Recent excavation shows pet cats over 1000 years ago

An excavation along the former “Silk Road” in Northern Kazakhstan revealed a full skeleton of a domestic cat. According to the findings by an international research team consisting of Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), Korkyt-Ata Kyzylorda State University in Kazakhstan, the University of Tübingen and the Higher School of Economics in Russia show that the cat was a pet and cared for. They determined this because the cat was buried with care, it had a few broken bones that indicated it was treated and the most revealing of all, was the fact that the cat was older than one year. At the time the cat lived, cats were not typically kept as pets. Further analysis revealed that the cat had been fed meat by humans since it had lost all its teeth at the time of death.IMG_0507

New discovery about sled dogs

An interesting study has shown that sled dogs are much older than previously thought. Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, along with the research conducted in collaboration with the University of Greenland and the Institute of Evolutionary Biology, Barcelona did a study of sled dogs. By extracting the DNA from a 9,500-year-old dog from the Siberian island of Zhokhov, they have sequenced the oldest complete dog genome to date. The results show very early diversification of dogs into types of sled dogs. The results also show that the ancient dogs were crossed with an ancient wolf but not with the modern wolves.

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What is important to note about this study is that the researchers found that the dietary needs of the sled dog are different from other dogs. Sled dogs do not have the same ability to use sugar and starch but do better with high-fat diets. This is similar to polar bears and Artic people. The researchers found that the Greenland husky is the purest with the least overlap with modern dogs.

Wasps smarter than previously thought

A study conducted byUniversity of Michigan biologist Elizabeth Tibbetts, found that paper wasps can determine which opponents are the weakest by watching them fight with another wasp. According to the study, “fighter” wasps were placed in a small container while two “bystander” wasps observed the pair through clear plastic partitions. The scientists found that bystander wasps were more aggressive when paired with an individual that was the victim of lots of aggression in a previous bout, as well as individuals who initiated little aggression in the previous fight.

Wasp cleans up, brood, Naturepark Spessart, Bavaria

 

The research also illustrated that the wasps can recall what they saw for a long time. This study shows a few interesting points. First, small brains, which were previously thought to be less intelligent, are not necessarily so. Also that wasps are capable of a rather complex thought process that includes analyzing what they saw,  remembering it, that they recognize and can categorize individuals.

If wasps can do this, imagine what other animals are capable of? How should that affect our training methods for our pets and other animals? How does human interference affect wildlife?

Worms suffer PTSD

In a study by Dr. Alon Zaslaver and research associate Dr. Yifat Eliezer at Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Genetics Department discovered that worms suffer from PTSD. In their study they used the C. elegans worm because it only has 302 neuron cells which enabled the researchers to pinpoint where the memory was stored. This information will allow researchers to use their findings to gain a better understanding of the molecular changes that take place within individual memory neurons and the privation-mode responses they provoke, to alleviate and possibly cure PTSD triggers, such as odor.

What is interesting about this study, is that even basic life, such as a worm, can associate the past, present and future. This means that they have some form of memory or can “think.” If a worm can suffer from a form of PTSD then so can other animals. This gives animal behavior consultants and trainers new insight as to how to treat animals that have suffered from a trauma in their lives. It points out that rehabilitation is more complex than many people may think.

Dog training tips 2 -The type of dog and training

Successful dog training is not just about the method of training the dog. A big part of training a dog depends on the type of dog you have and the lines it comes from. Whether it is a purebred or mixed, all dogs have lines which is another way to say their ancestry. Typically the term “lines” refer to selective breeding, but selective or not, the parents and grandparents have a strong genetic influence on the personality of the dog and make up the dog’s lines.

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Dogs were selected for specific traits, which make up the breed. These traits are a combination of the physical and mental attributes. For example, if you have a few sheep in a field and nearby is a rabbit hiding in the brush, a Border Collie will know that the rabbit is there but will focus on the sheep. If you put a Beagle in the same field, he will know the sheep are there but focus on the rabbit. This is part of their genetic mental makeup or to put it another way, what they are bred to do.

The attitude of the dog depends on the breed(s) that it is made of. In the case of mixed breed dogs, you will only know by observation which genes are dominating their mind and to confuse things even more, the environmental stimulation can trigger different responses. For example, a dog that is a cross between a Border Collie and Beagle may be attracted to both the sheep and the rabbit, making it unreliable to use in the field.

