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Helpful Christmas Safety Tips For Pet Parents

Christmas dogs

Before your family wakes up to see what trinkets Santa left under the tree Christmas morning, be sure that you have taken all of the proper precautions to keep your dogs and cats safe this holiday season.

While the holidays are fun for us humans, they can present a lot of dangers to our furry family members. Don’t let your Christmas get interrupted by a trip to the emergency vet!

Here are a few Christmas safety tips to help you keep your fur family safe this holiday.

Pet-Proof The Christmas Tree

Perhaps the epicenter of holiday danger for your pet is the Christmas tree. Failing to pet-proof the “O Tannenbaum” could result in upset stomachs, painful injuries, catastrophic veterinary bills, or even tragedy this Christmas season.

Pet parents should always observe dogs and cats around the tree at all times. If possible, set up your tree in a room that you can easily close off when you’re not home. Many pet parents also create a barrier using a plastic pen or baby gate so pets can’t access the tree.

Curious canines and felines will want to explore the odd tree that appeared in their living rooms. Dogs and cats are notorious for trying to jump onto — or even into — the tree, which could easily cause it to come crashing to the floor.

Make sure you anchor the tree securely to avoid a dangerous tree-tipping disaster. Check your tree stand daily to confirm that the eyebolts are still locking the tree in place.

For added security, anchor the tree to your ceiling with a ceiling hook and fishing line.

Beware Christmas Tree Water

A young couple with a dog are stood outdoors, smiling and holding a freshly cut down pine tree wrapped in netting and ready to take home for christmas.

(Picture Credit: Tom Werner/Getty Images)

Pet parents who bring live pines, spruces, and firs inside for Christmas should make sure the water reservoir inside of the tree stand is not easily accessible to dogs and cats. As the tree drinks water, it can release sometimes-toxic sap into the stand that smells tasty to pets.

Many fresh trees are also preserved with pesticides and fertilizer water additives, including aspirin. Aspirin can be fatal for cats because they lack a necessary protein in their livers to break down the drug. While veterinarians occasionally prescribe aspirin for dogs to treat various conditions, too much can prove deadly.

Block access to the tree stand by thoroughly covering it with aluminum foil and a well-wrapped tree skirt.

Be Careful With Christmas Lights

All the lights and baubles you use to adorn your Christmas tree and your home sure are pretty, but they can pose a real threat to your pet. Veterinarians say pets can easily die from electrocution, internal injuries, or intestinal blockage after enjoying a decorative snack.

Be sure you fasten holiday lights to your tree and place cords out of reach of your curious pet’s mouth. Block access to any loose cords or wires.

Ornaments Can Be Deadly

Cute little dog, with Santa costume, several Christmas ornaments, and several blurred lights in the background.

(Picture Credit: Giselleflissak/Getty Images)

Those might look like tree ornaments to you, but to Fido and Fluffy, they are just potential toys in a festive display.

Chewing on ornaments can cause cuts in the mouth, throat, and digestive system, as well as other serious injuries.

Tree-trimmings like garland and tinsel, when eaten, can also result in gastrointestinal blockages that have the potential to harm or even kill your pet.

Pick Safe Christmas Plants

Popular decorative plants like holly, mistletoe, and the poinsettia can be poisonous if ingested.

English and Asian varieties of the holly plant contain toxic saponins, which can cause serious gastrointestinal distress when eaten.

The viscotoxins in mistletoe are nothing to kiss over; eating the leaves or berries of this common Christmas plant can cause stomach upset and a slowed heartbeat.

The poinsettia flower is typically only toxic when ingested in large quantities, so its reputation as the most dangerous Christmas plant is somewhat undeserved. That said, the milky white sap of the poinsettia tends to cause diarrhea, excessive drooling, and vomiting, which can endanger a pet’s health.

Christmas bouquets and floral arrangements that contain lilies are very hazardous to pets, especially cats. All it takes is a few bites of a lily plant to cause potentially fatal kidney failure in felines.

Cautious pet parents should probably steer clear of including these beautiful but dangerous plants in their Christmas décor.

Keep Gifts And Candy Out Of Reach

A crossbreed dog is looking into a bag with christmas presents

(Picture Credit: Brigitte Blättler/Getty Images)

Make sure your stockings really are hung by the chimney with care this holiday season; children’s toys, gift wrap, and candy should be kept out of reach at all times.

If you believe your pet may have eaten something he or she shouldn’t have this holiday season, contact your veterinarian immediately. Keep the numbers to the nearest emergency veterinary hospital handy if harm or injury should happen after hours.

source: https://dogtime.com/ 

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8 best pet movies

Need some new pet movies to add to your “must-watch” list? These releases won’t disappoint!

Animal lovers will delight in the wide selection of pet movies released in 2019. From live-action dramas to hilarious animated films and everything in between, each and every film on the following list is a must-see!

A Dog’s Way Home

Not entirely unlike the beloved classic, Homeward Bound, this inspiring movie features the journey of a dog separated from her owner. She sets off on a cross-country trip to get back to her home, meeting several friends along the way. A Dog’s Way Home is a feel-good tale that all dog lovers are sure to appreciate.

