Saturday, 14 November 2015

Canine Psychology & Behavior Resources

In order to get the most out of the dog-person relationship, people must have a basic grasp of how dogs think & communicate and a solid grasp of basic canine psychology.
Dog Psychology
All dog owners know that there are times when their four-legged friend seems to understand just what they are thinking. Over the years, the field of canine psychology has demonstrated that there is a large degree of truth in this assumption. 
  1. Dogs are able to learn words - specifically nouns and verbs - so that they know what their owners are referring to when they issue commands. 
  2. Dogs can follow the gaze of their owners, and they demonstrate other behaviors that are also evident in human psychology. 
  3. Dogs can even become susceptible to disorders such as depression and compulsive behavior.
Here is some useful information on canine psychology:
Canine Communication

While dogs do not use words to tell people or other animals what they are thinking, that does not mean that there is not a type of "dog language." This language consists of barks, growls, yowls, whimpers, postures, and so forth. In fact, it is possible to differentiate between different kinds of barks and to see in a dog potential signs of aggression.
Dog owners can tell a lot about the attitude of their animal based on the mouth and tail. Relaxed dogs will have a relaxed, open mouth. Aggressive dogs will bare their teeth and growl. If the growl is accompanied by a stiff, upright tail, then the person should be wary that the dog is willing to bite. A sweeping wag of the tail, however, often indicates playfulness.
Dog Socialization
Making sure that a dog socializes well with other people and animals is key to the animal's long-term well-being. A properly socialized dog knows that not every stranger or unknown animal is a threat, and that will reduce its proclivity to get into fights or to go after those who mean no harm. Regularly socializing a dog from the puppy stage onward is key to making sure that the animal is well-adjusted around people and animals. 
A great way to socialize a dog with other dogs is to take it to a dog park and allow it to get to know other dogs with your supervision. Dog owners should also make sure that their animal is introduced to a wide variety of people as well, and having these people give their dog a treat will help the animal recognize friends and be wary of foes.
The Importance of Training and Obedience for Dogs
Every year, scores of people and dogs are injured because dogs have not been properly trained. An obedient dog is a safe dog. Such a dog will heed the master's call if the master calls it back from a potentially dangerous situation.
An obedient dog will also listen to its master's call to heel and not go after other people or animals. Proper training of canines is not difficult, and it pays off for years to come.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Dog Park Etiquette

For most dog owners, going to the dog park is a fun way to let your dog get exercise while socializing with other dogs. In order to keep the dog park fun for all visitors, we all need to be mindful of proper dog park etiquette when we visit.

Once you and your dog get to the dog park, it may be tempting to just stand back and watch all the activity while your dog runs around. Everybody will have a much more rewarding time if you observe some basic etiquette for visiting a dog park. 

Many of the suggestions below are more common sense than anything, but they should be heeded. These may not be official dog park rules, but following this etiquette will make the dog park / dog run a better place for all who visit.
  • Never, ever, leave your dog unattended and always keep your attention on your dog.
  • Keep use of mobile phones to a minimum so that your focus can always remain on your dog.
  • Always clean up after your dog. Most parks have poopbags, so use them, or bring your own! This is a primary reason that dog parks get complaints, so pay attention and pick up the poop.
  • If you see trash, debris, or anything else that’s out of place, pick it up or put it back so none of the dogs get injured.
  • Make sure your dog is up-to-date on all vaccinations and has a valid dog license.
  • Don’t bring puppies under 4 months to a dog park. They won’t have had all the necessary inoculations that allow them to play safely with other animals.
  • Don’t bring a female dog in season into the park.
  • Spayed/neutered animals are recommended.
  • Before coming to the dog park, as your veterinarian if your dog is healthy enough to play.
  • Don’t bring more than two or maybe three dogs. It subjects parks to overuse, and if they’re not your dogs, you may not have full control over them. It’s hard enough for many people to watch one dog.
  • Keep your dog on-leash until you get to the 'off-leash' area. This is not just respectful to other park users, it’s much safer for your dog.
  • Close all doors to the dog park or dog run after entering or exiting.
  • If your dog becomes unruly or plays rough, leash him and leave immediately.
  • If you must bring children to a dog park, supervise them closely.
  • Don’t smoke or eat while at the dog park. Cigarette butts and food wrappers are tempting treats to dogs, but bad for them.
  • Don’t scold or touch someone else’s dog. You wouldn’t want them to do that to your dog.
  • Don't give treats to other dogs - certainly without first asking owners permission - dogs may be allergic to certain foods.
  • If it seems like a group of dogs are bullying another dog, make sure your dog isn’t participating and encourage other owners to do the same.
  • Be friendly with other dog owners. It’s more enjoyable if everyone is nice to each other.
  • Always observe all of the rules posted at your local dog park. Each town has its own set of regulations: please follow them.

