Good Dog: Behavior & Training
It’s a skill cat lovers bring to the table
It sounds trivial to say it, but dogs and cats are very different animals. The experience of living with individuals of these two species is not the same in many ways. I know I am generalizing here and ignoring the many exceptions, but the typical cat is more independent that the typical dog, and usually more aloof. (Again, I know there are dogs who lean towards the standoff-ish, and cats who are clingy and constantly affectionate, but that’s not the most common way for members of those species to be. Think of it this way—it remains true that men are generally taller than women even though there are certainly individual women who are taller than individual men.)
My point here, and I’m sure you’re glad I’m getting to it, is that if someone has experience with cats, they may acquire perspectives and skills that are different from those acquired by people who spend all of their time with dogs. (It should go without saying that I have no problem with anyone spending all of their time with dogs!) Those skills and perspectives can be very useful with certain dogs, though I’m not necessarily referring to dogs who are more cat-lie in any way.
The dogs who benefit most from the knowledge of cat-savvy people are those who are shy, fearful or nervous. People who know cats well are completely on board with the fact that you can’t push or force a cat to be social with you. (It’s unwise to push or force a dog, either, by the way, but many dogs are easier to convince to engage with us than cats are.)
With cats, it is always wise to take it slow, let them come to you and ignore them until they show an interest in you. That is also true of fearful dogs, but many people who come into contact with a dog who is afraid try to cajole the dog into approaching, or try to lure the dog with toys or treats. People with cat experience are far less likely to try to take shortcuts like this, to the benefit of the dog in question. Cat-savvy people are used to the idea that you have to accept the animal on his own terms and to be patient. To be fair, many dog lovers also know this really well, but I find that it is almost universal among people who have spent a significant amount of time with their feline friends.
I was recently reminded of the wonderful way that many cat lovers have with shy, nervous or fearful dogs when my friend Betsy came over while I was watching a dog of that description. I told her that the dog was very sweet, though easily scared by new people, and that the best thing to do was to toss her some treats and then ignore her. Betsy did exactly that, and within minutes, I took this picture of a very happy dog (the lean one on the left with a tail wagging fast enough to look blurry) enjoying her new human friend. Throughout their initial interaction, Betsy always let the dog control the pace of their progress. She never pushed too hard to pet the dog or encouraged the dog to approach. She just waited and let the dog do what felt comfortable.
Do you have cat experience that has helped you in your interactions with dogs?
News: Guest Posts
Dog's name and age: Elizabeth (Lizzie), 7 years old
After deciding to get a dog, we headed to the local pet store where a rescue group had two puppies, Elizabeth and Isabella (Lizzie and Izzie). My husband took one look at their paws and walked away saying those dogs are going to get really big. Of course, I couldn't walk away without at least holding a puppy. I immediately knew that was the type of connection I wanted to have with a dog. We left that day without Elizabeth and saw dogs from a few other rescue groups but I never got that feeling again.
Two weeks later we went to an adoption event where Elizabeth, Isabella and their sister Gracie happen to be. My husband (who didn't remember these were the dogs from a few weeks ago) held up each girl. Gracie was terrified, Isabella nipped him on the nose and Elizabeth gave him kisses all over. He looked at me and said "I like this one." We filled out the adoption papers with the rescue group that day and brought her home about a week later.
Good Dog: Studies & Research
Dogs sniff urine for different lengths of time
The information available in canine urine is astounding. From a proper sniff, dogs can learn about the sex, reproductive status, diet and stress level of dogs who have been there before. Urine is used to communicate about territories, to mask the smell of other dogs, to detect females who are likely to be reproductively receptive and to compete with other individuals. It’s no wonder that our canine friends find urine so compelling that they are irresistibly drawn to it. As anyone who has spent even a little time with dogs knows, urine sniffing is a favorite pastime.
A recent study called “Length of time domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) spend smelling urine of gonadectomised and intact conspecifics” was conducted to investigate whether gonadectomy (being spayed or neutered) affects urine-sniffing behavior. Since gonadectomy has significant impacts on body chemistry, it has long been suggested that it disrupts the flow of information available through urine that dogs have evolved to detect over many generations.
Researchers tested the affects of gonadectomy in urine sniffing by recording how long dogs sniffed urine from intact versus gonadectomized individuals. They found that dogs spent more time sniffing urine from spayed or neutered dogs than from intact ones. One possibility is that the dogs are spending a longer time sniffing such urine because they are trying to figure out the information it contains. Because it may have a combination of chemicals that is different than the range of compounds that the dogs have evolved to understand, it may be harder for them to make sense out of it.
