A new evaluation for guide dog puppies

Researchers in the University of Nottingham’s (England) School of Veterinary Medicine and Science have had success with a questionnaire designed to determine the suitability of puppies to be trained as Guide Dogs.

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Their evaluation tool successfully predicted the training outcomes in young dogs 5 – 12 months with an 84% accuracy. The questionnaire is called the “Puppy Training Supervisor Questionnaire”, or PTSQ.

The PTSQ evaluates the following:

  • Adaptability
  • Body sensitivity
  • Distractibility
  • Excitability
  • General anxiety
  • Trainability
  • Stair anxiety

If this method proves to be accurate over time, it might be useful to help evaluate other types of working dogs. It is encouraging that scientists continue to try and find ways to predict the working ability of dogs. This saves organizations time and money spent on dogs that do not pass the training programs and lets them focus on those that have a better chance of passing.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170614142551.htm

 

 

 

A new study about co-sleeping with your pets

A recent study examined the practice of sharing a bedroom or bed with a dog. While the authors suggest that more research is needed, they compared sleeping with a dog to the practice of sharing a bed or bedroom with a child.

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The current concern about co-sleeping with a child focuses on the child suffering from poor health, impaired functioning, developing problematic behavior and sexual dysfunction. However, there is not enough evidence to determine if there are negative effects of co-sleeping with dogs or other pets.

According to the study, the benefit of co-sleeping with both pets and children are saving resources, keeping warm, and feeling safe. It is a practice that has been going on for many years.

When it comes to sharing a bedroom with a dog, as an animal behavior consultant, I recommend letting a puppy sleep in a crate in the bedroom to help the puppy bond with the family and feel safer in a new environment. After the dog is trained and under control, it can be allowed to sleep on the bed with a family member. However, if the dog is not trained it can become possessive of the bed or other furniture to the point of becoming aggressive if a family member wants to move the dog. Whether it is good or not depends on many factors, including the dog’s temperament and the owners ability to train and control the dog.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170622104001.htm

 

 

 

A new device to help train explosives detection dogs

We depend upon bomb dogs to help protect us from terrorist attacks. Training them can be tricky. To help trainers and handlers, researchers have developed a real-time vapor analysis device called a Vapor Analysis Mass Spectrometer to help trainers and handlers understand what a dog detects when searching for explosive materials. When training a dog for any kind of scent work, it is important to hide items that are not scented as well as items with the target scent on them. Bomb dog trainers and handlers found that in some cases the dogs were indicating scent on the non-scented items. What the Vapor Analysis Mass Spectrometer showed in these cases that the dogs were correct because the non-scented items had picked up scent that drifted from the scented items.

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By using the Vapor Analysis Mass Spectrometer during training, handlers and trainers will better be able to determine how accurate the dogs are in detecting explosive material.

The lesson from this research applies to all types of scent work with dogs. It shows us that items handlers think are not contaminated may be contaminated. Ultimately, it means that whoever handles scented items and non-scented items for training must take extra precautions to ensure that non-scented items are not contaminated. This can be especially tricky when training dogs in search and rescue where the handler has no control over the elements (weather, etc.) that can cause scent to drift.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170628131349.htm

Why do dogs chase their tail?

Seeing a dog chase his tail can be very funny. But why do they do it? There are a couple of theories, although until dogs can talk and tell us, we will never know for sure.

Puppies most often are the ones who chase their tail. It is almost as if they see it for the first time realize it is there and decide it is a toy to be caught. If their tail is long enough, they may catch it, but if it is short they will whirl around until they are tired, never actually catching their tail. When a puppy realizes that the tail is theirs, or they cannot catch it, they will often give up the game. In some cases, they will chase the tail of other puppies. This can be a way for them to expend their energy.

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If a dog has never chased his tail and suddenly starts to and does not have a playful attitude, a trip to the veterinarian is in order. A dog may chase their tail due to skin problems, eye problems or neurological issues.

Some dogs chase their tail because the owners think it is funny and laugh. Dogs know when you are laughing at or with them, and yes, dog do laugh. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/canine-corner/200911/do-dogs-laugh

A happy response from an owner is a form of reward or encouragement for a dog and a dog will use what works to get attention from the owner. An example of this is a young Collie pup who was deaf and used to get underfoot. Family members would accidently step on her front paw. When this happened the person who stepped on the dog’s foot would bend down and fuss over the dog, rubbing her foot. After a while the dog learned to limp to get people to rub her foot, even though no one stepped on her.

It is possible that a dog will chase his tail because he is anxious. Physical exertion does relieve anxiety and chasing a tail may be one way a dog deals with anxiety. If this is a possibility the owner should look for other signs that the dog is anxious, such as trembling, panting, hiding, or looking generally upset. Owners are good at reading their dogs and can tell when the dog is happy or not.

