Friday, 12 February 2016

In the dark ages

During the Middle Ages, mixed breeds of peasants’ dogs were required to wear blocks around their necks to keep them from breeding with noble hunting dogs. Purebred dogs were very expensive and hunting became the province of the rich.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Tail wagging

Read on Cesar Millan's site.

All animals communicate with energy and body language, and it’s easy to tell just from body language whether they’re fearful or aggressive. But, beyond body language, for many animals there are three important body parts with which they communicate.
Animals’ primary methods of communicating are through eye contact, their ear position, and their tails.
When an animal is being defensive or aggressive, it will make eye contact to tell whatever it’s facing to back off. When an animal is alert to danger, its ears will stand straight up. But the most important thing to watch is the tail.

A tail wag is not always friendly
When a cat wags its tail, it’s not being friendly. Its saying, “Watch out, because I’m going to attack.” When a squirrel wiggles its tail, it’s saying, “I’m big and I’m threatening, so stay away.”
When a dog wags its tail, though, it could be saying a lot of things, depending on how it’s wagging. And, in fact, a dog’s tail is probably one of the most expressive parts of its body, just ahead of its ears.
This is why docking a dog’s tail or cropping its ears hinders the dog's ability to communicate effectively. These could be compared to cutting out a human’s tongue and removing their vocal cords. When it comes to communicating with body language, those ears and tail are a major way that our dogs speak to each other — and to us.
Different tail positions indicate different things
Think of a dog’s tail as the turn-indicator lever in your car. It has a natural position, and it has two other positions that indicate different things. When a dog’s tail is in its natural position, it indicates that the dog is calm and happy — though position varies with breed. Some dogs have tails that naturally hang down behind their legs, while others have tails that curl up over their backs. When the tail is in that natural position and not moving side-to-side, it’s telling you, “I’m happy. Everything’s cool.”
When the tail moves up or down
There are two positions a dog’s tail can move to without moving side-to-side: up or down. When a dog’s tail moves up, it means that the dog is becoming more assertive or dominant. It’s like raising a flag, and the message it’s sending is this: “I’m the dog in charge here.” When the tail moves down, it’s sending the opposite message: “You’re the dog in charge here.” And if a dog’s tail curls between its legs, it’s sending the message, “I’m harmless. Don’t hurt me. I submit.”
A raised tail isn’t necessarily aggressive but a lowered tail is always submissive.
When the tail moves side-to-side
This brings us to that wagging bit, when a dog moves its tail from side-to-side. Now, the natural assumption is that a dog wagging its tail is happy, but that isn’t necessarily true. As science has shown, it really all depends on how fast the tail is moving, and to which side it shows a bias.
If the tail is moving more strongly to the dog’s right, then that dog is showing positive emotions, like excitement or interest. But if it’s moving more to the left, it’s showing negative emotions, like anxiety, fear, or aggression. From a biological standpoint, this makes sense. That’s because in many animals, including dogs and humans, the left side of the brain deals with positive behaviors while the right deals with the negative. Since each side of the brain controls the opposite side of the body, this leads to a difference in meaning exhibited by the bias of the wag.
By the way, this wiring of the sides of the brain doesn’t change between people or animals that are right or left handed/pawed.
Context is key
So put it all together, and we get this. If a dog’s tail is mostly wagging to their right and is at or lower than its normal position, then the dog is saying, “Hey, I’m happy. You’re the boss. It’s all good.” But if the tail is wagging to the left, and especially if it’s at or higher than its normal position, then the dog is saying, “Bring it. I’m in charge here.”
Speed plays a role
The one other factor to consider is the speed of the wag. The faster the tail is moving, the higher the positive or negative energy. Really fast and low to the dog’s right, really submissive dog. Really fast and high to the left, walk away. At its most extreme, the tail can appear to be vibrating instead of wagging. This is definitely the dog to avoid.
No matter the position, though, a slow moving tail indicates a calm and curious dog, and that’s the dog you can safely approach and get to know better.

NB: it's the dog's right or the dog's left.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Edith Cavell executed 100 years ago

Edith Louisa Cavell  4 December 1865 – 12 October 1915 was a British nurse. She is celebrated for saving the lives of soldiers from both sides without discrimination and in helping some 200 Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium during the First World War, for which she was arrested. She was subsequently court-martialled, found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. Despite international pressure for mercy, she was shot by a German firing squad. Her execution received worldwide condemnation and extensive press coverage.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Get this.

Not many dogs would pester their owners for a pair of Neuticles. These are prosthetic testicles which owners can have implanted in their pets' scrotum after they've been castrated so as to appear "anatomically intact". Louis Schwartz is chief of staff at the Overland Veterinary Clinic in Los Angeles which performs the procedure. He says it's particularly popular with pet owners of a certain gender. "What I find is the vast majority are men. I can only think of one woman who has come to me to have the procedure on her pet. She was an animal control officer whose husband, because of his religious beliefs, did not want the dog to be neutered," he said."One weekend while he was away she came to me with the dog and years later, this man has no idea". Having the Neuticles "placed" costs $400 and is an extreme example of the wide range of medical and cosmetic procedures now available at vet clinics which in the US account for $20bn of consumer spending. The manufacturers of Neuticles believe that:"Dogs neutered with Neuticles do not realise they have been neutered and do not suffer post neutering trauma."
In my opinion the world has gone completely nuts (sic).Ozzy has been neutered and he looks fine even without Neuticles.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Howling Ozzy


The howl is the one sound wolves and dogs have in common.
Howls are long, melodious sounds that sweep through many different pitches which are more efficient and more audible over a long distance than a single pitch sound.  Why?  Because sound that travels long distance must overcome obstacles such as trees and their leaves or an uneven terrain.   
Wolves howl to communicate across large distances.  They will frequently howl when they are separated from the pack to keep or re-establish contact with the pack but also to deter members from another pack.  Often they howl to raise the alarm, to regroup as a pack,  to reinforce the cohesion of the pack.
Some dogs howl.  Others do not.  Dogs will howl when the hear the sirene of an ambulance or fire brigade or the ice cream van. 
Howling in dogs does not happen often.  A dog gets no reply when he howls so the behaviour is not reinforced and that’s discouraging.
Ozzy howls whenever an ambulance drives past the house.

I must admit I find it a spine chilling sound.  A call from the wild.


Saturday, 28 March 2015

Easy does it.

In the dog club, here in Brussels, where I was secretary for many years, our trainers used to say: “corriger votre chien” which translates as “correct your dog”.  What does this mean? 
Basically it means that the dog has to do what’s asked of him and his handler has to make his dog fine tune the exercise if it’s not quite right. 
There is a whole repertoire of exercises which are the same the world over.  Training techniques vary but the end result is the same. 
I found a quote in a book written by a 17th C cleric which has nothing to do with dog training but I found it highly relevant.
“Corrections administered with gentleness and affection are more effective than those administered with anger and passion”.