Interestingly, this study contradicts the findings of Lisberg and Snowdon, whose 2009 paper also analyzed the investigation patterns of unfamiliar urine and found that dogs spent more time sniffing urine from intact dogs than from gonadectomized ones. One possible explanation for the difference may be that for the current paper, the dogs were tested indoors, but for the 2009 paper, the study took place outside. (Fewer distractions inside may also explain an average sniff length of nearly 13 seconds in this paper compared with just over 5 seconds in the older study.) Another difference between the results of the two studies is that the recent research found no difference in sniffing time related to what kind of dog was doing the sniffing (male or female, intact or gonadectomized) but Lisberg and Snowdon found that neutered males and intact females both spent more time sniffing urine from intact males than from neutered males.
More research is definitely needed if we want to understand the complicated behavior of urine sniffing, which may involve many interactions between environment and individual traits of the dogs—both those who are the sources of urine and those who sniff if. Research is time intensive and can be costly, which is why I’m so impressed by this particular study. It was conducted in a single home in which the 12 dogs recruited to be sniffers all live, there was no funding source for the study and all of the urine in the study came from out of state to insure that the urine came from unfamiliar dogs. Kudos to the authors for taking the initiative to conduct a cool and clever experiment!
News: Guest Posts
If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that our dogs are members of our family—and your veterinarian thinks you should feed them like one. How? With a fresh diet made from whole, real foods that are good enough for any member of the family. When it comes to good nutrition, our dogs are just like us; the better they eat the better off they are. By giving your best friend the best food, you can ensure that they have a longer, healthier life.
"Fresh diets for dogs have a variety of benefits," says Dr. Justin Shmalberg, DVM, board certified veterinary nutritionist and clinical associate professor at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, "It's nutrition you can see. Going forward, we all need to be looking for ways to provide fresh diets to our pets." Dog food company NomNomNow is finally making it easy for every owner to do so.
Fresh dog foods have traditionally been challenging to feed, as they require expensive formulation from a veterinary nutritionist. However, NomNomNow makes it easy to purchase fresh dog food, so your pet can receive the best nutrition possible. It's formulated by a veterinary nutritionist, cooked fresh to order, and delivered free to your door. And best of all? Not only is this fresh diet healthier and easier to feed than any other dog food, but customers are amazed at how affordable such a high-quality diet can be. NomNomNow's introductory offer of 50% off your first two shipments makes it even more of a no-brainer to try.
Pet parents who have made the switch to fresh say that it's about better health, and getting more time with our four-legged best friends. NomNomNow customer Vida K. says, "A healthy lifestyle is important for our dogs. As they get older, we realize that time is short and we want to squeeze as much time out of them as we can...With a healthy diet, we are literally adding years to their life."
Recent studies have shown that the preventive power of vegetables can actually be life-saving for our pups:
In a 2005 study at Purdue University, researchers found that by simply adding fresh vegetables to dog's kibble diets, cancer cell growth was prevented and decelerated by 70- 90%. Given that half of dogs over the age of 10 succumb to cancer (the leading cause of death for dogs of this age), we can't afford not to feed our dogs vegetables.
Fresh feeders and veterinarians also report a host of other immediately visible health benefits. Because dogs can better optimize the nutritional value of the food they're eating, results show up in several ways.
"Fresh foods are indeed more bioavailable than those made with highly processed ingredients," says Dr. Catherine Lane, DMV. This translates to the vital long-term health benefits a fresh food provides, plus a range of short term benefits to the pet and owner as well.
Pet parents say that within weeks of feeding NomNomNow, they begin to notice results. "Ever since switching to NomNomNow, Taya has been completely full of energy, looks very fit/healthy, and has a constant shiny coat," says Travis D. of San Francisco, who has been feeding NomNomNow for over a year. "People even comment on her when we walk down the street!"
Dr. Shmalberg confirms that most of his patients report these benefits shortly after switching to fresh dog food, in addition to continued immune system maintenance and better overall health.
The rich vitamins that come from fresh vegetables (Vitamin A, C) and freshly-cooked meats (zinc) play an important role in immune system maintenance, which not only helps your dog feel better every day, but also means fewer trips to the vet. "The impact of fresh dog food on Bella has been significant," says pet parent Bennet M. of San Francisco, a NomNomNow feeder for a year and a half now, "She's shown many overall health improvements, and in turn reduced our vet bills. Her veterinarians say she is one of the healthiest bulldogs they have seen."
For pet parents considering making the switch, current fresh feeders all agree: NomNomNow is the best and easiest way to provide the best diet possible. Better food and better health mean more years with our four-legged best friends—and isn't that what we all want?
To try fresh dog food and see real health benefits, start your dog's profile today and enjoy 50% off your first two deliveries of fresh dog food (free shipping included).
Say hello to real food you can feel good about feeding, and more years with your best friend.
