Archive for the ‘Behaviour’ Category

Car Chasing: Why Do Dogs Risk Death?

Gemma | April 16th, 2013
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The brakes squeal, the car swerves, the inevitable THUD of wheel meeting dog is followed by the sickening crash of the careening, out-of-control automobile. The victims? The dog, of course. The occupants, presumably. But who was at fault? The dog’s owner!

Whether legally guilty or not, the responsibility for the dog’s actions rest solely upon the shoulders of the dog owner, just as surely as a parent is responsible for the actions of his child.

Are We To Blame?

There are many reasons for such offensive behavior in dogs. Foremost, is simply the thrill of the chase. The instinct is strong in canines. Many mothers have warned their children to never run from a dog because it triggers an instinctive drive in the dog to pursue, overcome, and emerge victorious.

The wild canine ran down his prey. Nature gave him the instinct and the speed with which to accomplish the task. Chasing prey in the wild was serious business, and necessary for survival. And of course, there always was the thrill of the chase.

The domesticated dog no longer needs to chase prey for survival, but the thrill of pursuit still is a part of his natural instinct. Man capitalizes on that instinct with sporting dogs in the field. Man exploits the instinct in greyhounds by making them racing dogs, chasing a mechanical rabbit. And, combat tracker dogs chase an elusive enemy through the jungle.

An instinctive protectiveness is responsible, in many cases, for dogs chasing cars. They chase only the cars approaching their territory. What’s needed here is communication. It would be quite easy if we could just sit down with our dogs over a cup of coffee and say something like Look buddy, we have a problem here… but unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. And even if your dog responds to your verbal command of NO or STOP as he sees a moving car, he will always dash after the car in your absence.

Minimizing The Thrill

A way must be found to minimize the thrill and emphasize the disastrous consequences of chasing moving vehicles. While the thrill of the chase is instinctive and never can be entirely erased, it can be minimized, and made less important than the consequences of the behavior.

Most dogs learn to avoid situations where they can relate a negative experience to that situation. However, for those dogs that have been hit by cars, and survived, they typically will not retain the experience. The reason for this is because the shock of being struck by an automobile is usually so sudden, and so severe, that the dog just isn’t able to relate the pain to the automobile, or his behavior prior to the chase.

But along with the instinct to chase, mother nature also implanted something else; the ability of the dog to learn by association. He is capable of learning by associating his actions with pleasing, or displeasing results. You must successfully educate your dog to let him know that cars and bicycles are deadly.

What Makes A Dog Tilt Its Head To The Side?

Janet | August 16th, 2008
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Watching your dog tilt his or her head to the side, especially when you are talking to the animal, is just too cute. Some dogs do this and some do not, but those that make this gesture are doing so for very good reasons.

The #1 Practical Reason Why A Dog Will Tilt Its Head

Most often, a dog will tilt his head to the side in order to hear more clearly. When they turn and tilt their heads the ear becomes more exposed in an up-and-more-forward position. The result is that the inaudible sounds (fuzziness) that they were catching will become clearer to the ear.

Other Dogs Do So For Different Reasons

Many dogs have learned to cock their heads to the side simply because they get a reward. What is the reward? Well remember at the beginning of this article how I mentioned that this gesture is just too cute?

Your immediate response is to say something like, Awwwww, like at Buddy with his head turned to the side, how cute!, followed by lots of petting and soothing tones. This is a reward, and some dogs may have turned their heads to the side a few times in the beginning, but soon enough learned that this will give them lots of that lovable attention.

So if you have ever given a dog this kind of attention after it has tilted it’s head in a really cute way then you have just positively reinforced that behavior. And you know what? The dog will remember this and might do this more often not to hear better, but to feel better.

Human Speech & Your Dog

Dogs can understand part of our human language, but most of it is just a fuzzy blur to them. Almost like when a human hears a foreign language. Dogs cannot take in everything we say. But canines are very good at observing and becoming familiar with human tone of voice, body language as well as eye movement.

Trying To Absorb Every Sound He Can

It is when a dog notices something of interest that its ears perk up to catch all the sounds. If the sound comes from the front your dog might cock its head in the direction of the sound, but if the sound is coming from a direction to the side of him then there is not likely going to be any head tilting. Why? The ears are in the perfect spot already to pick up the minutest of sounds.

A dog’s ear shape and position will have something to do with how the dog perceives sound and how often a head tilt might be noticed. Even the age and experience of the dog play a role in this. A German shepherd with pricked up ears might hear better from the front than a cocker spaniel who would hear better from the side. Certainly a long floppy eared dog would be seen tilting its head more often than a dog with open ears.

