Oct 18 2014

Ten Dog Secrets You Need to Know!

1. I’m not just taking my time
There is a reason why dogs spin around before going to the bathroom and it has nothing to do with endeavoring to make you late for work. A study published in the journal Frontiers in Zoology found that dogs poop in alignment with Earth’s magnetic field. After observing 70 dogs – made up of 37 breeds – over two years, a clear preference for an alignment with the north-south axis was documented, with the east-west avoided. Just why they instinctively prefer this positioning for defecation and how exactly they perceive the magnetic field is still unclear, but at least we know what all that spinning around is about. So patience, please, genius at work!

2. Different dogs prefer different types of beds
When choosing a bed for me, please pay attention to how I sleep. If I like to curl up, I’d probably love a bumper bed, but if I usually sleep with my legs sticking straight out, I’d prefer a flat bed without sides or bolsters. Also, many dogs also like to have a blanket to cover themselves up with. Just sayin’.

3. Just because I’m wagging my tail…
…doesn’t mean I’m friendly or in a good mood. We dogs also sometimes wag our tails when we’re agitated, annoyed or angry. Pay attention to my tail’s positioning. A loose, hip-swaying, wiggly, side-to-side wag usually means I’m happy to see you, whereas a tail held high and stiff that’s rigidly wagging means I am in a state of high excitement or agitation. Also look for tense muscles, particularly in the face, dilated pupils and pinned ears – these are not signs of a relaxed dog.

4. I like to be challenged
We dogs are smart and we like games that make us think. We would appreciate you hiding cookies around the house for us to find, giving us smart toys to play with, and taking us to new places so we have novel environs to explore.

5. Please, please don’t over-feed me
The latest study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that 53 percent of U.S. dogs were overweight or obese. All that extra weight leads to an increased risk of arthritis, heart disease, and cancer, among other ailments, so please don’t free feed us. We won’t monitor our own intake so give us an appropriately sized high quality breakfast and dinner. When choosing a dog food, look for whole meats in the ingredients list – lamb, beef, turkey, chicken – as opposed to, say, turkey meal. Whole grains are better than by-products and foods preserved with vitamin E and vitamin C, sometimes labeled as mixed tocopherols, are much preferable to those with chemical preservatives. And dogs definitely don’t need artificial colors or flavors – those are there to appeal to you!

6. I may be old but I still need companionship and age-appropriate exercise
Yes, I sleep more (please move my bed somewhere that I have my space but am still part of things) but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be roused for an after dinner stroll. I can also learn new tricks. That old adage about old dogs; patently untrue. Modern Dog’s Creative Director taught her ten-year-old Dachshund, Esther, to sneeze on command. It took a few minutes over a few days and is now Esther’s favorite party trick. (It’s all about capturing and rewarding the behavior – every time your dog happens to sneeze, say “good sneeze” and give her a treat.)

7. Access to the backyard does not replace a walk
Dogs are pack animals and like to be with their people. If left outside, we’re most likely just sitting and waiting for you to return and let us back indoors where we can be part of the action.

8. I’m not just being bad…
I’m bored! Studies have found dogs, on average, possess the intellect of a human two-year-old, and we can all imagine how much trouble a toddler left to their own devices all day could get up to (read: disaster). So if I’m barking, jumping or wrecking things, chances are I need a lot more exercise and attention. Please unplug and take me to the dog park or spend a minute brushing up on my trick repertoire (cookies a welcome addition).

9. If you’re a stranger…
Let me approach you. If you crouch down a short distance from me and glance off to the side, I will be much happier and more relaxed approaching on my own terms than if you reach your hand down into my face, an action that may make me nervous or might appear threatening.

10. I am a creature of habit and I like consistency…
…particularly where training is concerned. If you let me up on the couch sometimes, I will not understand that I cannot be up there all the time. If my habits suddenly and drastically change, please take me to the vet; a sudden change in behavior is often indicative of an underlying medical issue.

Modern Dog Magazine Fall 2014

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