JustOneMorePet

Every Pet Deserves A Good Home…

At the Dog Park: Red Alert Behavior Series: Tail Tucked Plus Risks to Small Dogs

Video: At the Dog Park: Red Alert Behavior Series: Tail Tucked Plus Risks to Small Dogs

NoDogAboutIt:

Over the holiday weekend, my dogs enjoyed daily visits to the dog park. They loved getting to walk in the woods every day and to meet up with some of their old friends and hang out. Daisy is more comfortable exploring when she knows her friends. She knows what to expect from them and she knows they will respect her space.

Going to the dog park can be quite an eye opener for the new dog owner. Not all dogs have doggie social skills or a respect for other dogs’ space. You have to know what to watch for and have an understanding of what is really going on.

I have been known to intervene in situations where I feel a dog is in danger, afraid or in need of a little assistance. I am used to hearing people say “Dogs can work it out themselves.” or “Let them be. They’ll work it out,” but that is not always the case. We as dog owners have a responsibility to protect our dogs and to prevent them from harm. In some cases, that means not going to a dog park at all. In others, it means you need to be aware and know what to watch for in case trouble starts.

The video below was taken at a dog park and demonstrates some of the dog behaviors that every dog owner should not only be aware of, but also be ready to intervene in, if they see it. It’s worth watching if you do not understand dog body language. The commentator does a good job of describing what is going on. I have already shared it with my dog park friends, please feel free to share it with yours.

December 3, 2013 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal Related Education, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet and Animal Training, Pet Friendship and Love, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The importance of teaching your dog good manners

Whether they will admit it or not (whether THEY have good manners or not), almost everyone appreciates good manners, in adults, in children – and in dogs. A well-mannered dog is welcome almost anywhere, is a pleasure to spend time with and a source of pride. A dog who behaves without constant corrections, doesn’t jump up uninvited, doesn’t bark, whine, beg, demand attention, doesn’t pull at the leash and comes back when called is every owner’s dream dog

Unfortunately, too many dogs are very badly behaved (through no fault of their own) and too many owners are either unwilling or unable to teach their dog even the most basic good manners.
If you are a dog owner whose canine pal isn’t welcome anywhere, who has to be locked outside when company calls, and if you spend more time yelling at your dog than enjoying his company, it isn’t too late. And for your own benefit as well as for your dog’s well-being, here are five reasons why you should spend some time teaching your dog some good (or at least better) manners.

1) Quality of Life
There’s nothing worse, even for a dog lover, than spending time with a badly behaved dog. What starts out as “cute” behavior quickly turns to disruption and annoyance if you can turn it off. You won’t enjoy life if you’re constantly scolding your dog and worrying about their next mistake. Your dog won’t enjoy life if he’s always in the dog house. Your friends and neighbors won’t enjoy any of it.
On the other hand, your quality of life, your dog’s quality of life and the quality of life of everyone around you is much better when your dog is well-behaved. Knowing your dog will behave in most, if not every situation allows you both to relax and enjoy life, and others will look forward to spending time with you AND your dog.

2) Your Dog’s Safety
An unruly dog is a danger to himself, especially if their particular bad behaviors include escaping, raiding the rubbish or not coming when called.

A really unruly dog can injure a human, and if the injury is severe enough, your pet may be seized, suffer harsh treatment from officials or the victim – they may even be euthanized. Dogs who bark uncontrollably annoy the neighbors, and some neighbors may be willing to take the law into their own hands with a chunk of poisoned meat or even a gun.

On the other hand, a dog who has good basic manners won’t dash into traffic, will stay out of the trash and will stay at your side and come back to you when they’re called. Neighbors who don’t know you have a dog

(a sign that you’re doing something right) will have no cause for complaint. A well-mannered dog is a safe dog.

3) Everyone Else’s Safety
Dogs who jump or mouth in particular are potentially dangerous dogs. Even a healthy adult can be knocked down if a dog jumps without warning. Mouthing (a dog that even gently takes hold of hand, arm or leg) can bruise or even break the skin – and someone who isn’t familiar with this behavior may think they have actually been bitten.

Dogs who dash through traffic or who chase bicycles can cause accidents. Even a dog who’s unruly on-leash, especially on a retractable leash, can cause problems with everyone around them, pulling people over or creating a trip and/or tangling hazard.
Owning a badly mannered dog may also be dangerous to your financial safety. Too many people are willing to sue dog owners for even the most minor or innocent infractions, and unfortunately, the courts are rarely on the dog’s side, especially if they’re obviously badly behaved.

