How We Can Confuse Our Dogs

August 1st, 2020 by Animal Health Foundation

WHOLE DOG JOURNAL WEEKLY

TIP

So often in training, when a dog doesn’t perform the desired behavior in response to the given cue, we blame the dog. I often hear, “He’s blowing me off!” or “She’s being stubborn!” In reality, the handler just didn’t make it clear enough for the dog to fully understand what the person was trying to teach. Here are ways we confuse our dogs:

DON’T EXPECT YOUR DOG TO AUTOMATICALLY KNOW OUR LANGUAGE. Dogs don’t come with an English software package installed. We must patiently teach them our language, one cue at a time.

NOT TAKING THE TIME TO DEFINE THE CUE’S GOAL BEHAVOIR. Have in mind the specific definition of what you expect. I suggest you create a cue dictionary. Write down every cue you currently use, then define the goal behavior for each cue. Do you want a straight sit with square hips or a sidesaddle sit? A speedy down or a slow down? Defining your cues and the goal behavior for each in writing will help you be clear in your own mind about what you expect, and that will make it more clear for your dog.

AVOID ADDING CUES TOO EARLY. It’s important to teach your dog the behavior and make sure she can perform it reliably before adding the cue.

DON’T USE TWO CUES SIMULTANEOUSLY. For example, a verbal cue and a body cue (hand signal): Dogs are keen observers. They pick up on our body language before they pick up on our words. If you use a verbal cue, but also a body movement with it (such as the word “sit” and then the hand signal for “sit”), I’d bet that if you said the word and didn’t use the body movement, the dog probably wouldn’t understand what you meant and might not give you the behavior you expect.

POOR REINFORCEMENT. Don’t fail to reinforce the newly learned behavior enough for it to become fluent. Some dogs catch on very quickly; others more slowly, but they all can learn if we’re patient and reinforce the desired behavior appropriately.

DON’T CHOOSE CUES THAT LOOKS SIMILAR OR SOUND SIMILAR. Choosing the verbal cues such as Down and Bow for two different behaviors can be confusing for your dog. Instead of Bow, I suggest Bravo or TaDa!

There are other reasons a dog doesn’t respond to a cue: the dog didn’t see or hear the cue; the dog didn’t recognize the cue because it’s too similar to another cue; the dog was distracted by the environment (another dog, person, squirrel); the dog felt unsafe.

So, repeat after me: “Don’t blame the dog.” Take a look at your training techniques and find a way to tweak the process so you can help your dog be successful. When your dog is successful, she earns reinforcement and that behavior you worked diligently to install and put on cue works perfectly. The result is clear communication with your favorite furry friend. Happy dog. Happy trainer!

For more information on cues for your dog, download Whole Dog Journal’s ebook The Recall.

German sniffer dogs show promise at detecting coronavirus

July 27th, 2020 by Animal Health Foundation

Researchers in Germany have found that army sniffer dogs can discern between samples from coronavirus-infected and healthy patients. So high is the level of accuracy, they hope this can be used in real-life scenarios.

    
Deutschland Coronavirus Spürhunde der Bundeswehr (Reuters/W. Rattay)

Scientists at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover have found that trained sniffer dogs could be used to detect COVID-19 in human samples with a relatively high rate of accuracy, a study published on Thursday revealed.

Eight sniffer dogs from the German Bundeswehr were trained for only a weekto distinguish between the mucus and saliva of patients infected with coronavirus and non-infected individuals.

The dogs were then presented with positive and negative samples on a random basis by a machine.

‘Potential to take this further’

The animals were able to positively detect SARS-CoV-2 infected secretions with an 83% success rate, and control secretions at a rate of 96%. The overall detection rate, combining both, was 94%.

In its conclusion based on more than 1,000 sniffed samples, published in the BMC Infectious Diseases journal, the team said dogs could play a role in detecting infected individuals.

Sniffer dogs that normally look for explosives or drugs have been used previously to smell various cancers and hypoglycemia in diabetics. This medical application motivated veterinary scientists to research the potential ability of sniffer dogs to detect the coronavirus.

“We think that this works because the metabolic processes in the body of a diseased patient are completely changed and we think that the dog is able to detect a specific smell of the metabolic changes that occur in those patients,” said Professor Maren von Köckritz-Blickwede, a specialist in the biochemistry of infections.

“What has to be crystal clear is that this is just a pilot study,” said Holger Volk, chair of the university’s department of small animal medicine. “There’s a lot of potential to take this further — to really use these dogs in the field.”

In their conclusion, the team envisaged using sniffer dogs to detect infectious individuals in certain places.

“In countries with limited access to diagnostic tests, detection dogs could then have the potential to be used for mass detection of infected people,” said the conclusion. “Further work is necessary to better understand the potential and limitation of using scent dogs for the detection of viral respiratory diseases.”

The samples with which the sniffer dogs are being tested were chemically rendered harmless. The question remains whether the canines can detect active coronavirus cases in patients.

The researchers are also looking at how well dogs can differentiate between samples from COVID-19 patients and those with other diseases such as flu.

The Poisoned Cue from Dogs Naturally Magazine

July 25th, 2020 by Animal Health Foundation

www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com

 

One of the best “Cue” articles that we’ve seen!