Although it is not that common, some dogs suffer from a form of compulsive disorder which is really compulsive behavior http://www.petmd.com/dog/behavior/evr_dog_behavior_compulsive_disorder

and may chase their tail until they are exhausted. If this is the case the owner must consult a certified animal behavior consultant to help cure or control the problem. Left untreated the behavior can escalate and become a danger to the dog. To find a good behavior consultant go to: http://www.iaabc.org

The best thing a dog owner can do is to provide enough exercise for their dog so that they expend their energy in a healthy manner. Some dog owners have difficulty determining how much is enough. This depends on the type and breed of dog. Little dogs do not need as much room to run to satisfy their needs. The larger the dog the more room they need. Dogs that are bred to work typically need to cover a few miles in order to have enough exercise. The age and health of the dog is a factor as well. For a healthy dog, enough exercise is when they flop down and want to sleep. They may need this type of exercise a few times a day. Typically, the morning and evening are the times of day most dogs want to be active. With some planning and research, we can keep our dogs happy and healthy.

Dog Bites

All dogs bite at one time or another. However, most people do not realize that there are different types of bites. Unfortunately, many dogs have lost their homes, lives or been restricted due to the misunderstanding and misinformation about dog bites.

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Dogs used their mouths the same as we use our hands. Puppies mouth the same way that human babies will put everything in their mouths. The mouth is a very sensitive part of the body, perhaps the most sensitive. The mouth can taste, feel texture, heat, cold, size and shape. The mouth and tongue are so sensitive that the smallest bump or lump in a person’s mouth often feels like a boulder or a cracked tooth feels like a canyon. We have to assume that dogs have the same or similar capabilities. However, dogs do not have the same capability to taste as humans do. They have about 1,706 taste buds compared to a human’s 9,000. A dog’s taste buds are located at the tip of their tongue. They can taste bitter, sweet, sour and salty. Their choice of what they eat depends more on their sense of smell than taste.

Dogs use their mouths to manipulate objects, carry objects, groom themselves and/or companions, to show affection, to play, as a means of correcting another dog, as a way to get another animal or person away from them (distance increasing), and to vocalize. One of the most affectionate things a dog may do is nibble the object of their affection. This is a very gentle nibbling using the small front teeth.

Sometimes dogs will grab a person to try and lead them somewhere, such as a door if they have to go out. This is like a person taking another person by the hand to guide them.

Bites often happen in a few seconds. It may be difficult for an untrained person to analyze a bite because you must consider the rest of the dog’s body language and the circumstances that happened just before and after the bite as well as the breed or type of dog. Dogs also can give mixed signals. For example, a dog can act aggressively and at the same time fearfully. The dog’s life experience including training will influence what and how they bite. However, below is a general explanation of dog bites.

Dog bites follow a progression if, as a puppy, the dog has been allowed to learn how to properly act socially with other dogs. An adult dog will first give the puppy, other animal or person warning looks. If that does not work, next are warning growls or vocalizations. (Never correct a dog for growling, you will remove an important warning, forcing the dog to go directly to a bite.) If a puppy does not heed the body language and then the vocal warning of an older dog, the dog may give the puppy an open mouth correction. This is when the older dog will “hit” the puppy with his mouth open but does not bite.

The next level of bite is the nip. In human terms, it would be equal to a pinch. It is typically done with the little front teeth. It is a corrective measure used to stop the unwanted behavior or to communicate the message to get away or back off.

If the nip does not work the next bite will be a full mouth bite but a quick release and often not bearing down hard. This type of bite may result in a bruise or small puncture. This is also a request to back off or get away. The dog is trying to increase the distance between himself and who he bit. It is also the type of bite that a fearful dog may employ. It could also be a defensive or corrective bite.

If that does no work the next bite may have increased pressure resulting in a deeper puncture or larger bruise. It is also a distance increasing bite or a fear bite.

The aggressive bite that the enraged dog or the dog who is aggressive will use is a bite and hold or a bite, hold and shake. These are the bites that are dangerous where the dog typically intends to hurt.

A dog that has developed strong bite inhibition, may put his mouth on a person if he is in pain. Often that is a reflex and when the dog realizes that his mouth is on a person will either stop before making contact or not put any pressure in the bite. Other times a dog who is in pain may bite. This should not be held against the dog. Also, a dog that is enraged or upset about something may do what is called redirected aggression. This also a reflex where the dog will bite whatever is near him when he cannot get to the object of his anger. The other situation where a dog will bite because of reflex is if the dog is engaged in a fight with another animal and a person tries to grab the dog to pull him away. The dog will bite not realizing that it is not the animal he is fighting but a person. This also should not be held against the dog. In these cases of reflex biting, the humans that are working with the dog should expect it and take precautions to avoid being bitten. The only breed of dog that has been bred not to bite a human when engaged in a fight are the bully breeds, such as Pitbull Terriers.

