Dog Behavior

Your Dog... Home Alone

This information is provided as a public service and reproduced from https://avltoday.6amcity.com/helping-dogs-adjust-home-alone-asheville/?

By Brook Bolen for AVL TODAY

Home-office-5091293_1920As we get further along into Phase 2 of the Governor’s three-phase plan to reopen the state, more of us will be venturing outside the home more frequently, and many of us will be returning to the office. How can we best help our dogs avoid the “Back to Work” blues and prepare for added solo time?

I spoke with Pia Silvani, a pet behavioral specialist — also the Interim Director of the Asheville Humane Society’s Behavioral Department — to find out what pet parents can do to make the transition as painless as possible. Here’s what Pia suggests doing ASAP:

  • Stop taking your pets with you everywhere (even if that’s just inside your house). “If they’re clingy, and they follow you around from room to room, close the door and leave them alone,” she says. “If they’ve been sleeping in the bed with you throughout quarantine, put them back in their dog bed.”

  • Leave your furkids alone for a few hours each day. Now that we can leave home again, step outside and run some errands. “Little spurts of time away will help them get used to you leaving again,” Pia notes.

  • Stick with a routine. If you’ve been going on lots of walks in quarantine, keep them up, but get up early in the morning so you can fit them in. “It’s very important to make sure your pet gets adequate exercise,” says Pia. Similarly, if you keep music or the TV on during the day, be sure to leave it on for your pooch while you’re gone.

  • Start waking up earlier. If you’ve been sleeping in and lounging in bed, start getting up earlier so your dog gets used to it, too.

  • If you work remotely, then implement some distance at home. Start by shutting the door to the room where you’re working. Even seemingly small changes like this can help your pet acclimate to spending less time with you. 

  • Bring your dog along to the office if you can. Let your pooch join you for half a day and then take them home. 

  • Extend your lunch hour to run errands or other things you might do after work. That way, you can go directly home to see the one(s) who’ve been waiting for you all day long.

  • Talk to your neighbor and see if they can check in on your dog during the day (alternately, hire a pet sitter/walker). These folks can let your dog out to relieve themself and give a few belly rubs. 

  • Keep in touch with your veterinarian. If your dog shows signs of anxiety, there are lots of natural products to help pets feel more calm + comfortable, Pia says. In the event they need something stronger, your vet can prescribe the appropriate medication.

Image: Pixabay.com


Will a Mask Freak Out Your Dog?

Face-5017365_1920Wearing a mask in public may become the new normal -- but have you considered what your dog may think of it?

Here's what the IAABC (International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants) has to say about masks:

Many dogs get freaked out by people wearing something on their face. If your dog is nervous or reactive, help them cope with the sudden increase in "scary" people (including you!):

- Use positive reinforcement to show them that masks mean good things

- Wear your own mask for short periods indoors, let your dog see you put it on and take it off

- Keep your distance from strangers. You should be doing this anyway, but try to stay far enough away that your dog doesn't react.

Help them cope, like they're helping you cope!

For more, check out the IAABC's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/iaabcorg/posts/10159754816014126

Image: Pixabay.com


Participate in a "Dog Choices" Study

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Would you like to take advantage of being home and spending lots of time with your dog -- while contributing to dog research? Then participate in a "dog choices" study by the Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College, Columbia University in New York.

Designed to understand dog choice-making, this study is a game you play with your dog, wherein you offer him or her 7 choices each day for 7 days. It uses materials, food, and spaces in and around your home: all the choices can be incorporated in an ordinary day with your dog and it should take less than 30 minutes per day.

If you are interested, you must complete an online form, as well as a spreadsheet, by Wednesday, May 20. Start by filling out the form linked here.


How to Train Your Dog to Treasure Hunt for Truffles

Guest Post by Thomas Quarry

3370261961_d84b2498c9_cDescription: When you and your dog go on a treasure hunt to find natures gold, a.k.a. Truffles, they’re not going to find anything unless they have had adequate training. We explain how to train your puppy or dog to find truffles outside.

What can be more fun than you and your dog deciphering proverbial treasure hunt clues to reach truffle success? Truffle hunting is the ultimate treasure hunt where each piece of fungus can earn you a hefty sum of money. It’s unlike finding common mushrooms in your local woods -- these organisms are elusive and other truffle treasure hunters find it extremely difficult to locate these bad boys of the woods.

