Beyond the Bark: Decoding Dog Communication

chatterbox bergesonBy Laurie Darroch

Although dogs are known for their bark as an obvious way to communicate, they have a myriad of other ways they “talk” to us. Dogs share their feelings and needs in their own unique ways. Sometimes you just have to think outside the box to interpret their meanings.

This poem, written from the dog’s point of view, shares the many different ways dogs communicate with the people in their lives.

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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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Clicker Training Your Cat

clicker train martijnBy Julia Williams

Not many people use the words “training” and “cat” in the same sentence. The myth that cats are untrainable is firmly entrenched in society’s mind, right up there with the false belief that all felines are aloof and unloving. The truth is, most cats are perfectly capable of learning, but most people don’t have the patience, the knowledge, or both.

Is it harder to train a cat than a dog? I’m no expert, but I’d say yes because dogs are typically more eager to please us, which makes them more receptive to learning. I doubt anyone could train a cat using only praise as a reward. Treats are the way to get a cat’s attention.

I became interested in clicker training after watching videos of highly trained felines doing basic stuff  like sitting and touching a target with its nose, as well as fun tricks such as the high five, paw shake and hoop jump. “If these kitties can learn, so can you!” I said enthusiastically to my three cats, who didn’t bat an eye and promptly went back to sleep. Apparently they’d need some convincing. Oh, and lots of CANIDAE cat treats. Rule number one: never embark on a cat training expedition without a stockpile of the cat treats your kitty loves.

Next on the list: a clicker. You won’t get far trying to clicker train your cat without one. Although some say you can use a ballpoint pen, the click doesn’t seem loud enough to me to really get their attention. Clickers are inexpensive, though – I paid a whopping $1.99 for mine.
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Basic Facts Dog Owners Should Always Remember

basic facts paolo 2By Langley Cornwell

Life gets busy and can sometimes be overwhelming. There is so much going on in our world, in our neighborhoods and in our households that it’s easy to get caught up in things. Let’s face it – sometimes it takes all of our focus just to get from one task to the next. Even so, your dog is counting on you to be a responsible pet owner.

It’s important to remember that your dog does not understand all of your time restrictions and commitments. He doesn’t understand that you need to work, grocery shop, exercise, socialize, attend classes, cook meals, fold laundry, clean the house, etc. He just knows that he loves you. He also knows, on some level, that he needs mental and physical stimulation as well as quality play time in order to be a happy, well-adjusted pooch. He needs to socialize with you and bond with you. It’s easy to forget this in our chaotic lives but the fact is, our pets need some of our time.

This article is getting back to basics; it’s a friendly reminder of what sharing your life with a dog should look like.

Time
basic facts greeblie
Most dogs only live 10 to 15 years, and it will go by fast. So no matter how hectic things get, carve out a bit of quality time for your dog every day. Ideally, the time of day would be similar from one day to the next, so your dog could joyfully anticipate this special time. That’s ideal but not necessary. What is necessary is that you have one-on-one time, just the two of you, and that your dog gets your undivided attention during that time.

Another consideration under the heading of “time” is this: try not to leave your dog alone for extended periods of time. These days, many dogs are at home alone during their person’s entire work day. Often they’re lonely and bored. This is a tough issue to solve, but try to make some arrangements so your dog does not languish the day away just waiting for your arrival.

Exposure

Just like people, dogs need to mix things up sometimes; they like to visit new places and have new experiences. Even if they seem shy and frightened, ease your pup into new situations so he will learn to be more trusting and confident.

Additionally, dogs like to learn new tricks, especially if it means spending more time with basic facts skycaptain resizedyou. Your dog will do anything to make you happy, so learning new things and then getting praise and perhaps a tasty CANIDAE grain free treat is your dog’s idea of heaven.

Patience

Dogs do not understand our words unless they are taught. They try to do what we want them to, but it’s up to us to learn how to communicate with them. I once lived with a female German shepherd who was (and probably still is) the smartest dog I’ve ever shared my life with. I used to say I didn’t need to train her because she would do anything I asked her to, if she understood my wishes. This dog was amazing and she taught me that it’s all about communication.  Be patient with your dog, and learn to communicate with him/her.

Likewise, don’t get mad when your dog does something wrong. If you catch him in the act, communicate your wishes and then move on. Otherwise, take a deep breath, clean it up, and let it go.

Care

Make sure your dog always has plenty of clean, fresh water and feed him a nutritious diet of premium dog food like CANIDAE. It’s up to you to keep his toenails clipped, his teeth healthy, his ears clean and his fur brushed (see, I told you this article was back to basics). Don’t leave a dog outside in scorching heat or frigid cold. Pay attention to his behavior and seek veterinary care if he begins to act unusual.

When you bring a new dog into your life, you make a lifetime commitment. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded of how basic, yet important, our responsibilities are.

Top photo by Paulo Brandao/Flickr
Middle photo by greeblie/Flickr
Bottom photo by skycaptaintwo/Flickr

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell

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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Five Funny Things Dogs Do to “Help Out”

dogs help herb neufeldBy Laurie Darroch

If you look at the world from a dog’s point of view, their antics begin to make more sense. Dogs are loyal to levels that are often amazing. They are also anxious to be involved and helpful. So, try to be more flexible and open minded in your thinking when you try to figure out their behavior.  According to them, they are just trying to help.

Clean Up

Dogs are great little vacuum cleaners. They are always eager to clean up any bit of spilled food and will sit right under your feet during meal time to vacuum up any dropped bits. They particularly love outdoor eating at a picnic or barbecue. They help keep the ants away by getting to the spilled food first.

Dogs love babies in high chairs who toss food around. That makes them feel extra helpful providing both a child care and clean up service simultaneously. If you spill something with liquid, sauce or cream, dogs are instant mops, lapping up the spill before you even have a chance to clean it up. They often provide this bonus service with a wagging tail.

Often forward thinkers, very eager dogs will quietly walk under the table and put their head on your lap or feet, to catch the food before it reaches the ground. If you happen to put your hand down with something in it and that bit of food falls directly into their mouth, that is even better.

When you are all done eating, they will happily lick off any dirty plates they can reach when you are busy doing something else. They just think you forgot to finish cleaning up, and are happy to chip in and cut down on your work.

Your dog will gladly help you clean out the open bag of CANIDAE Pure Heaven Biscuits you mistakenly left sitting on the coffee table. They want to prevent it from falling on the floor and making a mess that you will have to clean up later.

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