This new ad campaign for a dog food company in Brazil is neither warm nor fuzzy.
Instead, it’s a little macabre — and aimed at persuading you that you should feed your pooch Special Dog brand dog food because, otherwise, he might share your secrets with the world.
In the spot above, for example, a Great Dane confronts his owner in bondage gear.
And in the one below, a Pomeranian catches his owner adding some of her deceased husband’s ashes to her tea.
And in what’s probably the most distasteful one of all, a pug becomes even more bug-eyed after he sees his owner sniffing his own fingers after engaging in some groin related couch behavior.
The message is your dog sees all, and knows all, so you better treat him right.
Kinda gross. Kinda funny. Not the kind of information a dog food customer is looking for, but you must admit they kind of stick in your head.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 6th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: advertising, animals, behavior, brazil, commercials, dog, dog food, dogs, dogs in advertising, dogs in commercials, habits, humans, kinky, marketing, pets, special dog, what the dog knows, woof in advertising, woof!
Devices claiming to translate what your dog is thinking into human words have been popping up on the Internet for a good five years now, and some of the more gullible among us have bought them — and even contributed to campaigns to bring them to market.
There’s No More Woof an electronic device — still in the testing stages, of course — that Swedish scientists say will be able to analyze dogs’ brain waves and translate their thoughts into rudimentary English.
There’s the slightly more real but far more rudimentary Bow-Lingual, which claims to be able to translate your dog’s barks into emotions, currently unavailable on Amazon.com
There are apps — real and prank ones — that offer dog-to-human translations, virtually all of which have disclaimers saying that they should be used primarily for entertainment purposes.
And there are legitimate research projects underway around the world, with real scientists and animal behaviorists seeking to determine and give voice to what is going on in the heads of dogs.
But wait a minute. Do we really want to know?
As this bit of satire shows, we might not like the result.
It was produced by Los Angeles-based Rogue Kite Productions, an independent film company created by writer/producer/director Michelle Boley and camera operator/editor Taylor Gill, who pursue projects of their liking when not doing their day jobs.
Their spoof depicts a speech articulating device much like one a group in Sweden claims to actually be working on.
No More Woof aims to “break the language barrier between animals and humans,” the Sweden-based Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery (NSID) says on its Indiegogo page.
NSID says the device records electroencephalogram (EEG) readings from a dog that are then analyzed by a Raspberry Pi microcomputer and translated, through a small speaker, into simple phrases like, “I’m hungry,” or “Who is that person?”
Popular Science declared the project almost certainly bogus — and yet money keeps pouring in from donors.
The No More Woof indiegogo page says more than $22,000 has been contributed to the project.
Not to cast aspersions on the Swedish group’s attempt to move technology ahead, but I think Rogue Kite Productions could put that money to better use.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 31st, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, apps, articulating, bow-lingual, bowlingual, communicate, communications, devices, dog, dogs, emotions, funny, humans, humor, minds, no more woof, owners, pets, reading, rogue kite productions, speech, thinking, thoughts, translate, translation, video, words
How quickly your dog responds to you has a lot to do with the look on your face and the tone of your voice, according to a study at Brigham Young University.
Your dog may not respond more quickly if you use a positive tone, but he’s likely to respond much more slowly if you’re using a negative one, according to the study, published in the journal Animal Cognition.
Brigham Young psychology professor Ross Flom and his research team conducted two experiments examining how dogs reacted to both positive and negative emotions.
“We know that dogs are sensitive to our emotional cues,” Flom said, “but we wanted to know: do they use these emotional cues?” he said.
The experiments measured how quickly dogs responded to an adult’s pointing gesture.
Some of the adults exhibited positive behaviors while making the gestures, such as smiling and speaking in a pleasant tone; others exhibited negative behaviors, such as frowning, furrowing their brow or speaking harshly.
As most dog owners could have predicted, the negative behaviors made dogs a little less cooperative and slow to react — proving yet again (as we also already know) you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
(Has anyone actually done a study on that?)
While dogs who sensed the pointing adults were angry reacted more slowly, dogs whose pointing adults reflected a positive attitude didn’t react any more speedily than those in a control group.
We can only assume those in the control group were issued orders by adults whose faces were expressionless and who spoke like Ben Stein.
Flom concluded that dogs use our tone and emotion to determine how fast to follow an order — or, to put it more scientifically …
“Together these results suggest that the addition of affective information does not significantly increase or decrease dogs’ point-following behavior. Rather these results demonstrate that the presence or absence of affective expressions influences a dog’s exploratory behavior and the presence or absence of reward affects whether they will follow an unfamiliar adult’s attention-directing gesture.”
