Friday, 20 July 2012

Fido Friendly Planning Award

The resizing of the Aussie backyard, a shift to townhouse and apartment living and more compact urban environments have planners focussing on how this impacts the country's high rate of pet ownership.

The Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) and the Petcare Information Advisory Service (PIAS) have partnered to launch an inaugural 2012 Pet Friendly Planning Award a nationwide search for the planning project that best considers the needs of Australia’s beloved pets.

The shift in the way Australians are living and the ongoing popularity of pet ownership are driving the need to better plan for pets in urban environments:

"Two in every three homes in Australia have at least one pet. When you consider that lot sizes are getting smaller and census data showing an increase in apartment living, pets need to be catered for in parks and other public spaces.”    MS Currie (PIA President) 

For additional information and resources:

Public Open Space and Dogs - Australia’s most comprehensive document to date on planning for public open space and dogs; authored by Virginia Jackson.

Pets and Community Health - research summary on the health benefits of companion animals prepared by the Petcare Information and Advisory Service. - useful source of information on pet ownership in Australia.

Pets in the City - great resource prepared by Petcare Information & Advisory Service to assist those residing in high density living, enjoy the benefits offered by pets.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

What is Wag n Train?

What is Wag n Train?

With Wag n Train you can become a top trainer, with easy to follow instructions, photos and videos of some really clever tricks.

Wag n Train applies the methods used by Dogs for the Disabled to train highly skilled assistance dogs. Based on encouragement and reward, our training approach is tried, tested and gets great results. 

Sign up for the challenge and raise funds for Dogs for the Disabled at the same time!
Take the Challenge
Sign up online today by donating £5 which will go directly to Dogs for the Disabled, a life transforming charity that trains assistance dogs for people with disabilities.
  • Log in details will be emailed to you giving you full access to step-by-step instructions, photos & videos for a variety of tricks, ranging - easy to hard.
  • If you’ve never tried to train your dog to do tricks before, then don’t worry. There is also information about the clicker training method and the basics to get you started.
  • You can pick and choose whichever tricks you would like to train your dog, or you can choose to complete the two Wag n Train levels and become a Wag n Train Trick Master and then a Wag n Train Training Champion!

 Show the world what you can do!
Upload videos on YouTube of your canine pal doing the clever tricks you’ve taught him and tag them Wag n Train. They will put the best ones on the website and the Dogs for the Disabled Facebook page.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Pets for Life Community Outreach Toolkit

PFL Toolkit CoverThe Pets for Life Community Outreach Toolkit is an interactive manual created by the HSUS’sPets for Life program, funded by PetSmart Charities.

The first of its kind, it’s designed to guide organizations through the process of developing and implementing a community outreach program tailored to connect under-served communities with the animal welfare resources, services and information they need.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

What Dogs Think

Is your dog really excited to see you? Or is the panting and tail wagging simply a sign that he’s anticipating a treat?

Researchers from Emory University in Atlanta are trying to answer this question and others by using MRI scans. In a new study, scientists report that they have for the first time successfully trained dogs to lie awake and still in an MRI machine for 10 to 15 seconds, long enough to complete a scan.

“We can actually capture brain images and see what parts of the brain are activating when we have hand signals or when we talk to [the dog] or when we point this way or that way. Now we can really begin to understand what a dog is thinking.” Gregory Berns, Professor of Neuroeconomics (Emory University)

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Ozzie - Cane Toad Detection Dog

Cane Toad Detection Dog

Ozzie the cane toad detection dog hard at work on Groote Eylandt in Northern Australia. Ozzie is the world's second cane toad detection dog trained by Gary Jackson from Multi-National K9

Source: Eukanuba Extraordinary Dogs - Cane Toad Detection Dog

Friday, 25 May 2012

2012 Assistance Dogs International Conference

The next Assistance Dogs International (ADI) Conference is being held in Barcelona (Spain) 27-29 July, 2012.

The conference will be held back-to-back with the Canine Science Forum (CSF) There will be a joint session on the 27, enabling delegates to share ideas and good practice and to network.  

  • Joint session with Canine Science Forum - presentations & discussions
  • David Nieto Macein - Current thinking in commonality and differences between wolves and dogs
  • World expert Nick Allan on fundraising through electronic media
  • Puppies in Flight - A program to support assistance dog organisations
  • Assessing and maximising the effectiveness of assistance dogs

  • Preparing children with autism for assistance dogs
  • Access issues - panel discussion on what is happening around the world and the key challenges
  • Undertaking the whole assistance dog training programme in prisons
  • Canine Neonatology - increasing survival rates
  • The challenges of working with people with PTSD
  • Making the most of social media - can it add value?
  • Measuring Impact - how do dogs make a difference to the lives of people with disabilities?
  • Hip Dysplasia - new genetic studies
  • Plans for a new organisation called Animal Assisted Intervention International (AAII)
  • Assessing effectiveness of new services - how to carry out effective but low-cost research
  • Using technology to support the work of assistance dogs
  • Teaching service dog signals for clients with limited mobility or who are non-verbal

For further information, visit:

Dogs Help Australia’s Elderly

Research into the effects of canine companions on residents in aged care facilities looks like having a major impact on the way dementia patients are treated. 

