Monthly Archives: July 2014
14 Common Dog Behavior Myths Decoded
Although dog training has become more of a science than a craft in recent years, some persistent myths still mislead us when reading canine behavior. Don’t let a myth harm your relationship with your pooch. Here, we dispel 14 common myths and look at the facts.
1. An old dog can’t learn new tricks.
False. Old dogs not only learn new tricks but they thrive when trained. My late Pomeranian, Mr. Teddy, who was adopted at an estimated 10 to 13 years of age, was a training superstar in Vetstreet videos, which were filmed two weeks before he passed away. By the same token, older dogs without housetraining experience as puppies can successfully be housetrained. As long as a dog is mentally and physically capable of learning to perform a behavior and is properly motivated, it’s entirely possible to train her. While intense agility training for Teddy was not realistic, teaching basic commands was.
2. A dog shouldn’t sleep with you or be allowed on furniture, or she’ll think she’s the boss and will misbehave.
False. Just like humans, dogs simply want a comfortable place to lie down. If comfort can be combined with being next to their beloved human, whether it’s right next to you on the couch, or even on top of your lap, then they’re all for it. In rare cases, dogs will guard their sleeping and resting areas, and will show aggression when humans approach these sacred areas. This type of behavior will require remedial training. But for the average Rover, sleeping in bed or resting on the couch has no adverse behavioral effects.
3. When your dog has a potty accident, it’s important to rub her nose in it to let her know what she did.
False. When you rub a dog’s nose in her own mess, she often sees no association between that and her having had a potty accident. Nor does rubbing her nose in her accident teach her not to potty on the floor again. Instead, rubbing her nose in her accident teaches her that humans are dangerous and unpredictable, and she will likely begin to hide in safety by sneaking into another room to go to the bathroom, making housebreaking even more difficult.
4. A dog who cowers from people was likely abused in the past.
False. There are various reasons for dogs cowering, and not all of them are because a dog was abused. Commonly, the dog was not properly socialized or had negative experiences during her prime socialization period as a puppy. Genetics also play a role in the fearful dog. Other reasons for a dog to duck away might be that she has learned to dodge people who try to grab her collar, or she is uncomfortable with petting, such as having her ears handled. Unfortunately, well-meaning strangers often approach dogs by bending over the top of their heads and reaching down to pet, which will send timid dogs into a cowering position. A better way to approach is by getting into a kneeling position, with your body turned toward the side, and then inviting the dog to approach you. If you practice this method, it will be less likely to cause a canine to cower.
5. Shelter dogs have too much baggage. It’s better to adopt a puppy to start with a clean slate.
False. Many shelter dogs are well-behaved pooches who, for an endless list of possible reasons, could not be kept by their original owners. Older shelter dogs make ideal candidates for people wanting to skip the puppy stages of chewing, potty training and mouthing. The interview process at most shelters also pairs canine candidates with the family setting that will best suit the dog’s temperament, which can create cohesion from the beginning.
6. All dogs should enjoy being around other dogs. It’s essential for dogs to go on outings with other dogs, such as at the dog park. If a dog doesn’t enjoy other dogs, there is something wrong with her.
False. Not all people are social butterflies and neither are all dogs. Some dogs may prefer solitude and only a small, select group of people. Dogs also have their own preferences when it comes to other canines. Breeding can play a big role in their sociability, with terriers being notorious for contentiousness with other pooches. Other times, whether from lack of socialization as a puppy or simply an individual preference, dogs may not enjoy canine comradery. Even though plenty of dogs enjoy the dog park, not all of them enjoy the idea of dozens of other dogs frolicking around them and would instead prefer a quiet walk with their owners.
7. You should let dogs just fight it out when they get into a scuffle.
False (well, at least partly false). It’s true that you should never get into the middle of a dog fight, because some of the most damaging dog bites occur when owners try to separate fighting dogs. There are some tactics you can use to break up the scuffle without actually getting in the middle of the fray. Try using water, a really loud noise, or even a distraction like grabbing a treat bag or using voice to direct them to do something else. Owners should do everything they can to prevent another fight in the future. Often dogs don’t settle matters on their own, and fighting intensifies over time, especially with dogs in the same home. This calls for advanced training with the help of an animal behaviorist or a certified professional trainer.
