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Tag: behavior

Adele? This dog seems to really feel her

Cruelty to animals? You be the judge.

The dog in the video above is listening to Adele’s hit single, “Hello.”

He or she isn’t restrained, so we won’t say he or she is being forced to listen to the song. He or she appears free to leave the room, just as we are free to turn off the radio, or the Adele television ad, or the Adele TV show appearance.

Adele is not inescapable, though it sometimes seems that way.

A woman named Jillian Caspers posted the video of she and her dog sharing some Adele time — though it has been removed from some media outlets after complaints of copyright infringement by SME Entertainment Group.

(Don’t be surprised if it disappears from here as well. It’s not that Adele and her representatives are worried about us drowning in her music — a distinct possibility — they just want to make sure they get paid for it.)

We reproduce the video here not to step on Adele’s toes, but for a scholarly examination of the dog’s reaction to this particular song, which is also known to result in serious and heartfelt pangs of emotion in humans.

But is that what the dog is experiencing? Or is it just hurting his or her ears? Note how he or she howls most loudly during the high-pitched chorus.

It’s always a mistake to pretend we understand what a dog is feeling. And while conjecture about it is not necessarily a bad thing — it shows some sensitivity on our part — it often fails to get us anywhere as well.

And yet we can’t help but wonder.

Is the dog’s wailing a result of Adele’s vocal style hurting his or her ears? Or is he or she moved by the song’s oh-so-drippy emotion? We don’t think he or she is picking up on any sadness from the owner, as she is laughing her head off about it all.

It’s doubtful, too, that the dog is understanding the insipid lyrics.

The truth is — and it rips our heart in two to say this — we will never know.

Are the plaintive and nostalgic tones of Adele’s voice enough to send the dog on an emotional roller coaster ride. Is the dog having the equivalent of what we humans would call “a good cry.”

Or are the whines simply his or her way of saying, “Please spare me from another second of this.”

(All profits from this blog post will be sent to SME Entertainment Group)

Canis Republicanis: If the top 12 Republican presidential candidates were dog breeds …

trumptrumpafghan

There aren’t quite as many Republican candidates for president as there are dog breeds, but there are enough of both to have some fun with, or at least fun in a Democrat’s eyes.

So here, before the pack thins out any more, is our look at what Republican candidates remind us most of which dog breeds, and why.

Factors taken into consideration include appearance, personality, intelligence, reputation and temperament.

I’d like to apologize right up front for any embarrassment these comparisons may cause.

Sorry, 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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

cruzsaluki

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

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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

kasichrott

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

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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

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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!)

Revenge? Hardly. Karma? Definitely!

The video above is pretty cute, but on top of making us chuckle it’s a pretty good example of what’s wrong with the news media these days.

Well, make that at least three things that are wrong with the news media these days.

First, the news organizations that have featured it on their websites in the last week almost all make you watch 30 seconds to a minute of advertising before seeing the 38-second video.

Second, the video was posted on the Internet more than two years ago, which hardly rates as news — even under today’s definition.

Third, and most annoying, almost every single news site that has picked up the old video (from Jukinmedia.com) characterizes the dog’s actions as “revenge.”

That’s anthropomorphic, and just plain wrong.

Clearly, the little girl is poking the resting dog with her feet. Quite possibly, the dog got annoyed and adjusted his position.

But we highly doubt the dog is exacting “revenge” on the girl. True, we can’t read the mind of a dog, either — much less that of a dog in a video — but the far more likely explanation is that the dog is trying to create a cooler and more comfortable spot to rest in.

Jukinmedia.com, when it published the video, described it as showing a dog getting “revenge” on the girl “by throwing sand in her face” and “making her crawl away in fear.”

Apparently, they didn’t watch enough of it to see the little girl laughing about it all.

But what’s far lazier is how, two years later, mostly-reputable news websites such as The Telegraph, ABC News, AOL and the Orlando Sentinel have all featured the video this month under a “dog gets revenge” headline. Of all the news organizations we found carrying the video, only KOMO in Seattle didn’t characterize the dog’s actions as revenge.

