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Tag Archives: dogalogue

Emotions, not just for humans

  SCIENTISTS studying animal behaviour have growing evidence that species ranging from mice to primates are governed by moral codes of conduct in the same way as humans. Until recently, humans were thought to be the only species to experience complex emotions and have a sense of morality. Professor Marc Bekoff, an ecologist at University of Colorado, Boulder, believes that morals are “hard-wired” into the brains of all mammals and provide the “social glue” that allow often aggressive and competitive animals to live together in groups. Wolves live in tight-knit social groups that are regulated by strict social rules. Wolves also demonstrate fairness. During play, mature wolves will “handicap” themselves by engaging in roll reversal with younger wolves, showing submission and allowing them to bite, provided it is not too hard. Prof Bekoff argues that without a moral code governing their actions, this kind of behaviour would not be possible. If an animal bites too hard, it will initiate a …

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Protecting pets from fireworks

ALTHOUGH fireworks are illegal in Ireland, we are all too aware of them as early as October. Each year we are asked to keep our pets indoors or locked away safe, and each year the veterinary practices all over Ireland are full of dogs and cats that have become victims to fireworks, bonfires and their own terror. Our pets are terrified of the noise and can be driven to extreme behaviour. Some will go off their food, hide for days under the bed or in other small spaces. Some will bite and growl at their well-meaning owners trying to comfort them; this can result in the poor dog being thrown out into a much more terrifying environment.Some poor dogs are so frightened that they run off to get away from the noise and get lost, many ending up in the dog pound or worse, under a car. Desensitising your dog to the noise of fireworks can take months and a …

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Twelve is a good number for dogs

Its been a while since I took over Bev’s column to tell you of my latest travels. I’m only thrilled this time as I’m going back to one of my favourite hotels, The Twelve, in Barna. Last Christmas, my humans took a photo of me wearing my Santa hat while posing on a copy of The Clare Champion and entered it in The Twelve’s Christmas competition. Despite the stiff opposition, I won! The prize was a night at the hotel with dinner in The West restaurant. It’s a terrible state of affairs though that I’m not allowed in the restaurant, even though I’m a Westie. Maybe I’ll get a little doggie bag. They really welcome dogs at The Twelve but I’ve heard they’ve upped their game with a new Dog Concierge service. It sounds wonderful and I had to try it out. As an added bonus, would you believe that RTÉ are sending a film crew along to record my …

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Expelling pet myths

THERE are lots of myths that have existed around pets and these are just a few. * A wagging tail means a happy dog: Dog body language is very complex and a wagging tail is only part of a very big picture. It can mean the dog is happy but it can also indicate anxiety, fear and sometimes aggression. So look at the whole dog. * You should let the dog have one litter before you spay her: Absolutely not. Dogs don’t have the same maternal feelings that people do and the drive to have puppies only comes around when the dog is in season. Pregnancy may cause complicated health issues and can mean expensive trips to the vets. Thousands of unwanted puppies and stray dogs are killed in Ireland each year and if you let your dog have ‘just one litter’, you may be adding to the problem. * Neutering my dog will change him: The earlier it is …

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When the Wolf gave up the sofa

THERE are lots of theories on how wolves decided to interact with humans. Did we ‘adopt’ the cutest or the abandoned wolf cubs? Highly unlikely, as we now know, with scientific research, living with a sociable wolf as a family pet is next to impossible. Domestic dogs evolved from a group of wolves that came into contact with European hunter-gatherers between 18,800 and 32,100 years ago; this wolf has since died out. Can you imagine 32,100 years ago trying to hunt to feed your family, let alone a large wolf, who could kill you over a meal. The hunting hypothesis, that humans used wolves to hunt, doesn’t hold up. Humans were already successful hunters without wolves, more successful than every other large carnivore. People have a long history of eradicating wolves, rather than trying to adopt them. Over the last few centuries, almost every culture has hunted wolves to extinction. The most likely explanation is that they probably domesticated themselves. …

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No more crying wolf

IN recent times, the dog-owning public have been bombarded with dog training entertainment programmes. Some, worryingly, have a “do not try this at home” warning. Pet dogs are being subject to all sorts of training and behaviour modification techniques borne out of wolf pack, dominance theory and now DIY TV programmes. Our domestic dog, canine lupis familiaris, is the most diverse species on earth and not a small wolf in the house. We have manipulated dogs both physically and behaviourally according to our needs, therefore up-to-date methods of training and problem solving looks to the breed’s need for reinforcing rewards. Many traditional trainers use dominance, rank reduction and pack theory techniques, based on flawed observations of captive wolves, canine lupis, in the 1940s. Typically, punitive/traditional trainers use confrontational techniques and equipment, delivering an unpleasant or painful consequence to a disagreeable behaviour, called positive punishment. Studies have shown that it is no longer acceptable or necessary to use such outdated and …

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Motivation is the key to training your dog

THE key to any training is knowing how to motivate your dog. Knowing your dogs’ likes and dislikes will impact your training enormously. When we talk about rewards in training, it’s not all about food. We humans all have different things we love to do as a reward, a nice meal, shopping, chocolate and shoes. Dogs are not so different; they all have their own reward preferences. Does your dog prefer cheese or chicken or would he much prefer a good game with a toy or a chase game with a ball or frisbee? Generally, most dogs adore food and would most likely prefer a smelly bit of sausage to anything else. However, the terriers may prefer a good tug game with a ragger toy, while collies and sheepdogs have a preference for chase games like fetch. One dog may really enjoy being petted, while others may not, so our response when giving a reward when we are training our …

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Poisonous plants for pets

While there are thousands of species of plants and flowers, only a small percentage of plants are truly dangerous and poisonous to your pet. Make sure you know which plants are most deadly to avoid your dog or cat from getting ill. Autumn Crocus: There are two crocus plants, one that blooms in the spring (crocus species) and the other in the autumn (colchicum autumnale). The spring plants are more common and are part of the Iridaceae family. These ingestions can cause general gastrointestinal upset, including vomiting and diarrhoea. They should not be mistaken for autumn crocus, part of the Liliaceae family, which contain colchicine. The autumn crocus is highly toxic and can cause severe vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, liver and kidney damage and respiratory failure. If you are not sure what plant it is, bring your pet to their vet immediately for care. Signs may be seen immediately but can be delayed for days. Azalea: In the same family as …

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