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Puppies are wired to communicate with people, studies show

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puppies are wired to communicate with people, studies show

Dogs may have earned the title of “man’s best friend” because they are good with people. These social skills may be present and not learned shortly after birth, a new study by researchers at the University of Arizona shows.

The study, published today in the journal Current Biology, also finds that genetics can help explain why some dogs do better than others at social tasks like following pointing gestures.

“There was evidence that these types of social skills existed in adulthood, but here we find evidence that puppies – much like humans – are biologically prepared to interact in these social ways,” said lead study author Emily Bray , a postdoctoral fellow in the UArizona School of Anthropology at the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Bray has spent the past decade researching dogs in collaboration with Canine Companions of California, a service dog organization that services clients with physical disabilities. She and her colleagues hope to gain a better understanding of how dogs think and solve problems, which could affect the identification of dogs that would make good service animals.

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To better understand the role of biology in dogs’ ability to communicate with humans, Bray and her staff studied how 375 of the organization’s 8-week-old prospective service dogs, who previously had little personal interaction with humans, were on one Set of tasks to measure their social communication skills.

Because the researchers knew the pedigree of each puppy – and thus also their relationship to each other – they were also able to examine whether inherited genes explain the differences in the dogs’ abilities. Genetics explains more than 40% of the variations in puppies’ ability to follow human pointing gestures, as well as the variation in how long they made eye contact with people during a task aimed at measuring their interest in people.

“Humans have long been interested in dogs’ abilities to do such things, but there has always been some debate about how far this is really in dog biology versus something they learn from playing around with people,” said study co-author Evan MacLean, assistant professor of anthropology and director of the Arizona Canine Cognition Center at the University of Arizona. “We found that there is definitely a strong genetic component, and they definitely have it from the start.”

At the time of the study, the puppies were still living with their littermates and had not yet been sent to voluntary puppy rearing. As a result, their interactions with people were limited, making the behaviors unlikely to be learned, Bray said.

The researchers occupied the pups with four different tasks. On one assignment, an experimenter hid a treat under one of two upturned cups and pointed to see if the puppy could follow the gesture. So that the puppies didn’t just follow their noses, a treat was glued onto the inside of the two cups. In another version of the task, the pups watched the researchers place a yellow block next to the correct cup instead of pointing to where the pup should look for the food.

The other two tasks are designed to observe puppies’ propensity to look at human faces. In one assignment, researchers spoke to the pups in “dog-facing language” by reciting a high-pitched type of script that people sometimes use when talking to a baby. Then they measured how long the puppy stared at the human. In the final task – a so-called “unsolvable task” – the researchers sealed a treat in a closed container and presented it to the puppy, then measured how often the puppy looked at the person for help in opening the container.

While many of the puppies responded to the physical and verbal signals of humans, few people sought help with the unsolvable task. This suggests that while puppies are born knowing how to respond to human-initiated communication, the ability to initiate communication on their own may come later.

“In studies of adult dogs, we found a tendency for them to ask people for help, especially when looking at adult dogs versus wolves. Wolves will persist and try to solve problems on their own, whereas dogs are more likely to seek out social partners Ask for help, “said Bray. “In the case of puppies, this type of help-seeking behavior didn’t really seem to be part of their repertoire.”

In many ways, this reflects what we see in human child development, Bray said.

“If you think about language learning, children can understand what we are telling them before they can physically produce the words,” she said. “Puppies may have a similar story; they understand what is being taught to them socially, but production by their side will likely take a little longer due to development.”

MacLean said the next step will be to see if researchers can identify the specific genes that can contribute to dogs’ ability to communicate with people.

“We’ve done some previous studies that show that dogs who are successful as service dogs respond differently to people than dogs who are unsuccessful,” MacLean said. “If you could identify a potential genetic basis for these traits, you might be able to predict, before the puppy is born, whether he will be part of a litter that would be good candidates for service dogs because he has the right genetic background. It’s a long way, but there is potential to start. “

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Dog Breeds

Vet Recommended: Best Natural Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs

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vet recommended: best natural flea and tick prevention for dogs

Summer usually brings lots of fun and outdoor adventures that most of us look forward to, but with it comes a greater amount of pesky insects and parasites that can affect our pets’ wellbeing.

