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
The west’s version of kudzu — a noxious weed known as Dyer’s woad — is being sniffed out by specially trained dogs as part of a program in Montana aimed at eradicating the fast-spreading, yellow blooming, Russian-born member of the mustard family.
First found in Montana in 1934, the weed, native to southeast Russia, can grow four inches in a week, produce as many as 10,000 seeds, send its roots five feet underground and climb waist high, leaving little room for native plants.
That’s where the dogs come in.
Deb Tirmenstein and her dogs — a Labrador named Wibaux and a border collie called Seamus — joined Montana’s Dyer’s woad eradication project in 2011.
Wibaux, initially trained to find cadavers, and Seamus, who was rescued from a Bozeman shelter, now scramble up and down mountains sniffing out pockets of the weed. When they find some, they get a treat, and the weed gets sprayed with herbicides.
The project grew out of research conducted at Montana State University, acording to an article by the Montana State University News Service, published in the Helena Independent Record.
Montana Dyer’s Woad Cooperative Project started in 1984, and it has seen the weed’s presence drop from 17 counties down to seven – Beaverhead, Silver Bow, Carbon, Flathead, Gallatin, Missoula and Park.
The dogs are just the most recent tool in the battle.
Kim Goodwin, a research associate in the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences in MSU’s College of Agriculture, started investigating the possibility of using dogs to detect noxious weeds when she was a master’s degree student at MSU.
Goodwin’s research showed that dogs and people complement each other when looking for noxious weeds. People can spot large flowering patches of the plants ; dogs can detect single plants, even before they start sprouting.
“Through our research, we found they are able to detect twice as many small plants as the surveyors do,” Goodwin said.
This year on Mount Sentinel in Missoula the dogs detected about 40 locations that humans missed, said Goodwin, whose original research used German shepherds and focused on knapweed.
Goodwin said she got the idea for using dogs to detect noxious weeds after reading about the ”Beagle Brigade,” which inspects luggage and boxes for the USDA at U.S. airports and ports of entry.
Trainers introduced Wibaux to Dyer’s woad by hiding the weed inside a box with holes in the lid and placing the box next to boxes containing other weeds.
When Wibaux realized she would receive a treat or get to retrieve a ball every time she detected Dyer’s woad, she started honing in on it.
(Photos of Wibaux and Seamus by Sepp Jannotta / MSU)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 15th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, border collie, control, Deb Tirmenstein, detection, dogs, dyers woad, eradication, idaho, kim goodwin, labrador, montana, montana state university, nature, noxious, pets, program, research, retriever, science, seamus, sniff, sniffing, weed, weeds, west, wibaux, woad
A cat hacked to pieces, a terrier beaten by youths with a cricket bat and a dog whose owner inserted a caribiner through its neck all made the Royal New Zealand SPCA’s 2012 “List of Shame.”
The list of inhumane acts toward animals is compiled annually by the SPCA and shared with the public — partly to increase public awareness, and partly as a warning.
“Violence towards animals both co-occurs and is a predictor of violence towards humans,” said Robyn Kippenberger, national chief executive of the Royal New Zealand SPCA.
“The sheer level of violence meted out on animals by some of the perpetrators in the cases in this year’s List of Shame is shocking, and underlying of wider issues in New Zealand.”
Incidents that made this year’s list included a tethered goat stabbed to death in Greymouth, a dog left to starve on the side of a road, and “a family cat deliberately cut up in Timaru.”
The lists recounts 30 acts of abuse and neglect, and their outcomes.
In Rotorua, a dog owner put a metal caribiner, such as used in climbing, through the skin of his Shar Pei mix’s neck and used it to connect a leash. An infection resulted and the dog had to be euthanized. The owner was prosecuted, fined and banned from owning a dog for a year.
In Te Atatu, Auckland a 3 year old cat was found outside an archery club with an arrow in his head. Further investigation showed he’d also been shot with pellets. The SPCA is still investigating.
In Waitara, a man trapped cats in his backyard, then put them in sacks and drowned them. He was banned from owning an animal for five years.
In July, two men who were prosecuted for shooting 33 dogs and puppies during a feud between neighbors in Wellsford, received sentences of 6 months home detention and 6 months community detention, 300 hours community work and reparation.
