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Pawpourri

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. 


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


A Guide to Dog Body Behavior - Part 2

This fascinating guide, which we post in two parts, can help us better understand how dogs can communicate with us and with each other. It is written by Will Hank  and Medically reviewed by Dr. Erica Irish

Dogs sometimes bark, growl, or whine to send messages, but nonverbal communication is more common in canines . Since dogs depend so much on their pet parents, it’s essential for owners to understand their methods of communication. Even common dog body language, like a wagging tail, can mean different things in different circumstances. Pet parents can keep their pups calm, safe, and happy by learning how to read and decipher a dog’s body language.

PART 2

Common canine communication signals

Dog body language can sometimes be difficult to decipher. Below, we address nine common states of canine behavior and the body language often seen in each. Learning to recognize these signs can help keep you, your dog, and others around you safe.

covered in this guide

Aggression

Aggression is common in all types of animals, and dogs are no exception. Dogs may display aggression for a wide variety of reasons. These include social, territorial, protective,  possessive, or predatory aggression, among other factors. Recognizing aggression in dogs is essential to prevent dog fights or bites. Common signs of aggressive body language in dogs include:

  • Stiff posture with weight shifted forward
  • Raised hackles
  • Tail raised and stiff
  • Whale eyes
  • Ears pinned back
  • Snarling with lips curled back and teeth showing
  • Growling, barking, and/or snapping, and in extreme cases, lunging or biting

Alertness

Alert dog

Dogs are naturally curious creatures, and they’re often on high alert for new sights, sounds, and smells. Dogs may appear alert or aroused when experiencing new things or when they’re uncertain how to react to a stimulus. Arousal signals can often also accompany those of aggression or anxiety, so it’s important to note the dog’s entire body language in any given situation. Some common signs of alertness in dogs include:

  • Weight shifted forward
  • Tail raised and stiffly wagging
  • Eyes wide and hard-staring
  • Ears erect and facing forward
  • Muzzle tensed

Anxiousness

Anxious dog

Anxiety can be tricky to pinpoint, as signs can mirror those of other emotions, like excitement or fear. Anxiousness in dogs is often situational and may vary in the presence of certain other people, dogs, or new environments. Some common canine body language that suggests an anxious dog includes:

  • Pacing or walking back and forth or in circles
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Excessive panting
  • Yawning
  • Licking lips
  • Avoiding direct eye contact

Frustration

Frustrated dog

Like humans, dogs experience frustration in the face of unwanted outcomes. In pups, frustration often occurs either from being denied something they want or being unable to escape an uncomfortable situation. Signs to look for that suggest frustration include:

  • Tense posture (E.g., pulling or straining at a leash)
  • Stiff legs and weight shifted forward
  • Tail raised
  • Eyes wide
  • Ears pinned back

Fear

Fearful dog

Confidence is a great thing, but most dogs aren’t confident in every situation. Dogs experience fear for a wide variety of reasons and seeing a scared dog can be heartbreaking. Naturally, pet parents should try to keep their dogs away from fearful situations, though this isn’t always possible. Fear can also be a precursor to aggression if the dog senses an immediate threat. While there are some telltale signs of a fearful dog, some other behaviors can be trickier to recognize. Common fear-based body language in dogs includes:

  • Cowered/crouched posture with weight shifted back
  • Tucked tail between rear legs
  • Ears pinned back
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Lip-licking
  • Exposing their belly (as a sign of submission)

Happiness

Happy submissive dog

A happy or excited dog is a beautiful sight. Dogs display happiness for all sorts of reasons, and they often have a hard time containing it. While a wagging tail is a classic sign of a happy dog, it doesn’t always mean that. There’s also plenty of non-tail-based body language that suggests happiness in dogs. These include:

  • Loose and wiggly body posture
  • Tail wagging softly
  • Relaxed expression with mouth slightly open
  • Eyes softened or squinty
  • Ears slightly back
  • Leaning towards or on you
  • Rolling over for belly rubs

Playfulness

Playful dog

Recognizing playfulness in your pet is important, especially if you’re socializing them with other dogs. Playtime between seemingly friendly dogs can turn aggressive in an instant, so it’s important to keep an eye on body language and signs. Some common behaviors of playfulness in dogs include:

  • “Play bow” with front legs lowered ready to leap and rump/tail raised.
  • Tail wagging softly
  • Mouth open with tongue out
  • Eyes soft and relaxed
  • Ears up

Relaxation

Most pet parents love relaxing next to their calm pup. Dogs often relax when they’re in the comfort of their own homes, or accompanied by their favorite friends (and owners). If a dog feels comfortable enough to display these behaviors around you, they’re likely showing you how relaxed they are:

