Category: Innovation

Darkness!

Chris Impey writes about his specialty in observational cosmology.

This has nothing to do with life, nothing that we are dealing with in our daily affairs, and has nothing to do with our dear dogs. BUT! This is incredibly interesting! Incredibly and beautifully interesting!

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The most powerful space telescope ever built will look back in time to the Dark Ages of the universe

Hubble took pictures of the oldest galaxies it could – seen here – but the James Webb Space Telescope can go back much farther in time. NASA

Chris Impey, University of Arizona

Some have called NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope the “telescope that ate astronomy.” It is the most powerful space telescope ever built and a complex piece of mechanical origami that has pushed the limits of human engineering. On Dec. 18, 2021, after years of delays and billions of dollars in cost overruns, the telescope is scheduled to launch into orbit and usher in the next era of astronomy.

I’m an astronomer with a specialty in observational cosmology – I’ve been studying distant galaxies for 30 years. Some of the biggest unanswered questions about the universe relate to its early years just after the Big Bang. When did the first stars and galaxies form? Which came first, and why? I am incredibly excited that astronomers may soon uncover the story of how galaxies started because James Webb was built specifically to answer these very questions.

A graphic showing the progression of the Universe through time.
The Universe went through a period of time known as the Dark Ages before stars or galaxies emitted any light. Space Telescope Institute

The ‘Dark Ages’ of the universe

Excellent evidence shows that the universe started with an event called the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago, which left it in an ultra-hot, ultra-dense state. The universe immediately began expanding after the Big Bang, cooling as it did so. One second after the Big Bang, the universe was a hundred trillion miles across with an average temperature of an incredible 18 billion F (10 billion C). Around 400,000 years after the Big Bang, the universe was 10 million light years across and the temperature had cooled to 5,500 F (3,000 C). If anyone had been there to see it at this point, the universe would have been glowing dull red like a giant heat lamp.

Throughout this time, space was filled with a smooth soup of high energy particles, radiation, hydrogen and helium. There was no structure. As the expanding universe became bigger and colder, the soup thinned out and everything faded to black. This was the start of what astronomers call the Dark Ages of the universe.

The soup of the Dark Ages was not perfectly uniform and due to gravity, tiny areas of gas began to clump together and become more dense. The smooth universe became lumpy and these small clumps of denser gas were seeds for the eventual formation of stars, galaxies and everything else in the universe.

Although there was nothing to see, the Dark Ages were an important phase in the evolution of the universe.

A diagram showing different wavelengths of light compared to size of normal objects.
Light from the early universe is in the infrared wavelength – meaning longer than red light – when it reaches Earth. Inductiveload/NASA via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

Looking for the first light

The Dark Ages ended when gravity formed the first stars and galaxies that eventually began to emit the first light. Although astronomers don’t know when first light happened, the best guess is that it was several hundred million years after the Big Bang. Astronomers also don’t know whether stars or galaxies formed first.

Current theories based on how gravity forms structure in a universe dominated by dark matter suggest that small objects – like stars and star clusters – likely formed first and then later grew into dwarf galaxies and then larger galaxies like the Milky Way. These first stars in the universe were extreme objects compared to stars of today. They were a million times brighter but they lived very short lives. They burned hot and bright and when they died, they left behind black holes up to a hundred times the Sun’s mass, which might have acted as the seeds for galaxy formation.

Astronomers would love to study this fascinating and important era of the universe, but detecting first light is incredibly challenging. Compared to massive, bright galaxies of today, the first objects were very small and due to the constant expansion of the universe, they’re now tens of billions of light years away from Earth. Also, the earliest stars were surrounded by gas left over from their formation and this gas acted like fog that absorbed most of the light. It took several hundred million years for radiation to blast away the fog. This early light is very faint by the time it gets to Earth.

But this is not the only challenge.

As the universe expands, it continuously stretches the wavelength of light traveling through it. This is called redshift because it shifts light of shorter wavelengths – like blue or white light – to longer wavelengths like red or infrared light. Though not a perfect analogy, it is similar to how when a car drives past you, the pitch of any sounds it is making drops noticeably. Similar to how a pitch of a sound drops if the source is moving away from you, the wavelength of light stretches due to the expansion of the universe.