“The SPCA’s work is made less effective by the low level of sentencing being awarded in animal welfare cases,” Kippenberger said. “ The sentencing in most of these cases is appallingly inadequate, and is no way indicative of the range of penalties that can be handed down under the Animal Welfare Amendment Act.”
“Considering the close links between violence towards humans and animal cruelty, courts should be recognising these crimes as significant in a continuum of violent behaviour. If these crimes are not punished significantly, an opportunity is lost to send a message that no violence is acceptable.”
The Royal New Zealand SPCA, in partnership with Women’s Refuge, recently released a study into the link between animal cruelty and domestic and family violence in New Zealand.
In the study, “Pets as Pawns,” 50 per cent of women interviewed had witnessed animal cruelty as part of their experience of domestic violence and 25 per cent said their children had witnessed violence against animals.
(Photo: One of the 33 dogs shot in Wellsford; New Zealand Herald)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 5th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal cruelty, animal welfare, animals, arrow, beaten, behavior, caribiner, cat, children, cruelty to animals, dog, dogs, domestic, humans, inhumane, link, list, list of shame, new zealand, pets, pets as pawns, research, robyn kippenberger, royal new zealand spca, shar-pei, sharpei, study, violence
Doggie seat belts may not always be life savers.
Restraints for traveling dogs in cars have become increasingly popular, and lawmakers in New Jersey are considering a bill mandating them.
But in simulated accidents, the four brands tested didn’t perform well.
“It was just astounding what we saw,” said Lindsey Wolko, who founded the non-profit Center for Pet Safety in 2011 after getting into a car accident while traveling with her dog. The harness failed and her dog Maggie suffered spinal injuries.
The tests applied the same federal motor vehicle safety standards for testing child seats. Using a 55 pound stuffed test dog, Wolko and her team simulated a 30-mile-per-hour collision. You can find video of all four tests here.
In one case the harness allowed too much slack, and the dog crashed into the back of the front seat. In two others, the harnesses snapped, sending the dogs flying through the air. And in a fourth, the harness slid up to the dog’s neck on impact.
“I don’t think that there’s any doubt that those dogs would have been seriously injured, if not fatally injured,” Wolko said.
The manufacturers are not being identified by the center. “Our primary concern is NOT to attack individual manufacturers for selling well-intentioned products. If we share brands at this early stage in our work, we shift the focus away from what is truly needed: measurable, safe standards that manufacturers can follow for the benefit of consumers,” the center says on its website.
Unlike with human restraints, those made for dogs are not tested or regulated by the government and there are no existing safety standards in place.
The American Pet Products Association, in response to Wolko’s findings, released a statement saying, “.. there are an increasing number of reported accidents where a pet distracting the driver is being cited as the cause. A pet restraint that merely limits a pets access and distraction to the driver and limits its motion in the event of an accident is still an improvement over no restraint.”
Posted by jwoestendiek October 17th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, assembly, cars, center for pet safety, dog, dogs, harnesses, law, legislature, lindsey wolko, mandatory, new jersey, pets, research, restraints, safety, seat belts, seatbelts, study, travel
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has cited Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center for violating the Animal Welfare Act after a monkey escaped from a university research laboratory.
Wake Forest Baptist is appealing the findings, the medical center told the Winston-Salem Journal Wednesday.
The citation was for failing to house the monkey safely and securely, but it wasn’t clear what punishment, if any, the medical center faces.
An inspection report noted the latch of the monkey’s cage was “easily manipulated to open.” Staff at the primate center have since installed a chain with a secure latch to the center’s outside corridors to prevent further escapes, the report said.
Under the federal law, failure to correct problems documented by inspectors can result in fines and confiscation of animals.
The 8-pound female macaque — used to breed other monkeys for research purposes — got out of her cage at the Wake Forest Primate Center on June 29. She opened a latch on her cage, then managed to open a chain-link fence and get out of the center, officials said.
She roamed the woods for 11 days before she was captured.
The federal action is the result of a complaint filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
“We had hoped that WFU would honor the monkey’s indomitable spirit by sending her to an accredited sanctuary after she was recaptured, but the university has not given any indication that it is pursuing this compassionate option,” said a PETA spokesman.
(Photo by Crystal Hughes, via Fox 8)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 10th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: baptist, cage, citation, department of agriculture, escaped, findings, inspection, lab, laboratory, latch, macaque, medical center, monkey, peta, research, usda, wake forest
Humans had been searching more than 10 days for the monkey that escaped from Wake Forest University’s Primate Center, but it was a dog who finally spotted her.
