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If you’ve ever seen a dog knock their owner to the ground to chase a squirrel or jump on a counter to steal food, you may find yourself wondering if dogs have any sort of impulse control.
After having similar experiences with the dogs in his life, Neurobiologist Gregory S. Bernswondered the same thing. Fortunately for us, he has access to the tools necessary to get to the bottom of whether or not dogs have the ability for self-control.
Since 2012, Dr. Berns and his team have been focused on advancing the field of neuroimaging in awake, unrestrained dogs. Dogs who participate in their studies are trained to go into MRI machines and sit completely still.
For anyone who has ever had an MRI before, you know how challenging it is to remain perfectly still, so imagine trying to get a dog to do it!
Since the dogs are not supposed to be moving around during the scans, Dr. Berns and his team have adopted a passive approach to creating brain activity. Once in the MRI machine, the dogs are presented with a stimulus, such as a scent, sound, pictures, or hand signals, and the corresponding brain activity is measured.
However, to study self-control, the team needed to find a way for the dogs to perform a behavior without excessive movement. To do this, Dr. Berns and his team used a psychological test designed for children called a Go-NoGo test. Prior to the study, a group of dogs were taught specific commands for Go and NoGo.
For the Go condition, dogs were taught to nose poke a target in response to a whistle. In the NoGo condition, dogs were taught to recognize that arms crossed in an X means no nose poke even if they hear a whistle. As you can imagine this wasn’t an easy task; training a dog to perform this behavior well enough to do it in an MRI machine took between 2-4 months of preparation.
When the dogs were consistently completing the task with 80% accuracy, it was time to see if they did, in fact, have self-control. When the dogs were asked to perform the NoGo task, the MRI captured the area of the brain that inhibited the nose poke behavior.
Through the MRI, Dr. Berns and his team found that impulse control in both humans and dogs is controlled by the prefrontal lobes, but in dogs this area is much smaller relative to brain size. Furthermore, when the dogs were asked to perform the NoGo task, those that completed it successfully saw much more brain activity in this frontal lobe.
What this means is that there is an actual link between the level of self-control a dog has and the behavior they display. In other words, dogs that have more brain activity in their frontal lobes, therefore more self-control, are better able to control their behaviors.
This study gives us great insight into how self-control in dogs takes place, but further research is needed to determine why some dogs have more brain activity than others. Once we know this, we might be able to find a way to improve its functioning through training.
This is important, as biting is a common and serious consequence of a dog’s lack of self-control. If we are able to determine why some dogs lack self-control and bite we might able to prevent its occurrence.
Until then, try not to blame your dog too much if they do something that suggests a complete lack of self-control; they might not be able to help it!
Finally, a decisive answer to the age-old question of who’s a good dog, who’s a good dog—Maxx here is a very, very good dog.
On Monday night, the German Shepherd led firefighters to her two human siblings, trapped inside the family’s flame-engulfed home outside Orlando.
“The family canine was just absolutely remarkable leading firefighters inside,” Seminole Chief Deputy Dennis Lemma told the Orlando Sentinel. “It absolutely saved their lives.”
The fire—thought now to be an accident—began while the family was asleep. Quick-acting neighbors, who saw the house burning, called the fire department and used a chair to break through a front window.
They were able to help Margo Feaser, who is an investigator with the sheriff’s office, out of the burning house. Firefighters then broke down the front door and rescued Feaser’s husband.
The kids, a 2-year-old girl and her 4-year-old brother, were in another room—so then Maxx, a retired police dog, showed responders where to find them.
The boy wasn’t breathing, at the time. He and his sister were rushed to the hospital.
“Maxx, the family dog, is credited with assisting firefighters through the heavy smoke to the location of each of the two children,” the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
The Feaser family’s house was completely destroyed in the fire.
Luckily, all four humans are in stable condition, according to the sheriff’s office, while Maxx is being treated for smoke inhalation at a local veterinary clinic, “and is expected to make a full recovery.”
You’re a good girl, Maxx. We hope you and your family get better soon.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family get back on their feet and to help pay for Maxx’s veterinary bills.
Come check us out at the Northwest Grooming Show today through Sunday at booths #11 & #18. Don’t forget to enter for the free prize drawing to get you and your pet some goodies, see you there!
