The Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab in New York City is looking for some playful dogs, and their playful humans.
The lab at Barnard College, run by Alexandra Horowitz , author of Inside of a Dog,” is investigating the different ways people and dogs play together and the behaviors they use.
Whether you and your dog wrestle, engage in tug of war, play fetch, or Scrabble (one of these days I will win), the lab wants to see the two of you in action, and invites you to submit a video.
It’s cataloging all the ways, traditional and non, that people play with their dogs. Project: Play with Your Dog is open to anyone, in any country, and short video submissions — under 60 seconds — are welcome.
To participate, make a video and upload it to the study website. You’ll also be asked to complete a short survey. Those taking part can add a picture to the project’s Wall of Contributors.
Julie Hecht, the canine behavioral researcher who manages the lab, describes it as an opportunity for dog lovers around the world to get involved in scientific research into dog behavior.
“While dog-dog play has been studied extensively, dog-person play, which takes on a different form and appears to have different rules, has not attracted nearly as much scholarly attention,” Hecht noted in a guest blog for Scientific American.
Hecht, who’s also a science writer, adjunct professor in the Anthrozoology Masters Program at Canisius College, and blogger, says play behaviors arise early in a dog’s life. From three weeks onward, puppies show behaviors like wrestling, rolling over, biting, rearing and reciprocal chase.
For dogs, play appears to help them learn social skills such as bite inhibition, and other behaviors they will use the rest of their lives.
Play often incorporates behaviors also found in aggressive interactions, but dogs seem to have found a way to let other dogs know that it is play time, not fight time — the hiney-raised play stance for instance.
“Dog-dog play is more similar to an episode of the Three Stooges than you might have imagined,” Hecht says.
Dog-human play might have some similarities, and some differences — and the lab plans to try and figure that, among other things, out.
Tugging games between dog and human, for instance, seem to be more about keeping the interaction with a human going rather than gaining possession of the object being tugged — at least to the dog.
To learn more about the study, and get details on how to join, visit www.DogHumanPlay.com.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 14th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alexandra horowitz, animals, barnard, behavior, biting, chase, cognition, dog, dog cognition lab, dog human play, dog-dog, dog-human, dogs, fetch, horowitz, humans, julie hecht, owners, pets, play, play stance, play with your dog, playing, poject, research, run, sought, study, submissions, tug, video, videos
Only once has Ace plunged into the surf with reckless abandon.
That was his first time. At a beach in Delaware, upon his first sighting of the Atlantic, he bolted out into the water, only to get hit face first with a giant wave that flipped him over. Ever since then, he has exercised caution, and only with encouragement from multiple people has it been possible to beckon him out any deeper than his knees.
Yesterday, though, as we continue to drag out our departure from Figure 8 Island in North Carolina, he ended up playing in the surf – and without seeming preoccupied about how big and scary the next wave might be. That was thanks to two dogs, a blue tennis ball and a girl named Georgia.
We’d stopped at the Winston house — the same family that provided a personalized watering station for Ace, complete with signage, over the weekend — to visit again with Mac, a golden retriever, and Jet, a black Lab.
Ace had seemed only mildly interested in the dogs on our earlier visit, partly because he was worn out, partly because that’s the way he is. While he immediately warms up to people, it takes him a while with dogs. (I’m the opposite). He’s nice enough upon meeting another dog, but it usually takes him 15 minutes or so of sniffing and acting aloof and reserved — especially with other big dogs — before he’ll even consider playing.
But getting together with Mac and Jet, and realizing there was no shade he could lay low in, he participated in some canine frolicking, all instigated by 8-year-old Georgia.
She’s a take charge sort, but not in a bossy way.
Georgia told me she plans to become an animal doctor. (That was her term, and a much more manageable one than “veterinarian.”) And she did seem to have a way with dogs — not just her own, Jet, but her aunt’s dog, Mac, and even Ace.
