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Do Dogs Return the Favor After Strangers Feed Them?

A new study reveals that dogs don't tend to offer food back to humans when given the chance.  Check out this article from Smithsonian Magazine:

We show our love to our canine pets with treats and train them with goodies as motivation. However close the bond is between humans and dogs, though, food sharing may just be a one-way street: Dogs don’t seem to pay back the hand that feeds them.

That lack of reciprocated food sharing in dogs is the key finding of a study published today in PLOS One by dog researcher Jim McGetrick and his team. The comparative psychologist at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna in Austria found that in lab experiments, dogs who received treats by humans pushing a button didn’t then return the favor by pushing the same button so humans gained a treat in kind.

Previous studies have observed that dogs repay other generous dogs with food tit-for-tat, and take the initiative to rescue distressed humans from entrapment. McGetrick says his study is the first to look at reciprocity between humans and dogs. His team wondered whether fed dogs would reward food to beneficent humans.

To probe this question, the researchers trained 37 pet dogs to press a button for food from a dispenser. These dogs came from over ten different breeds and mixes, with diverse idiosyncrasies to match. Some dogs were gentle, laying their paws delicately on the button and nibbling their reward. Other dogs mauled the button and chewed on the box that enclosed it. One dog only pressed the button with its hind leg. “The personalities definitely varied hugely,” says McGetrick.

Once each dog associated the button with food, the button was placed in an adjacent room with a human stranger inside. The dog would remain in a different room with the food dispenser. A wire mesh fence separated the two rooms—through which the dog could observe the human controlling the coveted button. A helpful human would press the button and the dog would receive food. An unhelpful human would steel his or her heart against the dog’s pleading eyes—unbeknownst to the dog, the volunteer usually felt terrible—and press a decoy button that didn’t release any food from the dispenser.

“When they were with the unhelpful human, it surprised me how big of a deal it was for them when they didn't get food in a situation where they expected to get food,” says McGetrick. These dogs whined and made a fuss. “It could look effectively like throwing a tantrum.”

The researchers then reversed the situations. The working button was transferred to the room with the dog, and the food dispenser—with chocolate candy replacing the kibble—was relocated to the human’s room. This time, the dogs weren’t nearly so eager to press the button in their room when the food ended up with the human next door. Moreover, when it came to reciprocating the helpful human who had previously fed the dog via the button or the unhelpful one who had refused, the dogs didn’t seem to distinguish between the two. The dogs pushed the button equally for both groups.

Moreover, after each button-pressing experiment, the dogs and humans had the chance to interact in the flesh. The dogs didn’t seem to hold the volunteers’ unhelpfulness against them. They approached the volunteers equally, whether the humans had been helpful or not.

“[The result] could indicate that dogs might not necessarily … relate to something like gratitude,” says McGetrick. Or, “they don't necessarily strongly regard or consider others in their actions” in an attentionally blind kind of way, he adds. But “I would highlight that this was a very specific experimental context.”

Dog Watching Treat Dispenser
A dog waits for a human to press the button and give it a treat. Lisa Poncet, the University of Caen Normandy
 

The findings don’t necessarily rule out reciprocity by dogs with humans, says McGetrick. The experimental outcome could be specific to the conditions that the researchers used, such as the dogs’ unfamiliarity with the humans. Perhaps the dogs would be more helpful in kind to their original owners. Or, button-pushing was too much of a mental leap for the dogs to associate with returning the favor. He suspects that the dogs may go by a more straightforward rule: push the button only when the dispenser is in their room. More likely, he speculates, dogs simply don’t see themselves as food providers to humans.

More research is needed to rule out all the possibilities that could explain why the dogs didn’t reciprocate with food, says Angie Johnston, a psychology researcher at Boston College who didn’t participate in the research. A good starting point would be to look at dogs who have received more training, such as military and service dogs. If even trained dogs don’t keep score, it would imply dogs in general are hopeless at tracking this information. But if they reciprocate, then training might make all the difference, allowing any canine to pay more attention to the humans they work with.

“Knowing about the dog-human interaction is important for things like training service dogs and assistance dogs,” says Johnston. “Anytime we know more about the human-dog connection and where it came from and how it evolved, that can inform our training processes with those populations.”