Truffles are notoriously difficult to acquire, especially because they live underground and you can’t find them in the same place twice. They survived by forming a relationship between tree root networks and plates have been used to hunt them for years. Truffle hunters have recently been switching from pigs to dogs because pigs are prone to eat the truffles, gobbling up potential hundreds of dollars’ worth of goods in one go! We suggest that one of the best treasure hunt ideas you can have is to train a dog instead. At least they’re not going to eat the prize like if they were on a prey treasure hunt.

Setting Tasks for Your Dog

You can train any dog to find nature’s treasure hunt clues, but the best dogs are those that love sniffing out the soil. Before you start, get your hands on some good quality truffle oil that is not synthetic and thus has the real stuff in it. Most truffle oil that you find in the shops isn’t actually made from truffles and the scent is artificially produced. It can help and can be used in training situations, but oil made from truffles or better yet shards of truffles make for a more realistic scent.

Make sure that you’ve got a number of treats armed at the ready. You will need to reward your dog for any good action that they complete. You will also want to get some cotton balls soaked with truffle oil which you can use in the training scenarios. We’re going to look at two of the most common methods and find out how you can apply them in the hunt game. It’s a game that’s worth winning as the prize is lucrative.

The “Puppy” Method

Step 1
Get your dog familiar with the scent of truffles by applying some oil to the puppy’s mother’s teats so they can familiarize themselves with it from a young age.

Step 2
When the dog gets older and can start to walk around constantly, soak a cotton ball with some truffle oil. You can then play fetch with your dog so they start to associate fetching for things that smell like truffles.

Step 3
Repeat steps until your puppy can bring the ball back to you without coaxing.

Step 4
You can begin to hide the soaked ball and reward your dog when they have found it.

Step 5
Repeat step four but hide the ball in difficult-to-reach places. You can try burying it in the soil to emulate natural truffle hunting conditions.

Step 6
After consecutive repetitions, go out into the forest where truffles might be and try to find some.

The “Find” Method

Step 1
Introduce the truffle to your dog so that they can familiarize themselves with the scent. If you can’t get a real truffle, then soak cotton balls in truffle oil instead. Introduce these cotton balls to them throughout your training.

Step 2
When the balls are introduced to your dog, ingrain the keyword “find” into their minds as they sniff around.

Step 3
Bury some truffle-infused balls to emulate real-life conditions. This is one of the best things the secret treasure hunter can do. You can then see if your dog will find the balls out in the field.

Step 4
Once the dog has successfully located the balls, reward them with a treat.

Step 5
Repeat, repeat and then repeat again. Repetition is key to your dog becoming a truffle master.

Treasure Hunt Truffles Today

Hopefully, now you know how to organize a treasure hunt with your best friend by your side. The truffle hunt can be one of the most exciting pastimes and it will be thoroughly rewarding when you find some of these wonderful fungi buried in the dirt. It isn’t easy to train your dog up properly but stick with it and you will reap the rewards in the long run. All the best!

What dog breeds do you think make the best truffle treasure hunters? Tell us in the comments section below.

Editor's Note: In case you don't think you can find truffles in the U.S., think again! Read this article on CNN and you'll be surprised.

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Thomas Quarry loves a good treasure hunt, even at his age. Just because you reach the age of 50, doesn’t mean you need to stop going out and looking for treasure! Everybody can do it and Thomas loves to write about the subject. His passion for finding lost treasure has led him to explore the correlation between data, new technology, and the finding of lost treasure and cities. When he’s not writing articles, he’s always mucking around with antique cars in his garage. A pet hobby he has is restoring them.

Image: Flickr.com


The Difference Between American and European Dogs

People-4070864_1920Dogs are dogs, right? Well, yes -- but their owners are different, and the differences are very obvious when you compare American and European dogs. So obvious, in fact, that Certified Trick Dog Instructor Sassafras Lowrey wrote all about it for The New York Times. Here are some of her observations.

