Tag: Modern Dog Magazine

Easy does it!

Staying relaxed is so much better for us …..

…… and our dogs!

After almost twenty-four hours of very unreliable internet service from our provider, Outreach Internet, it was a relief to be back on line, albeit with some uncertainty as to whether we will stay ‘connected’.

So it was a treat when I was pondering on what to share with you good people to see an item published two days ago by Care 2 about the power of relaxation. Not just for us two-legged creatures but for our dogs as well.

It’s a great article.


8 Natural Relaxation Techniques for Your Dog

By: Zoe Blarowski June 7, 2017

About Zoe

If your dog is acting out and having behavior problems, your first response might be to blame them and consider punishment. But poor behavior can often be a sign your pooch is feeling stressed or anxious about something.

Check with your veterinarian to rule out any medical causes first. Otherwise, your pet’s stress could be for many reasons, such as a change in your schedule, a move or noise pollution from a busy street nearby.

You might not be able to determine exactly what’s bothering them, but including more relaxation techniques throughout your day will go a long way towards helping your puppy relieve tension and get back on track.

1. Music

Classical music is shown to help calm canine moods. A study by the Scottish SPCA and the University of Glasgow played a variety of classical music to dogs in the SPCA’s kennels for one week. The music lowered the dogs’ heart rates and reduced stress-related behavior like standing and barking.

The researchers continued their investigation and found that dogs responded even better to reggae and soft rock. The Scottish SPCA now plans to install sound systems throughout their kennels to play Bob Marley and Jon Bon Jovi to their furry residents.

In addition, the musician Alianna Boone found that playing harp music to dogs at a Florida veterinary clinic lowered their anxiety.

2. Pheromones

You can buy various products that contain what are known as dog-appeasing pheromones. These are synthetic versions of the hormone nursing mothers make to calm their puppies. Dog-appeasing pheromones have been shown to calm dogs in many stressful situations, such as kenneling, veterinary visits, car travel, human separation and the introduction of puppies into a home.

3. Laughter

Many dog owners feel their animal friends can laugh when they’re having fun. But science has been slow to agree. Researchers put this to the test at a Spokane kennel, where they played recordings of what’s been identified as dog laughter to the other dogs.

Staff at the kennel were surprised how dramatically the dogs quieted and calmed down when listening to the laughter. Many workers have since learned how to imitate a dog’s laugh themselves. They find it really helps to settle anxious or agitated animals.

Curious what doggie laughter sounds like? Check out this video:

4. Exercise

Keeping your dog active is not only important for their health, it’s also known to prevent bad behavior that can result from boredom. Aim for 30-180 minutes of daily exercise. The Bark has a good breakdown of how much exercise is recommended for your particular dog’s breed. Also take your dog’s age, health and general temperament into account when planning their activities.

Whatever you do, make sure it’s something you and your dog both enjoy. Active play is a great time to bond with your puppy. Try throwing a ball or stick, have them run next to your bicycle, take them for a swim or go for a relaxing walk.

5. Mental Challenge

This is another great way to prevent boredom and acting out. Get creative with ways to engage your dog in thoughtful play. Take them to new places. Introduce them to new people and other pets. Get them a new toy, or simply keep your current toys on a rotation so your pooch doesn’t get bored with the same ones day after day.

You can also have lots of fun with food. Try hiding treats around your yard or home. Or buy a puzzle toy that has spaces to hide food inside. Another option is to enroll your dog in a training class. Professional dog trainers will give you plenty of ideas for tricks and different games you can teach your pet.

6. Massage

A large body of research has proven the benefits of massage for people, including pain and stress reduction, improving circulation, promoting flexibility and eliminating toxins. Very limited research has been done for animals, but it’s logical they would have similar benefits.

Giving your dog a massage is also an excellent way to spend some intimate time together and show them you care. To get started, Modern Dog Magazine has a helpful overview of how to massage your dog.

7. Lavender Essential Oil

Studies have shown that lavender essential oil can lower a dog’s heart rate and trigger a calming response in their nervous system. It’s also been found to help calm dogs with a history of travel anxiety before a car ride.

The best way to expose your dog to lavender oil is to drop some on their mat, blanket or other sleeping surface. Do not apply oil directly on their fur because it can be toxic if ingested.

8. Grooming

A nice brushing in the evening can be just the thing to help your pooch wind down for the day. It’s also a good chance for you to do a quick inspection for ticks, fleas or skin conditions that might be bothering them.

But for some dogs, grooming will only cause more anxiety and stress. If this is the case for your puppy, maybe try some extra snuggling, petting or other attention they enjoy.


Strikes me that if there is ever another life, I might vote to come back as a dog!

P.S. When I was reading this post out to Jeannie yesterday evening, as I do with all posts, when that short video was played quite a few of the dogs, there were five in the same room, got very excited by the ‘laughing’!

The emotions of our most beloved animal friend: our dog.

Exploring the range of emotions felt and displayed by our dogs.

Like so many bloggers, I subscribe to the writings of many others. Indeed, it’s a rare day when I don’t read something that touches me, stirring up emotions across the whole range of feelings that we funny humans are capable of.

Such was the case with a recent essay published on Mother Nature Network. It was about dogs and whether they are capable of complex emotions. Better than that, MNN allow their essays to be republished elsewhere so long as they are fully and properly credited.

Thus, with great pleasure I republished the following essay written by Jaymi Heimbuch.


Are dogs capable of complex emotions?