Most of us are generally on board when it comes to reward-based training. We all like to be nice to our dogs and we all like happy, willing partners … so it just seems like a good idea to use cookies and games when teaching our dogs new things.What To Do When Your Dog Doesn’t Obey
Let’s use a recall as an example. If you you ask your dog to come and he simply shrugs you off and continues doing his own thing, is it time to change stride and start correcting poor choices?

It may seem that giving cookies for right responses and verbal or physical reprimands for wrong responses is a good idea. This is what many people call ‘balanced training’.

But while it seems like good sense, there are very real and unwanted byproducts of using reprimands.

Let’s Make A Deal
If you teach your dog with cookies, you’ve established a pact with your dog: “You do what I ask and I’ll give you something yummie.”

It’s a good deal … your dog is happy, you’re happy and everything goes well. And your dog learns over time that every time you ask him to do something, it’s a promise of good things to come. And that’s good …

With positive training, your dog becomes very motivated to comply with your wishes because every request is an opportunity to earn a reward. As you repeat this over time, your cues actually become rewards in themselves.

Breaking The Deal
Let’s say you call your dog and he doesn’t come. So you go and get him and give him a little shake for being bad. Suddenly, there’s a shift in your dog’s perception of the cues.

Once he’s corrected for a wrong response, your cues are now threats as well as promises.

When this happens, your cues no longer serve as rewards … so your dog will have a lot less emotional attachment to them and a lot less motivation to comply.

Cues As Rewards
If you teach your dog that “come” means an invitation to come and get some cookies and play some games, your dog would really look forward to hearing that word. He would also be motivated to actually come because he knows there’s a chance that doing so could earn him rewards.

But once you say “come” and follow up with a correction, your dog will become suspicious of the cue. He’ll no longer feel that happy anticipation when he hears the word, because it’s no longer a good predictor of Good Things For Dog.

The Results . . .
If you punish your dog after a cue, even if he doesn’t comply, you’ll start to see slower responses, fear of responding, or calming signals such as sniffing the ground or looking away. Your dog will lose interest and motivation because he’ll understandably want to avoid any chance of correction or punishment.

Even if you continue to reward right responses, you’ll see this shift in motivation. This is because your requests are no longer safe for your dog.

This is called poisoning the cue … your cues are now threats as well as promises.

How to Disinfect Your Home Without Harming Your Pet

July 7th, 2020 by Animal Health Foundation

By Dr. Karen Becker for Mercola

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Since the COVID-19 pandemic, some people are more concerned than ever about keeping their spaces clean, but some may forget to read and heed warning labels on cleaners
  • The Pet Poison Helpline reported a 100% increase in phone traffic from panicked pet owners due to pets inhaling, ingesting or having skin contact with common but poisonous household cleaners
  • Bleach and ammonia are common cleaners that are potentially lethal to pets, but mixing them with other substances can make them even worse
  • Experts say highly reactive chemicals may be effective in killing bacteria and viruses, but that’s also what makes them respond to others, creating new toxic chemicals
  • While large dogs may also be affected, small dogs and cats are much closer to the source of toxins on the floor after cleaning, disinfecting or deodorizing, and may be increasingly harmed over time

Since the first warnings of the dangers of COVID-19 emerged, the U.S. has been inundated with advice from doctors, scientists and government officials regarding how people should behave to avoid contamination.

Besides the handwashing, social distancing and mask wearing that humans have been advised to practice, it only makes sense for pet owners to think about how to protect their pets’ sensitive skin, organs and nasal passages if you’re using harsh cleaners in your home.

But some have forgotten to read and heed the warning labels on cleaning and sanitizing agents, and pets as well as humans have been harmed because of it. Remember, a dog’s sense of smell is thousands of times greater than a human’s, and their chemical sensitivity potentially much greater (they don’t shower regularly to remove the accumulated chemicals).

In fact, since the first reports of what’s been termed a pandemic, Pet Poison Helpline has reported a 100% increase in phone traffic from panicked pet owners due to exposure to common household products that ended up injuring a vulnerable pet, from cats and dogs to birds, reptiles and numerous other exotic species.

Sadly, that can happen more easily than some people may think, especially when it comes to bleach, hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes, observed Bluefield Daily Telegraph, based in West Virginia. According to Ahna Brutlag, DVM, a senior veterinary toxicologist:

“People are very concerned about their families during this COVID-19 crisis. That includes their pets. When we started receiving calls from panicked pet parents regarding possible poisonings related to COVID-19 cleaning fears, we felt we needed to educate the pet loving community on the safest way to do it.”1

Everybody wants their home to be clean, but harsh and even toxic chemicals are being used on a more frequent basis in more households, and accidents do happen. For example, someone with an open jug of bleach on the floor next to their washing machine might not realize how easy it would be to knock over.

Brutlag says if a dog or cat walks through the spilled substance, it could cause skin irritation since it can be absorbed so easily into their paw pads. But if the animal licked its paws while self grooming, the chemical’s contact with their delicate internal organs could lead to stomach irritation, diarrhea, vomiting and worse.

