A seemingly simple solution to a problem can have traumatic, unintended consequences. Consider tethering. A tether is a rope, leash, or chain used to restrict the movement of a dog. Some people believe it controls and tames a misbehaving pet.
It appears Rudyard Kipling may have been correct when he suggested cats walk by themselves and don’t need us to feel secure.
A study released by the University of Lincoln concluded that cats, unlike dogs, do not need humans to feel safe, preferring to look after themselves.
Earlier research had suggested cats show signs of separation anxiety when left alone by their owners, in the same way dogs do, but the results of this study found they are much more independent than canine companions – and what we had interpreted as separation anxiety might actually be signs of frustration. Continue reading “Do Cats Need Us? by Ed Boks”
A study conducted jointly from Monash University in Australia and Pedigree Petfoods found that the bond between a human and a dog may actually cause their heartbeats to sync with one another.
The researchers connected three pairs of dogs and their owners to heart rate monitors. After separating the dogs from their owners for a period of time they brought the pairs together again and observed their heartbeats. They found that within a minute both heartbeats dropped significantly and “even appeared to mirror each other.” Continue reading “Know when the human/dog bond can bite you in the face by Ed Boks”
The New York Times recently ran a piece by Jessica Pierce asking the provocative question “Is your pet lonely and bored?” Today there are as many pets in the United States as there are people; and in most homes pets are family — and not just dogs and cats, but rabbits, rats, bearded dragons and snakes.
According to many veterinarians and psychologists this phenomenon is evidence of a deepening “human-animal bond.” Scientists studying animal cognition and emotion are continually peeling back the mysteries of animal minds, revealing an incredible and often surprising richness in the thoughts and feelings of other creatures. Continue reading “Is your pet suffering? by Ed Boks”
In my last blog I discussed what we can learn from the ant regarding the benefits of collaboration and cooperation in the development of society.
Today I want to examine what we can learn from the snail regarding the detriments of social isolation.
In a recent article in the Independent, Sarah Dalesman explains that while stress negatively impacts the cognitive ability of numerous species, including their ability to learn and remember, the problems arising from stress are personal, and blanket statements regarding species may be misguided. Like humans, Dalesman explains that “not all individuals of a particular species are equally good at cognitive tasks to begin with, and they respond to the effects of stress in different ways.” Continue reading “Consider the snail by Ed Boks”
Do you sometimes wonder if your dog suffers from ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactive disorder)? Although this term is often bandied about, hyperactivity is actually very rare in canines.
According to Clinician’s Brief, a publication of the North American Veterinary Conference (NAVC), “hyperactivity” is defined as “over-activity, attention deficits, impulsivity, high testing physiologic parameters with a paradoxical calming response to amphetamines.” Continue reading “Does your dog suffer from ADHD? by Ed Boks”
The sun is shining, the temps are rising, and it’s time to put on our hiking boots and appreciate the beautiful outdoors. But don’t head out without your four-legged friend; they’re itching to enjoy the spring air with you!
Outdoor opportunities you can enjoy with your dog abound. When taking Fido with you to explore, be aware of trail etiquette, safety factors and leash laws.
Most communities require dogs to be on a leash not to exceed six feet in length. The leash law keeps your dog safe from run-ins with wildlife and vegetation. In addition, it helps others feel safe on the trail who may not know that your dog is friendly or, worse yet, may have an unfriendly or timid dog with them.
If your dog isn’t trained to walk calmly and politely on a leash—don’t leave them at home; practice makes perfect! There are many techniques to teach your dog “loose leash” walking. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
• The more exercise a dog gets, the easier leash training will be.
• Positively reinforce your dog walking close to you by being generous with high value rewards (like good treats).
• Play red light/green light: If the dog begins to pull, stop and wait. If they stop and loosen up, reward with a treat and then proceed.
• Before your dog gets to the end of the leash to pull, lower your leash and move backward a step or two. Reward your dog when he comes back to you. If repeated enough times, dogs will learn that any tension on the leash will only delay them from getting to what they want.
I mentioned run-ins with defensive wildlife and one concern on nearly every pet owner’s mind when they put on their hiking boots is the rattlesnakes. Rattlesnakes are particularly active in the springtime and it’s important to be attentive.
