Cockatoos are very smart

An international team of scientists, Barbara Klump and Lucy Aplin from the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, John Martin from the Taronga Conservation Society and Richard Major from the Australian Museum have made an interesting discovery.The sulphur-crested cockatoo, native to Australia, has been observed lifting the lids off of garbage bins to gain access to food. The team of researchers have determined beyond any doubt, that this behavior has been taught through social interaction from bird group to bird group. In one case a lone bird reinvented the technique of opening the trash bin and it was quickly copied and spread to other bird groups. The researchers have determined that this “taught/copied” behavior illustrates regional subcultures.     

cockatoo opening a trash bin – Max Planck photo

Not all of the cockatoos use the technique to open trash bins, but will wait for another bird, typically a male, to open the bin and then they scavenge for food.

Sulphur crested cockatoos are very smart. They are also persistent and in the wild as well as as pets, have adapted very well to living with people.

Staying on Good Terms with the Neighbors: Four Tips for Dog-Owners

by guest blogger Brandon Butler

What goes into being a great dog owner? Obviously, it means giving your pet the best possible care. It means building a long-term relationship of trust and affection. But there’s another component of being a great dog owner, too, that has to do with how you and your dog relate to your neighbors. If you want those around you to love your pet as much as you do, it’s important that you keep in mind certain basic principles of good neighborly behavior for dog owners. After all, failure to do so can jeopardize your relationships in your community, which can have a harmful effect on your dog’s well-being, too.

image pixabay

Keep the noise down.

Just because your dog’s barking doesn’t bother you, that doesn’t mean that it’s acceptable. For one thing, your dog may be barking because they are anxious, bored, or feel threatened. It’s important to pinpoint the reason behind the barking so you can help your dog get past whatever is bothering them. Secondly, you don’t want your family to be a nuisance. Hearing constant barking can be frustrating for your neighbors, and significantly reduce their quality of life. Seek the help of a trainer if your dog is barking excessively for no clear reason.

Clean up after your dog.

Hopefully, you know that letting your dog defecate on someone else’s property is a major faux pas. In fact, in many states, it constitutes a trespass and is technically illegal. Make sure you keep your dog from running onto someone else’s property. Should they happen to do so, however, and relieve themselves there, be sure to clean up after them and apologize to your neighbor. You don’t want to let feces accumulate on your property, either, as the stink can be unpleasant to those around you. It can also attract flies and other unappealing insects, and in significant quantities pose a health risk, as dog poop can carry dangerous parasites and bacteria.

Don’t let your dog roam past property lines.

If you live in a rural area, this rule may be easy to follow – even then, it’s important to train your dog not to leave your property. In the suburbs or in urban areas, letting your dog run about willy-nilly could lead to an accident. They could get struck by a car or get into a fight with another dog. They could become the victim of dognapping or animal cruelty. If your dog is more reactive or nervous, they could end up doing physical harm to someone else. If you want to let your dog run freely in your yard, have sturdy and attractive fences installed. Do a little research to see what kind of fence will work best for you and your dog – then, when searching for a fencing company near me, compare prices and read reviews on the specific type of fence you are looking for.

Communicate with your neighbors about your dog.

As a dog owner, you will find that plenty of people want to chat with you, especially those who have dogs themselves. But even if your neighbors are reserved, it’s important for you to let them know about your dog’s temperament, especially if there are any behavioral issues you are working out. If your dog tends to be aggressive or reactive, let your neighbor know. Or, if your dog is friendly and enjoys being petted, your neighbor may (or may not) appreciate the opportunity to make a new local friend. Be sure, too, to let your neighbors know they should feel free to communicate with you if any issues arise with your dog.

When you adopted your dog, you may have signed on to accepting a certain level of noise, mess, and disruption, but your neighbors did not. You owe it both to the others in your community, and to your dog, to train them well so that they can be a happy, pleasant member of your community, and be appreciated – not resented – by others around you. It might be helpful for you as a dog owner to understand more about canine behavior, so reach out to a certified animal behavior consultant like Susan Bulanda for more tips and pointers.

Dogs understand humans better than wolves

Scientists are constantly trying to understand the mind of the dog vs. the wolf. A recent study at <a href="http://&lt;!– wp:paragraph –> <p>www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/07/210712122206.htm</p> Duke University showed that dogs understand people almost from birth whereas wolf puppies that were raised by people within days of their birth do not.

The wolf puppies were fed, slept in bed with and thoroughly interacted with people to try and socialize them. The dog puppies were left with their mother and littermates. The wolf and dog puppies were tested between 5 and 18 weeks old.

The researchers hid a piece of food in one of two bowls and then pointed to the right one. The dog puppies knew instantly, often on the first try, to follow the clue given by the tester. The wolf puppies never were able to follow the tester’s indication, often pointing to the correct bowl.

When the food was put in a container so that the puppy could not access it, the dog puppies looked to the human tester for help but the wolf puppies did not.

According to the researchers, the ability to understand human gestures is a complex cognitive ability that is rare in the animal kingdom. So, the fact that dogs can do it is special.

Author’s Note: Researchers try to understand the process about how dogs became dogs. There are a number of theories and as more material becomes available the theories change. One theory is that dogs are not descended from wolves, even though they are closely related but a species in and of themselves. There is evidence to support this theory the same as other theories.

Do birds become dependent on bird feeders?

Many people love to offer seed in bird feeders and watch the birds who come to the feeders. I personally have gotten many great photos of unusual species that came to my feeders. Like many people, I worried when I was not able to fill the feeders, especially in the winter, that the birds would be hungry and not be able to find food.