Some Cleaners Are Harsh, but Mixing Them Can Be Deadly

Bleach is potentially toxic on its own, but mixing it with many other cleaners can create noxious fumes. Potentially deadly combinations include bleach with ammonia, which creates chlorine gas; bleach with vinegar, which creates a chlorine gas so toxic it was used in World War I; and bleach with rubbing alcohol, says Vy Dong, professor at the University of California Irvine and head of the Dong Research Group.2

Alexander Lu from Dong Research Group notes that bleach is comprised of “highly reactive chemicals that make it effective at killing bacteria and viruses, but its high reactivity is also what makes it respond to other chemicals, which can result in new toxic chemicals.”3

While both toilet bowl cleaner and bleach are commonly used in the bathroom, they can be a lethal combination due to the fumes created. Use one or the other, and again, make sure you have good ventilation and that your pet isn’t in the room. Dong had this to say about various chemical combinations:

“Molecules are like people with their own personalities and how they behave depends on who they are around … unless you understand the personalities of all the molecules in your bottle, don’t try this at home.”4

They may seem tame in comparison, but even a combination of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar forms a chemical called peracetic acid, which is corrosive enough to break down surfaces, as well as being toxic.

Hand sanitizer can become a hazard because of its high alcohol content, Brutlag says. If an animal should swallow enough of it, symptoms could arise in as little as a half hour, necessitating a call to either the animal’s veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline.

Rubbing alcohol, especially concentrated alcohol levels from 70% to 99%, may be good for cleaning, but mixed with bleach it turns into chloroform, which can cause unconsciousness, and chloroacetone, another tear gas. Both are described as “toxic and dangerous.”5


Many Cleaners Are Potentially Dangerous

Steps you can take to avoid problems include placing your dog in his crate (and your cat in a closed room) while using chemical-based cleaning products on your floors, bathrooms or laundry. But some might use such cleaners on the cages themselves. The ASPCA notes that it’s the dilution of bleach in water that’s important:

“Pet parents are often curious about the risks associated with cleaning their pets’ cages and toys with bleach. The bottom line is this: cleaning your pet’s cage or toy with a properly diluted bleach solution, followed by a thorough rinsing and airing out, is not expected to cause harm. If the odor of bleach seems overwhelming, open windows and use fans to air the room.”6

One reason pets are so susceptible to chemical odors is because their systems are more sensitive, so the level of exposure for them is much higher than it is for humans. Even if you have a large dog — and especially if you have a cat or small dog — they’re much closer to the source of the toxins that are on the floor. Breathing them constantly would be not only unpleasant, but increasingly harmful over time.

Other substances many homeowners with pets wouldn’t think twice about using include carpet deodorizers that are shaken or sprayed on and left to sit for a period of time before vacuuming. Pets can easily walk through the room and inhale it or get it on their paws, and ingest it secondarily to grooming.

One way to protect both you and your pets is to make sure you thoroughly wipe down any surface with pure water after using conventional disinfectants. I use a medical-grade colloidal silver product around my house (proven to address aggressive viruses and bacteria) to safely address bacteria and viruses without risk to me or my furry family members.

If you opt for conventional chemical cleaning agents with poison control warnings on the label, make sure you (and your pets) have plenty of ventilation. Further:

“While we’re stuck at home trying to sanitize everything in sight, it might be tempting to get creative with mixing household chemicals to try to get your home as clean as possible. However, mixing household cleaners can be dangerous due to the chemical makeup of the unique cleaners … It’s highly recommended to stick to using one household cleaner at a time per surface to avoid mixing chemicals.”7

Better yet, opt for only natural cleaning products in your home, here’s a link to a Facebook Live I did about effective and non-toxic household cleaning products you can feel good about using around animals.

If you are still using conventional chemical cleaning products and notice changes in your pets, don’t hesitate to call the Pet Poison Helpline8 at 800-213-6680, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, for information regarding potential poisoning of all animal species.

RECALL-Natural Balance Ultra Premium Chicken and Liver Pate Formula CAT Food

July 6th, 2020 by Animal Health Foundation

The J. M. Smucker Company today announced a voluntary recall of one lot of Natural Balance® Ultra Premium Chicken & Liver Paté Formula canned cat food due to health concerns likely associated with elevated levels of choline chloride.

Ingesting impacted product may cause nausea with excessive salivation, constricted pupils and poor vision, diarrhea or vomiting to more severe symptoms including difficulty walking, muscle shaking, tremors, irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, possible cardiac or respiratory failure and, in extreme situations, death. Pet parents are encouraged to contact their cat’s veterinarian immediately if their cat is displaying any of these symptoms.

If pet parents have any product matching the following description in their possession, they should stop feeding it to their cats and dispose of the product. This information can be found on the bottom of each can.

Product Name Retail UPC Code Lot Code Best If Used By Date
Natural Balance® Ultra Premium Chicken & Liver Paté Formula canned cat food
5.5 oz can
2363353227 9217803 08 04 2021

These products are most commonly sold in pet specialty retailers and online throughout the United States and Canada. No other Natural Balance® products are impacted by this recall.