By the time light emitted by an early star or galaxy 13 billion years ago reaches any telescope on Earth, it has been stretched by a factor of 10 by the expansion of the universe. It arrives as infrared light, meaning it has a wavelength longer than that of red light. To see first light, you have to be looking for infrared light.

Telescope as a time machine

Enter the James Webb Space Telescope.

Telescopes are like time machines. If an object is 10,000 light-years away, that means the light takes 10,000 years to reach Earth. So the further out in space astronomers look, the further back in time we are looking.

A large golden colored disc with a sensor in the middle and scientists standing below.
The James Webb Space Telescope was specifically designed to detect the oldest galaxies in the universe. NASA/JPL-Caltech, CC BY-SA

Engineers optimized James Webb for specifically detecting the faint infrared light of the earliest stars or galaxies. Compared to the Hubble Space Telescope, James Webb has a 15 times wider field of view on its camera, collects six times more light and its sensors are tuned to be most sensitive to infrared light.

The strategy will be to stare deeply at one patch of sky for a long time, collecting as much light and information from the most distant and oldest galaxies as possible. With this data, it may be possible to answer when and how the Dark Ages ended, but there are many other important discoveries to be made. For example, unraveling this story may also help explain the nature of dark matter, the mysterious form of matter that makes up about 80% of the mass of the universe.

James Webb is the most technically difficult mission NASA has ever attempted. But I think the scientific questions it may help answer will be worth every ounce of effort. I and other astronomers are waiting excitedly for the data to start coming back sometime in 2022.

Chris Impey, University Distinguished Professor of Astronomy, University of Arizona

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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The dark ages of the universe that lasted for millions of years until gravity started to form some order out of the ‘soup’.

I don’t know about you but the winter nights, when the sky is clear, have me waiting outside for the dogs to come in looking up at the night sky just lost in the sheer wonder of it all.

The very best of luck to NASA on December 18th!

Canine Behavior.

Canine Behavior Friends from the start

In this month’s Science magazine, on page 1213, there is a short piece under the heading of In Other Journals.

I share it with you.

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Canine Behavior Friends from the start

By Sacha Vignieri.

Dogs, unlike wolves, are highly responsive to human voice, gestures, and eye contact.
CREDIT: ISTOCK.COM/HNIJJAR007

The closest relative to dogs, “man’s best friend,” is the wolf, a wily predator that generally avoids human interaction. For decades, researchers and dog owners have wondered how the leap to domestication occurred.

The main hypothesis invoked very early selection for wolves that “liked”—or least tolerated—humans, and the connection strengthened from there.

However, there is still some debate about whether the degree to which dogs interact and communicate with humans is a learned trait.

Two recent studies appear to close the book on this learning hypothesis. Bray et al. looked at about 400 puppies and found that at this young age and without much human interaction, they were adept at following human gestures and positively responded to high-pitched “puppy talk.” Further, there was variation in these responses with an association between relatedness and social communication skills, which supports a genetic driver.

Salomons et al. compared dog and wolf puppies and found no difference in general cognitive responses, but much greater responsiveness to human gestures and eye contact, in dog puppies. Importantly, this happened even though the dog pups had received less actual human interaction than did the wolf pups.

These studies confirm that dogs’ interest in communication with humans is an evolved trait unique to their lineage.

Curr. Biol.31, 3132, 3137 (2021).

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That is fascinating. Dogs have evolved this trait on their own, so to speak. It further underlines the precious nature of the relationship between dogs and humans.

Brandy et moi! Taken 6th April, 2018.

Picture Parade Four Hundred and Three

A rare treat

The following photographs were sent to me by Jess Anderson. But first here is the story:

For years, photographer Tanja Brandt has made it her mission to capture magnificent photos of animals and wildlife and has drawn accolades in the German and international photography world with her heart-warming animal portraits.

Recently, the German artist found a new challenge when she photographed the unique bond between two unlikely friends: Ingo, a Belgian Shepherd, and Poldi (Napoleon), a one-year-old owlet. 