How likely a dog will bite depends on the breed (or mix) of the dog, the lines of the breed, how well the breeder and then the owner socialized the dog and the dog’s training. Some breeds of dog are less tolerant and quicker to bite than others.

Children are often bitten in the face because they are at face level with dogs. Children of all ages should be taught how to interact with dogs and carefully monitored, always. A dog that bites a child due to a reflex action is rarely forgiven even though in most cases the dog is not an aggressive dog by nature.

It would do the dogs and dog owners a great service if dog owners studied canine body language and learned to understand their dogs. Children should be taught how to interact with dogs. Studies have shown that children can recognize when a dog is angry but not when they are fearful.

There are two excellent resources that help the dog owner learn how to read dog body language.

  1. What is My Dog Saying? By Carol A. Byrnes, diamonsintheruff.com
  2. The Language of Dogs by Sarah Kalnajs bluedogtraining.com

Excessive licking in dogs and cats

Dogs and cats will groom themselves by licking their fur. This is normal. They will lick their owners as a sign of affection as well. Licking can be a form of play and to let you know they are hungry. If the owner pays attention to their pet when they lick, it can reinforce the behavior, encouraging the pet to do it more often.

However, some pets will engage in excessive licking. Only the owner can determine if the pet is licking more than normal. Excessive licking is a compulsive behavior and the pet may lick everything in sight. This is not good for the pet and the family. Do not try to “correct” this behavior, it will only make it worse.

The first thing a pet owner must do is schedule a visit with your veterinarian. Excessive licking can be due to allergies, including food allergies. Other causes are boredom, stress, pain and diseases.

Try to recall if anything in the pet’s environment brought about the excessive licking. Changes are especially suspect, did you move, change the pet’s food, bed, alter the environment such as adding or taking away furniture, someone in the family moving in or out, a new pet, neighbor or any other change that the pet is aware of. Even a family member changing jobs, or a family crisis can affect a pet.

The easiest way to correct excessive licking is to give the pet an alternative activity. If the pet is a dog, give the dog a chew toy when he starts to lick. Praise the dog for chewing the toy. If the pet is a cat offer a toy for the cat to play with and interact with the cat. Be sure to give the pet a good rubdown or petting when they stop licking. If the pet tries to lick family members gently say “no” and give them something to chew or an activity.

If the excessive licking was due to a change in the home environment it may take a few weeks for the pet to adjust to the change. If the behavior does not stop or if it increases, it is best to consult with a certified canine or feline behavior consultant. You can find one at www.iaabc.org  With time and patience, excessive licking can often be cured.

Children and dog bites

It is shocking to learn that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that half of all children who are 12 years of age and under, have been bitten by a dog. There are many reasons why this occurs. Some are that children are unsupervised, tease the dog, startle the dog, hurt the dog, wander near a confined dog or try to hug an unfamiliar dog.

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All types and sizes of dogs can bite a child or adult and it is not fair to label certain breeds as more aggressive. In many cases, a small bite from a small dog will go unreported. Because large dogs do more damage, those bites often require medical attention and are reported.

Children are most likely to sustain injuries to their face when bitten because of their small size. They are not strong enough to protect themselves or fight off an attacking dog which can cause more severe injuries than an adult would sustain.

According to a study conducted by by Dr Sarah Rose and Grace Aldridge of Staffordshire University, England, one reason why children are bitten is because they cannot recognize when a dog appears frightened although they do recognize when a dog is angry.

There are a few things adults can do to protect themselves and their children. The adult can learn to read and recognize body language in dogs. This will help them understand the emotional state of the dog. If the child is old enough they too can learn how to read body language. If the child is very young (toddler and older) they should be supervised and not allowed near unfamiliar dogs. Even if the family has a pet dog, the child should be supervised when around the dog. Given the right situation, all dogs will bite.

If the family has a pet dog the child must be taught how to play with the dog. All dogs are different and some become highly excited when playing. Under these conditions a dog could bite. Keep in mind that not all bites are aggressive acts, but unfortunately all types of bites are usually considered aggressive by authorities.

The older child must be taught not to approach strange dogs unless they are assured by the owner that it is safe. Then they must be taught how to safely approach a strange dog.

