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Tag: survey

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.”

Dogs are greater motivation for buying first home than children or marriage, study says

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If you’re flipping houses — and based on my television viewing I surmise pretty much everyone in America is — you might want to give a fenced back yard the highest priority, higher even than that “en suite” master bathroom.

A study commissioned by Sun Trust, a mortgage company, shows that Millennial-age Americans are motivated to buy a home more because of their dog — or the possibility of someday having one — than they are by marriage of the birth of a child.

So forget that nursery, flippers — whether you’re in Orange County, Atlanta or Las Vegas. Don’t worry so much about those his and her walk-in closets. Instead, make sure the home you’re flipping has a nice sturdy fence.

True, if you’re one of those countless flippers who have combined your flipping with your own flipping TV show, watching a fence get built doesn’t make for riveting television. But then (sorry) neither does the laying of sod or the construction of a kitchen island. (Despite that, I keep watching for some reason.)

But back to the study … A full 33 percent of millennials between ages 18 and 36 said that canine-related concerns are what motivated them most to buy a home.

That’s more than the number who said they made the jump to home ownership because of marriage (25 percent), a new baby (19 percent), or to get a washer and dryer (18 percent).

A desire for more living space was the top motivator (at 66 percent), followed by a desire to build equity (36 percent). Third, though, were the needs of the dog, or a potential dog — including a fenced yard.

The survey was restricted to millenials who recently bought their first home.

It asked about their motivations for doing so, as opposed to the house features they were looking for.

So things like stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops — both of which seem vital based on my watching of too many television shows featuring spoiled people looking for a new house — were not factors.

The survey found that 42 percent of millennials who had never bought a home said that their dog, or the desire to have one, would be a key factor in their decision to make the jump from renting to owning.

The study found that 60 percent of first-time home buyers are millennials. It’s expected that, within the next five years, 80 million millennials will embark on their house-hunting journey, said Dorinda Smith, president and CEO of SunTrust Mortgage.

She said restrictive pet policies among landlords add to the numbers of pet owners seeking their own place.

“Some rental properties don’t allow pets and most rental properties are limited in space,” Smith said. “There’s also additional effort in keeping a dog in rental apartments.”

(Photo: Tarek and Christina El Moussa, hosts of “Flip or Flop, are separated with a divorce pending, but the show goes on, from HGTV; graphic from SunTrust Banks, Inc.)

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)

Making New Year’s resolutions for our dogs is more popular than ever, survey finds

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A survey conducted for Milk-Bone says more Americans than ever are including their dogs in their New Year’s resolutions.

To which dogs, could they respond, would probably do so with a sarcastic “Gee, thanks.”

But fret not canines. Putting you on a diet ranks all the way down at nine in the top 10 list, and the most popular resolutions are mainly ones dogs would wholeheartedly support.

And keep it mind, we humans hardly ever carry out our resolutions, anyway.

Three thousand pet owners were surveyed, and the most popular resolutions were:

1. I will spend more time with my dog. (52%)

2. I will help my dog to have better health and wellness. (42%)

3. I will take my dog on more trips with me. (34%)

4. I will brush my dog’s teeth regularly. (31%)

5. I will help my dog get essential vitamins and nutrients.(30%)

6. I will help my dog become less anxious and stressed. (29%)

7. I won’t feed my dog food from the dinner table. (25%)

8. I won’t leave my dog home alone for quite so long. (23%)

9. I will help my pet lose weight. (21%)

10. I will take my dog to dog training class. (15%)

(Photo: Instagram)

It’s official: Dogs are chick magnets

chick magnetA new study has confirmed what many of us guys already knew, or at least suspected — having a dog can make us more appealing to women.

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)

Kentucky is the most Scrooge-like in survey of what we spend on dogs for Christmas

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Residents of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania spend the most on their dogs at Christmas — and a good three times more than dog owners in Oklahoma and Kentucky, whose residents ranked as the most tight-fisted.

That’s according to a survey called the “Santa Dog Index” that appeared on TheNosePrint.com, an online pet source from Big Heart Pet Brands, the company that makes Milk-Bone and Pup-Peroni.