A recent study conducted by animal ecologist Jim Rivers at Ohio State University found that feeding birds did not cause any negative effects. It was determined that there was enough natural food available for the birds to sustain themselves.

Since this study focused on Black Capped Chickadees, I would like to point out that Chickadees will store food, especially seeds from feeders, in tree crevices and other places, to eat later. The brain of Chickadees grows from late summer to fall in order to remember where they hid the food.

One of the major problems people have when they feed birds is that squirrels and other rodents eat the bird seed. As an avid bird feeder and watcher, I have tried every squirrel proof feeder on the market. As a result, I have found that there is only one truly squirrel proof feeder. These feeders are made by Brome. What I also like about these feeders is that they are guaranteed for life and that they are so well made that they last. Some of my Brome feeders are over fifteen years old. Three of my feeders even survived a black bear attack. I strongly suggest if you like to feed the birds to invest in these feeders.

If you live in an area where you have bears, you need to bring them in at night or only provide food in the winter. I have included some photos I have taken of birds at my feeders.

Indigo Bunting
Rose Breasted Grosbeak on Brome feeder

Puppies are wired at birth to communicate with people

Some people believe that a dog’s ability to understand what a person means when they point at something is learned in adulthood through interaction with people. However, a group of researchers at the University of Arizona School of Anthropology in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences has illustrated that this is not true.

istock

What they did find out is that while puppies are born with an understanding of human physical and verbal cues, they were not able to initiate help from people for unsolvable problems. This ability comes with experience after interacting with people.

The lead researcher, Emily Bray has spent the last decade studying the puppies bred for service dog work at Canine Companions. Bray feels that if they can understand how dogs think and solve problems, they will be able to better identify those puppies that will make better service dogs.     

The researchers noted that the dogs who become successful service dogs respond to people differently than those who are not successful. Because the researchers are able to study the genetics of the puppies in the test, they hope to identify the genes that cause these traits in puppies. This will enable them to predict the potential for service work even before the puppies are born.

Deafness in Rottweilers

Researchers from the University of Helsinki and the Folkhalsan Research Center have located the variant in the LOXHD1 gene that causes deafness in Rottweilers. This type of deafness starts in puppyhood and progresses until the puppy is a few months old. The gene plays a key role in the function of the cilia of the cochlear sensory cells. Both humans and mice suffer from the same type of deafness.

The researchers also found deafness in mixed breed dogs that were part Rottweiler. The availability to test for the defect will help breeders avoid spreading this inherited deafness. Since this is a recessive issue, it will only occur in puppies if both the dam and sire have the gene.

Eradicating the defect will take the cooperation of all Rottie breeders. Those dogs that are mixed bred should not be used for breeding.

Author’s Note: It can be difficult to determine if a puppy can hear or not. Realize that dogs can feel sound, so it is important to carefully observe your puppy to determine if he is deaf. Especially if the puppy reacts to sound before he becomes totally deaf. To help dog owners determine if their puppy is deaf watch for a few signs. First, note if the puppy/dog only responds when he sees you. Do not assume if your puppy does not obey that he is being stubborn. Try clapping your hands behind the puppy when he cannot see you. If he does not react in any way, he may be deaf. A deaf dog will bark but usually only if he sees something. Watch to see if your dog looks at you or watches you more than usual. Remember that a deaf dog will rely on his other senses to navigate his world. You can successfully train a deaf dog but when they are in an unconfined area, they must be on a leash. A deaf dog is just as tempted to chase things, wander and stray as any other dog. Find a dog trainer that has experience training a deaf dog for help. If you suspect that your puppy is deaf, make an appointment with a veterinarian neurologist to have your dog tested so that you will know for sure if your dog is deaf or not. But most important, understand that a deaf dog can have a very safe and happy life.  

Dog petting therapy for college students

A study at Washington State University focused on college students, especially those students who may be at risk due to mental health issues or learning issues. The researchers developed a four-week program where students interacted with dogs for ten minutes a day. They found that the decreased stress levels lasted for six weeks.

Petting the dogs improved the student’s ability to plan, organize, concentrate, memorize and increased their motivation. The results showed that the students who were most at risk had the most improvements.

free photo from Google Images

Author’s note: I believe that as researchers continue to refine their studies on the benefits that pets in general have on all people, they will be able to recommend the use of therapy animals in more specific ways.

Cancer in Flat-coated Retrievers

Jacquelyn Evans and Elaine Ostrander, researchers at the National Human Genome Research Institute have identified two regions of the canine genome that cause 1/3 of the risk of hematological cancer in Flat-Coated Retrievers.   

While this type of cancer is rare in humans, it does affect one-in-five Flat-coated Retrievers. This research overlaps with two loci that have been associated with other blood cancers in Golden Retrievers.

Image from Pixabay

As is often the case, the results of this study may allow researchers to identify candidate genes that will help develop new diagnostics and therapeutics for humans as well as dogs.     

The relationship between dogs and their owners stress level

The researchers are Linköping University have determined that the stress level in a dog’s owner has an affect on their dogs. However, they took this study a step further than previous studies to see if the link between dogs and their owners was different for different breeds of dogs.

The first group of dogs were from hunting breeds that were bred to be independent. The second group were from ancient breeds such as the Shiba Inu, Basenji and Siberian Husky. They compared their recent study to a previous study of herding breeds.

They found that long-term stress was least likely to influence the ancient breeds. The hunting breeds showed links between the personality of the owner and their relationship to their dogs. The herding breeds had a unique synchronization with long term stress in their owners.

Author’s note: Research of this nature will help us explain and understand behavior and training issues that may arise between dogs and their owners. It is also worth considering when matching the right breed for a family or individual person. Not all people are a good match with each other, not all dogs are right for each person either.