Cassidy Garwood, 14, told WGHP/Fox 8 that her dog, Keeley, saw the monkey Tuesday afternoon in some trees outside their house on Frye Bridge Road.
When the family went to see what Keeley was barking at, they saw the 8-pound, one-foot-tall macaque jumping from tree to tree.
The family called authorities and officials from the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office, Lexington Police and Wake Forest soon arrived on the Garwoods’ property, where the monkey was brought down with three tranquilizing darts and returned to the research facility.
Richard Young, who heads the animal resources program for Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, told the Winston-Salem Journal that the monkey is doing fine and will be quarantined for six weeks.
After that, he added (in a word choice he probably regrets) she’ll be placed “back with her other cage mates, inmates, back in her family.”
The monkey outsmarted two barriers at the center on June 29 and fled into the woods, prompting a search in which law enforcement, university officials and animal control officers set traps with apples and bananas and even used recordings of a baby monkey in their efforts to capture her.
The 16-year-old macaque is a breeder, producing offspring that are used for medical testing. She came to the primate center in 2008 after being captured in Indonesia.
According to the website for Wake Forest’s Primate Center, staff “use nonhuman primates to study six of the 10 major causes of death in the United States.”
The monkey’s escape led to criticism from some animal welfare groups, including PETA, which filed a formal complaint July 4 with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The group urged the agency to investigate Wake Forest for possible violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, including failure to ensure that the primate housing is safe and secure.
Young said that Wake Forest has beefed up security at the primate center.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 11th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal rights, animal welfare, animals, barking, captured, cassidy garwood, davidson county, dog, escaped, healthy, keeley, laboratory, loose, macaque, medical tests, monkey, monkeys, peta, pets, primate center, quarantined, research, richard young, trees, veterinarian, wake forest, wake forest university, winston-salem
After eluding authorities for 11 days, the laboratory monkey who escaped from a Wake Forest University research facility has been captured and returned to the school’s Primate Center.
The one-foot tall, 8-pound macaque was caught this afternoon near Frye Bridge Road in Davidson County after being shot with three tranquilizer darts. three shots from on Tuesday afternoon.
Forsyth County Animal Control responded to the neighborhood after a teenaged girl spotted the monkey in a tree in her family’s yard, Fox News reported.
The 16-year-old monkey is kept at the center as a breeder, producing more monkeys that are used for medical testing.
(Photo: By Cassidy Garwood, via Fox News)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 10th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: breeder, captured, clemmons, darts, davidson county, escaped, laboratory, macaque, monkey, north carolina, primate center, research, returned, tranquilizer, wake forest, wake forest university
A one-foot-tall laboratory monkey is on the loose in North Carolina after escaping from a Wake Forest University research facility, and there are some concerns about how he’s going to react to tonight’s fireworks.
The 8-pound macaque was last seen Tuesday hiding in some tall trees in a residential area, doing her best to stay away from animal control officials seeking to capture her.
According to the Winston-Salem Journal, the 16-year-old breeding monkey has been at the Wake Forest University Primate Center, on Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Friedburg Campus in Davidson County, since 2008. The primate center is on 38 fenced acres within a 200-acre campus.
She escaped Friday when a housing area was being cleaned. Officials believe the monkey — a crab-eating macaque — went through an open gate, then managed to open asecond gate in a chain link fence.
“She actually hit the latch — hit it just right,” said Richard Young, the director of animal resources and head veterinarian.
Animal control officers got their first call about the escape Monday — from a resident reporting a monkey in her backyard.
Wake Forest officials said they believed the animal hadn’t gone far, and were concentrating their search in and around the primate center.
As of late Tuesday, the officials had set seven traps, using oranges and bananas as bait, but the monkey had not been captured.
PETA says it has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, asking the agency to investigate the primate center for possible violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.
“While we’re cheering for this monkey, who has gained independence from her captors just in time for the Fourth of July, Wake Forest’s ineptitude has led this monkey into a foreign environment that will be especially terrifying and dangerous as fireworks explode in the coming days,” PETA said in a statement.
“These intelligent, sensitive animals deserve better than to be confined to cages for decades and forced to breed, only to have their babies taken from them and subjected to painful and deadly experiments.”
