We were so busy all last month with Train Your Dog Month that we are just now resuming normal service.
This WWW is covering some of the best pieces doing the rounds last month; a bit of a catch up!
- Not only are dogs great companions, but they are very much ‘in‘ in scientific research right now. This brings lots of benefits in our understanding of canine health and behaviour, but also in terms of human health too.
Research into the DNA markers related to certain cancers in Golden Retrievers and canine compulsive disorders (like OCD in humans) has great implications in their treatment in humans too. This means that we will generate lots of important information that can help dogs and people – win-win!
- If you want to improve your training, one key is to develop your shaping skills. You already know how to shape behaviour in yourself and others – at its simplest, it’s just breaking up a big task into smaller components.
When you were learning to drive you first learnt the controls and pedals, then how to get started, how to stop, how to turn, how to combine these skills and so on until you became a fully-fledged motorist! You (hopefully) weren’t brought out to a dangerous, fast motorway and expected to cope 🙂
Any time you want to teach your dog (or learner of any species) a behaviour, start working with them at home where it’s easy to concentrate and gradually increase the challenge as they improve – that’s shaping!
We can use freeshaping to teach any animal a behaviour that is complex and doesn’t quite occur naturally – check out this fantastic in-depth guide to all things shaping!
- Animals who have been taught through shaping, choice and lots of encouragement and reinforcement are expert-learners. Teaching others this way also teaches the teacher lots too: 10 Things I’ve Learned from Riding Clicker Trained Horses
- Fear can strike any dog, but it can be tough to help a fearful or shy dog. Check out these great tips.
No matter if your dog is confident or shy, it’s important that you act as a good advocate for your pet. This means not putting him or her in any situation that may cause them to practice unwanted, problem or even dangerous behaviour – the buck stops with the human end of the leash!
Sometimes, this might even mean offending someone or causing discomfort: No, you will not be meeting my dog!
- Of course, being a good advocate for your dog means keeping them safe and being a responsible pet owner – unless you have trained a reliable recall it’s best to have your dog on leash; here’s why!
- One such situation in which our dogs will often benefit from a little extra support is during vet visits. Luckily a whole movement has really begun to pick up steam in fear-free veterinary care.
Lots of coverage of Dr Marty Becker + team’s campaign so let’s help promote this movement all over – vet visits don’t have to be scary!!
- Of course being a vet ain’t easy, a job fraught with great highs and often terrible lows, but also great worry and responsibility. Give a shout out to all the great vets out there working hard to make sure they provide the best care and advice to pets and their people: Putting down pets can be a raw time – but isn’t the worst part of my job
- Cancer is a scary word and disease for both dogs and humans and of course we want to do anything we can to ensure that our pets don’t suffer and that we choose the best care and treatments for them. It’s extra important that we consult evidence-based remedies, because in our desperation it’s easy to reach for less effective options.
This wonderful piece looks at the relationship between nutrition and cancer and evidence based interventions that may be available.
- And while we’re talking about health, would you know what to do in an emergency? Check out this pet CPR infographic
If you really want to learn what to do, why not become a Canine First Responder – we will have a new course running soon, just send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add you to the list!
- Want even more evidence that living with and loving a dog is great? Well, dogs may even act as sort of probiotics for us, in the ways that they affect the microorganisms in and on our bodies: What happens to your microbiome if you own a dog?
- And considering it’s probably pretty good for you (and your dog), go ahead, love your dog: Gimme Some Lovin’
- We know that dogs are pretty sensitive to their olfactory world, but what about their visual perception – How do dogs see the world?
- And just how do dogs use that visual information – one way is for them to attempt to understand the perceptible abilities of others. Some work shows that dogs appear to understand when a human’s senses may be limited, giving the dog the opportunity to get away with behaviour they may not if their human is watching them – Do you know what I can see?
Remember, dogs do what works – but this doesn’t mean that they are being sly, conniving or spiteful!
- Showing further evidence for dogs’ ingrained relationship with humans, recent work adds further to the growing evidence that dogs apparently can recognise human emotions via more complex processes.
Always be tentative about interpretations that appear to show that dogs have greater and greater cognitive abilities. Although important, it’s just as important to view the field as a whole and consider a range of findings.
Dogs are wonderful, whether we find them to have greater cognitive abilities or not 😉
- Enrichment is one of our favourite topics! Contrafreeloading is a term that describes the way in which many animals appear to prefer to work for access to food, rather than just have the same food for free.
Research has shown that contrafreeloading, even though it doesn’t seem to, may actually be adaptive and beneficial for animals because developing problem solving skills is helpful when sourcing food in an ever-changing environment.
On top of that, dogs have also been shown to not only experience reinforcement when earning the goal of their puzzling (the food or reward) but also apparent pleasure in doing the puzzle and solving it successfully!
This is why we HATE food bowls – dogs NEED puzzles!
Check out this amazing puzzle and super-smart dog working out how to get his ball 🙂
- This will bring a smile to your face: Coyote playing with a ball
- And for the feels, check out this cheeky fella playing peek-a-boo and giving kisses! Adorable!
- Last but not least, take four minutes out of your day to watch this beautiful animation (*WARNING* you may need tissues because it’s really lovely): The Present