Bonding with Your Dog

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The bond between human and canine is a deep and ancient one. Dogs have been close companions for humans for at least 15,000 years. In modern times, the interactions between humans and dogs continues to be centered around understanding, emotion, dependability, and mutual support.

Dogs are naturally loyal pets, but if you and your dog lack a mutual understanding or crucial communication, sometimes frustrations can occur in the relationship. Wanting to develop deeper bonds with your pet is a natural desire for many pet owners. As you spend time with your canine friend, you can both develop memories that can last a lifetime.

Here are some ways to improve the bond you share with your dog:

1. Obedience training

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Training is a great way to bond with your dog. Teaching him or her commands like sit, stay, roll over, or come here allows you to build strong communication and teamwork skills with your canine. It can also foster a sense of purpose and belonging for your beloved pup.

2. Play with your dog

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Schedule various activities which help you keep an active and playful relationship with your dog. Include retrieving and agility exercises, swimming, and other playful games which can help you and your pet build fun memories.

According to a Live Science report, most dogs are as smart as toddlers and enjoy engaging interactions. Activities that create a sense of excitement and problem-solving exercises can uplift your experiences while creating loyalty and friendship between you and your dog. Add a game of hide-and-seek to the mix. Owners often enjoy playing this game with their dogs because it helps to reinforce loyal bonds.

3. Feed them at specific times

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Get in a routine of feeding your dog at specific times. Providing nourishment allows your pet to associate care with your presence. Since food is a basic need and because your dog depends on you for it, this is a simple routine that can help your dog appreciate you. In addition, take the initiative to sustain your dog’s well-being. Aim to provide healthy, tasty food for your dog; they’ll love you even more!

4. Groom your pet

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Direct physical contact with your dog can also help you both build strong connections. Physical touch can build up your dog’s desire for attention and comfort. Likewise, a dog can offer you comfort and emotional support by being a nonjudgmental presence. In fact, studies show that both dogs and people release anti-stress hormones when they come in contact with each other. Those soft and fuzzy feelings you have for each other are no lie!

5. Talk to your canine

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Studies show that canines get excited when their owners speak to them. Some dogs can even learn up to 165  words including hand gestures and emotional signals. Dogs in the top 20% intelligence bracket–like Border collies, Labradors, and German Shepherds– may learn up to 250 words.

If you say “Hello” to your dog when you enter the room, your dog may be able to associate the sound of a commonly-used word or phrase with a certain action or routine. When you come home from a long day be sure to use a gentle voice when interacting with your dog! Show your dog you care with gentle cuddles and a pleasant tone. Try to remain calm so you don’t upset your pup.

6. Educate yourself on canine behavior

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One of the best ways to bond with your dog is to understand their language. Read up on articles and expert advice that helps you identify certain behaviors. If your dog is ever upset or anxious, noticing the behavior can help you protect or calm your dog. When you’re able to demonstrate that you can protect your dog, your bond can grow even stronger.

Once you start spending more time with your dog, you can start to form trust, support, and love. Pretty soon you and your dog may feel inseparable. Plus, you’ll feel more happy, calmer, and enjoy more fun!

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Inside the Mind of Your Dog

Have you ever wondered what your dog thinks and feels about you? Sometimes a tail wiggle can show what your dog is thinking. Other times, it may be harder to figure out.

Understanding your dog and their emotions is a natural desire for most dog owners.

Research has offered psychological insights into the dreams, emotions, and body language of our canines so that we can begin to understand how to build healthier, more understanding relationships with our canine companions.

If you’re interested to see what your dog sees, thinks, and dreams, then you’ll be intrigued by these facts about the psychology of a dog:

1. Dogs care about their owners

It should come as no surprise that dogs love their owners. It turns out, dogs are very perceptive of their owner’s feelings. A study shows that dogs are able to realize when their owners are being snubbed or ignored by someone else. As a result, they act coldly towards the disser. Talk about loyal!

Canines are also very intelligent when it comes to sensing human emotions. A senior behavioral scientist at Nestle Purina says that dogs pick up on subtle changes in voice intonation and body language. They can comfort you when they notice you’re feeling depressed or they may become excited when they see you’re upbeat. Dogs act a lot like best friends. Furthermore, a 2015 study published in Current Biology shows that dogs read facial expressions when you’re sad or happy. They can sense a lot about a person’s energy and mood and react accordingly.