Apparently, random human strangers were doing the gesturing in the study, as opposed to the owners of the dogs involved.
That, we suspect, would have made a big difference in a dog’s level of trust and eagerness to respond.
That dogs will take off and explore a new area or object based on a stranger’s request shows that dogs generally trust humans.
That dogs — or any animals for that matter — are slow to react to one who appears angry is really no big surprise, either.
That’s generally true in the human arena as well, with the exception of those being yelled at by drill sergeants, prison guards or junior high gym coaches.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 25th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adults, anger, angry, animals, attitude, behaviors, brigham young university, cognition, directing, dog, dogs, emotions, experiment, face, gestures, harsh, humans, negative, owners, pets, pointing, positive, psychology, study, tones, voice
Here’s another special report from your favorite worry wart.
No sooner do I bemoan one high-tech invention for dog owners than another comes rolling along, equally worth fretting about.
This one is a 3-inch remotely controlled orange ball, with a high-def camera inside, that you can watch and listen to on your cell phone.
Its makers boast it will “usher in the future of human-pet interaction.”
Let’s hope not.
It’s called PlayDate, now in the Indygogoing stage, and like many other contraptions hitting the market, it’s designed to make all the time your dog spends alone more bearable for him, and more entertaining and guilt-free for you.
The problem I have with that, as I’ve stated before, is how it lets dog owners shrug off the responsibility of dog ownership and diminishes the bond between dog and owner.
What I fret about is that the “future of human-pet interactions” could be long-distance, computer-assisted, virtual and heartless — exactly opposite of what dogs need, and exactly opposite of the reasons for having a dog in the first place.
A Manhattan inventor has come up with what the New York Post called “the next big thing for man’s best friend.”
Company co-founder Kevin Li says he got the idea for PlayDate after adopting his Rhodesian ridgeback-Lab mix, Hulk, three years ago.
“Looking at his sad face every time I left for work, I realized he … needed more time with his best friend.”
So Li (and we hope he worked from home at least a little bit) invented a ball for Hulk to play with — one he could control remotely, issue commands through, observe his dog through, and make squeak.
An adjunct computer-science professor at Columbia, Li described the $249 gadget as “Fitbit meets iPhone localization.”
He has already raised more than $200,000 on Indiegogo and has sold out of pre-orders.
With the rechargable ball, a pet owner can watch and listen to their pet, take photos, and record video, all from their iOS or Android device.
A stabilized camera inside provides real-time HD images. And a clear, replaceable outer shell protects the inner workings while allowing the camera — slobber aside — to see out clearly.
There are just three simple steps, its makers say: Download the free app, connect to wi-fi and “usher in the future of human-pet interaction.”
Sorry, but talk like that scares me, as do a few other things.
The shell of the ball is made of a strong, chew-resistant polycarbonate, designed to withstand rambunctious play, according to its makers.
I hope that has been well tested, because I’d prefer not to think about what swallowing a little camera and a lithium polymer battery might do to a dog (or cat).
In the world of pet products, many a toy marketed as indestructible has proved otherwise.
Even PlayDate’s makers are saying that part might take some fine tuning:
“As we put PlayDate’s smart ball in front of more dogs and cats, we may discover the need to make aspects of its design more robust; any pet owner will tell you there’s no such thing as an indestructible toy. We have purposefully designed features like the replaceable outer shell with this in mind. Additional design changes may be required as we perform more testing.”
And what, I wonder, will be the effect of communicating with — and issuing orders to — your dog via an orange ball? Seeing an orange ball wandering around the house on its own, and hearing a disembodied voice come from it would, at the very least, be confusing, I’d think.
I’m all for keeping a dog active, engaged and feeling loved when the owner is away. But it’s a mistake to assume that technology can make up for failing to give your dog adequate attention.
And — needless to say — one shouldn’t get a dog in the first place if one is unwilling or unable to give him or her their time.
Face-time, I mean, with no cameras, or wi-fi, or remote controls involved.
Before we usher human-pet interaction “into the future,” it might be wise to question whether we really need to take that trip.
Didn’t we pretty much have it down just fine already — most of us, anyway?
(Photo: from PlayDate’s website)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 3rd, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, attention, babysitter, ball, bond, camera, communication, dog, dogs, dogs and technology, humans, inventions, pet, pet ownership, pets, playdate, products, remote, remote control, responsibility, technology, toy, toys, wi-fi
I have a theory that there are many things dogs would like us to know, and that dogs even give us some hints in hopes of making us see the light, and that we humans, being humans, often just don’t get it.