8. My dog is trying to show she’s in charge when she doesn’t listen to me.
False. It’s easy to attribute human motives like “getting even” or “being spiteful” to our dogs, but dogs don’t have the same complex emotions as humans. The more realistic reasons why a dog doesn’t do what’s being asked is either because she doesn’t understand what she’s being asked to do, or the dog doesn’t have the proper motivation to want to perform the behavior. For example, most dogs don’t come when called because the payoff isn’t worth it. When they do, they usually are put on a leash or taken into the house when they’d rather stay outside.
9. My dog knows she was bad after she goes potty in the house. Her guilty face says it all.
False. Dogs show a perceived “guilty face” not because they feel an actual emotion of guilt, but they are actually showing appeasement behaviors in response to their owners intimidating body language. Whether we want to or not, it’s difficult not to display negative body language when we’re upset with our pets. A 2009 study by researcher Alexandra Horowitz at Barnard College in New York revealed that the “guilty look” dogs display is solely attributed by humans and has no relation to whether the dog is actually responsible for an offense. The study found that dogs who had not actually eaten the forbidden treat, but were scolded by their misinformed owners for eating a treat, showed guiltier-looking body language than dogs who had actually eaten the forbidden treat. The guilty look is simply a response of the dog to her owner’s behavior.
10. It’s always the owner’s fault when a dog misbehaves.
False. Most owners are well-meaning, but are simply misinformed or lack knowledge on how to train their dogs effectively. Blaming the owner for all of a dog’s problems makes for good TV, but there are a myriad of reasons why a dog misbehaves, including lack of proper socialization or preventive training, or even the genetic tendencies of the dog. It’s important for pet parents to push past feelings of shame or guilt; instead get started in the right direction with help from a pet professional using positive reinforcement methods.
11. Using treats for training is bribery, and the dog won’t do the behavior later if you don’t give her a treat.
False. It’s true that dogs need motivation to perform a behavior. That said, the motivation doesn’t always have to be a food-based reward. Dogs can be rewarded in many other ways. Reward them with playing, petting or getting to go outside. They can also be put on a random schedule of rewards with a lottery-ticket-like system so they never know when the payout will come. This system helps keep them motivated. For example: learning to walk on a loose leash may be taught in the beginning by using treats, but once the behavior is learned, treats can be phased out so that the only reward becomes getting to go on the walk itself.
12. When a dog chews up shoes or destroys furniture it’s because she’s punishing the owner.
False. Dogs chew on shoes, furniture and other human items not to punish their owners, but simply because it feels good on their teeth, it relieves boredom, releases energy and, in some cases, may indicate separation anxiety.
13. A dog can’t really be happy unless she can run off-leash.
False. Leashes are made for a dog’s safety. They should be perceived as tools that keep your dog from running into oncoming traffic, going up to unknown dogs or people, and prevent them from running way. Although regular off-leash play in a fenced area is essential for a dog’s well-being, while out in public, dogs can learn to be perfectly content on a leash at their owner’s side.
14. Dogs are great judges of people, so if a dog doesn’t like someone, it must mean there is something wrong with that person.
False. In the majority of cases, dogs who react aggressively or fearfully to a person are not doing so out of a negative moral evaluation of the individual, but are responding out of their own self-preservation. With that said, there have been plenty of circumstances where pets have used an apparent sixth sense to pick up on cues that went unseen by their human and actually saved their human’s life. However, the majority of dogs I see in my training practice are unfriendly with a person because they are reacting out of fear to a certain physical attribute, movement or the physical proximity of a person, and are not reacting based on any moral evaluation of the individual.
Article Credit – VetStreet
14 Things That Cat Owners Know to Be True
If you live with a feline companion, you know that cats can be quirky and totally entertaining. (Even if they’d never admit it in a million, trillion years.) Here are just a few of our favorite cat-isms, some with sandpaper tongue firmly in cheek. Did we miss any of yours?
1. Cats are relaxed.
2.Very very relaxed.
