Monthly Archives: January 2016

Understanding Your Dog’s “Prey Drive”

Understanding Your Dog’s “Prey Drive”

According to dog lover, PhD, and Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist Karen B. London, even the mention of the term “prey drive” amongst professional dog behavior specialists will send the room into a polarizing flutter of technical jargon and really mean words.

In an article she wrote for The Bark titled “Prey Drive: Fact or Fiction,” Dr. London claims the term is too ambiguous to legitimately apply it to specific dog behaviors.

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Source: @hillary.hornung

In common language, the term can have positive or negative connotations depending on who uses it and how. Some people associate their dog’s urge to chase squirrels or tires to prey drive, while others blame their dog’s urge to bolt in un-fenced areas on prey drive. The term is even used by professional dog handlers in military and law enforcement to describe their dogs’ motivation to do their job well.

sierra_the_pup

Source: @sierra_the_pup

But according to Dr. London, the big wide world of ethology (which is the study of animal behavior) finds the use of the term frustrating. Technically, ethologists define a “drive” as the unknown variable responsible for the wide range of behavioral responses an animal can have to stimuli.

So scientifically speaking, drives still sound sort of… mysterious. But when people outside of the scientific community use it, the term tends to describe behaviors that a human might find socially undesirable in a pet. “It sounds so much nicer than saying that the dog has little impulse control, a far-from-ideal temperament or has not been the beneficiary of sufficient training,” Dr. London wrote in The Bark.

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Source: DogShaming

In this context, the term “prey drive” is reduced to little more than a polite human euphemism for “I don’t give two poops if my dog is humping your leg.”

Perhaps a better way to understand what people mean by common use of the term prey drive would be asking whether or not domesticated dogs technically count as “predators.” After all, what else goes out in search of prey?

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Source: @labandidanina

In an article in Decoded Science titled “Wolves and Dogs: Why Your Pet is Not a Domesticated Predator,” veterinary technician and current student of canine behavioral science, Sian John, argues that domesticated dogs are most certainly NOT predators. This is pretty perplexing for lay pups like us, since wolves and dogs are so genetically similar and wolves are MOST DEFINITELY predators. So what gives?

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Source: DogShaming

According to Sian, dogs and wolves have been evolving along separate paths for too long for domesticated dogs to have retained the instincts of a predator.

That’s all well and good. But why did my childhood Dachshund, well… kill… things? Many a morning I would join my little buddy, Digger, in our back yard to play, and he would sometimes bring me a gift in the form a dead squirrel or bird which he had most assuredly terminated. (He was an exceptionally fast dog.)

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Source: @dan_sap

Anxious to get to the bottom of this predator-prey thing, I did a bit more research and discovered another canine researcher named Alan Beck. The director of Purdue University’s Center of the Human-Animal Bond, I figured he’d be a pretty credible source for determining just where domesticated dogs fit into the spectrum of predator and prey. In an interview with CBC News, Dr. Beck was asked what he believed was responsible for a dog’s capacity to kill. His answer? Whatever animal the dog had killed must have been mistaken for a “prey species.”

For anyone interested in learning more about the research behind the articles discussed today, the books below were all referenced by the authors of the articles mentioned above or written by individuals mentioned above:

5 Ways to Prevent Separation Anxiety

5 Ways to Prevent Separation Anxiety
Are you guilty of accidentally nurturing your dog’s separation anxiety?

Many of us unwittingly foster separation anxiety in our dogs. Here’s how you can modify your own behaviour to cultivate a healthy sense of security in your dog.
#1 Are You and Your Dog Joined at the Hip?

Letting your dog get used to 24/7 companionship is a disaster in the making. You may be available round the clock today, but circumstances can change unexpectedly. Help your dog become comfortable spending time alone before it is ever a necessity. My favourite first step for alone training is to cultivate a jaws-ercise addiction. When your dog salivates at the prospect of a long luscious date with a favourite food-stuffed chew toy as you prepare to leave the house, you’ll know you won’t be too desperately missed!

#2 Don’t Smother Your Dog WIth Attention to Alleviate “Separation Guilt”

Lavishing your dog with continuous attention when together creates an unnecessarily BIG contrast effect when you are apart. The very behaviour that soothes your guilty conscience can hinder your dog’s healthy independence. Blur the difference between being home and away by making sure you aren’t always fawning over her, or always at her beck and call. A baby gate across the hallway while preparing a meal, or some time behind a closed door while online or buried in a good novel, will help reduce the contrast between your presence and your absence.