The Company has received reports of adverse reactions. Pet parents that have questions or would like to report adverse reactions should call 888-569-6828, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET or email anytime at info@naturalbalanceinc.com.

This recall is being conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

FDA recall notice: https://www.fda.gov/safety/recalls-market-withdrawals-safety-alerts/j-m-smucker-company-issues-voluntary-recall-one-lot-natural-balancer-ultra-premium-chicken-liver

Angel Fund Helps Keep Miss Kallie Healthy

May 21st, 2020 by Animal Health Foundation

Tim Genoway, who had not worked in four years, was concerned about his dog, Miss Kallie, earlier this year.

“I went to two or three veterinarians’ offices and I could see she wasn’t getting any better,” he said.  Then I went to a practice in Orange.  I was practically out of money and they wouldn’t start treating her condition without any kind of money.

“I was like, my dog’s dying here.  I know she is.  and they would say, ‘Yeah, I know she is. This is serious but we’ve got to have some kind of deposit.’

“I was at my wit’s end. I didn’t know what to do.  I made a sign that said I needed help with vet care.  somebody came along and mentioned one or two organizations and I called them.  They didn’t call me back.  One called me back a couple of days later and said they would be willing to help with $200 to $400.  So that was a good start.”

Then he took Kallie to Anaheim Hills Animal Hospital.  The doctors there examined the dog – a small animal who is part miniature Pinscher and part Chihuahua and weighs about six and a half pounds.  “They thought they knew what the problem was [Pyometra],” Tim said, but they were concerned about whether Kallie could be ready to face the needed surgery.

It was late in the day and the veterinarian told Tim that the hospital closed in 20 minutes and suggested that he and Miss Kallie say goodbye to each other.  Fearing the worst, Tim was thinking: “This is my best friend. I can’t let her go like this. She’s my partner in life. There’s got to be something they can do.  Please, let’s not give up!”

The doctor told him: “We’ll give it 24 hours and, if she recovers, we’ll go ahead with the surgery.  But we can’t promise anything.”  The dog was put on an IV about 11 p.m.

The next morning, Tim got a call from the hospital.  The message was positive and he was ecstatic. “She was doing really good and they said they expected to do the surgery sometime that day, if not the next day.  And they said she would likely make it! They said they would check her throughout the day and when they thought she was ready, they would go ahead with the surgery.”

The surgery was performed about 3 p.m. that day.  “They spayed her and cleaned out all the bad stuff, stitched her up and did a beautiful job. I couldn’t have asked for more.”

The hospital steered him to Angel Fund, which approved his application and granted him $500, an amount matched by the practice.

Kallie, he said, weighed barely six pounds when she had the surgery and weighs about have a pound more now.  Tim said that she was ready to play the day he brought her home from the hospital.

“She’s definitely a very special dog,” he said.  “There’s something about her.  I lost my Pitbull in April last year.  If she had left this year, that would have been both of my best friends gone.  Basically, Kallie’s the only family I’ve got left.  I’ve got some cousins but don’t really talk to them too much.”

He is estranged from his sister and has not spoken to his mother in more than two years.

“You guys [Angel Fund] are angels.  You really, truly are.  You are awesome.”

When it was time to pay his bill at Anaheim Hills Hospital, Tim said, “I took all the money I could put together.  But they said, you just need to sign.  It’s all taken care of.  Talk about the Lord blessing me!”

He said that he once had a good job and owned a house, then fell on hard times and had not worked for several years. He recently started a job as a security officer at a shopping center in Orange – and what he hopes will be a fresh start in life with a healthy and happy best friend.

Angel Fund Supplies Clarity for Dog With Terminal Cancer

May 9th, 2020 by Animal Health Foundation

In the fall of 2017, a young Laguna Niguel family had a sick dog on its hands.  Rikku, a shepard mix, had been in the family for some 13 years and was loved by mom and dad and two young children.

“She had been sick for a few months,” Lindsay, the mother, said in an interview.  (She asked that her last name not be used.)  “We were unsure of the cause.  At first we thought it might be behavioral. But then . . . she started having potty accidents in the house, which was so unusual for her.

“We took her to the vet [Dr. Rachel Tuz at Aliso Niguel Animal Hospital].  After a few visits and really no conclusive idea what the diagnosis was, we shrugged our shoulders and decided, ‘Well, she’s 13 years old and pushing 14, should we even pursue this any further?’

“The doctor had suggested a couple of other tests,” Lindsay said. “At that point, we had run dry on money.”  But Dr. Tuz called and said that Angel Fund might be able to help.  Lindsay successfully submitted an application with the hospital’s help. “They did the tests and found that she had a massive tumor in her bladder.  And it was basically inoperable.  There was nothing we could do about it.

“”We didn’t know what to do next, other than wait it out,” Lindsay said. “The next few months the dog got worse quickly and was losing weight, two pounds or more a month.  And we finally reached the point where Dr. Tuz said that this wasn’t fair to Rikku. She was not able to be in the house because she was having so many accidents.  So we had to choose to put her down.  That was in November.”

The experience was wrenching for all the family.  “My husband, Ryan, and I had owned her since we were kids,” Lindsay said.  “It was very hard.  “My son, Finnegan, was very sad.  He still is.  He still talks about her.”  He is five years old.  She and her husband also have a two-year-old daughter, Molly, is two.