Are we nitpicking, or do readers/viewers deserve something better than old, innacurate, repackaged “news” when the only thing new about it is the length of the ad we have to watch before seeing it?

Are we going to accept that, or should we kick a little sand in their faces?

Why dogs are smarter than wolves

cartoon

An Oregon State University scientist’s study, published yesterday, is drawing a lot of attention for concluding (as scientific studies often do) the obvious:

The longer dogs live with us, the more dependent they become on us, and, as a result, their problem solving and survival skills aren’t what they were back when they were wolves.

Not to sound stupid, but duh.

This, friends, is evolution. Just as our ancestors could once shred apart a mastodon leg without using an electric carving knife, the ancestors of dogs — i.e. wolves — did, and do, what they have to do to survive.

But to say dogs are “dumbing down” as a result of the cushy life we are affording them, well that’s just a little narrow-minded.

I prefer to think of it as their skills taking a new direction.

Do we say children are becoming more “stupid” because they can’t use a manual typewriter or blacksmith tools?

Of course the scientist and author of this study didn’t use the word “stupid” — only headline writers do that.

More “dim” is how the Smithsonian put it. “Stupid” and “lazy thinkers” is what the Daily Mail called them. “Poor problem solvers” was the phrase of choice for Discover magazine. “Rubbish at solving problems,” reported the International Business Times.

Kinda makes you think the dog world could use a public relations pro at least as adept as the one who garnered the author of this study so much press.

Up to now, canine cognition studies have mostly marveled at how dogs have learned to interact with humans — and cited that as proof of how incredibly smart they are.

This new study, and some earlier ones, however, are portraying how much dogs are relying on humans as an example of how we are “dumbing them down.”

Yes, dogs are growing ever more dependent on humans. Just as humans are growing ever more dependent on computers. Who does that make stupider? Or is “more stupid” the righter way of saying that?

The study at issue is by Monique A.R. Udell, an assistant professor of animal and rangeland sciences at Oregon State University. In it, she compared the problem solving skills of dogs and wolves.

Ten pet dogs and ten wolves were presented with a solvable puzzle. Sausage was placed inside a sealed plastic tub with a hard to open lid. Just one of the dogs was able to open the tub, while eight of the wolves were.

Dogs often gave up more quickly, and turned to their human masters for guidance, often with that cute head tilt they use to manipulate us. (It’s only fair after the thousands of years we’ve been manipulating them, starting with their domestication.)

The wolves, meanwhile, sought out no such help, and spent more time trying to get in the box. It should be noted they also spent more time trying to get into an impossible to open box.

How smart is that?

Udell believes depending on humans for help is not necessarily a cognitive asset. She calls the response a “conditioned inhibition of problem-solving behavior.”

Udell’s findings were published yesterday in the journal Biology Letters.

So, no, I don’t buy that a wolf being able to open a box, or spending more time on the task, is proof they are any smarter. They use their paws and claws and teeth, and perhaps some brute force — but they don’t take a second to consider other alternatives.

Dogs on the other hand, have an entire arsenal — from head tilt to sympathy-invoking whimper, from batting their big eyes at us to licking our hands as if to say, “If you love me, you will help me with this.” To me, that’s proof dogs are smarter.

After all, which is more easy to manipulate, a can of Spam or a human being?

(Cartoon by Charles Barsotti / The New Yorker)

Sandra Bullock sure knows how to pick ’em

bullockWe’re not much for celebrity worship — believing as we do that dogs are far more worthy of such adoration — but we do from time to time, on slow news days, check to see the latest movie star gossip, especially when it involves dogs.

So we were chagrined to learn that the lovely and talented Academy-Award-winning actress Sandra Bullock, who divorced her philandering husband Jesse James in 2010, has now taken up with what we think may be another loser.

We base that theory on one act alone — but one that may speak volumes.

In 2012, Radar Online reports, Bryan Randall, who Bullock has been seeing for about two months, smeared dog feces over a neighbor’s door.

