Dog Research

Why Adopt a Shelter Dog?

AngelinaLitvin-unsplash.comTo some dog lovers, answers to the question, "Why Adopt a Shelter Dog?" are obvious. But there are still plenty of people who are uncertain about adopting from a shelter or even have a negative perception about it. has come up with an informative online guide that not only answers the question, it presents you with "20 Astonishing Shelter Dog Facts." Did you know, for example, that:

  • About 25 percent of dogs in shelters are purebred
  • Many shelters perform behavioral testing before releasing dogs for adoption
  • Mixed breed dogs tend to be generally healthier than purebred dogs
  • Adoption fees typically cover a range of services adopters would normally have to pay for on their own, including spay/neuter, worm and parasite medication, standard vaccines, and microchipping.

 There's lots more to know about adopting a shelter dog, and it's all in an easy-to-digest format here:

Image: Angelina Litvin,


Dog Training Presentation - Asheville, Jan. 25

ID-100422868On Thursday, January 25 at 6 PM, Dr. Kathryn Gubista will do a free presentation on science-based dog training.  The presentation will take place in the Lord Auditorium of Pack Memorial Library, 67 Haywood Street, in downtown Asheville. Humans only, please!

Gubista is an evolutionary biologist, college biology instructor, former zookeeper, author and certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA) with Lucky Dog Training Asheville and has over 30 years of dog training and human educating experience. Her training philosophy is based on "The Dog's Perspective."  According to Lucky Dog Training: "Our training philosophy and techniques are based on understanding the biology of dogs coupled with learning theory, and is most similar in approach to dog training as Positive Discipline is to child parenting. By understanding the dog’s perspective, humans learn to communicate with dogs on their level instead of making dogs communicate on the human’s level. This makes dog training practical, easy and rewarding for everyone, especially dogs."

Image: jm1366,

Is a Toy Dog Breed Right for You?

Guest Post by Lilly Andrews

StuartMiles-fdpToy dogs have become very popular pets over the past years and are slowly becoming top choices of dog lovers. As a matter of fact, the American Kennel Club has listed six toy dog breeds in the top 25 of the recent most popular dog breeds in America. The top 25 list includes Poodles (7th), Yorkshire Terriers (9th), Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (19th), Shih Tzu (20th), Pomeranians (22nd), and Havanese (23rd).

Many people are looking to take in small dog breeds because of their adorable features, and perhaps, thinking that there will be fewer responsibilities and lesser work to expend. But toy dog pets go beyond their charms. Even with the popularity of these toy dog breeds, there are still some people who wonder if they make good pets at home. To help you decide, here are pros and cons of taking care of toy dogs.


Because of their cute size, toy dogs can easily adjust and fit into small and big living spaces. Whether you live in a one-room apartment or a mansion, you are assured that your little pooch has plenty of room to move around. They only require a short walk to get their needed amount of exercise per day.

When you go out or travel, you can easily bring your pet along. You can place them inside your shoulder bag or tote bag and not worry about carrying a load. Moreover, these dogs eat less, need fewer exercises, and their routine vet visits often cost less. Toy dogs show a great deal of love and affection to their owners as well, a common characteristic of all types of dogs. Although it depends on a number of factors, smaller dog breeds tend to live longer than big dogs.


Small dogs can sometimes have obnoxious personalities. They can be aggressive to larger dogs and responsible for starting fights. Toy dogs feel that they are in charge of the household. They may disobey their owner and feel that they need to be served all the time. They can also be difficult to train, but you, as an owner, should set the tone that you are the boss, being firm yet still showing affection.

In addition to those points, not all small dogs are good around children. If a dog is not taught the proper behavior when they are still a puppy, the owner can experience a number of behavioral issues.

Popular Breeds

There are several popular breeds of toy dogs to choose from. Here are a few options you can consider:

  • Yorkie. The Yorkshire terrier originated in England, and they were used to kill vermins. They are known to have a very strong personality.
  • Poodle. Originally a water dog, the poodle was used to hunt game. They are very intelligent and are easy to train.
  • Shih Tzu. This toy dog breed has its roots in China. It is one of the oldest breeds in existence.
  • Pug. The pug is also from China. This dog has become very popular for their small size and cute features.
  • Chihuahua. A dog breed from Mexico, the chihuahua may have been used in religious ceremonies by ancient tribes.