On the other hand, a dog with good manners can be trusted around just about everyone, young or old, healthy or not so healthy.

4) Conceptions and Misconceptions
Non-dog people have a number of ideas about dogs, and unfortunately, they are much more willing to accept the bad press as the truth about ALL dogs. Dogs bite, spread disease, attack without provocation and bark uncontrollably – all true about badly behaved dogs. Unfortunately, even dogs with good manners are painted with that same brush.

Landlords, often quite rightly, refuse to allow dogs into their rentals because of past ill-mannered tenants – owner and dog. Destruction, house soiling, excessive barking and aggressive tendencies will almost ensure that a landlord won’t allow pets in future.
On the other hand, a dog who quietly greets guests (especially the landlord), doesn’t jump or bark and takes treats politely can help to reeducate non-dog people. When your neighbors or your landlord remarks “I didn’t even realize you had a dog”, you’ve done a world of good to improve the general perception of dogs everywhere.

5) It’s Responsible
Abdicating responsibility seems to be the current fashion, especially where pets are concerned. Irresponsible dog owners allow all manner of bad manners, letting their dog wreak havoc with family and friends, neighbors and even random passersby.

On the other hand, taking responsibility for your dog’s actions by training them and enforcing rules is not only the responsible thing to do, it’s the moral thing to do too. Instilling good manners should be a condition of dog ownership.

When you become a dog owner – or a dog guardian, if you prefer – you take on the responsibility for your dog – for his well-being and for his impact on others. It is your responsibility – not your dog’s responsibility or the responsibilities of others – to ensure that your dog isn’t dangerous, isn’t a nuisance and has a good quality of life.
Good manners may not longer be in fashion, but for dogs and dog owners, they are essential. Make sure your dog has good basic manners, and you’ll not only have a good dog, you’ll have a happy dog – and you’ll be happier

Pat Gray

August 21, 2010 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Just One More Pet, Pet and Animal Training, Pets | , , | Leave a comment

Excessive Barking: A Common Behavior Problem

Fact: Dogs bark.

Fact: Barking can be good.

Fact: Barking can drive us nuts.

Collie puppyDogs bark. It is part of their normal and natural communication and behavior. Dogs can bark for appropriate and good reasons, such as when strangers approach our house, they hear an odd noise, or they are herding sheep. Most of us want our dogs to be “watch dogs” and alert us to anything unusual. But dogs can also bark inappropriately. In two scientific surveys of dog owners, approximately 1/3 of them reported their dogs barked excessively. To control barking in our dogs, we first need to understand why they are barking.

Types of canine vocal communication

Dogs, as well as wolves use many types of vocalizations to communicate. This communication starts very early in life. Young puppies make a mewing-like sound when they are searching for food or warmth. Louder crying sounds are heard if the puppy is hurt or frustrated. As dogs get older, they make five main classes of sounds: howls, growls, grunts, whines, and barks. Each of these classes of sounds is used in different situations.

Howling is used as a means of long-range communication in many different circumstances. Howls are more often associated with wolves, but dogs howl too. Wolves often howl to signify territorial boundaries, locate other pack members, coordinate activities such as hunting, or attract other wolves for mating. Dogs may howl as a reaction to certain stimuli such as sirens.

Growling can occur in very different activities. It is used to threaten, warn, in defense, in aggression, and to show dominance. But growling is also used in play as well. By looking at the body posture we should be able to tell the difference. Growls during aggression are accompanied by a stare or snarl, and the growling dog often remains stationary. Play-growls occur in combination with a happy tail and a play bow to signal willingness to play. These dogs are often moving and jumping about to entice play.

Grunts in dogs are the equivalent of contented sighs in people. They can also be heard when dogs are greeting each other or people.

Whines or whimpers are short- or medium-range modes of communication. Dogs may whine when they greet each other, are showing submissiveness, are frustrated or in pain, to obtain attention, and sometimes in defense. Dogs generally whine more than wolves, perhaps because they use the whine more as an attention-seeking behavior, and are often rewarded for it. Think about it. The first sound you may hear from a new puppy is the whine at night when he finds himself alone. We often are guilty of unintentionally reinforcing this whining by giving the puppy the attention he wants.

Barking is another mode of communication that seems to be more common in dogs than other canine species. Again, this may be the result of human encouragement. Certain breeds have been bred to bark as part of their watchdog or herding duties. Barking is used to alert or warn others and defend a territory, to seek attention or play, to identify oneself to another dog, and as a response to boredom, excitement, being startled, lonely, anxious, or teased.

