Category Archives: Dog Training General

Pit Bull Makes Debut As New York Police Dog | Pit Bull Dog Training

 

Pit Bull Training

 

 

Anyone who has ever watched my Facebook Live videos know that I LOVE Pit bulls and I’m a huge advocate for them, so, I was very excited to see this!

If a survey was given to answer the question of whether or not a Pit bull might make a good police dog, many would surely find it of no surprise that the majority would answer “no.” It’s no secret that a preconceived judgement persists against Pit Bulls and their aggressive natures.

However, the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department, along with a large handful of trainers and rescuers, would beg to differ.

The sweet-hearted cinnamon-colored canine Kiah was taken in by Brad Croft, operations director of UniversalK9, an organization that prides itself on training young dogs and police force members to breed successful relationships and thus develop successful K-9 units. Brad Croft came across Kiah when she was a young, abandoned shelter dog. Though recovering from a skull injury brought on after being hit with a hammer, the sweet and timid nature of of Kiah caught Croft’s attention.

Croft was quoted at the moment of meeting this young pup, describing his incredulity and just how miraculous it was that she had survived the head injury. However, what impressed him even more than her physical resilience was her emotional one. Without fearing that she was holding any sort of grudge, Croft was willing to give it a shot and took in this young pit bull with the intention of training her as a police dog.

Though the start of Kiah’s training was difficult, it became clear rather quickly that that resilience Croft saw before was well-matched with potential. She began to quickly catch on to her training, and by the end of the eighth week, Croft termed her as a “gifted” dog, noticing her fervor and hard-working personality. It was during this time that the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department contacted Croft, asking for a furry addition to their team. Since then, Kiah has kept up the hard work with her team and her partner, Officer Justin Bruzgul, as a detection dog for the narcotics and missing persons department.

This 85-pound friend of the Poughkeepsie P.D. and of Croft has down well and her hard work has paid off. On Thursday, Kiah is scheduled to receive the ASPCA Public Service Award in New York City and will make history as the first ever pit bull police dog to do so.

The ASPCA Public Service Award, according to ASPCA President and CEO Matt Bershadker, will recognize Kiah, as it has with dogs before her, for her heroism and service. In addition to this however, the award will also act as an honor for the individuals, organizations, and teams that have worked for and alongside Kiah and others like her. According to Bershadker, this is an award that highlights the connection that exists between these people and the beloved animals.

Since rescuing Kiah, operations-director Croft has partnered with the Animal Farm Foundation to continue to train and place pit bulls like Kiah into police departments all over the United States. The small step taken for Kiah will continue to make a difference.

-Nick

www.offleashk9training.com

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Food Aggression Training | Resource Guarding | Northern Virginia | Off Leash K9 Training

Food aggression training northern virginia

 

We deal with food aggression training in Northern Virginia (our HQ) on a pretty regular basis.

There are many different behaviors that our dogs do that maybe you do not really know how to interpret. They are communicating in their own way and as a responsible dog owner, it is your responsibility to figure out what they are trying to tell us. Dogs have specific body language that tells us what we need to know. The problem is that people do not always understand these cues that they are giving us. One big cue is resource guarding, especially their food bowls. If your dog resource guards, this is going to be important to deal with.

The first question that you may have is whether or not this is a problem your dog has. There is a simple test that you can do to help find out. You need to prepare your dog’s food bowl and then take the bowl to the center of the room. You need to call your dog to you, so you can make sure that your dog is really excited about the food. If your dog is not excited about the food bowl, this will not work. You should be very careful when doing this test as food is very important to them. You need to watch your dog for any signs of aggression that may put you in harm’s way. To perform the test, you need to put your bowl on the floor without saying anything and walk at least 8 feet away from the bowl. While looking directly at your dog, you need to move towards him quickly. When you do this, make sure that you pay attention to your dog’s body language as you do this.

To be clear, the only appropriate response from your dog at this moment is to ignore you and continue eating without changing his speed of eating the food or his posture. This means that your dog does not have a problem with resource guarding. However if you notice any change especially the speed of eating,  or cutting his eyes so you can see the whites of his eyes, your dog may have a problem. It is obviously even more worrisome if your dog snarls, growls, or lunges at you.

