Category Archives: Linda Cole

How to Tell if Your Pet is Irritated with You

pets irritated penny blankenshipBy Linda Cole

When my Siberian Husky Jake wanted to express his irritation, he’d turn his head away from me as if saying, “I can’t hear a word you’re saying.” Then he’d follow up with some Woo Woo Woo’s to make it clear he was unhappy. My cat Meryl was quick to bond with me when he was a kitten. As far as he was concerned, I belonged to him, and if I hurt his feelings, he made it clear he was irritated. He sat with his back to me and ignored me for an hour or so. That was apparently how long it took for him to forgive me. Dogs and cats aren’t vindictive, but they do have ways of showing us when they are irritated.

The Cold Shoulder – This is a sure sign you have a dog or cat with hurt feelings, and it’s not hard to picture your pet sitting like an irritated human with his front legs crossed while tapping one of his back paws in disgust waiting for an apology. You can almost hear the “Don’t talk to me.” It’s a good thing dogs and cats don’t have opposable thumbs. You might get the cold shoulder, but you won’t get a door slammed in your face.

The Stiff Paw and Head Turn Rejection – I take this action as the ultimate “I am so irritated and do not want to cuddle, hand out kisses, or even look at you right now” sign. This is when an upset dog or cat holds out a stiffened leg and blocks you with a paw to keep you from getting too close when you try to be affectionate. In addition to the stiff paw, he turns his head away from you and the message is loud and clear: you have an irritated furry friend. One of my dogs, Keikei, will also give me a kick with her back leg just in case I missed the other two signs.
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Study Says Dogs Do Look Like Their Owners

lookalike dbjulesBy Linda Cole

Have you ever seen a dog that bore a striking resemblance to his human? Perhaps that dog was yours, and the human was you? A new study took a look at the belief that dogs look like their owners, and concluded it’s not a coincidence after all. Many dogs really do resemble their owners, and strangers are able to match owners with their dogs with amazing accuracy, just by looking at their face.

Sadahiko Nakajima, a psychologist from Kwansei Gakuin University in Japan, wanted to find out if people really could match dog owners with their canine friends just by looking at photographs of their faces. He wasn’t the first to conduct this kind of experiment, and his results were similar to what other researchers had discovered. Many dog owners do have a physical resemblance to their dogs.

But Nakajima didn’t stop there. He didn’t understand how complete strangers were able to match owners with their dogs with such an impressive and significant rate that was higher than mere chance. Nakajima recently decided to do another experiment to try and figure out if the resemblance was based on any particular feature on the face. He reasoned there must be something more than luck guiding the people who were looking at the photographs.

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How Did You Pick Your Pet’s Name?

jabbersBy Linda Cole

Picking a name for a pet is a ritual all pet owners go through. Sometimes a name is chosen based on the pet’s personality, or a name suddenly pops into your mind. Famous people, pop culture, cartoon characters and sports figures often have an influence in picking a name. Ultimately, it’s a personal preference when it comes to the psychology behind picking a name for a pet.

One of my cats, Jabbers, got his name because as a kitten he was constantly talking to me. He has lived up to his name and continues to jabber for his CANIDAE cat treats, or when he feels a need to correct one of the dogs and also whenever I call his name. We’ve had some interesting conversations over the years. I just wish I knew what he was really saying to me.

I was curious about how my neighbors and friends picked their pet’s name, so I asked some of them to share their story. Here are a few:

pet names wolfy“Our dog, Wolfy, is a toy Yorkshire Terrier. He has extremely large ears for a Yorkie, so when I sent his picture as a little three month old pup to my boyfriend, he came back with the name Wolf because of ‘my what big ears you have.’ Not named for viciousness, just for big ears. We also have a 17 year old tabby cat. When we first got him, we were told he was a girl, but a week later discovered he was a boy. We named him Carrot because he was very orange.” – Kali Armstrong and Buck Lia

“We named a kitten we rescued from a dumpster Minnie because she was very tiny when we found her. She was only 5 weeks old. We also like Minnie Mouse and Minnie Riperton. She was like both of them rolled into one with her personality, so we thought it was very fitting.” – April Paul

“I found my cat in a garbage bin looking for food. I remembered my last cat and how harsh consonants grab her attention. All of a sudden while looking at her, Kiya popped into my head.” – Shan-Lyn

pet names milou and sherlock“Our dogs are Milou, a Shilo Shepherd, and Sherlock, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. We seem to name all of our animals after literary characters. Milou comes from the French Tintin comic books. We also have a black and white cat named Watson, and a black cat named Hobbs, who (naturally) had a brother named Calvin.” – Sandra Caldwell

