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
You don’t know the face, but you may know the leg: A khaki-clad hunk of it often shows up — generally from the knee down — in photographs of Bo Obama.
The leg belongs to Dale Haney, who, when the First Family is too busy to walk the dog, assumes the duty.
As a keeper of the White House grounds for nearly 40 years, Haney has managed to cultivate relationships with the presidential pups — all the way back to Richard Nixon’s Irish setter, King Timahoe.
“They heard about me and they called me to come over here for an interview and I came and here I still am,” he told the Associated Press during a tour of the gardens on a rainy morning when first lady Michelle Obama — Bo’s primary walker — was out of town.
“I have him a little bit more” when she’s traveling, said Haney.
Before Bo came along, Haney had walked and played with President George W. Bush’s Scottish terriers, Barney and Miss Beazley. But he says he was most fond of Spot, an English springer spaniel whose mother, Millie, belonged to Bush’s father, President George H.W. Bush.
“I do have a soft spot for Spot,” he said in an online chat in 2003. “I was there when she was born and now she’s back.” Millie gave birth to Spot at the White House in 1989; the younger Bush and his wife, Laura, put Spot to sleep in 2004 after she’d had several strokes.
Haney began at the White House as a gardener, then was supervisor of grounds maintenance and lead horticulturist before becoming superintendent of all the grounds last fall.
Besides helping out with Bo, Haney tends to the nearly 19 acres of lawns, trees and gardens around the White House.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 4th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: barney, bo, bo obama, dale haney, dogs, first dog, first family, george bush, grounds, groundskeeper, horticulture, horticulturist, king timahoe, michelle obama, millie, miss beazley, obama, president, presidential, pup, richard nixon, spot, superintendent, walker, walks, white house
Police in Massachussetts are hoping a Saint Bernard might help them solve the mystery of his owner’s disappearance.
Police are searching for an elderly man who walked the Saint Bernard every morning near Accord Pond, a reservoir that supplies water to several South Shore communities.
The dog showed up alone Wednesday at a Chili’s restaurant, where a manager called police.
Last week, police let the dog loose in the woods near the pond, hoping he would lead them to a house, according to a Boston Globe article. But he just wandered around the area. On Wednesday, divers searched Accord Pond for nearly four hours, but did not find anything.
Since then, Leslie Badger, an animal control officer in Hingam, Mass., has been taking the dog around town, in hopes somebody might recognize him and be able to provide some clues to his owner’s identity.
Many people in the area saw the man walking the dog early in the morning on streets near the pond. But authorities haven’t found any one who knows his name and address.
Police are considering the possibility that the man abandoned the dog. Authorities say the dog is visibly upset, and that many have called offering to adopt him.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 21st, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accord pond, disappearance, dog, dogwalker, hingam, man, missing, mystery, news, ohmidog!, owner, police, pond, saint bernard, search, south shore, walker
Cold enough that I’m tempted to walk my dog this way*
(* Don’t ever walk your dog this way)
(Photo from Spacedust.com)
Whether George W. Bush is leaving the White House in disgrace is a matter best left for the political pundits — a group I am proud to say I don’t belong to — but as for his dog Barney, it seems he is definitely going out on a low note.
In addition to nipping a television journalist (good boy, Barney) this month, it has been revealed that, back in September, there was another biting incident — this one involving a public relations director (attaboy!).
Heather Walker, the public relations director for the Boston Celtics basketball team, has revealed how America’s First Dog bit her wrist and drew blood after she tried to pat him during a White House ceremony honoring the team’s 17th NBA championship.
“I walked into the White House and in the first area you walk into, there are Miss Beazley and Barney,” Walker said. “They were sitting on this Oriental rug, and I just reached down to pat Barney and he attacked me.”
Both Miss Beazley and Barney are Scottish terriers.
Walker, who had her wrist wrapped with a bandage by a Boston Celtics trainer, spoke about her ordeal on Friday, just days after Barney bit Reuters television reporter John Decker’s finger when he reached down to pat the seemingly docile hound.
Walker said she had wanted to keep the Sept. 19 incident under wraps, but her hometown newspaper, The Salem (Mass.) News, reported it Friday, according to the Associated Press.
Barney, despite starring in several White House Christmas videos and having his own official website, isn’t likely to go down as one of the most beloved first pets.
Karl Rove once described him as “a lump,” while former Russian president, Vladimir Putin, who owns a black labrador called Koni, is said to have remarked that such a small dog was unfitting for a world leader, the London Telegraph reports.
(Photo from www.barney.gov)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 17th, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: barney, bit, bite, biting, boston celtics, decker, first dog, president bush, public relations, reporter, reuters, scottish terrier, walker, white house