The family got a new dog – a puppy – in January.  “We were going to wait but Finnegan kept saying he missed not having a dog,” Lindsay said.  “It’s different, though.  The new dog doesn’t replace the dog you had.  They’re just totally different personalities.”

Angel Fund was “fantastic,” Lindsay said, and she wrote a thank you letter to the fund after receiving the grant.  “They helped us in a serious time of need.  It’s hard when your pet is sick and you feel like you can’t do anything else about it.”

Lindsay had opted to be a stay-at-home mom after her first child was born.  And she and Ryan felt financially overburdened, she said, with a mortgage, two young children and hefty student loans for two college educations.

Study: Dogs Understand Spoken Words Better Than We Thought

May 1st, 2020 by Animal Health Foundation

From Healthy Pets

Mercola

By Dr. Karen Becker

https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2020/05/01/dogs-understand-spoken-words.aspx?cid_source=petsnl&cid_medium=email&cid_content=art1HL&cid=20200501Z1&et_cid=DM521245&et_rid=862360194

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • New study results suggest that dogs understand spoken words even better than we thought
  • Researchers concluded that dogs recognize spoken words regardless of the speaker, and they do it instinctively
  • The study proves that despite previous assumptions, this spontaneous ability is not uniquely human and that dogs share this linguistic talent
  • Earlier research indicates that dogs hear not only what we say, but how we say it
  • Similar to us, our dogs use the left hemisphere of their brains to process meaningful words, and the right hemisphere to process vocal tones

The ability to recognize specific word sounds (e.g., vowels) in human speech is assumed to be a uniquely human trait. After all, small differences in sound frequencies can completely change the meaning of a word, for example, “had”, “hid” and “who’d,” or “mat”, “mitt”, and “met.” The sound changes between these groups of words are so minor that word recognition software often misinterprets them.

In addition, the sound of words changes depending on the speaker — his or her age, body size, mouth shape, and other factors. For all these reasons, many researchers have held the opinion that instinctive recognition of word sounds is uniquely human, and that animals such as dogs would need training, at a minimum, to develop the skill.

However, if you’re a dog parent or spend time around dogs, you’ve probably seen for yourself that dogs can and do learn words from one person and recognize those words when they’re spoken by someone else. I’d venture to guess the vast majority of family dogs recognize the word “treat” no matter who says it!

Study: Dogs Understand Spoken Words Better Than We Thought

Recently, a team of U.K. researchers decided to see if dogs are able to recognize the same little sounds (called phonemes) that make up words, when the words are spoken by different people with varying accents and pronunciation.1

The researchers chose words that began with an “h” and ended with a “d” but had different vowels —such as “had”, “head”, “hid” and “hood” — and that would also have no meaning to the dogs. The words were recorded by 14 female and 13 male speakers of varying ages and different accents, none of whom were familiar to the dogs in the study.

Each dog sat with his or her owner near an audio speaker while a sequence of six recorded words played with six seconds of silence between each word. The dog’s responses were videotaped.

Psychology professor and neuropsychological researcher Stanley Coren, Ph.D., author of the best-selling book “The Intelligence of Dogs,” in an article for Psychology Today, describes a likely testing scenario:

“One experimental trial might have run this way. The dog to be tested is presented with a string of repetitions of the word ‘had’ through the speaker. Suppose that in this instance the word was spoken by a woman.

Typically, when the dog first hears this new word spoken by this female voice he would point his ears forward, or move toward the speaker, or flick his eyes in the direction that the sound was coming from, all of which are signs of attention and engagement.

“However, as other women with different accents repeat the word ‘had’ the dog loses interest indicating that he knows that they are all saying the same thing. On the other hand, when a female speaker in the sequence says a new word, one with a different vowel, like ‘hid’, the dog now perks up again, indicating that he noticed the difference. But when the next woman’s voice returns to saying ‘had’ his attention will again flag.”2

After evaluating the videotaped sessions, the researchers concluded that dogs recognize spoken words regardless of the speaker, and they do it instinctively.

“These results are significant because they confirm two important aspects of speech recognition in dogs,” Coren writes. “First, they can distinguish between subtle changes in vowel sounds that identify particular words. Second, dogs isolate the important word sounds from all of the changes in sound quality associated with different speakers.”

Lead study author Dr. Holly Root-Gutteridge, a postdoctoral researcher with the Mammal Vocal Communication and Cognition Research Group in the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex made this observation in an interview with Sci-News:

“The ability to recognize words as the same when spoken by different people is critical to speech, as otherwise people wouldn’t be able to recognize words as the same when spoken by different people.

This research shows that, despite previous assumptions, this spontaneous ability is not uniquely human and that dogs share this linguistic talent, suggesting that speech perception may not be as special to humans as we previously thought.”3

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Dogs’ Brains Work Similar to Ours to Process What We Say

In 2016, researchers in Budapest published a study that looked at how dogs’ brains process human speech.4 They came to the conclusion that our canine friends listen not only to what we say, but how we say it.