The Importance of Toy Dog Breed Choice

Before getting a toy dog, it is important to research the different breeds and their specific needs. Don’t rush. Take the time to look at the needs of the dog and figure out if that certain breed fits into your lifestyle. You should also consider your finances since the prices of small dogs can be high, especially if they are purebred. Keep in mind that you can often obtain a small dog at a much more reasonable price from an animal shelter, humane society, or rescue organization. In addition, small mixed breed dogs may have less behavioral and health problems than purebred toy dog breeds.

The bottom line: Try to find out as much information about the breed that you want to have. Once you have finalized your choice, it is important to make sure that you are capable of taking care of it.

Image: Stuart Miles,

Free Guide to "50 Most Popular Dog Breeds in the World"

ID-10044688There are plenty of factors determining a breed’s popularity relative to others. However, the only statistic that actually measures breed popularity is the number of dog registrations per breed. So this tells us what is popular without explaining why it’s popular.

A review site,, has published a free guide to the fifty most popular breeds in the world. For each breed, you'll find the dog group it belongs to (herding group, sporting group, toy group, etc.), temperament, training, key facts about the breed, and celebrities who own dogs in that breed.

This handy guide will give you a quick overview of dog breed characteristics. You can find it here:

Image: Happykanppy,

New Canine Nutrition Resource

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The Pet Food Institute (PFI), whose members make 98 percent of all U.S. pet food and treat products, recently launched a new series of interactive infographics showing the ways the key nutrients found in a complete and balanced dog food recipe help our pets. The new web resource, 'Nutrition from Nose to Tail,' provides fast facts about the essential nutrition that fuels our dogs' growth and supports their body systems, as well as non-essential nutrients that can also serve important functions. 

 "PFI's new 'Nutrition from Nose to Tail' resource was designed to assist pet lovers in understanding how a carefully formulated recipe will help their dog," said Cathleen Enright, PhD, president and CEO of PFI. 'Nutrition from Nose to Tail' shows the ways that the essential nutrients support pet health, for example by providing energy or promoting vision or healthy joints, and also reviews other important non-essential but functional nutrients such as carbohydrates. 

Check out this free resource here:

Everything You Need to Know About Pet Insurance

More pet parents today than ever before are showing interest in pet insurance due to the rising cost of pet care. The first pet to be insured in the USA was a female Rough Collie dog and TV star Lassie, back in 1982. As the number of pet owners increase, there has been a huge upsurge in the number of companies offering pet insurance, particularly in North America.
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An APPA (American Pet Products Association) study estimates that in 2017, veterinary care in the US cost $16.62 billion to pet owners, and they paid $14.93 billion for over-the-counter medicine for their cats and dogs. Today,an estimated 1.8 million pets are insured in the United States with annual premiums averaging between $163 per pet to $496 per pet, depending on the insurance plan.
Pet insurance can be very helpful in saving money on routine check-ups, medicine and vitamins, and surgical bills. But the problem many pet owners face is the abundance of choices, with different rules and regulations, and every company’s plan being slightly different. So do you pick a pet insurance plan that’s right for you and your four-legged companion? 
It all comes down to asking the right questions and comparing the most important aspects of each pet insurance policy. magazine has put together an infographic with a large list of pet insurance tips and sample questions you can ask your future insurance provider that will help you narrow down the best choices.
You'll find this helpful resource here: 

The Good News About Exercise and Your Dog

ID-100104460Many dog owners recognize that simply walking their dogs can keep them and their dogs healthier. However, it may surprise you to learn that a significant percentage of dog owners do not walk or exercise their dogs.

According to a recent article in The New York Times, "as many as 40 percent of dog owners in the United States and elsewhere rarely if ever walk their dogs." In searching for reasons why people didn't walk their dogs, researchers came up with one intriguing conclusion: "Interestingly, one of the prime determinants of regular dog walks was affection. People who reported feeling close to their pet generally walked it more often than those who reported a looser bond."