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The best and worst thing about dogs is that no matter what they do, it’s nearly impossible to stay mad at them. My dog for example got away with SO much more than I could have ever imaged as a kid. I would get in trouble for wearing my shoes on the carpet while my dog got away with running through the house with soaking wet paws. If this sounds all too familiar these next few are bound to be spot on.
When your parents tell you it’s not “socially acceptable” to walk around naked but your dog can lay spread eagle on the floor…
You both know you’re not supposed to play with food. But somehow you end up banned from eating red sauce and they manage to get thirty likes on Instagram.
“It’s water mom. It DRIES.” – every child ever
When you think about it, there’s really not a huge difference between people and pup toys. So what’s all the fuss about?
Who didn’t pee in the living room as a kid? Right? Or never mind…
Dogs can pawtest all they want and they’re just being a dog. When you did the same, it was considered a meltdown.
Did they really expect you to come home on time, finish all your homework, AND wipe your feet?
“MOM. Stop telling me I’m going to ruin my appetite. That’s not even a thing.” – every child ever
It’s cute when dogs do it but earth-shattering if you even try.
Seriously though. What’s the difference?
Just because they speak a different language doesn’t mean they’re not talking back. #doglogic
You couldn’t leave the house without a sweater but they were allowed to run around naked.
Is your dog a little monster of destruction? Share a photo of their biggest mess with hashtag #ifurgiveyou for a chance to win a Rug Doctor Portable Spot Cleaner machine and Platinum Anytime Pet Pack!
It was a literal puppy party on Sunday, April 10th in NYC’s Union Square as The Mayors Alliance For NYC’s Animals hosted a very special Adoptapalooza. The event celebrated the ASPCA’s 150th anniversary with its first ever Paws Parade and a huge adoption drive after.
The Paws Parade kicked off at 11 am, marching from Madison Square Park down Broadway to Union Square where the festivities were set up. An estimated 100 dogs walked in the parade, accompanied by some very fine humans of course.
Acclaimed actress and co-founder of Broadway Barks‘ Bernadette Peters was the Grand Marshal of the parade, while Pip the rescue dog with an incredible story was named the four-legged Grand Marshal. The parade was led by NYPD-mounted and canine units, and of course what animal-inspired event would be complete without being joined by some FDNY fire dogs as well? There were even local veterinarians that marched in the parade.
The parade ended on the north side of Union Square near Petco (whose Foundationsponsored the event) where hundreds of rescued dogs, cats, and even bunnies awaited their perfect human to step up and take them to a loving home of their own. The festivities began with remarks from the stage by Mayor’s Alliance President Jane Hoffman, ASPCA President Matt Bershadker, Bernadette Peters, Senator Charles Schumer, Assembly member Linda Rosenthal, NYC Public Advocate Letitia James, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer .
Nearly 100 dogs and even more humans marched in a special parade raising awareness about animal rescue
The event featured booths with over 30 Alliance Participating Organizations, listed on the event page as including but not limited to: Animal Care Centers of NYC (NYCACC), Animal Haven, The Animal Project, ASCPA, Best Bullies, Bideawee, Bronx Tails Cat Rescue, Cats Cradle Rescuers, City Critters, Inc., Earth Angels Canine Rescue, Frankie’s Fund for Feline Care and Rescue, GROWL, Husky House, Infinite Hope, K9Kastle, KittyKind, Linda’s Cat Assistance, Long Island Bulldog Rescue, Long Island Greyhound Connection, Louie’s Legacy Animal Rescue, Metropolitan Maltese Rescue (MetroMalts), NYC Metro Rabbit, The Patricia H. Ladew Foundation, Place for Cats, Posh Pets Rescue, Rebound Hounds, Rescue Dogs Rock NYC, Sean Casey Animal Rescue, Second Chance Rescue, Staten Island Hope Animal Rescue, Waggytail Rescue, and Zani’s Furry Friends.
Rock & Rawhide was collecting donations of toys, blankets, and other “goodies” for shelter pups in addition to trying to get their own rescues adopted. Kylie Edmond, co-founder of Rock & Rawhide, told BarkPost:
Goodies are anything that can be placed in kennels and cages of animal shelters to help reduce stress, noise, and increase the cutie pie’s chance of adoption.