The owlet and canine have a special protector-protected relationship. Their affection toward each other couldn’t be any more evident. Ingo lovingly guards Poldi, who apparently doesn’t know how to live free.

The owlet hatched two days after his six brothers and sisters, therefore, has always been very vulnerable due to his small size. They respect each other and they can read each other, says the photographer.

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These photographs are truly unique. Plus they are astoundingly beautiful.

A beautiful photograph

Of a hummingbird!

Thursday was a chaotic day for me and I only got to my desk at 3pm. Then I found that I didn’t have any posts to share about dogs.

I was mulling what to do and then came across this article on Treehugger and wanted to share it with you.

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Hummingbirds Are Able to Smell Danger

Vultures aren’t the only birds who recognize odors, study finds.

By Mary Jo DiLonardo September 9, 2021

Mary Jo DiLonardo
Tongho58 / Getty Images

Glittery and graceful, hummingbirds hover and flit in midair as they gather nectar. But it’s not just their athleticism that helps them source food. 

New research finds that these tiny birds have a great sense of smell that helps them detect potential danger when they are hunting for nectar.

“In the last 10-15 years, researchers have just now begun to realize the importance of smell in birds in general. For a very long time, it has been known that some birds, such as vultures, have a keen sense of smell and use it to find food,” study co-author Erin Wilson Rankin, an associate entomology professor at the University of California Riverside, tells Treehugger.

“However, the role of olfaction in most birds has only been recently recognized. That may be in part because many birds do not appear to use odor to help them locate food.”

In earlier studies, researchers were unable to show that hummingbirds preferred the smell of flowers that contained nectar. Also, flowers that have been pollinated by birds don’t have strong aromas, like those that have been pollinated by insects. That’s why scientists didn’t believe that birds had the ability to smell odors.

But with this new study, researchers believe otherwise.

For their experiment, Rankin and her colleagues observed more than 100 hummingbirds in the wild and in aviaries. The birds were given the choice between feeders that contained just sugar water, or sugar water with the addition of one of several chemicals with a scent that meant there was an insect present. The feeders otherwise looked exactly the same.

The scents included one deposited on flowers by European honeybees, a chemical produced by Argentine ants, and formic acid, which is released defensively by some formica ants and can injure birds and mammals.

“If a bird has any exposed skin on their legs, formic acid can hurt, and if they get it in their eyes, it isn’t pleasant,” Rankin said in a statement. “It’s also extremely volatile.”

In the experiments, the hummingbirds avoided the feeders with the sugar water that contained the ant-derived chemicals. They didn’t react to the sugar water with the honeybee scent, even though it’s been known to keep other bees from visiting flowers.

To make sure the bees weren’t avoiding the feeders due to a fear of a new smell, the researchers performed an extra test with sugar water and ethyl butyrate, which is a common additive in human food.

“It smells like Juicy Fruit gum, which is not a smell known in nature,” Rankin said. “I did not enjoy it. The birds did not care about it though and didn’t go out of their way to avoid it.”

The results were published in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

Avoiding Danger 

For hummingbirds, recognizing smells isn’t just about finding a meal. They use their sense of smell much differently than vultures. These birds use the massive olfactory bulb in their brain like an “airborne bloodhound” to detect decaying carcasses.

Instead, hummingbirds use their excellent vision to locate flowers from which they collect nectar.

“Flowers, while specific species may be patchy in distribution, are much more common and numerous than the animal carcasses that vultures rely on. Thus, it is not surprising that vultures use their sense of smell to find carcasses which they then scavenge,” Rankin explains.

Hummingbirds use their ability to smell in a different way.

“Rather than using odors to find flowers, they will avoid flowers or feeders that have specific insect odors on them, such as formic acid or an Argentine ant aggregation pheromone. A hummingbird can use the chemical cues associated with ants to help them determine if the hummingbird should feed from there, or avoid it because it’s already occupied by ants, which can drink the nectar first or potentially harm them,” Rankin says.

“Ants are also very hard for hummingbirds to see until they are up close, so being able to smell them even when they are hidden deep in a flower could be advantageous. By avoiding defensive chemicals, hummingbirds can avoid interactions with ants and focus on feeding at safer food resources.”

