There are lots of behaviors that dogs engage in that are misunderstood by humans. While so many of us choose to share our lives with dogs, we often take for granted that we “know” our dogs and what makes them tick.
And, we often forget that dogs are a completely different species and learn and process information differently and that when they move in to our homes, we are asking them to learn a whole new language.
Giving Up Normal
Some of the most normal behaviors for dogs are unacceptable to the humans who love them. We ask dogs to give up digging and humping, and we want them to relive themselves our timetable. We expect these things without teaching them the right things to do. Once we understand how dogs think, it becomes a bit easier to understand why they engage in the behaviors they do.
Humping or mounting behaviors are probably the least acceptable to humans. There are definitely times when this behavior can be problematic, like at the dog park or in a room full of company, but it is normal. Dogs who are spayed or neutered don’t necessarily know that they can’t reproduce and this behavior is hard-wired and part of their genetic make-up from way, way back.
Even though it serves no functional purpose anymore, dogs will often engage in humping during play or as a result of excitement or anxiety. If you don’t want your dog to hump, give him something else to do. Try to redirect his energy, and if all else fails, give him a time-out: remove him from the stimulus long enough for him to calm down.
Punishing a dog by yelling, grabbing, throwing to the ground for what, to him, is a completely normal behavior will only result in a fearful dog who could eventually redirect his energy in an aggressive way. Contrary to popular belief, humping or mounting is not about dominance. Humping has to do with arousal levels in the brain and old genetic software which is hard-wired (whether the dog is neutered or spayed, male or female).
Genetic Software Examples
In our house, we have had two examples of canine genetic software gone wild. Our first foster dog, Angie, really enjoyed grabbing a blanket and sucking on it. She would also knead it as if she was trying to stimulate milk production. It was interesting to watch her, and she would often choose this behavior over going for a walk, playing or practicing training exercises.
Our current foster dog, Hazel, engages in a behavior known as “caching,” which is a digging and burying behavior. Hazel does this when we give her any type of hard treat, like a biscuit or a Busy Bone. Again, it’s a leftover, hard-wired genetic piece that no longer serves a purpose for her (or any of her domesticated friends), but she doesn’t seem to understand that. This behavior served her ancestors well — wolves are much more likely to encounter scavengers than she is! To her, though, this biscuit needs to be protected and covered completely.
Our beagle, Sugar, also engaged in this behavior. For her, it was always pretzels hidden in the same spot (behind the chair cushion). At the time, I had no idea what it meant; I simply thought it was cute for her to “save it for later.” Now that I know she’s caching, I made a point of recording Hazel, because it is so interesting to me:
Always Ask Why
Next time you see your dog engaging in some unwanted behavior, ask yourself why he might be doing it. The behaviors I mentioned here are called “Fixed Action Patterns” and exist in all species and they manifest themselves in different ways, at different times, which is why they are considered a misfire, or as I call them, “wonky”. They are just part of an organisms make-up. Doesn’t make them right or wrong, good or bad. They just are.
Let’s also do our dogs a BIG favor by remembering that they are indeed a different species. They have a lot to learn when it comes to living with humans: it is our job to teach them!
We’re Learning, Too
Dogs teach us so much. We can learn about joy, unconditional love and the pure bliss of sniffing a breeze from our dogs. Let’s return the favor by learning a bit about how their brains work… Since we already know so much about how big their hearts are.
Yes, we get the whole “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” concept. And we know that Irie and Tiki don’t care if they’re called mixed breed dogs, mutts, tykes, curs, mongrels, or random breeds.
But it matters to us.
As pet parents to two former shelter dogs, both mixes of mixes, we feel that the word “mutt” carries with it a derogatory undercurrent. Well, there’s a reason for that: the word is actually a shortened form of the word “muttonhead.” And the first definition that Merriam-Webster lists for the word mutt harks back to that original word, one that described “a stupid or insignificant person.”
Merriam-Webster lists “cur” as a synonym for mutt and things really turn downhill with that definition of “a mongrel or inferior dog.” OK, now we’re getting very touchy since we’d never consider mixed breed dogs in any way inferior. (And it goes without saying that, as shamelessly proud parents, we consider our Irie and Tiki brilliant in every way and perhaps just a bit superior, rather than inferior.)