On the beach, she seemed a master choreographer, leading them in their antics, and she offered to throw the tennis ball I’d brought along, assuming Jet and Mac would chase it even though Ace wasn’t likely to.
At one point, I stood in the ocean with my camera and asked her to throw the ball over my head, so I could take pictures of Jet and Mac charging through the waves to get it. Surprisingly, a couple of times, Ace showed up in the frame, apparently not wanting to be left out of the fun.
Later, with the help of some peanut butter crackers, Georgia demonstrated Jet’s obedience skills, and soon had Mac and Ace under her spell as well.
One gets the sense, even at 8, and even if her plans to become an animal doctor change, Georgia is going to accomplish what she sets out to in life. When she heard I was writing a book, she asked to be in it. When told the book was based on my travels with Ace a year ago, she said she’d settle for being on ohmidog!
Told that would require permission from her parents, she left, returning a few minutes later with a note from her mother.
“I hereby allow ohmidog! to place any and all photos of my sweet Georgia “Peach” Winston,” it said. “Jet Winston, too!”
When I jokingly asked her if she wrote the note herself, Georgia said no, adding that she hasn’t mastered cursive yet.
I assured her that would be easy. It’s just like printing, only with waves.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 8th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animal doctors, animals, ball, beach, dogs, figure 8, figure 8 island, georgia, jet, mac, obedience, ocean, pets, photography, playing, surf, swimming, training, travels with ace, veterinarians, water, waves, winston
The officer, he says, pointed a gun at him and told him to put his hands in the air. That was about the time Cisco ran over and started barking at the officer, KXAN reports.
Paxton says he assured the officer that his dog would not hurt him, but when Cisco approached the officer fired, killing the dog with one shot.
The entire incident took place Saturday afternoon on Paxton’s property in Austin.
While there are reports that the officer, answering a domestic disturbance call, responded to the wrong house, Austin police would neither confirm nor deny that over the weekend, saying only that they were reviewing the incident.
Paxton and friends, meanwhile, have set up a Justice For Cisco Facebook page that has more than 14,000 likes.
APD spokesman Anthony Hipolito said an investigation is continuing, and told the Austin American-Statesman, “Don’t believe everything you hear.”
Paxton insists the officer had no reason to question him or shoot his dog.
“He had a Taser. He had pepper spray. I don’t understand why, in broad daylight, he pulled a gun on me. I wasn’t running. I wasn’t hiding,” Paxton told ABCNews.com today. “I was just saying, ‘I live here.’ I was panicking. I was afraid for my life.”
Paxton said the officer said he was responding to report of a man choking a woman. Paxton does not have a girlfriend and believes the report came from his neighbor’s house.
Paxton said the officer did not apologize; nor did a sergeant who arrived and told Paxton the officer was within his rights to shoot the dog. Paxton said he has not heard from the police since the incident.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 16th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, austin, australian cattle dog, blue heeler, cisco, cop shoots dog, dogs, domestic disturbance, facebook, frisbee, justice for cisco, killed, law enforcement, michael paxton, mistake, officer, pets, playing, police, property, shooting, shot, texas, wrong address, wrong house, yard
The Saturday incident proves what he has been saying all along.
Both on his website and on signs he puts up in the park, he warns that dog poop can be dangerous; and urges that dog owners pick it up.
We have no disagreement with that.
According to his report in the New Haven Independent, a family on a picnic returned home and noticed their daughter “had a smelly substance under her fingernails … Upon further inspection, the 4-year-old had some of the same substance in her mouth and ears…
“Yep, you guessed it. The substance was dog feces. They cleaned her up but overnight had to take her to the emergency room because she was vomiting … Upon testing the little girl, they found her stomach swarming with coliform bacteria …”
A good doggie defense lawyer might point out here that, unlikely as it is to have come from another source, there’s no proof that the poop came from a dog. As one slightly less than sensitive commenter on the Ross post says, “there are a lot worse things than dog poop (needles for instance) littering the parks and streets of New Haven – you’re lucky that it was only dog poop and not something worse.”
