I told my grown daughter who laughed and thought I was nuts. One time she was visiting and we were laying on my bed watching a movie. Chucky had been busily going in and out of the room. When I leaned over the end of the bed he had been bringing in every squirrel of every size and they were all lined up the same way – and so was he! Napping along with them. I believe he was taken from his litter too soon and these were his littermates – when I first got him he would try to nurse and would burrow under my stomach if I lay on my side. He still sleeps up against either my back or stomach. A year after I got him, we got a second Lhasa rescue – whose never been much of a player with toys. However, three years ago I got a third who in one day “killed” every stuffed toy’s squeaker. Chucky was horrified when his squirrels no longer squeaked and almost seem to mourn their “death.” He walked away from the killed stuffed toys and that was the last time he played with them. I think they were his surrogate puppies.

    September 21, 2009
  87. kim said:

    Since ive adopted my long haired chihuahua shes been lineing up her toys and her balls in perfect straight lines, if one of her bones are horizontal the other must be if its vertical the same and mostly exactly 2 ft apart. at first i thought it was by chance but now she is making perfect triangles, its very strange and makes me wonder I have had dogs my whole life and not one of them has done this, shes not a rescue ive known her since her birth, but still its good to know I am not the only one who sees this happen.

    July 20, 2009
  88. Carol K said:

    My 2 1/2 year old Havana Silk Dog (Havanese) has been dragging his toys outside for a long time. I noticed recently that he has been arranging them. Last night I took pictures because he had 3 bird toys and one other toy in a semi-circle around the grill, all facing up and all with their feet toward the grill while he was in the middle of the circle looking out over the yard. I checked a little later when he came in and he had moved one, just simply turned it to face the door instead of the grill.

    Weird. I will continue to watch and see if it’s a fluke or if he’d doing it on purpose. He isn’t a rescue dog.

    May 13, 2009
  89. Bob Graham said:

    We recently acquired a maltipoo who we named “Penny” from the animal shelter. We took her to the vet who guessed her age at about 1 – 1/12 years. About a month ago she started arranging her “puppies” in 5 foot circles, usually 6 puppies in a circle and one in the center. She is also making V patterns, half circles and diamond patterns, most always with something in the center. Then she moved on to making a straight lines, about 10′ long with a short cross. Last week she made a complex V pattern which has 3 puppies arranged nose to nose in the center of the triangle. Then, at one point of the triangle she put 3 puppies bottom to bottom. On another point there was 2 more objects touching at a 45 degree angle. She also brought out her dress to make another point plus a puppy to complete the triangle shape with 4 points. When she creates these patterns she usually arranges her puppies face up OR face down but usually doesn’t mix, up and down together. We have taken pictures of her creations but since she only does it when we are not in the room, tomorrow we are going to set up a camera to record her making these, sometimes, complex arrangements. At first we thought it was a random coincidence but now she is making one every other day and they are very distinct patterns which leave no doubt that she is creating them on purpose, for what I have no idea.

    February 3, 2009
  90. Joan N Rivers said:

    Luna, my 6 year old Golden-Border Collie mix. has been “arranging” her toys since she was a pup! I have always suspected it was the Border Collie in her that caused her to “herd” her toys into patterns and categories, but had never heard of other dogs that did this. Finally! I am thrilled to learn she is not alone! I would love to learn more about dogs who create patterns with their toys. Perhaps it is more common than we realize!? –Joan

    November 26, 2008
  91. admin said:

    Hi Reni,
    that’s fascinating that your dog also displays this behaviour. It’s also interesting that your dog has a rescue background, you have to wonder if the toy arranging, is some sort of coping skill to a past experience.

    August 19, 2008
  92. reni fulton said:

    this is pretty amazing. I have a collie golden retriever mix that I got from the collie rescue in april. right after we got her she laid out all her soft toys in a line in the living room. I thought it was a hoot but also thought it was a random act. I didn’t really think anything about it as she did not appear to repeat this pattern. On the other hand I’ve never had a dog that didn’t rip those soft toys apart in 30 seconds. She treats each one like gold…very gentle with them. We call them her “babies”
    Is is possible they are relating to the animal nature of the toy? That still doesn’t explain Donnie’s patterns. But I’d love to be in their heads and really understand. I will be paying closer attention to where Gracie places her babies. reni fulton

    August 18, 2008

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