We have to admit that when the “designer dog” craze swept the pet world, we hoped more attention would be turned to the mixed breed dog. Purposeful cross breeding of two purebreds resulted in dogs with cute names like Maltipoo, Labradoodle, and Chiweenie. Unfortunately, this simply created a new demand for the purposeful mix rather than the one-of-a-kind random mix that our dogs, like so many shelter and rescue dogs, offer lucky adopters.
Every mixed breed dog is a mix of perhaps numerous breeds. Today DNA tests, performed either with a blood draw or a simple mouth swab, can detect the presence of many breeds in a mixed breed dog’s ancestry. DNA tests on Irie showed both Lab and Coonhound at high levels with German Shorthaired Pointer at lower levels. Tiki’s results were a bigger surprise. Doberman and Poodle were present at high levels with Sheltie and Bulldog at lesser levels (with even more breeds present but too faint to be read).
With that rich background, we certainly think our dogs, like the millions of shelter dogs of mixed heritage, deserve a term that’s more descriptive than simply “mutt.”
For the mixed breed dogs at our house, the term that describes them best is simple: our dogs. Their pedigree isn’t on paper but in our hearts.
What do you think is the best term for describing a mixed breed dog? We’d love to hear your answer!
Any time someone comes out for adopting a pet, we think it is “ruffing awesome,” and the new parody video, “Pet Shop,” which spoofs Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s rap song “Thriftshop,” not only collars the catchy tune, it also touts pet adoption in a fun and unique way.
The “petody” video comes from the Pet Collective, with credit given to Barklemore, according to this article on Mashable.
Adopting is ‘Ruffing Awesome,’ and So is This Video all around my new home.
This is ruffing awesome!
I have a brand new home
This is incredible
My momma adopted me from that shelter down the road.
The video shows the newly adopted dog getting out of a 1980s era DeLorean, getting spoiled with a really big rawhide bone, getting a bath, and having a party with his Pug partner and other dogs in the house.
There has been a bigger push by many pet advocacy groups and humane societies around the world to shed more positive light on adopting homeless pets.
This is one of the most creative and fun ways we’ve seen yet.
We take pride in having the upper hand — and all five fingers — when it comes to training our dogs. But what if dogs had their own set of thumbs, too?
1. They’d (Un)Dress Themselves
Dogs would easily be able to get themselves right out of a Halloween costume (complete with wings, a headpiece and a second tail) or scratchy sweater and pull on something extra chic. Buttons, ties, and zippers would be no match for a set of thumbs and years worth of pent up frustration at wearing coats just a shade too pink for their complexion.
2. They’d Have More Workday Entertainment
Rather than chomping on a couch cushion or spending the day snoozing, dogs would provide themselves with hours of entertainment while you toil away the workweek. Having thumbs would pave the way for endless rounds of Madden on your PlayStation and daylong marathons of Animal Planet with the volume turned all the way up. And if TV happened to be banned for bad behavior, they’d still be able to just reach behind them and grab that elusive tail they’ve spent all their time chasing.
3. They’d Raid The Pantry
Puppy-proof cupboards, refrigerators and pantries would be no match for a savvy puppy with opposable thumbs. Cereal boxes, canned goods and any chicken breasts you’ve stashed away in the fridge would succumb to the jaws of your hungry pup.
4. They’d Take the Lead
Walk time would take on a whole new meaning for a dog that could clip and unclip his leash. Uncomfortable harnesses would be left at the door in favor of a lead-free existence. With enough training and time, your pup may even be able to hop in the car and take himself for a spin around the block like one of these NASCAR worthy doggy drivers.
5. They’d Have a Competitive Edge
Squirrels, birds and chipmunks have always been able to elude dogs by shimmying to the highest branch of a tree or flying from limb to limb, but having thumbs would even up the competition. With a good, solid grip they’d be able to climb up trees to track down their nemeses. Back at home, they’d be able to cause all kind of havoc against their kitty friends by hiding the litter box or placing their toys behind closed doors.
One of the best parts about my job is getting to meet so many creative and inspiring members of the Pet360 community. This month, we are pleased to feature Chris Knowles (aka CKnowles) and his chocolate lab, Charlie. Chris jumped into the Pet360 community early on, and has been an active member who always has some good advice to share.
What’s Charlie’s story?