The Secret Life of Pets 2

This movie is the follow-up to the 2016 summer blockbuster The Secret Life of Pets. Just as you’d expect, it revolves around the everyday lives of pets, giving viewers an amusing glimpse of what happens to them when their humans aren’t home to supervise. With more adventures and laugh-out-loud moments, this comedic sequel saw massive box office success and left fans feeling more than satisfied.

The Queen’s Corgi

This is a charming story that draws on the British monarch’s love for her dogs. The Queen’s Corgi follows Queen Elizabeth’s favorite canine, a Corgi named Rex, as he tries to find his way back to the palace after becoming lost. Viewers root for the sweet pup as he encounters clans of stray dogs along the way, and learns more about himself – and his royal privilege – than he ever could have imagined.

A Dog’s Journey

A few years ago, the highly acclaimed film, A Dog’s Purpose, tugged on the heartstrings of audiences across the world. In 2019 the story continues with the much anticipated sequel, A Dog’s Journey. Based on W. Bruce Cameron’s bestselling novel, this film is presented from the perspective of a lovable dog named Bailey (played by Odin, the cover star of Animal Wellness Magazine, V21I3). Drawing on themes of loyalty and the transcendent power of the human-canine bond, this movie will make you laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time!

The Biggest Little Farm

The Biggest Little Farm is a documentary about a couple’s agricultural dream. It zeroes in on the lives of two Los Angeles-based dreamers and their dog, and their struggle to keep their sustainable farm afloat. Directed by Emmy Award Winning director John Chester, this one-of-a-kind film is an inspiring and entertaining watch.

Spy Cat

A beautiful and interesting animated movie, Spy Cat is the perfect pick for your next family film night! It features the story of a house cat named Marine who, akin to the beloved character Garfield, is very pampered and addicted to TV cop shows. Desperate to have her own spy adventures, Marine takes it upon herself – with the help of her sidekick, a nervous guard dog – to investigate a gang of burglars that come to town. Exciting for kids and equally entertaining for adults, this action-infused story is worth checking out!

The Art of Racing in the Rain  

This movie is based on a bestselling novel by Garth Stein. The story, featuring Milo Ventimiglia (This is Us) and Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia!), is a heartwarming tale narrated by Enzo (voiced by Kevin Costner), a philosophical and witty dog. With his unique and brilliant insight into human nature, Enzo helps his owner, race car driver Denny Swift, gain a new perspective on family, friendship and unconditional love.

Lady and the Tramp

The live-action Lady and the Tramp, adapted from Walt Disney’s 1955 version, will be hitting theaters on November 12, 2019. Directed by Charlie Bean, this film, like the original, tells the story of an upper-middle-class American cocker spaniel named Lady who meets a stray Schnauzer named Tramp. The escapades that follow are romantic and comical, and make for some iconic scenes that are aptly re-imagined in this new adaptation.

source: https://animalwellnessmagazine.com/

7 fun things to do with your dog when you’re stuck indoors

Stuck indoors with your fur babes? Here’s a list of ways you can entertain them – and yourself!

If the weather is bad or you’re practicing social distancing, you’re going to be spending a lot of time stuck indoors with your dogs and cats. Luckily, there are a number of ways to keep them (and yourself) entertained and active!

Stay fit

1. Stair work: If you have a closed set of stairs inside your home, use it to play fetch with your pup! Throw a ball or his favourite toy up the stairs to give him a great workout.

2. Obedience training: Why not use this time to improve your dog’s skills? Break out your training books or research some training articles and videos online.

3. Create an indoor obstacle course: Use the things in your home to make a new and exciting game you can both enjoy – a dog obstacle course! 

Get crafty

4. Switch up your interior design: Not sure how to use your free time? Create a dedicated area just for your pet! Here’s everything you need to create the perfect space.

5. DIY art projects for shelter dogs: Get the whole family involved in arts and crafts while you’re stuck indoors! You can create thoughtful gifts for animals in shelters, and the amazing volunteers who help.

Make every night family night

6. Spend quality time together: In our busy, modern world, getting time together can be tough. Here are 10 ways to ensure your pet gets the quality time he needs and deserves!

7. Watch movies: Get together and snuggle up with your favourite movies and snacks! There are lots of pet-related movies you can enjoy with your furry friends.

source: https://animalwellnessmagazine.com/

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How intelligent is your dog?

how smart is your dog

If you think your dog is more intelligent than average, prove it by testing his IQ!

Do you think your dog is incredibly intelligent? You could be right.

Recent studies suggest our faithful friends boast at least the intelligence of a human toddler. Some dogs even seem to be smarter than that – smarter than the humans that care for them.

You’ve seen your dog figure out small challenges in his world. He finds the bones you hide, he figures out how to open a latch, sometimes he appears to understand exactly what you’re saying.

But, does that prove he has a high canine IQ? Well, yes and no.