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As long as I shall live I will never stop being amazed at what science discovers and then reports. And the photograph is gorgeous!

At last some hope!

Bill McKibben steps forward.

I heard yesterday from Erik Hoffner who is responsible for the Mongabay website that Bill McKibben is stepping up to the mark in wanting to take action regarding climate change.

I very quickly signed up and received the following email:

Dear Friend,

Many thanks for signing up to be a part—and we hope a big part—of Third Act.

My name is Bill McKibben, and I’m one of the volunteers helping to launch this effort for Americans 60 and older who want to build a fairer and more sustainable nation and planet.

We’re very much in the early days of this, and we need your help—especially if you’re good at the behind-the-scenes tasks like administration, development, and project management. If you’ve got some time to donate right now, write to us at info@thirdact.org.

And we will be back in touch as autumn rolls on, with some early campaigns focused on climate action and on ending voter suppression. As you can tell, we’re making this up as we go along. So it should be interesting, and also a little bumpy!

If you can assemble a sizable group of people, I’ll do my best to join you for a virtual talk to explain more about this idea. (And when the pandemic ends, we’ll try to do it in person!).

And if you can donate some small sum of money to help with the launch, here’s the place.

Thank you. This is our time to make some powerful change—we’ve got the skills, the resources, and the desire. So let’s try.

Thanks, Bill McKibben for Third Act

The website is here.

WELCOME TO YOUR THIRD ACT

We’re over 60—the Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation. We have skills, we have resources, we have time—and many of us have kids and grandkids. We also have a history. In our early years we saw remarkable shifts in politics and society; now, in our latter years, we want to see those changes made real and lasting.

We were there for the first Earth Day, and we’ve been glad to see cleaner air and water—but now we know that the climate crisis presents an unparalleled threat. The heat is on and we must act quickly to turn it down.

We watched or participated in the civil rights movement—and now we know that its gains were not enough, and that gaps in wealth have only widened in our lifetimes. We’ve got to repair divisions instead of making them worse.
We saw democracy expand—and now we’re seeing it contract, as voter suppression and gerrymandering threaten the core of the American experiment. We know that real change can only come if we all get to participate.

You are the key to this work. Maybe you’ve asked yourself: how can I give back on a scale that matters? The answer is, by working with others to build movements strong enough to matter. That’s why we hope you’ll join us.

Clearly I have signed up and I hope an enormous number of other people will do as well.

Because the time left is not very long and even me at the age of 76 fear for the near future if nothing is done urgently.

Please, please consider joining Third Act.

As the headline says: THIRD ACT — EXPERIENCED PEOPLE WORKING FOR A FAIR AND STABLE PLANET.

The way dogs think

They are incredibly intuitive but not in such a broad way as us humans.

On Friday morning Oliver got lifted up onto the bed. It’s a daily routine and one that Jeannie and I love.

Oliver – He has magnificent eyes.

On this particular early morning I decided to switch the lamp off next to me and snuggle under the covers for a bit more shuteye. At the moment the light went out Oliver moved from his regular position somewhere over my knees to the bottom of the bed in between me and Jean. He has never done that before.

Of all our dogs Oliver is the one that seems to sense what is happening. That is not to say that the other dogs are dumb, far from it, but that Oliver is extra intuitive.

So that’s why this from Science magazine is being republished today. Because it is right on the money, so to speak.

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Dogs Know When You’re Lying to Them

By the BEC Crew, 25th February, 2015

We all know that dogs can sense our emotions, whether happy, sad or angry, but now researchers have found that they can also tell when you’re lying, and will stop following the cues of someone they deem untrustworthy.

Researchers led by Akiko Takaoka from Kyoto University in Japan figured this out by using the old ‘point and fetch’ trick – a human points at the location of something, like a ball, a stick, or some food, and the dog runs off to find it. They wanted to figure out if dogs were just blindly following these cues, or if they were adjusting their behaviour based on how reliable they perceived the person giving the cues to be. And if they didn’t perceive this person as being reliable, how quickly would they learn to mistrust and disobey the humans who pointed in the wrong direction?

