This is really beautiful - so grateful we have people like this, both overseas and here in SA that do this amazing work, and how good to have such a happy ending - it is not always this way.
Some New Scientific Data Specific tail wags provide information about dogs’ emotional state.
Science is always providing new information that allows us to interpret the behaviors of dogs, or to reinterpret behaviors which we thought we understood very well-such as the meaning of a dog's tail wagging.
Perhaps the most common misinterpretation of dogs is the myth that a dog wagging its tail is happy and friendly. While some wags are indeed associated with happiness, others can meanfear, insecurity, a social challenge or even a warning that if you approach, you are apt to be bitten.
In some ways, tail wagging serves the same communication functions as a human smile, a polite greeting or a nod of recognition. Smiles are social signals and are thus reserved mostly for situations where somebody is around to see them. For dogs, the wag seems to have the same properties.
Since tail wagging is meant as signal a dog will only wag its tail when other living beings are around-e.g. a person, another dog, a cat, a horse or perhaps a ball of lint that is moved by a breeze and might seem alive. When the dog is by itself, it will not give its typical tail wags, in the same way people do not talk to walls.
Like any other language, tail wags have a vocabulary and grammar that needs to be understood. Up to now scientists focused on two major sources of information, namely the tail's pattern of movement and its position. However new data adds a third important dimension tounderstanding the language of the canine tail.
Movement is a very important aspect of the signal. Dogs' eyes are much more sensitive to movement than they are to details or colors, so a moving tail is very visible to other dogs. Evolution has made tails even more visible, such as tails with a light or dark tip, a lighter underside or a bushy shape.
The tail's position-specifically, the height at which it is held-can be considered a sort of emotional meter. A middle height suggests the dog is relaxed. If the tail is held horizontally, the dog is attentive and alert. As the tail position moves further up, it is a sign the dog is becoming more threatening, with a vertical tail being a clearly dominant signal meaning, "I'm boss around here," or even a warning, "Back off or suffer the consequences."
As the tail position drops lower, it is a sign the dog is becoming more submissive, is worried or feels poorly. The extreme expression is the tail tucked under the body, which is a sign of fear, meaning, "Please don't hurt me."
Just as there are different dialects to a human language, such as a southern drawl or a New England twang, there are also dialects in dogs' tail language. Different breeds carry their tails at different heights, from the natural nearly vertical position common to Beagles and many Terriers to the low-slung tails of Greyhounds and Whippets. All positions should be read relative to the average position where the individual dog normally holds it tail.
Movements give additional meaning to the signals. The speed of the wag indicates how excited the dog is. Meanwhile, the breadth of each tail sweep reveals whether the dog's emotional state is positive or negative, independent from the level of excitement.
As a result, there are many combinations, including the following common tail movements:
● A slight wag-with each swing of only small breadth-is usually seen during greetings as a tentative "Hello there," or a hopeful "I'm here."
● A broad wag is friendly; "I am not challenging or threatening you." This can also mean, "I'm pleased," which is the closest to the popular concept of the happiness wag, especially if the tail seems to drag the hips with it.
● A slow wag with tail at 'half-mast' is less social than most other tail signals. Generally speaking, slow wags with the tail in neither a particularly dominant (high) nor a submissive (low) position are signs of insecurity.
● Tiny, high-speed movements that give the impression of the tail vibrating are signs the dog is about to do something-usually run or fight usually. If the tail is held high while vibrating, it is most likely an active threat.
We can now add another newly discovered, feature of dog tail language that may surprise attentive pet owners as much as it surprised scientists like me. It now appears that when dogs feel generally positive about something or someone, their tails wag more to the right side of their rear ends, and when they have negative feelings, their tail wagging is biasedto the left.
Giorgio Vallortigara, a neuroscientist at the University of Trieste in Italy, and two veterinarians, Angelo Quaranta and Marcello Siniscalchi, at the University of Bari published a paper describing this phenomenon in the journal Current Biology. The researchers recruited 30 family pets.... read more
Published on December 4, 2011 by Stanley Coren, Ph.D., F.R.S.C. in Canine Corner
"This is a great article that talks not only about not expecting your dog to do something it has not been taught, but why dogs sometimes do not do what they normally do when we ask them too - brings greater understanding for us humans into our dogs behaviour, or lack of same"
“He knows what I’m telling him, he just chooses not to do it.” I beg to differ, if your dog is not doing what is asked, there is probably a reasonable explanation for it. Such as, he doesn’t know what you’re asking of him, or it hasn’t been strongly reinforced enough in the past that the dog understands that it’s the best option, or you’ve given him mixed signals and haven’t made it clear to him what is being expected of him.
