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News: Karen B. London
Most Dogs Hate the Smell of Citrus
Does yours?

Typically, dogs like going for walks, eating chicken, belly rubs and chasing squirrels. Sure there are exceptions, but these truths apply to most dogs. Similarly, there is general agreement among canines about what is undesirable, or even repulsive. At the top of that list is the smell of citrus.

  Dogs’ distaste for oranges, lemons, grapefruit or the smell of same can be useful. Many dogs can be deterred from chewing on items that have been treated with citrus odors. (To be fair, a small percentage of dogs just consider these flavors to be the icing on the cake, so to speak, and are even more likely to go after any object covered with such an odor. This is nature’s way of preventing any of us from ever feeling confident that we know what is going on.) To see how your dog feels about these fruits, peel a messy orange so that your hands are covered with the sticky juice and put your fingers near your dog’s nose. If your dog backs away, making a face, then you’ve got a member of the citrus-hating majority. If your dog licks your fingers, then you don’t.   If your dog dislikes the smell of these acidic fruits, it may be possible to use the scent or juice of them as a deterrent. However, be mindful of using these odors to scent your home for your own pleasure. You may inadvertently be making your home smell as bad to your dog as a trash dump would to you.   This video shows Aspen turning away from an orange. She is among the citrus-hating majority of dogs.

News: Karen B. London
Dog Talk
Do you say canine-related things?

Among people who work with dogs for a living, it is not unusual to use familiar expressions with a slight dog twist. For example, we might say, “I’ll cross my paws for you,” if someone is hoping to get an offer accepted on a house or if they are waiting for news from a medical test. On the “paw” theme, a response to someone’s request to meet with me just as I have arrived in the office might be, “Sure, let’s talk. Just give me a few minutes to get my paws on the ground.” This is not said with any attempt to be amusing or to make a point. It’s just a way to convey information in an understandable way.

  Besides modifying common phrases, the behavior of dogs, which we all understand, allows for descriptions of people and situations with a kind of shorthand. For example, years ago a friend of mine was dating a man named Scott who gave her a gift that didn’t quite suit her and helped her to realize that HE didn’t quite suit her. It was a jacket that said “Scott’s girlfriend.” When she told me, “I’m surprised he didn’t just lift his leg and pee on me,” it was just another way to express that she found him to be too possessive.   What expressions do you use among your doggy friends and colleagues that you might not use with the population at large?  

 

News: Guest Posts
I’ve Had It!
If I hear “but he’s friendly” one more time, I’m going to lose it

I’m bruised and beat up, and not sure what to do. This morning, I took my three large dogs for a walk. We were 50 yards from our driveway when a loose black Labrador retriever came into the street to greet us.

I know this dog; I've found him wandering before and brought him back home several times. He's a friendly boy. That said, my three dogs do not appreciate having a strange dog run up to them and get in their face.

I told the Lab, "No, go home!" in the sternest voice I could muster. It didn't deter him. Nor did three large barking, snarling dogs. And that's when I saw him - the dog's owner. He was standing right there on the front lawn.

By then, it was too late. As I envisioned this dog getting bitten by one of my dogs or worse, I lost my balance and fell backwards onto the asphalt. Incredibly, I didn't hit my head or break an arm. Just some ugly, searing scrapes on my knees, elbows and knuckles. Somehow, I managed to grip the leashes tight and not let my dogs go free. And thankfully, a car didn't come zooming around the corner like they sometimes do. What if we had all been hit?

My neighbor came out and got my dogs’ attention, helping calm all of us down while the Lab’s owner put his dog inside. The Lab owner then started to cross the street to approach me, politely asking, “Are you alright?”

Adrenaline still pumping and before I could think clearly, I screamed, “Please don’t come talk to me! I can’t talk to you right now! Why do you let your dog be loose? I’ve seen him go up to other people and their dogs while walking. Why do you let him do that?”

The Lab owner looked at me like I was nuts – it certainly wasn’t my best moment – turned on his heel and went inside his house to hang out with his no doubt equally bewildered Lab.

Now I feel like a jerk. And my neighbor, who is wonderful and loves my dogs and kept my heart from jumping out of my chest, says, “But you know he’s friendly, right?”
 