 

The Ten Most Popular Dog Breeds on TikTok

Do you ever wonder which dog breeds are the most popular on TikTok? We were curious. Puppy Hero recently revealed the top ten dog breeds on TikToc and generously shared their results with us.

Dogs are extremely popular on the social media app TikTok, where the hashtag ‘#dog’ has amassed 244.8 billion views. Interested in which breeds are the most popular on TikTok, PuppyHero.com analysed 218 dog breeds to see which ones generated the most views. 

The 10 most popular dog breeds on TikTok

Rank

Dog Breed

Hashtag

Views (Billion)

1

Golden Retriever

#goldenretriever

21.2 

2

German Shepherd Dog

#germanshepherd

9.1 

3

Rottweiler

#Rottweiler

8.0 

4

Pug

#pug

6.7 

5

French Bulldog

#frenchbulldog

5.4

6

Labrador Retriever

#labrador

5.3 

7

Bulldog

#bulldog

5.2 

8

Pomeranian

#pomeranian

5.0 

9

Poodle

#poodle

3.4 

10

Border Collie

#bordercollie

2.9 

All 218 dog breeds analyzed can be found here.

#1 Golden Retriever 

The Golden Retriever is the most popular breed on TikTok, with the hashtag #goldenretriever gathering a whopping 21.2 billion views. It’s not hard to see why this dog is number one, golden retrievers have a friendly and intelligent disposition, which makes them perfect family pets and excellent guide dogs. 

#2 German Shepherd

German Shepherds,  as also known as Alsatian dogs, are the second most popular dog breed on TikTok, with the hashtag #germanshepherd gaining 9.1 billion views. This dog breed is favoured by police units around the world for its loyal and courageous temperament. With  its wolf-like appearance, this breed is certainly striking. 

#3 Rottweiler 

Rottweilers are the third most popular dog breed, with the hashtag #Rottweiler gaining 8 billion views on TikTok. Originally bred for herding, Rottweilers are now often used as guard dogs  due to their sturdy frame and fearless temperament. 

Credit: Shutterstock/ Hollysdogs

Credit: Shutterstock/Happy Monkey

Methodology:

1: PuppyHero.com were interested in which dog breeds are most likely to become TikTok famous.

2: PuppyHero.com collated a seedlist of 222 recognized dog breeds from The Kennel Club

3: PuppyHero.com then searched TikTok using the relevant hashtag per breed. 

4: The seedlist was reduced to 218, as the sub-breeds of long haired and smooth face Pyrenean Sheepdog were lumped into ‘Pyrenean Sheepdog’ and all sizes of Mexican Hairless dogs lumped into ‘Mexican Hairless dog’ due to lack of data.

5:The views per hashtag were then gathered and ranked. 

6: This data was collected on the 28th of April 2022 and is accurate as of then. 


Dogs May Mourn the Loss of Other Household Pets

Smithsonian Magazine offers a fascinating article on how dogs grieve. It helps to remind us of the "humanity" in all beings. The big takeaway is that grieving canines ate less, slept more, and sought more attention from their human companions after the death of a furry friend, according to a survey.

According to a survey, researchers found nearly 90 percent of dogs that experienced the death of another canine companion living in the same house showed signs of grief. In the months following their buddy's death, dogs were less playful and more fearful. They also had reduced appetites and sought more attention from their owners, reports Clare Wilson for New Scientist.

Signs of mourning were stronger in dogs that had an amicable relationship and shared food with the deceased, reports the Guardian's Nicola Davis. The study was published last week in Scientific Reports.

"Dogs are highly emotional animals who develop very close bonds with the members of the familiar group. This means that they may be highly distressed if one of them dies, and efforts should be made to help them cope with this distress," says study author Federica Pirrone, an animal behavior expert at the University of Milan, told the Guardian.

Other animals that experience grief include dolphins, great apes, elephants, and birds. These species have been observed taking part in rituals around death and appear to mourn by touching and investigating the deceased individual's corpse, the researchers write in the study. For example, mother elephants will stand guard over their still-born baby for days. They will also hang their head and ears, moving slowly and quietly in a depressed-like manner.

Despite reports of owners observing their pets grieiving, it wasn't documented or studied in domesticated dogs until recently. For the study, researchers surveyed 426 adults who had at least two dogs and had experienced the loss of one of their dogs, per New Scientist. The study participants were asked to complete an online questionnaire about their surviving dog's behaviors and emotions after their companion's death, the Guardian reports. The participants were also asked about their own shifts in behavior and emotions.

