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Category: Family Dog

The joy of (good) dogs

Most good people love dogs because dogs are naturally happy, they are lovable, and, well, because most good dogs love us.

David E. Cooper, in a book review for the Times Literary Supplement »

The joyousness of dogs, or at any rate their great affability, must have been a significant factor in their induction into human communities. The usual utilitarian view that dogs were first put to practical uses – hunting, guarding, pulling – and only later became inserted into family life as pets is implausible. In several modern-day hunter-gatherer tribes, whose form of life is thought to resemble that of our Palaeolithic ancestors, dogs are companions first and workers second. This shouldn’t be surprising. Dogs could never have been properly trained in the intelligent skills required to, say, assist hunters except by people whose empathy with them was acquired through living with these animals. Konrad Lorenz was right to speculate that the appeal which playful puppies have for children, and indeed their parents, was crucial to their adoption into our ancestors’ communities. Nor should one ignore the emotional service that dogs – their geniality and affection increasingly selected for over the centuries – have rendered to humankind, in addition to their contributions as herders, hunters, guides and much else. As John Bradshaw, a leading authority on the lives of dogs, remarks, companion animals “allow us to have experiences and express behaviours once crucial to our survival”, to obey “Pleistocene instincts embedded in our genes”.

Most dogs are ridden with angst, and their owners are partly to blame

Jim Daley, Scientific American »

For many dog owners, thunderstorms are a source of angst, a walk to the dog park can be a fraught experience, and New Year’s celebrations are particularly stressful. According to a new study of thousands of pet dogs, anxiety and fear-related behavior problems are widespread. Certain breeds are particularly sensitive to loud noises or being left alone. Other breeds may engage in compulsive behaviors such as biting themselves or urinating, suggesting a genetic component to the activity.

James Serpell, an ethologist at the University of Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the study, says that the problem stems from owners failing to properly socialize their dogs. Many canines rescued from shelters may have been inadequately trained when they were young, and the problem is compounded when new owners are overly cautious with them. “It’s a sort of helicopter-parenting concept applied to dogs,” he says. “Animals are not getting enough exposure to normal social interactions, play behavior and roughhousing with other dogs. That’s asking for trouble.

As a fellow dog owner, I strongly suggest you read the rest of this article, if you own a dog yourself.

Something to chew on » New Zealand man sets up ‘stick library’ for his local dog park

The Guardian »

A New Zealand man has created a “stick library” for his local dog park as a way to recycle branches from tree pruning.

Andrew Taylor, of north Canterbury in the South Island, cut a dozen tree branches down to “stick” size for the community’s four-legged friends, and smoothed away the rough edges using tools he had around the house.

Taylor then built a box to hold the sticks and engraved the words “Stick Library” on it and the words “please return”.

Read the whole article in The Guardian »

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