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Tag: behavior

Have you hugged your dog today?


We’re not recommending you do, and we’re not recommending you don’t. We’re only taking a quick look at the subject because, pure and innocent an act as hugging your dog might seem, it is not without controversy.

Stanley Coren, author of many dog books, stirred up a little of it in his column this month for Psychology Today, citing “new data” that shows getting hugged raises the stress and anxiety levels of dogs, and the possibilities of someone getting bitten.

Some people who have been hugging their dogs for years (and insist their dogs enjoy the affection) found his conclusions laughable, labeled him a party-pooping old fuddy duddy, and said his research techniques were anything but scientific.

We’d agree only with that last part — because Coren’s “new data” was gathered by looking at 250 random photos on the Internet of people hugging dogs.

“I can summarize the data quite simply by saying that the results indicated that the Internet contains many pictures of happy people hugging what appear to be unhappy dogs,” he wrote.

“In all, 81.6% of the photographs researchers scored showed dogs who were giving off at least one sign of discomfort, stress, or anxiety. Only 7.6% of the photographs could rate as showing dogs that were comfortable with being hugged. The remaining 10.8% of the dogs either were showing neutral or ambiguous responses to this form of physical contact.

doghug1Those signs of stress or discomfort include baring of teeth, lowered ears, a dog turning his head away, and a dog who either closes his eyes or shows what is called “half-moon eye” or “whale eye.”

That’s when you can see the white portion of the eyes.

Here’s the problem, though — or one of them, anyway. How does Coren, or anybody else, know that the dogs pictured are stressing out because of the hug. Couldn’t it also be a reaction to WHO is hugging them? Or a reaction to the camera?

The simple fact is some dogs like being hugged, some tolerate it, and others don’t like it at all.

For the latter group, it might be the amount of pressure applied during a hug that they are reacting to — enough to make them feel restrained. It might be that hugs tend to be spontaneous and come out of nowhere.

Then, too, mood could be a factor. Sometimes dogs, and humans, feel like being hugged and sometimes they don’t.

There are just too many variables to make a sweeping conclusion — especially when it’s all based on what photos turn up in your Internet search and your subjective interpretation of those photos.

doghug3Reading a dog’s emotions is tricky enough when you are face to face with one. Doing it from a photo is even more problematic. What for example is this dog thinking?

Hard to read emotions through that many wrinkles, but he seems to be digging it.

We’d agree with the experts who say hugging a dog you don’t know or have just met is not a good idea — and that children should be taught that early on.

But beyond that, we’d be hesitant to put the kibosh on dog hugging altogether, especially when it’s based on Flickr’ed or Facebook’ed photos posted by dog owners wanting to show how much they love their dogs — whether their dogs like it or not.

In this writer’s life, he has been creeped out by some hugs, tolerated others, found some both warm and comforting, and gotten truly enthused by a few.

Probably, some old photos exist of him showing half moon eyes while being squeezed by his big sister.

Does that mean he doesn’t like hugs?

Of course not. He just prefers to make the decision on a case by case basis. Dogs should have that freedom, too.

Rottweilers and pit bulls and chows, oh my!


For years, there were only two ways for an unclaimed pit bull, Rottweiler or chow to get out of the Guilford County Animal Shelter in Greensboro, N.C.

One was for a rescue group to step in, take custody of the dog and find it an adoptive home.

The only other alternative was euthanasia.

Due to “liability concerns,” the shelter had a policy against allowing pit bulls, Rottweilers and chows to be adopted — instituted by the non-profit group that managed it for 15 years.

That group was ousted last year, and last week the Guilford County Board of Commissioners reversed the long-standing rule.

The old policy was established under the United Animal Coalition, a Greensboro-based nonprofit that ran the shelter until last year — when its licensed was revoked after an investigation into charges of animal cruelty. The county assumed management of the shelter.

Last Thursday, the Board of Commissioners voted to change the policy that prevented the adoption of certain breeds, according to the Greensboro News & Record.

According to the shelter’s director, Logan Rustan, about 8 of every 10 dogs in the shelter at any given time are pit bulls.

“A lot of our cages stay empty because I cannot put these three breeds on the floor, and that’s most of what we get,” Rustan told the commissioners. “If I can have this approved … I guarantee when I get back today I can fill the adoption floor, fill it full, with adoptable animals.”

Rustan said the shelter had worked with area rescues to find pit bulls, Rottweilers and chows adoptive homes, but was often left with adult pit bulls that could not be placed.