  • When she visited England, France, Germany and the Netherlands, she noticed something quite different from America -- "dogs were everywhere: restaurants and buses and performance venues and countless other places. ...In Europe dogs tend to be welcome in most public spaces and they are calm, relaxed and quiet there. In the United States, however, pet dogs aren’t welcome in most public spaces, and often struggle in the public places where they are allowed."
  • Lowrey spoke to professional dog trainer Kama Brown, who observed that in Europe, “a person walking with a dog is not seen as an invitation to socialize. Whereas in America, moving across the street to avoid another owner and dog, or not allowing dogs to interact who are passing each other on a walk, can be seen as antisocial.”
  • Even the way we train dogs is different, writes Lowrey: "For example, shock collars, sometimes called e-collars or electronic collars, are banned in the United Kingdom, but they are legal in the United States."

All things for American dog owners to think about!

Image: Pixabay.com


Best Dog Breeds for Apartments

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In recent years, affordable housing has become a serious issue in the Asheville area. Homes are becoming increasingly out of reach for first-time buyers and the middle class in general. Apartment living is a legitimate alternative, and there are a considerable number of apartment buildings and complexes being developed and opened around Asheville. For the dog lover, however, the dilemma is not just finding a reasonably priced apartment, but securing a place to live that accepts dogs. Thankfully, more and more apartment developers are creating pet-friendly properties; still, breed and size restrictions are fairly common.

This article from TurboTenant is interesting because it identifies the dog traits best suited to apartment living, as well as 12 breeds that do well in apartments. Since many local dog owners adopt from shelters and rescues, keep in mind that, depending on the  your dog's mixed breed makeup, she may have some of the traits associated with particular breeds but not all of them. Check out the article here: https://www.turbotenant.com/blog/best-apartment-dogs/


Free Resource: "Fear Free Happy Homes"

Screen Shot 2020-01-09 at 4.21.32 PMHere's a free resource every dog owner should know about: It's called "Fear Free Happy Homes," a website that focuses on keeping pets happy and safe in their homes. It contains some great information, including videos and articles, and you can sign up for free to gain access to information and pet product discounts. Articles on the website's blog include:

Check out this cool resource at: https://fearfreehappyhomes.com/


Dogs and Sleep

Screen Shot 2020-01-08 at 10.16.53 AM"Let sleeping dogs lie" is a familiar proverb that actually means not interfering in a situation because you could make it worse. However, in the context of "dogs and sleep," it seems to be just as appropriate. Dogs sleep a lot -- on average as much as fourteen hours per day, according to sleep experts at Tuck -- so it pays to just, well, let them lie.

Tuck discusses other fascinating facts about dogs and sleep in a helpful article that includes information about dog vs. human sleep cycles, dog sleeping positions and things you can do to help your dog get better sleep.

The article on sleep is just one in a series of "pet sleep resources" provided by Tuck. You'll find them here: https://www.tuck.com/pet-sleep-resources/


New: Dog Training Classes Begin This Month

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Does your canine need a coach?
Now, Asheville Humane Society offers 6-week training courses for your current or newly-adopted pet! AHS is partnering with Pia Silvani, a canine behavior specialist and trainer, to offer weekly classes for your four-legged friend, including Kindergarten Puppy and Canine Manners. Both courses are open to the public.

Kindergarten Puppy will help your 8- to 16-week-old pup with proper socialization, bite inhibition, house training, manners and more. The class meets for 1 hour a week for 6 weeks and is limited to 10 puppies. The first class will be held on Sunday, January 26 at 2 PM (Asheville Humane's Adoption Center, 14 Forever Friend Lane).

Canine Manners will use reward-based training methods to help you bridge the communication gap when teaching your dog basic manners. This 1-hour class (for dogs over the age of 16 weeks) is limited to 8 dogs and will meet once a week for 6 weeks.  The first two Canine Manners classes will be held on Saturday, January 25 at 10 AM or 11:15 AM (Asheville Humane's new Community Center, 1425 Patton Avenue). 

If you sign up for one of these six-week courses, you will receive $15 off by using coupon code "HOLIDAYK9". (Discount is only valid until these three courses sell out.) 