Exactly what emotions do dogs feel, and are they capable of all the same emotions as humans? (Photo: Pressmaster/Shutterstock)
Exactly what emotions do dogs feel, and are they capable of all the same emotions as humans? (Photo: Pressmaster/Shutterstock)

Joy, fear, surprise, disgust, sadness. These are the basic emotions dogs feel that are also easy enough for humans to identify. But what about more complex emotions?

Many dog owners are convinced their dogs feel guilty when they’re caught misbehaving. In the same way, many owners are sure their dogs feel pride at having a new toy or bone. But it gets tricky when you assign these sorts of emotions to a dog. These are definitely emotions felt by humans, but are they also felt by dogs?

(see footnote)

Why we question the presence of complex emotions is wrapped up in the way we get to those emotions. The American Psychological Association explains, “Embarrassment is what’s known as a self-conscious emotion. While basic emotions such as anger, surprise or fear tend to happen automatically, without much cognitive processing, the self-conscious emotions, including shame, guilt and pride, are more complex. They require self-reflection and self-evaluation.”

Essentially we’re comparing our behavior or situation to a social expectation. For instance, guilt comes when we reflect on the fact that we’ve violated a social rule. We need to be aware of the rule and what it means to break it. So, can dogs feel guilt? Well, exactly how self-reflective and self-evaluative are dogs?

Among humans, children begin to experience empathy and what are called secondary emotions when they are around 2 years old. Researchers estimate that the mental ability of a dog is roughly equal to that of an 18-month-old human. “This conclusion holds for most mental abilities as well as emotions,” says Stanley Coren in an article in Modern Dog Magazine. “Thus, we can look to the human research to see what we might expect of our dogs. Just like a two-year-old child, our dogs clearly have emotions, but many fewer kinds of emotions than found in adult humans.”

In other words, if 18-month-old children can’t yet experience these emotions, and dogs are roughly equal to them in cognitive and emotional ability, then dogs can’t feel these self-reflective emotions either. At least, that’s what researchers have concluded so far.

Is that guilt or fear?

This little puppy might feel guilty for chewing on clothes, or he could just be worried about getting in trouble. The two aren't the same emotion. (Photo: InBetweentheBlinks/Shutterstock)
This little puppy might feel guilty for chewing on clothes, or he could just be worried about getting in trouble. The two aren’t the same emotion. (Photo: InBetweentheBlinks/Shutterstock)

The evidence for primary emotions like love and happiness in dogs abounds, but empirical evidence for secondary emotions like jealousy and guilt is sparse. And this is partially because it’s difficult to create tests that provide clear-cut answers. When it comes to guilt, does a dog act guilty because she knows she did something wrong, or because she’s expecting a scolding? The same expression can come across as guilt or fear. How do we know which it is?

Scientific American explains it further:

“In wolves, it is thought that guilt-related behaviors serve to reinforce social bonds, as in primates, by reducing conflict and eliciting tolerance from other members of the social group. The same could be true of dogs, though their social groups would primarily include humans. The problem is that the display of the associated behaviors of guilt are not, themselves, evidence of the capacity to emotionally experience guilt… It may still be some time before we can know for certain whether dogs can experience guilt, or whether people can determine if a dog has violated a rule prior to finding concrete evidence of it.”

Guilt, and other secondary emotions, are complicated. That’s exactly why cognitive awareness and emotional capacity in dogs is still a topic under study. In fact, it’s an area that has grown significantly in recent years. We may discover that dogs have a more complex range of emotions than we’re aware of today.

Dogs are highly social animals, and social animals are required to navigate a range of emotions in themselves and those around them to maintain social bonds. It wasn’t so long ago that scientists thought that dogs (and other non-human animals) didn’t have any feelings at all. Perhaps our understanding of dog emotions is simply limited by the types of tests we’ve devised to understand their emotions. After all, we’re trying to detect a sophisticated emotional state in a species that doesn’t speak the same language.

There’s a lot we don’t know

Dogs experience a range of emotions, but researchers are still trying to figure out exactly what those emotions are. (Photo: Hysteria/Shutterstock)
Dogs experience a range of emotions, but researchers are still trying to figure out exactly what those emotions are. (Photo: Hysteria/Shutterstock)

Marc Bekoff makes the argument for leaving the possibility open. In an article in Psychology Today he writes, “[B]ecause it’s been claimed that other mammals with whom dogs share the same neural bases for emotions do experience guilt, pride, and shame and other complex emotions, there’s no reason why dogs cannot.”

Keeping the possibility open is more than just an emotional animal rights issue. There is a scientific basis for continuing the research. A recent study showed that the brains of dogs and humans function in a more similar way than we previously thought.

Scientific American reports that “dog brains have voice-sensitive regions and that these neurological areas resemble those of humans. Sharing similar locations in both species, they process voices and emotions of other individuals similarly. Both groups respond with greater neural activity when they listen to voices reflecting positive emotions such as laughing than to negative sounds that include crying or whining. Dogs and people, however, respond more strongly to the sounds made by their own species.”

Until recently, we had no idea of the similar ways human and dog brains process social information.

So do dogs feel shame, guilt and pride? Maybe. Possibly. It’s still controversial, but for now, there seems to be no harm in assuming they do unless proven otherwise.


Footnote: At this point in the MNN article there was a link to a series of gorgeous photographs of dogs. If you dear readers can wait, then I will publish them this coming Sunday. If you can’t wait, then go here!