Dog parks provide a fantastic opportunity for off-leash play when owners are alert and conscientious. Few things can happily tire out your dog like a fellow canine playmate. With a few precautions, your dog can play, play, play at the dog park with the only telltale signs being a sleepy, dirty, happy doggie.

Want to find a safe & friendly place to exercise your dog?

There are a number of Dog Park Finders depending on which country you live in. Here are a few suggestions to help you look in your area.

Dog Park (USA) was created to help dog owners find local dog parks in their city or neighborhood. Whether you just moved to a new city, are on vacation with your dog, or just wish to find another great place to take your dog to exercise and socialize, can help you find a local dog park.

Dog Park Finder is an app you can download if you live in the USA. It’s a comprehensive list off-leash areas and on-leash dog walks. The information comes from, a site that reviews pet-friendly and pet-unfriendly places.

Doggo lists Dog Friendly Beaches & Dog Parks across Australia. Users can also post their own suggestions for new places and comment on existing ones.

Walkees for everything dog friendly in the UK. For every walk that a member adds to Walkiees, they will donate £2 to a dog charity. The more walks that get added, the more money they donate. Add your walk today, and you will have helped dogs less fortunate than or own.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

How to choose the right companion dog

Genetic Health Problems in Companion Animals

Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) focus is on Science in the Service of Animal Welfare. The UFAW website aims to help reduce the severity and incidence of breed-related welfare problems in companion animals by providing information for prospective pet owners, breeders and others.
The idea is that if you are thinking of buying a dog or any other companion animal of a particular strain or breed, you will be able to find information on what inherited welfare problems may occur, and what checks you may need to make with breeders or suppliers in order to avoid buying affected or carrier animals and, in so doing, unintentionally perpetuating the problem.
What is the problem?
The problem of health issues related to unsuitable breeding was listed as the top welfare concern of vets & vet nurses in PDSA's Animal Wellbeing Report 2011

Many genetic diseases occur in companion animals (eg see Lindblad-Toh et al 2005). Some of these diseases arose due to random mutations that became established in some breeds, but in other cases, adverse welfare impacts have arisen as direct consequences of the features being selected for. So, respiratory difficulties occur in some breeds because of selection for shortened noses, and others are predisposed to bacterial skin infections as a result of breeding for excess, deeply folded skin.


Although efforts by responsible breeders, veterinarians and geneticists to try to tackle some of these diseases are gathering momentum, it is surprising that there has been rather little concern about these matters until very recently in view of their very significant welfare impact. The idea for this website was stimulated by the CAWC Report on 'Breeding and Welfare in Companion Animals' (CAWC, 2006).

Why genetic welfare problems?
Tackling genetic welfare problems requires the concerted efforts of breeders, geneticists, vets, pet owners and others. A team approach is needed and the particular role of this website is to provide information on the welfare aspects of genetic diseases and conditions - to explain what they are and why they cause pain or discomfort. 

Shar-Pei gets facelift to save eyesight because his skinfolds had overdeveloped
and were covering his eyes & ears so badly he was becoming both blind & deaf.

UFAW believes this is a key component of efforts to tackle these problems but there are other crucial aspects also and others are currently working on these. Some of the main initiatives in the UK are listed below:
  • Independent Advisory Council on the Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding ( is working to develop coordinated strategies to tackle priority diseases.
  • Inherited Diseases in Dogs website ( contains a guide to diseases/conditions of pure-bred dogs which are likely to be transmitted wholly or partly through a genetic mechanism.
  • Scientists, for example, at the Animal Health Trust, are working to identify the genes involved and to develop tests so that carrier animals can be detected (
  • British Veterinary Association Animal Welfare Foundation (BVA AWF) and the RSPCA have developed a 'puppy contract' scheme so that prospective puppy buyers are given information relevant to genetic health before making a purchase (
  • British Veterinary Association works with the Kennel Club to develop screening tests for genetic diseases/conditions based on clinical findings (eg aimed at tackling hip dysplasia in various breeds and syringomyelia in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (;
  • Kennel Club funds and promotes research into tackling genetic diseases in dogs and works to develop strategies to tackle them ( Under its umbrella, many of the specific breed clubs have genetic health schemes.
  • Dog Breed Health website is a user-friendly source of information, providing advice for prospective puppy buyers on what diseases can occur and how to avoid them ( 
  • Searchable on-line database on genetic (DNA) tests available for canine hereditary diseases which provides contact details of laboratories that provide these tests at:

