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9 special abilities that show how smart dogs really are, by Simone M. Scully

new_york_foster_father_takes_care_of_w133This is a very interesting read by Simone M. Scully, Jun. 27, 2016, 3:47 PM
(Photo: Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Simone Scully/Business Inside

Dogs have long been man’s best friend, living as our domesticated companions for as long as 32,000 years.

Today, they are one of the most popular pets in the US, found in over 54 million American homes, or about 44% of all households.

And every one of us thinks that our dog is uniquely special and smart. But how much do we actually know about our furry buddies and what’s going on inside their heads?

To find out more about our four-legged friends, we spoke to Dr. Brian Hare, professor of cognitive neuroscience at Duke University, author of the book “The Genius of Dogs,” and host of the new DogSmarts podcast.

“What really has happened in the last 10 years is that we’ve learned more about how dogs think than in the previous 100 years,” Hare told Business Insider. “There have been a lot of big discoveries … Dogs are very distinctly different from us genetically, but psychologically, they are more like us than some of our more closely related, more genetically related primate relatives.”

Here are a few of the recent discoveries that Hare and other scientists have made about dogs:

1. Dogs feel empathy.
Dora Zett/Shutterstock
When you look at your dog and yawn, chances are your dog might yawn, too, because dogs can “catch” your yawn, according to a 2008 study published in Biology Letters. This is called “emotional contagion,” and it’s a basic form of empathy.

Previous research has shown that primates could “catch” yawning, but this was the first study to show that human yawns are possibly contagious to domestic dogs as well.

Dogs are believed to empathize with us in other ways as well. Research suggests that they are sensitive to their guardians’ emotions and that their behavior is influenced by the expression of these emotions. Another study found that dogs respond in a similar way, physiologically and behaviorally, to humans when they hear a human baby crying — another example of emotional contagion.

2. Dogs make eye contact.
Lilla Czesznak/Shutterstock
Dogs are the only nonprimate animal to look people in the eyes without misinterpreting what it means, Mic reports.

Wolves, meanwhile, interpret eye contact as a sign of hostility, according to Science Magazine.

3. With eye contact, they form a special bond with humans.
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Eye contact has an important effect on both human and dog brains.

“Just by making eye contact with dogs,” said Hare, “we have an increase in oxytocin.” Oxytocin, sometimes referred to as the “love hormone,” plays an important role in attachment-forming, bonding, and trust.

Usually, this kind of response — an increase in the hormone to facilitate bonding — occurs only between parents and their children, or maybe romantic partners, Hare said. This “is the first time that it has been shown that different species, dog and human, can interact and affect the oxytocin loop.”

4. Dogs see humans as part of their family.
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Recent studies of dogs’ brains suggest that not only do they love us, but they also see us as their family, Mic reports. A 2015 neuroimaging study about odor processing in a dog’s brain found that when dogs smelled their owners, the “reward center” of their brains (called the caudate nucleus) lit up. The study also found that the dogs prioritized the smell of humans over all other smells.

5. And they interact with us as if they were children.
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Behavioral research has shown that dogs are the only domesticated animals that interact with their humans in the same way that babies interact with their parents. Unlike cats or horses, dogs that are scared or worried will run to their humans for help and comfort, in much the same way a toddler runs to their parents, Mic reports; cats and horses simply run and hide.

6. Dogs understand gestures, like pointing.
Zivica Kerkez/Shutterstock
When it comes to understanding gestures dogs and young children start around the same level: If someone points to an object, both will be able to interpret the hand movement and find the object. Dogs are able to divine the meaning behind the gestures, and this is something that even chimps failed to do, according to a 2012 study in PLoS ONE.

Dogs also appear to be able to read subtler gestures such as social cues like using the direction of human gaze to find hidden food and objects — a task that apes also struggle with, The Scientist reports.

7. Dog brains react to human voices.
Jeremy Bronson/Flickr
A 2014 study in the journal Current Biology took MRI scans of dogs’ brains while they listened to a variety of different dog and human sounds.

The images showed that dog brains have voice areas in the brain, and that they process voices in the same way that human brains do, with a similar part of the brain lighting up at the sound of human voices.

They also found that dog brains responded when they heard emotional sounds, such as crying or laughter. These findings might help explain why vocal communication is so successful between humans and dogs.

8. Some dogs can learn new words the way children do.
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Dogs, like dolphins, apes, and parrots, can learn a series of vocal commands — or words. One dog, a border collie named Rico, knew more than 200 words, mostly the names of toys.

What made Rico so special, though, wasn’t the dog’s ability to know so many words, said Hare — it was how he had learned them. Rico was using a process called “fast-mapping,” or inference, which is the same way children learn language skills.

