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Tag: dog owners

Why dogs eat poop: A new theory suggests the behavior all goes back to wolves

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If you had to pick the one non-violent behavior that most dismays dog owners, it would likely be when their dog consumes dog poop — be it the dog’s own or some other dog’s.

Most of us can tolerate their incessant licking of their privates. We can laugh off them humping the leg of a house guest. But most humans find their dog gobbling up feces a revolting and inconceivable act, and some — believe it or not — have even cited it as a reason for returning a dog to a shelter.

While traditionally it has been speculated that some dogs (a minority) engage in the practice to make up for some deficiency in their diet, a new paper suggests it may be in their genes, Scientific American reports.

Veterinary researchers at University of California at Davis who surveyed nearly 3,000 dog owners found 16 percent of dogs consume canine feces “frequently,” meaning, in this case, they’ve seen them do it more than six times. In a second survey of just owners of poop-eating dogs, 62% of them were described as eating it daily and 38% weekly.

Benjamin Hart, a veterinarian who directs the Center for Animal Behavior at Davis, reviewed the survey results and the scientific literature on poop-eating, most of which he says is speculative and doesn’t provide any sort of definitive answer for the cause of what’s called coprophagy.

The survey showed no link between feces-eating and other compulsive behaviors. Coprophagy wasn’t associated with age, gender, spaying or neutering, age of separation from the mother, ease of house training, or any other behavior problem.

What coprophagic dogs had in common was this: More than 80 percent were reported to favor feces no more than two days old.

To Hart, that suggests that the cause may go back more than 15,000 years and be rooted, like so much else, in wolves. The new study by Hart and others was published in the journal Veterinary Medicine and Science.

Typically, wolves defecate away from their dens, but at times of urgency, they may let loose nearby. When that happens, other wolves commonly gobble it up while it’s fresh, possibly, some scholars believe, to prevent the spread of parasitic infections.

Feces contain intestinal parasite eggs, which, after a couple of days, hatch into infectious larvae.

Wolves, he said, figured out that by eating any fresh poop left near the den they could be spared being infected by parasites.

“If they eat it right away, it’s safe to eat. They won’t get infected by parasites,” he said.

He theorizes that today’s poop-eating dogs still carry around that wolfy instinct, even though the feces of modern-day pets, consuming modern-day dog food, tend to be parasite-free.

Hart noted there is no shortage of explanations for dogs eating poop.

“For every person you ask about this, you get a different opinion. Because they’re guessing, whether they’re veterinarians or experts in behavior,” he said.

Some believe that stress, or enzyme deficiencies lead to the behavior. Others suspect dogs picked it up as they adapted to scavenging for food sources in human environments. Many dogs will try to eat anything, and poop, from their own or other species, falls into that category.

The study noted that dogs whose owners considered them “greedy eaters,” were far more like to engage in the behavior.

Dog owners responding to the survey sometimes saw their dogs eating poop, and sometimes just surmised as much, based on “tell-tale breath odor,” or because poop in the house was disappearing before they got around to cleaning it up.

While there are products on the marketplace that claim to correct the problem, most of those do little more than make a dog’s own poop foul tasting, according to the Washington Post blog Animalia.

A dog owner can try and correct the behavior, clean up immediately after their dogs, and monitor them closely while they are outside, but the bottom line is — disgusting as it may strike us — dining on feces isn’t that surprising given where dogs come from and what they’ve been through.

As Clive Wynne, director of the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University, noted:

“The niche that dogs occupy is essentially one of making a living on people’s leavings — and that isn’t just our leftovers from dinner, but what we put down the toilet, too,” he said. “So it’s only from our human perspective that coprophagy seems strange.”

A swift victory for bar dogs in DC

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They say nothing gets done quickly in Washington, and at the federal level, “they” are generally right.

Look at the history of health care legislation, or that of immigration reform, or virtually any other issue.

So it’s refreshing to learn that when the DC Health Department decided to wage war on dogs in bars, the DC Council brought an end to it — and in a matter of weeks.

The council unanimously passed emergency legislation allowing businesses to choose whether they want to have pet-friendly patios — and in doing so sent a message to the health department that there are better things it could be doing with its time.