Purchase tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com/o/asheville-humane-society-28683564225

Pia Silvani is an internationally-recognized dog trainer with over 30 years of experience. Previously, Pia was VP of Training and Behavior at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center where she developed numerous courses focused on positive, reward-based techniques. She also served as the Director of Behavioral Rehabilitation at the ASPCA where she led programs to educate shelter professionals in effective behavior rehabilitation techniques, as well as specialized socialization, enrichment, and shelter protocols.

Image: Asheville Humane Society


Do Dogs Get Jealous?

Guest Post by Clara Lou

Leisure-1551708_1920Have you ever tried to pet another dog when you’re playing with your pooch? Your buddy will try to come between you and the other dog to whom you now gave attention. Initially, your buddy will try to push you or the other dog away, but your dog might also end up whining, biting, and attacking you or the other dog.

This kind of behavior suggests that dogs really get jealous when they are not the center of attention. But a more important question is whether the jealousy in dogs is the same as the jealousy we humans feel. Let’s find out.

Understanding Jealousy in Dogs

I believed that the jealousy in dogs is no different than it is in humans until I met a sled dog racer in Canada. He was making his Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies ready for a ride. They all looked cute, and when I maneuvered to pet them the sled dog rider warned me, “You pet one dog and you have to pet them all.” Further, he said, “They get jealous of each other if any one of them gets more of love, affection, food, or anything. They turn into green-eyed monsters.”

This incident made me look deeper into dogs’ jealous behavior.

What I Found

I am going to discuss two different experiments that helps us understand this behavior better. Friederike Range, of the University of Vienna, did an experiment to study jealousy . Two dogs were given the same task to perform, but one gets rewarded while the other does not. Both the dogs were taught a simple trick of ‘shaking hands’. A dog would extend her paw and put it into the person’s hand.

For the experiment, both the dogs with their respective persons in front of them were seated side by side and were instructed to perform handshakes. But only one dog received the treat as a reward -- the other didn’t. You would think the unrewarded dog would react to this unfair distribution of rewards by performing the same tasks and wouldn’t follow his master’s instructions. This is exactly what happened. The unrewarded dog stopped obeying his master’s command and also showed stress signs when his partner dog kept receiving treats.

Many people would believe that this is not jealousy exactly. It might well be the case that the dog who did not get the treats stopped obeying his master simply due to the fact that all unrewarded training tricks and commands tend to disappear because of the learning process which theorists call “extinction.” Very simply, a dog would not perform the task if he won’t get any rewards in return. Do you also think the same? But wait, you might want to read further.

To ensure that the interaction was important rather than the case of frustration and jealousy, a similar experiment was conducted. But this time it was a little bit different. This time the same task was performed on the two dogs with their respective masters in a separate room. Also, they were not being rewarded at all for obeying their master’s instruction of shaking hands.

Under this circumstance, both the dogs did not only present their paws for a longer time but also didn’t show any signs of frustration or annoyance. So, definitely, the motive to perform the trick was not to get a reward. It was jealousy that the other partner was getting rewards for the same task he was doing.

One More Experiment to Understand This Behavior Further

When human beings are involved in different social settings and situations, every aspect of the reward is closely considered to determine the jealousy. Dogs, however, do not see the situation under the same microscope. This can be understood from a similar experiment to the one previously discussed.

Now, again, two dogs sit side by side in front of their respective owners. Both the dogs are instructed to perform a “shake hand” task. This time, both the dogs get treats as rewards but the difference here is one dog gets a very desirable treat, a piece of chicken, and the other one gets a comparatively less desirable treat, a piece of bread.

The outcome was surprising. The response from both the dogs was not affected by the unfair share of rewards, unlike what a human might have done if he were in the place of dogs. Dogs are sensitive to fairness (whether they are being rewarded or not), but not to the equity (the quality of rewards).

The Bottom Line

It can be said that dogs get jealous when they think you have been unfair to them; whether it’s food, love, affection, attention, or anything. Other animals like primates also respond to primary and secondary emotions, but dogs only respond to secondary emotions. If you have any questions or want to share what you feel, please comment. Long may the canines live!

Clara Lou is a co-founder and the marketing head at PetLovesBest. She happens to be an active animal activist in her town who has done a few notable works for the welfare of animals, especially pets. She loves to enjoy writing about pets and animals.

Image: Pixabay.com