Sane, even-tempered, non-bullies don’t engage in that kind of behavior.

Randall reportedly had become irate with a neighbor for allowing his dog to poop in front of his building.

That neighbor, John Stacer, said that shortly after his dog did his business, Randall approached him.

“He was videotaping me and said, ‘pick up your dog’s shit, asshole.’”

Stacer had no desire to argue or tangle with the hunky model and photographer.

randall“He is a big guy and I was scared to go any closer so I called my dog back toward me and took him upstairs.”

Stacer said he planned to go back outside later and clean up the mess, but before he got a chance his girlfriend came home and noticed dog feces spread on the door.

He cleaned up the mess in his doorway, and his girlfriend sent Randall a message telling him such behavior was unacceptable.

Randall responded with a message telling her “10 days from now this will play out differently … He will see another side as soon as my kid is out of state.”

Stacer sought and was granted a temporary restraining order against Randall.

Radar Online says it “obtained disturbing court documents” describing the whole incident. (It is good to know they have Sandra’s best interests at heart.)

Bullock, while she may have a preference for bad boys, is known as quite the dog lover, and has adopted some special need pets, including a three-legged dog, and a two-legged one.

How endangered is that doggy on a rooftop?

bojo1

They get about five calls a day at the Farm and Garden Store in Forest Grove, Oregon, about the dog on the roof.

But rest assured, store employees say, he’s not going to jump.

Bojo, a white American bulldog, lives above the store with his, and its, owner, Dennis Crowell.

Crowell commonly leaves a sliding door to the roof open, and Bojo regularly ventures out there — all the way to the edge so he can keep an eye on his owner and anything else he deems worth watching.

Whenever Crowell goes out on an errand, Bojo assumes the position, dutifully awaiting his return.

It’s all cool, store employees say, but those unfamiliar with Bojo’s habits don’t know that.

So hardly a day goes by that the store, or the fire department, or the police department, doesn’t get a call from someone concerned that the dog is in danger, the News-Times reports.

bojo2“Everybody thinks he is going to jump because he always sits at the edge,” said store manager Jesse Wong. “That’s why I think people freak out about it.”

“I don’t think he’ll jump down from there. I’ve been here since he was a puppy, and I think he’s 4 or 5 years old now.”

When Bojo is not on the roof, he can be seen roaming the store, which also has a mural of his likeness on its front wall.

(Photos by Travis Loose / News-Times)

Why some dogs chase their tails

tailchaser

Why do some dogs seem so obsessed with chasing their tails?

Researchers at Bristol University in the UK have entered the second phase of a study aimed at finding the answer.

Scientists from the two-year “Bristol Spinning Dog Project” will visit the homes of the 50 non-spinning dogs to collect urine samples and cheek swabs, and complete training tasks aimed at assessing the pet’s personality and ability to learn, The Independent reports.

In the first phase of the study, the researchers examined spinning dogs, delving into everything from their DNA to their environments to their personalities.

After examining dogs that chase their tails, the researchers will use the non-spinners to act as a control group.

Tail-chasing, while the topic of many a YouTube video, is likely something we shouldn’t be laughing about — out loud or otherwise — at least in those cases where the behavior is obsessive.

The researchers say reasons for the behavior aren’t fully understood — some spinning dogs may be merely seeking attention or expressing a desire to play, but spinning frequently or while alone could be a sign of frustration or a more serious disorder.

“There isn’t much information in the research literature about why dogs spin,” said Beth Loftus, one of the lead researchers. “We think this behavior develops because of personality and genetics, as well as the environment during a dog’s first 16 weeks and learning throughout life. But we don’t really know what it means for dogs’ welfare.”

“We hope to be able to identify dogs that are starting to spin and stop it from developing to the point where they are doing it almost to the complete exclusion of other, more normal types of behavior,” she added.

The research is being funded by the Dogs Trust charity.

(Photo : Flickr Commons / Tim Mowrer)