Easy-to-Make DIY Dog Treats
Dogs are cuddly, cute and best of all, loyal! The only thing they love more than their owner is treats. But not all store-bought treats are good for them.
Personal Creations sent over 7 homemade dog treat ideas for your beloved best friend. They all contain fruit, veggies or a good source of vitamin D and protein. The next time you see a tail wag, hand over some pupcakes or doogie donuts and let them know how much you love them!
Dog's Life: Home & Garden
Emily Post’s great-great-granddaughter gives advice on having dogs at parties
Question: Is it OK to let a dog roam around a party?
Answer: A dog may be man’s best friend, but, let’s be honest, not all humans like dogs and not all dogs like all humans. For most party hosts, this isn’t a big issue: They know their dog and will put it in a crate, the yard (weather permitting) or an area of the house where the pet will be comfortable.
Or they will let the dog wander about, knowing that it is calm and not a food thief or constantly underfoot. Most hosts also know the guests who are coming over, and most guests will know that the host has a dog. They may have already met the dog and are expecting it to be present.
Problems arise when the dog has characteristics or tendencies that distract guests or make them uncomfortable, or when a guest has fears or allergies.
I suggest that you always warn new guests that you have a dog (or other pets). That way, if they have fears or allergies, they are aware of the situation ahead of time.
I also suggest that if you have fears or allergies, it’s OK to make them known. “Sarah, I would love to come on Friday! I have a true phobia of dogs, so I have to ask: Do you and Kevin have a dog?” The conversation can then evolve into what the host and guest feel comfortable with in regard to the dog and visit.
If you haven’t talked with your host about your fear or allergy and show up to the party to find Fido free-roaming, it’s OK to speak up to your host.
Just remember that how you say something is just as important as what you say. A calm tone (as calm as you can muster if your fears are kicking in) and offering a suggestion rather than a demand will be better received.
“Beth, thank you so much for having us. I’m terribly sorry, but I didn’t realize that you have a dog. I have a very real fear of them. Would it be possible to keep him separate from the party?”
Most hosts will be accommodating. Also, you can choose to suggest that you leave the party. Not that I think it’s the best solution, but stating that your allergy or phobia is severe enough for you to have to excuse yourself is certainly an option. “Beth, I’m so sorry — I forgot to tell you that I have a very severe dog allergy, and I’m afraid I won’t be able to stay for the party. I would love to get together another time.”
Either way, you should feel confident in your communication, and if you aren’t able to stay for the party, suggest another time or place to get together.
Good Dog: Activities & Sports
The best time of year is late summer – the weather is its warmest and the days are long. Even though fall is around the corner, many states experience hot weather well into autumn. Take advantage of the gorgeous outdoors now and be active, especially with your dog! While exercise is crucial to your and your pet’s health, it’s important to remember that the soaring temperatures can be harmful and easily lead to overexertion. Your dog doesn’t need as much exercise in hot weather and should be eased into any activity during the summer. Use the Poof Pet Activity Tracker to monitor your dog’s activities and keep your dog smiling and comfortable.
Read on for six tips to keep your furry friend safe, happy, and exercised this year!
1. Become an early bird – or a night owl
If you normally go on your daily walks during the day, it might be time to set your clock back or push it forward to stroll safely. Whether you choose to get up early or stay up late, Fido will appreciate the cooler temperatures when the sun isn’t high overhead.
2. Swim in the lake…or in the kiddie pool!
It may seem like a no-brainer, but water is the perfect solution to hot weather dog exercise. Whether you live by the beach, a gentle river is a walk away, or a lake is within driving distance, getting your pup into cool water is perfect for summer. Simply do an Internet search for dog friendly beaches, lakes, or rivers in your area and get moving!
If a natural water escape isn’t nearby, try setting up a kiddie pool in your yard! This is also a great alternative for dogs who are afraid of deep or shifting water. Ramp up the fun by including water toys like floating frisbees, splash balls, and decoy ducks. Some dogs will even dive for their toys! The Poof Pet Activity Tracker is waterproof do you don’t have to worry about your furry friend jumping in the water.
3. Take to the trees for a shady forest hike
Hiking is a great source of exercise for you and for your pup. If you have any forest trails nearby, the shade can provide a perfect respite from the hot summer sun. Plus, the dirt trails stay cool and ensure that your buddy’s paws won’t get scorched!
4. Wet pup’s belly and paws to keep him cool
If your only option is to exercise when it’s hot, bring a wet, frozen cloth or a bottle of water along. The belly and paws are great areas to dampen and are more effective at keeping your dog cool than his back. Bring along extra water for drinking and a small, collapsible bowl. Remember: if you need a water break, so does your furry family member.
