Last time we checked in on Ricochet, she was riding the waves, teaching the disabled to surf, and raising gobs of money for good causes in the process.
Now Surf Dog Ricochet, as she’s still known, is involved with a program that allows individuals with speech disabilities to communicate with their dogs by using an electronic voice, via an iPad.
Ricochet, who’s also a therapy dog, is shown here reacting to commands given from an iPad electronic voice through the TouchChat app without any cues from her handler.
The app allows people who have verbal disabilities as a result of Autism, Downs Syndrome, stroke, or other causes to communicate directly with a dog, giving them a sense of independence, self confidence and control.
Ricochet’s working with the Poway Unified School District Transition Program, through the therapy dog organizations she belongs to — Paws’itive Teams
Paws’itive Teams trains service dogs to assist mobility-limited persons in achieving greater independence and, through educational presentations and animal assisted therapy, enhances the lives of persons living in San Diego County.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 5th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, commands, communication, disabilities, dogs, electronic, ipad, obey, pawsitive teams, pets, poway, ricochet, schools, speech, surf dog, surf dog ricochet, therapy dogs, touchchat, video, voice
Most of us dog owners already know that our dog is as at least as smart, when it comes to both verbal and non-verbal cues, as a six-month old human infant.
Now, another study has confirmed that — this one from Hungary.
It’s one of those stories that keeps resurfacing and pretending to be breaking news – like Mitt Romney transporting his dog by putting him (in a crate) on the roof of his car.
Because humans don’t remember as well as dogs, and because we’re conditioned to thinking something labeled “news” is going to be new, we accept it as that. But that’s probably another study.
In this one, the Hungarian researchers, according to findings published in the Cell Press journal Current Biology, concluded that dogs pick up on the words we say and on our intent to communicate with them — and that their receptivity to human communication is similar to that of very young children.
“Increasing evidence supports the notion that humans and dogs share some social skills, with dogs’ social-cognitive functioning resembling that of a 6-month to 2-year-old child in many respects,” said József Topál, Ph.D., of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
“The utilization of ostensive cues is one of these features: dogs, as well as human infants, are sensitive to cues that signal communicative intent,” he said. Those include verbal addressing and eye contact, he explained.
Folks, except for some of those big words, did we not already know that? Just as surely as we know it’s stupid to put your Irish setter, or any other dog, atop your car and take him on a trip?
Topál’s team presented dogs with video recordings of a person turning toward one of two identical plastic pots while an “eye tracker” captured information on the dogs’ reactions. It was the first study to use eye-tracking techniques to study dogs’ social skills
One of the videos showed a person who first looked straight at the dog, addressing it in a high-pitched voice with “Hi dog!” A second showed the person uttering a low-pitched “Hi dog” while avoiding eye contact.
Researchers discovered dogs were more likely to follow along and look at the pot when the person first expressed an intention to communicate: “Our findings reveal that dogs are receptive to human communication in a manner that was previously attributed only to human infants,” Topál said.
Topal is convinced that the receptivity is something that has evolved in the species in the time since its domestication: “Dogs have evolved to sharing their lives with humans. And they gained new skills that support their social interaction with humans.”
We’d agree with that theory, but we still think some of these studies are stating the obvious — and that it’s time to move forward and research whether dogs are not just smarter than babies, but maybe smarter than the average presidential candidate.
Let’s track their eyes and see what happens.
(Top photo: Punjapit)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 10th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, behavior, candidates, car, car roof, communication, cues, current biology, dog, dogs, evolution, eye tracking, eyes, hungary, intelligence, mitt romney, news, non-verbal, pets, politics, presidential, receptivity, research, roof, science, seamus, study, top, tracking, verbal
Leashed dogs are likely to act more aggressively. Dogs, researchers ascertained, like to sniff other dogs, especially those of the opposite sex.
But here’s one fascinating finding that I think is worth much more research: Dogs being walked by men are four times more likely to threaten and bite other dogs.
That’s pretty stunning, and merits further investigation — into dog, into man, but even moreso into dogs’ abilities to read our emotions, better even, perhaps, than we can read our own.
The study, to be published in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science, found that the sex of the owner had the biggest effect on whether or not a dog will threaten or bite another dog.
“We propose that the occurrence of threat and biting in dogs on a walk may have some connection with aggressive tendencies and/or impulsivity in people,” Petr Rezac and his team at Mendel University wrote.
They add: “Dogs are able to perceive subtle messages of threat emitted by another dog. Simultaneously, dogs are unusually skilled at reading human social and communicative behavior.”
Rezac is an associate professor in the Department of Animal Morphology, Physiology and Genetics. He and his colleagues studied close to 2,000 dog-dog interactions on owner-led walks held in the city of Brno, according to Discovery News.