Why dogs bark

    PoodleAlert/warning barks are the type of barks some owners encourage. They want their dog to alert them to the presence of a danger or suspicious stranger. Warning barks tend to become more rapid as the intruder approaches. Aggressive barks are low in pitch and may be combined with growls. We need to be able to distinguish warning barks from barks due to fear.
    Attention-seeking barks are most often used by puppies to get you to focus your attention on them. They can become very insistent and hard to ignore, but ignore them we must.
    Play/excitement barks are often short and sharp. These barks are common if the dog gets too excited with the game. Often a time-out is in order.
    Self-identification barking is what you may be hearing when your dog seems to be answering other dogs he hears barking in the neighborhood. It is his way of saying, “I am over here.”
    Bored barkers simply need an outlet for their energy and a more stimulating environment.
    Lonely/anxious barking occurs if your dog is experiencing separation anxiety. The barking can become self-reinforcing as he becomes more stimulated and anxious. Anxious barks tend to get higher in pitch as the dog becomes more upset. This type of barking can be especially annoying to your neighbors.
    Startle barking occurs in response to an unfamiliar or sudden sound or movement. As with an alert/warning bark, we need to be able to control this type of barking quickly.

As you can see, there are many reasons for barking and most barking is a normal behavior.There are some instances in which barking is considered pathological. This will be discussed later in the article.

Characteristics of a barker

Studies have been done to try to determine which dogs are more likely to be barkers. Although there was no difference in the percentage of excessive barkers between males and females, there was a breed difference. Beagles, Terriers, and some herding breeds tend to bark more. That is not surprising, since this is one of the characteristics for which they were bred. Excessive barking can occur in purebred dogs as well as mixed breeds.

General principles for controlling undesirable barking

  • If we want to control barking, we need a dog who can obey us and relax. The dog needs to look to her owner for behavior clues. If we can call her, have her lie down (dogs do not bark as much when lying down) and stay, we are well on the way to solving a nuisance barking problem. In addition, there are some common principles we can use in modifying barking behavior.
  • First, in most cases shouting “No” is only going to make matters worse since the dog is thinking you are barking too (and is probably happy you joined in).
  • Be consistent. Pick a one-word command e.g., “Enough” for the behavior you want and always use that word in the same tone of voice. Everyone in the household must use the same command and act identically.
  • Be patient with your dog and yourself. Changing behavior takes a lot of time, and you need to take it slowly, one step at a time. If you become angry at your dog, the chance to correctly modify the behavior will be gone.
  • Reward the dog for good behavior. Positive reinforcement is much more powerful than punishment. Physical punishment will do nothing but make your dog fearful of you and break down the bond you wish to have with her. Food treats are fine to use as a reward at first. Often, picking a very special treat like small pieces of cooked chicken or hot dog will make the reward seem even better. As time goes on, you will not give a treat every time, sometimes just rewarding with a “Good Dog” and a pat on the dog’s chest.
  • Do not hug your dog, talk soothingly, or otherwise play into your dog’s barking. Your dog may then believe there really was something of which to be alarmed, afraid, or anxious. This reinforces her behavior and she will likely bark even more the next time.
  • Control the situation. As much as possible, set up situations to use as training. Practice in short, frequent sessions, generally 5-10 minutes each.
  • Do not be afraid to ask an expert. Animal trainers, behaviorists, and your veterinarian can give you valuable advice. Having them witness your dog’s barking episodes may give them valuable clues on helping you solve the barking problem.

Next, we will look at the different types of barkers and more specific ways to modify their behavior.

Alert/warning barkers

Dogs that bark at mail carriers, joggers running by the house, or cyclers on the street naturally have their barking reinforced. They see the mail carrier, they bark, and the mail carrier leaves. The dog thinks, “Boy, I’m good. My barking made that person leave.” In modifying the dog’s behavior, we need to overcome this reinforcement.

Sometimes, by just preventing the dog from seeing the intruding mail carrier, we can solve the problem. Often, however, we need to do more. First, we must make sure we are not rewarding the dog for any type of barking. If the dog barks when she wants to eat, and we feed her, we are rewarding vocalization. If we try to ignore the barking, but eventually cave-in and give attention, the dog learns that short barks will not do the trick, but excessive and extended barking will.

After the dog has alerted us to an “intruder,” we need a way to signal the dog after one or two barks that she was a good dog for warning us, but now we will take control. Often the command “Enough” will accomplish that goal.

