Vol. 12, No. 2 – Oct 24 – Nov 6, 2018 – The Pet Page

•Free pet clinic helping dogs of the homeless community. Free dog vaccinations. Friday, Oct.26, 12-2pm. SPAN 110 N. Olive, Ventura. There will also be food, toys, collars, harnesses and leashes.  Buddy Nation will be there to help and SPAN has graciously donated the space in front of their store.

•Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center (SPARC) has received a new $20,000 grant from PetSmart Charities. The grant has been earmarked to support the pet retention efforts of the Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center, so they can continue helping homeless pets in the City of Santa Paula.

On Oct. 20, a large cheering (and warm) crowd enjoyed the Howl-O-Ween costume dog contest held at the Ventura Harbor Village. The selected judges chose these 2 (a tie) as the best in show.

Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center, SPARC, is a No-Kill, No-Excuses, 501(C3) city pound in Santa Paula where every single animal arriving gets a second chance at life.

•A team of researchers at Cornell University has found evidence suggesting that little dogs lift their legs when peeing at a higher angle than bigger dogs as a means of tricking other dogs into thinking they are bigger. In their paper published in Journal of Zoology, the group describes a study they carried out and what they found.

Most anyone familiar with dogs knows that they tend to pee in a lot of spots, especially males. They also seem to like peeing on objects that extend up from the ground, such as bushes, fire hydrants, etc. Prior research has suggested that such behavior is a way for dogs to communicate with one another. Communications can occur because dogs have very keen noses and brain parts able to tease out specifics from other dogs simply by sniffing their urine. By sniffing dogs can learn a lot about the dog—such as its gender, age, fertility and some aspects of its health. These communications occur as a means for dogs to learn more about other dogs in the area. And now it seems that some dogs have added a little something to the message they want to convey—some trickery involving size.

Their study consisted of taking many dogs of all sizes out for walks and observing very closely how they behaved when peeing. One important factor they noted was the angle of the leg when raised. Another was measuring where on an object the urine wound up.

The team found that little dogs lifted their legs at a higher angle than bigger dogs and in so doing caused their pee to be applied higher up on targeted objects than it would be otherwise. The researchers suggest this likely indicates that the little dogs are attempting to trick others dogs in the area into thinking they are bigger than they actually are.

•Dogs form an attachment to their owner and as a result can find it stressful to be separated from them. It used to be conventional wisdom that you should ignore your dog before you go out, but a pilot study finds gentle petting of dogs before a short separation makes them more calm than if they were ignored before the separation.

Separation-related issues are a welfare concern for dogs and may affect the human-animal bond. But how to help dogs who don’t have separation-related issues has received very little attention.

A new study by Dr. Chiara Mariti et al, published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, looks at the effects of gentle petting on dogs’ stress response to separation.

As it is a pilot study, there were only 10 dogs. The study took place at a field which was a neutral location, away from the dogs’ homes where they were used to being left, and the dogs were on leash.

All dogs took part in two conditions. In the gentle petting condition, the owner spent one minute petting the dog before going away and leaving the dog with the experimenter.

In the neutral condition, owners ignored the dog for one minute prior to going away and leaving the dog with the experimenter.

The dogs were not highly stressed by the separation, as shown by low salivary cortisol levels and by their behaviors.

When dogs were petted before the absence, they spent more time showing calm behaviors during the absence, and their heart rate was lower after the test, compared to when they were ignored before the absence.

Calm behaviors were lying down, and sniffing the ground for a period of 3 seconds or longer (sniffing for a shorter period was seen as a stress signal, as sniffing can be a sign of stress in dogs).

The paper concludes. “This pilot study suggests that petting a dog before a brief separation from the owner may have a positive effect, making the dog calmer during the separation itself. Further studies are needed to analyze more in depth its effectiveness, especially in dogs affected by separation anxiety.”

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