She said that their favorite donation of the day was from a little girl named Susan who took all of her birthday money and bought toys for shelter dogs and cats. AWWWWWW!
Rock & Rawhide co-founder Kylie Edmond with celebri-doodle Bocker, who recently beat cancer!
Kylie Edmond also went on to say that it was a wonderful turnout despite the chilly weather, and there were over 300 adoptions (an amazing 62 of which came from NYC Animal Care Center) in addition to “loads of silly fun.” One of those adopters was Joe Gatto from TruTv’s “Impractical Jokers,” who is a big time supporter of Rock & Rawhide and shelter pets.
Joe and Bess Gatto holding a cutout of Clark Kent, who is still up for adoption
Apart from collecting donations, Rock & Rawhide co-founder Sean-Patrick Hillman emceed Adoptapalooza (along with spokesperson for the Mayor’s Alliance Stephanie Mattera and Q104.3’s Maria Milito/iHeart Radio) and provided the ROCKIN’ music.
Rock & Rawhide’s founders Kylie Edmond and Sean–Patrick Hillman (left), and some of the Rock & Rawhide Roadie Volunteers holding flyers and donations (right)
Of course, there were some other celebrities mixed in the crowd, including award-winning actress Edie Falco. She told Susan Richard of CBS NY’s 1010 WINS news radio that she always had dogs growing up so she is continuing that tradition in her kids’ lives, and that “rescuing dogs makes the most sense.” The full interview for Richard’s show All For Animals, including Bernadette Peters, Matt Bershadker (President and CEO of the ASPCA), and Jane Hoffman (President of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals), can be seen below.
NYCACC volunteer Tamar getting love from Oak the Pittie (left), and event-goer Christine giving some love to Rescue Dogs Rock NYC’s Stallone (right) who was one of the 4 out of 5 dogs they brought that got adopted
BarkPost had the chance to speak with Steve Gruber, the Director of Communications for the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, to get the full report on just how successful Adoptapalooza was, and the answer was… VERY!
Apart from the adoption drive (which was the focus of the event), those in attendance of Adoptapalooza were treated to a host of other goodies and special offers. These included:
– Microchipping their dogs by Vetco (the first 50 were FREE!)
– Purchasing a license (required by NY state law) from the NYC Department of Health
– Learning how to prepare themselves and their pets for emergencies by representatives from New York City Emergency Management/Ready New York
– Taking home free pet ID tags, courtesy of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals
– Enjoying the Kids Korner, which included face painting by The Cheeky Chipmunk, caricature portraits of people and their pets by Lorelai Arts, and glitter tattos by Rock & Rawhide
– Bringing their dog to the Blue Buffalo dog training field for a free training session with a Petco certified trainer
– Having free photos taken of them and their pets at the photo booth, provided by the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals
– Picking up free food samples, other products, and information from pet–related vendors such as Blue Buffalo, Freshpet, HEARTGARD, Merrick, Nature’s Variety, and NexGard
– Meeting wildlife rehabilitators Urban Utopia Wildlife Rehabilitation and the Wild Bird Fund to learn more about the wild animals who share our home
– Learning how Pets For Vets is providing second chances for shelter pets by rescuing, training them, and pairing them with military vets who can benefit from a companion animal
Adoptapalooza was fun for people of all ages – even the little ones!
As you can see, it was a full day! And if that wasn’t enough, there was an additional adoption drive and festival in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, at the House of Vans! Celebri-pups Marnie the Dog, Mervin the Chihuahua, Chloe Kardoggian, and Ella Bean the Dog were in attendance there, and event-goers were treated to a look at ASPCA historical artifacts on display.
(Clockwise from top left): Marnie the Dog, Mervin the Chihuahua, Chloe Kardoggian, and Ella Bean the Dog
If you missed out on all the fun this time (and it was a LOT of fun), Adoptapalooza will be back later this year for the second of its’ biannual events. Be sure to follow the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals on their Facebook page and check their website as well to keep up to date and learn more about how you can get involved.
Thank you so much to the organizers, rescuers, sponsors, participants, attendees, and most importantly — those that were able to adopt a new family member! See you all at the next event!