The survey polled 3,000 Americans about their dog-related holiday habits, including how much they spend on gifts for dogs, their reasoning for spending money on gifts for dogs and how they include their dogs in Christmas traditions.

xmasdog3The survey reported that 71% of people with dogs will give their pups gifts, and 48 percent hang up a stocking for them.

Nearly three-fourths of dog owners said they bestow gifts to their pet to express love. Other popular reasons were “because it’s fun for me” (60 percent) and “so the dog will feel included.”

Just under 30 percent dress their dog in a holiday-themed outfit, and 43 percent include the dog in their Christmas card photos.

The national average for Christmas spending on the dog is $23.10.

Here are the state by state rankings.

1. New Jersey: $30.01
2. New York: $29.55
3. Pennsylvania: $28.75
4. Utah: $27.75
5. Georgia: $27.04
6. California: $26.07
7. Washington: $25.81
8. Florida: $25.13
9. Illinois: $24.98
10. Virginia: $24.58
11. Texas: $24.47
12. Colorado: $24.11
13. Arkansas: $24.00
14. Maryland: $23.79
15. Mississippi: $23.31
16. Alabama: $23.05
17. Massachusetts: $22.91
18. Iowa: $22.86
19. Idaho: $22.83
20. Wyoming: $22.71
21. Ohio: $22.63
22. Wisconsin: $22.47
23. Rhode Island: $22.38
24. Alaska: $21.89
25. Hawaii: $21.75
26. Montana: $21.60
27. South Carolina: $21.53
28. New Hampshire: $21.50
29. Michigan: $21.33
30. West Virginia: $21.00
31. New Mexico: $20.40
32. Indiana: $20.14
33. Louisiana: $19.47
34. Kansas: $18.38
35. Missouri: $18.33
36. Tennessee: $18.19
37. Oregon: $18.07
38. Vermont: $17.67
39. Minnesota: $17.08
40. Arizona: $16.20
41. South Dakota: $15.35
42. North Dakota: $15.25
43. Nevada: $15.00
44. Connecticut: $14.30
45. Delaware: $14.14
46. North Carolina: $13.58
47. Nebraska: $12.00
48. Maine: $11.00
49. Oklahoma: $9.44
50. Kentucky: $8.63

(Photos: Lookanimals.com)

Labs still tops; beagles, bulldogs rising

For the 20th year in a row, the Labrador retriever is America’s top dog.

While America’s three most popular dog breeds remained the same — Lab, German shepherd and Yorkshire terrier — the American Kennel Club’s annual list of most oft-registered purebreds had some surprises.

The beagle overtook the golden retriever for the No. 4 spot.

And the bulldog, who has been steadily rising up in rank, took 6th place away from the boxer.

“Not since the early 20th Century has the bulldog enjoyed such sustained popularity,” said AKC Spokesperson Lisa Peterson. “‘Bob’ was the first AKC registered bulldog in 1886, and today the breed enjoys its highest ranking in 100 years at number 6.”

The AKC numbers are based on the numbers of purebreds registered with the organization.

Baltimore’s top five breeds reflected the national averages, except for the presence of the Rottweiler at No. 5.

Chihuahuas, ranked 13th nationally, were the sixth most popular breed for Baltimore.

Some other national highlights from the AKC’s count:

  • The French bulldog made the largest leap in the past decade, jumping 50 places from 71st to 21st. Other breeds with the biggest increase in rankings over the last decade include the Havanese (from 86th to 31st) and the Cavalier King Charles spaniel (from 54th to 23rd).
  • Closing the gap this year, a couple of breeds that had been on the decline over the past decade made double digit increases over the past year — Keeshonden (from 102nd to 87th) and Anatolian shepherd dogs (from 115th to 109th).
  • Three new breeds entered AKC’s registry in 2010, and the larger the breed, the higher they appeared in the rankings. The Leonberger, the largest of the new breeds, was ranked 33rd; the Cane Corso ranked 51st; and the smallest of the new breeds, the Icelandic sheepdog, came in at 82nd.