What place do dogs have in reducing the effects of this debilitating disease? 

With a rapidly ageing population, dementia is predicted to be the leading cause of disability in Australia within 8 years, resulting in many people living with memory and attention loss. As well, there will be a corresponding decline in language skills, and increased feelings of insecurity and vulnerability. 

The benefits of having a pet are well-documented. Jackie Perkins, PhD student at the Centre for Companion Animals Health, UQ, wanted to help dementia patients. Jackie’s research, generously funded by the Wicking Trust, is examining ‘how dogs can have a therapeutic effect on dementia sufferers’. She has developed questionnaires to better understand the relationship between people in aged care facilities and therapy dogs. 

One person declared “While I had Golly on my lap, I didn’t feel the pain in my hip” and another, “While I was stroking Lady I felt the pain in my leg go”. Even those whose previous experience with dogs had not been positive showed signs of overcoming their reluctance - asking to be included in the trials to play with and pat the dogs. The dogs, Golly, Lady and Rinnie, responded with the warmth characteristic of these adoring pets. The residents also formed close relationships with other members in their trial group. In this way, they regained some of their lost communication skills. 

Current medical treatment for dementia is largely ineffective. The success of this project would mean that dogs could become part of accepted therapy in the palliative care of elderly Australians and contribute to improving their quality of life.

Source: Centre for Companion Animal Health, University of Queensland

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Catalyst: Left Paw Right Paw - ABC TV Science

Pawedness in Dogs - is your dog a left-paw or a right-paw? And if so, what does it mean? 

Not only would being a leftie shape your dog's personality, it has a massive influence on whether a puppy will pass or fail Guide Dog School. Recent research by Guide Dogs NSW has indicated that dogs who are right-pawed more likely to graduate Guide Dog School than south paws!

It's all to do with what's called brain lateralisation. That's where different hemispheres of the brain do different jobs. So the right brain is largely in charge of the fight-flight response - fear, anxiety. Whereas the left brain is largely in charge of jobs like eating. And because the nerves cross over, right-pawed means left brain biased, whereas left-pawed means right brain biased. 

Decades of research in other species shows that right-handed animals tend to be more bold and inquisitive, while left-handed animals tend to be more fearful and cautious. So perhaps it's not surprising the more anxious lefties did worse.

Basically Guide Dogs are trained to work on the left side of their handler, and the vision in their right eye is often partially obscured. So I think that may have influenced the left-biased dogs in being more successful.

However, one of the best guides to Guide Dog success, believe it or not, it's about which direction dog’s hair whorls in... Pioneering work in cattle found that the position and direction of the hair whorl had a large bearing on how anxious or bold cattle were. 

No-one is sure exactly why, but it's something to do with skin and brain development in the embryo, and it's independent of paw preference. And it turned out that counter-clockwise dogs were twice as likely to graduate as the clockwise. Which astonished NSW’s Guide Dog School... 

catalyst_s13_ep03_LeftPaw-3_small.jpgSo the perfect candidate for Guide Dog School should in theory be right-pawed, left-eyed with an anti-clockwise whorl... 

View this intriguing video by ABC Catalyst Team:
Left Paw Right Paw

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Canine Chiropractor Helps Heal Hounds

Healing Hands of Old George

At 94, canine chiropractor George Schofield OAM continues to help dogs in pain. The WWII veteran works six days a week from a shed on his property in Yuroke, 30km north of Melbourne.

‘‘These days I usually treat between 6-12 dogs a day, which is great because it gives me company. People have brought their dogs to me from as far as NZ and Darwin. Just last week a lady drove down from Canberra so I could treat her dogs.’’

Schofield, a self-taught practitioner, first made a name for himself as a greyhound chiropractor.

For decades trainers would bring about 30 race dogs to him each day so he could use manipulation and massage to detect and treat injuries and to ensure their dogs were ready for their next race.

Schofield has helped many champion greyhounds, including Bold Trease, Temlee and Shans View. In the 1990s he expanded his business to treat domestic dogs.

‘‘I started helping other breeds as well as greyhounds because all dogs deserve to live pain-free,’’ Schofield said, a member of Greyhound Racing Victoria’s Hall of Fame.

After starting out treating dogs for a silver coin donation, the cost has risen to $10 a dog. Such is his passion for the greyhound breed Schofield refuses to accept payment for treating a retired race dog. (Herald Sun 25 April 2012)

‘‘Greyhounds are my favourite type of dog because they have such a placid nature.’’

George has also worked with the Victorian Police Dog Squad, the Australian Customs Drug Detector Dog Unit, the Office of Corrections Dog Squad and with Dogs from the Security and Emergency Services Group.

