Archive | October, 2017

Fun Party Tricks

Jump Through Your Arms

The goal of this trick is to have your dog jump through your arms as you make a circle with them. To begin, sit facing a wall and lure your dog with a treat to step over your arm, as it is on the ground. Being by a wall will encourage your dog to go over your arm rather than around it. Alternatively, you can start training this behavior with a hula-hoop and then transition the dog to jumping through your arms after they already understand the behavior with the hula-hoop. Once your dog understands what behavior you are asking for, you can start using the cue “hoop” or “jump.” If you are training the behavior with your arms rather than a hula-hoop, start adding in the upper arm to complete the circle while asking your dog to jump over the bottom arm. For this part you can throw the treat to the side you want them to go to while giving the “hoop” cue or have someone help you lure the dog through your arms with the treat. Eventually start raising your arms above the ground so your dog will jump through them while you are standing and your arms are by your hips (or as high as your dog is willing to go).

Here are some videos on training this behavior:

Part 1

Part 2 

Sit Pretty

The “sit pretty” behavior is when your dog lifts their front paws up, while still sitting on the ground. It is a big crowd pleaser, and is great for taking cute pictures. Start with having your dog sitting in front of you. Hold a treat at your dog’s nose, and slowly move it up above them. Look for any movement up with the front half of the body and reward any progress. To begin, your dog might jump up into a stand, just ignore it and try again. Wait for them to stretch slightly up towards the treat, or lift one or two paws slightly. Build into the behavior slowly. Once your dog understands the behavior you are looking for, pair the verbal cue with the behavior, then when your dog no longer needs the food lure, you can start building in the hand gesture.

Here is a video demonstrating how to train sit pretty.

 

Dance

This behavior is an easy transition after teaching your dog to sit pretty. To train dance, start with your dog sitting. Hold a yummy treat up to your dog’s nose and lure upwards into a sit pretty stance and then keep luring up until your dog is on their hind legs. It may take a few tries for your dog to understand what you are asking, so move the lure slowly and reward any small progress, like if they only slightly come up out of the sit pretty or attempt to stand up. Using a clicker for this behavior will help you capture the behavior easily and help your dog understand what they are being rewarded for. Once your dog understands that you are asking them to stand on their hind legs, you can ask them to hold it longer while raising their paws up, and add in the cue or hand signals.

Here is a video showing how to train this behavior.

Halloween Safety for Pets

Keep candy out of reach of pets. Halloween candy can be extremely toxic to pets (especially chocolate and xylitol), but that won’t stop them from trying to find it all! Monitor candy bags and be sure they are up high and away from nosy pets. Signs that your dog may have eaten candy include vomiting, diarrhea, lack of coordination, and seizures. If your pet has gotten into the candy it is best to contact a veterinarian immediately.

Beware of costumes – both on your pet and on humans. Halloween is a weird holiday for our pets. They are not accustomed to seeing people with masks, hats, wigs, and all other types of interesting articles of clothing. It can be quite frightening for our pets, especially if this is their first Halloween. Be mindful of this and maybe let them quietly chew their bone in a comfortable area of the house rather than going out trick or treating with you. If you are going to dress your pet up for Halloween, introduce them slowly to the costume and monitor them with it on. Some pets may find it stressful to wear a costume, or may think it is a fun toy to rip apart. Be aware of lose fabric, tight fabric, or other parts of the costume that may pose a choking or strangling risk.

Do not leave your pets outside unattended around Halloween – especially black cats. It might sounds crazy, but there are all types of people out and about on Halloween. Even in recent years, there are increased reports of animal cruelty around Halloween or animal-involved pranks. Even without cruel intent, Halloween can be a dangerous time for our pets as the increased amount of foot traffic and exuberant kids in costumes can scare pets and make them flee.

Beware of jack-o-lanterns. Having an open flame around your pets can be dangerous. Some pets instinctively know to stay away from flames, but some may not get it right away. If you have a playful or goofy pet, they might just run right into it by accident. It’s also important to make sure your pet doesn’t eat the pumpkin! While pumpkin in small amounts is nutritious, large amounts of pumpkin could cause problems. Same goes with any other edible decorations you may have around – be sure your pet isn’t making a snack out of them!

Make sure your pet tags and microchips are up-to-date. As mentioned, Halloween can be a scary time for pets, causing them to run away and hide. Halloween can also be chaotic, with people coming to door over and over. A pet could slip out or get lost easily. Making sure their ID tags and microchip are up-to-date greatly improves the chances that you will be reunited with your fur-baby.

Human-Dog Bond

Humans and dogs began co-evolving about 40,000 years ago. There was a mutually beneficial relationship where hunter-gatherer societies that allowed wolves to scavenge off of them were better able to ward off predators and obtain resources. Meanwhile, wolves that were living closely to hunter-gatherer societies benefitted from easier access to food and protection. This relationship continued, where a population of wolves self-domesticated with human groups while hunter-gatherer societies eventually began to settle and cultivate the land. This mutually beneficial relationship continues today between dogs and humans, with both receiving benefits from living with the other one. We have also integrated dogs into many aspects of our society, such as search and rescue, police work, and service work for people with disabilities.

Dogs have unique social intelligence compared to other animals, including their wild counterparts and even apes. Dog social intelligence rivals that of 2-3 year old human children. Dogs are able to read our body language and follow our cues. If you point or look at an object, they are able to follow our gesture and understand what we are communicating. Recent evidence shows that dogs even understand what we are saying and how we are saying it. Not only do they recognize familiar words such as “walk” and “vet” but the tone we use when we say certain words matters to our dogs also. They are able to pick out neutral words and know when we aren’t directly speaking to them. Their brains even process words in similar ways as our own brains which is thought to be a result of such close evolution between humans and dogs over many, many years.

There is evidence suggesting that humans and dogs feel love for each other, similar to how we love our own children.  A study showed that when dogs and humans gaze at each other, they both experienced an increase in oxytocin, a hormone related to bonding. We experience oxytocin increases with our own human children, spouses, family members, and friends. When we feel intense love and protection for our dogs and refer to them as our “fur-babies,” it is not as crazy as you think! We actually do develop deep, biological connections with our dogs and luckily the feeling is mutual.