In mid-September, health inspectors, acting on complaints from uptight citizens, told owners of three dog-friendly bars — Midlands in Park View, Wonderland Ballroom in Columbia Heights, and Bardo Brewing — that they couldn’t permit dogs on their premises.

The laws have been around a while, but they are little known and seldom exercised.

Dog owners were quick to react to the crackdown.

Midlands owner Peyton Sherwood, whose bar dog AndyPants has a dog house at the beer garden, called on pet owners to contact their council members. He also hosted a “doggy sit-in and petition signing” to change the law.

A Twitter account, @PupsOnPatios, was created to advocate on behalf of the banished canines.

Other bars joined in the fight and their customers and dog owners inundated D.C. Council members with complaints, leading to emergency legislation to repeal the ban that was introduced and approved Tuesday.

The resolution, led by council members Brianne Nadeau and Vincent Gray, pointed out that the health department should be worrying about more important things, such as opioid abuse, mental health services and health care disparities, according to Washingtonian.com.

“The Department of Health’s limited time and resources are being marshaled to suddenly enforce an unknown and previously unenforced regulation about dogs being allowed in outdoor patio dining areas,” the resolution noted.

The legislation, which still needs the mayor’s approval, returns the decision on whether dogs should be permitted on bar and restaurant patios where it belongs — to bar and restaurant owners.

Under the resolution, businesses can choose whether to allow dogs, and can restrict types of dog based on breed, size, or temperament.

Establishments permitting dogs will be required to have signs clearly stating that dogs are permitted and provide a separate entrance to outdoor areas that do not open into indoor seating areas. Patrons will be required to keep their dogs on leashes.

(Photo: AndyPants, resident dog at Midlands Beer Garden, courtesy of Midlands)

Alt-right better watch where they step

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(Update: Patriot Prayer canceled its planned rally at Crissy Field, and plans to proceed with a press conference in a different location today. Leader Joey Gibson said, “After several conversations with the police, and understanding the situation, we’ve decided that tomorrow really feels like a set-up … We’re not going to fall into that trap.” Instead, the group plans to hold a press conference today at Alamo Square.)

It started as a joke, and then picked up steam, becoming a fully formed Facebook event — a peaceful (and poopful) plot to disrupt a far-right “Freedom Rally” from a safe distance.

Those participating plan to go to San Francisco’s Crissy Field — the public park where the far-right rally will take place — and place some land mines, with a little help from their dogs.

The organizers encouraged people to bring their dogs to the park beforehand to “leave a gift for our Alt-Right friends … Take your dog to Crissy Field and let them do their business and be sure not to clean it up!”

The hosts of the event have promised to clean it all up after the rally.

The “Freedom Rally” near the Golden Gate Bridge is sponsored by a group called “Patriot Prayer,” which many local officials say is a front for white supremacists, Nazis and other extremists.

Politicians and public officials in the Bay Area are denouncing the rally and say the National Park Service should not have issued the group a permit.

According to the Washington Post, the rally is one of several protests and counter-protests planned around San Francisco Saturday afternoon.

House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi described the rally as “white supremacist,” saying she had “grave concerns about the public safety hazard”
it could create.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee characterized the events as “hate-filled extremist rallies” and said the participants’ “only priority is to incite violence through divisive rhetoric.”

As for the organization, Patriot Prayer, it is led by an Oregon activist named Joey Gibson, who is Japanese American. The group has previously organized rallies in the Portland area that escalated to violence.

Gibson, on Facebook, says his group is not white supremacist or neo-Nazi. In a Facebook event posting for Saturday’s rally, he said, “No extremists will be allowed in. No Nazis, Communist, KKK, Antifa, white supremacist, I.E., or white nationalists. This is an opportunity for moderate Americans to come in with opposing views. We will not allow the extremists to tear apart this country.”

We’re not sure how — at least until a walk-through extremist detector is invented — that can be achieved. Gibson said those attending the rally will be a diverse group whose members believe in freedom.

tuffington2Like many local leaders, a San Francisco artist who calls himself Tuffy Tuffington doesn’t believe that. It was while walking his dogs at Crissy Field that he came up with the idea of a peaceful way to protest and disrupt the rally.