A research study suggests that people are less likely to walk smaller dogs (typically weighing less than thirty pounds), older dogs, and overweight dogs. Contrary to popular belief, all of these dogs need exercise, as long as a veterinarian approves. Dr. Carri Westgarth, a researcher in England, tells the Times that taking a dog on a walk is not just good exercise, it is also stimulating for the dog's senses and reinforces the canine-human bond.

“People who walk their dogs often say they do it for the dog,” said Westgarth. “But there is also an element of what we get out of it in terms of enjoyment, which is the big motivator.”

So get out there and walk your dog... you'll both be better off for it!

Image: Vlado,

Does Your Dog Connect with You on an Emotional Level?

AngelinaLitvin-unsplash.comPeople who have owned dogs for a long time are likely to share a very special bond with those pets. Many dog owners may even believe that dogs read and react to their emotional state. Now an emerging field of science called "emotional contagion" -- the spread of emotions between animals and people -- is helping to confirm that dogs really can connect with their owners on an emotional level.

A recent article in The New York Times, "The Empathetic Dog," shares the story of Benjamin Stepp, an Iraq war veteran whose service dog, Arleigh, senses Stepp's emotional distress and takes action to calm him. According to the article, "The dog senses when his agitation and anxiety begin rising, and sends him signals to begin the controlled breathing and other exercises that help to calm him down." This is just one of countless examples of ways in which dogs help humans by understanding their emotional state.

Some of the research being done on the emotional connection between animals and humans is fascinating. For example, one study cited in the story exposed dogs and humans to a baby crying, a baby babbling, and radio static. The babbling baby and radio static did not elicit much of a reaction from either humans or dogs. "But the sound of a baby crying produced a drastic response. Cortisol levels spiked in both people and dogs," according to the article.

So that deep emotional connection you think you have with your best furry friend? It could be very real!

Image: Angelina Litvin, Unsplash


What Do You Really Know About Dog Food?

ID-100114357The number of dog food brands and options is overwhelming, and food for dogs has become big business for the pet industry. To keep ahead of the brand "pack," did extensive research into dog food to come up with a very selective list of the best dog food brands. The team invested over 1,400 hours into research, which included surveying experts and dog owners and reviewing the ingredients of more than 100 brands.

The results of this study are both troubling and informative. You will learn quite a bit about what is and isn't in dog foods, and you're also likely to discover that some of what you think about certain brands may not be correct.

The study covers what to look for and what to avoid in dog foods, pros and cons regarding types of dog food, the best dog food formulas, and the best dog food products. There is also some helpful information about dog food recalls.

Check out the complete study here:

Image: Twobee,

Guide to Dog Ownership Costs

ID-100329003When it comes to owning a dog, you certainly can't put a price on the love and companionship a dog brings to your family. But just as with a human family member, there are costs involved in owning a pet. has put together a helpful, comprehensive and current guide to pet ownership costs. The guide covers the lifetime costs of a pet, including acquisition, medical, grooming, food, equipment, and training costs. The guide also discusses specific costs related to owning a dog, such as most and least expensive dog breeds, typical costs for health-related items including vaccines, flea treatments, and heartworm preventative, emergency medical care, pet insurance, tips for reducing the cost of pet ownership, and more.

Included with the guide is a handy free cost calculator so you can estimate dog ownership costs yourself.

Check out the guide here:

Image: Stuart Miles,

New Book Focuses on Disaster Preparedness for Pet Owners

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 3.25.24 PMWhether the wind blows, the ground shakes, the flames rise or snow and water fall from the skies, you must be prepared for your pet’s sake!” says Denise Fleck aka The Pet Safety Crusader™. “Disasters aren’t always on a regional scale. Power could go out on just your street or in only your building.  A tree could fall on your roof or a water pipe could break in your home alone.  Even without your neighbors being affected, your household of two-legged, four-legged, feathered, finned or scaled family members could be in distress.”