#3 Make Sure Your Dog Can Sleep Solo

While there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with sharing the sofa and bed with your fur-friend, making sure she can get some shut eye in a portable doggie den is not cruel—it is simply good planning. You never know when she will need to spend the night without you at another home, the veterinary clinic, or a boarding facility. Being accustomed to sleeping alone in a crate or ex-pen can prevent a night apart from being traumatic and triggering separation anxiety.

#4 Cultivate A Healthy Sense of Security and Stability in Your Dog

Dogs suffering from separation anxiety make better progress in their training programs when a “nothing in life is free” rule is invoked: the dog has to comply with a request before being granted something he wants. Learning that there are predictable ways of manipulating their environment, such as being picked up by sitting on command, or getting to eat supper by staying “off” the dish until invited to “take it” probably decreases anxiety by building confidence and reducing feelings of helplessness. Structure such as this breeds a sense of security and stability. Give your dog the psychological benefits of structure before an anxiety problem develops: ask her to do more than just lap up your affection—teach her constructive ways of manipulating the world around her.

#5 Provide Your Dog WIth Opportunities to Pursue Interests Other Than You

Healthy affection is but one of the ingredients to keeping your dog off Prozac. Like us, dogs need much more than love for emotional wellness. Enabling your dog to pursue interests other than you—interests that provide physical, social, and intellectual stimulation—will ensure that being needed, a naturally gratifying part of guardianship, isn’t what defines the relationship. Remember, cultivating confidence and independence in your dog so that she can enjoy time apart from you is a sure sign of healthy love.

– See more at: http://moderndogmagazine.com/articles/5-ways-prevent-separation-anxiety/88335#sthash.PYlG5W83.dpuf

This Organization Is Using Therapy Dogs To Help Kids In An Unlikely Way

This Organization Is Using Therapy Dogs To Help Kids In An Unlikely Way

A Fair Shake For Youth is raising funds through BarkGive, BarkBox’s new all-dog fundraising platform! Find out more at BarkGive.com.

When I was younger I never wanted to stick out from the crowd. I did my best to blend in and act just like the other kids at school. Once I got a bit older, I came to realize that the differences between people isn’t something negative, but what makes the world such an interesting place. I mean living in a world where everyone is the same would be like living in a world filled only with Goldendoodles. While they’re adorable, I like my wide variety of pups. 😉

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Source: Dog Breed Standards

One group is setting out to teach students this same idea of acceptance. A Fair Shake For Youth is a New York City-based organization using dogs to build empathy and self-esteem in students.

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Source: Daily News

Students are given the opportunity to work with therapy dogs each week. Through structured activities, they are able to build relationships with the dogs based on honesty, positive communication, mutual respect and trust.

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Source: Daily News

The 10-week long program includes hands-on-exercises with the dogs and education on dog-related topics including: shelter and rescue, second chances, the impact of natural disasters, and breed discrimination. Each are taught through demonstrations, videos, guest speakers and/or field trips.

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Source: AKC News

After spending time with the dogs, students learn to appreciate each dog’s differences and relate that same idea back to the people they encounter. The program encourages students to work towards building respectful relationships, and to advocate for others. In doing so, students begin to feel valuable, lovable, and empowered. In the end these attributes contribute to a decrease in bullying to create safer school environments.

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Source: Daily News

The best part of the program is that they make it easy for students to participate by offering flexibility with after school, weekend, and even summer camp options.

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Source: AKC News

To learn more about the cause check out A Fair Shake for Youth’s fundraising campaign on BarkGive.com!

10 Small Dog Breeds That Are Great With Children

Pint-sized puppy love

Every child should experience the warm, furry bliss of puppy love. Since smaller canines can be less intimidating to children, consider one of these small dog breeds that are great with kids.

Pug

Pint-sized puppy love

Photo credit: erin_akehurst via Instagram

This pint-sized pup has an irresistible face and prominently curved tail that any child will find intriguing. The Pug does especially well in a moderate climate but is just as comfortable hanging out indoors to keep your kiddos entertained.

Yorkshire Terrier

Pint-sized puppy love

Photo credit: paulasmithfitness via Instagram

Though a tiny canine, the Yorkie has a big adventurous personality that makes it an engaging dog. This affectionate pint-sized pup is an ideal pet if your family loves travel — it will keep your kids affectionately entertained in the back seat while you’re en route.

Miniature Schnauzer

Pint-sized puppy love

Photo credit: howwo via Instagram

The most popular of the three Schnauzer breeds (which include the giant and standard sizes), the Mini Schnauzer is an intelligent and cheerful canine that is as happy hanging out in the house with the family as it is romping outdoors with the kids in the yard or at the park.