Dogs do not misbehave to be stubborn or spiteful; they often don’t comply because they either do not understand what is being of asked of them, the reinforcement isn’t high enough, or something else is going on to cause them not to comply. Here are some questions to ask when your dog doesn’t listen:
How is he feeling?
Be sure your dog is healthy. One of the first signs your dog isn’t feeling well is that he won’t be his “normal” self, and may not listen to cues that in the past were never an issue.
Example: You tell your dog to sit and he continues to stand and stare at you. Maybe he’ll look away, lick his lips, pant, yawn, or attempt to sit but isn’t successful. Possible Reasons for this: He could be sore; muscle soreness, paw, hip, spine etc…, maybe his anal sacs are compacted, or maybe something internally is going on that is causing him discomfort.
What is the environment like?
Are you asking for behaviors in a new environment? Are there other dogs in the area? Are there unfamiliar people near by?
When a dog feels unsafe or uncomfortable, they tend to be more concerned about their safety and well-being than complying to what’s being asked of them. By adding distance between your dog and potentially scary things in his environment, you’ll increase your dog’s ability to perform the tasks that are being asked of him.
Decrease the level of difficulty of the task you’re asking of your dog until he feels more comfortable. Create positive associations in new environments, by pairing the experience with high-value reinforcements and asking achievable, simple tasks.
Does he REALLY understand what you’re asking?
Maybe you think he knows, but he actually doesn’t. Be sure as you’re teaching new behaviors, or increasing the criteria of existing behaviors, that it’s being done in small steps. People often lump big steps together, rather than breaking them down into small parts. Be sure to master one level before going onto the next. Use what is reinforcing to your DOG when teaching behaviors so that your dog is more likely to offer those behaviors in the future.
Example: You may enjoy petting your dog, ....read more
TO SAVE A BREED Robyn Moll (BVSc II)
(This was sent to me and apparently was featured in Community Engagement Newsletter – Faculty of Veterinary Science, but I have been unable to find the link)
When one says the word ‘pit bull’, one can expect a variety of reactions. Mostly people simply assume that one is referring to vicious, babykiller beasts that are often wrongly labelled in the news.
In collaboration with the Faculty of Veterinary Science and Underdogs South Africa Rehabilitation Centre, the CPE 400 Community Engagement group decided to focus its attention on dispelling the prejudice regarding the American pit bull terrier (APBT).
After months of planning and organisation, the project group held a pit bull and dog fighting awareness talk at the Onderstepoort Campus. Veterinary science students, lecturers and other representatives of animal welfare and the veterinary profession joined them in listening to the talk presented by Underdogs South Africa. Response to the advertised talk was overwhelming, indicating the largely professional interest in the issue. The topics, including the history of the breed, the realities of dog fighting in South Africa, how to recognise the injuries of fighting dogs and how to go about reporting dog fighting, were informative and well received. After the talk, two short demonstrations were given to display the APBT’s use in the South African Police Service to sniff out drugs, and a pit bull pulled a truck to demonstrate its unique strength and desire to work.
Audience members were then given the chance to interact with the dogs and to see the true nature of this strong, devoted and loving breed. The day’s events turned out to be a huge success, generating a fair amount of interest and positive feedback from those veterinary students who attended the talk and have had very little exposure to the breed.
As an added aspect of the project, the students invited a group of Grade 9 and 10 learners from Hoërskool Akasia to join them for their pit bull talk. On the morning of the talk, they were also given a detailed tour of the Onderstepoort Campus, which included a tour of the Onderstepoort Veterinary Animal Hospital and the beagles of the Onderstepoort Teaching Animal Unit.
The project had an impact on the Underdogs South Africa Rehabilitation Centre, the Faculty and learners alike. Underdogs South Africa relies on building awareness and educating people who can help their ause. The opportunity to educate future veterinarians was thus invaluable to the organisation.
Through the project, the project group was also able to donate building materials to Underdogs South Africa that will be used to build kennels to house the dogs rescued from the dog fighting industry. Before this talk, the group members were both ignorant and fearful of pit bulls. However, they have come to realise what devoted and beautiful animals they are. As veterinarians, it is important to understand those animals that man fears, and the students now feel far better equipped to deal with the abused pit bull that may one day walk through their doors.