News: Karen B. London
Raccoon Attacks Woman and Dog
Rabid animals pose danger

When wild animals attack people and dogs, it can be a sign that they are rabid. Rabies affects the behavior of animals including raccoons, skunks and foxes. One of the signs of rabies across species is a tendency to bite without provocation. A couple in Georgia found out for themselves how scary an attack by a potentially rabid animal can be when a raccoon attacked them and their puppy. The man knocked the raccoon out with a stick when it grabbed their puppy’s head. The woman has now gone through the painful rabies treatment and their dog had to be quarantined for 10 days.

  Where I live, in Flagstaff, Ariz., efforts are underway to vaccinate wild animals against rabies with edible packets of vaccine. In order to make sure that these vaccines are consumed by wild animals rather than by pets, there is a pet quarantine in effect for the next couple of weeks. Dogs and cats are required to be either confined indoors or kept on a leash of six feet or less.   Have you or your dogs had a run-in with a wild animal acting in an unusual way?    

 

News: Karen B. London
Trainers, Vets, Behaviorists—Together
American Humane creates new committee

The Animal Behavior and Training Advisory Committee has been set up for many purposes, one of which is to foster collaboration and cooperation. The members of the committee include trainers, veterinarians and behaviorists that are all well respected experts in their particular areas.

  The committee will offer guidance in areas as diverse as pet dog training summits, content of American Humane’s Animal Behavior Resources Institute Online, their Human-Animal Interactions program and their principles and position statements.   I love the idea of putting together a diverse group of individuals who are all concerned with training and behavior and their considerable impact on animals and people. Good things tend to happen when expertise and teamwork come together.      

 

News: JoAnna Lou
Danger Up High
The wind blows a NYC dog off his own balcony

Back in March, Karen B. London wrote about her surprise finding a dog on a nearby roof. While I’ve never seen a dog on a house roof, I’ve seen plenty of dogs atop apartment roof decks and terraces. Given the size of New York buildings, it makes me a little nervous.

Anytime I’ve had my pups on a roof deck, I clutch their leashes with a tight grip, just in case. I’m always worried about dogs accidentally jumping over the wall or slipping through the fence bars. But it never occurred to me that Mother Nature could be a factor.

Earlier this month, Sarann Lindenauer discovered just how dangerous her terrace could be, no matter how high the barrier. On a blustery day, her terrier, Alfie, was blown off their 11th floor terrace. Luckily, the wind also blew Alfie towards the roof of a townhouse, five stories below and 30 feet east of their terrace.

The wind might be a freak accident, and you can’t quite plan for every possible danger, but there are some steps you can take to be sure your deck is as safe as possible.  Check out The Partnership for Animal Welfare’s Deck and Balcony Tips. And perhaps check the weather before letting your pup outside.

News: Guest Posts
Move Over Argos
Strays set the new standard for loyalty in Greece

Yellowish street dogs were an odd constant as all hell broke loose in Athens, Greece, in recent days. They trotted, charged, stood at attention, even lounged amid throngs of police in riot gear and anti-government protesters wearing gas masks, balaclavas and bandanas over their faces. They seemed undaunted by the rocks, tear gas and firebombs that filled the air. According to an AP report, the tradition of dogs at protests goes back a ways, and at least one stray, known as Kanellos, was a constant companion to rioters for more than a decade until he died in July 2008. Adopted by many as a symbol of the struggle, Kanellos and his fellow strays are celebrated on three Facebook pages—with 5,000 friends and counting. It’s no surprise to me protesters would be drawn to the dogs, but I do wonder why the dogs hang tough in such a dangerous environment.

News: Karen B. London
Evaluating Canine Play
Are your dogs playing appropriately?

One of the most common questions asked of dog behaviorists is how to determine whether a group of dogs who are rolling around or chasing each other are playing appropriately. Without knowledge of dog behavior, it can be hard for many people to tell when play is getting out of hand until it’s too late and it’s obvious because somebody got hurt or traumatized. I recently wrote a column for my local paper called Play Should Be Fun, Not Tense that explains some of the basic ways to evaluate what is going on before it ever gets to that point. There is always a bit of subjectivity to assessing play in any species, including our own, because fun itself is subjective. However, there are some basic guidelines worth considering whenever you have to decide whether to let the dogs carry on, or whether they need to be separated to prevent real trouble from developing.

