By Linda Cole
Dogs are like us in that some enjoy “talking” as much as some people do. A dog’s way of communicating is usually a bit louder than ours, though. Most pet owners who pay attention to their pet can understand what their dog’s bark means. What’s interesting about a barking or growling dog is they can change the pitch and tone of their voice to communicate to us and other dogs what they are trying to say, and what their intentions are.
What Pitch Means
Our tone of voice is understood by dogs. They can tell by the pitch in our voice whether we are pleased or displeased with them. The supposed guilty look dogs have is a myth and is a reaction to the harsh tone of voice we use when they misbehave and we’re upset with them.
Dogs also use pitch to communicate when they feel threatened or indicate they aren’t a threat. Growling is done in a low pitch and says “I’m scared or angry and could become aggressive.” It says the dog needs space and wants the other dog or person to back off and stay away. It’s a way for a dog to suggest he may be larger than he really is, or for larger dogs to communicate their bigger size to another animal.
A whine or whimper is a high pitched sound that says “I’m not a threat and have no intention of being aggressive. I’m harmless and need help or would like to come closer.” It makes the whimpering dog sound non-threatening regardless of his actual size.
By Linda Cole
Most dog owners are familiar with the play bow dogs use to invite another dog or people to play with them. But that’s not the only signal a playful dog uses to communicate what they want. As important as it is to understand a dog’s body language to prevent problems before they start, it’s just as important to understand when your dog is playing and just wants to have some fun. A stare isn’t always meant to intimidate.
For those who may not know what a play bow is, it’s the body language dogs use to communicate to other dogs and us they aren’t a threat. Their intentions are friendly, and they are inviting us to play. The dog making the invitation puts his front legs out in front of him as if he’s getting ready to lie down, but his butt stays up in the air. His tail is held above him in a relaxed wave, and you can almost see a smile spreading across his face. Everything about his demeanor is puppy-like, happy and friendly.
Watching dogs play is an interesting expression of socialization. Playful canines love to engage in bumps, body checks, rushing at each other, growling, barking, staring and wrestling. It can appear at times like an all out battle is close at hand. This can happen if one dog has had enough play or feels a bit too intimidated by a more aggressive playing dog. Paying attention to each dog’s body language can help you determine if it’s all just play or if you need to step in and stop the game before it gets out of hand.
By Laurie Darroch
Eventually most dogs adjust to being left home alone, but puppies and even grown dogs can feel insecure, disconnected from their human family pack members, or even be very nervous and agitated when left behind with no company. You can’t explain to a dog that you will be returning. They have to learn this over time and trust you enough to know it is true and part of the routine. You can, however, make the experience of being home alone more comfortable and less traumatizing for your dog.
A silent empty house can make humans feel alone and frightened. That can happen to dogs too. Home should feel warm, familiar and comforting to a dog. A frightened dog can be nervous and even destructive in their fear. To help your dog feel more at ease while home alone, try some of these tricks that make the house feel less empty and provide security and entertainment for him.
Boredom can make a dog look for something to do, and their choices may cause damage to your home and to them if they have no alternatives. Puppies in particular are prone to chewing whatever is appealing to them. Chew toys provide an outlet for the boredom and for the instinct to chew. Pick chew toys that are sturdy enough to withstand the chewing strength of your particular dog.
Leave the radio on to provide verbal or musical company for your dog. Pick a radio station that is soothing for the dog. Their ears are more sensitive than ours. Set the volume at a reasonable level to make your home feel less empty but not so loud that the dog can’t relax. A talk radio station may do the trick. An added bonus is the noise inside an empty house will help keep intruders away.
By Linda Cole
One nagging question dog owners have is “Why is my pet always staring at me?” Dog experts may have cracked the mystery to that question. According to a new study, dogs watch what we do, remember an action and imitate it with their own interpretation of what they saw us do.
Our long relationship with dogs has given them plenty of time to study us. They pay attention and can learn through observation. To prove this concept, researchers at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest tested dogs to see if they could learn by watching, remember what they saw and then repeat an action on command. According to the scientists, the study shows that dogs can do those things, and provides evidence for the cognitive ability of our canine friends.
Researchers tested eight adult pet dogs ranging in age from 2 to 10 years. The dogs were all female of different breeds, plus one mixed breed. They began with a preliminary test to prepare the dogs for the actual test. Taking turns, each owner had their dog stay and gave the command “Do as I do.” While the dog watched, her owner walked around a traffic cone, rang a bell hanging from a bar, or stuck their head in a bucket on the ground. Returning to the dog, the person waited 5 seconds, then gave the command, “Do it,” and waited for the dog to copy what her owner had done.
By Langley Cornwell
It’s hard to believe that we have what is considered a senior dog now. I remember when she was just a scruffy, malnourished little runt, shaking on my lap as we drove her away from deplorable conditions. Now, eight years later, she’s fat and happy, gracefully entering her golden years. According to the ASPCA, most dogs are considered senior by the time they reach seven years of age. Larger breed dogs age faster than smaller breeds, but between seven to ten years is a good average.
If you have ever shared your life with a senior dog, you are likely aware of the physical decline associated with the aging process. Dogs, like humans, also experience mental decline as they grow older. As a responsible pet owner, you want to do your part to keep your senior dog mentally sharp. Simple things like changing your typical walking routine or taking an alternate route will offer a renewed perspective for an older pet, but it’s good to do more. The best thing you can do is construct ways to keep your dog’s mind active with brain games that require problem solving skills.
Start Where You Are
Teaching your senior dog new tricks is a fun way to engage her mind. You can start with the basics like shake, roll-over and play dead, and get creative from there. If you don’t know how to get started, the article Training an Older Dog will provide an overview.
By Linda Cole
One nice thing about cats is that no matter how insistent they meow for their supper, it usually won’t annoy the neighbors. A barking dog can, on the other hand. Some breeds use their voice more than others, and others will bark just for attention. Thankfully, there are some dogs that typically don’t bark a lot.
Chinese Shar-Pei – Bred in southern China as an all purpose farm dog, the wrinkly Shar-Pei dates back to at least the 1200s. The breed was highly prized as a herder, hunter, tracker, and guard dog for property and livestock. He shares his distinct blue-black tongue with only one other dog breed, the ancient Chow Chow, also from China. Shar-Pei means “sand skin” in Chinese. This breed is intelligent, devoted to his family, an independent thinker with a stubborn streak, wary of people and dogs he doesn’t know, and a good watchdog. As a general rule, the Shar-Pei only barks when he’s worried about something or during play.
Rhodesian Ridgeback – This is an ancient breed native to South Africa, developed by farmers who needed an intelligent, athletic and courageous dog for hunting, herding, and guarding livestock and the home from large predators. Also known as the African Lion Hound, the Ridgeback was used to hunt lions and leopards, holding them at bay until a hunter came. A distinctive ridge of hair along the spine, growing in the opposite direction from the rest of the coat, is how the breed got its name. The Ridgeback is extremely devoted to his family and will do what’s necessary to defend them.