Beagle

Pint-sized puppy love

Photo credit: mummyhuzza via Instagram

One of our favorite small dogs, the Beagle is naturally communal and friendly with humans and other animals. This curious, energetic pup will keep the kids on their toes as it needs love and exercise to keep itself out of trouble.

Havanese

Pint-sized puppy love

Photo credit: frick275 via Instagram

This toy-sized silky-coated canine is in high demand as a family pet because of its affectionate temperament, easy trainability and hypoallergenic non-shedding coat. The Havanese is as eager to be a loved-on lap dog as it is to playfully chase the kids around.

Shetland Sheepdog

Pint-sized puppy love

Photo credit: dirtydalton via Instagram

If you’ve got a big yard or live on a farm, the Sheltie will keep your kids well-exercised. One of the best obedience breeds, this long-haired, energetic beauty thrives on physical and mental activity.

Boston Terrier

Pint-sized puppy love

Photo credit: mhorne99 via Instagram

The Boston Terrier is a diminutive dapper-looking dog that has a gentle disposition and enjoys being close by its family’s side.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Pint-sized puppy love

Photo credit: mnewson86 via Instagram

Naturally gentle and friendly, the Cavalier is easy to train and a trustworthy companion for children. This soft, silky-coated canine is content being a lap dog or playing with the kids.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Pint-sized puppy love

Photo credit: mortythecorgi via Instagram

Bold and friendly, the Corgi thrives on having work to do. Considered a herding dog, this strong, sturdy pup is ideal if your family lives on a farm but, if given adequate mental and physical stimulation, can adapt easily to any living situation.

Miniature Poodle

Pint-sized puppy love

Photo credit: littlecandystyle via Instagram

The pint-sized Miniature Poodle is a top pet choice for kids with allergies. Highly intelligent, this cuddly fluff ball easily entertains its family with smile-evoking antics and heartwarming cuddles.

Pint-sized puppy loveImportant note:

In general, the small dog breeds on our list are good with kids. However, keep in mind that any dog, regardless of breed, can be a danger to children. Be sure to properly train and supervise your pup around your kids as well as teach your children how to properly handle their pets.

Dogs Are Now Allowed To Visit Hospitalized Owners Because Love Really Can Heal All

 

Dina Fantegrossi by: Dina Fantegrossi @ Barkpost.

For dog lovers, snuggling with our pups is a surefire way to calm our nerves, improve our outlook, and just plain feel better. One Canadian treatment Center has taken this idea to heart, realizing that a major illness is one of the most stressful life events a human will ever experience. The Juravinski Hospital has adopted a program to allow dogs and cats to visit with their seriously ill owners, reducing stress and improving morale.

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Source: Zachary’s Paws for Healing

The program is the brain child of a remarkable young man named Zachary Noble and his aunt, Donna Jenkins. When Zachary was a patient of the Juravinski Hospital battling cancer, he begged to see his dogs. Although he passed away from the disease, his visits with the dogs always led to improvements in his condition and attitude. Jenkins is honoring Zachary and ensuring that his legacy lives on with her foundation, Zachary’s Paws for Healing.

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Source: Zachary’s Paws for Healing

Together with hospital executives, medical staff and infection control, Zachary’s Paws for Healing has become the first organization in Canada to provide hospitalized patients with visits from companion animals.

Related: Therapy Dog Gently Comforts Hospice Patient While They Both Listen To Poetry

 

Therapy dogs have been used for years with incredible results, but this program allows patients to interact with their own beloved pets. Aside from improved patient morale, the program is also beneficial for the pets who may be experiencing separation anxiety from the absence of their human.

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Source: Zacharys Paws for Healing

So far, 25 visits have taken place between Intensive Care patients and their pets. Before each visit, the animals are thoroughly cleaned so as not to introduce harmful germs into the hospital. They are brought in on covered, wheeled carts and kept away from all other patients during their one hour weekly visits.

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Source: Zacharys Paws for Healing

Jenkins is thrilled with the momentum the Zachary’s Paws for Healing program has gained and hopes to see it spread to other hospitals. In addition to the companion pet hospital visits, the 100% volunteer program also plans to offer foster care to pet owners that must enter the hospital for treatment.

Hospital Dog

Source: Saturday Evening Post

Some patients have refused life-saving therapies because of a lack of caregivers for their pets. Zachary’s Paws for Healing hopes to alleviate this concern so that patients can concentrate on getting well. They will, of course, provide visits between fostered pets and their hospitalized humans.

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Source: Zacharys Paws for Healing

To donate to Zachary’s cause or find out more about the program, visit ZacharysPawsForHealing.com.

H/T to I Heart Dogs
Featured image via Zachary’s Paws for Healing