  In appropriate play, the number one rule is that everyone is a willing participant. If one dog is suffering based on what’s going on, it’s not appropriate, and that’s true even if what the other dogs are doing would be fine with most dogs. If everyone isn’t having a good time, it’s not okay to let it continue. Play should always be fun.   Generally, dogs who are playing are holding back a bit at least some of the time. They are bouncy and carefree in their motions, and there are frequent pauses in the action. Most play involves running, leaping, chasing, brief pounces and batting at one another. Dogs’ mouths are usually open and any vocalizations tend to be fairly consistent in pitch rather than suddenly deepening or turning into shrieks.   In play that could lead to trouble, dogs seem to be more serious and lack that light-hearted quality so essential in play. Dogs who tongue flick, drool excessively, cower, whine, pant when it’s not hot enough to warrant it, tremble, attempt to escape or to hide, whimper or shiver are showing signs of tension or anxiety that could indicate trouble. When dogs are uncomfortable, they are more likely to act in a way that is aggressive or that could prompt another dog to behave aggressively. One of the biggest warning signs in play is of one or more dogs suddenly go stiff. Going stiff with tension throughout the body often occurs before dogs bite or fight, so it’s a bad sign. Pausing in play with a relaxed body is a good sign and is very different than going stiff or still, which is a bad sign.   It can be very hard to evaluate play, but if you stop the play and all the dogs want to head back to it, that’s a promising sign that the play is okay. I always recommend interrupting the play if you are in any doubt. You can always let them continue in a minute, but if you let things go and a dog gets hurt, frightened or overwhelmed, you can’t take that back.  

 

News: Guest Posts
Super Buddy
German Shepherd saves the day--and a house

Buddy is a hero! Check out the amazing German Shepherd, who led a trooper to a burning building in Alaska--complete with footage shot from inside the cruiser. I love how the officer, who says he has spent a lot of time around dogs, tells a news anchor that he trusted Buddy was leading him (and not just running away)--and that's for sure how it looks. On Friday, Buddy was awarded a special honorary dog bowl.

News: Guest Posts
$500K Name Change!
An Australian couple paid $300 for their puppy and $500,000 to save his life.

If you have dogs, people always ask "What kind of dogs do you have?" I often take this question as an invitation to blabber uncontrollably about my variety pack. "Oh, I have two Dalmatians who compete in agility, a Catahoula - are you familiar with that breed? They’re bred for herding and hunting. I also have a Pit Bull mix - she's super sweet - and a true Heinz 57. She looks like a hyena. Seriously, one of my neighbors asked me if she was one. She competes in Frisbee. Yeah, so I have five dogs. They range in age from 3 to 13 ... ."

Unfortunately for my audience, I can go on and on, but I'm usually interrupted the moment I  mention my Pit Bull mix. Some people are surprised that I have one of those “vicious” dogs. If possible, I invite them to meet my belly-rub-lovin’ Shelby so they can cast off those horrible stereotypes.

It would never occur to me to lie about Shelby’s breed. Hiding what she is only adds to the ignorance. And yet, if I lived in Queensland, Australia, I would rethink being so open about her bully breed background. Gold Coast couple Kylie Chivers and John Mokomoko paid $300 for their American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) puppy Tango. They soon learned that APBTs are deemed dangerous dogs in Queensland and subsequently banned. Their only choice was to move to a different state or allow him to be euthanized.  

Mokomoko’s job made it difficult for the entire family to move, so they opted to board Tango at a kennel out of state in New South Wales. They also initiated legal proceedings to change his breed from APBT to American Staffordshire Terrier (AST), which is not considered a dangerous dog in their region even though it can be argued that APBTs and ASTs are practically interchangeable. Take this quiz and see if you can find the Pit Bull. How did you do? (I thought I would ace it but was far from perfect!)

The couple have faithfully visited Tango for the past five years as they took their battle all the way to the Supreme Court. They spent $500,000 on this battle on behalf of Tango and other people determined to keep their dogs, regardless of what they’re called. You can read about the court’s findings here.  

Do you agree with the ruling? Why or why not?

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