There are things that you should and should not do when you come across this situation. You should watch your dog’s reaction and when you see them guarding, stop approaching him and move away until he looks comfortable again. You can try again to see how close you can get before he starts to guard. You can toss treats at your dog as you approach to positively reinforce your approach. You can also put your treats in your dog’s bowl to show that you are not a threat. After this works, you can begin doing things like petting him while he is eating and giving a treat to reward him. You want your pet to be okay with you near his food. You should never take your dog’s food bowl away, as this validates the dog’s fear and worsens the behavior. You should also never continue to approach despite these warning signs from your dog, as this can cause him to become aggressive with you.

If you are having resource guarding issues with your dog (food, toys, etc), contact an OLK9 trainer near you: http://www.offleashk9training.com/contact/

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Bringing Home A Christmas Puppy? Off Leash K9 Training | Dog Training Blog

Getting a Dog for Christamas

Bringing your Christmas Puppy Home
So, you’ve finally chosen the perfect dog for you and your family, and it’s time to bring them home to experience the good life. Before deciding this, realize, that you are giving someone a life to take care of daily, for the next 12-15 years. You are giving them a big commitment! Keep that in mind, first.

What’s the first step? It’s not a complex thing, but necessary nevertheless.

Establish the Ground Rules
If there’s one thing dogs value in life (aside from companionship of course), it’s stability. Dogs value consistency in their lives, and that means establishing a routine for them. To do this you need to talk through the major points of note with your family. Will your dog be allowed on furniture, or allowed to eat leftovers from the dinner table? We recommend no to both of these. Will it be house trained indoors or outdoors, and where will it sleep? You need to establish these things before ever bringing your dog home, so you can provide it with a clear set of rules and routines the moment it walks through your door. Having conflicting standards or rules will just confuse your dog as to what is or isn’t acceptable behavior in the long run.

The First Forty-Eight Hours
Like anyone in a new social situation, dogs tend to be pretty nervous when they first become a member of your family. You are all new to your dog, new people that it has never interacted with before, and just like the new kid at school, it’ll take a little time for your dog to get comfortable with your family. Of course it doesn’t take dogs nearly as long to acclimate to new people, but even so you should give it at least two days, and in that time you don’t need to parade your new pet around your neighborhood or the dog park or anything. Let it get used to the nuances of you and your family before doing anything else.

Introduce Your Pets
If you already own a pet before bringing home your new one, you may need to perform some scent mingling. This is a process in which you make your new pet believe it is already familiar with another animal, such as your already resident pet. To do this, you’ll simply want to take a towel, rub it on both your family’s hands and your existing pet, and then rub it on your new pet. You’ll then want to go in reverse and rub it on your current pet and your hands again. After that you’ll want to perform a similar exercise with a brush, brushing your current pet first, then your new one with the same brush and back again. This will help mingle the scents of your pets and your family and make your new pet more comfortable in your house from day one.

Select a Vet and a Trainer

The sooner you start with these the better. You should schedule a visit to the veterinarian within two days of acquiring your new pet, and if you so choose, a trainer within a week. You should make these visits consistent and routine as well, so your pet can know when to expect them. You can see all of our locations throughout the United States here: http://www.offleashk9training.com/

Select a Dog Food
Dog food is designed to cater to all of the health needs of its consumers, but most dog food is designed for certain types of dogs, either by weight or breed or something similar. You can use www.dogfoodanalysis.com to find the ideal dog food for your new pet, but you should also find out what your dog was eating before it joined your family: picking a similar food type will make its transition even easier.

You’ll also want the transition to be gradual, so you’ll want to mix old and new food over the course of a few days until you settle completely on the new one. Over the course of a week, you should spend two days apiece serving ¾ old food and ¼ new, to ½ and ½ respectively, then to ¼ old and ¾ new, before simply changing over to the full new diet.

Dog Supplies
There is no truly right way to procure dog supplies, but you know you’ll need them. Now some of those supplies are mandatory in almost any situation, such as a leash for outdoor walks. But other supplies that may be needed depend on how your dog lives within your household. Will they sleep in a crate or simply a dog bed in the room somewhere? Will they ever ride with you in the car, and therefore need a special seatbelt? Those are variable supplies, but you’ll definitely need dog food, treats, bowls, and in most cases, dog bags.

