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Thursday, 10 November 2022

Yellow Dog UK - some dogs need their space



Have you heard about 'Yellow Dogs'? No, not adorable Golden Labradors, but a campaign to raise awareness that some dogs need space.

This is done by the dog wearing yellow to alert other dog owners and passers-by. Yellow Dog UK is part of an international initiative introduced in 2012 to increase awareness for dogs who need space whilst they're training, recovering from surgery, or being rehabilitated, for example.

(c) Image thanks to Yellow Dog UK




The concept was originally developed by Swedish dog behaviourist Eva Oliversson, recognising that a clear signal to others that a dog needs space will help his behaviour and enable him to feel more safe and secure. Indicated by wearing yellow, at first this was by yellow ribbons, but a whole range of yellow jackets, collars and bandanas are now available.

There can be a number of reasons for a dog wearing yellow. He may be a rescue animal who is being rehabilitated, or he may have health issues that make him nervous or vulnerable. Other reasons include his having had a bad experience with other dogs: for example by being attacked, or a bitch who is on heat.
Any of these reasons can lead to a dog needing space, and this should be respected both by other dog owners, and those who simply want to greet or pet the dog.

In the UK, 'Yellow Dog UK' at https://www.yellowdoguk.co.uk/ provides a lot of helpful information and advice, as well as enabling owners to buy from a range of yellow merchandise for dogs to wear. Owners can contact Yellow Dog UK for  free poster and ribbon, too.

If you think your dog would benefit from wearing a 'yellow dog' identifier, the website is a great place to start.


                                                 (c) Image thanks to Yellow Dog UK


Yellow Dog UK also promotes dog ownership and encourages both children and adults to always ask permission before touching a dog who they don't know. 

Promoting responsible and careful dog ownership, as well as the 'Yellow Dog' message, is worthwhile for all dog owners and lovers. Let's hope more take it up in the future.

Check out Hubble & Hattie's range of helpful books on dog behaviour, including:






Thursday, 13 October 2022

Do Animals Feel Emotion?

     Contented?



When you look at the images in this blog, what do you see? A relaxed happy cat, and a sad lonely dog? Or are we simply imposing our human emotions upon animals, because that’s what we think they are experiencing and expressing?

We’ll never know for sure, of course, whether animals’ brains are wired in the same way as ours, so we can only observe their behaviour and interpret it as best we can, based on our own emotions and learned behaviour. Owners believe that they understand how their pets are feeling through their behaviour and body language, and, let’s be honest, animals have also learned to be pretty good at communicating what they want to us, whether it’s their food bowl topped up, a walk, or just some pampering!

However, how much they really feel we’ll probably never know. Humans are very good at anthropomorphising creatures. Just look at the number of cartoon and fictional animal characters who speak, dress and interact with each other just like people. This must influence our perception of animal behaviour, if only subconsciously.

The jury is still out as far as science is concerned. Philosopher Philip Godfrey-Smith’s work Metazoa: Animal Life and the Birth of the Mind' explores three behaviours that provide clues in animals:


Do they tend to and protect injured body parts?

Most creatures except insects do

Do they consider costs and benefits?

Some do, for example by tolerating minor pain in order to be safe

Do they seek pain-killing chemicals after injury?

It’s been proven that some animals will opt to undertake behaviour that alleviates pain






    Sad and lonely?


But behaviours and emotions are different. It can be argued that animal behaviour is, to a large extent, instinctive and reactive: ie. driven by hunger or self-preservation. Reactions between different creatures to fear and threat also show that we can’t interpret behaviour consistently across species. Some may ‘freeze’ when threatened; others may run, and some attack. Some may do nothing at all. So even the ‘fight or flight’ response that we humans instinctively show is not the same for animals.

Ultimately we may never completely understand how animals experience the world. We know that some of their senses (sight, smell, hearing) are more highly developed than our own, whilst others (communicating) are less so.

Perhaps it’s best to simply respect and admire their differences to us, and enjoy the fact that we can share our lives with domesticated creatures who enjoy our company.


Thursday, 15 September 2022

Sight and scent are strongly connected for dogs

A new study has discovered that dogs have an extensive pathway in their brains that enable them to 'see' as well as sniff with their highly-developed sense of smell.

Scientists in Cornell University, New York, found that sight and scent is integrated in dogs, to the point where even blind dogs can function extremely well by navigating their environment by smell.