There are some helpful precautions you can take for your four-legged hiking buddy, one of which is a rattlesnake vaccine. While the canine rattlesnake vaccine won’t make your pet immune to all effects of a rattlesnake’s venom, it can give you extra time to seek medical attention for your dog and may lessen the need for antivenin. That’s a big benefit, for your pet and your pocketbook. Call your veterinarian to learn more about the canine rattlesnake vaccine.
Another safety measure you can take is rattlesnake avoidance training. Rattlesnake avoidance trains your dog to recognize and avoid the sight, smell and sound of a rattlesnake, which can be a lifesaving skill that can protect not only your dog but for you as well. Ask your local Pet Emergency Hospital if they know who is offering a community class on Rattlesnake Avoidance Training.
Be sure to also keep the temperatures in mind and provide plenty of water for your dog.
Are you having trouble sticking to your new year’s resolution to exercise more? Maybe you need a good physical trainer to help meet your fitness goals. Have you considered your best friend? Research shows that dogs are actually nature’s perfect personal trainers. Dogs are naturally loyal, hardworking, energetic and enthusiastic…basically the perfect work-out partner. And, unlike human workout partners who may skip an exercise session because of appointments, extra chores or bad weather, dogs never give you an excuse to skip exercising.
There are moments on this job that make all the heartbreak and disappointment worthwhile. Recently Sandy Nelson, who had adopted one of our shelter animals a few months ago, called me to say, “Thank you for believing Xena (pronounced Zeena) deserved a chance to live.” That was one of those moments.
When I first arrived at the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) in July, I found Xena on the euthanasia list. Alone in her kennel, surrounded by barking dogs and abandoned by her family, she was understandably frightened. She responded to her new surroundings the only way she knew how – by demonstrating a behavior known as “fear-based aggression,” which is not uncommon in shelter dogs when they first arrive.
Although we knew she was acting out her fear, her behavior was so fearsome that our most experienced animal handlers were unable to handle her. One of them admitted that, in all his years at YHS, Xena was the only dog that actually scared him. By the time I arrived that first week in July, it had already been determined that there was no chance Xena would ever be adopted. She was marked for euthanasia.
Public safety is the primary focus when evaluating dogs for adoption. With nearly 30 years experience in animal control and welfare, I understand better than most that there are dogs who are dangerously aggressive – dogs who should never be adopted out. Was Xena such a dog?
Imagine what must go on in the mind of a dog abandoned by her guardian. You wake up as you do every morning at the foot of your master’s bed – but tonight you inexplicably find yourself alone in a cold concrete cell surrounded by excited barking dogs and strange people. Wouldn’t you lash out in fear to defend yourself?
How do you discern a truly dangerous dog from an estranged pet?
Fortunately for Xena, renowned Malibu-based dog trainer and behaviorist Robert Cabral came to the rescue. Waiving his $250 per hour fee and all the expenses he incurred from driving himself and his two dogs, Silly and Goofy, to Prescott, he came to help staff and volunteers learn his life-saving techniques.
Cabral is not your typical dog trainer. His focus is not training beloved pets how to sit and stay in your backyard. His expertise is rehabilitating behaviorally challenged shelter dogs. He has been called upon to rehabilitate dogs adjudicated as “vicious” by city magistrates – dogs most of us wouldn’t want to be in the same town with, much less on the same leash.
Believing that even these dogs deserve a chance at life is the essence of the no-kill ethic. These dogs do not come by this behavior naturally; they are trained directly or through neglect to be aggressive. The no-kill ethic asserts that every shelter animal deserves a chance at life. That means YHS will strive to treat animals in need of medical care as well as animals in need of behavioral rehabilitation in the effort to find each animal a loving home.
It was this ethic that saved Xena. The no-kill ethic created a way for the Nelsons and Xena to meet and fall in love. Today, Xena is in dog obedience classes, she happily sits for treats and she devotedly follows the Nelsons around their beautiful ranch in Chino Valley.
Cabral has a slogan: “You can’t save all the dogs in the world, but you can save one. Join the revolution.” Xena is one of many dogs benefiting from Cabral’s life-saving training. YHS staff applied what we learned and Xena responded. She overcame her fear, was removed from the euthanasia list and was adopted by the Nelsons in July.
Isn’t it time you joined the life-saving revolution? Adopt a shelter animal today.