​June 6, 2016: The 'Guilty Look.' Can You Believe What You Are Seeing? 

Every dog owner has seen that face. A shoe has been chewed beyond recognition. A slice of pizza has been stolen off the dining room table. A couch cushion has a hole in it the size of a dog's mouth. There's a puddle in the house where no puddles should ever be.

And in the corner, or on the floor, or in the fluffy bed, lies your four-legged friend. And he's making that face. That caught-red-handed, I-know-what-I-did face.

The guilty face.

We can't resist it. Our hearts melt and our anger subsides. How can we stay mad at that cute little face!

But are we seeing what we think we're seeing? Linda P. Case suggests in this article published last fall in the Whole Dog Journal that the classic "guilty face" might not be betraying guilt after all.

Read the full text of Linda's article here, while considering these results from scientific experiments, trying to establish the causes of the Guilty Look:

Like many trainers, I repeatedly and often futilely it seems, explain to owners that what they are more likely witnessing in these circumstances is their dog communicating signs of appeasement, submission, or even fear.

Scolding by the owner was highly likely to cause a dog to exhibit a GL [Guilty Look], regardless of whether or not the dog had eaten the treat in the owner’s absence.

Dogs were not more likely to show a GL after having disobeyed their owner than when they had obeyed. In other words, having disobeyed their owner’s cue was not the primary factor that predicted whether or not a dog showed a GL.

A dog’s behavior in the owner’s absence was not correlated with showing a GL upon the owner’s return. Corroborating evidence from independent studies is always a good thing!

Researchers also found that when they controlled for expectations, owners were unable to accurately determine whether or not their dog had disobeyed while they were out of the room, based only upon the dog’s greeting behavior. In other words, the claim that dogs tell on themselves and therefore must have an understanding that they had misbehaved was not supported.​

May 31, 2016: Summertime: Beaches, Parties, and Dog Bites?

It’s summertime in Americas Finest City! We look forward to the end of school, long lazy days at the beach, and great summer parties. Unfortunately, with all of this free time and socializing, we also run a much higher risk of getting bitten by a dog, or having our dog bite someone else.

It’s no surprise when you consider that there are currently more than 74.8 million dogs in the United States. Given these numbers the likelihood of a bite occurring is bound to be fairly high.

The most recent figures state that there are at least 4.7 million dog bite victims per year in the U.S. Out of this number, 33 attacks are fatal.

Getting bitten by a dog is the fifth-most frequent cause of visits to emergency rooms among children. Many of the victims of dog bites are children, with more than half of them being bitten in the face.

Dog bite losses exceed $1 billion per year, with over $300 million being paid by homeowners insurance.

An American has a 1-in-50 chance of being bitten by a dog each year. Given these statistics, a degree of caution seems to be in order.

Most of these bites are really quite preventable, simply by using common sense. Teach your children not to approach dogs that they do not know without adult supervision.  Even dogs that you know well can be less tolerant if  they are hot, or stressed. Children and adults should know the correct way to greet a dog.

We need to show dogs the same respect we show humans when meeting them for the first time. Do not invade their personal space. Do not run straight toward them and expect a warm reception, Do not lean over their heads and force them to accept your pats on top of their heads. Every dog does not necessarily want or enjoy attention from every human they meet.

As pet owners, we must respect the public at large. Nobody believes that their dog will bite, until it happens. We put our dogs in highly stimulated situations, such as parties or crowded beaches, allow them to be petted and approached by everyone that they encounter, expect them to be friends with every dog they meet and then wonder why they become stressed.  Know what level of public exposure is too much for your dogs and don’t put them in the position of feeling that they must defend themselves. By keeping your dogs safe, you will also be keeping the public safe.

Enjoy your summer, spend lots of time with your canine friends but always remember, they are dogs, not machines.  They need down time from the fun just like we do.


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