The Collins English Dictionary defines intelligence as “the ability to think, reason, and understand as opposed to doing things automatically or by instinct.”

You see the dilemma.

Measuring intelligence has always been hard to define and even harder to measure, even in humans. The challenge to measuring intelligence in dogs is even greater. In order to measure canine intelligence, scientists must find reliable tests that prove dogs are thinking their way through a problem and not simply relying on instinct.

Border Collies, for example, instinctually herd sheep and chickens and pretty much everything that moves. We all know that Border Collies are smart, but herding is instinctual for them. We can’t expect our hound mix to herd sheep like a Border Collie any more than we can ask that collie to double as a police dog.

So how can you test your dog’s intelligence?

Assess his responsiveness to cues.

In general, the better your dog responds to cues like sit, down and stay, the higher his canine IQ. Of course, there are some caveats; have you trained the cue correctly? Are you giving the cue appropriately? Is your dog the stubborn type? Basset Hounds, Beagles, and other hound breeds are among the finest house dogs in the world, but they can be stubborn, especially if chasing down a squirrel or rabbit.

Test your dog’s awareness of changes in his environment.

Try hiding his ball or toy. Does he search for objects that are missing even though the item is no longer in sight? If so, you’ve got a highly intelligent dog.

Quiz his problem-solving skills.

Try placing a bone or toy under a cardboard box or plastic cone. Watch to see if your dog thinks his way through getting the object. Does he wait for you to fix his problem or does he work to solve it?

Can he hold a conversation?

Researchers point out that dogs follow the intent of human conversation, if not the actual meaning. The next time you’re speaking to your spouse or friend, watch your dog; does he move his gaze to whoever is speaking? Does he look as though he’s trying to follow the conversation?

Some research shows that dogs interpret human emotion through your facial expression. Humans tend to gaze at the right side of a person’s face as they’re speaking. Dogs also gaze at the right side of human faces as they speak, but they do not do this with other dogs. They are the only non-primate species to show this behavior.

Theory of mind.

If your dog has ever hidden his bad behavior from you, he might be demonstrating what psychologists call, theory of mind. This is an important cognitive/social skill that develops in humans around the age of four. When your dog hides that sock he chewed up or slinks away from the accident he had on the rug, he’s showing theory of mind or the ability to recognize that you have a unique set of beliefs that differ from his own.

If your dog lived in a self-sufficient doggy pack, chewing the sock or having that accident would be less likely to be seen as negative behavior. His understanding of your separate ideas and opinions on behaviour is an important sign of intelligence.

So, as it turns out, your dog is pretty smart. While you might not have to save for college, it wouldn’t hurt to put those smarts to work in an obedience class or two.

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The Best Therapy Animals

therapy dog

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Many people require different kinds of assistance in order to complete daily tasks in life. Some people cannot live independently without the services of people and specially trained pets. Others simply benefit from a visit with an animal that provides them with a sense of calm and relaxation. Therapy animals provide this special service to people.

Not to be confused with a service dog or an emotional support pet, therapy animals are socialized and trained to provide comfort and affection to people in various stressful environments. Therapy animals are most commonly seen in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and disaster areas, and are classified as one of three types: therapeutic visitation animals, animal assisted therapy animals, and facility therapy animals.

The most common kind of therapy animal is a therapeutic visitation animal. These are often pets that go to various places, such as detention facilities, to visit with people who may miss their own pets, but return home with their owner at the end of the day. All kinds of animals are utilized as therapy animals but regardless of the species, they typically go through a veterinarian’s assessment, have received basic training, and have been screened to ensure they do well with people. Therapy animals are not protected by any federal laws but some states have their own laws to grant rights to the owners and their pets. Vests, collars, registration and other services are available through the National Service Animal Registry.

  • Blonde goldendoodle with senior citizens

    Getty Images / Yellow Dog Productions

    Definitely the most commonly seen type of therapy animal, dogs come in all shapes and sizes and make ideal therapy animals. Many people have probably come across a therapy dog at one point or another in their lifetime. Therapy dogs are often seen in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, detention centers, and other public places where you may be surprised to see a dog walking around.

    Dogs are classic companions for humans so it is very natural for people to enjoy their presence. Studies have shown that dogs help calm and relax people and therapy dogs are a testament to this. Larger breeds, such as Labradors and Golden Retrievers, are most often seen as therapy dogs, but that doesn’t mean other breeds can’t make a good therapy animal. As long as a dog is friendly towards people, and knows basic obedience commands, it could probably become a therapy animal!

  • Therapy Horses
    Therapy horse being ridden by a boy with autism and cerebral palsy outside.

     

     Therapy horses may be used for all kinds of therapy, including therapy with autistic children. 

     Getty Images / Tom Ervin / Stringer

    Horses, while much larger than dogs, make excellent therapy animals. You won’t see a horse walking through a school (unless it’s a miniature horse) but you will often seen equine-assisted therapy techniques utilizing therapy horses. Therapy horses are great animals to aid in mental health and are also used in equine-facilitated psychotherapy by addiction treatment centers, veterans groups, and other mental wellness facilities that are overseen by medical professionals.

