Category Archives: dog behavior

If Your Dog had One Wish, What Would it Be?

By Langley Cornwell

Pet memes and videos that use anthropomorphism as a comedic vehicle always strike my funny bone. In fact, I recently wrote an article on the Best Pet Memes on the Internet and every meme I cited ascribed human thoughts and attitudes to animals.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines anthropomorphism as the attribution of human characteristics or behaviors to that which is not human. As a logophile (lover of words), I was interested to learn that the origins of the word anthropomorphism are derived from the Greek word anthropos – which means human – and morphe – which means form. That makes perfect sense.

Without getting too far off the subject, here’s an interesting little fact. Since the 1600s, scholars have believed that our human tendency to anthropomorphize, while deep-rooted and innate, impedes our true understanding of the world. But if it makes us laugh, hey, isn’t that what it’s really all about?

So I thought it would be fun to ask my friends and family to anthropomorphize right along with me by answering this question: If your dog had one wish, what would it be? The answers were varied but can easily be grouped into a few categories.

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How to Correct Leash Pulling and Other On-Leash Issues

By Linda Cole

Going for a walk with your dog should be an enjoyable outing for both of you. However, it isn’t much fun if your dog drags you down the street or you spend the entire walk trying to get him to behave. Some dogs grab their leash and chew through it before you know what’s happening, and others bark or lunge. These are common on-leash issues that can be corrected with practical solutions to put you back in control.

Leash Pulling

Walking nicely on a leash isn’t something canines instinctively know how to do. It’s a process we need to teach them. Leash pulling has nothing to do with a dog trying to exert dominance, nor does it mean he doesn’t respect you and is challenging your leadership. Eager dogs pull because they are excited to sniff out smells that interest them; in their mind, pulling on the leash is just a faster way to get where they want to go. The tighter you hold onto the leash, the harder your dog pulls.

It doesn’t matter if your dog walks beside, in front or behind you, as long as he isn’t straining at the end of his leash. His reward for not pulling as hard as he can is getting to do what he wants whether it’s going into the dog park or investigating smells he comes across. Teaching your dog how to walk on a loose leash isn’t something that happens overnight, but if you’re consistent and patient you can teach him how to walk on a loose leash.

Your dog’s favorite CANIDAE treats or toy can help you get his attention during walks. Instead of yanking back on his leash when he pulls, stop and stand perfectly still. Hold the leash next to your body and don’t move. Offer him a treat to direct him back to you or just wait for him to come back on his own. When you begin to walk and he starts to pull, stop and wait. You want him to learn the walk continues when he isn’t pulling on his leash.

Another option is to change the direction you’re walking and gently pull his leash as you turn, but don’t jerk it. This helps him learn to pay attention to you instead of forging ahead like a locomotive. Reward him for walking on a loose leash by letting him sniff under a bush or around a tree he indicated he was interested in. For dogs that need a verbal cue, pick a sound like “Ooo-Ooo” or a word like “yikes” that tells him he’s pulling.

Biting or Chewing the Leash

Some dogs see their leash as a tug-of-war toy, and others like to chew on it or carry it around in their mouth. Dogs chew on their leash because of fear, frustration, to get attention or to play. Some dogs enjoy carrying things in their mouth. An easy solution to stop a dog from grabbing his leash is to use a heavy duty choke collar as an extension to the end of his leash. Attach a double ended snap you can get at hardware stores to his collar and clip the other end to his leash. The chain isn’t as fun to chew on as a nylon leash is.

Another option is to use a harness and attach a leash to his collar and another one to his harness. When he grabs the leash in his mouth, drop that one and pick up the extra one. If he grabs it again, drop it and pick up the other one. A drag line also works. Attach it to his collar along with his leash and alternate between the leash and drag line. Tie knots in the drag line so it’s easy for you to grab off the ground. Dogs that chew through their leash and run off are at risk of becoming lost or injured. If your dog simply enjoys carrying things in his mouth, give him a toy or ball to carry during walks.

Lunging or Aggressive Behavior

Some dogs bark and lunge towards other dogs, bikers, walkers, joggers, cars etc. The leash restricts their ability to get to whatever it is they see and it can be extremely frustrating for some dogs – to the point of causing them to become overly anxious. To them their reaction is normal, but it’s an emotional one that causes them to feel Dog Animated - no offeruncomfortable or even afraid. A dog wanting to chase an animal, person or car can feel frustrated by his leash that’s holding him back.

Lunging is a common leash problem, but the solution usually requires help from an animal behaviorist or professional trainer that only uses positive reinforcement. It’s important to remember to never punish your dog for barking, snarling or lunging. It will only make things worse and can cause your dog to have a negative association with whatever the trigger is that’s upsetting him.