Love, Trust, and Respect

If you know absolutely anything about dogs, you know they need love, trust, and respect over all else. You need to provide those things as soon as your dog arrives in the home, and this includes housetraining them yourself. There are different ways to go about housetraining of course, but no matter what you do, you’ll want to keep the dog within your line of sight and in the room with you when you are home, and you’ll want to have a sectioned off area for the dog to occupy in your absences. You can watch our blog on housebreaking your dog:https://youtu.be/8cjM-bGcu1Q?list=PLuVmbfjlkcMLfFf5fN-G1hd4dsI-BYRyz

Establishing these things will help teach your dog the aforementioned values that are important to its life. These first couple of days are also the best time to get to know all of your dog’s quirks. By the time this training period is over you should know a thing or two about what your dog does and doesn’t like, and take note of how well it has acclimated to your family and your rules. After this though, you’ll want to stick to the guns of your rules, and not cut too much slack: dogs are smart, and they’ll figure out what they can get away with if you let them. But with a firm and loving hand, your new pet will become a valued member of your happy family.

If you have more questions about your dog or training, please contact Off Leash K9 Training at:

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Everything you need to Know about your Dog and Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Dogs

At our board and train facility in Northern Virginia, we always get a lot of questions around Thanksgiving. You may not naturally consider your family pet to be a major part of Thanksgiving as a holiday, but your dog can be a source of stress or setbacks if you don’t know how to take care of them during a busy holiday time. After all, there are a lot of things going on around this time, whether you are traveling away for the holidays or planning to host the dinner. Taking care of your dog in these situations is important.

Traveling Away
First off is the most obvious aspect of this situation: is your dog coming with you or staying at home? Regardless of the answer to that question, it’s important to make sure that their vaccinations and ID tags are up to date. You should also pack their food in clearly labeled and measured bags, have the vet records on your person, and ensure that your dog has access to a few of its favorite toys whether they are staying home or coming with you.

If your dog is coming with you, these are the specific things you should concern yourself with: make sure the arrangements you’ve made for your destination allows dogs, have a backup plan if they don’t, and make sure you pack bowls and a simple mat for your dog. Just in case, you should also learn the location of a few local vets in the place you’ll be flying to.

If your dog will be staying home during the holidays, especially if you’ll be boarding them, you’ll want to keep these things in mind. You need to make your reservations early, and drop your dog off at the boarding house several hours before closing time so they can acclimate to the environment. There could also be a pretty long check-in time, so you’ll want to get it handled with plenty of time available. A launder mat for your dog to use will probably be a good idea too.
If you’ll be using a pet sitter instead, check your references first, and try to go for an insured or bonded sitter. Make sure you book them early, and make sure they have contingency plans even as you do.

Hosting
If you’ll be hosting a Thanksgiving dinner instead, there are some things you should keep in mind for that situation as well. You’ll need to prepare your dog for guests, including other dogs that may be brought to the party. Clearly, you’ll need to brush up one your dog’s manners, including obeying commands. You may also want to keep your dog on a leash if you know they are rowdy, and ask some safety questions. Is your dog comfortable with everyone who is coming, including their dogs if they come too? Always be on the lookout for stress signs during the gathering, and have a plan in case that happens. Of course, you should let your guests know that your dog will be there in the first place.

If you have guests that will be bringing a dog, let them know what rules you expect that dog to follow beforehand. Introduce the dogs outside of the home first, and keep in mind the potential for hostilities between two dogs, which are often triggered by infringement on food, toys, personal space and especially uneven affection.

The Holiday Feast
We all know that a big part of Thanksgiving is the food. But keep in mind that your dog wants it just as much as you do, if not more. You may need to consider your dog’s behavior during mealtime, and whether or not food should be shared with them.

As far as behavior is concerned, it’s all about the commands your dog knows how to obey. Whether you have them sit at your side during dinner or to some other out of the way spot within the house, both are good options. At Off Leash K9 Training, this is what we use the “place” command for. You may also want to consider teaching your dog to refrain from immediately eating anything dropped from the table, though that’s a whole different lesson in willpower. As you will see on our YouTube channel, we do food refusal training.