  • Laying down (sometimes in “frog-leg” position with the rear splayed out)
  • Loose, wriggly body
  • Tail wagging softly
  • Head and ears in a neutral position
  • Soft eyes
  • Open mouth with “smiling” expression

Stress

Stressed dog

Dogs respond to stress in many different ways. Commonly, they’ll exhibit “displacement behaviors,” or body language that seems out of context, and can provide hints at stress. Look for signs across the body of the whole dog to help differentiate stressful behaviors from those suggesting things like excitement or arousal. Some common signals of stress in dogs include:

  • Stiff body
  • Tail tucked
  • Excessive scratching
  • “Shaking off”
  • Hair raised
  • Lip-licking
  • Yawning
  • Whale eye
  • Avoiding eye contact

When to seek professional help for your dog’s behavior

There’s a lot that goes into responsible dog ownership, and deciphering your dog’s body language plays a big part. Understanding what your dog is trying to tell you can go a long way toward building your bond together. It’s up to us as pet parents to give our dogs the best lives we can, and communication is a key part of that dog-to-parent relationship.

If you notice changes in your dog’s behavior that suggest fear, anxiety, or aggression, it’s important to understand what’s causing it. In these cases, consider seeking help from a professional dog trainer or dog behaviorist . There’s certainly no shame in admitting you need help deciphering what your dog is trying to tell you. In the long run, there’s so much to gain and little to lose from deepening your understanding of the ways in which your dog communicates with you.


A Guide to Dog Body Language - Part 1

This fascinating guide, which we post in two parts, can help us better understand how dogs can communicate with us and with each other. It is written by Will Hank  and Medically reviewed by Dr. Erica Irish

Dogs sometimes bark, growl, or whine to send messages, but nonverbal communication is more common in canines . Since dogs depend so much on their pet parents, it’s essential for owners to understand their methods of communication. Even common dog body language, like a wagging tail, can mean different things in different circumstances. Pet parents can keep their pups calm, safe, and happy by learning how to read and decipher a dog’s body language.

PART 1

How dogs use body language to communicate

Dogs use a variety of movements with different parts of their bodies and faces to convey messages. Even a dog’s body position itself helps to display a certain attitude or emotional state. Keep an eye out for these common communication methods when trying to understand your dog:

Body position and posture. Dogs stand differently when relaxed versus excited, aroused, or scared. Even weight distribution on all four paws often indicates a relaxed or happy dog. Stiff front legs with the weight shifted forward and hackles raise, hair standing up on your dog’s neck, can show arousal or excitement. Conversely, dogs cowering or hunched over are often displaying signs of fear and/or submission.

Body movement. Like body posture, dog body movements can communicate a lot. Pacing can often signal a stressed or nervous dog. On the other hand, a jumping or bouncy dog is usually happy and excited. One common example of dogs greeting each other is the “play bow,” with the front legs down and their butt in the air. As the name implies, this signal is used between dogs as an invitation to play.

Tail. There’s one common misconception about a dog’s tail: the idea that a wagging tail automatically equals a happy dog. Yes, dogs often wag their tails loosely when relaxed or happy. But, a raised or stiffly wagging tail may suggest arousal, excitement, confidence, or even aggression. On the flip side, a lowered tail, especially one tucked between the legs, is often a sign of fear, stress, or submission.

Ears. Dogs communicate with their ears in a variety of ways. Upright, forward-facing ears “at attention” often show interest or arousal, while pinned back ears may mean a dog is afraid. As with other body language, ear movements can have conflicting meanings. So, it’s important to consider the situation and the dog’s other movements when deciphering ear position. In general, dogs with erect ears, like German shepherds, display a wider variety of ear movements than a floppy-eared breed, like Labrador retrievers.

Eyes. Eye contact is an important sign for dogs and the intensity of a dog’s eyes matters. A soft or squinty stare often suggests happiness or relaxation. A hard, direct stare, can often mean an aggressive dog. A dog averting their eyes or looking away can be a common sign of stress or fear. They’ll often display the whites of their eyes, a gesture known as “whale eye”, in response to stress or anxiety.

Mouth. Dogs display facial expressions and mouth movements to communicate in several ways. Many of us recognize relaxed dogs by their slightly open mouths and panting tongues. But, several mouth movements can often suggest signs of stress or even nausea. Yawning and/or licking the lips are often displacement behaviors. This means the dog is anxious and suppressing the urge to do something else, such as bark or bite. A more concerning sign is when dogs display their teeth in a snarl or “smile.” While it may look funny to us, this often signifies aggressive behavior.


In Support of Pigeons

Pigeon

 

 

 

 

 

Atlas Obscura writes a compelling article on pigeon watching and the history of that bird. Here is a short excerpt from an interview with bird-watching mom, Rosemary Mosco :

What’s so awesome about pigeons?