Working with 34 dogs, the team went through three rounds of pointing. The first round involved truthfully pointing out to the dogs where their treats and toys were hidden in a container. In the second round, after showing the dogs what’s in the container, they pointed out the location again, but this time, it was a trick – the container was empty. In the third round, the team pointed to the location of the box, which was filled with treats again.

They found that the dogs were following the age-old adage, “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me,” because by round three, many of them were done believing the actions of the pointing volunteers.

A second experiment was performed in exactly the same way as the first one, except the person was replaced by an entirely new one. The dogs happily started the process all over again, and were fully open to trusting their new ‘friend’. “That suggests, says Takaoka, that the dogs could use their experience of the experimenter to assess whether they were a reliable guide,” Melissa Hogenboom writes for BBC News. “After these rounds, a new experimenter replicated the first round. Once again, the dogs followed this new person with interest.”

What’s going on here, the researchers report in the journal Animal Cognition, is that the dogs were ‘devaluing’ the reliability of the human when they experienced their lies. “Dogs have more sophisticated social intelligence than we thought,” Takaoka told Hogenboom. “This social intelligence evolved selectively in their long life history with humans.” 

The experiment reaffirms what we know about the nature of dogs – they love routine, but they also love new things. In round one, they learnt how the activity goes: the human points, I sniff out something great. But in round two, the rules changed and the dogs became stressed out. But when round three came along, the human who broke the rules was replaced by a different human, and the dogs were happy to trust this one because of their love of trying new things.

“Dogs are very sensitive to human behaviour but they have fewer preconceptions,” Bradshaw told the BBC. “They live in the present, they don’t reflect back on the past in an abstract way, or plan for the future.” And they certainly don’t approach a situation by “thinking deeply about what that entails”, he said. 

Something to think about when you consider inflicting the ‘fake tennis ball’ game on your dog. It might work a few times for hilarious effect, because your dog trusts you way more than the dogs in the experiment trusted the strangers they just met, but how long will it last?

It also explains why dogs are so unsure about magicians:

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So to all the dogs in the world I say this: “Keep on trusting us humans!” And to the millions of dog owners in the world, I say this: “Never lie, especially to a dog!”

Something almost mystical!

Time and time again stories surface about the very special bond between humans and dogs.

I would like to say that this is very unusual but it isn’t. Maybe Lorenzo did something for his dog that many would not but that is not to say that Lorenzo’s love for Myles is unique or even close to unique. There is something very special about the bond between us humans and our dogs. We all have mystical moments with our dogs!

Have a read of this story recently published by The Dodo.

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Guy Buys A Cabin In The Woods As A Retirement Home For His Dog

True love!

By Caitlin Jill Anders

Published on the 26th July, 2021

Lorenzo met his dog, Myles, 13 years ago completely by accident, and that’s how he knows they were meant to be together. A local shelter used to take their dogs to the park on Fridays, and Lorenzo would always watch from afar, his heart breaking knowing that none of the dogs had loving homes. One afternoon, though, Lorenzo locked eyes with one of the dogs — and he knew he had to take him home. 

“I saw him and he saw me, and his ears went straight up,” Lorenzo (who asked that his last name not be included) told The Dodo. “I knew he chose me!”

Lorenzo

Ever since then, Lorenzo and Myles have been best friends. They love doing everything together, from hiking and swimming to napping together and playing with toys. Myles has always been such a happy dog and just loves being able to enjoy life with his dad by his side.

Lorenzo

As Myles has gotten older, it’s become a lot harder for him to get around. Slowly, the diagnoses started to come in. Cataracts, arthritis, heart failure. Through it all, though, Myles was still enjoying life, just at a much slower pace. Lorenzo wanted to make Myles’ life as easy and comfortable as possible — so he decided to find the perfect “retirement home.” 

Lorenzo

“I had always told him I would give him land and retire him to the woods,” Lorenzo said. “I always figured by my mid-30s, I would have left the city. The pandemic really showed me what I value and that both he and I need to move towards a simpler life.”