“My dogs were doing their business, Tuffington, 45, told the Post, “and I was struck with the image of a bunch of alt-right folks stomping around in a field of poop.”

It’s the kind of symbolic image — jackboots landing in dog poop — that any artist would love, not to mention writers of headlines, like this one in The Guardian: “Turd Reich: San Francisco dog owners lay minefield of poo for rightwing rally.”

Tuffington posted the call for dog poop last week and has heard back from 980 people who say they will participate and 5,300 more who say they are interested.

poopmapSome said they plan to collect their dogs’ output for several days and bring it to the park.

As you might expect, his plot is being criticized as well — mainly by those who see it as defiling a much-loved park, and environmentally harming they bayside.

Patriot Prayer’s Gibson says the rally’s participants aren’t going to be deterred by a little dog poop, or even a lot of dog poop.

“I don’t think someone is going to step on a pile of dog poop and be like ‘I’m convinced, I shouldn’t be here, I need to change my ideology,'” he told NBC Bay Area.

Tuffington says he plans to stay safely away from the park Saturday, at least until night falls and the rally is over.

Then, he says, the scooping will begin.

(Top photo of Crissy Park by Eric Risberg/AP; photo of Tuffy Tuffington provided by Tuffy Tuffington, graphic from the Facebook page of Tuffy Tuffington)

Dog owners in India going to the wall to find mates for their dogs

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Some well-to-do dog owners in India have taken to posting public notices of their dogs’ desire to hook up with a canine of the opposite sex — most often one of the same breed.

“Lonely, fair, and handsome, three-year-old Golden Labrador (Ludhiana caste, settled in Delhi) seeks homely female of the same community. Must be blonde, slim, beautiful, well-behaved, well-groomed, smart with good family values,” read one, posted on a wall in Delhi’s ritzy Khan neighborhood.

Other posts on the wall are from a “single and ready to mingle,” setter-retriever mix, and a “spunky” Maltese in search of Miss Right.

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It’s being done in a playful spirit, Scroll reported, but it’s not immediately clear whether those posting such notices are having a little fun, truly seeking breeding companions for their dogs, or a little of both.

And if it’s a case of novices jumping on the bandwagon to try their hands at dog breeding, that raises some concerns among animal welfare organizations.

“This is probably the dog owners’ way of showering love on their dog, or just being cute,” said Pallavi Dar, who volunteers at a shelter in Noida. “But how many of them really know that dog breeding – even if you are not a professional breeder – is serious business? You can’t just mate your dog and give away or sell off puppies – you need to have a licence for that.”

Others feel there is nothing wrong with seeking a love connection for their canine.

“If humans can have matrimonials, why not dogs?” asked Atul Khanna, who put up a poster in Khan Market looking for a mate for his dog Moltu, a two-and-a-half-year-old Maltese.

Moltu, though described as both “independent and spunky,” has yet to get any responses. But, his owner said, patience is key when looking for a mate.

(Photos: Scroll)

Dog owners less likely to cheat on spouses, according to website that arranges affairs

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If we can trust the source of this study — and sleazy as the source may be, we probably should — dog owners are less likely to cheat on their partners.

IllicitEncounters.com, a dating website in the UK for married people, has found that of all the pet owners using its service to start an affair, dog owners are the least represented.

The website surveyed members, finding only about 10 percent of them own dogs — a far smaller portion than in the UK’s overall population.

“There has already been a plethora of scientific studies that claim that owning a dog, or dogs, makes you happier and healthier, and now you can add loyalty to that list,” said website spokesperson Christian Grant.

Grant noted that, in a way, pet owners seem to reflect the personality of their pets, at least when it comes to dogs and cats.

Dogs are generally viewed as loyal, he said, while “a cat’s loyalty is a little more unclear. Often lazy, they’ve been known to drift to whomever is offering them more food, so it’s of little surprise to see that lack of loyalty reflected in our study.”

Fidelity is rarer among cat owners, if the study is to be believed. They make up 25 per cent of the website’s membership.

