Category Archives: Linda Cole

New Study Finds Dogs Want to Earn Their Treats

dogs earn nickBy Linda Cole

Satisfaction is that good feeling you get after finding a solution to a difficult problem. We all have “eureka moments” when all of the pieces fall into place, allowing us to finally figure something out. According to new research, dogs also have eureka moments. Your dog’s favorite treat is the “paycheck” that canines prize – along with the opportunity to earn it. The treat is the motivating factor, but working for it is just as important to canines. It seems that humans are not the only species to get satisfaction and pleasure from completing a challenging task.

Researchers in Sweden tested 12 Beagles paired up into six groups. Six different pieces of equipment were introduced to the dogs. When used correctly, each piece made a distinctive noise to indicate when the task was completed. An example of equipment used included playing a key on a toy piano, pressing a paddle lever that rang a bell, and pushing a plastic box off a stack that made a noise when it hit the floor. In each pair of dogs, one was an experimental dog and the other one was a control dog.

After all 12 dogs were trained, they were taken to a testing area where the equipment was set up. At the entrance was a holding area where each dog waited to perform their specific task. An assistant led him to the starting arena, then turned their back and gave no interaction or instructions to the dog.

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Can Dogs and Cats See Things We Can’t?

dogs see Perry 2By Linda Cole

Scientists have known for decades that some mammals, bees, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish are capable of seeing ultraviolet light. A new study published earlier this year has added dogs and cats to the list of animals that can see UV light. This means that dogs and cats can see things we can’t, which might explain why your pet stares at something that’s invisible to you.

On the color spectrum, the visible light we can see includes red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. Ultraviolet light sits above violet, and is invisible to us because the lenses in our eyes block out ultraviolet wavelengths that can be harmful. UV light has shorter wavelengths than the visible light we can see.

Before this study came out, scientists believed dogs and cats also had protective lenses on their eyes that would filter out UV light, but they don’t. They have UV transparent lenses which allow the light to enter into the retina where it’s converted into nerve signals, sent to the brain and processed by the visual system. In addition to dogs and cats, rodents, hedgehogs, ferrets and okapis (an African animal related to giraffes) were all added to the list of animals with transparent lens. And the amount of UV light they can detect is significant.

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Life Lessons for Puppies

life lessons freewineBy Linda Cole

The learning process begins the minute we are born, and it’s the same with puppies. Behaviors that pups are allowed to develop – both good and bad – will follow them into adulthood, and it’s much easier to deal with behavioral issues at a young age. Our job is to bond with and love a puppy, but we are also responsible for discipline and teaching him how we want him to behave. Even dogs have life experiences that mold their perspective and attitude about their environment, people and events they will encounter. The life lessons a puppy should learn will follow him into adulthood and create a more stable and self confident dog who is better equipped to handle whatever life throws his way.

Socialization

Behavioral issues in adult dogs are often rooted in lessons not learned at an early age. If a puppy isn’t given adequate opportunity to learn how to react to different experiences, he will have a harder time discerning what is safe and what isn’t. An aggressive or anxious response based in fear is best addressed at a young age. Puppies learn through positive and negative experiences how to react to different situations. When a pup is allowed to develop behavior that won’t be acceptable when he’s older, like jumping up on people or protecting his food, bad habits left unchecked will likely become a lifelong issue and harder to correct when he’s older.

Pups should be introduced to people of all ages, different sounds, sights, and situations when they are between the age of 6-14 weeks. This is when a puppy can best develop his own perception of his world and learn how to react appropriately.

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What Do Dogs Think About?

dogs_think_jeffreywBy Linda Cole

Ivan Pavlov, a Russian scientist, won the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1904 for his work on the digestive system of mammals. He is famous for his revelation in classical conditioning. Pavlov discovered by accident that the dogs in his lab had learned to associate food with his lab assistants. They would salivate when any of the assistants entered the room whether they had food or not. It was a response to a stimuli and something the dogs learned on their own. Classical conditioning was the first step in beginning to understand how dogs think.

From the beginning of the 1900s up to the 1960s, scientists focused on dog behavior, but they lost interest and didn’t resume studying canines until the beginning of the 21st century. For the last 14 years, scientists have found a renewed interest in canine research to better understand a dog’s body language – including subtle signs they use, how they think, how they learn, the emotions they feel, how they view their world, and what they like. As we learn more about why dogs behave in certain ways, we have a better understanding of the canine mind and what dogs think about.

Of course, the answer to the question of what dogs think about is as complex as it is in determining what humans think about. We don’t have the ability to get inside the mind of another person to understand precisely what’s going on in their mind, nor can you really understand what your dog is thinking about when he’s staring at you. I know from personal experience how good some dogs are at problem solving, especially if they are trying to figure out a way to escape from their enclosure or steal food behind your back.

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How Dogs React to Magic Tricks

dog magic darkuncleBy Linda Cole

“Object permanence” is a term created by Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget. It’s the ability to understand that an object continues to exist even if it disappears. It may be gone from view, but we know it still exits even though we can’t see, touch, smell or hear it. This concept is an important development of awareness that human babies learn at around 18-24 months.

Researchers have discovered that dogs also understand the concept of object permanence, and it occurs earlier in canines than it does in humans. Puppies can understand the concept as early as 5 weeks.  It’s easiest to see when you watch how dogs react to magic tricks.

Object permanence is not an ability that humans or dogs are born with. It’s a learned perception of awareness that comes from processing the existence of a stimulus while it is present. One summer a chipmunk set up an underground home inside my dog pen. I wasn’t aware of it, but noticed that my dog, Dozer, kept nosing around in one corner of the pen. It was obvious a smell had his interest, but he acted more curious than anything else. That is, until he caught sight of the chipmunk scurrying into his hole. Once he saw the critter disappear into the hole, his terrier heritage kicked in. Even though he couldn’t see the chipmunk, he knew it was in that hole. I’m sure it was Dozer’s persistent digging that caused the chipmunk to move his home to a safer location.

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The Five Most Common Injuries in Dogs

dog_injuries_siniBy Linda Cole

Dogs love chasing each other, playing fetch or racing around at full speed, twisting and turning as they run. Play is a good way for dogs to get rid of excess energy, but it’s also how they can pick up an injury. Some of the most common injuries can sideline your pet, or at least slow him down a bit.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissues are the tendons, muscles and ligaments. Common soft tissue injuries are sprains and strains. Dogs can slip on snow or ice or step in a hole while running. Quick turns or stops, leaping or jumping off or over something can pull a muscle, stretch a tendon or tear a ligament. Just jumping off the couch or bed can cause an injury. We may think of dogs as being athletic and surefooted, but accidents happen in the blink of an eye. Whenever your dog is racing around the yard chasing a ball or another dog, or training for a dog sport, there’s always the potential for a soft tissue injury.

If you notice your pet limping, that’s a sure sign something is wrong. It could be nothing more than a rock caught between his toes or paw pads, but it could also be a soft tissue injury. If you’ve checked his feet and don’t find any cuts or anything else that could be causing him to limp, it’s best to have your vet check him out. Many strains and sprains are minor and can be cared for by limiting his activity, but some can be serious and require medical attention.

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