Wednesday, April 29, 2009

[Article] Can My Dog Get Swine Flu?

With all the talk of swine flu in the media lately, it's hard not to wonder if your dog is at risk. In short, the answer is probably no. This is good news for now, but experts are not certain that dogs will remain exempt. There is no cause for panic, but it's always a good idea to keep an eye on your dog. Report any signs of illness to your vet and seek prompt treatment if needed.

Dr. Janet Tobiassen Crosby, the Guide to Veterinary Medicine, goes into greater depth about the risk of swine flu in dogs and cats. She also provides some valuable general information about the disease here: Swine Flu - What You Need To Know.

Are you worried about swine flu and your dog, your family or yourself? Are you taking any specific precautions to prevent the illness, or are you keeping with your normal routine? Share your thoughts here.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Breed Type has less influence on aggressiveness

Researchers studied 711 dogs (354 males and 357 females) of which 594 were purebred and 117 were half-breed dogs older than one year of age. Among the breeds observed were the Bull Terrier, the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Alsatian, the Boxer, the Rottweiler, the Doberman, as well as apparently more docile breeds such as the Dalmatian, the Irish Setter, the Golden Retriever, the Labrador Retriever, the Miniature Poodle, the Chihuahua, the Pekinese, or the French Bulldog, which also exhibit dominant behaviour.

According to Pérez-Guisado, certain breeds, male sex, a small size, or an age of between 5-7 years old are "the dog-dependent factors associated with greater dominance aggression". Nevertheless, these factors have "minimal effect" on whether the dog behaves aggressively. Factors linked to the owner's actions are more influential.

To correct the animal's behaviour, the owner should handle it appropriately and "re-establish dominance over the dog", the researcher adds. In terms of physical punishment, Pérez-Guisado points out that "this method cannot be used with all dogs given the danger involved, although it could be used to re-establish dominance over puppies or small and easy-to-control dogs". However, "it should never be used as justification for treating a dog brutally, since physical punishment should be used more as a way to frighten and demonstrate the dominance we have over the dog than to inflict great suffering on the animal", the vet states.

According to the researcher, "dogs that are trained properly do not normally retain aggressive dominance behaviour". Pérez-Guisado attributes this "exceptional" conduct to the existence of some medical or organic problem, "which can cause changes in the dog's behaviour".

If you're aggressive, your dog will be too, study

( -- In a new, year-long University of Pennsylvania survey of dog owners who use confrontational or aversive methods to train aggressive pets, veterinary researchers have found that most of these animals will continue to be aggressive unless training techniques are modified.

The study, published in the current issue of Applied Animal Behavior Science, also showed that using non-aversive or neutral training methods such as additional exercise or rewards elicited very few aggressive responses.

"Nationwide, the No. 1 reason why dog owners take their pet to a veterinary behaviorist is to manage aggressive behavior," Meghan E. Herron, lead author of the study, said. "Our study demonstrated that many confrontational training methods, whether staring down dogs, striking them or intimidating them with physical manipulation does little to correct improper behavior and can elicit aggressive responses."

"This study highlights the risk of dominance-based training, which has been made popular by TV, books and punishment-based training advocates,"Herron said. "These techniques are fear-eliciting and may lead to owner-directed aggression."

Prior to seeking the counsel of a veterinary behaviorist, many dog owners attempt behavior-modification techniques suggested by a variety of sources. Recommendations often include the aversive-training techniques listed in the survey, all of which may provoke fearful or defensively aggressive behavior. Their common use may have grown from the idea that canine aggression is rooted in the need for social dominance or to a lack of dominance displayed by the owner. Advocates of this theory therefore suggest owners establish an "alpha" or pack-leader role.

The purpose of the Penn Vet study was to assess the behavioral effects and safety risks of techniques used historically by owners of dogs with behavior problems. 

More information: Applied Animal Behavior Science 

Provided by University of Pennsylvania