As for sharing food, remember that what is good for you is not necessarily good for your dog, even if your dog acts like it would be. Fatty foods, grapes, onions, sage, and many other Thanksgiving foods are very dangerous for your dog to consume, and of course, bones are an entirely bad idea. Even if you have a small dog and the bones seem big enough for them, don’t do it. Bones like that aren’t the same as the ones you might buy from Petco, and the dinner table bones are extremely vulnerable to cracking and splintering, which could lead to choking or other health hazards. If you are going to feed your dog, don’t let them see you procure the food itself: if they notice that it came from the table, they are likely to stick around or worse. If you want to feed them something healthy, stick to ice cubes and carrots at most, and when all is said and done, secure your trash cans so your dog doesn’t have a field day with your garbage. As long as you keep these things in mind, your family, including your dog, can have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

If you want your dog to be well trained for all of your holiday guests, contact us at Off Leash K9 Training!

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Should I Spay or Neuter My Dog? Dog Trainers in Virginia

There has been a debate as to whether or not you should spay or neuter your dog. Many different groups have a variety of different feelings on this heavily debated topic, each for their own reasons. This can be a very personal decision and one of the most important ones that you can make as a dog owner. By seeing all of the arguments for and against this decision, you are able to make an informed decision that you feel comfortable with.

Breeders and people who show their dogs do not believe that people should wait until the dog is 1.5 years of age before getting this medical procedure. This is for appearance purposes. The breeders believe that the dogs need to keep these reproductive organs until they have developed fully. This is important if you want to show your dogs because they need to have developed and be filled out according to the standard. Obviously breeders do not spay or neuter their dogs so that they can breed and earn their living.

Pet rescue groups, shelters, and pet advocate groups are some of the biggest proponents of spaying and neutering your dogs. This is to help prevent unwanted litters as well as a way to promote responsible dog ownership. Shelters have an influx of dogs that they cannot even help and dogs are often put to sleep because they cannot be adopted. This is something is completely preventable. Some trainers are also for spaying and neutering dogs because they believe that this can help with small issues like the dogs’ ability to better socialize, especially at places like dog parks.

There are also groups that seem to be pretty equally divided on the topic. Veterinarians seem to go either way on the topic. Vets are for this because of it promoting responsible dog ownership. They also recommend against it for reasons such as future breeding and because of health risks associated with the procedures. Dog owners are also pretty equally divided on the topics. In addition to these other reasons, they sometimes do not agree with these procedures because they feel guilty about mutilating their dog in a way that takes away their reproductive organs. Some dog owners prefer not to handle their dogs when they are in heat, adding just another reason to do this.

As you can see, this topic is one that has caused a lot of debate. Whether you decide to spay or neuter your pet is a personal decision. This is one that will take a lot of consideration before you can make an informed decision. The decision to spay or neuter is a personal one. Your veterinarian can help provide you with all of the information to help you make the best decision possible. Remember that there seems to be no right or wrong answer officially and you really just need to consider the individual needs of your family. Dog owners just want their dogs to be happy and healthy and this is just one of many important decisions that you need to make.

If you have more questions about your dog or behavior issues, contact Off Leash K9 Training!

-Nick White
Owner/Founder

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Why Does My Dog Eat Grass? Dog Expert in Northern Virginia!

Why Do Dogs Eat Grass

If you are a dog owner, chances are that you have noticed your dog munching on grass a number of times. This is generally nothing to be concerned over. Our dogs’ wild ancestors were scavengers; they would get vegetation if they couldn’t find any meat.

Owners often forget that our dogs are omnivores, and they can crave a variety of food choices. Even if their dog food is high quality, dogs can still have a desire to eat greens. It’s also possible for your dog to crave other green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli. Here are some other common reasons why dogs may eat grass.

Upset Stomachs
Many dog owners have noted that their dogs will vomit after eating grass. So, they assume the grass made them sick. Vets generally will disagree with this. They believe dogs eat grass when their stomach is upset.