I wish to buy a pet – what can I do?
Prospective pet owners have a very important role to play in helping to eradicate genetic diseases and poor welfare traits. If people only bought animals from problem free breeds or lines, the disease-prone lines would be replaced by their healthier cousins.

For 10,000 years the selective breeding of dogs has been focused on aspects of performance, behaviour or appearance. This approach characterises the breeding of many other species of companion animals as well. Unfortunately, this has resulted in many genetic diseases. It is now time for priority to be given to breeding for the animals' welfare. To drive this change, prospective pet owners, and breeders need information on the welfare consequences of these diseases. 

This website includes information not just about the physical effects of genetic diseases but also assessments of their effects on the animal’s quality of life, for example through causing pain or discomfort, to inform prospective pet owners' choice of their new pet. 

To learn more visit UFAW's webpage on Genetic Welfare Problems of Companion Animals -

UFAW’s Aim

The aim of this project is to describe genetic conditions affecting companion animals and to explain their welfare consequences - their impacts on the animals’ quality of life - as clearly as possible. It is an information resource for prospective pet owners. For example:

Select a condition:

Dr John Bradshaw and Dr David Sargan discuss the problems 
genetic disorders can cause in dogs,and how they can be prevented. 

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Do you want a working dog?

Dogs make fantastic pets. Around the world there are millions of households which have pet dogs, with over 43 million households in the US alone. But dogs don’t just make good pets. They’re also capable of performing a multitude of tasks, from guarding to guiding, which makes them excellent working companions.

The Benefit of having a Working Dog

There are many people who would be lost without their working dogs. From farmers to those with sight difficulties, these people rely on their dogs to help them perform vital tasks.

Having a working dog can not only save a person time and money - such as in the case of sheep herding, which would otherwise have to be performed on foot, or using a vehicle. 

And they can also save lives. Working dogs have prevented their unsighted owners from sustaining injury whilst out and about. They have pulled children from fires and found those who are lost. They have helped their owners hunt for food. And some working dogs have even helped catch criminals, discover bodies or detect mines.

These dogs are highly trained with lots of time, care and money poured into them.

Owning a working dog

There are two reasons why people choose to own working dogs; either as pets, or as working companions. Those that choose to own a working-type dog as a pet may find that this decision comes with certain challenges. This is because dogs which have been bred to work all possess certain characteristics which make owning them more challenging than owning other dogs.

How to look after a working dog

If you’ve decided to adopt a working-type dog, you will probably need to make allowances for its very specific temperament. This will probably involve making time to take your dog on long walks, every day, and filling your home and garden with a wide selection of interesting toys for your dog to entertain itself with.

You may also wish to spend some time thinking about where your dog will sleep. Working-type dogs often require a lot of training (though they are quick to learn), and you might need to invest in particular sleeping arrangements which will keep your dog happy and safe at night. Outside housing is perfect for active dogs.

The downside of adopting a working dog

Not everyone fully understands or appreciates the amount of time and effort that goes into having and maintaining a dog, especially a working dog. In particular, if a breed of dog has been bred for outdoor work - such as Border Collies - they will often be more energetic and demanding than other breeds. This means that, as pets, they are often unsuitable for small homes, or homes in which the owners will be out a lot. They will need a lot of exercise, attention and distraction (e.g. agility work).

Many Australian farms have at least one working dog, be it a kelpie, a cattle dog or some other breed and while they are valued for their work, many are abandoned or put down each year.

Australian Working Dog Rescue International (AWDRI) save working dogs from council pounds and shelters around the country. They save them from the threat of euthanasia, retrain them when necessary, and re-home them appropriately.

A new tool to help owners read dogs minds?

Dognition is a new technology that promises to read dogs' minds. Can it make them smarter?

If you've ever wondered just how smart your pup is, now you can find out, thanks to the work of Dr. Brian Hare and his new technology, called 'Dognition'.