5. Keep an eye out for signs of heat exhaustion
During summertime exercise, one of the most important things to watch for is heat exhaustion in your pet. Excessive panting, lethargy, confusion, and bright red gums and/or tongue are all signs of heat stroke. Additionally, if Spot lies down and refuses to get up, he needs water and a break. Never force a dog to keep going if he exhibits these signs; get him to a shady, cool place to rest and recover.
Bonus: Remember that dogs can get sunburned too! Sunscreen is crucial for dogs with sparse, light colored hair. Baby sunscreen doesn’t contain toxic chemicals and is safe to use on your pets. Just keep away from sunscreen with zinc oxide, as it is deadly to dogs if ingested.
6. Use the Poof Pet Activity Tracker
Make sure your pup stays on a path to good health by using Poof Pet Activity Tracker. Use this light weight device to easily monitor your dog’s everyday activity and sleep 24/7. Track your morning (or evening) walks this summer with your pup and see how many calories they burned. Keeping your pet fit and well rested is the best way to ensue your dog is happy and healthy. Plus share your dog’s activity and photos of your adventures with other Poof Pet Parents.
Bark Readers: Save 40% off the The Poof Pet Activity Tracker with the offer code BARK40.
News: Guest Posts
Dog's name and age: Khaleesi, 3 years
Khaleesi was adopted after her fur-brother, Dmitri, had trouble with separation anxiety. He began tearing up the house any time his family was away. After consulting their vet and trying many things nothing would work to calm his nerves, that is until Khaleesi. They adopted this sweet girl as a comfort companion for Dmitri and it worked! Dmitri and Khaleesi are now inseparable.
More on Khaleesi:
Khaleesi loves going on walks, going to the dog park, swimming in the river, or just sunbathing in the backyard. She is a happy girl with a lot of personality. She loves to chase squirrels, birds and her brother Dmitri. Her favorite toy is a soccer ball and she has a blast playing soccer with her daddy.
News: Guest Posts
Dog's name and age: Gabriel, 5 years
Gabriel was adopted two months after the previous family "Argus" dog died of cancer. His family enrolled Gabriel in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study which is a study that aims to determine what causes cancer in Golden Retrievers.
Gabriel is one busy pup, in addition to being a therapy dog with Intermountain Therapy Animals he is also a R.E.A.D. dog. Being a R.E.A.D. dog means he gets to go to elementary schools where the children (usually first and second grades) read to him. He also attends Paws-to-De-stress at Montana State University during finals week to help college kids relieve stress. When he's not volunteering, he loves playing with people and his fur friends during a good game of fetch.
Good Dog: Studies & Research
Intense mothering associated with puppy failure
We all know human mothers who dote excessively on their kids, depriving them of the opportunity to learn how to handle life’s challenges on their own. New research suggests that canine moms who are overly attentive may be causing the same harm to their puppies.
In a study of 98 puppies at a New Jersey facility that breeds, raises and trains guide dogs for the visually impaired, researchers found that high levels of maternal care were associated with failure. About 30 percent of puppies don’t make the cut, and too much mothering may be part of the problem. Puppies whose mothers were excessively attentive were more likely to fail out of the guide dog program.
Attentiveness involved many behaviors, such as the amount of time spent in contact with the puppies, time spent licking the puppies and time in the box with the puppies. Additionally, the mothers’ postures when nursing their puppies may have influenced their development. Some mothers lie on their sides while nursing, which gives puppies easy access to milk. Other moms remain standing, a posture that requires puppies to work harder for the milk. Puppies whose mothers stood during nursing were more likely to succeed as guide dogs.
The scientists who conducted the study assert that facing and overcoming minor obstacles—such as difficulties acquiring milk from Mom—may be important for developing independence and key life skills. The opportunity to succeed despite facing challenges may allow puppies to develop confidence, self-reliance, frustration tolerance or other qualities that made success as a guide dog more likely.
Interestingly, this study’s conclusion that excessive mothering is problematic contradicts the results found in a previous study of the effects of maternal care on working dogs. In that study, higher levels of maternal care were associated with success in a program for raising working dogs for the Swedish Armed Forces. It may be that different mothering styles are best for raising working dogs of different types—guide dogs versus military dogs. Another possibility is that we’ve got a Goldilocks situation in which some dogs mother too much and some dogs mother too little, but others provide the amount that is just right.
What does seem clear from both studies is that there are strong effects of early experiences on adult behavior in dogs. Impulse control, aggression, neophobia, motivation and anxiety and a host of emotional and cognitive traits are influenced by the type and amount of maternal care they receive in the first few weeks of life. Any program would likely benefit by considering this factor when deciding which individuals to breed.
There is much to be gained by understanding which factors are predictive of a successful working dog. As the authors of this recent research wrote, one element involves the “enduring benefits of maternal care—in moderation”.
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