In her just released 9th book, “The Pet Safety Crusader’s My Pet & Me Guide to Disaster PAWparedness,” Fleck, who has personally instructed more than 12,000 humans in animal life-saving skills and millions more on national TV segments, lays out the steps your pets need you to know to be READY, REACT and then RECOVER.  “Training, supplies, a positive mental attitude and a plan can make all the difference,” she says.  In addition to preparedness tips for humans and their animal companions, the author provides templates for your family's emergency plan, what to have on hand and skills to possess, suggestions for specific disasters ranging from earthquakes, hurricanes and chemical disasters to tsunamis, power outages and civil unrest. The book concludes with a comprehensive manual covering basic first-aid – should the worst happen – for those who walk on two-legs, four paws or hooves, fly, swim or crawl.

Order the book below:

Free "Pet Friendly" Presentation, Hendersonville, April 29

ID-100280356On Saturday, April 29 from 4 to 6 PM, certified dog behaviorist Kim Brophey will give a free talk entitled "Pet Friendly: We All Deserve to Have a Ball!" at Sanctuary Brewing, 147 1st Ave. East, Hendersonville, NC. It is sponsored by Asheville Humane Society in partnership with the Humane Society of the United States and

Kim is the owner of Dog Door Behavior Center in downtown Asheville and will be discussing what “pet friendly” means for the Asheville area. is a leading pet travel resource that has partnered with HSUS and Shelter Pet Project for a 10-month, pet-friendly tour across the country to raise awareness about adoption and other animal related issues. Asheville has been chosen as one of the stops!

Asheville Humane Society and Blue Ridge Humane Society will be there with dogs available for adoption!

Image: Holohololand,

New Study Shows Dogs Help People Improve Their Interactions

ID-100104783Dog lovers rejoice! Recent research conducted at Central Michigan University compared groups of people working together on tasks. Some small groups worked without a dog present, while other groups had the companionship of a dog. The result: The groups with a dog worked more cooperatively and seemed to trust group members more than the groups with no dog in the room.

Researcher Steve Colarelli reports, "When people work in teams, the presence of a dog seems to act as a social lubricant. Dogs seem to be beneficial to the social interactions of teams."

Colarelli adds, “In a situation where people are working together for a long period of time, and how well the team gets along—do they speak together, have rapport, act cooperatively, help one another—could influence the outcome of the team, then I suspect a dog would have a positive impact.”

Read more about this study from the perspective of Jill Suttie, writing for the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley:

Image: Vlado,

Dogs and Behavior Problems

ID-100436728We all love our dogs, but every once in a while, they exhibit a behavior that we find undesirable. Before you attempt to correct the behavior, it might be wise to understand its cause. provides an excellent "Guide to Behavior Problems in Dogs" that lists many of the most common dog behavior problems, including inappropriate elimination, urine marking, digging, separation anxiety, aggression, chewing, and biting. The guide is set up so that it briefly describes each behavior. Then you can click on the behavior and get a lot more details about the problem.

All of the material is written by veterinarians or other dog behavior specialists. It is easy to read and features specific suggestions and guidance for how to address each behavior problem.

You'll find a link to the primary article here:

Image: Patrisyu,

Free Talk: "Puppy 101," Hendersonville, Feb. 25

ID-100226591On Saturday, February 25 from 1 to 2:30 PM, Sanctuary Brewing in Hendersonville will host "Puppy 101" from This free talk with an Asheville Humane Society dog behaviorist is going to focus on the stages that puppies go through, how their brains and behavior are developing, and what we can do to help them become a well-socialized adult dog!

The talk will also cover some common socialization misconceptions and helpful training techniques to make the adolescent months more bearable. Puppies are welcome, but if you decide to bring your puppy, please be sure they are up to date on vaccines and de-wormings. If several puppies of similar ages are present, a puppy social will be held! 

Sanctuary Brewing is located at 147 First Avenue East in Hendersonville, NC. For additional details, call 828-595-9956 or email 

Image: Vudhikrai,

Test Your Dog Knowledge with this Fun Dog Quiz

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The Pet Community
is a social network for pet owners. You can create a profile for your dog and upload photos and videos to share with other pet lovers.