As another chimed in “the girl could have pricked herself with a heroin needle, suffocated on a used condom or cut herself on broken beer bottles.”
A good doggie defense lawyer might further raise the question in the jury’s mind as to why the family, on top of not noticing their daughter when she was playing in poop, didn’t detect the presence of the substance until their return home.
But that’s not the point, at least not to Andy Ross, who had the misfortune of bearing the wrath of mom.
On his signs urging dog walkers to pick up the poop, he lists his email address and phone number. The mother, for some reason, called to yell at him.
“At first she blamed me until I pointed out that I am the one trying to stop this disgusting and total irresponsibility on behalf of dog owners,” he reported. The woman was threatening to sue the city, he said. ”She was piping mad and I do not blame her.”
“I hope that every group that has the ability to get out this horrible story to residents does,” Ross wrote. “Spring is here and children play in the park. Others just enjoy walking around the park with out having to navigate their way through dog feces. This is not just a Wooster Square Park problem; I am sure it is prevalent in other city parks too. This is both a health and quality of life issue we all need to pay attention to.”
Comments on his report are evenly divided between those who agree what happened to the four-year-old was horrendous, and those who point out it could have been worse, and ask why no one in the family noticed when the child was smearing poop on herself.
“Um, I can’t speak for everyone – but I grew up with a dog that poo’d all over the lawn, spent A LOT of time playing on said lawn, and even at 4 I knew not to touch that s#!t … Sounds like questionable parenting to me.”
“People who don’t pick up after their pets are selfish and uncivilized,” said another. “I would recommend to the upset mother that she needs to take the time to teach her child not to eat things off the ground, or at least be more attentive to what her child is doing.”
“Careless dog owners stare at their iPhones while the dog is defecating and completely miss it,” wrote another “… My real question is, why own a beautiful animal if you’re not going to give it your attention? Put down your phone and love your puppy … you’ll feel better.”
I’d agree that both the owner that failed to pick up their dog’s poop, and the parents of the child who failed to notice their daughter toying with it, share the blame. And I especially like the idea of blaming the iPhone as well.
Many people tend to get so absorbed in whatever it is they are doing on their phones that they fail to notice both the subtle things and the blatant ones going on around them, whether it’s what a dog might be dropping or what a child might be picking up.
Even though hand-held communication devices may not be to blame for this particular incident, they — or is it our dependence on them? — do seem to take us out of the moment we’re in.
So pick up the poop. Monitor your dog. Watch your children. Enjoy the company of both. And leave the stupid phone at home.
Let a day in the park be a day in the park.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 28th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: andy ross, animals, consideration, daughter, dog, dogs, droppings, feces, girl, grass, health, hospital, law, mad, mother, new haven, park, parks, pets, pick-up, picnic, played, playing, poop, responsibility, safety, sanitation, scoop, sickened, signs, vigilante, warning, wooster square park
Here’s some amazing camera work that gives you a dogs-eye view of an afternoon at the dog park.
Kelsey Wynn teamed up with his Great Dane, Bishop, to shoot the footage. He attached one GoPro camera to Bishop’s harness and used a second to capture dogs at play from different angles.
The unusual angles, and use of slow motion, provide a different perspective of dogs at play — closer, likely, to how it all appears to dogs.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 1st, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, behavior, bishop, cam, camera, dog park, dog parks, dogs, dogs at play, dogs eye view, great dane, kelsey wynn, perspective, pets, play, playing, slow motion, socialization, video, wrestling
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
I wasn’t personally tuned in, but it seems Pup, the accordion-playing pooch vying to win the NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” competition, failed to make much of an impression last night.
Maybe he was overwhelmed by the bright lights, the big stage and the huge Hollywood crowd, but Pup only tugged a couple of times on the elastic strap attached to the accordion, and once it snapped out of his mouth, he stayed away from the accordion altogether.
