Do Dogs Feel Guilt?

By: Mother Nature Network (mnn.com)

If you’ve ever had a dog, you know the signature canine guilty look: ears back, head cowered, tail tucked.GuiltyDog

Seventy-four percent of dog owners believe their dogs experience guilt, but animal behaviorists say dogs lack the ability to feel shame. They say that guilty look is simply a reaction to you.

While there’s plenty of evidence that man’s best friend experiences primary emotions, such as fear and happiness, there’s little evidence that dogs feel secondary emotions like pride, jealousy and guilt.

Scientists say this is because secondary emotions require self-awareness and a level of cognition that dogs may not have.

Alexandra Horowitz, a psychology professor and principal investigator at the Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab at Columbia University, conducted one of the first studies on dog “guilt” in 2009.

She videotaped 14 dogs in a series of trials and observed how they reacted when their owners left the room after instructing them not to eat a treat. While the owner was gone, Horowitz gave some of the dogs the forbidden treat before asking the owners back in.

In some cases the owners were told their dog had eaten the treat, but in others, they were told their dog had behaved. However, Horowitz wasn’t always honest with them.

Horowitz found that the dogs’ guilty looks had little to do with whether they’d eaten the treat or not. In fact, dogs that hadn’t eaten it but were scolded by misinformed owners tended to exhibit the most elements of the “guilty look.”

Horowitz says this shows that the dogs’ body language is actually a response to their owner’s behavior – not an experience of shame for a misdeed.

“The ‘guilty look’ would be better called the ‘submissive look,’ as in, ‘Don’t punish me for whatever it is you think I did,'” Horowitz wrote in The Washington Post.

Why then, do dogs look so ashamed when we scold them?

That look of guilt is likely the result of a learned association. When you scold your dog for chewing a pair of slippers or leaving a mess on the carpet, he quickly learns that if he lowers his head and tucks his tail, the undesirable response – raised voice and angry expression – is more likely to cease.

Almost 60 percent of dog owners claim that their dogs’ guilty behavior leads them to scold their dog less, according to a study by Universities Federation for Animal Welfare.

Still, scientific findings haven’t deterred the popularity of websites like DogShaming.com where dog owners submit photos of their disorderly dogs with humorous confessions.

“I don’t think dogs actually feel shame,” Pascale Lemire, creator of the website, told The Associated Press. “I think they know how to placate us with this sad puppy-dog look that makes us think they’re ashamed of what they’ve done.

“My guess is that their thinking is: ‘Oh man, my owner is super mad about something, but I don’t know what, but he seems to calm down when I give him the sad face, so let’s try that again.'”

 

Full article here.

Easter Basket Ideas For Your Pet

By: Ellen Vossekuil, Yahoo Contributor Network

Many pets get birthday presents and Christmas stockings, so why not celebrate the season with an Easter basket? Obviously chocolate is off the list for treats, but you can put together a fun, cute, and creative Easter basket for your pet without spending a ton of money on
commercial toys.Pet Easter basket

Basket
Think non-traditional with your pet’s Easter “basket”. A new food bowl or pet bed can be used to hold Easter goodies. You can even use a cardboard box and allow your pet to destroy the “basket” after all the treats are gone. Word of caution: stay away from plastic grass for your pet. If ingested it can cause intestinal blockages. Use shredded paper instead.

Homemade Dog Cookies
There are a ton of recipes out there for homemade dog treats. Find some Easter-themed cookie cutters at the dollar store, and your dog can enjoy chick-, bunny-, and egg-shaped cookies while you snack on chocolate.

Plastic Egg Toys
Those plastic eggs you use to hide candy for your kids can also be used to entertain you pets on Easter. Place some catnip in an egg and watch your cat go crazy! You can also put in a small amount of uncooked rice to add some sound effects as the egg gets batted around the house.

Stuffed Animals
The same stuffed bunny or chick you might get for your child can also be a great gift for your pet. Just make sure it is a good quality product with no small parts that your pet could choke on. Who doesn’t love a good squeaky rabbit or a catnip-filled chick on Easter?

Hard-Boiled Eggs or Carrots
Some Easter people-foods are safe for pets to enjoy. Dogs love hard-boiled eggs. If you use non-toxic egg dye, your dog can enjoy an Easter egg or two along with the family. Add some whole carrots for visual interest, or even sneak your dog a piece of ham! Just don’t share the chocolate bunny with your furry friend.

Bunny Ears
If your dog or cat will tolerate it, get a set of bunny ears for your pet. Get a good laugh and take some pictures!

Easter Baskets for Small Pets
Rats, hamsters and guinea pigs will also enjoy an Easter basket! Fill a basket or container with shredded paper (avoid plastic grass) and bury treats for them to search for. Rats are smart and dextrous enough to open plastic eggs with treats inside. The baskets may even become a preferred nesting spot!

 

Real the full article here.

Tips to Take Better Dog Pics

Taking pictures of your best friend is not always easy. Unlike humans, pets won’t simply pose for a picture. Here are tips that can help you get the most out of your photo session:

Pay attention to the background. A cluttered environment will take focus away from the dog. Use colorful, yet simple, backgrounds, such as bushes or blankets.

Kneel or sit on the ground. Position yourself so you are on the dog’s level and not looking down.

Use food. Try giving the dog a few tasty treats, then tap one on the top of the camera as you are about ready to snap the shot. This should capture his/her attention and get him/her to make eye contact with the lens.

Snap a photo while the dog is panting to capture his/her smile.

Avoid that “glowing green eyes” look. Do not use the flash; photograph the dog outside or set your camera to shoot in low-light situations.

Take lots of shots. One of them is bound to be a “keeper.”

 

Are You Prepared For A Natural Disaster?

As a pet owner, it is important to consider how you will care for your pet in the event of a natural disaster, emergency evacuation, extended power outage, etc.

Compiling an emergency preparedness kit for your pet will give you peace of mind, and could save your pet’s life in an emergency.

Suggested supplies to include in your kit:

  • 5 to 7 day supply of dry food stored in an airtight, waterproof container
  • 7 day supply of water
  • Prescription medications
  • Veterinary records including the name and phone number of your veterinarian
  • First Aid supplies
  • Blankets
  • Sturdy cage or crate
  • Extra leash & collar for security and safety
  • Yard stake with rope or long leash
  • Unbreakable water and food bowls
  • Waste clean up bags and paper toweling
  • Toys
  • Current photo and written description of your pet including special markings
  • Current rabies and license number
  • Current picture of you and your pet to prove ownership

Most of these items can be stashed in a clearly labeled plastic storage tote, stored in an easily accessible location. Remember to periodically freshen supplies and always update important medical information.

Do not underestimate the importance of having your pet with a microchip. In an emergency situation you and your pet could easily become separated. Most shelters and veterinary offices scan lost animals for a microchip as soon as they arrive.