Added to this are the general canine instincts that all dogs have. The most common and easiest for dog owners to see, is the prey chase drive. What this means is that how easy it is to train a dog depends on the genetic makeup of the dog and its individual personality or temperament.

A good dog trainer will understand how the genetics of a dog affect how it thinks and responds to stimuli and adjust the training methods to ensure success. This does not mean that some dogs must be trained using harsh methods but finding what motivates the dog can be tricky.

There are many dog trainers worldwide that advocate using choke collars, pinch collars, and shock collars. There is never a need to use these methods to train a dog. I have been training dogs professionally since the 1960’s and specialized in aggressive dogs and have never had to use any of this equipment.

A good dog trainer will motivate the dog to want to obey. But as I have said in my previous article, obedience is not a question of knowing what to do or what not to do, but the ability to exercise self-control to do it. You must give your dog time and practice to develop self-control.  More tips to come. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. If you need the help of a certified canine behavior consultant go to www.iaabc.org.

Dogs monitor environmental chemicals

In a study conducted by North Carolina State University and Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, researchers attached a silicon tag on dog’s collars to collect the environmental chemicals that people (and dogs) encounter every day. What they found was interesting. The researchers had the dogs wear tags and their owner’s wrist bands for five days, then they compared the results.

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What they found was that there were similar patterns of exposure for both dogs and humans. The contaminants were mostly from the home environment. The researchers tested for three main contaminants, pesticides, flame retardants, and phthalates, which are found in plastic food packaging and personal care products.

The advantage of evaluating the contaminants in dogs is that diseases that result from these contaminants may take decades to show up in humans but only years to show up in dogs. According to Matthew Breed, Oscar J. Fletcher Distinguished Professor of Comparative Oncology Genetics, if scientists can develop ways to link dog disease with these exposures, they may find a way to decrease the diseases for both dogs and humans.

I would like to see the tests expanded to other household pets such as cats. This is an interesting study and using the silicon tag is inexpensive and works well.

CBD for dogs

In a study at Baylor College of Medicine the researchers found that giving dogs with arthritis cannabidiol, or CBD brought relief from arthritis. It has also been used to reduce anxiety in dogs. As an aside, I know that when I give it to my dog before a thunderstorm, he is much calmer. It does seem to take about a half an hour to work but it does help.

Scout SAR training wood pile

Dr. Matthew Halpert, of the Department of Pathology and Immunology at Baylor conducted the research about arthritis and found that nine out of the ten dogs tested benefited from CBD. They also noted that the pain relief lasted for about two weeks after the treatments stopped.

It seems that CBD significantly reduces the production of inflammatory molecules and immune cells associated with arthritis. The improvement in the quality of life for the dogs was documented by both the dog’s owner and veterinarians. Since the structure of arthritis in dogs is similar to humans, the study supports future scientific evaluation of CBD for human arthritis.

However, it should be noted that the researchers found that the effect was quicker and more effective when CBD was delivered encapsulated in liposomes than when it was administered ‘naked.’ Liposomes are artificially formed tiny spherical sacs that are used to deliver drugs into tissues at higher rates of absorption. This means that buying CBD over the counter may not work as well or as quickly.

If you would like to try CBD, talk to your veterinarian first. It is never a good idea to administer any type of medication, natural or otherwise, without first checking with your veterinarian. I know from personal experience that although veterinarians use human medicines and herbal formulas for dogs, the dosage can be radically different for a dog.

Dog training tips 1

Occasionally I will post some dog training tips to help people successfully train their dogs. I started professionally training dogs in the 1960’s and have learned a lot over the years. I hope these tips will help you. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or suggestions.

Dogs do not speak English, therefore you must SHOW your dog what you want. Your actions speak louder than your words. All of your body language speaks to your dog. Therefore, your ATTITUDE, FACIAL EXPRESSION, TONE OF VOICE  AND MOVEMENT communicate to your dog.

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You cannot try and tell your dog that he is not doing the right thing while you are hiding a laugh because you really think your dog’s behavior is cute or funny. Your dog will laugh right along with you. And yes, dogs do laugh.

