Through the years I have tried to keep my readers up to date on the latest research on dogs, whether medical, training, grooming and even communication. This is a summary of an article in the latest issue of Dog Fancy titled “Let Dogs be Dogs,” by Chris Cox-Evick.
The article starts off going back in history when dogs were mostly mixed-breeds and were kept outdoors and used for hunting, herding and varmint control. Although dogs were important to the owners, they were not really pets and rarely, if ever, were allowed inside the house.
Fast forward to 2012 and the opposite has occurred. Most dogs are family pets that live inside the home with the owners and they often are expected to be there to love, cuddle, protect and just be companions. Among the pets you will find a mixture of both purebreds and mixed-breeds. There are some individual dogs that are trained to hunt, some are trained for competitions and titles, but a great many are just pets.
Cox-Evick says bonding is important. He quotes Alan Beck, professor and director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at the Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in West Lafayette, Ind., “If there is a strong bond between the dog and its handler, “the simple act of petting a dog lowers a person’s blood pressure and slows the animal’s heart rate.”
However, Cox-Evick stresses dogs should not be treated like humans, whether as babies that the owners dress up and carry around or as a teen that demands and the owners give in to the demands. What happens according to Cox-Evick, is the small dog that is babied and carried will start growling at anyone approaching the handler and can easily progress to aggressiveness. The demanding larger dog eventually will rule the household, Cox-Evick says.
It is important to know the different ways dogs and humans communicate. Dogs communicate among themselves by vocalizing in various tones and by body language. Humans communicate with each other by verbalizing, gestures and body language.
When humans want to communicate with their pets, they should know staring directly into the face of the dog is not considered “nice” by the dog; it is a dominant action and can be considered a challenge.
By turning sideways to the dog and talking to it, the dog perceives the action as friendly. This one signal may be extremely important when working with shy or under-socialized dogs. These dogs must be able to interpret the body language correctly or their shyness will increase.
Cox-Evick continues with various physical differences such as the ability to see objects. Dogs visualize moving objects differently from humans.
But the most interesting difference mentioned is right and left-handedness. Seems male dogs are left-pawed and females are right-pawed. Try putting a treat under a can in front of your dog and see which paw it uses to knock the can over. Interesting? Ambidextrous dogs are prone to separation anxiety according to the article.