With a little bit of education on the part of the adult and child, many dog bites can be prevented. Protecting both people and your dog is part of being a responsible dog owner.

www.safetyarounddogs.org/statistics.html

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160914090502.htm

Dogs are smarter than many people realize

In the first five years of a human’s life, a child will develop the ability to understand emotions, intentions, knowledge, beliefs and desires. This is referred to as the Theory of Mind. Until recently tests to determine if dogs can do this have had poor results. But recently, cognitive biologists from the Messerli Research Institute of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna have developed a test that shows dogs are able to do the same thing.

Their experiment involved hiding food in one container and having the other containers smell like food but did not have any food in them. Then two people would point to the containers, one person knew where the food was and pointed to the correct container, the other person did not point to the correct container. The dogs tested were able to determine by looking at the people which one knew where the food was and successfully picked the right container 70% of the time. In another test a third person as added and the dogs still had a high success rate.

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The study showed that dogs are to find out what humans can or cannot see. As scientists continue to find ways to accurately test the knowledge and abilities of all animals we will discover how intelligent the animal world is. As far as what this study means to the average dog owner, it may explain why your dogs can outsmart their owners, such as learning where treats and toys are hidden from them. How many times have dogs managed to open cabinet doors to help themselves to their food or treats? Think about it.

Read the entire article at: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170407091829.htm

MRI’s help determine which dogs will fail assistance dog training

A unique study conducted by researcher Gregory Berns at Emory University found that functional MRI’s can help determine which dogs will successfully pass assistance dog training.

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The fMRI shows the researchers which dogs are likely to fail and why. Although all the dogs appeared calm and therefore prime candidates for training, the fMRI showed that some dogs had a higher level of activity in the amygdala which is the area of the brain that is associated with excitability. These dogs were more likely to fail assistance dog training.

The fMRI allowed the researchers to predict, with a success rate of 67%, up from 47% which dogs would not succeed in the training program.

This method of predicting which dog can succeed is not something the average dog trainer can use due to the cost. However, in the case of assistance dogs trained at Canine Companions for Independence in Santa Rosa, CA, it helps a great deal because the cost of training a dog ranges from $20,000 to $50,000 and as many as 70% of the dogs in the program fail.

The MRI is a painless way to analyze the dogs. They are taught how to remain still while getting the MRI so no drugs or restraints are used.

Hopefully in the future, the cost of testing the dogs will be within reach of dog trainers so that other types of service and working dogs be tested before they are trained.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170307100455.htm

Learn your dog’s body language

A Guest Blog by Kevin Davies

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Sometimes it is difficult to read your pup’s body language. Here are a few tips about how to read and understand your dog’s body language, as well as a few helpful hints on how to react to what your dog is telling you through their actions.

Start by watching and studying your dog. Go ahead and take your dog to a park, and see how other dogs are acting; pay attention to what they doing, and consider why they are doing what they do.

This takes time and practice, but the more time you invest in studying the body language of dogs, the more you and your dog will benefit from Rover’s communication techniques.

First we will look at body language that shows when your pup is stressed and is trying to calm down. Typically, when your dog is worried, they will shiver, whine or cry, and you may see the whites of their eyes.

Dogs sometimes deal with anxiety by licking their lips, walking slowly in circles, or panting. A good way to help calm your dog is by stroking them from their head to their rump, while speaking softly and reassuringly.

If your dog is being aggressive, they will bare their lips back and sometimes snarl or bark. They will also display “hackles,” that is, raised hair on their back between their shoulder blades and sometimes above their tail. Most of the time their ears will be pulled back and the whites of their eyes may will show.

Usually when a dog is aggressive, it is because they feel the need to protect someone or something, or they feel that another dog has provoked them. The best way to handle your dog when they are showing signs of aggression is to remove them from situation. However, it is a good idea to refrain from touching your dog since this might cause them to startle and snap at you.

The next type of common doggie body language is a display of confidence. When a dog feels, they may prance around with their head held high, their tail relaxed and raised, and a relaxed mouth with their lips gently falling over their teeth.

If a dog is fearful, their ears may be pulled back, the whites of their eyes will show, and their head will not be raised. Other body language that communicates fear is also a lowered head and body, and some dogs are known to hide behind your legs, under the bed, or under the table.

The final kind of body language is when your dog wants to play with another dog, or just simply wants to say “hi.” If your dog is initiating playtime with another dog, you will often see your dog paw the air (this is prominent in puppies) or perform a classic bow by lowering their head and bending their front paws. Sometimes a friendly swat or sniff is present as well.

Let your dog play with other dogs the way they want. However, if you feel that your dog is being overwhelmed or is overwhelming their playmate, feel free to intervene for a short “breather” or “time-out.”

Reading your dog’s body language is a process that is an interesting and beneficial experience for the both of you. Remember, the more you study your dog’s movements, the more you will understand and the easier it will be for you to communicate with your pup!

See More of Kevin’s articles at: https://petloverguy.com