What they observed the most, as you might expect, was sniffing and peeing. And most of the researchers’ conclusions are already known by anyone with a dog:
Males sniff females more often, males and females prefer play with each other than with members of their own sex, adult males mark the most, puppies play together more than twice as often as adults, dogs prefer to play with similarly sized individuals and dogs tend to be more aggressive when restrained by a leash.
(Scientists, meanwhile, according to my own observations, are prone to sniffing, scratching their heads and marking their turf. They don’t have time to play, and tend to be aggressive when their funding is threatened. They should almost always be leashed.)
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, in the process of trying to figure dogs out, man learned a thing or two about his own self?
I think much helpful-to-humans information is there, inside dogs, but it mostly goes untapped — because we speak different languages, because we don’t often look for it, and for reasons of focus. Scientists, like detectives building a case against a suspect, sometimes develop tunnel vision, to the extent that bigger, broader potential revelations, and sometimes ethics and boundaries, go ignored.
The Czech study, for example, leads me to wonder whether, in addition to studying the dogs, scientists might want to pay closer attention to those dog walkers, and all the baggage and pent-up hostilities they may be carrying around — whether they have those emotions on a leash, or too tight a leash, or no leash at all.
I don’t think it’s a Czech thing. And, in my experience, it’s not a gender thing. Generally, I’ve found that the most tightly wound pet owners — male or female — have the most unpredictable dogs.
Dogs, in large part, mirror their owners.
But their powers go far beyond mere reflection. Let’s go back to those pent-up hostilities. Sometimes they are undectable to psychiatrists. Sometimes they are undectable to the person they are pent-up in. Yet dogs have the power to sense them, and sometimes to calm them.
I’m not saying dogs know more than scientists — or am I? — only that dogs sense and know things we don’t. If only we could figure out a non-intrusive and polite way to ask the dogs to share with us all the things they have the power to sense — things that, even with all our scientific instruments, we humans can’t.
Maybe then — leashed or unleashed, male or female, dog or human — we could all just get along.
(Photo: By John Woestendiek)
(PS: The dogs pictured above were playing, not fighting)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 7th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aggressive, animal behavior, animals, behavior, communication, conclusions, czech republic, dog, dog walking, dogs, females, findings, gender, hostile, humans, inside dogs, insights, leashed, leashes, males, mendel university, mirror, observation, peeing, perception, petr rezac, pets, playing, reading, reflect, reflection, research, science, scientists, sense, sensing, sex, sniffing, study, walker, walking
What’s your barking dog trying to say?
Nothing in particular, according to a University of Massachusetts study. It concludes dogs do not bark differently in different circumstances; rather, they have one all purpose bark to ward off predators and deal with conflict.
“What we’re saying is that the domestic dog does not have an intentional message in mind, such as, ‘I want to play’ or ‘the house is on fire,’” said Kathryn Lord, a University of Massachusetts, Amherst doctoral candidate, who worked to define the bark.
She believes the dog bark evolved about 10,000 years ago, when dogs needed to stand their ground to eat at human dumpsites. Instead of running away every time a human came near, they participated in mobbing behavior, bravely barking to intimidate intruders instead of running away and wasting food energy.
Lord pointed out that not all dog noises are barks, and that the other noises might have other motivations behind them, according to a WCVB TV report.
But as for barks, she insists, dog’s aren’t trying to tell us anything, just voice their “internal conflict.”
“There’s no deep cognitive understanding, and I think that upsets a lot of people,” she said.
Dogs had no comment on the study.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 23rd, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: amherst, bark, barking, barks, cognition, communication, dogs, interpretation, meaning, news, noises, ohmidog!, research, sounds, study, understanding, university of massachusetts
(Behave! is a monthly column on dog training and behavior, written for ohmidog! by Lauren Bond and Carolyn Stromer of B-More Charming School for Dogs. To see all of the columns, click on the Behave! tab on the rightside rail.)
While dogs bring lots of wonderful things to our lives, they can also bring muddy paws, dog breath and, sometimes, enough noise to drive you ,or worse yet your neighbors, crazy.
Incessantly barking dogs can, and have, led to full-fledged war between neighbors. But as with much bad behavior — not just canine — the key to stopping it is understanding why it’s taking place.
First, let’s debunk some myths: Barking is not the dog version of conversation. Dogs don’t communicate that way, they use body language for most of their “discussion” with us, and with other animals. Dogs don’t have a barked vocabulary. Nor do dogs speak English, so you can’t reason with your dog to be quiet.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 9th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alert, bark, barked, barking, behave!, behavior, boredom, canine, communication, dog, dogs, ignore, loud, neighbor, neighbors, noise, nuisance, over-stimulation, reward, rewards, separation anxiety, silence, startle, training, types, under stimulation