According to The Telegraph, the website surveyed 700 members of its members.

Apparently, even while juggling spouses and paramours these cheaters had time to take the survey. (We’ll assume they didn’t cheat on it.)

Of those member surveyed about 16 percent said they owned fish, 13 per cent hamsters or gerbils, 11 per cent rabbits and 11 per cent reptiles.

But the biggest disparity between the spouse cheaters — or at least hopeful spouse cheaters — and the general population was how few had dogs in their homes.

“Man’s best friend is the UK’s most popular pet, and has been for a very long time, but not among this particular community it seems,” Grant said.

The website claims it has had more than 1 million users since 2003, and it issues the following disclaimer on its opening page:

“WARNING: NOT EVERYONE IS SUITED TO HAVING AN AFFAIR. THEY ARE NOT AN ALTERNATIVE TO WORKING ON OR ENDING A MARRIAGE. NOT ALL AFFAIRS HAVE A POSITIVE EFFECT ON A MARRIAGE, SOME CAN BE VERY DAMAGING. ALWAYS CONSIDER OTHER PEOPLE AND IF YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE AN AFFAIR, PLEASE SELECT YOUR PARTNER WISELY.”

(Photo: IllicitEncounters.com)

This one will make you whimper

This public service ad from France lays it on a little thick — but maybe that’s what’s necessary to get through to humans so thickheaded and coldhearted that they would abandon a dog.

Launched by French animal welfare group, Foundation 30 Million D’Amis (30 Million Friends), the video begins with a dog at his owner’s side in the hospital.

Through flashbacks we learn the owner had driven his dog to a remote area, ordered him to stay, and then drove off.

When he spots the dog in his rear view mirror running after his car he has an accident — and guess who saves him?

Each year in France, tens of thousands of pets are abandoned — most of them during the summer.

NPR reported a few years back that many such abandonments take place while families are on vacation:

“Every summer an estimated 100,000 domestic animals are abandoned in France by owners who say they are unable to take them along or find someone to look after them,” the report said.

The ad — just the latest in an ongoing campaign by humane organizations against abandonment — is being shown online and on French television.

If nothing else, it reminds us which species is the more loyal.

Deputy dogs: A good idea is catching on

Natasha Hernanadez, community services officer with the Laguna Beach Police Department, speaks with a dog owner about the Dog Walker Watch program one morning at the Laguna Beach Dog Park on Laguna Canyon Road. The city is asking dog walkers to help be aware of issues in and around their neighborhoods to help fight the rise in residential burglaries. ///ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:   dogwalker ? 06/18/15 ? MARK RIGHTMIRE, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

In lovely Laguna Beach, California, the police department is seeking out dogs and their walkers to help take a bite out of crime.

The department has launched its own local version of a national campaign known as Dog Walker Watch, variations of which are now operating in more than 1,300 cities.

It enlists those who are out on the streets anyway, to serve as extra eyes and ears, reporting any suspicious activity or unusual behavior to authorities.

The Orange County Register reports that 20 dog owners have been trained so far this summer, and the police department is looking for more.

Natasha Hernandez, the department’s community service officer, has set up a stand at the Laguna Beach Dog Park to spread word about the program, handing out brochures and poop bags emblazoned with the police phone number. She has also posted fliers at pets shops and approached many professional dog walkers and sitters.

One of those who signed up is Diane Berger, who walks her neighborhood daily with her golden retriever, Casey.

“It’s an amazing idea,” she said. “We kind of have responsibility to help out. It’s our community. If we want to keep it safe, we can’t always expect others to take care of it.”

As part of the training, the police department makes a point of telling dog owners to stay alert, and to call when they see anything suspicious. The program stresses that calls to police aren’t bothersome.

The idea was hatched a year ago in Pennsylvania by Matt Peskin, the Register reported.

“I realized there are 75 million dog walkers in the country,” Peskin said. “If you could train a percentage to become even more aware, you’d have the perfect eyes and ears in the community.”

(Photo: Diane Berger walks with Casey, her 8-year-old golden retriever; by Mark Rightmire / Orange County Register)