Finally, seeing the enthusiasm of the high school learners who had never before considered veterinary science as a profession was certainly the cherry on the top of a very successful day. The opportunity to engage with the community and to share some of the knowledge and skills that the students have gained at Onderstepoort served as a very refreshing reminder of the real joy of their proposed career. The project was implemented by Liezle Crous, Debbie van Dyk, Nadia de Beer, Ashleigh Knowles, Jade Clark and Robyn Moll.
Courtesy of Mari' Heyl
Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels. I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her.
I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn't be afraid. As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn't want her to know that I hadn't been walked today. Sometimes the overworked shelter keepers get too busy and I didn't want her to think poorly of them.
As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn't feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone's life.
She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship. A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well.
Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms.
I would promise to keep her safe.
I would promise to always be by her side.
I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes.
I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven't walked the corridors. So many more to be saved. At least I could save one.
Gene For Day Blindness In Dachshunds Found
A PhD project by Anne Caroline Wiik has discovered the genetic cause of day blindness or "cone-rod dystrophy” in the wire-haired dachshund. The disease was discovered in two litter mates in 1999 and has since been studied in both clinical and genetic trials in offspring of these.
In her thesis, Anne Caroline Wiik concentrated on finding the genetic mutation that causes this disease. Day blindness is a recessive, heritable disease in which both parents need to be carriers in order for the disease to develop.
Inherited photoreceptor diseases, or diseases in the sensory cells of the retina (rods and cones), occur naturally in both animals and man. They comprise the most common form of inherited retinal disease in people, with an occurrence of approximately 1 in 4,000.
The project began with a candidate gene study, in which genes known to cause similar diseases in people were investigated to see if they had any connection to the canine disease. Ten genes were studied, without a connection being found between the genes and eye disease.
A new method for finding genetic mutations
Wiik was then among the first researchers to be given an opportunity to try a new method of finding genes causing the disease in dogs. By comparing....read more
How to Build a Dog
This makes fascinating reading - "They found that body size, hair length, fur type, nose shape, ear positioning, coat color, and the other traits that together define a breed's appearance are controlled by somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 genetic switches. The difference between floppy and erect ears is determined by a single gene region in canine chromosome 10, or CFA10. The wrinkled skin of a Chinese shar-pei traces to another region, called HAS2. The patch of ridged fur on Rhodesian ridgebacks? That's from a change in CFA18. Flip a few switches, and your dachshund becomes a Doberman, at least in appearance. Flip again, and your Doberman is a Dalmatian."
It's an unusually balmy mid-February afternoon in New York City, but the lobby of the Hotel Pennsylvania is teeming with fur coats.
The wearers are attendees of what is undoubtedly the world's elite canine mixer, one that takes place each year on the eve of the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. Tomorrow the nation's top dogs from 173 breeds will compete for glory across the street at Madison Square Garden. But today is more akin to a four-legged meet-and-greet, as owners shuffle through the check-in line at the competition's official lodgings. A basset hound aims a droopy eye across a luggage cart at a wired-up terrier. A pair of muscled Rhodesian ridgebacks, with matching leather leashes, pause for a brief hello with a fluffy Pyrenean shepherd. Outside the gift shop a Tibetan mastiff with paws the size of human hands goes nose to nose with a snuffling pug.
The variety on display in the hotel lobby—a dizzying array of body sizes, ear shapes, nose lengths, and barking habits—is what makes dog lovers such obstinate partisans. For reasons both practical and whimsical, man's best friend has been artificially evolved into the most diverse animal on the planet—a staggering achievement, given that most of the 350 to 400 dog breeds in existence have been around for only a couple hundred years. The breeders fast-forwarded the normal pace of evolution by combining traits from disparate dogs and accentuating them by breeding those offspring with the largest hints of the desired attributes. To create a dog well suited for cornering badgers, for instance, it is thought that German hunters in the 18th and 19th centuries brought together some combination of hounds—the basset, a native of France, being the likely suspect—and terriers, producing a new variation on the theme of dog with stubby legs and a rounded body that enabled it to chase its prey into the mouth of a burrow: hence the dachshund, or "badger dog" in German. (A rival, flimsier history of the breed has it dating back, in some form, to ancient Egypt.) Pliable skin served as a defense mechanism, allowing the dog to endure sharp-toothed bites without significant damage. A long and sturdy tail helped hunters to retrieve it from an animal's lair, badger in its mouth.