Learn How Your Dog Sees His World (It’s Truly Amazing)

Gemma | August 12th, 2008
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As humans we really don’t take much time to consider how other creatures see the world. We completely take for granted on how our own eyes turn light and shadow into visual displays for us. Even many people who wear eyeglasses don’t give much thought to how this brings out vision back into focus.

Your Dog Sees Everything Different Than You

It is so simple to think that all animals see things as we do. But if you were to get on the animal’s level as to proximity to the ground, or height from the ground, any prospective alone would make the world look very different – so it is for the Dog.

Just try getting on all fours, squat way down, and view the world from 4 to 8 inches off the ground. And there is more than visual prospective due to proximity. Canines have different visual abilities with focus, detail, contrast and such. These visual abilities even vary with each breed of dog. For example, the Greyhound is a more visual animal than a bloodhound.

Dogs Have Limited Vision Compared To Us

Dogs can focus on objects if they are near, but it becomes extremely fuzzy for them if the object is closer than about 1 to 2 feet. So they take up that slack with the sense of smell and touch. Dogs simply cannot see up close as well as humans.

What About Color?

Dogs can see color but again it is more limited than humans vision ability. The Human can normally see things in a rainbow of colors. The rainbow for people consists of:

Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, Red, and many shades of all these colors

However a Dogs color vision would be like this:

Violet, Indigo, Blue, Yellow, Yellow (repeated intentionally), and Red

Furthermore, Orange, Yellow, and Green all look the exact same to a Dog but a dog can distinguish those colors from Purples, Blues, and Reds.

The color Blue-Green will cause the dog to see white, however, a canine can see the differences between Violet, Indigo, and Blue with competence.

Dogs & Motion

Another factor in a dog’s ability to see things is movement. Just like humans, dogs do not see a non-moving hidden critter in a tree very well but if it is moving and at a medium speed he will be at his best. Like playing with a tennis ball that is green and the green grass… No problem.

So Dogs see things different than us but are capable of seeing some things as we do. What dogs excel at is hearing and scenting – so don’t expect your dog to see his world the way you see it.

Dogs & ESP – Part 3

Kate | August 8th, 2008
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Most of us have had experiences that can possibly be attributed to ESP. It seems more than coincidence to find a friends telephone line busy because he or she is in the process of dialing your number. And how about the friend you havent thought about or seen in years, and then all of a sudden hear from or meet them unexpectedly?

ESP studies show that successful telepathy is dependent on the temperament of both the sender and receiver and that it is sometimes present and sometimes absent. In other words, people and animals might make astoundingly high scores for a given period and then suddenly lose the capacity completely. Most important, ESP depends on a close emotional tie between the subjects.

A good example is the case of Casey, a Pennsylvania family dog. The three children in the family were Boy Scouts who loved to camp out on weekends. One night, the mother and father had driven the boys to set-up their favorite campsite about twenty miles from home. When the boys were settled, mom and dad drove back home and retired for the night.

They were asleep only for about two hours when Casey broke their slumber with a strange howling. It was so persistent and strange that they realized something might be wrong with the boys. They quickly dressed and started to drive to the campsite. About five miles where they had left the boys, there was a red glow in the sky. As they drove closer, they recognized it was a forest fire. They were driving to the campsite from the south while the fire was traveling from north to south. They got to the boys and evacuated them just in time.

In the story of a family dog in Virginia named Harry, he knew something was wrong with his family but had only his veterinarian to tell it to. The vet was taking care of the dog while the family was vacationing in Florida. Harrys howl was so weird and agonizing that the vet made a note of the date and time. When Harrys family returned and picked him up, the vet told them about the dogs strange behavior. The family was astounded. On the specified date, at the recorded time, they had been marooned in a flash flood.

Many of us have heard of a story about the actions of a dog at the death of his owner. One of the most famous has to do with Gary Coopers three dogs. As his death approached, the dogs were on guard with a group of reporters outside the bedroom. It was precisely recorded that at the exact time Gary Cooper passed away, all three dogs began to howl and were devastated for quite some time.

Another story tells of a woman who returned to her family home after being away for five years. During this time, her mother had died. The woman went to the cemetery to visit her mothers grave and brought along her small terrier, Tippy. At the cemetery, Tippy leaped out of the car and ran around in circles whining.