Growing up, children learn words very quickly because if they hear a new word, they can infer its meaning by putting it together with a new object. Rico did the same thing: When scientists asked him to fetch a toy he didn’t know the name of, he looked at all the toys in the room, and all of them — except one — were familiar to him. Therefore, the new word must correspond to the new toy, so that is the one he picked.

“There is no other species on the planet that has come close to doing that,” said Hare.

Other dogs, including another border collie named Chaser who learned 1,000 words, have also been able to use this same fast-mapping method.

9. And some dogs have the ability to generalize.
Shutterstock/Lars Christensen
Today, more dogs have jobs helping humans than ever before, and one of those jobs — being a guide dog — relies on a dog being able to do one important thing: generalize. In other words, guide dogs have to be able to take what they learn in one specific situation and apply it to all similar situations. This is why they are picked and the focus of their training.

For example, guide dogs know how to apply their training about when and how to cross a street to every street they will ever cross — even if it is a crosswalk they have never been to.

While not all dogs are the same (and not all have all these abilities), it is still clear that we are getting smarter about how smart our canine friends really are.

So far this is keeping up with our 3 great danes ‘droppings

By Regina on July 5, 2016 Verified Purchase
So far this is keeping up with our 3 great danes ‘droppings. It’s a much sturdier version of another product out there but has an advantage in that you can also ‘scoop’ up what’s on the ground. I’d definitely recommend to houses with more than one dog and definitely with big dogs!

Pet insurance popular with millennials who see animals as family

Pet insurance popular with millennials who see animals as family

By Caroline Spiezio,
Published
June 24 2016, 4:06am EDT

Employers struggling with low retention rates from an increasingly millennial workforce may want to start offering perks and benefits for pets as a creative way to keep employees engaged.

Because millennials are not only the fastest-growing population in the workforce, they’re also adopting the most pets. And with many waiting to get married and have children until later than previous generations, pets are serving as more than just furry companions.

download article photo for blog 29JUN16
“They are almost using pets as practice families, to get the feel for having some living object totally dependent on you,” says American Pet Products Association President Bob Vetere. He says most of the pet-owning millennials in his office have begun looking into benefits like pet insurance.

Many employers are beginning to offer the increasingly popular pet insurance as a voluntary benefit, including 1 in 3 Fortune 500 companies and 9% of all organizations, according to SHRM research.

“A lot of people didn’t know that pet insurance existed for a long time,” says Cynthia Trumpey, the senior vice president of Healthy Paws Pet Insurance & Foundation. “It wasn’t necessarily the best plan for a long time. Now there are several players with excellent plans, so it is becoming more and more popular.”

Vet approved
More vets are encouraging pet owners to get insurance as well.

Last year, the 65% of U.S. household occupants who owned a pet spent more than $15 billion on veterinary care, according to a Harris poll. With insurance, all non-preexisting medical issues are covered, potentially saving costs and encouraging visits to the vet that may have otherwise been pushed off to save money.

Pet insurance as a voluntary benefit can help millennials feel that employers share their values and care about the pets they consider family. “As millennials adopt this ‘pets as a part of the family’ viewpoint and are trying to be more and more responsible, it will lead them to want to explore something like pet insurance,” says Liz Watson, chief marketing officer of Hartville Pet Insurance Group.

Watson’s company is also one of many — including Google and Amazon — that allow employees to bring pets in to work. As a pet insurance company, she says it helps build trust with consumers when a dog can be heard barking in the background of a call. But there are some benefits that even non-pet related companies can see from introducing furry friends into the office space.

“It’s great for employee morale,” says Watson. “Pets reduce stress. It really is a way to help a person who has a tough day, because now they’ve got their family with them.”

As the rates of millennials adopting pets and entering the workforce continues to rise, the demand for pet-focused perks will rise as well. And there’s room for such growth. More than 90% of pet owners do not have insurance.

New Survey Says Dogs Lift Workplace Spirits

New Survey Says Dogs Lift Workplace Spirits
Wellness Natural Pet Food survey reveals pets boost mood at the office.
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By Pet Product News Staff
Pets have long been a part of the family, and now pet owners want them to be a part of the workforce, as well. According to a new survey by Wellness Natural Pet Food, 46 percent of American dog and cat owners say bringing their pet to work would improve their mood. The survey found that those most proud of being pet “parents” are millennials. Of respondents, millennials (65 percent) are most likely to have their mood improve if they were to bring their pet to work and are also more likely to display photos of their pet at work than are gen X and baby boomers.

The findings come just before Take Your Dog to Work Day on Friday, June 24. Wellness Natural Pet Food polled more than 1,000 dog and cat owners in the U.S. to uncover how pet owners feel about bringing their pets to the office.