About 86 percent of owners noted their surviving dogs had shown changes in their behavior after the death of a companion and the changes lasted between two to six months, reports Becky Ferreira for Vice. The living dogs were reported to play less, eat less, sleep more, and seek more attention from their owners. However, pets of owners who were affected by the pet's death more greatly were more badly affected by the event and suggest that they could be reacting to their human's behavior too, New Scientist reports.

 

"Dogs have become extremely sensitive to human communicative gestures and facial expressions," says Pirrone to New Scientist. "A caregiver and a dog develop an emotional connection."

While the dogs may behave this way because they have lost an attachment figure who provided safety and security, the team can still not tell if the canines were responding to the death or the loss of an affiliate, Pirrone explained to the Guardian. Because the research relies on self-reported data, the study may have some limitations influenced by how owners interpreted their dogs' behaviors, says social anthropologist Samantha Hurn from the University of Exeter, who was not involved with the study. 

Pirrone and her team cross-referenced the reports to counteract any inconsistencies in the data and used statistical analysis to see if owners were really witnessing their pets in a grief-like state, Vice reports. Pirrone tells the Guardian that the attachment levels between the owner and the dog did not appear to affect results, so the data was not skewed by their owners projecting grief onto their pets.

The team concludes that while the data suggests that pets experience grief, more research is needed to confirm grief and mourning behaviors in dogs further, Vice reports.

 

 

 

 


How to Keep Track of Your Pets While Traveling

CharleyChris Cantrell offers advice as to how to best keep track of your pets while traveling.

Summer is nearing soon!  You might be looking forward to getting out and visiting different places or scratching off some things on your travel bucket list. "But what about my pet?"

Every fur parent can relate to this dilemma. When traveling, one of the most common concerns is leaving your pet alone. But what if there are things you can do to alleviate your worries?

How to Keep Track of Your Pets While Traveling

With these practical tips, leaving your pets at home as you travel is not such a big deal. There are practical ways you can do to ensure their safety before you go.

1.     Put a tag on your pet.

Every fur parent's nightmare is to have their pet lost in an unknown location. Fortunately, it is available in the market. You may use it to keep track of their site.

Its low price point compared to GPS pet trackers makes it one of the most affordable tracking devices on the market. In addition, it includes a built-in speaker that can ring and a lengthy battery life that lasts up to a year. That way, people near your pet would know to guide them back to your home.

The most beneficial feature of AirTag for pets is its range. You'll get the location where someone last spotted your pet. It can help you contact the previous person who found your pet. The UWB technology can direct you to your dog with compass-like accuracy.

2.     If you're keeping your pet at home, get a pet monitor.

Technology for pets has drastically evolved. Thanks to technology, pet owners may stay connected to their furry friends.

Pet cameras and monitors are a great option if you’re concerned about leaving your dog or cat home alone. Wi-Fi pet cameras double as a treat dispenser are available. In addition, you can use your phone to check in on your buddy throughout the day.

3.     Find a good pet sitter or pet hotel you can trust

If you're going away for an extended period, hiring a pet sitter is worth considering. You can maintain your fur friend's routine with a pet sitter even when you're not around. Keep in mind that your pet's daily routine is crucial to their general health. Routines help them thrive and make sure that they are slowly adjusted to not having you around. In addition, it minimizes their stress and separation anxiety.

However, in some cases, keeping your pet at home when you're on vacation may be impossible. The great news is, boarding your pet can be a more practical solution. When boarding your pet, make sure that they have all the necessary vaccinations. Most kennels require influenza, bordetella, rabies, and distemper vaccines.

Assume your pet has never before been kenneled. A trial day to observe how your pet behaves is a good idea. Bring any pills, treats, or food your pet is on to the kennel so they can keep up with your pet's routine while you're gone.

4.     Provide all essentials, including your pet's medical history and routines

Whether you board your pet or hire a pet-sitter, you must leave clear, detailed instructions. For example, it might be helpful for your pet sitter if you leave a note specifying exactly how much food your pet gets every meal, how often they get treats, and when they go for walks.

If your pet is on medication, provide your sitter information on the medicines your pet needs to take, the best method to give them, and when to share it.