Top photo by Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr
Bottom photo by Andy Blackledge/Flickr

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Are Pets Affected by the Daylight Savings Time Change?

daylight savings marioBy Linda Cole

Daylight savings time reverts back to standard time on Sunday, November 2, except for most of Arizona and Hawaii that don’t participate in the time change. We lose an hour (spring forward) in the spring and gain it back (fall back) in the fall. These yearly time changes may not be that big of a deal to us, but to pets it can be confusing and stressful. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help your pet adjust and hopefully avoid having your extra hour of sleep interrupted by a hungry cat or anxious dog wondering why you’re still in bed.

Humans, animals, plants and even fungi have a biological clock on an approximate 24 hour cycle. Our circadian rhythm (internal clock) tells us when it’s time to sleep, wake up and eat. It’s how bears and other hibernating animals know when it’s time to find a nesting site for the winter, and it’s what signals migrating butterflies and birds that it’s time for their seasonal journey. The circadian rhythm is based on periods of light and darkness, and it doesn’t matter if light is natural or artificial. Animals know when the seasons are changing and our pets do notice an increase or decrease in daylight when we change times each year.

A dog or cat’s daily routine is something they would prefer to be written in stone. Unfortunately, things happen that can alter schedules, and a simple time change can be perplexing for some pets. Because they live in the human world, we are the ones that decide when it’s time for our pets to go for a walk, play or eat their CANIDAE, and also when it’s time to go to bed and wake up. In the fall when we gain an hour and can sleep in, our pets are still on daylight savings time and don’t understand why we’re still in bed when they are up and ready to go. Their internal clock is saying morning has arrived and it’s time to get moving (and get fed!).
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How to Talk to Your Dog

talk to dog madabandonBy Langley Cornwell

True confession time: we sing to our pets. My husband would vehemently deny that statement but it’s true, and I can prove it. In fact, we have three pets – two dogs and a cat – and we have a song for each one of them. What’s more, they all know which pet we’re singing to at any given time. Sure, each one’s song has his or her name in it, but even if we hum their specific tune, the appropriate animal responds. It’s fun for us and I think they like it, but I’m not sure.

What I am sure about is this: the way we talk (or sing) to our dog is important. It’s not just what we say but the manner in which we say it. Tone and pitch are critical in forging a strong bond and establishing good communication between you and your pet.

When talking to your dog, if you institute three different and specific tones—one for commands, one for corrections and one for praise—it will improve the flow of understanding between the two of you.

Here are some tips for how to talk to your dog:
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When Couples Differ on Pet Training Techniques

dog training couples andreaBy Langley Cornwell

When two people who live together decide to add a four-legged family member to the mix, the household dynamics can change dramatically. The main thing that complicates the domestic flow is that the new family member speaks a different language from everyone else in the home. The family oftentimes expects this new member to fit in seamlessly, to be obedient, to know when and where to sit, where he’s supposed eat his CANIDAE dog food and other things. They expect him to immediately understand how to behave in his new set of circumstances without being properly trained.

Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything (cough, cough) but I’ve heard that some couples have different philosophies on how to interact with this new family member. They have a different set of ideas when it comes to training techniques and methods of establishing household rules and boundaries.

Any dog will be anxious when he first arrives in his new home, and he desperately wants to please his new family. Of course he won’t know how to communicate with these strangers at first, but if the people start out giving him muddled or conflicting instructions, his anxiety will be exacerbated. Differing approaches will confuse the dog and disrupt the progress or even derail any chance he has of learning how to cohabitate with his new family harmoniously.

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How to Help Hunting Dog Breeds Enjoy Life without Hunting

hunting morrell revBy Langley Cornwell

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), in 2013, the five most popular dog breeds in the USA were Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Beagles and Bulldogs. The 2014 list has not been released yet, but it’s clear that hunting dogs were among the most popular breed last year, and they have been for many years.

Although I can’t support this supposition with data, I’d bet a majority of those hunting dogs are not used for hunting. Having shared my life with two retrievers in the past, it’s easy to understand why this breed ranks so high (usually number one or two) in popularity. They are wonderful family dogs; friendly, attractive and charming. In fact, one of the reasons hunting dogs make such good family pets is that they are genetically disposed to enjoy doing things with their people. They love any and all activities that involve human-canine bonding time. Even so, the fact remains that retrievers, hound dogs, spaniels and other dogs that belong to the sporting group are hard-wired to hunt.

The question is: can hunting dogs be happy with a life that does not involve hunting?

Of course I think the answer is yes. My retrievers were happy and healthy and lived long, comfortable lives. Dog behaviorists and experts say the same thing, that sporting dogs can absolutely be happy and fulfilled in a life that doesn’t involve actual hunting. Here’s how.
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