3.Until the millisecond that they’re not.
4. A cat appreciates a litter box, but does not always need one.
5. Cats show their love and affection to their owners in various ways. Some of those ways include a dead mouse.
6. Cats love water.
7. Just not a lot of it.
8. If you travel with a cat, you’re gonna want to let her explore (and learn to love) her carrier before you leave. Cats might love getting in boxes, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to cooperate immediately when introduced to a new one!
9. Toes on top of a blanket are safe. Toes underneath a blanket are prey.
10. Dogs might think cats like them, but that’s only because that’s what the cat wants them to think.
11. Kitten is clearly just another word for “ninja.”
12. No space is too small to squeeze inside.
13. The cat’s never in your spot. You’re in the cat’s spot.
14. A cat’s life is wonderful. Really, really wonderful. But also totally exhausting.
Article Credit – www.vetstreet.com
41 Paw-some Facts About Dogs!
If you ever play the Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s lonely Hearts Club Band, watch your dog. The Band put a dog whistle sound in the song A Day in the Life, so you won’t hear it but your dog will!
This is just one of forty-one fun facts about dogs you probably didn’t know!
Cesar’s Greetings – Breaking Our Ritual Greetings With Dogs!
There’s something that humans do to strange dogs that is actually the worst thing possible, and yet none of us are aware of it, because we do it to strange humans all the time.
In the human world, it’s quite normal. The problem is that we forget that our canine companions do not live in the human world. They live in the dog world, where what we do to them is very unnatural.
I’m talking about the greeting, which is a ritual. Ritual is very important in the dog world, because so much of what they do is based on instinctive ritual. But ritual is also very important in the human world. The difference is that human ritual is based on intellect and emotion.
You probably don’t even realize that you use ritual, but you do. For example, you’re at some public event and your friend introduces you to their friend. What do you do? Your friend says the names, then you both extend your hands and shake and say some variation of, “Nice to meet you!”
And you do that whether or not it’s actually nice to meet the person. That’s one big difference between humans and dogs. Humans can lie while doing their ritual. Dogs cannot. Their ritual is instinctive, so it’s the truth.
Now let’s look at the steps in the human greeting ritual.
It requires a third party or some outside circumstance, like being stuck in line together, someone asking directions, or so on. It would be considered very strange in the human world for somebody to walk up to a complete stranger, extend his hand and say, “Hi, I’m Walter. Who are you?” It wouldn’t be strange if Walter was selling something or taking a survey, but those are also outside circumstances.
In the dog world, there doesn’t need to be any circumstance except two dogs meeting.
In the human greeting ritual, both parties face each other and immediately move into each other’s intimate space with a handshake. In some cultures, this even goes so far as a hug or a kiss.
In the dog world, the first approach is indirect — side to side, not face to face.
In the human greeting ritual, the two parties will usually immediately engage in some conversation, whether they have any interest in each other or not.
In the dog world, if a dog has no interest, it will walk away and the other dog won’t take it personally.
That worst possible thing that we do to strange dogs is to approach them with the human greeting ritual, but we can’t help it because it is our ritual, and it is so ingrained in our nature that it is very hard to avoid.
This is where intellect can overcome instinct, because you really need to think hard to avoid the temptation of greeting a strange dog the way you’d greet a strange human. Additionally, dogs are just so cute and adorable, and humans love to give nothing but affection to adorable things.
And so, inevitably, when we meet strange dogs, we get right in their faces and talk to them in high-pitched voices, and try to pet them right away and this will put most dogs into one of three states: fight, flight, or avoidance. It’s a good way to get bitten, or to make the dog pee on the floor, or to scare it away.
No touch, no talk, no eye contact is the best and only advice I give for meeting a strange dog. Ignore the dog and let it come to you to get your scent and sense your energy — to the dog, those two things are your “name.”
Then, let the dog decide. If it walks away, then it’s not interested. Don’t take it personally. If it leans or jumps on you, gently push the dog away and claim your space. Do not offer the dog affection until it shows calm, submissive energy. Jumping and leaning are not signs of affection; they are attempts to establish dominance over you. Don’t fall for it! You’re the one setting the rules here.
