Category Archives: dog behavior

A Day in the Life of Neela, a Desert Dog Living in Baja

neela guest blogHello! I am Neela Bear. A few months ago, Mommy packed up my dog bowls, my blanket, my leashes, my toys, and… oh yeah, a bunch of boxes of her things. She stuffed the car really full. Even the top of my big crate was covered with stuff. She brought along some of my very favorite treats, the CANIDAE PURE Heaven Biscuits with sweet potato and salmon, and gave them to me on the long drive when I was being good. I was very good.

We drove so far. It is really different here in our new home than where we were before. It is hot. I mean really  hot. I have to pant a lot when we are outside. Mommy calls this place the desert. There is no green cool grass here, just brown stuff called sand.

The landscape is covered with prickly plants, and so much sand that is fun to dig in. I tried to chew one of the prickly plants, but it poked my mouth. I was okay, but now if one pokes me I growl at it. Once in a while I still try to eat one.

Sometimes when I go out in the morning, this bird likes to chatter at me from a tall cactus in our yard. It’s called a saguaro, but this one is dead and brown. It doesn’t have any pricklers like the green ones. The big bird sits way up high on it where I can’t reach her. I watch her very carefully, in case she finally decides to come closer for a visit. Mostly she just caws at me really loudly.

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Do Our Pets “Mirror” Aspects of Ourselves?

mirrors jennie faberBy Julia Williams

There is a popular metaphysical concept that goes something like this: every person in our life is a mirror, i.e., they reflect back to us some aspect of our “self” that will help us grow as human beings. The theory is that everyone we meet gives us the opportunity to see who we are with greater clarity, much like holding up a mirror and gazing at our reflection. Further, it’s said that the attributes in others that bug us the most are the areas within our own lives that need the most work.

Whether it’s true or not is anybody’s guess. The thing about a concept like this is that science can’t prove or disprove it, so we can either choose to believe…or not. Personally, I’m inclined to think there’s some truth to the concept.

It got me to thinking. If every person offers this learning experience, this opportunity to really understand who we are, then what about other living beings in our lives – our pets? Many of us are as close to our pets as we are to other humans. It stands to reason that every being we allow into our lives could offer this potential for personal growth. And as with humans, could it be that the pets who are particularly challenging are the ones who offer us the clearest mirror to our own flaws?

Take my cat Rocky, for example. I love him to the moon and back, but he has one habit that annoys me greatly. He is food obsessed, and he thinks nothing of making a grab for whatever is on my plate – while I am in the middle of eating it, no less – or jumping onto the kitchen counter to eat his CANIDAE food before I can finish dishing it into his bowl. (Trust me, it’s impossible to put cat food in a dish with his fluffy face in the way). It would seem that he has no control over these food-related urges.
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Do Dogs Like Being Petted by Strangers?

petting tony fischerBy Linda Cole

Touch is an important aspect in our relationship with dogs. My dog, Keikei, enjoys a good massage and one of her sweet spots is at the base of her tail. Most dogs enjoy having this area petted, but what relaxes her completely is when I lay my hand on one of her ears and slowly and gently move my hand down her ear and along the side of her face. This is not something she allows anyone else to do. We can usually get away with touching areas on our own dogs that someone unfamiliar to the dog couldn’t.

The bond we share with our dogs is an emotional tie. It’s an investment of trust earned through positive interactions, understanding and commitment. It’s not an accident when your dog puts his paw on your leg, jumps up to greet you, or wants to cuddle next to you. Touch is an important part of the bond. My dog likes to back up to my legs, especially when I’m sitting outside with him. He faces away from me and slowly backs up until he’s touching me, then he sits down and leans on my legs. It’s his way of saying he feels safe and comfortable with me. Like us, dogs are social creatures and enjoy a gentle touch from the person they share a bond with.

A team of German researchers wanted to understand the emotional response dogs have when petted by an unfamiliar person. They enlisted the help of 28 dogs and strapped a heart monitor on each one to record their heart rate. The average age of the dogs was about five years. They were a mixture of different breeds, all were privately owned pets, and some had gone through obedience training while others had not. Each dog was tested individually in an office-like setting. The dog was in the room with his owner and an unfamiliar person. While the stranger interacted with the dog and touched him in nine different ways, his owner paid no attention to what was going on.