Monday, 30 April 2012

First Canine-to-Canine Guide Dog

Stray Lab rescues blind pooch by becoming first canine-to-canine guide dog

A lucky homeless dog has been given a whole new lease of life by another stray mutt. Two year old Tanner was born blind and has a seizure disorder. He was sent to Sooner Golden Retriever Rescue Organization, Oklahoma City, after his owner died.

Due to the stress of his loss, his seizures became worse, making him hard to look after as he would defecate and urinate when fitting. Local vet even recommended putting the dog down, to relieve Tanner of his and his caretakers' misery.

Fortunately for young Tanner, Blair, a one year old black Labrador, has shown uncanny empathy for his new friend and now has taken the role as his guide. Staff say the dogs' bond is extraordinary.

'One day they were exercising in a play yard together and they got together,' says Dr Jones. 'Blair seemed to realize that Tanner was blind and just started to help him around.'

The black Labrador guides his pal around the enclosure and buildings, picking up his leash in his mouth when necessary to steer him to safety and play.

The friendship seems to have had a strong healing effect on both animals. Blair, a formerly timid and nervous dog who came to the shelter after being shot, has become a stronger, more confident pooch thanks to his new-found responsibility. 

Even more amazingly, Tanner's seizures seem to have disappeared and now the two dogs board together, inseparable in their companionship.

'We've worked with a lot of different service dogs to provide these services for people but it's the first time I've seen anything like this,' said Dr Jones. 

The rescue centre is now looking for someone to adopt the two animals together.

'They absolutely have to be adopted together,' said Dr Jones. 'But it's going to take a special home with someone who understands their special relationship plus understands seizure disorder and is ready to take on the responsibility.'

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Unwanted Greyhounds sent to Prison to Dodge Death Row

Unwanted Greyhounds sent to Prison to Dodge Death Row

Unusual symbiotic partnership formed between prisoners and greyhounds at Hakea prison that benefits both parties trying to find new lives.

Valuable vocational skills are being imparted to inmates at Hakea Prison, following the launch of an innovative program that prepares retired racing greyhounds to be family pets.

Inmates at Hakea Prison will prepare retired racing greyhounds for adoption as family pets under a new scheme.
Companion Animal Service Employment Centre (CASEC)  program is being undertaken in partnership with the Department of Corrective Services, Greyhounds WA, Community First International and Extra Edge Community Services, with up to 100 prisoners learning to re-socialise the dogs through obedience training and exposure to a non-racing environment.

Corrective Services Commissioner Ian Johnson said the program was a win-win situation for both Hakea prisoners and the greyhounds.

“The dog handling and general workplace training skill modules delivered will certainly increase the employability of the prisoners, and at the same time enable retired greyhounds to become valued family pets.”

Each program consists of 12 prisoners and 4 ex-racing greyhounds over 6wk period. Programs will be delivered by Extra Edge Community Services and Greyhounds WA.

“We will be mentoring and supporting the participants through a program of caring for, managing, training and assessing the retired racing greyhounds while (the prisoners participate) in workplace skills training sessions.” Louise Gray CEO Extra Edge

Both the prisoners and greyhounds will benefit from this program. Prisoners develop their employability skills, dog handling skills, as well as their self esteem, teamwork skills and sense of responsibility. The greyhounds will be trained to become family pets, as well as give them a loving and peaceful retirement.

Greyhounds as Pets manager Kerry Dibbin says 'greyhounds made excellent companions'The program has been funded by the Australian Government through the Innovation Fund

Young Diggers Dog Squad - Australia

Young Diggers Dog Squad - Australia

The Dog Squad Program, an initiative of Young Diggers Australia is a new Service & Assistance Dog Training course for serving and ex personnel suffering from PTSD or other mental and physical illnesses to enable them to train their own Service Dog.

The program will get under way early in 2012 run by Service Dog Training.

Service Dog Training is the pro-bono arm of K9Coach Pty Ltd, a well established behavioural dog training company. Founder Hans van Heesbeen uses TEAMWORK®framework from TOP DOG USA, a charity which has used this methodology successfully over the past 23 years in the USA.  Service Dog Training’s joint venture with Young Diggers will see a program tailored to the specific needs of serving and ex military personnel. 

The Dog Squad Program is designed to allow Young Digger handlers in the program to assist each other whilst working with their dog training, playing and bonding whilst benefitting from the help of a colleague with the same goal.

This program is free for ‘Service Members’ of Young Diggers! 

Monday, 2 April 2012

Introduction to Animal-Assisted Interventions

The Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS) offers a number of training programmes in animal-assisted interventions, pet loss support and the human-companion animal bond.  

online training support area
SCAS’s new ‘Introduction to Animal-Assisted Interventions’ Course has been developed as an introduction to the key concepts underlying animal-assisted interventions (AAI) and its first intake is now open for applications.

The online course is suitable for anyone who has an interest in the therapeutic potential of companion animals or is looking to increase their knowledge base in the subject and may not yet be currently practising in AAI. 

For more information on this wonderful new course visit

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