The woman went to get water for a vase of flowers. When she found the grave, Tippy was lying on top of it moaning in a strangest way. Tippy had never been to the graveyard and none of the other members of the family had been there in over a year.

Science has yet to discover exactly what makes ESP works, but there is no question of its existence. If you and your pet have it, you are blessed with the greatest compliment an animal can bestow.

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Dogs & ESP – Part 2

Kate | August 6th, 2008
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Do dogs have ESP? One famous case is that of Daisy, a stray mixed-breed. This case was also thoroughly checked out and authenticated.

Daisy charmed herself to a New York City family on vacation at a lake approximately thirty miles from the city. The family befriended her and gave her all of the food and love she demanded. After a short time, Daisy delivered four healthy puppies, which also received the love and care of the adopted family.

When the summer ended and the human family had to return to their home in New York, they gave Daisy and her puppies to a permanent resident neighbor. They felt that Daisy and her puppies would be happier in the freedom and space that the country offers, rather than their Manhattan apartment.

About three weeks after their return to the city, they heard a scratching at the apartment door. When they opened it, there was Daisy, carrying one of the puppies in her mouth. It was a happy reunion and nothing was too good for Daisy and her puppy.

The next day, Daisy was gone. The family scoured the neighborhood but with no success of finding Daisy. About five days later, Daisy came back with another puppy. This went on until she had her four puppies under the roof of her human family.

How in the world was she able to find her human family in an apartment she had never seen, in a city the size of New York? Nobody has a clue, and ESP would seem to be the only answer.

There are many, many more similar stories that are documented, including the one about the famous Shepherd named Prince. During World War I, Prince swam the English Channel to find his owner in one of the thousands of trenches in France. This story became very famous and received international acclaim.

There are also stories on record of dogs being able to sense their own danger. One such case involves an old hunting dog named Flash. Whenever Flashs owner picked up the shotgun, Flash was out of the door and into the field before the gun was loaded. But the sad day came when the dog, old and decrepit, was to be put out of his misery. This time when the gun was picked up the dog disappeared under the house and was found in the farthest corner trembling with fear and unresponsive to commands or coaxing.

Another case involves a German Shepherd and his owner. The man took off in his private plane from an airport in Georgia to fly to New England and left his dog at home with his parents. Flying over Pennsylvania, the plane crashed. The dogs owner was found by a farmer. He was alive but unconscious and taken to the hospital where he regained consciousness about twelve hours later.

Back home in Georgia, at the time of the crash, the dog disappeared under the house. With the flashlight he could be seen lying motionless and dazed and was unresponsive to commands or water or food. He remained in this state the whole time his owner was unconscious. When his owner regained consciousness, the dog came out from under the house, ate, and appeared perfectly normal.

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Dogs & ESP – Part 1

Kate | August 3rd, 2008
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When you get the strange sense that your dog is reading your mind or your cat focusing his eyes on a nonexistent, yet fascinating something located just above your head, relax and accept this strange occurrence graciously and gratefully.

It could very well be ESP (extrasensory perception) and it most certainly a grand devotion because, in order for this phenomenon to work, ESP requires a strong bond of love between humans and their pets.

Since ESP is completely extrasensory, which means it cannot be seen, heard, smelled, tasted, or felt, how can we presume to attribute such non-physical powers to our seemingly purely physical pets?

We can, thanks to the painstaking research of Dr. Rhine and his team at the Duke University Parapsychology Laboratory in North Carolina. After well establishing the ESP ability in humans, the doctor and his team set out to determine if the same phenomenon existed in animals. Similar research was also carried out in Russia by two eminent scientists, Bkhterev and Durov.

Since the introductory research with animals, Dr. Rhines laboratory has been flooded with letters reporting ESP in pets, first and mainly with dogs, and then with cats. But almost every domesticated species had a spot in Dr. Rhines collection. Each case is meticulously investigated to determine its authenticity. Homing studies (referred to as psi-training by Dr. Rhine) are the most common, but stories involving other forms of ESP are also documented in evidence.

One of the most popular cases involves a Collie named Bob. His homing feat gained him headlines from all over the world, lots of fan mail, and even a motion picture. Bobs adventure started out as a vacation motor trip from Oregon to the East Coast. On the way back to Oregon, Bobs family realized that their beloved pet was missing.

After an unsuccessful search for Bob, the heartbroken family drove back to Oregon approximately 2,500 miles. Bobs most charming trick was holding up his right front paw when he was hungry. Four months later, he presented himself at the door of his home in Oregon paw outstretched.