The change in policy is in keeping with recommendations from the state Department of Agriculture, which has urged the shelter to give more consideration to a dog’s temperament than to its breed when assessing its adoptability.

(Photo by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)

Trainer tries to find dog by zapping her

millerIf you’ve ever been unable to find your car at a shopping mall, you’ve probably done this: You pull out your key, hit the remote alarm button, and then follow the sound of the blaring horn.

A man in Oklahoma decided to use a similar hi-tech strategy to locate a missing dog. He walked through the neighborhood, repeatedly punching the remote that operates the dog’s shock collar, assuming any reaction that produced might help him track her down.

And the man was a dog trainer, no less.

His strategy resulted in one woman being bitten, and in animal cruelty charges being filed against him.

Lukas Miller, who owns the Sit Means Sit franchises in Oklahoma City and Edmond, called Edmond Animal Services after the two-year-old boxer mix chewed through a leash and ran off while being trained.

Miller admitted that, as he searched, he repeatedly triggered the remote, according to a News9 report.

What he didn’t know is that the dog, named Nala, had stopped outside a house, where a woman, seeing the dog in pain, went to her aid.

“She’s an animal lover, so first her instinct was to come outside to see if the dog was OK. As soon as she came outside, the dog got aggressive and lunged at her,” said the woman’s husband, Justin O’Feery.

O’Feery said his wife quickly realized an electronic training collar around Nala’s neck was being activated. When she tried to remove it, the dog bit her.

Miller and the animal services officer arrived at the home after the dog bite had been reported to 911.

“We don’t blame the dog one bit. We’re not mad at the dog. We are mad at the trainer,” O’Feery added.

A spokesperson for Miller said Nala, who he was training for the dog’s owner, was being taken for a bathroom break when she chewed through her leash and ran off.

He called animal control and began searching for the dog immediately because she had a reputation for being aggressive with humans and other dogs. It was Nala’s first training session, the spokesperson said.

A lawyer representing the dog trainer said he plans to fight the charge. A court hearing is scheduled for later this week.

According to the Sit Means Sit website, Miller was an Air Force fire protection specialist for eight years before becoming a dog trainer.

Sit Means Sit says it sometimes uses a “a proprietary remote electronic training collar” that gives dogs a “slight tingle” when necessary to get their attention. The collar works for up to half a mile.

According to the spokesperson, Nala, after being held in quarantine, finished up her training sessions, and that her owner was “super happy” with the results.

It’s official: Dogs are chick magnets

chick magnetA new study has confirmed what many of us guys already knew, or at least suspected — having a dog can make us more appealing to women.

The study goes a step beyond stating the obvious, though, looking at why that is, and why using a dog as date bait — unfair as it may be — works better for men than women.

Titled “The Roles of Pet Dogs and Cats in Human Courtship and Dating,” the study was published this month in the quarterly research journal Anthrozoos.

It surveyed random Match.com users in the United States who included pet information in their dating profiles. More than 1,200 individuals took part.

The study found women put far more stock in a potential mate’s associations with pets — and particularly dogs —  than men did.

Women were more than twice as likely as men to say they were attracted to someone because he had a dog. They were also twice as likely to judge a date based on how he interacted with his dog.

Why? The researchers hypothesized that it’s probably based on evolutionary instincts. Women tend to seek a partner who they think will make a responsible parent, while men are more likely to look for … well, we all know what they are looking for.

“Put in terms of evolutionary and life-history theory, females allocate a higher proportion of their reproductive effort to parenting while males expend more energy on mating,” the researchers said.

In other words, a man with a dog is seen as a more nurturing and responsible member of his gender and therefore, the line of thinking goes, will make a better daddy.

While dogs may help draw women to a man, the reverse isn’t quite as true, the researchers found.

When women see a guy with a dog, they see a man who is responsible and wants to settle down, and they are charmed. When men see a woman with a dog, they too see a person who is responsible and wants to settle down, and they — or at least the less evolved among them — get scared. Or so the researchers’ theory goes.

As the study noted, men have caught on to the fact that a dog can improve their odds with the opposite sex. Twice as many men as women admitted they’ve used their dog to lure a potential date.

So who’s to know whether that guy in the park playing with his puppy is a nurturing soul, or simply a con man posing as a nurturing soul, using his dog in the same way he might use Axe for men?

Women. That’s who. And I wish them luck.

(Bulldog wearing the Zelda Chick Magnet Halloween costume, from Baxterboo.com)

Is this the dog-human bed of the future?