All dog owners know how much dogs like to sniff, and navigate their way around by their nose. This new research, carried out on 23 dogs of various breeds, revealed through MRI scans that big neural pathways, or “information highways” exist between the olfactory part of the brain (responsible for interpreting the scents from the nose) and the part of the brain tied to vision. This pathway that links smell to vision isn’t found in people but is “thick and obvious” in the dog’s brain.

This appears to confirm that in dogs, the sense of smell is so highly developed that seeing and smells are interlinked in a dog’s perception.





As humans we can only imagine what the world must be like for dogs. Everything must be ‘hyper-real’ with a scent to accompany all they see. As owners, we must respect the dog’s need to stop and sniff at every opportunity. Sniffing and storing information is an enriching experience for dogs, and we can only admire their sensory powers.

Humans do of course utilise dogs’ highly developed smelling skills for tracking, by training sniffer dogs to search out certain substances or to track missing people.


Sniffer dogs play a vital role at airports

This research is just starting, as the same team want to investigate cats’ link between scent and sight, as it is believed that cats have the same strong neural pathways as dogs. Watch (or sniff!) this space.













Thursday, 28 July 2022

Paws on board? Dogs in cars – how to travel safely with your dog on board







Inevitably, your dog will travel in the car with you, whether you’re off on a well-earned break, or simply going out and about for a long walk somewhere. But thinking about the options for the safest way for you and your dog to travel in the car together is not a subject that all owners consider fully.

It’s important, as making sure that your dog is restrained properly is part of the Highway Code. Dogs can and do cause accidents when the driver is distracted by them in the vehicle.

Certainly there are plenty of options on the market for the dog-owning motorist. So whether it’s a dog car seat, a seatbelt and harness, or a grille that keeps them safely in the back, there’s lots to consider.

The size and strength of the dog is a key factor. Whilst some car seats may look cute and appealing, they are usually only suited to small and lightweight dogs, and may not provide enough security and protection to the dog if the vehicle were to be involved in a crash. They may not restrain a heavier or more active dog safely, putting both dog and owner at risk of injury.

Not all dog car seats have been tested in crash conditions, and of course dogs come in many shapes and sizes, so a ‘one size fits all’ product is not going to be right for many.

Moreover, owners have different views about what is the best way for their dog to travel in the car. Some owners of small dogs prefer a sturdy strap that attaches to the dog's harness and the seatbelt rather than a car seat.





A sturdy metal grille (or sometimes a crate) may give both owner and dog a sense of security, because the dog is safely contained in the back of the vehicle. These are usually used for larger dogs. However, the dog is not usually restrained within the space in the hatchback or boot, so should there be a collision he or she would be thrown around in the area or within the crate, likely causing them injury.

A safer alternative to a crate or grille is a crash crate; these have been designed not to deform during an accident, built to withstand side, front and rear impacts, with some also preventing damage caused by cars rolling. You will, of course, pay a premium for this level of protection, but you'll get much better protected from rear-end shunts and side impacts than with a normal crate.

Do consider carefully the safest and most comfortable way of securing your dog when travelling by car. It could help to save both you and your dog’s life in an accident.




Thursday, 16 June 2022

Paws on Board – get on board with your canine companion!

Surf school for dogs takes off in Dorset


Vicky Mansfield, based on the Dorset coast, has used her ethical dog-training skills to branch out into making the most of the ideal beaches around Bournemouth and Poole by offering to teach dogs to surf with their owners!

A lifelong dog lover, Vicky has immersed herself in all things dog-related for as long as she can remember. A believer in ethical training methods without fear, pain or punishment, she is a member of The School of Canine Science, The Dog Training Academy, The Victoria Stilwell Academy and Dr Dunbar’s Dog Behaviour and Training Academy. Vicky lives and breathes dogs, and loves sharing her knowledge and passion with others.




As well as offering dog and puppy training, dog owners can immerse themselves (quite literally!) in the Dorset waves, accompanied by their dog on board! By teaching the dogs confidence and calmness in the water, both dog and owner can enjoy the waves safely. All that’s needed, alongside Vicky’s training, is the hire of a dog-safe surfboard and lifejacket. Vicky believes in slow learning techniques that help the dog to digest information in their own time, rather than forcing behaviour on them.



     Dogs and owners start to catch the waves


Paws on Board offers the only dog surfing lessons in the area. By building confidence, balance and behaviour on a board, it offers a unique way to bond with your canine companion whilst having fun and learning new skills. The organisation was recently recognised by the local newspaper, the Bournemouth Echo, as a ‘Trader of the Week’ for the enterprising way that Vicky has developed the business.