Another inspiring case is that of a mixed-breed dog named Henry. Henry was left with friends in Illinois when his family moved to Michigan. Six weeks later, Henry excitedly greeted his family on a street corner of their new town in Michigan.

The dog made it perfectly clear that he was looking at his family, and the stunned family was convinced that the dog was their beloved dog Henry. But was the dog really Henry? The collar was familiar. The Illinois family, with whom Henry had been left, drove to Michigan to satisfy their doubts. Dr. Rhine and his staff from Duke University flew to Michigan to verify the story. Everyone agreed that the dog was indeed Henry.

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How To Understand What Your Dog Is Saying – Part 5

Alan | July 30th, 2008
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Reading your dog like a book in order to understand his dog language is reasonably uncomplicated most of the time. His body language is straightforward generally, but he can sometimes fool you.

If he is frightened, for example, rather than friendly or curious, he is likely to bite you. A good indicator of his level of courage is the angle of his tail. If, as you come closer, he keeps his tail high and appears even more aggressive, he probably isn’t bluffing.

If his tail drops and he becomes quiet, he probably would just as soon be friends. However, if is his hackles stay up, even though his tail goes down, he is still dangerous and you should keep your distance.

Because we sometimes think of our pets as having almost human personalities, we are likely to interpret their body language in terms of our own likes and dislikes. We can do that up to a point because they’ve learned some of their preferences. Nevertheless, we have our differences.

Some Things You May Not Know

Your dog very likely has a few predilections you would never have suspected and probably will never approve. When he is rolling around in some stinky, odorous material, for example, the expression he has on his face could hardly be interpreted as anything but outright rebellion. His lips are pulled back a little in a slight grin (a smirk perhaps), his ears are lowered (because he must feel guilty), and his eyelids are half-closed in an expression of pure defiance.

There’s another way to make a mistake in reading your dog’s body language. Some smart dogs can play-act. An outdoor dog who has once been let in the house because he seems to be shivering on a cold night (in reality, dogs shiver from fear, not from the cold) will attempt to shake violently at the door whenever he feels he has a chance at a cozy evening by the fire.

A dog may play-act when he has accidentally barked at his own master. Nothing is more embarrassing; he will writhe on the ground when he realizes his error. To save face, a quick-witted dog will rush past his master and pretend he was barking at something else. He charges across the yard, furiously barking up the wrong tree, so to speak.

Most dogs are adept at one kind of body language that is plainly unambiguous. He speaks it when he lays his nose on your knee and looks up inquiringly with soft brown eyes, or when he muzzles the back of your neck while you are driving.

He is speaking his own language of love that has made him man’s best friend for thousands of years, and no dog owner has ever needed instructions in dog body language to get this message!

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How To Understand What Your Dog Is Saying – Part 4

Alan | July 25th, 2008
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Ever notice that your dog does funny stuff with his ears, tail, and other forms of body movement? This is his way of saying, Hey you, yeah you! I’m talking to ya. Are you listening?

For example, a dog often uses his forepaw to show that he wants to keep the peace. He gives a paw to his master when he wants to ask his forgiveness after digging up the flower bed.

Raising one forepaw forward to another dog is a sign of submission. He is indicating that he will roll over, if necessary, to demonstrate his total compliance.

When he raises both forepaws alternately, he is telling you he wants to play. A persistent paw patting and pulling on your arm is an insistent request for some undivided attention.

In a confrontation, a dog attempts to establish his position in the dominant-submissive hierarchy by the posture and position of his body. When two dogs meet and set out to decide who is dominant, they will stand side to side, as if to say, By gosh, I’m the biggest dog. I’m the boss.

A dramatic dog will arch his neck, raise his shoulder and rump hackles, extend all four legs stiffly, and look like he’s standing on tiptoe. One of them may push against the other one. The dog who is giving in will remain completely still if he is touched.

If the submissive dog is really frightened, he will roll over, as if to say, I’m all yours. Do what you want.

The dominant dog will then think, I’ve got a chicken here. He won’t do anything… he’s a non-threat, lying there. The confrontation is then over.

Sometimes a dog feels proud and he prances. He might be thinking, I’ve got me a shoe. That’s the one I got whipped for last week, but I got it again!

When a dog lowers his front end, leaves his tail end up, makes a nose-stab, then leaps backward and runs off, he is inviting you to play. When you see him race in circles, he is overjoyed about something probably your arrival.