The scientists discovered that when we praise our dogs, the reward centers in their brains perk up if the words we use match our tone of voice. These findings suggest the ability to process words evolved much earlier than was originally thought and may not be unique to humans.

According to Phys.org, the study shows “… that if an environment is rich in speech, as is the case of family dogs, word meaning representations can arise in the brain, even in a non-primate mammal that is not able to speak.”5

For the study, the researchers recruited 13 family dogs — primarily Border Collies and Golden Retrievers — who excelled at lying completely still in an fMRI scanner, facilitating analysis of their brain activity. The dogs were volunteer study participants, were never restrained inside the scanner and could leave at any time.

The researchers recorded a trainer’s voice saying certain phrases with varying types of intonation. In the recordings, the trainer praised the dogs using Hungarian words and phrases that in English translate to “good boy,” “super,” and “well done.”

The words were spoken in both an upbeat tone and a neutral tone. The trainer also used neutral words like “however,” and “nevertheless” that meant nothing to the dogs.

While the recording played, the researchers studied the scans for regions of the dogs’ brains that were differentiating between the praise and meaningless words, as well as praise and neutral tones of voice. They observed that the dogs used the left hemisphere to process meaningful (but not meaningless) words, and the right hemisphere to process vocal tones.

Per Phys.org, “This was the same auditory brain region that this group of researchers previously found in dogs for processing emotional non-speech sounds from both dogs and humans, suggesting that intonation processing mechanisms are not specific to speech.”

Lead researcher Attila Andics of Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest explains:

“During speech processing, there is a well-known distribution of labor in the human brain. It is mainly the left hemisphere’s job to process word meaning, and the right hemisphere’s job to process intonation.

The human brain not only separately analyzes what we say and how we say it, but also integrates the two types of information, to arrive at a unified meaning. Our findings suggest that dogs can also do all that, and they use very similar brain mechanisms.”6

Processing Words Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Understanding Them

“One important thing is that we don’t claim that dogs understand everything we say, of course,” Andics told HuffPost in an email.7

There can be a difference between a dog processing words for their familiarity and actually understanding the words as we intend. As study co-author Adam Miklosi, head of the Family Dog Project told Scientific American magazine:

“‘Understanding’ is a tricky word. Studies using brain imaging technology cannot firmly say that the activation of a specific brain area indicates ‘understanding.’

“For sure, dogs in this study reacted to the meaningful words, that is, to those words that their owners often use when they want to attract the dog’s attention or provide a positive feedback for the dog. So in this sense our dogs recognized these words as familiar and probably meaning something good.”8

An important result of the study is that it demonstrates the left hemisphere of dogs’ brains processes meaningful words separate from the vocal tone. This suggests your dog may understand that “good dog” is praise regardless of the tone of voice you use when you say it, because he recognizes those words as meaningful vs. meaningless.

“We think that intonation is important,” says Miklosi. “Owners should learn how to praise a dog, and then use the same expression in similar way. Consistency in praising and in general in communication with the dog is important.”

The researchers suspect they would have similar results in studies of other domestic animals like cats and horses, as long as the animals had lived among humans. They hope this study and subsequent research can be used to enhance communication and cooperation between dogs and humans.

Pariah, primitive and landrace dogs found around the world

May 1st, 2020 by Animal Health Foundation

From Pet Connection  Pet Connection

https://www.uexpress.com/pet-connection/2020/4/27/first-dogs

By Kim Campbell Thornton

Andrews McMeel Syndication

One of the things I enjoy about travel is seeing different dogs around the world. Last year, I went to Ethiopia in search of wild dogs — rare and endangered Ethiopian wolves (Canis simensis) — but I also saw many domestic dogs in forested villages and high-altitude plains, sometimes with flocks or humans, but more often trotting along on their own business.

No matter where you go in the world, you are likely to see some canine representative who looks much the same as the earliest-known dogs, based on rock art or remains of dogs discovered by archaeologists. Whether they are called aboriginal, landrace, pariah, primitive or village dogs, and whether they are found on islands or mountains or in dense forests, they tend to have a similar form: medium size, prick ears, wedge-shaped head, curved tail and short coat.

Color and coat vary. In the Seychelles, an archipelago off the east coast of Africa, and in the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean, I saw mostly tan or brown dogs. In Ethiopia, I saw many black-and-tan and black-and-white dogs as well as ones dressed in basic brown. Sometimes they have feathering — or furnishings — on legs, ears and tail, or longer fur, depending on where they evolved. Sometimes these dogs have maintained a particular look over centuries simply because geographic isolation ensured that they did not interbreed with dogs from other areas.

Pariah-type dogs who live on the streets and forage for themselves, as well as those who live in homes as companions, can be found from India to Taiwan to Thailand and everywhere in between. You may have a dog who looks like this in your own home, mixed or purebred.

Some purebreds who live in our homes and sleep on our beds still maintain primitive behavior characteristics, such as reproducing only once a year. The Federation Cynologique Internationale — Europe’s answer to the American Kennel Club — has a “primitive” category of dogs that includes the basenji, Canaan dog, cirneco dell’Etna, pharaoh hound, Xoloitzcuintli, Portuguese podengo and Thai ridgeback. In the same FCI group as primitive dogs are the spitz breeds, including the Akita, Alaskan malamute, chow chow, Finnish spitz, Icelandic sheepdog, Jindo, Karelian bear dog, Norwegian elkhound, shiba and Siberian husky. While in their current forms, most of these breeds are not much more than a century old (no matter what their breed standards say), the types of dogs that were their progenitors have been around for millennia.