I became a pet parent in August of 2011. I knew Charlie for about a year before that, when the family of my then girlfriend decided they wanted to adopt a dog. It took them a while to find a dog, but when they found Charlie, it was an almost immediate yes. He’s always been a friendly, people loving dog. But they just weren’t prepared for an energetic, completely untrained, clumsy puppy. They did as good as they could, but they didn’t really have the time or energy that is needed to devote to a puppy. When me and my girlfriend moved in together, she brought Charlie with her. Unfortunately, not long after we moved in together, we ended up breaking up. When she moved out she was worried he might end up being given up since they were having trouble with his energy and restlessness, so I kept him and he’s been living with me ever since.
Why did you join the Pet360 Community?
When I found Pet360 I was browsing around for a pet forum, somewhere I could ask questions and get some helpful advice on different issues. There were a few others I saw, but I saw that Pet360 is more than a forum – it has product recalls as well, plus tips, a few blog writers that were sharing their experiences . . . plus you could actually enter your pets name and info, along with a picture of the pet, and many other things. There were just so many helpful features!
Tell us about your blog – how did you get started?
Blogging was something that I was actually assigned at school. I was taking a class called “New Media and we had to write a blog. I was having a lot of trouble thinking of what to write about, since I’m not usually a very outspoken person on the internet. And it dawned on me that 2 of my biggest goals could merge with this - promoting dogs as an overall positive presence in our society, and hiking the Appalachian trail! I looked around and realized, dogs as wilderness companions wasn’t talked about much at all. So off I went, and created noviceallthings.blogspot.com, and it’s been pretty successful so far! You can also follow me on twitter, google+, facebook and on youtube.
What is one unique fact about Charlie?
He hates to fall asleep. If he’s tired, his head will slowly dip and then snap back up, almost like he thinks he’s going to miss something if he falls asleep!
What’s the best part about being a pet parent?
I think the best part is how Charlie has given me the ability to be completely resilient to whatever stresses I encounter. I work at a residential care center for adolescents, a very stressful job to say the least. But when I come home and sit on the couch, he just comes up and refuses to do anything but smother me with affection. It’s hard to stay stressed out or down in the dumps no matter how hard the day was at work with a dog like that! It’s so amazing what a positive effect he has on everything around him. We went to the dog park the other day and there was a pitbull mix there that was definitely very shy, and could barely get into the caged area is was so scared. But for some reason that little pitbull gravitated towards Charlie, and before long we found out that is the most excitable playful dog you’ve ever seen! It’s amazing what he can do!
We’d like to start this feature to highlight Doggyspace memebrs, as well… Are you interested in being a featured member of the Doggyspace community? If so, send an email to Melanie: mtest at pet360.com.
While raising a dog can be stressful at times — especially if your pup is a power chewer or likes to pull — it’s also one of the most rewarding and positive experiences you can possibly have. Dog ownership has a variety of proven health benefits that help enrich and lengthen our lives. Here are just a few ways our dogs keep us young.
1. Dogs Get Us Up
There’s nothing like a cold nose at your side to get you up and moving every day. Even on the darkest, most chilly mornings our dogs demand a walk or quick break outdoors. Sharing the first few moments of our day with our favorite four-legged family members is the perfect way to take in some fresh air and reset our body clocks in preparation for another busy day.
2. Dogs Keep Us Moving
Who needs a gym membership when you’ve got a wiggly little friend in need of some exercise too? According to the New York Times, several studies show that dog owners are more likely to take regular walks and are more active overall than people who don’t have dogs. Fido can be a powerful motivator for getting off the couch and taking an extra-long walk or easy jog through the neighborhood to benefit his long-term health alongside yours.
3. Dogs Keep the Whole Family Healthy
Nothing can take years off our lives, and the lives of our family, like a disease or illness. Fortunately, new research indicates that having a dog in the home can help keep everyone’s cold at bay.
According to the journal Pediatrics, children who live in a home with a pet during their first year of live are more likely to be healthier than those who don’t live in a home with a pet. Those with a dog in the home had 31 percent fewer respiratory tract infections and 44 percent fewer ear infections than children who didn’t live with a dog, research found.
4. Dogs are Natural De-Stressors
There’s nothing better than a happy pup to come home to after a long, stressful day at work. A simple wagging tail and big smooch can bring an instant smile to our faces and help melt away our worries. According study in the journal Hypertension, the support we get from owning a pet can also help lower our blood pressure. The study found that among people taking ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure, having a pet seemed to help stabilize their blood pressure levels during moments of stress.