    Grooming a horse is often touted as being very therapeutic and the human emotions a horse mimics have been shown to be very beneficial for people battling many different types of psychological issues. Horses also help teach people a variety of things, such as trust building and work ethic, in addition to dealing with emotions.

    Therapy horses may or may not be ridden.

  • Therapy Cats
    Cat giving five on a tablet to senior citizens.

     

     Therapy cats can make great therapy animals for visiting the elderly. 

    Getty Images / Sean Gallup / Staff 

    A less obvious choice than dogs or horses, many cats can make great therapy animals. Just like dogs, cats are easy to bring into indoor facilities such as nursing homes and hospitals to aid in comforting anyone who may be missing their own pets. Many therapy cats learn to walk on a leash and can have a very calming presence for children in school, elderly in assisted living facilities, and other situations. They are also a great indoor therapy animal option for people who may have a fear of dogs.

  • Therapy Rabbits
    Pet Therapy – Senior woman with rabbit at home

     

    FredFroese / Getty Images

    Sometimes a small, quiet therapy animal is needed and when this is the case, a rabbit makes a wonderful therapy animal. Rabbits are easy to transport, do not bark or meow, and are excellent options for people who may be frightened of both dogs and cats, since a fear of rabbits is not very common.

    A therapy rabbit needs to be calm, well-socialized, and enjoy being handled and petted by people. It is ideal if a therapy rabbit is also litter box trained. Not all rabbits fit this bill, but if a friendly rabbit is comfortable in a harness and four foot leash, they might make a great therapy animal.

    source: https://www.thesprucepets.com/therapy-animals-4174886 

1 Billion Animals Perish in Australian Bushfires

kangaroo

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Five best cat toys

kitty playing

Playing with your cat is a great bonding experience for both cat and owner. It also helps channel their natural hunting instinct into a less harmful activity.

With so many toys to choose from, you’ll probably feel a bit confused about which ones to get your feline friend. So we’re here to help you out with the best five toys for your cat.

 

Fishing rod

Cat toy - Fishing rod

Fishing rod toys usually have a mouse, feather or something light on the end to temp your cat to chase it! This is perfect for teaching your kitten how to play appropriately, using the rod to create some distance between sharp claws and your hands.

Treat balls

Cat treat ball

Cats are very intelligent and their natural instinct is to hunt for their food, so they can find hours of entertainment with a treat ball.

Batting around the ball to shake the treat loose encourages cats to use their brain and provides great mental stimulation.

Catnip mouse

Light blue catnip mouse

Anyone who owns a cat will know the madness that follows when they are given something with catnip.

Catnip mice are great fun for your cat to play with solo. Plus, you get the added bonus of watching them go from cool, calm and collected to crazy in three seconds flat!

Kickeroo toy by Kong

Kickeroo toy by Kong

Kickeroo toys are made for cats who like to kick out with their hind paws when they are in the mood to play.

Encouraging your pet to wrestle on this toy provides both mental and physical stimulation and means your furniture and legs are saved from excited claws!

Cat activity centres

Cat activity centre

The cat activity centre plays an important role in a cat’s day to day life and provides entertainment for them too. These are made up of multiple levels with string toys attached to encourage cats’ playful nature.

Your cat loves to climb and explore, and the little hidey-holes in an activity centre are perfect for them to escape to if they feel a bit cautious or worried about a situation. Allowing them to get up a bit higher and observe the goings on from a safe space, which is especially useful in multi-cat households.

Tip: Don’t stroke your cat or be tempted to pick them up when they’re on the activity centre – this is their safe space where they can go when they don’t want to be disturbed.

Source:  Bluecross https://bit.ly/37rohH9

 

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Γιατί ένας σκύλος μπορεί να δαγκώσει ένα παιδί;

Mε μεγάλη μου λύπη διάβασα για το χαμό του βρέφους μέσα στο σπίτι του από τον σκύλο του σπιτιού. Είναι πραγματικά τραγικό να χάνονται αθώες ψυχές με τέτοιο τρόπο.
Είναι πραγματικά τραγικό να μη μπορούμε εν έτη 2019 να προστατεύσουμε τα παιδιά μας.

Γράφει ο Δρ. Χρήστος Καραγιάννης, Συμπεριφοριολόγος Κτηνίατρος, MSc, Dip. ECAWBM(BM), MRCVS, Πανευρωπαϊκά Αναγνωρισμένος Ειδικός Συμπεριφοριολόγος Κτηνίατρος, www.behaviour.gr.
Επιστημονικά Υπεύθυνος της Pets Pro Academy (www.petsproacademy.gr) και του Ελληνικού Ινστιτούτου Συμπεριφοράς & Εκπαίδευσης Σκύλου & Γάτας (www.dogtrainingschool.gr)

Για τη συγκεκριμένη περίπτωση δε γνωρίζουμε τι έγινε, ας δούμε όμως γενικά τι μπορεί να φταίει και ένας σκύλος να φτάσει στο σημείο να δαγκώσει ένα παιδί.