2. Dogs experience similar emotions as humans

Oftentimes, humans don’t give animals enough credit for experiencing emotions because they don’t communicate or analyze them like humans. However,  research shows that dogs feel the same base emotions–love, fear, happiness– as humans. In fact, evidence suggests that dogs indeed feel love for their human owners. A 2015 ScienceDirect study described presenting dogs with the scent of a stranger, a scent of their owner, a familiar dog, themselves, and an unfamiliar dog while an fMRI tech scan monitored the dog’s brain waves. When the dogs recognized their humans’ smell, the part of the brain that experiences joy became activated. This highly suggests that dogs who have a positive bond with their humans really do love them! Psychological insights help us guess what they might feel around their owners. In addition, recent fMRI research shows that brain activity in dogs increases when their owners come into the room after an absence. A spike in the dog’s oxytocin — the “happy” hormone — shows that they share a close bond with their owners.

3. Dogs can be jealous

If you think your dog seems jealous when you give attention to another pup, your intuition is probably correct. A 2014 study suggests that dogs display more jealous behaviors when their owners show attention to other dogs are a stuffed toy dog. Common jealous behaviors from dogs include pushing, touching, or snapping at their owner and physically putting their bodies in between their owner and another dog or object.

4. Dogs enjoy HDTV

If you’re worried about your dog becoming bored while you’re at school or work, put on a nature show for them…but make sure it’s on a high-definition television. There is a science behind why dogs love HDTV so much. Dogs see and process movement much faster than humans. Dogs, like beagles, view flicker rates at at 75 Hz or 50% faster than human rates, meaning they view motion better than humans. HDTVs are refreshed at a higher rate and its frequently reported that pooches are more enamored with the new technology than regular TV sets.

5. Dogs dream vividly

It’s common knowledge that dogs dream, but what are their dreams like? When owners see their dog twitch or paw at the air during  their sleep, then they’re dreaming. Canines are processing their day the way humans do because both a dog’s and human’s brain are structured the same way. MIT researchers even found that simpler-minded animals dream too. Since a canine brain shows similar electrical sequences and is more complex, it’s safe to assume they dream too. Evidence also shows dogs dream about common activities like playing or eating. Studies also identified that smaller dogs dream more frequently than larger dogs. Smaller dogs might dream every 10 minutes, but larger dogs tend to have longer timeframes between dreams. However, dreams last longer for larger pups.

6. Dogs can smile and laugh

Did you know dogs can smile too? When dogs open their mouths slightly to reveal jaws and their tongues, then know they are smiling. You might also see they have teardrop shaped eyes as they smile. This casual expression usually occurs when a dog is relaxed or playing with people. You may be able to tell a dog is stressed if their mouths are closed.

Dogs can also laugh and it usually occurs as they smile. However, it includes a panting sound. When these sounds were played for other dogs as part of a study, it showed the dogs either become excited or calmed by the sound.

As more research is conducted on canine psychology, we can start to understand our pets and build stronger bonds with them. For now, research allows us to rest assured that there really is no bond quite like the one between a human and their loyal best friend.

7 Lessons I Learned From Being A Pet Owner

Eddie, my family’s Jack Russell Terrier, was the best dog and my favorite playmate. I miss him so much and am so thankful for all that he taught me. Here are 7 things I learned from having Eddie as a pet.

1) Why it’s important to pitch in. Learning to care for Eddie as a puppy helped me learn that others rely on me. Eddie needed to be fed, walked, and groomed on a regular basis. Everyone in my family had to pitch in order to take care of Eddie and keep him happy.

2) Eddie taught me that friendship and our ability to love extends to other species. Through having a pet like Eddie I learned about the rewards of bonding. The more attention I gave to Eddie, and the more I put into my relationship with him, the more I got out of it. Although I was too young to realize it at the time, Eddie taught me why it’s important to try my hardest. I also learned how to be compassionate and empathetic toward other living things. Eddie was my best friend and my most loyal companion. I’ll never forget the bond we shared.

3) Life is short. When Eddie passed away, I was just a little kid. I remember how sad I felt when I learned Eddie was gone forever and that I would never see him or play with him again. But I’m also glad that my parents were honest about Eddie’s death (they didn’t tell me he went away to a farm). Instead, they took the opportunity to explain why it’s important for us to appreciate the people and pets we love while they’re still here. Seeing Eddie pass away was really hard, but I know he had a long and happy life as a member of our family. I am thankful I got to spend as much time with him as I did.