“Mickey got his name because his tiny kitten meow was more of a squeak, like a mouse. I chose the name Rocky for my other boy because although he was in bad shape when I rescued him, I could just tell he had a fighting spirit. I decided to name my other rescue kitty Annabelle because she was essentially an orphan, like Little Orphan Annie from the comics.” – Julia Williams

“We named one of our dogs Big Al because we are huge Alabama football fans and the team mascot is an elephant called Big Al. Our Big Al is a three year old rescue dog, a mixed breed from the bully breed family. He was in pretty bad shape when we got him. He had heart worms, a collapsed trachea and other things, but now he’s as fit as can be.” – Langley Cornwell

“Gunner and Eva are three year old German Shepherd siblings. The first time we saw Gunner, half of his body was in the food bag. When he would come out of his crate it was like a shotgun blast – especially during feeding time – so that’s how he bepet names Gunner and Evacame Gunner. For my other dog Eva, I was looking at a picture of Eva Longoria and I thought they had the same big brown eyes. Eva is so beautiful, but she’s very feminine and I just thought she needed an older name like from the 1940s. It’s sweet, it’s beautiful and has pizazz. We also have three rescued cats. Lucky was found by my son in a junkyard. She was really lucky he found her. Now she sleeps all day, and eats, and is very particular (she only likes to drink bottled water). Max got his name from Mad Max and the Thunderdome, because when he was a kitten his favorite thing to do was to run across the room and throw himself against the wall, and then lie down. He’s crazy! Roy is named after a character in the TV series Arrow. The character is sort of an underling who messes with the main character, so Roy got his name because he likes to mess with Mad Max.” – Michelle Allen

What’s your story? How did you pick your pet’s name?

Photos by Linda Cole
Top to bottom: Jabbers, Wolfy; Milou & Sherlock; Gunner & Eva

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Are You Missing Teachable Moments with Your Dog?

By Linda Cole

It’s always easier to see what someone does wrong and miss what they do right. The same is true when it comes to dogs. We train canines so they can learn how we expect them to behave, but so often we miss teachable moments that can reinforce and enhance what we want our dogs to learn. Sometimes distractions can cause you to miss when your dog is being good and pay attention when you suddenly notice he’s doing something that’s unacceptable.

Most dogs want to please their owner, but it’s not always easy for them to understand what we want because we have a tendency to send conflicting messages. Our body language doesn’t always match the words we use when communicating with our furry friends, and many dog owners aren’t as fluent as they could be in the “language” that dogs use. Understanding how to tell what a dog may be thinking helps prevent unnecessary confrontations between humans and dogs. So often, we miss opportunities to teach because we don’t notice obvious and subtle signs our dogs give us.

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What Exactly is a Cur Dog?

By Linda Cole

I doubt there were many dry eyes at the conclusion of the movie “Old Yeller.” Yeller was a Black Mouth Cur played by a Van Nuys shelter dog named Spike, a yellow Lab/Mastiff mix that was rescued from the shelter and trained by Frank and Rudd Weatherwax. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, a cur is a mongrel mutt or crossbred dog. However, like the feist breeds I wrote about recently, cur dogs are uniquely American and played a crucial role in the lives of early rural settlers who developed a hardy hunting dog that helped them tame the wilderness in the South where these dogs originated. Cur breeds are considered the first true American purebreds and have their own distinct hunting style.

Humans learned many centuries ago the value of having a dog around. An early warning bark from roaming domesticated dogs would have been extremely helpful for a man to defend his home and family. Dogs would have been prized hunting companions as well. Since those early years, we’ve developed breeds to do specific jobs – control, manage and protect livestock, guard our homes and families, control vermin, and help put food on the table. For poor farmers, a reliable all-purpose working dog needed to be versatile and able to earn his keep around the farm. A dog wasn’t a luxury and needed to perform his duties well for his owner to justify the cost of food to feed him.

The acknowledgment of cur dogs can be found in historical writings going back to the 1700s. However, there are no recorded documents telling exactly when this type of dog was developed, nor the exact breeds used in their makeup. Curs are a blend of different hunting breeds, hounds and terriers, as well as feist dogs brought to America with immigrants who settled in the South, mainly around the Appalachian Mountains.

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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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