Σκύλος και Παιδιά, μια ιδιαίτερη σχέση

Η σχέση σκύλων και παιδιών είναι ιδιαίτερη και στην επικοινωνία τους συχνά υπάρχει πρόβλημα.
Δυστυχώς, πολλοί σκύλοι δεν έχουν συνηθίσει την παρουσία και τη συμπεριφορά των παιδιών με αποτέλεσμα κάποιοι σκύλοι να τα φοβούνται.
Τα παιδιά δε συμπεριφέρονται σαν ενήλικες, κάνουν απότομες κινήσεις, τρέχουν γρήγορα, κουνάνε τα χέρια τους, και η φωνή τους είναι υψηλής συχνότητας, στοιχεία τα οποία είναι πιθανό να τρομάξουν πολλούς σκύλους. H επιθετική συμπεριφορά έχει κατά κανόνα τα αίτια της στα αρνητικά συναισθήματα του σκύλου και κατά συνέπεια δεν είναι κάτι που ο σκύλος απολαμβάνει να κάνει, αλλά είναι η τελευταία του προσπάθεια όταν με άλλους «ειρηνικούς» τρόπους δε γίνεται κατανοητό στον άνθρωπο τι ενοχλεί τον σκύλο και τι τον φοβίζει. Από τη μία δηλαδή είναι ο σκύλος ο οποίος αν δεν είναι συνηθισμένος στην παρουσία των παιδιών μπορεί να θεωρήσει κάποιο παιδί ως «απειλή» και από την άλλη, τα περισσότερα παιδιά, ιδιαίτερα αυτά που είναι μικρότερα από 8 χρόνων, τα οποία άθελά τους με τη συμπεριφορά τους μπορούν να ενοχλήσουν ένα σκύλο και ταυτόχρονα να μην καταλάβουν ότι ο σκύλος ενοχλείται και να συνεχίσουν άθελά τους τη συγκεκριμένη συμπεριφορά.
Χαρακτηριστικό παράδειγμα που δείχνει πως τα παιδιά παρεξηγούν τη συμπεριφορά των σκύλων είναι το ότι παιδιά μέχρι 5 χρόνων περιγράφουν ένα σκύλο που τους δείχνει τα δόντια του ότι τους χαμογελάει και όχι ότι τους προειδοποιεί.

Ατυχήματα μέσα στο σπίτι

Ειλικρινά, δεν παίζει κανένα ρόλο αν γνωρίζουμε ή δε γνωρίζουμε το σκύλο, αν είναι εκπαιδευμένος, αν πιστεύουμε ότι μπορούμε να τον εμπιστευτούμε ή όχι, αν είναι τάδε φυλής ο σκύλος ή δείνα.
Τα συχνότερα ατυχήματα μεταξύ παιδιών και σκύλων γίνονται κατά κανόνα με το σκύλο του σπιτιού και με αγόρια μικρότερα από 8 χρονών, όταν δεν υπάρχει επίβλεψη και όχι με κάποιον άγνωστο σκύλο και χωρίς να παίζει ρόλο αν οι σκύλοι αυτοί είναι εκπαιδευμένοι ή όχι. Δεν έχει σχέση αν ένας σκύλος ξέρει το «Κάτσε», το «Μείνε» και άλλες εντολές με το αν θα φτάσει στο σημείο να δαγκώσει.
Στο δάγκωμα φτάνει ένας σκύλος συνήθως λόγω κάποιων αρνητικών συναισθημάτων και κάποιων εμπειριών. Συχνά ατυχήματα περιγράφονται με σκύλους που έχουν μάθει να χρησιμοποιούν επιθετική συμπεριφορά όπως αυτοί που χρησιμοποιούνται για φύλαξη, ανεξάρτητα φυλής και άλλες φορές όταν ο σκύλος για κάποιον λόγο πονάει ή ενοχλείται από κάποια πάθηση και οι κινήσεις ή οι φωνές κάποιου παιδιού είναι το ερέθισμα που ξεχειλίζουν το ποτήρι των αντοχών του. Ο οποιοσδήποτε σκύλος μπορεί κάποια μέρα να βγει από τα όρια του και να δαγκώσει, χωρίς όμως αυτό να σημαίνει ότι όλοι οι σκύλοι είναι επικίνδυνοι, όπως είπαμε άλλωστε είναι η τελευταία προσπάθεια του σκύλου για να εκφραστεί. Αντίθετα, σημαίνει ότι εμείς οι άνθρωποι πρέπει να διασφαλίσουμε πως δε θα φτάσουμε το σκύλο στα όρια τους.