5. Dogs Bring Out Our Social Side
Most dogs don’t think twice about approaching a friendly stranger, a cue many of us should learn from in new social settings. Our pets also make an easy conversation starter, helping to boost our confidence and self-esteem among new people. According to the Daily Mail, pet owners are generally less fearful and more extroverted than non pet-owning peers — the perfect elixir for making new friends and staying young.
6. Dogs Keep Us Company
As we age, dealing with loss and isolation can be a difficult and stressful task to overcome. Having a dog can help ease this transition and help us maintain a positive outlook while bringing focus to an elderly person’s daily routine.
Additionally, therapy dogs are another way hospitals and residential care facilities keep patients who are sick or dealing with a disability feeling motivated and independent. A trusty sidekick can go a long way in turning around a person’s attitude and keep them feeling young.
While Lassie and Lady and the Tramp are fun to watch, they’re probably not the best way to choose a family dog. Instead, choose the breed by its disposition, temperament, size and energy level — all of which should suit your family’s lifestyle. Just remember, always meet the dog and ask the breeder or shelter worker lots of questions before making such an important decision. Without further ado, here are 10 kid-friendly dog breeds approved by petMD.
#10 The Bulldog
The Bulldog has a sturdy build that is perfect for kids who like to roughhouse. However, it won’t win any awards for “most energetic dog.” A docile, friendly and loyal dog, the Bulldog gets along well with other pets and dogs, too. The Bulldog is comfortable living in large houses as well as small apartments.
#9 The Beagle
While your Beagle most likely won’t have a bird named Woodstock as his best friend, you can still name him (or her) Snoopy. Originally kept as hunting dogs, Beagles fit well in homes with active kids, as they are sturdily built and are never too tired to play a game. Smart, friendly, and happy, the Beagle usually gets along with other pets, too (except for a bit of chasing here and there). They do shed fairly heavily, however, and require frequent brushing and bathing.
#8 The Bull Terrier
Unfairly branded as an aggressive breed, the Bull Terrier was actually bred to be a companion dog — friendly and loving towards grown-ups and kids alike. This well-framed dog also has a high threshold for pain, making it perfect for rambunctious children who are learning how to properly treat dogs.
#7 The Collie
This is the dog breed that “Lassie” made famous. Collies are a very gentle and predictable breed, easily trainable and rarely aggressive — which is perfect for families who are unfamiliar with dogs. Collies get along great with children and love to please their owners and protect their family.
#6 The Newfoundland
Nicknamed “Nature’s Babysitter” (think “Nana” from Peter Pan), the Newfoundland dog loves children and is very protective over them. Gentle, kind, and patient, this breed is almost like the Mother Teresa of dogs. Both young and old will quickly fall in love with this wonderfully sweet, large dog.
#5 The Vizsla
This may be a breed you haven’t heard of before, but because of its need for regular exercise, it’s actually one best dog breeds for active and energetic families with older kids. The Vizsla has a lively disposition but a gentle manner; it is loyal and affectionate. Additionally, it is obedient, confident and smart, forming close bonds with its family and able to learn new tricks quickly. Best of all, the Vizsla has very little “doggy” smell about it.
#4 Irish Setter
Known for its red coat, the Irish Setter is playful, energetic, loves being around people, and plays well with children. This doggy needs lots of exercise, and is a good match for energetic kids and active families. A smart and trainable companion, the Irish Setter is especially perfect for people with a yard.
#3 The Poodle
Often given rather curious haircuts by their owners, the Poodle is a very smart and gentle dog. It’s also great for kids with allergies, as it sheds very little. It does, however, require scheduled grooming, or its hair will get out of control. This is a proud and elegant dog that is both caring and loyal. Seldom annoyed or bored, the Poodle’s good nature, friendly demeanor and patience make it an excellent playing partner for a child.
#2 Labrador Retriever
This is one of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S., and for good reason. The Labrador Retriever is playful, patient, loving, protective and reliable. In fact, its sweet personality and intelligence is only matched by its beauty. What does this mean for you? It means the perfect family pet.
#1 The Golden Retriever
Not as big in size as the Lab, the Golden Retriever is a confident, smart, kind and loyal dog. Neither aggressive nor timid, the Golden Retriever is extremely patient, which is perfect for kids. While it does need a lot of exercise, its love of play makes this an easy task to achieve.
Doggyspace is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who love dogs. People use Doggyspace to keep up with friends, upload funny dog videos, and to give their dogs their own cyber place.