The United Kennel Club describes pariah dogs as having short, smooth coats and large, erect ears, saying they are believed to be the ancestors of sighthounds — those tall, skinny, fast dogs such as Afghan hounds, Azawakhs, greyhounds, salukis and sloughis.

Some dogs are considered not purebreds but landraces: domestic dogs adapted to a particular locale or culture. Their characteristics developed more in response to survival in a particular environment than to human design. One such dog I saw on a visit to Mongolia in 2016 is the bankhar, kept by nomadic herders to guard flocks, and able to survive, thrive and work in harsh conditions. That’s more important to their human partners than whether they meet specific criteria regarding appearance or size. Bankhars have greater genetic diversity than their purebred cousins who come from a closed gene pool and are selectively bred by humans for specific physical or behavioral characteristics.

Landraces sometimes become breeds through human intervention. In the United States, for instance, the Carolina dog began as a landrace but is now considered to be a standardized breed, registered by the American Rare Breed Association and the UKC.

Some primitive dogs retain more wild behaviors than others, among them Australia’s dingo and New Guinea’s singing dog. A few live as companions, but more often they live a wild life, fending for themselves.

12 Games for Dogs to Keep Your Pup Entertained and Healthy

April 25th, 2020 by Animal Health Foundation
  • From ApartmentGuide
  • We have 12 games you can try playing with your dog
  • Stuck indoors? Try out the indoor games and puzzles
  • Looking to get some exercise in the yard? We’ve included outdoor activities as well

Similar to humans, dogs need their exercise to stay healthy. While walking your dog can be a good way to release energy, sometimes you don’t have the time or space to go on a long walk. In these situations, use these games for dogs to tire your pup out.

Whether it’s a sunny day and you can spend time in the yard or you’re confined to your small apartment, we have a variety of games for your pup. When playing, be sure to consider your dog’s size and age. Bigger dogs tend to have more energy and might need longer games. Small dogs may tire more easily. When considering age, older dogs are more prone to hurting themselves. This means you may want to choose games that are easier on their joints.

No matter your dog’s breed, size or age, we have twelve games for dogs to keep them healthy and happy.

DIY puzzles for dogs

You’ve found the perfect pet-friendly apartment and now you need games to entertain your dog throughout the day. Luckily there are plenty of indoor puzzles for dogs that you can try out in the comfort of your home.

graphic showing dog doing a scent experiment

1. Scent experiment

Try out a scent experiment with your dog to test its snout. This can be played in a variety of ways. In the most basic version, you’ll hide a treat somewhere and have them find it.

Muffin tray tennis ball game

For this activity, you’ll need a muffin tray, four tennis balls and treats.

  • Step 1: Start by having your dog sit. Place a few treats in different cups of the muffin tray as they wait patiently.
  • Step 2: Instruct them to find the treats.
  • Step 3: Now that they are familiar with the game, repeat step one but this time put tennis balls over the treats.
  • Step 4: Instruct your dog to find the treats. See if they can sniff them out and figure out how to move the tennis balls out of the way to retrieve them.
  • Step 5: As your dog gets better at sniffing out the treats, set up some decoy tennis balls with no treats under them.

This game can last as long as you’d like it to. For variety, try changing which treats you are using or use a more difficult treat to gobble up like peanut butter.

graphic showing dog with treat dispenser

2. Treat dispenser fun

Give your dog a treat puzzle to figure out. You can either buy a treat dispenser like the popular Kong toys or make your own.

How to DIY a dog treat dispenser

For this project, you’ll need a water bottle, dog treats and a drill.

  • Step 1: Wash the bottle so that it’s clean and remove any labels.
  • Step 2: Drill a hole in the side of the bottle. The size of the hole will depend on the size of your treats. The hole should be a little smaller than your treats so they don’t easily fall out.
  • Step 3: Put the treats in the bottle and screw on the top.
  • Step 4: Give the treat dispenser to your dog and see how long it takes them to solve the puzzle.

Be sure you are supervising your pup when they play with this toy. If they manage to chew off the lid or tear through the plastic, you’ll want to take it away.

Active indoor games for dogs

Just because you are confined to your apartment, doesn’t mean your dog can’t release some energy. Try out one of these active indoor games to keep from going stir crazy.

graphic of dog playing hide and seek

3. Hide and seek

A fun indoor game to play with your dog is hide and seek. Have your pup sit and stay. Then go hide somewhere in the house. When you are hidden, tell them to come. When they find you, reward them with a treat.

graphic of dog racing up the stairs

4. Stairway race

Release some energy by having an indoor race with your dog. This is best for homes that have carpeted stairways to prevent any injuries. Have someone say, “On your marks, get set, go!” Race up the stairs and see who can make it to the top first. Have everyone in the family race in different heats to determine who is the champion.