Επιθετικές φυλές:

Η φυλή του σκύλου δεν αποτελεί αξιόπιστο παράγοντα για να προβλέψουμε τη συμπεριφορά του. Υπάρχουν κάποια συγκεκριμένα χαρακτηριστικά, τα χαρακτηριστικά εκείνα για τα οποία έχει δημιουργηθεί η κάθε φυλή τα οποία μπορούν να είναι κοινά μεταξύ των ατόμων της ίδιας φυλής, όπως σκύλοι που έχουν αναπαραχθεί για να φυλάνε πρόβατα, να τραβάνε φορτία ή να χρησιμοποιούνται στο κυνήγι, τα οποία όμως αποτελούν πολύ συγκεκριμένες ιδιότητες και δε σκιαγραφούν το χαρακτήρα του σκύλου, π.χ. αν μία φυλή είναι πιο επιθετική από μια άλλη. Άλλωστε η φυλή των σκύλων και από γενετικής άποψης δεν αποτελεί έναν ομοιογενή πληθυσμό. Σημαντικότερο ρόλο από γενετικής άποψης στο χαρακτήρα ενός σκύλου παίζει η » γενετική γραμμή» η οποία έχει προέλθει, η άμεση δηλαδή οικογένεια του, οι κοντινοί συγγενείς του, και όχι η φυλή γενικότερα. Για παράδειγμα, περισσότερα κοινά χαρακτηριστικά στη συμπεριφορά τους έχουν μεταξύ τους οι σκύλοι διαφορετικής φυλής που έχουν αναπαραχθεί για ένα συγκεκριμένο σκοπό, π.χ. εργασία ή σκύλοι για dog shows, παρά σκύλοι που ανήκουν στην ίδια φυλή π.χ. Λαμπραντόρ, αλλά ανήκουν σε διαφορετικές γενετικές γραμμές, π.χ. Λαμπραντόρ εργασίας σε σύγκριση με τα Λαμπραντόρ για σόου. Άρα, όσο υπάρχουν φιλικά και επιθετικά Λαμπραντόρ, άλλο τόσο υπάρχουν φιλικά και επιθετικά Ροτβάιλερ.

Επιθετικές φυλές και κοινωνικά στερεότυπα:

Δεν είναι δηλαδή η φυλή λοιπόν που περιγράφει το χαρακτήρα ενός σκύλου, για τις διάφορες φυλές που ακούμε ότι είναι επιθετικές φυλές, το θέμα είναι κοινωνικό. Άνθρωποι που θέλουν να έχουν επιθετικούς σκύλους παίρνουν σκύλους φυλών που έχουν ακούσει και πιστεύουν ότι συμπεριφέρονται με επιθετικό τρόπο. Με τη συμπεριφορά τους οι άνθρωποι αυτοί κάνουν τους σκύλους επιθετικούς (γι΄αυτό άλλωστε πήραν τους συγκεκριμένους σκύλους), ενώ ταυτόχρονα πιθανόν και κάποιοι εκτροφείς σκύλων να διαλέγουν να αναπαράγουν γεννήτορες με επιθετική συμπεριφορά, για να πουλήσουν πιο εύκολα τα κουτάβια στο συγκεκριμένο κοινό. Αποτέλεσμα αυτών να δημιουργείτε έτσι ένας φαύλος κύκλος, για τον οποίο είναι υπεύθυνος ο άνθρωπος. Ίδιας φυλής σκύλοι σε άλλη χώρα με διαφορετικά στερεότυπα για τους επιθετικούς σκύλους έχουν διαφορετική συμπεριφορά. Δεν είναι η φυλή του σκύλου λοιπόν, αλλά ο άνθρωπος. Δεν είναι τυχαίο άλλωστε που σε χώρες με νομοθεσία που απαγορεύει συγκεκριμένες φυλές σκύλων ως επιθετικές, όπως η Αγγλία, η νομοθεσία αυτή έχει αποτύχει, συζητείται έντονα η κατάργηση της, και τα δαγκώματα από σκύλους είναι της ίδιας συχνότητας και έντασης με οποιαδήποτε άλλη χώρα που επιτρέπονται οι φυλές αυτές.

Tί κάνουμε εμείς για την ασφάλειά μας;

Ας αφήσουμε όμως τη φυλή των σκύλων στην άκρη, γιατί όπως είδαμε δεν παίζει ρόλο η φυλή και κάθε σκύλος εν δυνάμει μπορεί να δαγκώσει και ας επικεντρωθούμε στη σχέση σκύλου και παιδιού.
Yπάρχει όπως γίνεται κατανοητό μία δυσκολία στην επικοινωνία μεταξύ των παιδιών και των σκύλων, γι΄ αυτό και πρέπει να μάθουμε στα παιδιά μας πως να συμπεριφέρονται στους σκύλους και πως να αναγνωρίζουν τις προθέσεις τους, γιατί χωρίς την κατάλληλη διαπαιδαγώγηση δεν είναι κάτι που μπορούν να γνωρίζουν από μόνα τους, ιδιαίτερα τα παιδιά μικρής ηλικίας. Ταυτόχρονα, όσοι από την άλλη έχουν σκύλους για φύλαξη ή σκύλους που συμπεριφέρονται επιθετικά να τους περιορίζουν αυστηρά όταν βρίσκονται παιδιά στο χώρο. Ταυτόχρονα, κάθε σκύλος όσο γίνεται νεώτερος, πρέπει να κοινωνικοποιείται με τα παιδιά και να του μάθουμε πως η ύπαρξη των παιδιών στο χώρο είναι κάτι θετικό και όχι μία μελλοντική απειλή. Τέλος, ακόμα και αν γνωρίζουμε κάποιον σκύλο και πιστεύουμε ότι τον εμπιστευόμαστε επ’ ουδενί δεν πρέπει να τον αφήνουμε μόνο του με κάποιο παιδί, ιδιαίτερα με παιδιά μικρότερα των 8 χρόνων. Ιδανικά, συνίσταται η ύπαρξη ενός ενήλικα για κάθε παιδί και ενός ενήλικα για κάθε σκύλο, δύο ενήλικες δηλαδή στην περίπτωση που συνυπάρχουν ένα παιδί με ένα σκύλο για να υπάρχει επίβλεψη τόσο του παιδιού όσο και του σκύλου.