Forsyth County Animal Control officer Ricky Beeson said officers hope to trap the monkey, but added tranquilizer guns would be used if necessary — possibly even real guns, if the monkey is posing a public safety risk.
(Photo: A Forsyth County Animal Control officer uses a spotting scope to search the woods in Clemmons for a missing macaque; by Walt Unks / Winston-Salem Journal)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 4th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal control, animals, breeding, clemmons, complaint, davidson county, escaped, fireworks, forsyth county, investigation, lab, laboratory, loose, macaque, monkey, north carolina, peta, pets, primate center, research, search, wake forest university, winston-salem
But it turned out not be hers.
And it turned out to have been dyed pink for a good cause — dyeing for a cause being slightly more tolerable than dyeing for no reason at all.
So like a lot of celebrity stories, it wasn’t much of a story at all.
Initial reports said Watson owned the dog, which was described by the Daily Mail as “a shocking shade of bubblegum pink.”
That article and others quoted PETA officials and veterinarians who questioned the practice, as well as the groomer who pinkified the dog, who says the vegetable-based dyes he uses are harmless.
Some news reports called the dog, named Darcy, a Maltese, others referred to her as a bichon frise.
But the 23-year-old Harry Potter star got on Twitter to magically set the record straight: She doesn’t own a dog. She was just walking Darcy for a friend, who had the dog temporarily dyed pink in connection with a breast cancer research fundraiser.
(Photo: GoffPhotos.com / Daily Mail)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 26th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: actress, animals, bichon frise, breast cancer, cancer, dog, dogs, dye, dyed, dyeing, emma watson, fundraising, groomer, london, maltese, news, pets, pink, research, walking
In another study buttressing the belief that people tend to get dogs that match their personalities, British researchers say they concluded that disagreeable people prefer to own aggressive dogs.
The study, by a research team from the University of Leicester’s School of Psychology, was based on personality tests, filled out by participants.
Participating humans, we mean.
For the dogs, researchers seemed to mostly fall back on old stereotypes.
Researchers say they found that younger people and people with low levels of agreeableness were more likely to prefer dog breeds that were rated more aggressive. As examples of those breeds, they cited bull terriers or boxers.
Here’s where I’m going to have to be disagreeable. While I’m certain a trained psychologist with a clipboard and a questionnaire can confirm disagreeability in humans, I have my doubts about their labeling dogs aggressive, epecially if, as it seems, that is based entirely on perceptions, which are often misperceptions, about breeds.
Did the scientists actually meet any disagreeable people and their aggressive dogs? (Perhaps it was wisest not to.) Or did they just work from a checklist of allegedly aggressive dogs — Rottweilers? Akitas? Pit bulls? Dobermans. German shepherds?
I don’t dispute the conclusion the study reached; it seems somewhat obvious. I just question what they base the label of “aggressive” dog on. If it’s solely breed, and perceptions of breeds, that’s not science; it’s stereotyping.
And you’ve got to wonder too — assuming there is a connection between disagreeable people and aggressive dogs, whether dogs belonging to disagreeable people started out that way, or became aggressive while living disagreeable people?
Humans generally make dogs aggressive — sometimes intentionally, sometimes accidentally. An aggressive dog usually has a disagreeable human behind it. (Check out some of the comments we’ve received from supporters of dogfighting for proof of that.)
According to the scientists, disagreeable people are typically less concerned about others’ well-being and may be suspicious, unfriendly and competitive.
The study, published in the June edition of the journal Anthrozoos, found no link between liking an aggressive breed of dog and delinquent behavior, or that having an aggressive type of dog is a “status display,” lead researcher Vincent Egan said in a university news release:
“This type of study is important, as it shows assumptions are not the whole picture. It is assumed owners of aggressive dogs … or dogs perceived as aggressive … are antisocial show-offs.”
If one is relying on “dogs perceived as aggressive” to build their database, isn’t one making some assumptions oneself?
(Photos: We don’t think Rush Limbaugh has a dog, so we went on Google and picked him out a Chihuahua. No slur to Chihuahuas is intended)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 31st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aggressive, animals, behavior, breeds, disagreeable, dog owners, dogs, humans, match, misperceptions, perceptions, personality, pets, pyschologists, reflect, research, study, university of leicester