“At Wellness, we understand the important role pets play in our lives and to celebrate those relationships, we roll out all the stops to celebrate Take Your Dog to Work Day each year at our offices, from a dog-friendly ice cream truck to pet caricature artists,” said Chanda Leary-Coutu, senior marketing communications manager at Tewksbury-Mass.-based WellPet. “This year, we wanted to find out more about what others do to show their love for their furry friends not only on Take Your Dog to Work Day, but year-round.”

Additional findings include:

29 percent of dog or cat owners use special meals as a way to show their pets they care—and these special meals or treats often come after a long day at the office.
37 percent of dog or cat owners who are employed display photos of their pet at work. The most popular place to have a photo is on their desk (17 percent), followed closely by a phone background (14 percent) and computer background (12 percent). Employed millennial dog or cat owners (48 percent) are more likely to display photos of their pet at work than are gen X (31 percent) and baby boomers (30 percent).
70 percent of dog or cat owners would bring their pets’ favorite foods and snacks to work with them.
65 percent of millennials are most likely to have their mood improve if they were to bring their pet to work, compared to 43 percent of gen X and 32 percent of baby boomers.

My 10 yr old is using this several times a week…

… after our 50 lb lab and says it works great., May 17, 2016
By K. Dougal  Verified Purchase
This review is from: GoGo Stik,The Totally Clean Pooper Scooper (Misc.)
My 10 yr old is using this several times a week to clean up after our 50 lb lab and says it works great.

Chicago, Bloomington-Normal dog owners warned about influenza

Chicago, Bloomington-Normal dog owners warned about influenza

Chicago, Bloomington-Normal dog owners warned about influenza
Veterinarians and the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association are warning dog owners in the Chicago and Bloomington-Normal areas that the new canine influenza virus, H3N2, is a threat to dogs and possibly cats. There have been 35 confirmed canine influenza cases among dogs seen at three clinics in the Bloomington-Normal area. Experts recommend talking with a veterinarian about vaccination for dogs and restricting exposure to other animals in regions where the virus is spreading.
The State Journal-Register (Springfield, Ill.) (5/13)

GoGo Stik Review – Never bend over to scoop Fido’s poop again!

I’ll never bend over to pick up my dogs’ poop again! I’ll never worry that my fingers will poke through the bag during scooping again! I’ll never have to use the ‘claw’ to try and get all of the poop out of the grass again! I’ll never have to worry about keeping the dirty scooper away from my body when walking again!
With the GoGo Stik I can actually catch the dogs’ poop before it ever hits the ground! And if I don’t get there in time, a quick flick of the wrist and the poop is in the bag without any mess, and nothing is left behind on the grass for me (or a neighbor) to step in later! Once the poop is in the bag, I can walk with the dog without worrying about getting ‘anything’ on me, either. The way the bag hangs after a ‘deposit’, it sort of closes itself for the remainder of the walk, too (the bag hangs down and the opposite side of the scooping section presses against the outside of the bag, essentially closing the bag at the middle – but not to worry – the bag opens right back up when needed again!). I’m using less bags – one per walk instead of one per dog, so I’m saving money and the planet by reducing the amount of plastic in the landfill. LOVE IT!

‘Dogs eat crazy things’

‘Dogs eat crazy things’

Here’s an important message to share to all dog owners just published by The Associated Press

‘Dogs eat crazy things’: Vets remove toys from puppy’s tummy

This combination of photos provided by the Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center in Levittown, Bucks County, shows an X-ray of two balls lodged in a puppy’s stomach, above, and the balls after they were surgically retrieved on Dec. 26, 2015. The 6-month-old puppy, a Cane Corso named Jasper, was already back on his feet days later. (AP | For lehighvalleylive.com)

 

This photo provided by Michael Ehrlich shows his 6-month-old Cane Coro named Jasper at home in Philadelphia. The puppy swallowed two large plastic balls, which remained lodged in his stomach probably for a few weeks, according to Ehrlich. They were surgically retrieved on Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015, and within a few days Jasper was already back on his feet. Michael Ehrlich via AP

Now your pets can poop at the airport like the civilized creatures they are!

Now your pets can poop at the airport like the civilized creatures they are!

By Danielle Furfaro and Lorena Mongelli  April 25, 2016 | 3:18am

Kennedy Airport may be in the toilet for fliers, but now it’s No. 1 with their pets.

The airport last week opened a pet potty — complete with fake grass and a red fire hydrant — in Terminal 4. And the single-stall bathroom, which is decorated with paw prints and lined with Epoxy and waterproof turf, is already making jet-setting pet owners purr.