These videos are a perfect example of what could be one of them:
Dogs left alone in cars — with the windows cracked if they’re lucky — sounding the car horn.
In the one above, posted on YouTube five months ago, an Airedale leans on the car horn for a good long time, while another Airedale waits more patiently in the back seat.
The dog’s owner returned to the car and said the two “love going for rides, but apparently they don’t like waiting,” according to the Pennsylvania woman who shot the video.
Here’s another one, from a few years back. This boxer reportedly sounded the horn for 15 minutes while her owner was in an art gallery in Scotland:
Here’s one more, where a barking dog, encouraged by a stranger to honk the horn, complied.
You can find many others on YouTube. Judging from them, the first response of humans — after grabbing some video footage, of course — is to laugh and label it “hilarious.”
Sure it’s funny. But might it be something more? Along the lines of a wake-up call? Along the lines of, “Hey, stupid, don’t leave us closed up in cars for extended periods of time. How much barking and honking will it take for that to sink into your thick human skull?”
If you’re old enough to remember Lassie, the TV show, you’ll recall how hard the collie — aware of some unfolding disaster — had to work to alert humans to the urgency of the situation. She’d bark, go in circles, run a little ahead and look back, clearly saying “hurry, follow me!”
The humans would watch, but precious time was lost, it always seemed, as they absorbed the signal she was sending.
“Wait, look at Lassie,” they’d say. (Long pause.) “I think … could it be …. is she is trying to tell us something?”
And this even though they’d all been through this same drill with her many times before.
We humans can be a little slow to catch on — even when the signs are staring in our faces … or blaring in our ears.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 25th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, car horns, cars, communication, dog, dogs, honk, honking, horns, humans, lassie, message, parked, parked car, pets, videos
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)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 28th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, appeal, behavior, chick magnets, courtship, date bait, dating, dog, dogs, evolution, females, humans, instincts, males, mates, men, partners, pets, sex, social, study, survey, tools, women
Some researchers are suggesting that selfish mama dogs may have played a role in the early domestication of the species by keeping the good food to themselves, as opposed to sharing it with their pups.
As a result, the researchers theorize, pups and young dogs ventured out of the wild and into human communities where they didn’t have to compete as hard for food — at least not with their own mothers.
(Being a cartoonist at heart — albeit one who can’t draw — I am picturing a young pup, sneaking away from the home of his domineering mother with one of those sacks on a stick over his shoulder, muttering to himself, “That bitch. That bitch. That greedy bitch!”)
Sure, there may be some substance to this research, but it mostly makes me laugh.
The researchers conducted experiments with feral dogs in India, then theorized that ancestral dogs thousands of years ago must have behaved the same way.
First, they offered low-quality biscuits to mother dogs, and the mother dogs tended to share those with their pups, with no conflicts arising.
Then they brought out the good stuff. Protein-rich meat seemed to make the mother dogs forget their motherly ways, growling at their pups to keep them away, and even grabbing meat from the mouths of their puppies.
The authors, Anindita Bhadra and Manabi Paul of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, say ancestral dogs, once they reached 8 or 9 weeks old, became able to clearly distinguish between protein rich food sources and the un-nourishing filler their mothers were trying to pass off on them.
At that point, the researchers theorize, many young ancestral dogs would set out for farming communities where they had access to what humans threw away. There is evidence also that the earliest farmers fed these dogs, making life among humans even more appealing.
The theory, outlined in the journal Royal Society Open Science, could help to explain the origins of dog domestication and how some ancestral dogs so willingly elected to live with people instead of with their own kind, Discovery reports.
“Ancestral dogs” is kind of a safe term scientists use — just in case dogs didn’t evolve from wolves, but from some other species.
As for why ancestral dog moms turned so selfish when a good cut of meat became available, Bhadra said, “We feel that the mothers just tend to grab the best resources when available.”
Ancestral mother dogs are not available to respond to those charges, so I will speak for them:
“Hey, you think it’s easy giving birth to 14 kids at once, and then raising them? Alone?
“Yeah, where IS dad? Good question. Haven’t seen him since he knocked me up.
“So, yes, I get a little anxious, a little snippy. But I’ve got to feed the whole lot of them, and protect them. It’s not like I can walk into the Food Lion and get all I need. You have no idea how tired I am. And yes, I get hungry, too. If I am not nourished, how do you expect me to nourish all of them? Go research that, why don’t you?”
(Photo: From Lovethesepics.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 9th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ancestral dogs, animals, dog, dogs, domesticated, domestication, feeding, food, greedy, humans, mothers, pets, puppies, pups, research, science, selfish, study, wolf, wolves