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Donnie the Doberman Arranges Toys

July 20th, 2008 Posted in Doberman Assorted

doberman creating toy circle

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 not clear what the motivation for 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

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67 Responses to “Donnie the Doberman Arranges Toys”

  1. reni fulton Says:

    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


  2. admin Says:

    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.


  3. Joan N Rivers Says:

    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


  4. Bob Graham Says:

    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.


  5. Carol K Says:

    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.


  6. kim Says:

    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.


  7. Michelle Says:

    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.


  8. Marcia K Says:

    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.


  9. Cal Says:

    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.


  10. anna Says:

    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.)

    anna


  11. Karen Says:

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


  12. mark velger Says:

    Donnie the Dobie kicks ass


  13. Edie Johnson Says:

    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.


  14. Piles - German Shepherd Dog Forums Says:

    […] 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; […]


  15. Paintings by animals » General Zoo Discussion - Page 3 Says:

    […] 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 […]


  16. Debbie Says:

    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.


  17. Trina Says:

    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.


  18. Jaki Says:

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


  19. Trina Says:

    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.


  20. Jaki Says:

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


  21. Kathy Says:

    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.


  22. Jake Walker Says:

    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.


  23. Dobiemann Says:

    Don’t forget, Dr. Smuts wants you to contact her if your dog has any behaviour similar to Donnie’s

    From her website:
    http://www.sitemaker.umich.edu/barbara.smuts/donnie_

    If your dog or a dog you know arranges objects into patterns, I would like to hear from you. Please e-mail me at: bsmuts@umich.edu


  24. David Kisling Says:

    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!


  25. sherry Says:

    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


  26. Debi C Says:

    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.


  27. Lori Says:

    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?


  28. BRENDA Says:

    I HAVE 6 YR. OLD PUG, THAT DOES THE SAME THING WE NOTICED IT, AND THEN I LOOKED ON THE INTERNET OF WHY SHE DOES THIS, AND CAME ACROSS THIS SITE. SHE WILL PUT THEM IN A STRAIGHT ROW AMOUNT OF TOY’S 6 OF THEM, AND SHE WILL MAKE LIKE THE BIG DIPPER PATTERN , THEY HAVE BEEN MEASURED AND THEY ARE EVEN IN DISTANCE 5 IN. APART IN ANY WAY SHE LAYS THEM OUT .SHE WAS NEVER IN A SHELTER , WE ADOPTED HER FROM A BREEDER . SHE { THE PUG } STARTED DOING THIS ABOUT WHEN SHE WAS 4 YRS. OLD WHEN WE MOVED .


  29. Carleen Says:

    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.


  30. Claire Maddlone Says:

    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.


  31. Rosey's Dad Says:

    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.


  32. Rick Leslie Says:

    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.


  33. Judy Says:

    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.


  34. Shirley Carter Hill Says:

    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


  35. Elaine Says:

    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!


  36. cece Says:

    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.


  37. cece Says:

    i forgot to put she is a year old now…


  38. Bob Price Says:

    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.


  39. JB Says:

    I think he was previously abducted by aliens!


  40. JB Says:

    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!


  41. JLS Says:

    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.


  42. Ryan Says:

    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.


  43. Deb Kubber Says:

    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!


  44. Brady Says:

    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.


  45. john d Says:

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


  46. Deana Kohn Says:

    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


  47. Helen M Says:

    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!


  48. Beverly Says:

    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.


  49. SL Says:

    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.


  50. Trudi Says:

    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. :)


  51. Roman Gottfried Says:

    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.


  52. What Is Art For? « EnglishwithJohn.net Says:

    […] 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. […]


  53. Diana Says:

    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!


  54. Kathleen Says:

    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.


  55. A study on doberman toy arranging - Doberman Forum : Doberman Breed Dog Forums Says:

    […] or three corners downstairs. She always puts them back there too. Anyhoo, I found this article Donnie the Doberman Arranges Toys | Dobermans Den. The link contains a video as well. The article discusses Donny the Doberman, which was featured […]


  56. Suzanne Says:

    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!


  57. Michele Says:

    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…


  58. Ingrid Elizabeth Says:

    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!


  59. Ted Gold Says:

    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


  60. lindsay Says:

    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.


  61. Ingrid Knox Says:

    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.


  62. Sherri Says:

    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.


  63. Sam Says:

    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.


  64. Karen Says:

    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.


  65. Jan Thomas Says:

    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.


  66. Jesseca Says:

    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.


  67. Lana Says:

    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.


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