Dogs have clear ways of communicating. If you live with a dog or would like to, you’ll want to read this article. One of the primary skills we teach all our clients is how to communicate with and understand their dog.
The article Dogs Growl Honestly and Women Understand Better than Men by Marc Bekoff, Ph.D. will give you excellent insight into dog behavior.
Dogs are vocal animals, and most of us at one time or another have heard a wide variety of sounds ranging from growls to barks, whines, and whimpers. But how good are we at determining the emotional state of a dog when she or he is growling? A new and very important study by Hungarian researchers T. Faragó, N. Takács, Á. Miklósi, and P. Pongrácz called “Dog growls express various contextual and affective content for human listeners” shows we’re pretty good at assigning context and emotional state to different growls, and that women are better than men at doing so. The abstract for this study (available online) reads as follows:… Click here to read Dr. Bekoff’s article.
A California Girl Scout Troop working on their “Animal Helpers” badge sent us a new link for our resources page. We’d like to say thank you and on your recommendation have added it to our resource page. You can check it out by clicking here.
As part of our prison training program we offer the inmate handlers the opportunity to receive their First Aide/CPR certifications for dogs. Knowing how to care for those who depend on us is always an important part of the program. These skills can be carried into the community for job opportunities as they are released to begin new lives.
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.
Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSD) change lives but so can your dog by becoming a therapy dog. There are many jobs a well trained family dog can perform that will help raise awareness of the importance of service dogs in general and Psychiatric Service Dogs in particular. In addition to the basic training described below for therapy dogs a PSD requires specialized training to perform the specific duties required by their handlers. This can take many many months to complete.
Therapy dogs are trained to be good canine citizens as well as how to handle themselves in many situations. Not everyone gets to see a PSD in action but, in many places, everyday people can see how therapy dogs relax and sooth those around them even in some of the most stressful situations, fostering a broader understanding of how dogs may help and in some cases heal those with mental illness.
“A therapy dog is someone’s pet that is highly trained, can be easily controlled around other dogs, is very social and enjoys interacting with all ages and types of people and has been tested and certified through a recognized therapy dog organization.”
That’s quite a mouthful but it’s not good enough to just have a sweet easy going dog. You must be able to trust how he/she will react in almost any situation. Dogs and other therapy animals can make a world of difference in nursing homes, classrooms (read to a dog), family shelters and other places where people find themselves in need of a soothing presence.
If you’d like to give it a try, read this article for more information and resources.