You cannot ask your dog to obey you if you hesitate in your movements. Your dog will not believe that you are the leader. On the other hand, you cannot bully your dog or physically punish him and expect your dog to respect and trust you. A good working relationship with your dog is built on trust and leadership. This is communicated to your dog by giving commands in a tone of voice that says, “I expect you to do this, no discussion.” Then move in a steady, yet gentle way to convey leadership. Too many people ask their dog to obey, their tone of voice is “sit, will you please sit? Do you feel like sitting?”

Never re-command your dog. If your dog knows what the word means, re-commanding him only teaches your dog that a) he does not have to listen to you; b) he can do it when he wants and c) you are not the leader. For every command there should be an action.

Either you coax the dog into doing what you want or reward him when he does it on his own. If your dog does not know the “sit” command, and you tell your dog, “Sit . . . Sit . . . SIT!”, then make the dog sit on the third sit, your dog will learn not to sit until the third command. He will think that the command is “sit-sit-sit.”

Most people repeat commands to their dog’s because they are being polite (according to human standards) and assume that the dog did not hear the first or second time. I can assure you that if your dog does not respond the first time, and does not acknowledge you, he DOES HEAR you. He is just IGNORING you. Therefore, politeness to a dog translates into “My owner is wimpy, wimpy, wimpy! Why should I listen?”

So, speak clearly and in a direct manner to your dog. For every command expect or initiate an action. Do not repeat commands. Do not hesitate when you move. Show your dog that you are a leader, not a follower.

The two most important things to remember (which is true for people too) are:  1. obedience is not a question of knowing what to do or what not to do, but the ability to exercise self control to do it or not do it. You have to give your dog time and practice to develop self-control. Punishment or harsh training methods should never be used.

2. Your dog knows how to do everything you want him to do. He only has to learn to associate the word or command with the action. For example, before you even obtained your puppy, he knew how to sit, come, and lay down.

How to find a lost dog

Losing a dog can be devastating. A person’s first reaction is usually fear, confusion and panic. However, with a good plan in place, looking for a lost dog can be less stressful and more successful. There are a few simple points to consider when looking for a lost dog. However, prevention is the key ingredient. The most important thing you can do is have your dog micro-chipped and have a collar on your dog with his name tag that includes a way to contact you. If someone in your area finds your dog, they will not have a microchip reader and will rely on a name tag.

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1) If you organize a group of people to look for the dog, use all safety precautions so that the volunteers do not become lost as well. Stay in touch using cell phones or handheld radios. The radios can be purchased for a nominal fee at any store that sells outdoor equipment. Radios will work in areas that cell phones may not, however, they have a limited range so be sure that a chain of people can relay messages over distance. Also, establish radio protocol so that one person does not tie up the frequency preventing communication with others. Communication is essential to let the other volunteers know what is going on, if the search is being suspended, or the dog has been found. Because people feel safer and calmer if they know what is going on, this will allow the volunteers to do a better job.

Be sure that volunteers wear the appropriate clothing, (long pants and long sleeves), hats, and substantial footwear. Each volunteer must carry a snack, water, leash, bath towel, bowl, enough water for themselves and the dog, canned cat food or treats and a flashlight. Flashlights are necessary during the day to check dark places.

The canned cat food should have the strongest aroma, (or a similar treat) to lure the dog. Small cans of cat food work well because they can be carried easily and kept fresh.

A bath towel can be used to carry the dog if he is injured, exhausted or to wipe the dog if he is wet or dirty. If the dog is cold, he can be wrapped in the towel.

Volunteers must always work in pairs for their own safety, and in the event two people are needed when the dog is found. A meeting area and time should be established in case communications break down. No one should leave until all are accounted for.

2) A dog that ran away because he is frightened will bolt in any direction, but usually to the least noisy, darkest area. Given the choice of an open field or woods, the dog will go for the woods. If the dog is lost in the city or suburbs, the dog will look for a dark, quite spot to hide after it has run to exhaustion.

Therefore, try to estimate how far the dog will run (this varies with the dog’s size, breed and condition) and add a mile to that. On a map of the area mark where you last saw the dog as the center of a circle and draw a perimeter around that point, based on the furthest point where the dog could be. The circle will encompass the area to start looking for the dog. If you saw the dog run, you can focus in that direction. Be sure to check small dark areas: under porches, stairs, garages, sheds, etc. If you have several people helping to look, have some start at the perimeter of the circle and some from the center. Be sure to look for the dog, never assume that the dog will come when called.