Training challenges to try with your dog

While you might have taken a training class when your dog was a puppy, you may not have kept up with teaching them as they grew. Test their mental strength by practicing new skills and learning agility.

graphic showing hand signals for training dogs

5. Practice skills

Test your dog’s memory and obedience by teaching them some basic skills. These can include sit, stay, shake and roll over. Skills are good for a dog of any age to practice. Use their favorite treat as an incentive. Be sure to only reward them if they are successful in completing the action.

If your canine has already mastered these basics, try some more advanced skills. Some advanced dog skills include:

  • Play dead
  • Crawl
  • Kiss
  • Hug
  • Spin
  • Sit pretty
  • Bow
  • Leash

Practicing these skills will create a deeper bond between you and your pup as well as lead to them being more obedient.

graphic showing an indoor agility course

6. Create an indoor agility course

If you are practicing agility with your dog, you can make an agility course with basic home furniture. Learning agility can help solve dog behavior problems, improve their off-leash reliability, build your bond and gain some skills you can show off.

Make a scorecard and see how your pup would fare in a real competition. To learn more about agility, check out the American Kennel Club scoring guide.

Homemade dog agility course

Create your own agility course at home to learn these skills.

  • Weave: Set up laundry baskets in a row. Have your dog practice weaving in and out of them.
  • Jump up: Have them jump up on a chair or your bed. Practice with different heights.
  • Jump through: Hold up a hula hoop and have them jump through.
  • Under: Practice going under a few chairs that are lined up in a row.
  • Crawl: Get a box and open the ends. Have your dog practice crawling through.
  • Over: Rest a pole or broom over two stools. Work on their ability to jump over the pole.

infographic of games for dogs

Additional classic games for dogs

These are the games that your dog knows and loves. When you’re at a loss for what to play, try one of these classic games for dogs.

7. Clean up

If you have toys scattered throughout your apartment, clean up is the game for you. A game of clean up will entertain your pup as well as get rid of some of the clutter in your home.

Have them pick up one of their toys and lead them to the toy bin. When their head is over the bin, instruct them to “drop it.” Praise them with words or treats. This process may take a little longer for them to understand so be patient as they are learning. In the end, you’ll be rewarded with a tidy space.

8. Fetch

Fetch is a classic for a reason. This game may seem repetitive to you, but to your dog, it’s endless entertainment. To play, throw a ball of some sort. Typically tennis balls work best because they fit in your dog’s mouth, can be thrown far distances and their color is easy to spot. Your dog will chase after it and return the ball, panting and ready for more.

Many play fetch with sticks they find in the backyard, but this can be dangerous. The stick can easily break down when chewed and the splinters can be harmful to your dog’s mouth or stomach. Be sure you are using soft, pet-safe toys when playing fetch.

photo showing dog with frisbee

9. Frisbee

Another crowd favorite is a frisbee. Frisbee is similar to fetch, but oftentimes your dog is content playing with it alone for hours. Since frisbees have rounded sides, they often roll away. This turns into a game of chase and then a wild battle until your pup comes out of it victorious.

There are two types of frisbees you can purchase. The classic plastic kind is durable, but be sure to keep an eye on how it’s holding up. Sharp teeth can cause the plastic to crack, making it dangerous for dogs to play with and humans to throw. Another option is to get a softer, cloth frisbee. These are good for dogs with more sensitive gums like puppies who are teething.

10. Water games

On a hot summer day, there’s nothing better than cooling off with some water games. Get sprinklers and attach them to the hose in your yard. Be sure you’re using a garden hose that is lead-free. If it’s been sitting out in the sun, run it for a little bit to clear out any bacteria that may have formed.

Set up the sprinkler in an area of your yard that needs some hydration. Turn it on and encourage your dog to jump over it with you. For more dynamic entertainment, get an oscillating sprinkler so your dog can chase it back and forth.

11. Soccer

A game for the whole family, soccer can be an excellent way to release some energy. Get a soccer ball and be sure it’s fully inflated. If a dog’s sharp teeth puncture it, your match will be over.

Familiarize your dog with the ball. Reward them with treats when they push it with their nose. Once they are comfortable with the new toy, try playing pass. Lightly kick the ball towards them and see if they can return it to you. Another option is to set up a goal (could be two sticks that serve as goal markers) and have your dog play defense.

photo showing tug of war

12. Tug of war

Your dog may naturally try to play tug of war with you with something you’re holding. To be sure they don’t destroy your couch pillow or shoelaces it’s important to give them an item they are allowed to play with. Create a tug of war toy with some natural cotton rope. Tie knots in the rope so your pet has something to grab onto.

Many pet parents are worried that this type of game will bring out aggression in their dog. To avoid this, be sure you are playing on your terms. Keep the toy stored out of reach and bring it out when you want to play. When playing, be sure that your dog never touches you. If they do, the game is temporarily over. This will teach them boundaries. In addition to learning these boundaries, they should know how to “drop it” when instructed to. If they haven’t learned this command, it’s a skill you should work on.

Spending quality time with your dog

Partaking in these games for dogs will create a stronger bond between you and your four-legged friend. Be sure to add these skills to your dog’s pet resume when moving to a new apartment.

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