If you would like to find out more about Paws on Board, the website has lots of useful information:

https://pawsonboard.co.uk/



     Getting ready to hit the surf


All photos with thanks and credit to Paws on Board.https://pawsonboard.co.uk/

Thursday, 28 April 2022

Despite the ongoing conflict, Ukrainian Cat Café remains open


                         Visitors and residents in the Café

Cat Café Lviv, in the heart of the Ukrainian city of Lviv, is home to 20 resident felines and, amazingly, has remained open since February 2022, throughout the escalating conflict and fear of air strikes on the country.

Opened over 6 years ago by owner Serhii Oliinyk, the Café is home to cats of various breeds, all used to interacting with the daily visitors who come to enjoy their company, and the refreshments on offer.

More recently, the Café has provided a place of refuge for people fleeing dangerous areas, and a calm escape from stress and fear. The location of the Café provides three large rooms, two of which are in a secure basement, should shelter be needed.

Serhii has no intention of closing the Café or moving the cats elsewhere. He says, “we realized that we would never leave our country, that this was the only place where we could see ourselves in the future.”

Images of Ukrainians fleeing their homes due to the conflict show many with their beloved pets. This is undoubtedly a nation of animal lovers.

You can see updates from the Café via their regular posts on facebook, at https://www.facebook.com/catcafelviv @catcafelviv

Almost 18,000 people follow their posts. People are able to support the Café with donations via Paypal, should they wish to do so.

In dark times, the Cat Café Lviv remains a place of joy and brings some much-needed positivity.







                        Serhii and some of the cats 

Thursday, 17 March 2022

Filling a ‘doggy void’ – Borrow my Doggy unites dog owners with dog lovers to share the love!

Have you heard about ‘Borrow my Doggy’? In the UK, it’s connecting dog owners with dog-lovers who, for whatever reason, can’t make a full-time commitment to having a dog, but who want to fill the dog void in their life!

‘Borrow my Doggy’ connects dog owners with local dog borrowers for walks, weekends and holidays, finding trusted dog lovers who can spend time with owned dogs, helping out their owners whilst getting all of the fun and love from a ‘part-time doggy’! For dog owners, it can help remove the worry of not being with their dog all the time, knowing that the dog borrower is able to provide quality time, walks and fun. It’s a win-win for the dog, their owner and the borrower!

Here’s a real-life story about how it has worked brilliantly for Jane from Dorset. She is a full-time solicitor with a busy social life, and so doesn’t have the time to have a ‘full-time’ dog at present. However, as a dedicated dog lover, she found the perfect solution through ‘Borrow my Doggy,’ as she explains:


For a while I’d been wanting my own dog but knew this was impractical, whilst working full-time. My cousin in London recommended ‘Borrow my Doggy.’ I looked on the website for a dog close to my home and, straightaway, there was Percy – an adorable Coton de Tulear – looking for walks and company when his owners are at work. I didn’t need to look any further!

Percy soon arrived for his first walk and, of course, I was immediately smitten. He made himself at home, exploring and generally getting his bearings before jumping onto the passenger seat of my car to have his seat belt secured for a drive to my favourite beach. He was in his element there. That was 6 years ago and we’re still enjoying wonderful walks. Just to see his excitement at reaching the sand, and his exuberance as he races along the beach is so uplifting.

                         Percy enjoying Jane’s local beach


One of the best things about Borrow my Doggy is its flexibility. It works well for Percy, his owners and for me. It also helps that Percy is local. This is important to me as it’s easier for last minute arrangements to be made for a walk or the occasional ‘sleepover’ if his owners are away for the weekend. There’s no set pattern.

It comes with its responsibilities. I’m always very aware when out walking Percy that he is someone else’s dog and I’m careful about where I let him off the lead. I’ve got to know and love his personality. He’s so expressive and I can tell when he’s considering a ‘bolt’ along the beach!

We’ve got quite a bond now. For me, Borrow my Doggy is the perfect arrangement. I would recommend it to anyone who likes the outdoors and walking. Percy has exceeded all my expectations and I can’t believe how lucky I was to find him.”


                      .....and relaxing after his exercise!

 

It’s heart-warming to hear how much both Jane and Percy enjoy their time together. They wouldn’t have been able to meet without ‘Borrow my Doggy’ introducing them and now have the perfect arrangement.

If you’re based in the UK and would like to find out more, as a potential borrower or owner, visit Borrow my Doggy’s website.