We try to avoid the use of toxins in our pets (and in our own environment), but in some cases we may have to choose our fights based on how difficult the flea / tick problem is. Fortunately, in many geographic regions, the use of pharmaceutical flea and tick products can be avoided for much of the year and reduced to a few times of use during the summer season.

There is significant concern about the number of side effects seen with the newer flea and tick medications (prescription pills). There are increasing reports of dogs with neurological reactions, tremors, seizures, behavior changes, liver damage, and GI disorders. In fact, these prescription flea products contain chemical pesticide ingredients that act as neurotoxins to kill the parasites (via effects on the insect’s nervous system). Originally it was suggested that the products were reasonably safe for dogs as the active ingredients were believed to be selective for arthropods (insects). But it is now apparent that these neurotoxins can affect our pets as well. In fact, many of the pharmaceutical companies had to adjust their warnings on the label to mention the side effects.

Some of the topical spot-on products don’t contain the same types of pesticides, but obviously still contain chemicals that can be toxic. In addition, new studies report that chemical pesticides from topical flea and tick products are measured in alarming amounts in our bodies of water, rivers and sewers. Hence, we see that the growing popularity of using spot-on pesticides on our pets is now also adding to environmental toxicity.

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So how can we avoid the use of chemicals and keep our pets free of fleas and ticks?

Looking for a solution in nature

To best support the health and wellbeing of our pets, we’re looking at natural, non-toxic options for flea and tick prevention. In fact, the best protection begins with a healthy, species-appropriate fresh or raw food diet with a low carbohydrate content. Simply put, a healthy dog ​​will attract fewer fleas than a dog with a compromised immune system or chronic illness.

Food to fight fleas and ticks

Some simple foods can be added to your dog’s diet to provide additional immune system support and to make parasites more resilient. This includes foods like fresh garlic and raw honey.

  • Fresh garlic has natural anti-parasite and immune support properties and is quite safe for dogs in small, reasonable amounts. Add ¼ teaspoon of freshly chopped garlic for every 15 pounds. the dog’s body weight is a great daily routine during the flea and tick season (or all year round). Note: Garlic in powder or capsule supplements does not have the same effects as freshly chopped garlic.
  • Raw honey is a wonderful (and delicious) immune system booster. Add about ½ tsp for every 15 pounds. Body weight of the dog per day. The benefits are greater with locally produced honey as it offers immune support properties that fight allergens in your specific area.

Food supplement to protect against parasites

In addition to nutrition, we can proactively support the immune system of our pets with specific natural nutritional supplements.

  • Bovine liposomal colostrum is an excellent immune support dietary supplement. This is the first milking from a cattle (cow) source. All mammals produce colostrum for their newborns at birth, which provides antibodies and immune factors, growth and repair peptides for improved gut, immune and other body systems health. I recommend Super Pet Nutrition, which is better absorbed and therefore has increased potency.
  • Milk thistle and dandelion A routine or seasonal detox can go a long way in supporting your pet’s resilience and overall health. These are safe and gentle detox options to protect your liver and kidneys.
  • Daily defense (I recommend Glacier Peak Holistic to my patients) is an excellent choice for seasonal or year-round use. This dietary supplement can be added to the feed once a day and contains nutrients that support the function of the immune system, resistance to parasites and also specific detoxification benefits.

Natural flea and tick prevention options

Natural possibilities for flea and tick repellants for direct use on pets or in their vicinity are also an effective preventive measure. Natural products require more frequent application and use to match the effectiveness of chemical products and prescription drugs. Fleas are generally easier to fight off or kill than ticks, which are more resilient and usually require stronger active ingredients. When it comes to ticks, nothing can replace careful control of your dog’s ticks after he’s been outdoors. Using a flea comb with fine teeth can also be an effective way to find ticks or fleas, and a tick removal tool can also come in very handy. Remember that fleas live more in the area than they do on the pet. So if you do find them in your pet, make sure to include your home environment as well.

