Research Shows Dogs Have a Secret Language at Play

photo credit: sonstroem Dogs Playing via photopin (license)

Nothing is more fun than watching dogs at play. Lucky Marc Bekoff spent decades researching playful dogs and says they send messages to each other with body movements.  We’ve all seen our own dogs do the most used, the play bow.  They use this pose to say, “I’m ready! let’s play!”

Dr. Bekoff, an ethologist, has written quite a few books on animals, their love of play and their morality.  After studying an enormous amount of video footage, Dr. Bekoff found several interesting behaviors when dogs interact.   Once of these behaviors is “self-handicapping”, in which bigger dogs will realize their size advantage when playing with smaller dogs and will allow them to jump on them or even roll over to give the smaller dog a better chance.  Dr. Bekoff says this behavior suggests dogs adhere to a sort of morality. His research as well as that of others supports the idea that dogs play fair which scientists had believed was a uniquely human trait.

Other studies have shown that dogs understand a wide range of emotions like empathy and inequality, which probably does not come as a surprise to those of us with dogs in our lives.  Tests have revealed that dogs will lick or nuzzle others that are crying to show support. Some dogs will not perform certain trained movements like shaking hands for a treat in front of other dogs due to feeling privileged.

For more interesting reading pick up Dr. Bekoff’s new book, Canine Confidential:  An Insider Guide to the Best Lives for Dogs and Us.

photo credit: sonstroem Dogs Playing via photopin (license)

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Dogs Have Issues Too: Helping Dogs Cope with Stress.

Our psychiatric service dogs all begin as shelter dogs. In meeting and assessing these dogs, we are acutely aware of the need to help dogs cope with stress. Even the best shelters are still not loving homes or the jobs many working dogs need to live satisfying lives.

On March 9th, Healing Companions held an afternoon of stress reduction/relaxation techniques for over twenty inmates and the shelter dogs they train in their basic skills. The training provided to shelter dogs by these inmates helps even those dogs that do not go on to become psychiatric service dogs be more adoptable. Those that do go on to be qualified to enter our program can begin their extensive public access and task training to start their journey as psychiatric service dogs in training.

This training for inmates and their trainees was presented by Jane Miller, LISW, CDBC, AABP-CDBT, Executive Director, Healing Companions, Inc..  The presentation is filled with relaxation techniques for humans and their dogs incorporating many complimentary modalities of healing. These include canine massotherapy, breathing techniques, canine body language and calming signals, acupressure points, reiki and many other approaches that can help reduce human and animal anxiety, stress, arousal and fear.  So many of the shelter dogs that we train have high levels of stress, anxiety, arousal and fear, as do their human trainers, so these methods are crucial to help everyone work well together.  This interaction also helps to increase cortisol levels and the human-animal bond. Safe, calm and relaxed humans and animals can focus and work well together. A win-win for everyone involved!

Stay tuned…video coming soon…then join us and watch the inmates participate in and practice these techniques and you will have the opportunity to view this training session .

Meanwhile, if you want to learn more about these techniques you can CLICK HERE for more information and to sign up and listen to this pre-recorded webinar:

Dogs Have Issues Too: Helping Dogs Cope With Stress

 

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GuideStar awards Healing Companions Platinum Status

GuideStar PlatinumHealing Companions has been awarded the GuideStar Nonprofit Profile Platinum level logo, a leading symbol of transparency and accountability provided by GuideStar, the world’s largest source of information on nonprofits. The logo demonstrates Healing Companions’ deep commitment to nonprofit transparency and accountability.

We hope you will check us out and tell us what you think.  Click here for our profile.

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Richie Gaiser Joins the HC Board

Richie Gaiser

Richie Gaiser

Richie Gaiser, our newest board member, is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and a lover of all things canine. After adopting his pup Maggie several years ago, he has helped many of his friends train and properly care for their furry friends. With a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Management, Richie currently works for a local business in Charlotte, North Carolina, promoting and helping spread brand awareness, and has appeared on various morning news programs and websites. Richie can’t wait to help spread word of the great cause that Healing Companions is and those it helps.

Richie has already been an asset to our program as he has generously volunteered his time, knowledge and dedication to our program. He has been helping us understand and raise our profile on twitter, facebook and mailchimp analytics. We are excited he will continue to contribute to our program. Please open your hearts and give a warm welcome to Richie! We are honored to have him join us!

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Healing Companions ~ Brenda Keltner

Barbara Keltner with her rescue dogBrenda Keltner’s family witnessed first hand what a difference a healing companion made in their sister’s life and decided they would like to help make that possible for others.

Brenda recently passed away in St. Mary’s Ohio. She was born on September 12, 1963, in Van Wert, Ohio to Gayle and Margaret (Faller) Keltner who preceded her in death.

She is survived by her siblings, Joyce (Don) Sonnastine of Wadsworth, Ohio, Richard Keltner of Van Wert, Gary (Renee) Keltner of Phoenix, AZ, Larry (Kathy) Keltner of Tucson, AZ, Debra Smith of Convoy, Jan (Doug) Jones of Venedocia, and Linda Keltner of Boston, MA. Her numerous nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews were very special to her.

Her dog Dinky was her loving companion. She had also rescued Monty, Too, and Cosmo, loyal companions who previously shared her life.

Brenda was a 1981 graduate of Lincolnview High School. She graduated in 1985 from Ohio Northern University. She earned her Juris Doctorate from the Moritz College of Law at the Ohio State University. Formerly an Assistant Prosecutor for the City of Columbus, Ohio, Brenda had presented several cases before the Ohio State Supreme Court. Always an advocate for the marginalized and those less fortunate, Brenda took time to help those who needed help.
She treasured her family. Her generosity, thoughtfulness, along with her amazing, joyful laugh and sense of humor will be remembered and missed by all those who knew her.

The family has requested donations to honor Brenda be sent to Healing Companions.  If you would like to donate, click here.  If you would like us to let the family know about your donation, just click here to email us and we’ll forward a note to them on your behalf.

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