By Langley Cornwell
We had a major wake-up call last week. According to our normal routine, we let our dogs out in the backyard right before bedtime so they could do their business before we all tuck in for the night. There was a loud commotion and when we called the dogs back in, our male had blood on his muzzle. I washed him off while my husband went looking for the victim, which turned out to be an unfortunate possum. Needless to say, nobody got to bed on time that night.
I knew Al had a strong prey drive, but I didn’t realize the full extent of his instinct. As responsible pet owners, we began to research the issue and learned that there are five sequential steps to the standard prey drive: the search, the eye stalk, the chase, the grab bite, and the kill bite. Sadly, our pup had quickly escalated through all five steps.
A strong prey drive is a natural instinct for dogs because they are predators and hunters. Even so, not all dog breeds feel each stage of their prey drive with the same power. For example, Beagles naturally have a strong desire to search, Border Collies are known for intense eye stalking, and Greyhounds have a powerful draw to chase. Prey drive is a scent driven instinct, and all dogs primarily experience the world through their noses.
In the book Hands on Dog Training, Gloria Post offers suggestions and training techniques to help distract your dog and help him ignore the stimulus that ignites his prey drive. Additionally, she offers substitutes that fulfill your dog’s need to chase prey. Post asserts that it’s incorrect to discipline your dog when you know he is about to give chase. Instead you should learn ways to redirect his attention.
By Langley Cornwell
A friend of mine has a long-haired Chihuahua mix named Mimi, and the two are inseparable; this dog goes everywhere with her. Most of the time, Mimi is a friendly bundle of personality, happy to greet anybody who wants to say hello. But when another dog is in the vicinity, Mimi goes crazy. She challenges every dog that crosses her path.
I have medium-sized dogs and one of mine acts the same way, so I’m not saying aggressive behavior towards other dogs is a size-specific issue. However, we’ve all heard of fearless small dogs that challenge large-breed dogs with reckless abandon. What causes this type of behavior?
The majority of experts believe this small-dog attitude is a combined result of nurture and nature. In other words, Mimi and other fearless small dogs have learned this behavior through interactions with their humans and the outside world.
People relate to small breed dogs differently than they relate to larger dogs. For example, when my friend walks Mimi and she barks or show dominance towards another dog, the other dog owner may giggle or say something like “that’s cute.” I can guarantee that if the aggressive, barking dog was a larger breed, say a German Shepherd or a Rottweiler, nobody would be smiling.
By Langley Cornwell
Training your dog to follow your commands promptly and accurately can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a very daunting task. It takes loads of patience and love, but it’s worth it. Responding to commands quickly helps strengthen a good relationship between you and your pet because you can take your dog more places and do more with her. Furthermore, this ability helps to keep your pet safer because you can direct her behavior and help keep her out of trouble.
This also means that she can be allowed to have a little more freedom because you can trust that she will obey you promptly when you give her a command. The problem is that sometimes, dogs can be very stubborn and not follow your commands as fast as you would like. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help get your dog to respond quicker to your commands.
When teaching your dog commands, you want to keep it as simple as possible. For example, instead of saying “come here” just say “come.” You should also remember that dogs don’t hear words the way we do, so your body language is very important. If you’re not giving her your full attention and expressing your commands with your body language as well as your words, she won’t give you her full attention.
By Linda Cole
I love reading stories highlighting the exceptional abilities of dogs, especially when it comes to using their extraordinary sense of smell in wildlife conservation. When a dog’s nose is used to aid endangered or threatened apex predators, that helps preserve the natural balance in an ecosystem. Researchers have discovered that the super nose of a two year old Beagle named Elvis can help scientists better understand the polar bear reproductive cycle.
The idea of training a dog to detect if a polar bear is pregnant began with one of the scientists at the Cincinnati Zoo’s Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW), after he read about studies using dogs to sniff out cancer. No one knew if using a canine to detect polar bear pregnancies was possible, but it was worth trying because of the difficulty zoo keepers had confirming it on their own.
Polar bears are listed on the Endangered Species list as threatened because of loss of habitat and climate change. If a bear is suspected of being pregnant, zoo officials begin to prepare for the birthing process whether she’s pregnant or not. They want to do everything they can towards the survival and care of cubs born at their facilities. Males need to be separated from the female, dens need to be prepared with proper bedding, video cameras are set up to monitor what’s going on, and staff and volunteers are needed around the clock. Few cubs are born to polar bears living in zoos, and many cubs born in the wild don’t survive.
By Langley Cornwell
Our dog Frosty acts like every stuffed toy that comes into our home is on a dark mission from the underworld, and only she has the knowledge and the skills to protect us from its evil plan. Since we know how she acts towards plush dog toys, we don’t buy them anymore. But if a well-meaning friend brings her one as a gift, she gets a serious, determined look on her face and takes the stuffed toy to a quiet corner where she commences tearing it into tiny shreds.
It doesn’t matter if the toy has a squeaker or not, whether it’s big or small, whether it’s filled with pellets or foam; that thing is coming apart instantly. Imagine picking out a toy for a friend’s dog, as a holiday or birthday gift perhaps, and taking it over to their house. You proudly present the toy to their dog and it’s turned into a pile of rubble within seconds. How would you feel? Yeah, not good.
We wanted to teach her how to be gentle with toys. I’d like for both Frosty and our other dog Al to have a few stuffed items they could snuggle with if we’re not home. Furthermore, I don’t like the thought of her being so destructive. Even though she’s usually a gentle, sweet pup, I don’t like seeing that side of her. So we set out to train our dogs to be gentle with toys. Here is an outline of our basic game plan:
By Laurie Darroch
Your dog may need more than just a simple collar and leash to wear for a walk or an outing. They may need to use a harness as well. A harness helps with control and safety issues. Take these five reasons into consideration when you are deciding whether or not to purchase a harness for your dog.
Size of the Dog
Large or muscular dogs can be very strong. A harness can give you more control with your dog when you are out and about, even if your dog is not fully trained in good leash behavior.
Some smaller dog breeds may be more delicate and prone to injury. Wearing a harness disperses the pressure from one smaller area on the neck, to the back and the body. It spreads the stress over a larger surface area.