Η αρμονική συνύπαρξη σκύλων και ανθρώπων όμως είναι θέμα παιδείας, διαπαιδαγώγησης, τόσο των παιδιών όσο και των ενηλίκων, και σε αυτό πρέπει να εστιάσουμε.

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Brain Boosting Games

brain boosting dog games

Are you a crossword addict? Sudoko fan? Or maybe a bridge fiend? If so, you’ll be happy to hear that brain games—activities that demand mental problem solving—aren’t only fun, they are also good for the mind… both human AND canine.

The Importance of Brain Games in Dogs, and Humans 

  • Keep memories sharp and reduce memory loss 
  • Slow down age-related brain changes
  • Get a smarter and more trainable dog 

Memory and learning ability tend to decline with age, in both people and dogs. In fact, the types of brain changes, from normal aging to diseases like Alzheimer’s, are so similar between dogs and people that dogs are used as a model to study mental decline in human aging. The good news is that brain games help reduce some age-related brain changes.

While it isn’t clear yet which specific cognitive exercises work best, the general consensus is that “use it or lose it” holds as true for human and canine minds as it does for our bodies, so Fido better perk up his ears if he wants to keep track of where the bones are buried in his sunset years. To help you keep those canine cognitive wheels well greased, here are a few awesome brain boosters that most dogs rate with two paws up and a big wag of approval.

teaching your dog to bring toys by name

Teach Your Dogs the Names of his Toys

How many toys does your dog know the names of? Increase his vocabulary by teaching him to retrieve each toy by name. Start with his two favourites, and teach him to fetch them by name one at a time, in a room with no other toys to choose from. If he isn’t a naturally motivated retriever, use lots of praise, tug, or treats to reward the good fetches.

Once he knows the names of two toys, put both on the floor and ask him to fetch them one at a time. Reward correct choices with whatever turns his crank, and by continuing the game. Respond to incorrect choices by repeating the request, and eventually guiding him toward the right toy if he really needs help. If he can succeed with two, try three or more.

This is really tough brain work, so expect to build up his vocabulary very gradually. 

Teach Your Dog the One, Two, ThreesBoost brain by teaching your dog to count

Get some small healthy treats, or kibble. Hold six pieces in one closed hand, and two in the other. Ask your dog to sit, hold your hands shoulder width apart, about arm’s length from your dog, and then open your palms and say “small.” Only let him chow down if he picks the smaller group—just close your palms and start over if he picks the bigger one. You can hand him the six after he gobbles the two—as an added bonus for choosing correctly. Randomly switch up which hand has the smaller number so he isn’t just learning to choose “right” or “left.”

If he’s SUCH a chowhound that he just beelines for either hand willy-nilly, make him wait a few seconds before you say “small” so he takes the time to think. The closer the quantities, the tougher the task: if he can choose correctly between four and five you may need to enroll him in a doggie PhD!

Play the Hot-Cold Game with Your Dog

hot or cold game with dogsThis is a top pick for lazy owners with brilliant dogs. Sit back on the couch with your choice beverage in one hand, and a handful of small healthy treats in the other. Ignore any attempts by your dog to approach you directly for food. Think of a doggie action, like walking over to the bookshelf and making contact with it. Watch her for ANY movement in the right direction, and when you spot it say “HOT!” in an excited tone, and toss her a treat, but not too close to you OR the bookshelf. Gradually hold out for movement that is closer and closer to the action on your mind, and see how she reacts.

If she’s a quick giver-upper you’ll need to make it easy for her so she doesn’t quit on you. If she’s a real tryer, you can let her get frustrated and rack her brains a bit harder. If you stumble on an action that will make a neat party trick, just throw in a command once she’s good at it, and you’re set.

Earning the Kibble by Helping to Find Lost Items

Do you waste time and get aggravated searching for your misplaced purse or keys? Let your dog earn some of her kibble by helping you out. Dab these items with the tiniest drop of her favourite essential oil—so little that you don’t even notice it—and teach her to find them by scent, on request. Rewarding successful search missions with a stuffed chewtoy will keep her content as you head out the door, and motivate speedy and reliable retrieves.