Researchers believe that when dogs have an upset stomach, they eat grass quickly. The grass tickles the dog’s stomach and causes them to quickly vomit. So, it is believed that dogs instinctually gobble down grass in order to make themselves vomit to relieve their stomach.

When your dog eats grass slowly, it is generally just a sign that your dog enjoys the taste of grass. Healthy dogs know to eat grass differently so they won’t vomit it back up.

Lack of Fiber
Although researchers aren’t positive yet, it’s believed that dogs will eat grass if their diet is lacking in enough fiber. If your dog frequently eats grass, it may be a sign that they need a higher quality dog food. If your budget can’t stretch, try adding raw and cooked greens to their diet. Cook the veggies in chicken stock to make them more appealing to your dog.

Unless your lawn has recently been treated with chemical fertilizers or herbicides, there is little reason to be concerned. Eating grass is a totally normal activity for your dog.

If you have any dog questions, contact us at info@offleashk9training.com.

Nick White
Owner/Founder
Off Leash K9 Training

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Is A Dog’s Mouth Cleaner Than A Person’s? Dog Trainers in Northern Virginia

Dog Training Northern Virginia

We all have heard the saying that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s mouth. While it’s a common saying, it is simply untrue. There are a few reasons that this myth has floated around for so long.

At one time, studies were showing that human bites became infected at a faster rate than dog bites. Modern researchers have proven that this is not true. All bites, human and animals, have the same infection rates.

Dogs lick their wounds; some people believed that this meant their mouth had some sort of healing property. This is untrue as well. There are no antiseptic or healing properties in their saliva. The reason a dog licks their wound is to remove any dead tissue; this makes the healing process faster.

If you own a dog, you understand that dogs lick everything. They use their tongues as toilet paper as well as a bath. It’s pointless for scientists to compare the bacteria in a dog’s mouth to a human’s mouth. The strains of bacteria each mouth will have is totally different. There would be no way to accurately compare the two.
The Good News

There is bacteria in dogs’ mouths; they can have dental problems. There are tons of products in stores today to reduce dental problems for dogs such as dog toothbrushes. This is a good practice for preventative maintenance.

The chances of getting sick from dog saliva is very slim. Dogs and humans have different bacteria; chances are slim that one will transmitted that can make a human ill. There is a larger chance of getting sick from kissing another human than a dog.

If you want more information about your dog, behavior, or training: contact Off Leash K9 Training!

-Nick White
Owner/Founder
Off Leash K9 Training

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Why Dogs Do A Play Bow: Dog Trainers in Northern Virginia

play-bow Northern Virginia

There are a lot of unique behaviors that dogs have that can be difficult for us humans to understand. They do things that you may find disgusting, which are actually completely normal to them. Dogs have no actual language that people can tell so they do heavily rely on their body language to help them get the point across. This is why they bark and paw at you when they want something and why they do the “play bow”. Dogs rely on these cues to help them to communicate with humans and other dogs; therefore it can be helpful to understand just what these motions mean.

The play bow is an invitation from one to another that “I am ready to play, so play with me?” This also lets the other dog know that even though they make act in a way that can be construed as aggressive, they are really just playing and do not have cruel intentions. This is important for humans to observe as well, so that they know the intentions of their dog. Dos are playful creatures and they love to play with pretty much anyone who is willing to play with them.

No matter what they are feeling, dogs need to move. They love to play. In fact, play is crucial to pets because it is what helps a dog with their cognitive development as well as their emotional resiliency. Dogs that are playful are believed to have a higher capacity for adaptability, though this is not a capacity in the cognitive area. There is a lot more to the play bow that you may not know about and there is a bit of a darker side to this adorable pose.

The play bow is believed to have some negative consequences. A dog that asks to play is not being a dominant dog. By going into this position to invitation pose, the dog is putting them in a position that is disadvantageous to the dog. This means that the dogs are really seeking out negative neurochemicals in the brain that causes bad emotions. This can be confusing because why would dogs that love to play and be happy, do something that would give them negative emotions? The only real plausible reasoning for this is that these negative emotions actually feel pleasurable to the dog, which is why they continue to do this behavior. They may actually be taking in the emotional momentum of its playmate.
Dogs may seem like simple creatures that you can just rub their belly and feed them to make them happy. Dogs actually have complex emotions and thought processes that humans just do not fully understand. Their behaviors are actually quite fascinating and are constantly being studies. Even something as seemingly simple as a play bow is actually something far more complex. It is always good to keep an eye out for these behaviors to make sure your dogs are behaving in an appropriate manner so that you can correct them as soon as possible.