Lorenzo

Lorenzo found and bought the perfect cabin in the woods, named it “Camp Myles” and set about renovating it to make it into the perfect home for him, Myles and his two cats, Tofu and Mama. Now the whole little family is all settled in, and so far, everyone is absolutely loving cabin life — especially Myles.

“I think [his favorite part is] both being lazy on the deck or porch and relaxing in nature, as well as roaming the property and going on walks,” Lorenzo said. “So much to smell, no cars, no sirens — it’s perfect for both of us!”

Lorenzo

Since moving, Myles has been responding incredibly well to his meds, new foods and all the fresh air that cabin life provides. He’s been there for his dad for 13 years now, and Lorenzo has vowed that in return, he’ll be with him until the very end. 

“We are both so happy,” Lorenzo said.

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It is a beautiful tale and many of us know what Lorenzo is feeling. Indeed what Myles is also feeling albeit in the special way that dogs feel.

May they live in peace and happiness!

Protect Pipe Fork

Please, let me use the power of the internet to spread the word!

On the face of it this has nothing to do with dogs. Or does it? Because the stream and the forest will most certainly be favourite walks for people and their dogs. (Indeed a very quick search online brought up the following picture🙂

Why Your Dog Will Love A Trip To Klamath As Much As You Do.

So this post is to drum up support for this critically important area. Please also sign the petition. Thank you.

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Protect Pipe Fork

Pipe Fork is a compelling example of lush, mature riparian forest in the Klamath-Siskyou Bioregion of Southern Oregon. Pipe Fork Creek originates from pure-water springs nestled in ancient forest on the east flank of Grayback Mountain, and flows cold and clear and abundantly year-round through a narrow canyon wilderness into the Williams Valley. There it provides generously for farms and homes as well as for rich spawning and nursery grounds vital to chinook and coho salmon. 

Designated a Research Natural Area (RNA) of Critical Environmental Concern by the Bureau of Land Management, the upper reaches of Pipe Fork have also been nominated for designation as a Federal Wild and Scenic River. Rare Pacific fishers and martens, spotted owls, elk, bear, and many other animals, as well as numerous species of rare plants, live in the undisturbed forests of the RNA. 

Josephine County has had plans to sell a 320-acre parcel right next to the BLM RNA that encompasses both sides of Pipe Fork, and to clearcut 114 acres on the north side of the creek. The devastation that would result from clearcutting on the steep slopes above Pipe Fork would do lasting damage to the sensitive riparian forest and would greatly diminish the quality and quantity of water that flows into the Williams Valley. 

But we will not let this happen! We are determined and optimistic that by all of us working together, this precious place will be saved for the benefit of present and future generations.

Williams Community Forest Project invites you to watch our brand new 7-minute film showcasing the wonders of Pipe Fork and our efforts to preserve it, and to sign the petition at the bottom of the page. Please share this page with like-minded friends and family, allies and colleagues! 

Pristine Waters 4K from Wise Oak Productions on Vimeo.

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Now go to the link below which has what I published above but more importantly has the petition. Please sign it!

Protect Pipe Fork

Thank you!

Socialising one’s darling dog!

It is easy for us to consider this a minor issue!

We are so used to having so many dogs and with more than one in a household socialising becomes simple; assuming they all get on with one another.

But many kind people have a single dog and, especially, when someone goes for a new dog then socialising becomes very important.

The Dodo recently had an article about this and it is shared with you all.

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How Can I Socialize My Dog?

Set her up for success 🏆

By DANIELLE ESPOSITO

Published on the 26th April, 2021

Did you just adopt a new dog and now you’re super excited to introduce her to all the awesome people and animals in your life?

While you might want to bring her everywhere you go right away, it’s also important to take the right steps in order to set her up for success — especially when it comes to dog training and socialization skills.

To understand how to socialize your dog, The Dodo reached out Juliana Willems, head trainer at JW Dog Training in Washington, D.C., for some insight.

What does it mean to socialize a dog?

Socialization is the process of helping a dog enjoy and feel comfortable with people, other animals, places, novel objects and environments.

It means bringing your dog out into the world and introducing her to various kinds of people and situations — which helps to make sure she learns how to be a happy, friendly pup (with manners!), and can reduce fear in unknown situations.