An ambivalent dog who is growling and wagging his tail widely at the same time is difficult to read. He may feel friendly or inquisitive about you; he may also feel that he must defend his territory.

On the other hand, he may feel aggressive and unfriendly, but afraid he can’t defend himself. And unless you can figure out where he stands, you may do something to get yourself bitten so be careful and pay attention.

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How To Understand What Your Dog Is Saying – Part 3

Alan | July 23rd, 2008
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Most dog owners forget that the easiest way to bond with their pet, not to mention when also training the dog, is to understand basic dog language body language, that is.

Let’s talk about a dog’s tongue. He uses it primarily for getting food and water, and for cooling himself. When speaking body language, he licks you with it to show his friendliness and to ask for attention. A dog that licks walls and eats dirt or dust, however, and does so without the need of a supplement in his diet, is desperate for attention or company.

His tongue can also tell you when he has swallowed his pill after being given a vitamin or medication. When it has gone down, his tongue will pop out like a frog’s two times in quick succession.

Watching His Eyes

Now let’s discuss how a dog uses his eyes to talk. How a dog moves his eyes can tell you much about his mood. A dog who is being submissive avoids eye contact with a dominant dog. One that is trying to make up with his master looks away from him in an exaggerated way. A contented dog curled up in a corner has a sleepy-eyed look.

On the other hand, a direct stare from a dog says he feels aggressive and means to have you keep your distance. When veterinarians are working with dogs in their medical rooms, they should be watching the eyes more than anything else to determine which dog might snap at him.

A good rule to follow for safety is this: A dog that watches every move you make is probably about to bite you!

Perking Up Those Ears

Dogs speak with their ears as well as listen with them. A dog holding his ears straight up, forward, and erect, is alert. He may be checking on something he heard. He may be considering the possibility of a serious scuffle with an enemy or some friendly romping with his master.

A dog with lowered, relaxed ears is calm and sociable. If he is showing submissiveness or is frightened, he’ll keep them very low. A dog making a threat (and on the verge of attacking) twists his ears outward and downward, laying them flat against his head.

The Voice Of Reason

A dog’s vocal repertoire of whines, howls, growls, and barks are part of his body language. Noises are what he resorts to when he considers it imperative that someone get his message.

A dog that goes Yip. Yip. Yip… yip, yip… yip! for hours on end is usually bored. Likely he has been confined and left alone.

Sometimes he will vary his yips with a frustrated-sounding Arrrrr, rarr, arrarrrr.

A wailing puppy begging for attention delivers a high-pitched Mmm, mmm, mmmmm, usually in the dead of night.

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How To Understand What Your Dog Is Saying – Part 2

Alan | July 19th, 2008
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When your dog is talking, do you listen? Are you paying attention?

Barking is not the topic here, but rather, the way our dogs communicate to us and the world around them with the use of their body language, specifically the tail.

There are lots of different wags. Plain, ordinary, enthusiastic wagging means I’m a friendly fella! A slow wag is the nervous laugh of a dog who is embarrassed about something. A tail held high and wagged widely, instead of only slightly, means he wants to play. If he wiggles up to you after you have disciplined him, wagging his tail between his hind legs, he is saying he wants to make up and is sorry.

Most of a dog’s nosing around is done for identification purposes. When he approaches another dog, the first thing he does is sniff him out to discover whether he is friend or foe. First he smells the rear; then he smells the face.

When your dog props his paws on your chest or shoulders, he is trying to get in position to smell your breath. He can tell whether it’s you for sure, and what you’ve been eating that he might get some of!

You can often tell immediately whether a dog cares for your company by noticing the position of his lips. When he draws the corners of his lips forward, he is feeling distinctly antisocial. He may become aggressive and could attack, especially if he has drawn his lips open to show his teeth. However, when he pulls back horizontally so that he appears to be grinning, he is expressing his friendliness or submissiveness.

When he feels very submissive, he will smile like a simpleton. He looks like he’s feeling silly and has lots of waggle. A few dogs are capable of the mimic grin, something they have learned from humans and display only to humans. They retract their lips to show their front teeth in a wide toothpaste smile.

A dog that uses those teeth to chew up your slippers may be telling you that he is unhappy. A chewing dog is a fretting dog. A pet that gets a lot of attention otherwise, but is left shut in the house alone all day will fret in this manner. When he is lonely and unhappy, and he wants something done now then he becomes like a hyperactive child. He’s liable to chew up everything in the house eventually.

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