If you feel that your dog has an aggression issue in Northern Virginia, contact Off Leash K9 Training!

-Nick White
Owner/Founder
Off Leash K9 Training

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Dog Behavior Training in Northern Virginia: Are Dogs Like People?

Northern Virginia Dog Behavior

 

Roger Caras, the famous photographer and writer once said that “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole,” and nothing can be truer than that. They share our lives and have become such an integral part that life without them seems colorless.

Dogs smell you even when you’re yards away from them and cannot see you and it’s a wonderful welcome that you get when you enter your house—jumping on you and licking you as if they haven’t seen you for ages. They give unconditional love and that’s why they’re treated as part of the family.

That being so, is it really surprising that studies suggest that man’s best friend- the dog acts more like human beings do? Researchers in Japan believed that the hormone oxytocin (that triggers maternal caring) is also produced in dog owners and in dogs when pets gazed into their eyes; making such amazing bonding possible.

These animals are by nature very affectionate and they have a natural instinct to bond. In fact they love to be petted and caressed just the way all human beings want to be– at least deep down. During the course of their evolution from wolves to becoming pets, dogs have acquired many human-like- traits. To substantiate that, it has been found that dogs reciprocate human emotions and exhibit anger, happiness and guilt just like human beings do.

When dogs do something that they ought not to have done and they’re caught doing it, they act guilty—they just slink away with the tail in between their legs, droop their ears and sit under  a chair or table, looking at you apologetically. They can even recognize when you’re angry with them and are quick to note the difference in voice, tone and body language of the owner.

Researchers led by Kazuo Fujita, a professor of comparative cognition at Kyoto University, showed that that dogs snub people that are mean to their owners and will even refuse food offered by such people. He proved his point by actually demonstrating how dogs made “social and emotional evaluations of people when it came to their owners.

In role plays where dog owners needed to either open a box or retrieve some tape from a container, dogs accepted treats from people who helped their owners in the job and refused food from those that didn’t help their owners. Neutral persons that remained in the room were preferred over the non-helpers. Dogs instinctively distinguished between friends and foes of their owners and reacted accordingly.

Jealousy, a trait normally associated with human beings can actually relate to dogs as well. Dogs like attention and if they see their owners being attentive to someone else or another dog, they try to come in-between.

Christine Harris, one of the researchers at the University of California at San Diego’s, noted that even “animals display strong distress whenever a rival usurps a loved one’s affection.”

Pet experts say that dogs too are grief-stricken at the loss of a favorite person and mourn in their own way when they are separated from their owners for long periods of time. They tend to sleep more, eat less and don’t play as much. They also experience fear like human beings, sadness, and anger and are extremely possessive, just like human beings are.

If you stopped in the middle of a road and looked upwards, you’ll find that many people too will stop and also look up to see what you’re looking at—the same holds true with dogs, especially if they’re in a room with a door. If the owner looks that way, an untrained dog looks at the owner and then at the door, wondering what the owner is looking at. Such behavior is often seen only in humans and chimps, perhaps. A trained dog looks more at the owner’s face rather than at the door because they are trained to retain eye contact with the owner.

Research has shown that with age, short-term memory and logical reasoning skills decline in human beings—dogs too apparently experience the same decline.

Josh Billings said, “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself,” and even that’s an understatement– there’s really nothing more human and more lovable than a dog. It’s not man’s best friend for nothing. Sometimes it’s more human than even humans.

Do you want more information and training on your dog’s behavior?

