A Rational Explanation for the "Dog Suicide Bridge"

YouTube link

Any pet owner would understand that dogs do not commit suicide.  There is, however, a bridge near Dunbarton, Scotland from which more than 50 dogs have jumped to their death.  These are not cases in which people maliciously throw dogs from bridges - the dogs have jumped over the edge while in the presence of their devastated owners.

This video appears to be a brief excerpt (intro and conclusion) of a longer television documentary, and has some overly dramatized narration, but the point it makes is an important one for dog owners.

Spoiler/explanation:  A dog does not fully comprehend the nature of a bridge.  If it cannot see what is on the other side of the railing (solid stone in this instance), it will assume that what it sees is a wall, and that the ground on the other side of the wall would be level with the bridge surface.  If something attractive to the dog (a sound or scent) is on the other side, there is a risk the dog will leap over the edge to investigate.  In the case of Overtoun Bridge the lure may have been the scent of mink, but the same basic principle could apply anywhere in the world.  Dog owners should consider keeping their dogs on a leash when crossing such bridges.

Link with supplementary text, via Dark Roasted Blend.

Addendum:  Kurioso found an article in Spanish about the bridge, with a photo showing how the bridge looks to someone (or a dog) walking over it - like a garden path with waist-high walls.  Photo source.

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I really didn't like the video's conclusions. They blamed it squarely on the Mink. The Mink had nothing to do with the issue at all. If there were no Mink, but a strong Squirrel smell, many probably still would have jumped. Maybe they were just curious. The fact that a Mink, or a squirrel, or any other animal leaves in the vicinity of a bridge doesn't really face the problem itself, which is a cliff that looks like a fence to a dog.

The problem is the bridge itself, and targetting the Mink, through really bad testing and jumping to conclusions, really only avoids the issue entirely with a terrible solution.

Instead they could actually either educate and put up signs and warnings, as well as make leashes mandatory in that area(easy), or even use structural additions to the bridge to make it much more difficult for a dog to jump over(hard).
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This is very true. Our little Chihuahua jumped from our elevated driveway down into the back yard, a drop of almost 4 meters, while I was shaking out a beach towel. Time slowed as I saw him running toward the wall and launching himself over the half meter brick wall that keeps us from backing off the drive. As our little guy flew over the wall and into thin air he realised what he had done and started to twist and paw at the air. He landed in soft grass with only a grunt, turned looking up at me as if to ask, "How did you get up there?". He will still to this day walk along the wall with out a worry, but now knows what is on the other side. Keep your dogs on leashes people when close to areas like this.
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