It's also a good idea to give your pet-sitter a tour of your place ahead of time so you can guide them through your pet's routine and behavior. Show your pet-sitter where everything is, and if they haven't met yet, introduce them to your pet. Finally, to reduce your pet's anxiety while away, give it its favorite toys and something that smells like you.

Wrapping It Up

Leaving your pet behind can be challenging, but you don't have to go on your trip feeling anxious and worried with a bit of planning. With these helpful tips, you can be assured that you can go with less worry and ensure your pet’s safety before you go.

 Chris is a writer and consults for a refurbished Macbook retailer. He is an avid collector of “vintage” gizmos and loves to watch 80s sci-fi movies in his leisure time.


Plant Safety Tips for Pets

Luke Strauss sent us this valuable chart that might be a good guide to the safest plants to have around pets. He says:

Plants and pets have been proven to reduce stress and improve cognitive ability, but can you safely have both in your home? To help reap the many benefits of both furry friends and potted plants, my team created a guide that lists 27 non-toxic plants as well as tips on how to keep your pets safe around toxic ones.

My favorite tip is to hang plants where pets can't reach — my dangling snake plant keeps me company at work without compromising my dog Angie's safety!

Plant safety tips


VETBROS - Making the USA Pet Industry More Environmentally Responsible

Vetbros

 

 

 

 

 

VetBros Pet Education Charitable Fund, a 501c3 nonprofit institution, is changing the industry, one pet at a time. The VetBros PECF created by Dr. Mondrian Contreras is teaming up with Central Bark doggie daycare and Carol Stream Animal Hospital to implement sustainability, renewable/green energy and conservation into their facilities in efforts of influencing the USA Pet Industry to be more environmentally responsible. Climate change is one of the greatest public health threats of the twenty-first century.

The pet industry has had a strong desire to promote environmental sustainability within our industry, but lacks the resources available to make an impact.

The VetBros PECF is teaming up with Green2Gold’s TRANSITION PROJECT with this focus to support the pet industry in learning about and taking action to decrease its environmental footprint. The Transition Project, in partnership of a master national initiative by the insurance industry's Resilience Innovation Hub, is the environmental initiative that is helping the pet industry upgrade their facilities (veterinary hospitals, doggie daycare, pet stores, animal shelters, etc.) in order to reduce their general waste and energy consumption. The pet industry has always highlighted their own concerns about the impact that climate change has on the pets we care for and care about. It is time for our industry to lead by example, and the Transition Project provides the tools and guidance needed to make our industry be a leader in environmental sustainability and resilience. 

Services provided by Green 2 Gold’s Transition Project  includes 52 years of  expert consulting, research, identification of needs, applications and implementation of loss prevention opportunities, liability & insurance reduction, federal, state, local tax benefits, rebates, grants, private and philanthropic sector incentives and partnerships, permits, licenses, recognition (certification, awards, etc.) for energy efficiency, water & waste conservation, renewable energy usage, yielding reductions in overhead, maintenance, and operational costs, with enhancement of profitability of the business. Benefits of transitioning to “greener” facilities include providing a non-toxic and healthy indoor environment for the pets, human staff and clients as well as contributions to the local community's economic development. Additional benefits are seen in state, national, and global environmental quality, as well as climate change mitigation and adaptiveness.

Time4Pets, a Green2Gold enterprise and VetBros will also be launching a semi-annual “Eureka!! 4Pets” contest for new pet products in which these contest winners will be offered the opportunity to have their green products licensed for further development. T4P expects to market an extensive line of pet products from this contest. Our T4P team sincerely hopes that investors around the world will join our efforts in creating sustainable products while also helping VetBros save the lives of thousands of pets every year. Time4Pets has multiple opportunities for investors who are interested in being an active part of T4P.

Website Link: 

www.vetbrospeteducation.org 

National Transition Initiative

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1s9GQe8exeafhPDINtQruEmOhOlNm81sB/view?usp=sharing

Speech: See Dr. Contreras’s speech on the pet industry roll in sustainability  

https://drive.google.com/file/d/15iX4WuTIFkVvdmNZ7WXhFyltWOSZqi6v/view?usp=sharing

Newsletter 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1WQaEyZHfPzR2ZZNHmj7RlDDBQYpNj-GV/view?usp=sharing