Beyond those rules, here’s the best way to teach you the proper way to meet a dog. Imagine an animal that would be intimidating to you. Maybe it’s a horse or an elephant because of their size; or a rat or a squirrel because they’re fast and they can bite. In any case, pick the animal, then ask yourself how you would approach it if you found yourself locked in a room with one.
I’m guessing that your first choice would not be to get right in that animal’s face and make baby talk. More likely than not, you’d probably move to your own corner of the room and let that animal do whatever it wanted, maybe hoping that it didn’t notice you at all.
This is what we have to remember about strange dogs. While we see ourselves as name, breed, species, and then animal, dogs see themselves as animal, species, breed, and then name. We need to approach them with respect, but in order to do that, we need to see the world from their point of view.
Stay calm, and follow your instincts!
Cesar says we need to see the world from our dog point of view. How would your dog describe you?
Article Credit: www.cesarsway.com
Why These Children Are Reading to Homeless Cats
Yep, it’s fur real.
Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, 30 elementary school kids crawl right into the “Cat Colony” of The Animal Rescue League of Berks County, Pennsylvania, crack open a book, and snuggle up to the strays.
The cats, who have been rescued from the streets, are naturally shy and anxious at first, but will usually start sneaking over a few minutes after the kids plop down with their picture books. The program helps the cats become socialized again — and therefor more adoptable — giving them the chance to snag a little TLC in in the process.
However, it’s not just a one-way street — the program is actually an educational initiative.
(Caption: Cheyenne reads to a captivated audience)
The Book Buddy program was founded last August after volunteer coordinator Kristi Rodriguez brought her son, who was having trouble reading, into the shelter with her.
“Why don’t you go read to the cats?” she suggested. It was a hit, and she figured if he liked it, other kids would, too.
Thus, the Book Buddies program was born, and nobody loves being a Buddy more than seven-year-old Colby Procyzk.
For years, whenever his mother, Katie, tried to get Colby to read, it usually ended in tears and a tantrum.
“He’d get himself so frustrated and upset. He’d cry, ‘I can’t do this, I don’t want to, I’m dumb and I’m stupid.'”
Luckily, his grandmother is a foster mother for the ARL’s Grey Muzzles Program, which helps brings special needs and senior dogs into the homes of senior citizens. Grandma thought the program would be a perfect chance for Colby, a hopeless little animal lover, to brush up on his reading.
“He goes right into the room with all the cats, opens the book, and they come running to lay down and listen,” she said.
(Caption: Colby reads with his buddy)
Soon after Colby began reading to the cats, his report card went up two grades. After school, you can usually find him reading to all of his pets at home, three of which are cats that he’s successfully talked mom into bringing home from the shelter.
“There’s no struggling anymore. He’s a joy to read with now, and he’s so confident,” Katie said.
Another little girl named Cheyenne Boyles, 6, was petrified of all animals before she began reading with the kitties. Her father thought that Book Buddies would be the perfect way to get her acclimated to them. At first, as soon as she saw a cat, she’d scooch out of the way; but one month later, she’s letting the cats sit on her shoulder, and is helping her dad as a volunteer dog walker.
So, why just cats?
“Dogs in the shelter environment just aren’t as conducive to calm, quiet time,” explained Beth Irleand, the ARL”s communications director. “We have had kids who are allergic to cats ask to read, and we’ll either find a dog that will work, or set them up in our critter room so they can read to bunnies and guinea pigs.”
The ten-acre shelter is also unique in that it is the only open admissions shelter in the county, accepting any animal that comes through the door. Last year alone, that totaled about 8,000 –and included a llama.
Over the past few months, shelters from around the country have contacted the ARL asking for tips on how to start their own program.
“We didn’t create this as a way to get these cats adopted or raise donations, it was really meant to be a service to the community,” said Irleand. “But kids and parents have fallen head over heels and adopted them along the way.”
Though the program has undoubtedly helped his literary career, for Colby, it’s less about the reading skills and more about the connection.
“The cats love me no matter what, and I care about their feelings,” he said. “They’re smart animals, so they need a lot of love.”