Ever find yourself half asleep in bed, only to realize you didn’t close the bedroom door or turn off the light? Hop online or pick up a book on “targeting and clicker training” and teach your dog to use his snout to shut the door, and his paw to flick off the light switch. If you aren’t a morning person, you may want to put him in charge of turning the lights on to get you going. And no, you cannot safely teach him to make you a coffee!

Where is the Treat? The Cup Swapping Game

Play brain games with dogs, cup swapping gameHave your dog sit, and let him see you hide one piece of kibble under a cup on the floor. Tell him to “take it,” and when he noses or knocks over the cup let him eat the kibble it was hiding. Once he’s good at this he is ready for the shell game. Rub kibble on your fingers and along the inside of three mugs lined up in a row, so the smell of it is everywhere—this is a visual tracking game and we don’t want him cheating with his talented nose! Let him see you hide a piece of kibble under one of the mugs. Tell him to “take it” and give him the kibble when he makes the right choice, no matter how long it takes him, and no matter how many mistakes he makes.

Do this many times, hiding kibble under each of the three mugs, one at a time. When he’s good at this step, slide just the kibble-hiding mug to a different spot before telling him to “take it.” This is pretty tough, and not all dogs can do it. Finally, if your dog seems gifted, try swapping two mugs and see if he can track the kibble-hiding one. This game is EXTREMELY challenging, so don’t start out working him like a grifter or you won’t get anywhere! Success at any level means he is no Forest Gump!

Overall Brain Boosting and Bonding 

Interactive brain games are a fun way to socialize with your dog, while encouraging healthy intellectual exercise at the same time. If you and your pooch enjoy physical activity as much as brainwork, there are also oodles of organized dog sports—agility, tracking, and flyball, to name a few—that work your minds and bodies together. Learning to engage your dog in these activities at just the right skill level is hard brain work for you, too, so now you have lots of activities to choose from that will help keep you BOTH mentally sharp!

 

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8 tips to keep your pets happy and healthy this spring

By: 

Spring has sprung! Keep your pet safe and happy all season long with these helpful tips.

Spring is a wonderful season – especially if you’re a companion animal. Warmer temperatures mean longer walks, plenty of mud to roll in and more birds to watch through the windows. But there are also a few dangers associated with this time of year, and it’s your responsibility to keep your cat and dog safe. Follow these tips for a happy, healthy spring!

1. Prevent seasonal allergies

Does your pet start to itch as soon as the snow starts to melt? Book an appointment with your vet to determine whether he’s suffering from seasonal allergies. If so, help relieve his symptoms by boosting immunity, transitioning him to an anti-inflammatory diet and doing your best to limit his exposure to common seasonal allergens such as pollen.

2. Scan for toxic plants

April showers bring May flowers! Just be sure they aren’t going to harm your cat or dog. Take a stroll up and down your street to identify any toxic flowers or shrubbery. When walking your dog, keep him far away from these dangerous plants. While you’re at it, check with your neighbors to determine whether they’re using any toxic fertilizers or pesticides that can make your pet sick if accidentally ingested – and stay away from cocoa mulch!

3. Secure open windows

Kitties love to lounge in open windows, breathing in the fresh, spring air and soaking up the sun. There’s no harm in this pastime, just be sure your screens are safe and secure, and patch any holes that may have materialized over the winter months.

4. Protect him from the sun

In some locations, heatstroke and sunburn won’t be much of an issue until the summer months. If you live in the south, however, it’s important to be aware of these environmental threats. No matter where you live, keep in mind that your pet is transitioning to warmer temperatures and stronger UV rays the same way you are, so don’t let him run too hard or bask in the sun unprotected for extended periods of time.

5. Keep him away from wildlife

Hibernation season is over, and creatures large and small are lurking in forests and fields. If you’re in the habit of walking your dog off-leash, teach him to leave wild animals alone.  This will keep him – and all his fellow critters – safe from harm’s way.

6. Safely store chemical cleaning products

Starting your spring cleaning? Always store any harmful chemical-based cleaners where your animals can’t access them. Better yet, switch to all-natural cleaning solutions – they’re safer for you, your pets and the environment!

7. Exercise caution around streams and rivers

Like children, companion animals are at risk of falling into fast-flowing bodies of water. Thawing ponds and lakes also pose a risk to off-leash dogs who don’t know any better, so be sure your dog is well trained if you plan to let him roam free.

8. Keep bugs at bay

Ticks and fleas and mosquitoes – oh my. As temperatures rise and insects start breeding at high rates, it’s time to ensure your animal is protected. Start by removing all stagnant water sources – AKA bug breeding grounds – from your property. Next, look for natural insect repellents rather than chemical spot-on treatments, which are harmful to his health. Finally, boost his immune system to offer an extra layer of protection from bug-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease, malaria and heartworm.

Shake off those winter blues and enjoy everything spring has to offer you and your pets – just be sure to keep all these safety tips in mind!

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