Find out how your dog learns

Dr. Hare created Dognition, an online tool that anybody can use to find out about the different types of intelligence their dog is using to be the genius that it is. Some dogs are amazing communicators, some dogs are incredibly bonded and empathic with their owners, some are even capable of complicated reasoning skills and others have an amazing memory. Finding out the process by which your dog learns is the first step in discovering how intelligent he or she is.

Play games with your dog

"If you want to just pronounce that your dog is smart, that's fine, but there's actually a way to measure it, which is to compare your dog to other dogs," Dr. Hare said.

Dognition measures intelligence through games. One game uses just a few large plastic cups and your dog's favorite treat to play. All you have to do is hide the treat under one of the cups and you'll immediately learn more about your dog's type of intelligence. According to Dr. Hare, a dog that's super-communicative might think he saw the treat in one place but won't believe his eyes because he listens to his owner. A dog with excellent working memory will remember where the treat is, no matter what you say or do. Who knew such a simple game could be so educational?

Dogs are more like humans than you think

Dr. Hare says that when it comes to intelligence, dogs are a lot like us. "They are actually more similar cognitively to human infants in some ways, in some types of intelligences, than chimpanzees and bonobos," he said. Dr. Hare has the research to back it up. He published a paper on the subject in Science magazine back in 2002, which surprised many people in the science community. Not that Dr. Hare wants to prove dogs are exactly like humans. 

"They're not little humans, and that's not the goal of our research," he said. "The goal of our research is to understand dogs for who they are. But it doesn't mean they're just like us and, in fact, they're better than us and more interesting."

Who can argue with that? All dog parents know that their pups are way more interesting than humans.

Use what you learn to help train your pup

How can understanding the way your dog learns help you if you've got an actual training problem? A lot, says Dr. Hare. For instance, if your dog has trouble obeying the command "sit and stay," Dognition can help.

"If you go to a trainer, he's going to tell you to work hard or try this activity," Dr. Hare said. "Dognition doesn't disagree with that, but it can give you more information to help you individualize your approach."

By knowing if your dog is using working memory or is more attentive to body language, you and your trainer can individualize a training program to work with the way your dog learns. So, you can say bye-bye to all those bad habits.

Find the right dog for you

Another exciting aspect of Dr. Hare's work is its application with dogs in shelters. Every year, many dogs are sadly euthanized due to behavioral issues. What if the shelter workers were better able to understand the personality of each dog and the trainers could use that information to tailor a training program for him or her? The results could send some dogs into loving homes that might otherwise not have gotten the chance.

Ebony the black Pit Bull is available for adoption from the Town of North Hampstead/   Shelter Connection in NY. They are currently utilizing the Dognition pilot program.

"Dognition can help shelters tell the story of the dog," Dr. Hare said, adding that instead of seeing a dog as scary because it is barking a lot or trying to jump the fence, shelter workers could identify the dog's personality qualities and find someone looking for that exact type of dog.

"A person could go into a shelter and say they want a dog that's strongly bonded and a great communicator, and the shelter could know which dog will have those qualities," Dr. Hare said.

Shining a Light on Homeless Dogs

Territorio de Zaguates, an animal rescue organization in Costa Rica, was having trouble finding forever homes for their mixed breed dogs - 94% of their dogs in their organization.

So they had an innovative idea: if people are more likely to adopt when they know the breed of the dog, why don’t we create unique one of a kind breeds? With the tagline, “when you adopt a mutt, you adopt a unique breed,” Costa Rica now has one-of-a-kind breeds, like Fire-tailed Border Cocker, Shaggy Shepherd Dachspaniel, and Marbled English Filamaraner.

With the help of National TV, social media, and billboard advertising, adoptions for these mutts skyrocketed! In 45 days of their campaign, Territorio de Zaguates adoption rate grew by 1400%, their mutts obtained $457,000 of PR value, and their Facebook page received 510,484 interactions. As well, 100% of the shelters expenses are now covered by sponsors.

Dognition are thrilled with Territorio de Zaguates success in finding so many homeless dogs permanent, loving families. They also believe that all dogs have a unique genius, which is why they have paired up with Petfinder to create the Dognition/Petfinder Adoption Program

They are now working with adoption organizations to assist in placing more dogs in their 'forever homes' by helping to shine a light on what makes each dog special. In particular, they hope to help place the dogs that are commonly overlooked in the adoption process. They plan on rolling out their Adoption Program to more shelters in the near future. 

Know of an adoption organization that could benefit from Dognition? Write to with your interest.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...