The breeders gave no thought, of course, to the fact that while coaxing such weird new dogs into existence, they were also tinkering with the genes that determine canine anatomy in the first place. Scientists since have assumed that underneath the morphological diversity of dogs lay an equivalent amount of genetic diversity. A recent explosion in canine genomic research, however, has led to a surprising, and opposite, conclusion: The vast mosaic of dog shapes, colors, and sizes is decided largely by changes in a mere handful of gene regions. The difference between the dachshund's diminutive body and the Rottweiler's massive one hangs on the sequence of a single gene. The disparity between the dachshund's stumpy legs—known officially as disproportionate dwarfism, or chondrodysplasia—and a greyhound's sleek ones is determined by another one.
The same holds true across every breed... read more
Dogs and Dementia: What You Need to Know
Charmaine was doing some research into Dementia and found this article written by an owner which I think gives good insight into the condition. However, if you do think your own dog may be showing signs of Dementia, your first action is a visit to the vet.
Do You Think Your Dog May Have Dementia? - Mine does. That's why I'm writing this lens.
I'm not a vet and I can't diagnose your dog, but I can tell you the signs of dog dementia, or canine cognitive dysfunction. I can tell you about what's available to help. I can show you what it can look like. I can tell you quite a bit about what it's like to live with a dog with dementia, and give you some tips about that.
Most of all I can assure you that your dog's life is not necessarily over. My dog has had dementia for two years and still enjoys life.
My Experience with Dog Dementia Cricket, my 16 year old rat terrier, is diagnosed with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, or dog dementia. It's also called Old Dog Syndrome.
I was confused about her symptoms for almost a year. The first thing that happened is that she rather suddenly stopped being friendly to her best human friend. We were mystified. She got standoffish and acted almost fearful.
A few months passed and we decided that was just the way it was going to be. Along around that time she started getting weird about doors. She would stand at the wrong side of a door wanting to go out. The hinge side. Then she couldn't seem to move out of the way correctly when I tried to open the door.
Pretty soon after that she started getting stuck in corners and I finally realized something was going on. She has, and had at that time, three other health problems: she was almost completely deaf, her vision was deteriorating, and she had neurological weakness in her back legs. So these problems had masked the dementia for a while, but it finally became obvious. Now, two years later, she has every symptom on the list below, except that she still seeks me out and wants to be close to me.
Symptoms of Dementia Only a vet can diagnose your dog. But here are some of the commonly agreed upon symptoms of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction.
Table of Contents To read more as below, click here
1. The Look of Dementia
2. My Experience with Dog Dementia
3. Symptoms of Dementia
4. Medical Treatment
5. Real Life Glimpses: A Video
6. 7 Hints for Living with a Dog with Dementia
7. Other Examples Showing the Life of a Dog with Dementia
8. My Dog's Life Is Not Over
Dogs understand human perspective, say researchers
Domestic dogs are much more likely to steal food when they think nobody can see them, suggesting for the first time they are capable of understanding a human’s point of view.
Many dog owners think their pets are clever or that they understand humans but, until now, this has not been tested by science.
Dr Juliane Kaminski, of the University of Portsmouth’s Department of Psychology, has shown that when a human forbids a dog from taking food, dogs are four times more likely to disobey in a dark room than a lit room, suggesting they take into account what the human can or cannot see.
Dr Kaminski said: “That’s incredible because it implies dogs understand the human can’t see them, meaning they might understand the human perspective.”
This is the first study to examine if dogs differentiate between different levels of light when they are developing strategies on whether to steal food. It is published in the journal Animal Cognition. The research was funded by the Max Planck Society, Dr Kaminski’s former employer.
Dr Kaminski said: “Humans constantly attribute certain qualities and emotions to other living things. We know that our own dog is clever or sensitive, , but that’s us thinking, not them.
“These results suggest humans might be right, where dogs are concerned, but we still can’t be completely sure if the results mean dogs have a truly flexible understanding of the mind and others’ minds. It has always been assumed only humans had this ability.”
The research is an incremental step in our understanding of dogs’ ability to think and understand which could, in turn, ........Read More
Yes, this is 'humanizing' dogs, but absolutely brilliantly done and more than worth the 2 mins to watch it and you have just got to laugh at it - Enjoy!