Remember: Do not inadvertently reinforce barking by giving verbal or physical reassurance to a barking dog. To teach “Enough,” set up a situation in which your puppy will bark, but not excessively; knock on the door, for instance. After one or two barks, stop knocking and make a sound or distraction that will get her to switch her attention to you. If she stops barking, immediately say “Enough” and reward her with a treat and praise. If she does not stop barking, put that delicious treat right in front of her nose. When she stops barking for a second or two say “Enough,” wait a few more seconds and if she is quiet, give her the treat and praise. Timing is critical – she must be quiet when you give her the treat or she will think she is being rewarded for continuing to bark. Be sure to say “Enough” when she is quiet, not when she is barking. Later, as she associates “Enough” with being quiet, you can use it as a command to stop barking.

Fear barkers

Some dogs may start with an alert or warning bark, but then progress to a bark that is associated with fear. One of the more common examples of this is those dogs that bark at approaching strangers.

If your dog is barking out of fear of people, first he must learn to be obedient, defer to you for his behavior cues, and relax. Then you can start setting up situations in which people approach from far off, and as your dog remains relaxed, give him treats. Slowly (over days and weeks) have people approach him only to the point where he remains relaxed and you can reward him. As people come even closer, have them throw treats his way so he starts associating people with good things happening. While this controlled training is going on, it is best to not put him in situations in which you do not have control, e.g., walking down a busy street.

Do not encourage your puppy to bark at people. You may set a bad habit in motion and he may become suspicious and even fearful of people. Chances are, he will bark at odd situations and strangers without you telling him to.

Attention-seeking barkers

Young puppies, as well as adults soon learn that barking will incite attention from us. The problem is that dogs will be happy with any attention they receive, be it negative or positive. A stern “No” from you is still attention, so the puppy got what she wanted and you reinforced the behavior. It is best to just ignore this type of barking, as hard as that may be.

Sometimes, the use of a remote correction is helpful in controlling this type of barking. Coins in an empty soda can, foghorns, or other noisemakers can be used to startle the dog while she is barking. When she is startled, she stops barking, and at that point, you can give her a substitute for barking – a toy, a walk. Just make sure she stops barking before you give the substitute or the dog will perceive it as a reward for barking.

Play/excitement barkers

If your dog barks excessively during play, it is best to let her calm down and slow down the game. If she continues to bark, stop playing until she has settled down.

Self-identification barkers

This type of barking is quite instinctive and can sometimes be difficult to control, especially in a household of multiple dogs. Often there is an instigator dog and all other dogs join in. This type of barking may be controlled using a similar approach to alert/warning barks, i.e., obedience and relaxation methods with a substitute behavior offered, like playing with a toy.

Bored barkers

Dogs who bark when they are bored may be similar to dogs seeking attention or those that are lonely. Dogs who are bored need something to do besides barking. We need to give them a more stimulating environment and usually a lot more exercise. A tired dog is less likely to be bored. Toys such as Kongs and Buster Cubes that can be filled with treats can get your dog’s brain, as well as his body, working.

Lonely/anxious barkers

Dogs who bark when they are alone may be showing a symptom of their separation anxiety. As we mentioned, these dogs are in the midst of a vicious circle – the more lonely they are, the more they bark, the more upset they get, the more they bark, the barking gets them more upset and they bark more – and the cycle continues.

We need to work with the dog on the underlying behavior of separation anxiety. We can do this several ways. As in alert/warning barking, we need to be able to teach the dog simple obedience and how to relax. Then we can work on the problem of the separation anxiety.

We can start out by leaving or acting like we are leaving for a short time – and before the dog starts getting nervous and barking (this may be one second at first), we come back. This way, we are not rewarding barking, but rewarding relaxation and silence. We gradually extend the time we are gone and return before the dog gets anxious. If your dog is anxious even if you leave the room, then you will need to start by just taking several steps away from her while she remains relaxed. While going through this behavior modification, you cannot go too slow – you can go too fast.

We often need to change our habits too. Often the dog starts getting nervous when we go through our routine of leaving. Maybe you are like me, and the last thing you do before you leave is put on your shoes and pick up the keys. Vary this and put on your shoes and pick up your keys – but do not leave. Go to the couch and read a book. If you only play the radio on weekends when you are home, turn it on during your workdays. As hard as it may be, set your alarm on weekends, get up, but stay home. Continue these changes in routine until your dog does not pay attention to your cues anymore. It is also very important to not give your dog a lot of attention when you leave.