Surveys have shown that as many as half of us sleep with our dogs, so isn’t it time the makers of bedroom furniture started to catch up with the dog-loving times?

And, if they did, would this be the bed of the future?

This sort of bed makes pretty good sense to me, and I think Ace would like it, too.

But for you to understand that, I have to explain the tenuous in-bed relationship my dog and I have.

As soon as I turn in, Ace rushes to the bed, waits a second or two for me to say “OK!” and jumps in — jumps in as if he is thrilled beyond belief to have the distinct honor of sleeping at my side.

He settles down, after the mandatory circling, a few feet away, and with his head at the end of the bed my feet are on.

He waits a few seconds for me to get snuggled under the blanket, pat his butt and say goodnight.

The idyllic picture ends there.

From that moment, any movement by me — and especially by my feet — leads him to lift his head, turn and give me an annoyed look. After the third annoyed look, he harrumphs, gets out of the bed and heads to the floor, the futon in the den, or the sofa in the living room.

My recent purchase of a new mattress helped some. I could shift without him being bounced around. But still, any even minor movement of my feet — whether they are under the blanket or not — sets him off.

So, no, we don’t exactly snuggle all night long, even in winter. According to one survey, while 52 percent of pet owners sleep with their pets, only 23 percent snuggle next to them all night long. (We imagine the numbers are similar for spouses.)

For those of you who might also fall into the non-snuggling category, or who have dogs that fall into this category — i.e. those who appreciate the closeness without the contact or movement — this wooden bed by DoggieDilemma might be worth looking at.

This oak and pine king bed frame ($1,700) leaves a 23-inch wide space for a dog bed insert — be it blankets or a doggie mattress. A queen-size version ($1,500) is also available.

Of course, to our human eyes, this bed is not all that different from putting a doggie bed at the foot or side of your bed — especially if your box spring and mattress are, as in my case, on the floor.

But I think most smart dogs know the difference. They want to be not only on the same level, but in, or on, the same piece of furniture as you.

Furniture makers aren’t quite as smart. They’ve only begun to catch on. One can now find bedside tables that double as crates, or stairs that allow your small or elderly dog to climb into bed with you.

But with few exceptions, they haven’t quite realized: It’s not my bed, it’s our bed.

(Photo: Etsy.com)

The one toy Luca has not destroyed


Maybe it’s no coincidence that the one toy an Alaskan Malamute named Luca hasn’t destroyed is the one that looks a lot like her — or at least what she used to look like.

The photo above was taken of Luca with the toy when she was 8 weeks old.

Here’s Luca and the toy now:


Luca is now one and a half years old. She’s owned by Karissa Lerch, of Durham, who got the stuffed animal when she was in college.

She told Buzzfeed she really wanted a puppy then, but decided at the time a stuffed animal would be more affordable.

“A few years later when I was able to finally get my own dog I passed the stuffed animal down to her and she has kept it by her side at all times ever since.”

Lerch posted the images and others on imgur this week, and they received more than 1.2 million views in two days.

In that post she noted that the stuffed animal is the only toy Luca hasn’t shredded up in minutes.

(Photos: Karissa Lerch, via Imgur)

Revisiting those Republicans: A breed apart


We don’t ever re-post on ohmidog!, but in honor of tonight’s Republican presidential debate, we are retrieving our recent in-depth look at which dog breeds best represent the candidates who will be taking the stage tonight.

Expect some snarls, many growls, and a lot of bites — or at least sound bites — as the candidates parade themselves under the spotlight in Las Vegas, offering another opportunity for the public to judge them not just on their platforms, but in terms of appearance, personality, intelligence and temperament.

So here again — with apologies to any dog breeds we have offended — is our take on what breeds the Republican candidates would be, if they were dogs.

Donald Trump — Afghan Hound

For Donald Trump, as you can see above, we’ve chosen the Afghan hound. On top of the most obvious trait they share — comb-over-able hair — the Afghan “is an aristocrat, his whole appearance one of dignity and aloofness with no trace of plainness,” according to the American Kennel Club.

“He has a straight front, proudly carried head, eyes gazing into the distance as if in memory of ages past … (and) the appearance of what he is, a king of dogs, that has held true to tradition throughout the ages.”

What the AKC doesn’t mention is that Afghans are generally considered to occupy the lower end of the intelligence spectrum when it comes to dog breeds — meaning if they could talk, they would probably sound quite ignorant, all while looking quite arrogant.

