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Thirteen Year Old Invents Solution for Dogs Who Separate From Separation Anxiety

LifeWithDogs: 9.6.13 - 13 Year Old's Invention1If you worry about how much your dog misses you while you’re away, a thirteen-year-old girl might have a solution.

Spokane, WA resident Brooke Martin created a device called iCPooch, which will allow you to video chat and give treats to your dog from anywhere.

“My dog Kayla suffered from separation anxiety, so I thought it would be really cool to be able to video chat with her while I was away from home to make sure she was OK,” Martin explained. “The idea of delivering her a treat seemed liked it would really make her happy if I could figure out how to do it.”

The finalist for the GM Young Scientist Award pitched the idea at a Startup Weekend event last year, and was met with a standing ovation. She garnered the attention of venture capitalist Tom Simpson, who was eager to get on board. Brooke launched her own company and filed for patents. They are still working on the product, which is in the prototype phase, and hope to have it on store shelves soon.

Some money has been raised, and a Kickstarter campaign has been started. Here is a bit about the iCPooch, taken from the Kickstarter page:

“With the iCPooch device connected to a home wireless Internet router, you can deliver a treat from a smart phone, tablet or computer no matter where you are. The device also has an adjustable mounting bracket so that you can attach a tablet or smart phone (not included) and video chat with your pet! The tablet/smart phone operates independently of the iCPooch device, allowing you to use Skype video chat software to auto-answer your calls (we are also working on our own video chat solution). As long as your smart phone/tablet has a microphone and a camera (most all do) and is connected to the internet, you can video chat with Fido at eye level, and in the separate iCPooch app deliver a treat. An estimated 13 million-plus dogs suffer from separation anxiety, and we know that pet owners do, too!

9.6.13 - 13 Year Old's Invention2

“The iCPooch device is a combination of a miniature vending machine and a computer. The device acts like a computer, using a motherboard (Raspberry Pi) and Wi-Fi module to connect to the Internet. The computer is attached to a motor that is activated when the owner of the device gives it the “drop treat” command from their remote computing device (smart phone, tablet, PC, etc). A removable/re-loadable sleeve inside the device houses the treats, and one treat is pushed out by the motor arm each time the motor is activated.”

The campaign has only 24 days to reach their funding goal of $75,000 in order for the iCPooch to be created. If you are interested in helping see Brooke’s vision become a reality, please click here. It could make a really great present for soldiers on tours of duty, out-of-state college students or people traveling who are unable to take their pets with them.

See Video HERE

September 7, 2013 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Simple Way to Detect Your Dog’s Emotions

Story at-a-glance
  • A recently published study shows humans are able to correctly identify a range of emotions in dogs by looking at their facial expressions.
  • Researchers evoked specific emotions in Mal, a Belgian Shepherd, which included happiness, anger, fear, sadness, surprise and disgust. They took photos of the dog as his facial expressions changed with each emotion.
  • The pictures were shown to a group of 50 volunteers separated into two groups based on their experience of dogs. Happiness was recognized most frequently — by 88 percent of participants. Interestingly, the people with little or no experience of dogs were better judges of Mal’s expressions of disgust and anger than dog owners.
  • Researchers theorize that the ability of people with little or no experience of dogs to identify canine facial expressions is because it is a natural skill rather than one that must be learned.
  • Future research may determine if humans are as capable of empathizing with other mammals as they are with dogs.

dog-emotions[1]

By Dr. Becker

An intriguing study published in June in the journal Behavioural Processes1 suggests that people can accurately distinguish a range of emotions in dogs by studying their facial expressions.

Teams from the psychology department at the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and Walden University in Minneapolis, with an assist from the University of Florida, set out to see if humans could accurately read a dog’s facial expressions.

Study volunteers were able determine when the dog was happy, sad, angry, surprised or scared by looking at a picture of the animal’s face. These results suggest humans possess a natural ability to understand what animals are feeling.

According to Dr. Tina Bloom, a psychologist with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and lead researcher:

“There is no doubt that humans have the ability to recognize emotional states in other humans and accurately read other humans’ facial expressions. We have shown that humans are also able to accurately – if not perfectly – identify at least one dog’s facial expressions.

“Although humans often think of themselves as disconnected or even isolated from nature, our study suggests that there are patterns that connect, and one of these is in the form of emotional communication.”

How the Researchers Evoked Facial Expressions in the Dog

The study used pictures of a five year-old Belgian Shepherd named Mal. The photos showed Mal experiencing various emotions. When Mal was praised, he showed a happy expression with ears up, tongue out and looking directly at the camera.

When the researchers reprimanded him, Mal’s expression became sad, with eyes cast downward.

To capture a surprised expression, the researchers used a jack-in-the-box, and Mal wrinkled the top of his head.

Medicine with a bad taste brought out the dog’s disgusted expression – flattened ears. Next came the dreaded nail clippers, which made Mal prick up his ears and show the whites of his eyes.

To produce an expression of anger, one of the researchers acted the part of a criminal. Mal, a police dog in real life, bared his teeth into the beginnings of a snarl.

Volunteers Correctly Identified Happy Mal Most Often

The images of Mal’s expressions were shown to a group of 50 study participants who were separated into two groups based on their experience with dogs.

The results:

  • Happiness was correctly identified by 88 percent of the participants.
  • Anger was recognized by 70 percent.
  • Fear was identified by about 45 percent of participants.
  • Sadness – a relatively subtle emotion — was recognized by 37 percent of the group.
  • Surprise was identified by just 20 percent of participants; disgust by only 13 percent.

Interestingly, the researchers found that the group with the least amount of exposure to dogs was better at recognizing disgust and anger. Dr. Bloom and her colleague, Prof. Harris Friedman, theorize that dog owners may convince themselves their pet is not aggressive, and rationalize negative expressions as “just playing.”

Bloom and Friedman also believe the ability of people with little or no experience of dogs to identify facial expressions – sometimes more accurately than dog owners – is perhaps because it is an innate rather than an acquired skill.

Will Future Research Show Humans Empathize with the Feelings of Other Mammals as Well?

Dr. Bloom, in speaking with The Telegraph, expressed hope that future research will investigate whether the natural empathy humans have for canines also extends to all mammals, or whether it is the result of the unique bond we’ve shared with dogs throughout history.

Bloom admits she finds such unproven theories emotionally appealing. “If I adopted a cat, or a snake or a turtle, I don’t think it would be as emotionally attached to me and watching my face as much as a dog would,” she said. “There is something different and special about a dog — I’m not sure what it is, but it’s there.”

The full study, including photos of Mal’s facial expressions, can be downloaded here.

September 4, 2013 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, animals, Dogs, Dogs, Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , , , | 1 Comment

‘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