Monthly Archives: December 2012

Dogs Read Our Intent

Dogs pick up not only on the words we say but also on our intent to communicate with them, according to a report published online in the Cell Press journal Current Biology.Dogs Read Our IntentThe findings might help to explain why so many people treat their furry friends like their children; dogs’ receptivity to human communication is surprisingly similar to the receptivity of very young children, the researchers say.

“Increasing evidence supports the notion that humans and dogs share some social skills, with dogs’ social-cognitive functioning resembling that of a 6-month to 2-year-old child in many respects,” said József Topál of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. “The utilization of ostensive cues is one of these features: dogs, as well as human infants, are sensitive to cues that signal communicative intent.”

Those cues include verbal addressing and eye contact, he explained. Whether or not dogs rely on similar pathways in the brain for processing those cues isn’t yet clear.

Topál’s team presented dogs with video recordings of a person turning toward one of two identical plastic pots while an eye tracker captured information on the dogs’ reactions. In one condition, the person first looked straight at the dog, addressing it in a high-pitched voice with “Hi dog!” In the second condition, the person gave only a low-pitched “Hi dog” while avoiding eye contact.

The data show that the dogs were more likely to follow along and look at the pot when the person first expressed an intention to communicate.

“Our findings reveal that dogs are receptive to human communication in a manner that was previously attributed only to human infants,” Topál said.

As is often the case in research, the results will undoubtedly confirm what many dog owners and trainers already know, the researchers say. Notably, however, it is the first study to use eye-tracking techniques to study dogs’ social skills.

“By following the eye movements of dogs, we are able to get a firsthand look at how their minds are actually working,” Topál said. “We think that the use of this new eye-tracking technology has many potential surprises in store.”

**Article Courtesy of ScienceDaily.com**

How Do I Protect my Dog’s Paws in the Snow?

Walking the dogs in cold snowy weather is one of the hazards of dog ownership, unless you are lucky enough to live where snow doesn’t exist. Along with the hazards of having an enthusiastic dog on the end of the leash in icy conditions, ice and snow can cause damage to your dog’s paws as well. Snow and ice can get stuck in between the pads on your dog’s paws, causing cuts and uncomfortably cold toes. Even a small amount of build-up under your dog’s feet can pull the sensitive hairs underneath and cause a noticable loss of traction.

Protect Dog’s Paws in the Snow

You can help by keeping your dog’s nails cut short and the fur between his toes trimmed to a manageable level. Cut too short, the fur won’t offer protection from the snow anymore, but a neatly trimmed foot will attract less ice and snow to collect inside. To avoid trimming out too much hair, keep your scissors parrallel with your dogs pads and just shear off the fur that sticks out from in between the pads. Around the toes the fur should be cut just short enough to see the end of the toenail. Trim around the sides to keep that nice “paw” shape. If your dog isn’t a dog that grows between his toes (not all do), then you need trim nothing.

If you live in the land of constant snowfall and below freezing temperatures, maybe dog boots are in your future?

  • NeoPaws Boots and Shoes have a rubber sole, much like a tennis shoe, giving good traction and stability.
  • Muttluks are built for warmth and comfort, available in fleece-lined for extreme cold. Muttluks have treated leather soles though and may ort may not provide the traction needed for icescapades.
  • Ruff Wear Barkin’ Boots have a durable and flexible sole designed to allow your dog to “grip” with his paws, as though they were bare. Not built for warmth, however, but good protection nonetheless.

When you’re just coming in from a snowy walk and wonder how to free your dog’s feet from caked snow, the best bet is to simply let it melt off in the heat of your home. Pulling on the packed snowballs will be painful for your dog and he’ll be very reluctant to let you try a second time.

**Article Courtesy of About.com**