It’s National Walk Your Dog Week!

October 1-7 is National Walk Your Dog Week, an event designed to raise awareness about the importance of regular exercise for your dog’s health.

According to the official website, many dogs (and their humans) do not get enough exercise, which can lead to health problems like obesity as well as behavioral problems that arise from boredom and separation anxiety.

You can take the pledge to walk your dog for at least 30 minutes every day for one week.  The folks at National Walk Your Dog Week want to hear from dog owners who have taken up this challenge.  Chances are both you and your dog will be feeling better!

 

Tips on Reducing the Stress of Vet Visits for Your Dog

The website Companion Animal Psychology is a great resource for dog and cat owners interested in learning how to better understand their pets.

The site recently published some helpful advice on how to ensure that your dog is as calm as possible during trips to the vet’s office.  The tips are based on research published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, which you can find HERE.

The researchers found that many factors can increase your dog’s stress at the vet, including prior negative experiences, the dog’s individual genetic makeup, and upsetting sights, sounds, smells, etc. at the vet.

Another cause of fear is something called “trigger stacking”—the combination of stressful experiences that can go into a vet visit (being put in a carrier, being restrained, etc.).

Here are just a few recommendations for helping dogs that feel anxiety about going to the vet.  Be sure to read the full article for more information!

  • Avoid feeding before a visit so your dog will be interested in treats given by staff at the vet’s office.  Treats are good rewards after unpleasant procedures like vaccinations.
  • Bring a blanket or toys from home to help comfort your dog.
  • Stay with your dog during the exam/consultation, and any other procedures if possible.

  • Get your dog used to car rides, carriers, and routine physical handling before trips to the vet.  Nail trimming and ear cleaning at the vet’s office can help accustom your dog to being there.
  • Very stressed dogs can wait in the car rather than the waiting room.  Muzzles and sedation can also be helpful in extreme cases.

 

The Signals Dogs Use to Tell Us What They Want

A study published in the journal Animal Cognition has identified multiple “signals” dogs use to indicate when they want our attention.

Signals are defined as requests made with an object and/or a part of the body.  They also need to be directed at an individual and repeated.

After studying dozens of potential canine signals, the researchers identified 19 that clearly indicated specific requests.  The most common were related to going outside, getting food, drink or a toy, and wanting to be scratched.

Common signals include pawing at something (or someone), jumping up, and turning the head between a person and a desired object.  Many dogs will also pick their toys up and toss them a short distance or give a gentle “chomp” on a person’s arm.

How does your best friend get your attention?!

You can read the full article HERE and watch a brief video on the study from National Geographic here:

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Experts Address Pet Behavior Issues in Free Webinar

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Most dog and cat owners will experience at least a few of the common canine and feline behavior problems with their pets.  Is your cat going outside of the litter box…or does your dog experience separation anxiety?  You’re not alone, and many pet parents have the same problems.  If you’re interested in hearing some expert advice from Cornell University veterinarians, you can watch a free webinar.

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Noted animal behavior specialists from the Baker Institute for Animal Health and the Cornell Feline Health Center have posted a webinar online that addresses such common pet behavior problems as canine aggression and separation anxiety and feline house soiling and destructive behavior.

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You can watch the full webinar and learn more about how to handle your pet’s behavior issues here:

https://www.cornell.edu/video/pet-behavior-problems-webinar-nov-9-2016

 

Your Dog’s Got Your Back: Dogs Don’t Like People Who Snub Their Owners

Dog Study

A recent study conducted at Kyoto University in Japan proves that dogs understand when people are mean to their owners, and will even reject food from those people in a show of solidarity with their owners.

Researchers tested several groups of dogs by having their owners ask strangers for help opening a box. In the first group, one person refused to help the owner while a third person remained neutral. In the second group, one person helped the owner while a third person remained neutral. Neither person interacted with the owner in the third control group.

After the dogs watched the human interactions, both strangers offered them food. Dogs that saw their owners being snubbed were significantly more likely to take food from the neutral person and ignore the person who refused to help their owners. Dogs in the other two groups showed no preference when offered food from the strangers.

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The authors of the study note that dogs are able to evaluate the behavior of people and make decisions based on those perceptions, even if it means foregoing a treat. They argue that if the dogs acted only out of self-interest, they would have accepted food from any of the strangers, regardless of behavior.

Dogs share this ability with just humans (who develop it at around 3 years old) and some, but not all, primates.

For more on the study, click HERE.