It also helps to give your dog the skills she needs to learn about boundaries — meaning she’s not running around and bulldozing other dogs who clearly just want to sleep whenever she’s around them.

What’s the best age to socialize a dog?

According to Willems, the best age to socialize your dog is when she’s a puppy — because there’s a critical socialization window in a dog’s life between 3 and 16 weeks.

“This is the age where puppies are like sponges, soaking up information and using the experiences during this time to determine how they feel about the world later in life,” Willems said. 

Experiences — or a lack of experiences — during this critical socialization window can have a direct impact on a dog’s behavior as an adult.

So what happens if you adopt an older dog outside of the socialization window?

Unless you adopt a puppy who’s 4 months old or younger, Willems said that the dog you’re bringing home is well outside the critical socialization period.

“What this means is you won’t be able to undo what did or didn’t happen during that window when they were a puppy,” Willems said. “That being said, a goal with newly adopted rescue dogs is always to introduce them to new people, animals, places and activities in a positive way.”

Of course, there’s a good chance your pup was already socialized, especially if she was living happily with a foster family before she went up for adoption. But no matter what stage she’s in socially, it doesn’t hurt to be aware of what to look out for.

As with puppies, being exposed to people, animals and places isn’t enough if you’re hoping to get your pup to truly love and be comfortable with these experiences. You should be paying attention to how she’s reacting to these situations as well.

According to Willems, simple exposure without looking at if your dog is having fun, feeling comfortable and enjoying herself leaves the door open for a negative experience.

That means it’s important you don’t overwhelm your dog by going to too many new places — or meeting too many new people — when she first comes home.

How to socialize your dog

According to Willems, the best way to socialize a new rescue dog is to go at her pace, use treats and always pay attention to body language.

“When you let your new rescue dog approach situations at their pace — allowing them to approach or retreat when they need to — you’re giving them choice in the interaction and you’re decreasing the chances that your dog will feel overwhelmed and scared,” Willems said. 

And make sure you have some of your dog’s favorite treats ready to go during the process!

If you give your dog high-value treats when she meets new people or new animals or goes somewhere new, you’re increasing the chances that she ends up really liking those experiences. Why? Because she’s learning that new people, animals or places equal tasty treats!

While you’re keeping her happy with yummy treats, make sure you’re also paying attention to how she might be feeling in this new situation — and always give her the opportunity to take a breather if she needs one.

She should always have the option to leave a new situation if she’s uncomfortable — especially when it comes to meeting new people and dogs.

How can you tell if your dog’s uncomfortable?

According to Willems, your best bet is to look at your pup’s body language — and it’s helpful to be able to understand what certain signals mean.

Obvious ones include:

  • A tucked tail
  • Trying to move away
  • Avoiding interactions
  • Growling or barking

More subtle stress signals include: 

  • Lip licking
  • Yawning
  • Ears back
  • Stiffening

If your dog exhibits stress signals like these, it’s important you advocate for her and move her out of the situation.

What should you do if your dog’s uncomfortable?

If you find yourself in a situation that’s making your dog uncomfortable, you’ll want to get her some relief by moving away — and you can also try adding something your dog loves to the equation. 

“The most effective tool here is high-value treats — something squishy and stinky that your dog really enjoys,” Willems suggested. 

Keep in mind, though, that you won’t want to give your pup a high-value treat or toy around a dog she isn’t comfortable with, to avoid sparking any possessive aggression.

Take your time — and socialize her slowly

It’s definitely worth it to put in the work with your new dog to help her get comfortable with her new life — but make sure to resist the urge to take her to tons of new places or introduce her to a bunch of new people or animals right away.

Aggressive behaviors are rooted in fear, so all the more reason to be very intentional, patient and positive in your socialization practice to help your dog learn their world with you is not a scary place!” Willems said.

Your new dog has been through so many changes — so let her decompress and get acclimated to her new home, routine and family.

All those couch snuggles will be worth it.

ooOOoo

I don’t know about you but I found this article very useful and very informative. Now many books have been written on the subject and the odd blogpost or twenty.

But I hope that some readers found it informative. It would be lovely to hear from you if you are one of those people.