What makes our city pigeons really cool is that they are feral domesticated animals. They’re basically like a stray cat or like a feral dog: mutts mixed from a whole bunch of different, really amazing breeds. To understand where they came from, you have to understand purebred pigeons.

Pigeons were domesticated over 5,000 years ago. We have some rough information, but it’s really hard to untangle that early stuff because we’re bumping up against the dawn of recorded writing. We know it happened in the Fertile Crescent, and that it coincided with people farming grain—because if there’s one thing that pigeons adore, it’s grain.

Domestication is a complicated process. It probably didn’t happen in one place or at one time—it probably happened a few different times. People started farming, the pigeons started to hang around the people, and people realized these pigeons could be useful. They built structures that encouraged the pigeons to nest, threw down some grain, and then it slowly took off from there.

Where’s the best place to camp out and see pigeons?

They just love anywhere urban. Anywhere there are people in large numbers and the food that people consume, they will be there. They’ll also be in agricultural areas or little towns, but you’ll definitely see most of them in the city, because you’ll see the most people and the most people dropping food. They’re really just all over the place, and they’re there all year round, so you don’t have to travel to go see them.

The only place that is really not great for pigeon-watching is anywhere that’s really, really wooded. They really don’t do well when they’re far away from people now because we’ve molded them for so many years. This is what they’re suited for. You won’t see them in a redwood tree.

Pigeons often forage near trash cans. What are they looking for?

They’re not super discerning, but they have their preferences; they won’t just eat whatever is in the trash. They really prefer legumes—lentils, peas, that kind of stuff. A lot of the food that people trash is bits of bread or crackers. That’s what they like. The other day I walked past a flock of pigeons and someone had dropped a bunch of lentils. And I was like, “Wow, someone really knows their pigeon ecology.”

How has pigeon-watching affected the way you experience the rest of the world, whether natural landscapes or the built environment?

Because pigeons are so prominent in the city, if you watch them, you will tap into so much more that’s happening in the urban bird world. In my area, they’re the main prey of birds like the peregrine falcon, and red-tailed hawks and Cooper’s hawks also eat them. Noticing them helps you tap into the whole world of urban bird-watching.

Also, it is really interesting to look at the city and realize how similar it is to a stony cliff–like environment. People often ask, “Where are the baby pigeons? How come you never see baby pigeons?” It’s true you rarely see baby pigeons, or by the time you do, they’re grown-up enough that they look pretty similar to adults. One of the reasons is that pigeons don’t build nests in trees; they nest in crevices and cliffs. In the city, they nest in little, hidden pockets. There was a deli that I used to stop by on the way home, and sometimes I would hear the baby pigeons calling from behind the sign because there was a flat, warm area back there. It’s neat to realize that there are all these hidden pockets in our architecture that are acting as these nests. Without the ability to listen for the baby pigeons, you might not realize how many little cracks there are in all of our little facades.

Pigeons are often called “rats with wings” by people who presumably aren’t big fans of either rats or pigeons. What do you think it would take for them to get a PR makeover?

There’s some encouraging news, which is that it didn’t take that long for pigeons to fall from grace in our eyes—only a few decades, maybe. Reversing it is totally possible. This hatred is not a deep-set, long-held belief. I think that a lot of it has to do with us understanding landscapes not as permanent, but as things that have changed over time. Once we realize where pigeons fit into that, we are a little more flexible. Their capacity for carrying disease, while not zero, is also way less than we think. I grew up with people saying, “Don’t go up to those pigeons, they’re going to make you sick.”

What I would say for pigeon PR is, look at their long, long, long relationship with us, look at all of the famous people who kept pigeons or loved pigeons or had pigeons influence their work. Look at the war hero pigeons of World War I and World War II. There’s such deep history there. Another thing that always helps is telling people that pigeons are huge romantics and they generally mate for life. That blows people’s minds, because we love romantic stories.


2021 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

Lion laughingThe Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards have been unearthing hilarious and heartwarming photos of creatures basically being their best selves since 2015.

And this year is no exception. The recently announced winners and finalists of the 2021 competition include a visibly uncomfortable monkey, a trio of gossipy raccoons, a joyful bird reunion, gravity-defying fish and an all-powerful prairie dog.

A panel of judges sorts through thousands of submissions from expert and novice photographers alike, and determines one winner for each of the several categories — except for the peoples' choice award, which is left up to members of the public. The overall winner gets a handmade trophy from a workshop in Tanzania and a weeklong Kenyan safari.

Read the full article on NPR 


Why Do Dogs Tilt Their Heads? New Study Offers Clues

The adorable behavior may be a sign of concentration and memory recall