When you are gone, make sure your dog is comfortable – light, warmth, a radio playing, toys. If your dog is outside, a doghouse may help her feel more secure. Some indoor dogs will be more content if they can watch what is going on outside, be it traffic or chipmunks. Others may be more anxious if they can look out and do better with the drapes closed. You will need to decide what makes your dog less anxious. Make sure you give your dog a lot of exercise a half hour or so before you leave. As with boredom, tired dogs are less likely to become anxious.

If your dog happens to not only bark, but destroy things while you are gone, a crate may be necessary. Never punish your dog when you come home and find something chewed or torn. If you do, your dog will soon associate your return with being punished. That is going to make her even more anxious. If you videotape these destructive dogs, you may see the dog is anxious when the owner leaves but anxiety also increases just before the owner’s usual time of return, when the dog becomes anxious about the owner’s impending return and punishment.

Just as you should not punish your dog on your return, do not give her a lot of attention either – then your returning home will not be such a big deal to her. Instead, come in the door, say “Hello” and go about a household task. Once your dog has settled down and is quiet, then you can spend some quality time with her.

Initially, while you are working on behavior modification it may be helpful to get a neighbor or pet sitter to come in once or several times during the day. This will help break up the long hours the dog has without you.

Finally, if the separation anxiety is severe, medications are often needed during the behavior modification process. Medication alone will not solve the problem, but it can be a useful adjunct to the process. Consult with your veterinarian to determine which medication would be most appropriate.

Startled barkers

We can best curb startled barking using the similar techniques for alert/warning barks. Teaching “Enough” will really help in this situation. If a certain sound consistently startles your dog, record that sound. Start by playing it back very softly so your dog will remain relaxed when she hears it. If she remains quiet, then reward her. Over days and weeks, gradually increase the volume until she is no longer startled into barking when she hears it.

Pathologic barking

Barking that is a simple nuisance is not the same as barking that is pathologically excessive. Most of the barking we have talked about thus far is normal barking behavior except for that connected to separation anxiety. Barking can be abnormal or “pathologic” in situations of separation anxiety, as a result of an obsessive-compulsive disorder in which a dog barks very excessively or at inappropriate things (a leaf falling), or in dogs who become hyper-excited with the approach of people or other dogs. Dogs who become aggressive during barking episodes need to undergo behavior modification for the aggression before we attempt to modify the barking behavior.

For dogs with pathologic barking or additional behavioral problems, it is highly recommended to use a team-approach to the problem. The team consists of all family members, an animal behaviorist, and a veterinarian. Each family member must work with the dog in the same way, using the same commands. The animal behaviorist may be able to cue in on unique characteristics of your dog’s behavior and help you set up training situations that will be most effective. Your veterinarian may also be able to give you insights as well as prescribe appropriate medications to enable the dog to be more responsive to the behavior modification.

Controlling barking through corrective collars

There are numerous collars on the market that produce an electrical stimulation, an irritating ultrasonic sound, or a smell (offensive to the dogs, but not to us) when the dog barks. These may be used as an adjunct to behavior modification. Collars alone will not cure the problem. Unfortunately, these collars to do not always produce the desired effect. For some of these hard-core barkers, the punishment for barking is not sufficient to get them to stop. They would rather bark and be punished than not bark at all. For dogs who bark when they are anxious, the collar’s correction may make them even more anxious.

In some situations, these corrective collars have been found to be useful. For instance, there is a citronella collar which gives off a citrus smell when the dog barks. This can alert you to the fact the dog was barking while you were gone since the citrus smell still lingers in the air. In situations where you must change the barking behavior quickly or you may lose your dog (or apartment), a bark-control collar may be used while you are away from the dog. When using a bark-control collar, remember that you not only have to stop the bad behavior, you need to reward the good. Your dog can not learn an appropriate alternative to barking if someone is not present to teach it to him.  Electric shock type collars are not reccommended!  They have been known in some instances to cause phyical damage to the dogs wearing them.

Another type of collar that may be effective is a halter collar. This type of collar looks more like a horse halter; brand names include Gentle Leader/Promise System Canine Head Collar and Halti Head collars. When you pull on the leash portion, a portion of the collar tightens around the dog’s muzzle. By using a quick pull of the lead, saying “Enough” when the dog is quiet, and then rewarding him, you may find the training goes faster.