After Pup balked, the act turned into a solo – basically his owner, Ed, singing and strumming “Ghost Riders in the Sky.”
Pup failed to live up to the expectations of the judges, and his owner, Ed, from Oakhurst, California — and anyone else who saw his impressive audition tape (above).
“If Pup had continued we may have had a sensation on our hands, but we’re never going to know,” said judge Piers Morgan, who “X-ed” the act early on.
“We had some problems,” Ed explained afterward.
Pup’s on air performance — a bit painful to watch — is included in the video below.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 11th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: accordion, acts, america's got talent, animals, competition, dog, dogs, ed, music, musical, nbc, performances, pets, piers morgan, playing, pup, reality, talent, television, tv, video
It started with some flowers and a dog toy left in his honor at the dog park, but by this evening a full-fledged memorial and tribute were underway for Bear-Bear, the Siberian Husky gunned down by a federal officer in Anne Arundel County this week.
Those saddened and upset with the dog’s death — he was fatally shot by a Department of Defense officer who felt Bear-Bear was playing too roughly with his leashed German shepherd — began gathering at Quail Run Park around 6:30 p.m. for a tribute that was expected to go until 8:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, at the recommendation of County Executive John R. Leopold, the Anne Arundel County Police Department will be investigating the incident — contrary to its earlier assertions — and receiving assistance in that investigation from the Humane Society of the United States.
HSUS representatives also plan to help the Severn community ensure that the Quail Run Community Dog Park is safe.
“I welcome the opportunity to partner with this national organization,” County Executive John Leopold said in a statement. “With our combined resources, I look forward to bringing closure to this egregious incident.”
Leopold said he was “outraged” and “deeply troubled” to learn about the killing. Police originally called the matter closed, but Police Chief James Teare called the case a “priority” Wednesday and pledged a full investigation, according to the Washington Post.
“The Anne Arundel County Police Department has taken this case seriously and is thoroughly investigating this incident that appears to involve the violent death of a beloved dog. We welcome the opportunity to work with Anne Arundel County on the investigation and to assist the community in making it a safer place for both animals and people,” said Justin L. Scally of the HSUS.
WBAL-TV reported that the unidentified, off-duty Department of Defense officer used his personal weapon to fire at Bear-Bear, and that he told officers he “feared for the safety of himself, his wife and their dog.”
Bear-Bear was taken to Anne Arundel Veterinary Emergency Clinic in Annapolis, where he died. Since the incident Monday, police have not released the officer’s identity.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 5th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, anne arundel, anne arundel county, bear-bear, county executive, department of defense, disputes, dog, dog park, dog parks, dogs, fighting, gun, hsus, humane society of the united states, investigation, john r. leopold, killed, memorial, news, park, personal, pets, playing, quail run, severn, shot, siberian husky, tribute, weapon
Sure we had way too much snow this winter — though these two probably wouldn’t think so.
Here’s how yellow Labs keep their coats clean and have big fun at the same time.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 18th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, dogs, funny, lab, labrador, labradors, labs, ohmidog!, pets, play, playing, ski, sliding, snow, video, yellow
Those guitar-playing birds we showed you yesterday were pretty cool, but they were just the opening act for Nora, the Piano Cat, shown here in a performance last year with the Klaipeda Chamber Orchestra in Lithuania.
The “CATcerto” was the project of Lithuanian conductor, composer and artist Mindaugas Piecaitis.
Nora, a rescued cat whose piano skills have been widely featured on the Internet, appeared via a pre-recorded video hookup.
For more information on the performance, visit catcerto.com.
If you would like to adopt a rescued cat and teach her to play piano, might I suggest Miley, whose musical talents are as yet untapped. (Piano not included.)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 7th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, art, artist, cat, catcerto, cats, chamber, composer, concert, conductor, klaipeda chamber orchestra, lithuania, miley, mindaugas piecaitis, music, nora, orchestra, pets, piano, playing, plays, the piano cat, video