Ben Carson — Basset Hound


Laid back and sleepy-eyed, Ben Carson most resembles a basset hound, we think. A generally easy-going breed — some might even say lazy — basset hounds are mostly amiable, but not always eager to obey commands.

They can be a little aloof, as if they are in their own little world. When they do respond, they do it slowly and with what almost appears to be deliberation, though, more often than not, they really haven’t thought things out or done their research. Basset hounds do have a sense of humor — perhaps one that could even be described as dry.

According to Just-basset-hounds.com, bassets are known to whine, howl and bark: “The Basset has a loud, baying type of bark and he can also howl quite loudly. Barking usually is not a problem with a Basset that receives enough exercise and an adequate level of attention.”

Carly Fiorina — Italian Greyhound


Carly Fiorina is clearly an Italian greyhound — a breed that’s not as fragile as it appears.

They are smaller versions of greyhounds, with remarkable speed, fine bones, an elegant appearance, and “dark eyes that shine with intelligence,” according to the AKC.

They are alert, proud, playful and sensitive, but they can be high strung and require constant stroking in stressful situations. They are dependable and mostly peaceful, but if frightened they can snap.

Rand Paul — Cocker Spaniel


For Rand Paul, we’re going with the American Cocker Spaniel.

The smallest member of the Sporting Group, the Cocker Spaniel has a sturdy, compact body and a cleanly chiseled and refined head. They seem charming, outgoing and sociable, but they do not typically make good watchdogs. They are loyal, endearing companions that crave – and thrive on – human attention, but some can be standoffish, unpredictable, shy or aggressive.

It is recommended to keep a Cocker Spaniel on a leash because they can be easily distracted and try to chase any nearby moving creature.

Chris Christie — English Bulldog


Chris Christie? What else but the English bulldog — a sturdy breed with a low center of gravity and some magnificent jowls.

Yourpurebredpuppy.com says of the breed, “Though not a barking watchdog, his blocky build and odd, rolling, shuffling gait give intruders pause. It takes a tremendous amount of serious teasing or threatening to provoke this sweet-natured breed, but once aroused, he can be a force to reckon with. His tenacity and resolve mean that it’s difficult to change his mind once he decides to do something.”

Bulldogs are more sensitive than they appear, and tend to remember what they learn, but some male bulldogs may engage in a stubborn battle of wills with other males. They are best trained with food, not force, the website says. “Jerking this breed around accomplishes absolutely nothing.”

Jeb (and George W.) Bush — Boxer

Jeb-Bush.JPGFor the latest member of the Bush litter to seek the nation’s highest office, Jeb, we’ve chosen the boxer.

Boxers are large, muscular, square-headed dogs with eyes that seem to reflect mischief.

pets4homes.co.ukTheir boundless energy has led to them being called the “Peter Pan” of the dog breeds. Boxers have one of the longest puppyhoods in the world of dogs, and their clownish antics often continue until their adult years — a la George W.

The typical boxer is headstrong. They are known for their great love of and loyalty to their families — a la Jeb. They often are distrustful of strangers at first, especially if they perceive a threat to their families, according to Dogtime.com.

They are stubborn, sensitive and proud, sometimes bracing their legs like a toddler amid a tantrum, refusing to do what you want them to do. Insisting they obey can lead them to shut down and sulk. They are not quiet dogs. In addition to barking, they grumble, grunt, snort, snuffle and snore, according to Yourpurebredpuppy.com. “The sounds are endearing to some people, bothersome to others.”

Marco Rubio — Chihuahua


Marco Rubio, in case you haven’t heard, is the son of Cuban immigrants. Chihuahuas originated in Mexico. But our comparison is based not so much on Latin heritage as it is a particular personality trait.

Tiny as they are, Chihuahuas like to pretend they are big. They will raise a mighty ruckus, and bark their heads off, but still, behind it, you can often detect some underlying fear.

High strung and yappy, at least in the view of their critics, Chihuahuas are naturally suspicious toward strangers, and they seem to prefer being among their own breed.

When they get over excited, frightened, or just plain cold, they visibly shiver. They are quick to sound the alarm and can get a little shrill. As Yourpurebredpuppy.com puts it, some chihuahuas prone to putting on a “display of excited ferociousness (aka ‘they pitch a fit’) when other people or animals approach what they consider to be ‘theirs.’ Which, for some Chihuahuas, extends to the entire street.”

Ted Cruz — Saluki


Salukis have been described as stubborn and manipulative — independent thinkers who don’t particularly care about pleasing you.

We’re sure Ted Cruz is at least one of those, if not all three.