Contact Off Leash K9 Training at: http://offleashk9training.com or 888-413-0896 or info@offleashk9training.com

Do Dogs Have Emotions Like People? Dog Behavior Training in Northern Virginia

Dog Behavior Training in Northern Virginia

After training a few dogs and scanning them, scientists end result was that dogs too are people! It is just that because dogs can’t talk, scientists have depended on their behavioral interpretationsand come to a conclusion as to what dogs are thinking.  It is indeed a tricky job. You can’t question a dog as to why he did something and you surely can’t ask him how he feels about what he did .The prospect of delving into an animal’s emotions has scared the scientist, because animal research has been a difficult task. It has been only normal to keep aside the questions of animal emotions because the answers are not easy.

By looking into their brains directly and surpassing the behavioral observation, an M.R.I scan informs us about the dogs’inner state. M.R.I.s are done in very noisy and confined areas. People don’t like them as they need to hold still during the process. The normal veterinary procedure would be to put the animal under anesthesia to avoid movement from the animal. But when an animal is anesthetized it makes it difficult to study the functioning of the brain. At least the emotions.

Now to do this scan they had the consent of the owner of the dog and a form filled and signed by him. It was agreed upon that the participation was voluntary and the dog could quit if necessary.  The dog if necessary could leave the M. R. I. scanner similar to a human volunteer.

The dog was taught to walk the steps and follow up that into a tube and rest the head in a custom made chin rest, and also stay still for thirty seconds, and yes it had to learn to put on earmuffs to shield the sensitive hearing from the noise the scanners make.

Months of training on a trial and error basis including at the actual M.R.I scanner, they were handsomely gifted with the mapping of the dog’s brain activity. The first tests were measured with the two hand signals caught on the scanner

In the experiments conducted later they were able to distinguish the odor of familiar and unfamiliar dogs and human beings.  Soon the community for local dogs here got to know of our tests that were conducted on what the dogs were thinking, and in a short span of a year there were a dozen M.R.I certified dogs.

Even though scientists were beginning to answer a few basic questions about a dog’s brain, they can’t ignore the resemblance of the dog’s brain to that of a human’s, especially in the areas of key brains functions.

Abundant in dopamine receptors caudate is placed between the brainstem and cortex. In humans the caudate plays an important role in recognizing the things we enjoy like money, food and love. But can we change this connection around by measuring the caudate actions. This is usually not possible because of the complex working nature of the brain. It is a known fact that the brain is well connected and it’s not possible to nail down one single function or emotion to one particular brain region.

But the caudate could be an exception. Certain parts of the caudate stand apart for their consistent recognition of the things that humans enjoy. Caudate is so active that under the circumstances it can single out our preference for food, beauty and even music.

Among dogs we found that the response in the caudate increased to the response of the hand signal, prompting food. The caudate also responded to the odor of familiar humans.

Are these test proving that dogs love us? Not true, but the same reasons that activate the human caudate which are linked to positive feelings are also activated in a dog caudate. Neuroscientists have termed this functional homology, and this could be an indication of dogs’ emotions.

The capability of experiencing positive emotions, like attachment and love, means that dogs do have a level of sentiments compared to a child. This is something we need to think as to how we treat dogs.

Dogs for long have been treated as property. Even though in 1966 the animal’s welfare act and the laws of the state have questioned the treatment for animals they are of view that they are things- objects which could be disposed of, only when reasonable care is given to control their suffering.

After these test and M.R.I scans we can no longer shy away from the fact that dogs and many other animals have emotions similar to humans and to consider them as property may not be in their better interests.

An alternative to this may be may be to consider partial personhood to animals that display neurobiological proof of emotions. Various animal rescue groups have coined the word ‘guardian’ for animal caregivers thereby making it obligatory for the human to take up the responsibility of caring for his ward.

If we go further and grant them personhood, they will be given additional protection from exploitation. Dogs for racing and puppy mills will be banned for violating their basic rights by exploitation.

It is presumed that our society is years behind in considering dogs as a persons. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has opened the doors for such possibilities after the neuroscientific findings.

In couple of cases the court has ruled that the juvenile offenders should not be given a life sentence if there is no possibility of granting parole. Apart from the rulings the court gave brain mapping evidence that brain is not mature enough when in the adolescent stage.

If you are interested in learning more about your dog’s behavior, body language, or training; contact us at Off Leash K9 Training!

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Nick White
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