De-barking

Debarking is a surgical procedure that removes the vocal cords from dogs. There are two surgical approaches, one through the mouth, and the other through an incision in the neck. Debarking will NOT result in a silent dog. A dog who has undergone the procedure will still attempt to bark, and make a hoarse sound, which some people find more irritating than the bark itself. Debarking will not cure the reason for barking – the fear, boredom, or anxiety will still be there. Debarking is not reccommended and should be a very very last choice decision.

Preventing nuisance barking in puppies

Teaching your puppy appropriate behavior from the beginning is easier than changing behavior that has become a bad habit. Some behavior we may think of as cute in a puppy will not be cute in an adult dog. So, think ahead to avoid potential problems.

The first few nights after bringing your puppy home will be the hardest. You may want to put his crate in your bedroom. The puppy will be more secure with you near. Security builds trust. Trust will decrease the possibility of separation anxiety in the future. Just remember not to give any attention to the puppy if he is whining – that will only reward his undesirable behavior.

By starting to train your puppy in obedience and relaxation at an early age, you can greatly reduce the probability your puppy will grow into a problem barker. Nip problems in the bud and always look at why the puppy is barking. Is it fear, anxiety, attention-seeking? Use the appropriate measures to treat the underlying problem.

Remember that if for some reason you want your dog to bark on command, or in a certain situation, you must also be able to teach him to stop on command. Teach “Enough” at an early age. This was described under “Alert/warning Barkers”.

Introduce the young puppy to situations that may cause anxiety later on. Get your puppy used to walking on the sidewalk along a busy street. Expose your puppy to sounds like vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, and other noises. Take things slow so your puppy does not become anxious while being exposed to these new things. Reward the puppy when he is quiet and relaxed.

Puppy classes are a great place for your puppy to meet new people and other dogs. He can learn to obey you even when there are numerous distractions. You also have a trainer present who can help you with any potential problems.

In short, it will be a lot more fun for everybody if your puppy learns to communicate through a wag of the tail and looking to you for guidance rather than through excessive and relentless barking.

Source:  Doctors Foster and Smith

Posted:  Just One More Pet

Related Resources:

August 20, 2009 Posted by | animal behavior, Just One More Pet, Pet and Animal Training, Pet Friendship and Love, Pets, responsible pet ownership, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

‘Dogs Have The Intelligence of a Human Toddler’

Most (or the average) dog understands 165 words and gestures+ and 20 to 40 commands, but many can understand a lot more!  The same article states that even though most dogs have the cognitive ability of 2 to 2.5-year-olds, their social consciousness—an awareness of people, their ranking within the family and such—is as high as an adolescent or teenager.  It also seems that dogs and apes have some of the same basic emotions such as fear, anger, disgust and pleasure and are able to deceive.

dog-reading

Our canine friends are smart! Research has shown that most dogs understand 165 words or gestures, can add up to five, and that some dogs learn how to deceive their owners. It is a known fact that children don’t develop such a habit until much later.  Some “super dogs” can even learn up to 250 words, a capability found only among humans and language learning apes.

Math, for those young or old, has been a sore point for many but scientists have found out through experimentation that dogs can understand simple math. TheStar.com (2009) found this out by evaluating dogs’ confusion “after they watched a specific number of treats get dropped behind a screen, then discovered that the actual number of treats was more or less than expected.”  Canines can count up to 5 and spot errors in simple arithmetic computations.

Quoting four studies on spatial problem solving abilities of dogs, Coren said the canines can understand the location of valued items (treats), better routes in the environment like fastest way to find a favorite chair and how to operate simple machines.

It is also interesting to note that dogs have a sense of fairness but not equity. In TheStar.com (2009) Stanley Coren, an expert on dog behavior and professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia states: “when researchers had two dogs perform simple tasks but only rewarded one, the unrewarded dog lost interest in participating.” However, he goes on to say that when one of the dogs is fed a “superior” treat, both stayed engaged, equally.

Again, The Star.com (2009) Professor Stanley Coren also states that dogs understand at least 20-40 commands or more.

The same article states that even though most dogs have the cognitive ability of 2 year olds, their social consciousness—an awareness of people, their ranking within the family and such—is as high as an adolescent or teenager. In other words, they are very interested in who is moving on, who is sleeping with whom and how others around them are being treated—and where they fit in.

Weber (2009) suggest that dogs and apes have some of the same basic emotions such as fear, anger, disgust and pleasure. But he also noted both animal groups are missing some of the more complex, learned emotions such as guilt. These kinds of emotions are “learned” and require more in-depth thinking.