Salukis need firm boundaries or they will be quick to take advantage, training manuals warn. They carry themselves in a dignified yet aloof manner — much like a cat. They can by shy, suspicious and stubborn, and dislike changes in their routine.

As sight hounds, they also are prone to chasing down anything that runs.

Mike Huckabee — Beagle

huckabeehuckabee beagle

Mike Huckabee is a beagle all the way.

They are friendly with people, seemingly good-natured, peaceful with other pets, and have an appealing soulful expression. But make no mistake about it, they are hunting dogs, letting their noses lead them through life.

They are well-known escape artists, and have an innate sense of wanderlust. They are also wailers, baying and howling at the slightest provocation, or with no provocation at all.

They needs lots of activity and hate being bored — so much so they can get a little destructive when they have nothing to do.

John Kasich — Rottweiler


John Kasich likes to portray himself as a working class sort (and he is the son of a mailman) so let’s match him up with a working dog — albeit one of the last breeds a mailman wants to see, the Rottweiller.

Rottweilers are often stereotyped as intense, aggressive, combative and easily provoked — all terms that have been used to describe Kasich. Some see him as prickly, the sort who can get himself quite worked up and come out swinging, at least verbally.

The AKC Standard describes the Rottweiler as “a calm, confident, and courageous dog with a self-assured aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships.” Strong-willed and highly loyal, Rottweilers — though they don’t want to ban Syrian refugees like Kasich does — can be very territorial when it comes to newcomers venturing onto what they see as their turf.

While they are inclined toward dominance, Rottweilers are also pretty touchy-feely — quick to sit on your feet, lie on your lap or lean their entire weight against your leg.

Rick Santorum — Pug


Pugs, like Rick Santorum, love being in the spotlight.

“Pugs love to be the center of attention, and are heartsick if ignored,” according to Dogbreedinfo.com.

Their cute and clownish ways endear them to their hard core fans, though living with them is not always easy, given their snoring, and snorting and piggish eating habits. The zany antics of the bug-eyed lapdogs — like mindlessly running in circles — makes up for their often stubborn ways.

“These dogs can be a bit willful if they sense they are stronger minded than the humans around them,” according to dogbreedinfo.com.

Lindsey Graham — Chow Chow


How can something so cute and fluffy be so vicious?

It’s not all chows — no, no, not at all — but the history of the breed and abuses by breeders have led to many a troubled chow being born, giving them a reputation as aggressive and stubborn and among the hardest breeds to manage.

Not to mention biters. The chow is “protective over his territory and his family, and won’t willingly allow people into his home and yard. He will growl and even bite an unwelcome visitor,” says Dogtemperament.com.

“This dog is extremely dominant, and doesn’t like anyone telling him what he can and can’t do. He doesn’t appear to be particularly concerned about pleasing his owner either, so you need to find another motivator for him. Otherwise, he’ll just do what he wants to, with no regard for what you are trying to teach him … If you’re looking for a companion to snuggle up to on the couch, this is not the dog for you.”

Chows have a dignified appearance, lordly, even, with a slight touch of snobbishness. “The coat of a teddy bear, the scowl of a lion,” is how one website puts it. Yes, they look approachable, but more than a few websites warn they are not to be trusted.

So that wraps up this edition of what if presidential candidates were dogs. There are a couple more lesser known Republicans still technically in the race, but we know so little about them we’ll refrain from assigning them breeds.

As for the Democrats, we may, in the interest of fair play, do the same thing. Then again we may not. Feel free to send along your suggestions, though.

(Photo credits: Trump photo from Splash News, Afghan photo from Pinterest; Carson photo from dailykos.com, basset hound photo from Bellinghambassets.com; Fiorina photo by Mark J. Terrill, Associated Press, Italian greyhound photo from American Kennel Club; Paul photo by Jim Cole, Associated Press, cocker spaniel photo from dogs.petbreeds.com; Chris Christie photo from politicususa.com, English bulldog photo from dailypuppy.com; Bush photo from Politicususa.com; boxer photo from Pets4homes.co.uk; Rubio photo by Molly Riley, Associated Press; Chihuahua photo from Pinterest; Cruz photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons, saluki photo from top-dogbreeds.blogspot.com;; Huckabee photo from Pensitoreview.com, beagle photo from American Kennel Club; Kasich photo from ABC News, Rottweiler photo from Pinterest; Santorum photo from Reuters, pug photo from Buzzfeed; Graham photo from Reuters, chow photo from ohmidog!)