3) If a dog runs away, they usually run into the wind. That means that the wind will be blowing toward the dog, into the dog’s face. Check with a local airport to see what the wind direction was when the dog ran away. Then start looking into the wind from the point where the dog was last seen.  If your dog is a hound, he may follow a game trail. In this case he could travel miles and because he is so focused on following the scent, can get lost.

Dogs who wander away will usually meander along unless they find something to chase or something that interests them. This means that the search area will be smaller. If searching in the woods or a park, look for a game trail and look for fresh dog tracks to see if the dog went that way. If you do find tracks, you will not be able to tell for certain if they are from your dog, so do not give up searching in the rest of the area. If you are searching in an urban or suburban area, listen carefully if neighborhood dogs are barking. Often, they will bark at a stray dog. If you hear a lot of barking in one direction, check that area first.

4) When searching for a dog, travel slowly and make frequent five to ten-minute-long stops. Many people will drive around in a vehicle, calling to the dog. Unless the dog is within a few seconds of your location, he will not be able to find you if you move too quickly. Keep in mind that a dog can hear you calling from quite a distance away. They need time to determine the direction of the sound and then get to it. Wind and other environmental elements can distort the direction of sound (tall buildings, large hills, etc.) making it difficult for the dog to find the source of the sound. By stopping and continuing to call for about five to ten minutes, the dog will have time to find you.

5) When you see the dog, do not act excited and/or run toward the dog. Sit down or stand still and let the dog approach you, even if it is your dog. Sometimes a dog can become so frightened, hurt, or weary that they may not think straight. Their survival instincts may take over, making them more cautious than they would be at home. Depending upon the direction of the wind, you could be downwind, and the dog may not recognize you right away.

Give the dog time to feel safe. Running to the dog may make him run away from you and lose what little trust in humans that he has left. If you feel it will work, you can, at a distance, slowly move so that you are upwind of the dog, and then open the can of cat food, but still let the dog come to you. When the dog comes to you do not try to grab the dog. Let the dog stay there and relax. Slowly pet the dog until you can attach a leash without frightening the dog. If the dog does not want to be caught, you will most likely not be able to grab the dog fast enough to catch him, even if he is next to you.

6) If the dog does not approach you, do not give up. Stay in that area and/or return to that area. You can leave food etc. but do not try to catch the dog.

7) If you leave food for the dog, do not assume that because the food was eaten that it was eaten by the dog. Other animals may eat the food, so continue to search the area. If you can, spread sand around any food that you leave so that you can check for footprints to determine if a dog ate the food. If sand is not available, loose soil will work as well.

8) If you have to search for the dog over a period of time, keep a log of the weather and the location of water sources. The dog will generally head into the wind and seek water.

9) Never forget to advertise. Use every means possible to let the people in the area know that there is a lost dog. Contact all veterinarian clinics, shelters, pet supply stores, and rescue groups. Also post signs in stores with bulletin boards, on telephone poles, especially where children congregate, by public transportation and any other place that you can think of. Be sure to post on social media.  Many newspapers will run a lost dog ad at no cost. Place an ad in every newspaper that is available in your area.

If your dog is not found right away, about every two weeks call everyone you notified, such as the local rescue groups, to let them know that the dog is still missing. This will keep your dog fresh in the minds of the employees.

Always have an up-to-date photo of your dog. If the dog is a breed that looks like others in the breed, a similar picture will do. Remember, the average pet lover will not notice the fine differences between your dog and others of the same breed. So do not panic if you do not have a recent photo. Be sure to expand the area that you advertise in to at least five miles from the point where you last saw your dog.

Keep all your bulletins up to date. If the lost signs that you post look old or weathered people will think the dog was found. When you find your dog, it is important to call all the organizations that you originally notified to let them know that the dog was found. Also remove all your postings.

10) Lastly, never give up. Dogs have been found months after they disappear. Sometimes people find the dog, think it is abandoned and keep it or turn it into a rescue group. This is why advertising is critical.