Kieselguhr (DE)

Diatomaceous earth offers a safe and natural option that can be used in your home, directly on pets, and also outdoors in the garden. DE is a silky fine powder that acts as a desiccant or desiccant to effectively kill fleas and their larvae. Use a high quality food grade DE (not industrial grade) that can be sprinkled on your pet’s bedding, as well as on carpets, furniture, and anywhere else your pet spends a lot of time. Let the DE dust sit for about 24 hours and then vacuum it up. You can also apply DE directly to your pet’s hair, fur, and skin, but avoid the face, eyes, nose, and mouth entirely. Bathing your pet about 24 hours later can also be ideal, as DE can potentially dry out the skin as well.

Nematodes

Beneficial nematodes (Steinernema Carpocapsae) are a great option for natural parasite control in your garden or outdoors. Nematodes are used to protect gardens and plants from ants and caterpillars, but they are also effective prevention against fleas and ticks because they feed on the larval stages of these insects while they are still in the ground. Check your local garden center for these nematodes.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has many health benefits and can also be used to ward off fleas. Mixed with equal parts (50/50) of the solution, ACV can be aerosolized or applied to your dog before going outdoors.

Take oil

Neem is a tree native to India and is highly valued for its diverse medicinal properties offered by the bark, flowers, and the oil made from its seeds. One of the many health benefits of neem oil is its natural insecticidal properties. Neem is used in organic farming to protect plants from insects and is also very safe and effective for pets and humans.

Essential oils

Many essential oils (EOs) have flea and tick repellent properties. It’s important to only use high quality therapeutic oils or trustworthy products with pet-safe formulas like AnimalEO, which are available in the form of sprays or newer flea and tick wipes. Common EOs used for pest control include cedar, peppermint, lemongrass, lavender, catnip, eucalyptus, and geranium. I recommend Wondercide

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Dog Breeds

A little French named “Sergio”

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a little french named "sergio"

If you’ve never heard of Sergio, the little Chihuahua who lives in Westchester, now you are. This little guy, very fit at 6 pounds, was rescued by Jeanmarie Daly a few years ago. Of course, everyone thinks their dogs, especially Chihuahua owners, are the absolute best breeds, but Sergio has something very special and special about them.

He takes French courses. “Oui” you read that right, French lessons!

Sergio’s neighbor, who lives in the same house, is a 12 year old French teacher at Ardsley Middle School for 7th grade students. However, all of that changed during the pandemic when classes went virtual. Obviously, Monsieur was talking to his students about this particular little pooch, and the students were writing stories about Sergio, who had become a legend in their minds. Well, the best surprise, or should I say, Surprendre was the day Sergio actually came into class on his laptop and looked at the students. Sergio was fascinated and sat quietly to watch all the excited faces.

After Sergio’s first appearance, he was repeatedly asked to take part. Monsieur was only too happy to allow Sergio to attend class as all the students smiled and were especially happy to see their new classmates. It was evident that Sergio the little Chihuahua had become the class mascot and one of the best things that happened to that class during the pandemic. It seems that Sergio can tell the time too, knowing exactly when to scratch his door in order to run down the hall to Monsieur’s apartment. Sergio is never late for class!

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At the end of the year, the students bought Sergio a donut squeak toy that he loves. When the school was back up and the students returned to the classrooms, Sergio took a sabbatical. He’s sure to pay a visit in the fall when the students hear about this special little French guy next year!

As Sergio would say, “Goodbye” !!

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Dog Breeds

Meet Riley | The boat

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meet riley | the boat

Name and age of the dog: Riley, 1 year

Nicknames: Rileypup

Adoption history: We adopted Riley from humane society when he was ten weeks old. She had a mild cold and needed some medication when we brought her home, but we couldn’t be happier! When choosing her name, we wanted something Irish because we adopted her on St. Patrick’s Day and we thought Riley would be a good fit.

At home, Riley loves to cuddle, but at the dog park loves to zoom around everywhere. Riley is a one-of-a-kind dog; She likes to run around, do her own thing, and march to her own beat. Every time we come home, she gives us that gorgeous smile with her majestic beard!

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