Article credit – www.huffingtonpost.com
What To Do If You Find a Lost Dog
There’s a good chance you will eventually come across a dog that appears to be lost or homeless. As a dog lover, your first instinct will probably be to help the pooch. Before you take action, there are important safety precautions you should remember.
Err on the side of caution
An unknown dog wandering the streets alone may be ill, confused, scared, or hurt. It may also be a dog that has been abused. All of those conditions can make a dog behave in an unpredictable way. And the situation can also be exacerbated if you are walking your own dog at the time. If your dog starts barking or tries to “defend” you, the other dog—even if he initially appears harmless—may become aggressive or run away.
Make the right call
For all those reasons, it is often best to call your local police or animal control professionals. They are the experts at dealing with homeless and lost dogs. Thanks to their training, they can quickly ascertain if the dog has recently wandered away from its owner or has been a homeless wanderer for some time. And they know the best techniques for approaching and capturing the dog.
It’s always a good idea to program the phone number of your local animal control department into your mobile phone’s contact list. Once you’ve called them and provided the dog’s location, you may want to keep an eye on the dog from a safe distance. That way, you can call animal control to give them updated information about the dog’s location if he starts wandering.
Acting on your own
If you cannot contact the animal control office and if the dog seems harmless, docile, uninjured, and approachable, you still need to exercise good judgment and caution.
Approach slowly. Scaring a dog by making sudden or fast movements may provoke him into an attack or cause him to run away, perhaps into traffic.<a
Stay calm and speak in quiet tones. Try to act in a reassuring way, soothing the dog with a friendly demeanor.
Offer food or a treat. This may motivate the dog to meet you half way by coming to you and showing that he trusts you.. Besides, if he’s been wandering around for awhile he may be hungry.
Check to see if the dog has tags. If the dog has tags, there’s a good chance he’s simply lost and not a dog that’s been roughing it on the streets all his life. And the odds of the dog being trained and accustomed to human contact go up. If you have a nylon lead with you, gently slip it over the dog’s head to keep him from running away. This should also make it easier for you to check his tags. They may have contact information for his owners or other useful info to help you identify where he lives. You may be able to call them right away and, if all goes well, witness a happy reunion very quickly.
If you live nearby and the dog is willing to go with you to the safer environment of your home, place him in an area where he feels comfortable. And keep him separated from your own pets—preferably in a gated yard—to avoid territorial disputes and the possibility of the lost dog transferring parasites or diseases.
Now that the lost dog is in a safe place and getting the attention and reassurance he needs, you should take the following steps to help reunite him with his owner:
- If you haven’t already done so, check his tags for contact information.
- Call your police and animal control departments, as well as local animal shelters, and notify them about the dog. If the owner has been searching for the dog, they may have notified at least one of those organizations.
- Take the dog to an animal shelter or local veterinarian to see if he has an identification microchip.
If those efforts don’t reunite the dog with its owners, you can:
- Post FOUND DOG messages in local newspapers. People who have lost dogs often read these notices to see if any description matches their beloved pet.
- Place FOUND DOG posters and flyers in popular areas around town. Make sure your posters and flyers have the dog’s photo and your contact information.
- Spread the word to all your local dog-loving friends. Use email, phone calls, Facebook posts and Tweets to get the word out. Use a photo of the dog wherever you can. In today’s social-media era, it’s easy for these messages be shared. The ever-widening net of contacts may eventually reach the owner or someone who knows the dog.
What to do if someone claims the dog
Never simply hand the dog to a person who claims the dog his theirs. The fact is, you never know if this person is being honest when they say, “He’s mine. Oh, how I’ve missed him.”
In addition to asking for the person’s identification, make sure they can prove the dog is really theirs. This can take the form of photos of them with the dog—we all have tons of photos like this—or official documents that list the dog’s breed/description and age.
And here’s another simple thing to try: See how the dog reacts when he see’s the purported owner. If he runs up and give him a lick, that’s a good sign. But if the dog is indifferent or backs away in fear, you should be leery. If the person insists the dog is theirs but you still have your suspicions, call your local police department.
Article credit – www.pedigree.com