What is interesting to any dog owner is that because dogs have been domesticated for so long, they can understand words and gestures. I can remember the many times when we owned a collie named Lady, how she would react to certain phrases and gestures such as, and “Are you hungry?” “Time to go potty,” and “Lady, what have you done?” and my favorite, “Lady, time for a bath.”

Most dogs also know and understand when we’re feeling down, when we’re ill or when we’re happy and respond appropriately. Because they have been domesticated for so long, they instinctively can spot our emotions and then respond to help us out.

Researchers have also found that intelligence seems to vary according to breeds, generally, but there is always an exception.

Hounds and terriers are less intelligent, while retrievers, border collies and herding dogs are more intelligent. And, it seems that smart dogs need more attention; much like children who are smarter and always seeking the attention and approval of their parents, siblings and friends.

The intelligence of canines is dependent on various factors including their breed, environment around them, training imparted by their handlers, and like with humans an occassional unexplainable intelligence factor, he said.

“Border Collies are number one; poodles are second followed by German Shepherds. Fourth on the list is Golden Retrievers; fifth Doberman; sixth Shetland Sheepdogs and finally Labrador retrievers,” the canine scientist said.

“There are three types of dog intelligence: instinctive (what the dog is bred to do), adaptive (how well the dog learns from its environment to solve problems) and working and obedience (the equivalent of ‘school learning’),” he said.  But as all parent know there is a lot more that goes into their children’s (2-legged or 4-legged) intelligence and sometimes the standard means of measurement do not tell the whole story.

Professor Stanley Coren also suggests that most dogs are capable of deceiving.  And anyone who owns or has owned a dog, knows that there are times when they do something wrong, they will go to great lengths to hide the guilty deed such as hiding a broken object, running away from the scene of a crime, etc.

Dogs can do many things that their wild relatives, such as the wolf, cannot do and this is because of their close association with humans; that bonding and domestication from being around us so long.

“Their stunning flashes of brilliance and creativity are reminders that they may not be Einsteins but are sure closer to humans than we thought,” the researcher from the University of British Columbia in Canada said at the 117th annual convention of American Psychological Association in Toronto on Saturday.

The American Psychological Association has more than 1.5 lakh members of psychologists, researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students.

Professor Coren, canine researcher, who authored the book ‘How Dogs Think‘ said, “Canines use this intelligence to intentionally deceive their fellow dogs and people to earn their treats.  During a play the canines are as successful in deceiving humans as we are in deceiving them.”

And finally there are abilities like sensing a long list of illnesses and even death, by both dogs and cats, that we are just learning about; things humans cannot do.  So judgeing their level of intelligence by ours may not be totally fair either.

References:
The Star.com (2009).Rover’s as smart as the average tot. Retrieved August 11, 2009
from: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/678720
Weber, B. (2009) Pooches, people have more in common than previously thought: scientist.

By: Ask Marion/Just One More Pet


How Dogs Think How To Speak Dog

GoD and DoG

August 16, 2009 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, Dogs, Dogs, Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet and Animal Training, Pets, Success Stories, Unusual Stories, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 52 Comments

Using ‘Dominance’ To Explain Dog Behavior Is Old Hat

ScienceDaily (May 25, 2009) — A new study shows how the behavior of dogs has beenGRRRRR misunderstood for generations: in fact using misplaced ideas about dog behavior and training is likely to cause rather than cure unwanted behavior.  The findings challenge many of the dominance related interpretations of behavior and training techniques suggested by current TV dog trainers.

Contrary to popular belief, aggressive dogs are NOT trying to assert their dominance over their canine or human “pack”, according to research published by academics at the University of Bristol’s Department of Clinical Veterinary Sciences in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research.   (Credit: iStockphoto)

The researchers spent six months studying dogs freely interacting at a Dogs Trust rehoming center, and reanalyzing data from studies of feral dogs, before concluding that individual relationships between dogs are learnt through experience rather than motivated by a desire to assert “dominance”.

The study shows that dogs are not motivated by maintaining their place in the pecking order of their pack, as many well-known dog trainers preach.

Far from being helpful, the academics say, training approaches aimed at “dominance reduction” vary from being worthless in treatment to being actually dangerous and likely to make behaviors worse.

Instructing owners to eat before their dog or go through doors first will not influence the dog’s overall perception of the relationship – merely teach them what to expect in these specific situations.  Much worse, techniques such as pinning the dog to the floor, grabbing jowls, or blasting hooters at dogs will make dogs anxious, often about their owner, and potentially lead to an escalation of aggression.