The Pet Community also created a dog quiz comprised of 10 questions to test your dog knowledge. It's fun, it won't take long, and you'll find out right away whether you answered the multiple choice questions correctly.

You can find the dog quiz here:




There's a Right and Wrong Way to Pick Up Your Dog

ID-10044405You may not think much about it, but before you scoop up your dog the next time, you might want to read this article on Vetstreet by veterinarian Jessica Vogelsang. She says dogs' limbs "are more delicate than you think," and lifting a dog by its front limbs (a common no-no performed by children) can be quite dangerous. Another common error: scruffing an adult dog. While scruffing the neck can work with adult cats, it is uncomfortable and sometimes painful for adult dogs.

Dogs cannot verbalize when they are uncomfortable or in pain, so it is up to their human owner to be sensitive to canine signals. Watch for a dog's signals when you pick up your dog, and be sure to pick up your dog the right way.

Vogelsang offers helpful tips for the right way to pick up your dog, distinguishing between small (under 25 pounds) and medium (25 to 40 pounds) size dogs. She believes large dogs really need two people to pick them up.

Read Vogelsang's entire article on Vetstreet here:

Image: Ambro,

Technology and Dog Training: NC State's "Smart Harness"

NCState harnessThe future of dog training may be just as smart as your smartphone.

North Carolina State University researchers have developed a "smart harness" with a customized suite of technologies that allows a computer to train a dog autonomously, with the computer effectively responding to the dog based on the dog’s body language.

“Our approach can be used to train dogs efficiently and effectively,” says David Roberts, an assistant professor of computer science at NC State and co-author of a paper on the work. “We use sensors in custom dog harnesses to monitor a dog’s posture, and the computer reinforces the correct behavior quickly and with near-perfect consistency.”

“Because the technology integrates fundamental principles of animal learning into a computational system, we are confident it can be applied to a wide range of canine behaviors,” says Alper Bozkurt, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and co-author of the paper. “For example, it could be used to more quickly train service dogs. Ultimately, we think the technology will be used in conjunction with human-directed training.”

The dog harness fits comfortably onto the dog and is equipped with a variety of technologies that can monitor the dog’s posture and body language. Each harness also incorporates a computer the size of a deck of cards that transmits the sensor data wirelessly.

No word on if and when the smart harness may be commercially available. For more information, visit:

Image: NC State University

Dog Talk in Asheville: "Uniting the Human and Canine Worlds," July 23

ID-100104460On Saturday, July 23 from 9 AM to 12 PM, the first U.S certified behavior consultants of internationally renowned dog behaviorist Turid Rugaas will present "Bridging the Gap: Uniting the Human and Canine Worlds."

Topics of the talk include the human-dog relationship, walking gear that works, healthy eating that works, and "Fetch: The Movie." 10 percent of the proceeds from this talk will benefit Blue Ridge Humane Society.

The talk is sponsored by and will be held at Lenoir-Rhyne University's Asheville location, 36 Montford Avenue, Asheville. Registration is $35 online or at the door.

To register online, go to:, or contact:
Joanne Ometz,, 828-275-2487

Image: Vlado,

Dog Talk: "Uniting the Human and Canine Worlds," Asheville, July 23

ID-100104460On Saturday, July 23 from 9 AM to 12 PM, the first U.S certified behavior consultants of internationally renowned dog behaviorist Turid Rugaas will present "Bridging the Gap: Uniting the Human and Canine Worlds."

Topics of the talk include the human-dog relationship, walking gear that works, healthy eating that works, and "Fetch: The Movie." 10 percent of the proceeds from this talk will benefit Blue Ridge Humane Society.

The talk is sponsored by and will be held at Lenoir-Rhyne University's Asheville location, 36 Montford Avenue, Asheville. Registration is $25 before July 10, or $35 after July 10 and at the door.

To register online, go to:, or contact:
Joanne Ometz,, 828-275-2487

Image: Vlado,