4) Everybody has to learn how to respect the preferences and personal space of others, and Eddie was a better teacher at this than my parents, brothers, friends, or babysitters were. Back when I was a baby and growing up as a kid, I had to learn how to be gentle when petting or playing with Eddie. I learned how to respect Eddie’s needs and wants. For example, I had to learn that he didn’t like to be disturbed while he was eating or sleeping. (I don’t blame him–neither do I!)

5) The benefits of play and physical activity. It’s one thing to learn in gym class that it’s important to be active and to exercise. But Eddie showed me first-hand just how fun it is to run around outside, play tug-of-war, and chase after a pet in a game of tag. Eddie taught me that I don’t always have to be serious. It’s good to act silly and be a goofball from time to time!

6) Forgiveness. Whenever I accidentally stepped on Eddie’s paw, or hurt him during a nail clipping session, or stuck my hand in his mouth to retrieve something gross he ate off the sidewalk, he always forgave me. All Eddie ever asked for from us was food, a warm place to curl up and sleep, and attention. Eddie was super affectionate with me and my brothers and personally, I think we got a pretty sweet deal out of this arrangement. When I think about the fact that Eddie never held a grudge, I remember why it’s important to forgive the people and pets we love.

7) How to stick to a routine. Eddie helped me understand why it’s good to follow a consistent schedule. Sure, it was difficult to wake up early on weekend mornings to take Eddie outside for a walk when all I wanted to do was sleep late. But I loved waking up early after the fact, and feeling like I had the whole day ahead of me to do stuff. Being a pet owner taught me how to manage my time better, and why having structure in your life is a good thing.

Best Dog Breeds For People With Allergies

Having a pet around to cuddle and play with is really fun. Sometimes, people who love animals and who really want a pet can’t have one because they or someone in their family is allergic. For example, I have a friend who loves dogs but can’t have one–his sister is allergic and having a pet in the house would cause her to sneeze and maker her eyes red and itchy.

While no dog is 100 percent hypoallergenic, some dog breeds are better than others if you have allergies to pet fur or dander. If you’re an animal lover with allergies, don’t worry–you’re not doomed to be dogless. With one of these dogs, you won’t break out in hives (note: if your allergies are severe, you’ll want to check with your doctor before getting a pet).

Portuguese Water Dog

Affectionate and playful, Portuguese Water Dogs make perfect family pets. The breed recently enjoyed some time in the spotlight, thanks to Bo and Sunny, the former First Dogs (the Obamas had planned to adopt a rescue dog from a shelter, but instead opted for Portuguese Water Dogs because of Malia’s allergies). Portuguese Water Dogs are a fairly active breed, so this isn’t the dog for you if you want a couch potato pup. However, if daily walks and exercise suit your lifestyle, these dogs are very smart and trainable.

Poodle

Poodles come in miniature and standard sizes, so they’re a good choice no matter what size dog you prefer. Highly intelligent and athletic, poodles make great pets for energetic owners and families with children. Mini-poodles may need extra socialization when they are younger to feel comfortable around strangers.

Scottish Terrier

If I had to choose three words to describe Scotties, they’d be: cute, friendly, and mellow. This breed loves to play fetch, but also makes a fine lap dog and enviable cuddle buddy.

Basenji

These small dogs don’t bark or shed (though they’ve been known to make a seal-like yodeling sound). Like many hounds, Basenjis are notoriously stubborn and hard to train. However, some people find the Basenji’s independent personality to be endearing. And though they are strong-willed, Basenjis make loving and loyal family pets. These guys have big personalities–nobody would ever call ’em boring!

Greyhound

They may be tall and lanky, but these dogs are off the charts when it comes to snuggling. Greyhounds, known for their running ability, are quite versatile. Different greyhound breed subtypes come in a range of small and medium sizes. Plus, if you’re looking to bring a rescue pup into your home, there are lots of opportunities to adopt retired racing dogs.


Remember: hypoallergenic dogs still contain allergens, so it’s also important to brush your dog and vacuum up any loose hair if your allergies start acting up. If you suffer from allergies and want to bring a dog into your life, more information about hypoallergenic dogs can be found here.