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Urban Dog Etiquette: Living with Dogs in a Metropolitan Area

urban rodriguezBy Langley Cornwell

My cousin and her family live in New York City with a completely spoiled Lab; they are crazy about their dog and treat her like a third child. The dog gets the best of everything including her own bedroom, visits to the doggie spa and premium quality CANIDAE Grain Free PURE dog food. Having always lived in a more suburban area, I couldn’t imagine how they properly managed life with a large dog in the heart of the Big Apple. However, if you’ve ever spent time in congested urban areas, you know that tight living space does not lessen the desire for canine companionship. So my cousin, and many others, meets the challenges of living with dogs in highly populated areas with grace and smarts. Here are some basic etiquette rules they follow.

Reinforce Basic Commands

At a minimum, city dogs must follow a number of basic commands promptly and precisely in order to get around safely. Of special importance are the come, sit/stay, heel and leave it commands. In a bustling city, there are many distractions that can be hazardous to your dog’s safety if she’s not responsive to commands. Waiting for the stoplight to change is much easier and safer when your pooch is calmly in a sit/stay by your side.

Pets may get nervous when confronted with rambunctious children, loud noises, blaring car horns, etc. The heel and leave it commands are especially helpful in preventing your pet from chasing bicycles, in-line skaters or skateboarders. At any time, you may be thrust into situations that demand swift and thorough control of your dog to prevent problems. A firm grasp of basic commands is necessary for city-dwelling dogs.
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How to Stop Dogs from Licking Their Wounds

dog wound Ewen RobertsBy Langley Cornwell

Some people believe an old wives tale that it’s okay for a dog to lick his wound because his saliva has antibacterial abilities. Because of this, they let their pet tend to their own cut or puncture and then wonder why the wound is getting worse instead of better. It is true that a canine’s saliva has trace amounts of antibacterial properties, but not enough to heal a wound. In fact, incessant licking will impede the natural healing process and even further damage a pet’s wound.

The reason a dog licks his wound in the first place is because it temporarily blocks the pain receptors. It’s like when you bonk your head and then rub it. At first the rubbing makes the localized pain—where you hit your head—feel better. That’s what licking does.

The act of licking wounds traces back to domesticated dog’s ancestors. Wild and feral dogs licked their wounds to clean out any debris. Additionally, as mentioned, dog saliva does have a slight antibacterial benefit. But wild dogs were so busy avoiding predators and feeding the pack that they weren’t able to lick their wound endlessly. Domesticated dogs, on the other hand, have plenty of time on their hands (paws?). If left to their own devices, they could spend all day licking and fussing over a wound. Thus starts a cycle; licking makes the wound worse so the dog licks more, which makes the wound worse, which prompts more licking. You get the point.

Because of this unhelpful and perhaps harmful cycle, it’s important to block your dog’s access to his wound. Here are a few suggestions.
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Why are Some Dogs Afraid of Thunder and Lightning?

thunderstorm edd princeBy Linda Cole

When I was a kid, we had a Manchester Terrier who would race to the front door and bark during severe thunderstorms. She’d bark and race over to us and then back to the door as if she thought someone was knocking. Distant thunder didn’t bother her, but loud and close thunder did. Our two other dogs would sleep right through a thunderstorm. Why does thunder and lightning scare some dogs and not others?

Lightning is formed when ice and water particles inside a cloud are compressed by warm air currents. Friction from the quickly moving currents causes electrical charges to form within the cloud. Negative charges build up at the bottom of the cloud and positive ones go to the top. When there’s a large buildup of negative charge, a feeler is sent towards the ground where it meets up with a positive streamer reaching up from the ground and causes a lightning strike. The negative charge descends rapidly, heating the air surrounding it to around 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit and creating a shock wave – thunder.

A low pressure is when the atmospheric (barometric) pressure is lower than the surrounding area. Lows produce snow, rain, wind, humidity, thunderstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes. A change in barometric pressure can bother some dogs more than others, especially arthritic pets that can experience more pain and stiffness in their joints during storms. Lightning is a natural source of nitrogen oxides, and dogs that are sensitive to storms may be able to smell these odors from the atmosphere as well as the ozone.

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