Dr Rachel Casey, Senior Lecturer in Companion Animal Behavior and Welfare at Bristol University, said:  “The blanket assumption that every dog is motivated by some innate desire to control people and other dogs is frankly ridiculous.  It hugely underestimates the complex communicative and learning abilities of dogs. It also leads to the use of coercive training techniques, which compromise welfare, and actually cause problem behaviors.

“In our referral clinic we very often see dogs which have learnt to show aggression to avoid anticipated punishment. Owners are often horrified when we explain that their dog is terrified of them, and is showing aggression because of the techniques they have used – but its not their fault when they have been advised to do so, or watched unqualified ‘behaviorists’ recommending such techniques on TV.”

At Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, rehoming center staff see the results of misguided dog training all the time.  Veterinary Director Chris Laurence MBE, added: “We can tell when a dog comes in to us which has been subjected to the ‘dominance reduction technique’ so beloved of TV dog trainers.  They can be very fearful, which can lead to aggression towards people.

“Sadly, many techniques used to teach a dog that his owner is leader of the pack is counter-productive; you won’t get a better behaved dog, but you will either end up with a dog so fearful it has suppressed all its natural behaviors and will just do nothing, or one so aggressive it’s dangerous to be around.”

If You’re Aggressive, Your Dog Will Be Too, Says Veterinary Study

ScienceDaily (Feb. 18, 2009) — In a new, year-long University of Pennsylvania survey of dog owners who use confrontational or aversive methods to train aggressive pets, agressive dog-large veterinary researchers have found that most of these animals will continue to be aggressive unless training techniques are modified.

The study, published in the current issue of Applied Animal Behavior Science, also showed that using non-aversive or neutral training methods such as additional exercise or rewards elicited very few aggressive responses.

“Nationwide, the No. 1 reason why dog owners take their pet to a veterinary behaviorist is to manage aggressive behavior,” Meghan E. Herron, lead author of the study, said. “Our study demonstrated that many confrontational training methods, whether staring down dogs, striking them or intimidating them with physical manipulation does little to correct improper behavior and can elicit aggressive responses.”

The team from the School of Veterinary Medicine at Penn suggest that primary-care veterinarians advise owners of the risks associated with such training methods and provide guidance and resources for safe management of behavior problems. Herron, Frances S. Shofer and Ilana R. Reisner, veterinarians with the Department of Clinical Studies at Penn Vet, produced a 30-item survey for dog owners who made behavioral service appointments at Penn Vet. In the questionnaire, dog owners were asked how they had previously treated aggressive behavior, whether there was a positive, negative or neutral effect on the dogs’ behavior and whether aggressive responses resulted from the method they used. Owners were also asked where they learned of the training technique they employed.

Of the 140 surveys completed, the most frequently listed recommendation sources were “self” and “trainers.” Several confrontational methods such as “hit or kick dog for undesirable behavior” (43 percent), “growl at dog” (41 percent), “physically force the release of an item from a dog’s mouth” (39 percent), “alpha roll”physically — rolling the dog onto its back and holding it (31 percent), “stare at or stare down” (30 percent), “dominance down” —- physically forcing the dog down onto its side (29 percent) and “grab dog by jowls and shake” (26 percent) elicited an aggressive response from at least 25 percent of the dogs on which they were attempted. In addition, dogs brought to the hospital for aggressive behavior towards familiar people were more likely to respond aggressively to some confrontational techniques than dogs brought in for other behavioral reasons.

“This study highlights the risk of dominance-based training, which has been made popular by TV, books and punishment-based training advocates,”Herron said. “These techniques are fear-eliciting and may lead to owner-directed aggression.”

Prior to seeking the counsel of a veterinary behaviorist, many dog owners attempt behavior-modification techniques suggested by a variety of sources.

Recommendations often include the aversive-training techniques listed in the survey, all of which may provoke fearful or defensively aggressive behavior. Their common use may have grown from the idea that canine aggression is rooted in the need for social dominance or to a lack of dominance displayed by the owner. Advocates of this theory therefore suggest owners establish an “alpha” or pack-leader role.

The purpose of the Penn Vet study was to assess the behavioral effects and safety risks of techniques used historically by owners of dogs with behavior problems.

Dog whispering is a definite alternative to traditional training.

Posted:  Just One More Pet

Dogwise, All Things Dog!

Monthly Feature: BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS IN DOGS

July 1, 2009 Posted by | Animal Rights And Awareness, animals, Just One More Pet, Pet and Animal Training, Pet Friendship and Love, Pets | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment