02/22/14

The Week In Tweets – 22nd February 2014

This is our (almost) weekly segment where we review the content posted on our Twitter over the course of the week. It’s a long post! So make sure you grab a coffee and prepare yourself for some serious reading.

 

Tweet of the Week

This excellent commentary by Andre Yeu from ‘When Hounds Fly’ looks at how erroneous owners can be about their dogs and their dogs’ interactions in social settings. Included are some great videos on how to see problematic behaviours. The post “Well socialised? No, well traumatized” is our Tweet of the Week.

 

Animal Sheltering and Rescue

Corrine Alberthesen and Jacqui Rand – What can 191 000 cats tell us about saving lives? (speech).

John Bishop – Social Media in relation to sheltering and adoption (speech).

Salem beagle breeder sues town, police over seizure of 22 of his dogs.

Police respond to vicious dog report – and this happened.

Effects of pre-adoption counselling on the prevention of separation anxiety in newly adopted shelter dogs.

 

Dogs, kids, and biting

Teach your dog to love kids (video on classical conditioning).

Grumble & Growl Zones.

New iPhone App – Dog Decoder!

Delta Dog Safe.

Wishes Granted: Theo and Beau.

 

Behaviour and Training

Animal Behaviour and Welfare Course through Coursera.

Top 10 Food Dispensing Dog Toys.

Edible entertainment for dogs.

Teach your dog to pose for the camera on cue.

Steve White Seminar: Get to or got to?

Letting Dogs Meet: The Three Second Rule.

A Simplified BAT Protocol.

Only if the behavior decreases.

Peace from Separation Anxiety.

 

Fun Dog Stuff

So we caught the dog doing this in the backyard.

Dog dwerking to bubble butt song.

Owner Profile; The Rare Breed Braggart.

 

Other Dog Stuff

But I can’t afford a dental cleaning for my dog!

Heartwarming reunion: Illinois tornado survivor finds his missing dog buried alive under rubble.

Heart-wrenching photos show the moment dog owners say goodbye to dying friend.

The Reality of Veterinary Medicine.

 

Other Animal Stuff

Beasts of Burden – Part 1.

Oldest clam consternation overblown.

Animals that do drugs.

37 Pictures That Prove Cats Have Hearts of Gold.

Can you identify an animal based on its eyes?

Two monkeys were paid unequally: See what happens next.

Midway: This film should be seen by the entire world!

 

Other Stuff

HM – the man with no memory. This was very close to tweet of the week.

Meet the neuroscientist and married father of three who discovered he was a psychopath after accidentally studying his own brain scans.

 

 

Instagram

Not too hot for spooning, says Breaker and Myrtle.

Border terriers enjoying being only dogs.

02/13/14

Two Fictional Dog Books NOT to Read

I use Grammarly for proofreading because it makes proofreading interesting.

It’s a bit strange, but my favourite genre for books is ‘animals that talk’. I read a lot of books which involve talking animals. A lot. And I have since I was a little kid.

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I scour the shelves in book and opportunity stores. A few years ago, I chanced upon a book called The Plague Dogs in an opportunity shop.

It was by Richard Adams, the author of Watership Down. You know, the wildly successful book and movie with talking rabbits? But, instead, it was a book with talking dogs! I purchased the book without hesitation. Dogs that talk! My favourite!

This book took me a while to get through. It’s a heavy and slow-going read. I was on the bus to work when I got to the last 50 pages or so. Ecstatic, I knew I’d finish it on the bus ride home.

As I hopped on the bus on the way home, I encountered a problem. My book was not in my bag. Coincidentally, my work had just moved office buildings, and that was my last day at the ‘old building’. I rang the bus company and my book was nowhere to be found.

How could I finish the last pages of a book published well over 30 years ago?

Luckily, one of my dog friends had a copy and I borrowed the book to read the last 50 pages. And I finally finished the book!

Why did I tell you this story?

Because it’s about a million times more interesting than the book.

Okay, so that’s a little harsh… But it’s also a lot true. This book took me about 18 months to read because it was so terribly boring. I am not a slow reader (I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in about 5 hours). It was just so slow that I didn’t want to read it.

In it’s time, The Plague Dogs was probably quite revealing. It queries the ethics of experimentation on animals. However, in 2013, it is less of a mystery when it comes to what happens to animals in research centres, and the ethicalness of such a practice is publicly questioned.

 

Timbuktu book by Paul AusterTimbuktu

I’m not one for writing negative reviews, so I thought I’d condense this one and give you two books not to read at once. All the negativity in one hit. It’s all the efficiency in writing that The Plague Dogs lacks!

I can absolutely say that this book was an engaging and interesting read, and a book I enjoyed reading.

When I was in primary school, during creative writing, we were not allowed to finish our stories with, “I woke up and it was all a dream”. I think this is an important memo that the author missed. No, it doesn’t end quite that way, but it still an incredibly unsatisfactory finish.

While this book was an enjoyable read, I felt like the book was taking me to a far better place. As I got to the last pages, I was thinking to myself, “Wow, this has only this much to go? How is it going to end?”

The answer? Really dumbly.

So it’s cool for you to read this book and it won’t take you long, but it’s probably not going to be a particularly gratifying experience once you get to the end and feel like the author gypped you of a satisfying conclusion.

 

But in the interests of impartiality…

Maybe I’m a grump, because Goodreads and Amazon reviews are much more complimentary for these two books. The Plague Dogs has 4 stars on Amazon and  4 stars on Goodreads (out of 5).Timbuktu has 3.5 stars on Amazon and 4 stars on Goodreads (out of 5).

 

Have you read these books? Did either book tickle your fancy?

 

Further reading: For a book I actually liked, see my reviews on A Dog’s Purpose and A Puppy Called Aero.

02/6/14

The Week In Tweets – 6th February 2014

This is our (almost) weekly segment where we review the content posted on our Twitter over the course of the week. It’s a long post! So make sure you grab a coffee and prepare yourself for some serious reading.

The big news this week is Bandit found a new home! He was with us for 9 months but now has a great home with a young couple. They have taken over his Facebook page and is keeping us all updated on Bandit’s exploits.

Bandit with his new family.

Now, on with the tweets!

 

Tweet of the Week

I enjoyed this post from Patricia McConnell sharing humourous stories of ‘when dog owners stuff up’. It’s not actually called that but it would be suiting. Read: ‘The Laugh’s On Me‘.

 

Dog Training

Clover doing 10m of leg weaves.

Can dogs cooperate with each other and with a human?

What is the best way to greet your dog?

Too slow for your dog? Wag this way; Left or right offers insights.

Promoting positive reinforcement.

Seven separation anxiety myths.

Dog owners – think! Is your small dog a target?.

How to fix pulling on the leash.

 

Dog Bites and Dogs & Kids

Parker and the Baby – a video of warning signs.

Results of the Doggone Safe Childhood Dog Bite Survey.

What’s harder? The dog or the baby?

What causes fatal dog attacks and how can we prevent deaths by dogs?

“Lunging Lucy” & “Growling Gus”.

Immediate threat to all dogs and owners.

 

Dog Health and Wellbeing

Seeing Pain: Hindquarters.

Review: Pet Safety Bag.

How to give your dog a pill using the multiple meatball method.

New reduced cost parvo treatment protocol announced.

 

Rescue and Sheltering

From Maddie’s Institute: SCAN: How to do a good job scanning for a microchip and The shelter pet project by the numbers – and something more.

From YesBiscuit!: The Tuh Files: There is a shortage of dogs in Michigan, Discussion: A new twist on oops-actions at a PA shelter , The Biggest Animal Welfare Myth in the South, and Jasper Co Sheriff’s Office Buys Pet Store Puppy.

Pets as gifts – wrap ‘em up!

Debating if microchipping your pet is worth it? Read Meg’s story.

 

Other Dog Stuff

Stacie Bloomfield’s 52 Weeks of Dogs Illustrations.

Bursting the Big Backyard Myth.

A Puppy’s Loyalty.

18 tear-jerking moments of soldiers reuniting with their dogs.

21 Cute Wedding Attendants. (Hint: they’re puppies).

Just a dog.

Dachshund Tote Bag.

Should I leash my dog? A flowchart.

Fur mom confessions: my car is the dog car, a safer dog car.

 

Other Stuff

Rabbits Illegal in Queensland.

Here are 20 animals you had no idea existed. Some of these will haunt my dreams forever.

Coming out of your closet: Ash Beckham at TEDxBoulder.

 

Instagram

Boof enjoying cold tiles and air con.

You know it’s hot when your agapanthus are browning!

Boof playing with ‘toy’. Winnie existing.

How Myrtle Sleeps.

02/4/14

Aggressive Breeds via Owner Accounts

Establishing ’aggressive breeds’ without using dog bite data: Using owner reports to establish the most aggressive dog breeds

 

ResearchBlogging.orgIn 2008, data was published on the ‘most aggressive dogs breeds’, with dachshunds, chihuahuas, and jack russells, coming out on top. Recently, various media reports having been reappearing on my newsfeed on this study, with titles like “The 3 Most Aggressive Breeds Revealed“.

Before we begin, please do acknowledge that I adamantly against BSL. I am heavily influenced by research and evidence and, currently, all the evidence points to breed specific legislation never being effective in reducing the incidence of dog bites, in any place globally.

That being said, because I am interested in science, I am interested in studies like this.

So what can this study teach us about aggression in particular dog breeds?

Cindy the Jack Russell Terrier: In the top three aggressive breeds according to this study.

A Jack Russell Terrier: in the top three aggressive breeds according to this study.

 

The Flaws in Breed Aggression Research

Aggression is a difficult characteristic to assess in dogs.  There are a variety of methods that researchers have used, and all have their ‘downsides’.

Using dog bite statistics is not the best course, as most dog bites go unreported, the dog breeds involved cannot be verified and, even if they are verified, it is impossible to understand how many dogs of that paricular breed exist in the community.

If you’re only looking at caseloads from behavioural clinics, then this data is likely to be biased.  Generally, people with larger and more dangerous (because of their size) dogs are more likely to seek help, as are people who have dogs aggressive to members of their family. (This article doesn’t mention it, but finances also play a role here – only those owners with the finances to attend behavioural clinics would be represented in such a study.)

There has been some popularity in behavioural tests (cough – D&CMB proposal – cough) where they do threatening or scary things to a dog and score their responses.  The problem with this is how this actually relates to the ‘real world’ and the aggression the dog displays in everyday life.

When you ask owners about their dog’s behaviour, their experiences and responses are subjective. And ‘experts’ aren’t much better, with many of them representing ‘shared stereotypes’ whether conclusions from their own experiences.

 

Study Design

In this particular study, C-BARQ was used. C-BARQ has a good record as being pretty reliable when it comes to asking owners what their dogs are like, temperamentally.

Members of 11 AKC club (‘club sample’) and vet clinic clients (‘online sample’) were invited to partake.

1,553 C-BARQs were completed by the club sample, with 29 excluded as they did not meet criteria.

8,260 C-BARQs were completed by the online sample, with 1,257 excluded for being mixed breeds or with no breed indicated, and 2,051 excluded as there was less than 45 of that breed represented – so in the end the sample was 4,952 responses for 33 different breeds.

They were rated on aggression towards strangers, owners, and other dogs.

 

Summarised Findings

The online sample and breed club sample differed in some ways.  Breed clubs submitted more intact dogs, more female dogs, and older dogs than those in the online sample. Despite this, the results were quite consistent across the two samples.

Dog aggression was the most common and most severe type of aggression in the study, but dog aggression was not correlated with aggression to people. This supports the widely held view that ‘dog aggression’ does not indicate a risk to people. Similarly, aggression towards household-dogs was not associated with aggression towards other dogs or people. From the data in this study, more than 20% of Akitas, Jack Russell Terriers, and Pit Bulls had serious aggression towards unfamiliar dogs.

When it came to aggression towards people, the highest rates were found in smaller breeds, ‘presumably’ because aggression from smaller (and so more manageable and less dangerous) dogs is more tolerable.

When it came to aggression towards owners, more than half of the aggressive displays towards owners were associated with the owner taking food or something else away from the dog.

While fear in animals is associated with aggression, fear was not strongly correlated with aggression in this study. Some dogs were aggressive but not fearful, some were fearful but not aggressive, and some were fearful and aggressive.

A quote from the study on their findings,

“Although some breeds appeared to be aggressive in most contexts (e.g., Dachshunds, Chihuahuas and Jack Russell Terriers), others were more specific. Aggression in Akitas, Siberian Huskies, and Pit Bull Terriers, for instance, were primarily directed toward unfamiliar dogs. These findings suggest that aggression in dogs may be relatively target specific, and that independent mechanisms may mediate the expression of different forms of aggression.”

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Further results on a more breed-by-breed basis (breeds listed alphabetically):

  • Akitas rated higher for aggression towards other dogs than other breeds.
  • American Cocker Spaniels rated higher for aggression towards their owners than other breeds.
  • Australian Cattle Dogs rated higher for aggression towards other dogs than other breeds, and also rater higher for aggression towards strangers.
  • Basset Hounds rated higher for aggression towards their owners than other breeds, but were below average when it came to stranger directed aggression.
  • Beagles rated higher for aggression towards their owners than other breeds.
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs were among the breeds least aggressive towards people and dogs, and ranked below average on stranger directed aggression.
  • Boxers rated higher for aggression towards other dogs than other breeds.
  • Brittanys were among the breeds least aggressive towards people and dogs, and ranked below average on stranger directed aggression.
  • Chihuahuas rated higher for aggression towards people (both owners and strangers) and higher for aggression towards other dogs than other breeds.
  • Dachshunds rated higher for aggression towards people (both owners and strangers) and higher for aggression towards other dogs than other breeds.
  • English Springer Spaniels rated higher for aggression towards other dogs than other breeds, and also rated higher for aggression towards owners. Showed bred English Springer Spaniels were more aggressive than field bred lines.
  • German Shepherd Dogs rated higher for aggression towards other dogs than other breeds.
  • Golden Retrievers were among the breeds least aggressive towards people and dogs, and ranked below average on stranger directed aggression.
  • Greyhounds were among the breeds least aggressive towards people and dogs, and ranked below average on stranger directed aggression.
  • Jack Russell Terriers rated higher for aggression towards people (both owners and strangers) than other breeds and higher for aggression towards other dogs than other breeds.
  • Labrador Retrievers were among the breeds least aggressive towards people and dogs, and ranked below average on stranger directed aggression. Field bred labradors were more aggressive than show bred labradors.
  • Pit Bulls rated higher for aggression towards other dogs than other breeds.
  • Siberian Huskies ranked below average on stranger directed aggression.
  • West Highland White Terriers rated higher for aggression towards other dogs than other breeds.
  • Whippets were among the breeds least aggressive towards people and dogs, and ranked below average on stranger directed aggression.

 

Warning against reaching conclusions on the genetic basis of aggression…

The authors caution, “Demographic and environmental risk factors for the development of canine aggression need to be investigated across a variety of breeds so that both generalized and breed-specific influences can be identified.”

 

So what do you think? Are these studies results consistent with your experiences?

 

Reference:

Deborah L. Duffy, Yuying Hsu, & James A. Serpell (2008). Breed differences in canine aggression Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 114 (3), 441-460 DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2008.04.006

View PDF.

 

Further Reading

More on C-BARQ: Can breeders breed better?