Who is Going to Win?

tootsie eval

An alert Facebook reader sent in this video of two dogs posturing over some kibble scattered on the ground. Oh my, oh my, so much to say about what goes on here, but I'm going to hold my comments until you have had a chance to look at it. Here's my suggestion: Watch the entire video before reading any comments, and write down, as soon as you think you have enough information, 1) which dog is going to get the food and 2) why. A couple of points to make before you watch it: First, I'll tell you right off that there is no fight, so don't worry that you are about to watch a canine snuff movie. Second, after you make your decision about who is going to win, continue to watch closely and note all the behaviors that could be communicative in nature.  Then play it again (and again) to see Read More

Resource Guarding: Treatment and Prevention

bee-crocus 4-13 small )

Years ago, I took care of a gooey-sweet adolescent Border collie, (Tilly, I'll call her) who flattened her ears and folded like a bird's wing every time you said her name. She was responsive and polite, and the other dogs seemed to like her as much as I did. It was especially rainy when she visited, so I appreciated that she never objected to endless paw wiping and toweling off, not to mention body checks for ticks and dental inspections. One morning I saw that she had grabbed something from the leaf litter in the woods, the kind of "something" you figure would be better off melding its way into the soil rather than ending up in the stomach of even the hardiest of dogs. I couldn't tell what it was, but it looked well on its way to rotting itself into organic mush. Probably not the best Read More

Dogs & Wolves: Diet and Sociability

Arlo

We all know that dogs are wolves in one sense (can reproduce and their young are reproductively viable) and, as importantly, that dogs aren't wolves at all. Just try to teach a wolf "leave it" if you happen upon a dead rabbit. Here are two new studies that shed light on the social systems of the domestic dog, and might help some of us decide what we need to be feeding our dogs. First, Erik Axelsson and colleagues compared the genes of wolves and domestic dogs and found some very interesting differences. One of the differences is related to diet: dogs have three genes that wolves do not that play an important role in the digestion of starch (for those of you who are interested, the genes are AMY2B, MGAM and SGLT1). This result supports the "village dog" hypothesis, (of Coppinger and Read More

fMRI on Dogs: Too Wonderful!

Iris close up 2

When I was doing my PhD research in the 1980's I wanted to see how a dog's brain responded to different types of sounds before and after training. This was in the 1980's, and the only method available for animals was to do Evoked Potential tests, in which simple, tiny electrical sensors were glued to the scalp. This allowed one to measure activity in the brain in an extremely general way: What kind of brain waves does one see in the Temporal versus the Parietal lobe, for example, after hearing or seeing specific stimuli? Evoked Potential tests are logistically easy to do on adults: You shave tiny areas of the scalp, glue on the sensors, and ask the subject to stay still for a set period of time. The research subject mustn't move, because muscles move through electrical stimulation in Read More

Preventing Dog Bites

Peony Tree 5-12

A million years ago, my first Border Collie Drift lept up and nipped a man's nose at the Wisconsin State Fair. Even though the man was clearly not injured, with virtually not even a red spot on his nose, I was shook up and appalled. He was furious. "Your dog attacked me!" Well, he did. Just because the man wasn't injured didn't mean he didn't feel attacked. And it didn't mean that I didn't feel horrible. Drift and I were about to perform in front of huge crowd by doing a sheep herding demo, and found ourselves jammed into a crowd against the building wall. The gentlemen in question charged up to Drift, grabbed his face in his hands, and yes, you guessed it, bent down to kiss Drift on the nose. It was the same exact context in which newscaster Kyle Dyer was bitten by a Dogo a few months Read More