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The Afghan Hound

This sleek, silk-coated aristocrat of the canine world was originally bred for life in rough mountainous terrain, but now spends more time at the doggie equivalent of the runway: the dog show. Afghans, like other supermodels, require a great deal of grooming and maintenance. A sighthound bred to catch deer, gazelles, and leopards, the Afghan boasts a top speed of 40 miles an hour and a 270-degree field of vision. The stunning exterior and strong personality of Afghans have inspired writers and artists all through history, not least Picasso, who depicted his beloved Afghan Kabul in both paintings and sculpture. Appropriately, the human companion of Prissy the Afghan in Disney’s One Hundred and One Dalmatians is an artist. Who better to appreciate a dog as graceful as a ballet of swans? To re-home an Afghan, search online for a rescue group near you.

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The Many Benefits of Dog Sports

If you think of the practice of dog sports as a competitive and fairly serious business, you’re only about 10 percent right. Just as in human athletic pursuits, the vast majority of dog sports enthusiasts are hobbyists; happy amateurs not much interested in ribbons or plaques. So what hooks people? The numerous benefits two- and four-legged sportsmen alike reap. For starters, a quick alphabetic inventory reveals something for every ability and temperament: agility, caniscross, disc dog, dock diving, earthdog, flyball, freestyle, herding, lure coursing, mushing, nose work, rally-o, tracking, treibball, and weight pulling. An exhaustive list would be much longer, of course, and still wouldn’t include the many fun, creative activity classes trainers, dog facilities, and dog groups might offer. On the two-legged side of the benefits scoreboard, consider the ageless appeal of all this variety. We expect kids to enjoy playing sports with furry friends, but don’t underestimate the delicious

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Beyond Fetch: Games To Play With Your Dog

A game is a great way to exercise your dog’s body and mind, and spend a little quality time together. What’s in your repertoire? Here’s a selection of games you can play indoors or outside: Homegrown agility. If your house is big enough, create a makeshift obstacle course for your dog from rolled-up towels, cardboard boxes, blankets hung between chairs, etc. Or, if the weather is good and you have a yard, build your course outside. Hide-and-seek. Grab a handful of yummy treats or your dog’s favorite toy. Ask your dog to sit and stay, then you go hide in another room. Call your dog and when he finds you, reward him with a treat or a play session with his toy. Repeat until you have had enough—your dog likely won’t get bored anytime soon.  The name game. Get two of your dog’s favorite toys and remove all other toys

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Understanding Fear In Dogs

When we think of a scared dog, what usually comes to mind is a trembling animal hiding in a dark corner or under the bed, whining, his tail tucked. Nonstop barking doesn’t often make the list. Nor do shredding of clothes, gnawing through window frames, or growling and lunging at visitors. But these can all be symptoms of fear in dogs. Fear-based behaviors vary so widely that we frequently don’t recognize them as fear-based. Instead we think the dog is being stubborn or naughty or is trying to run the household (the long-discredited dominance theory), which means we end up trying to solve the wrong problem. Clues in canine body language can help us identify fear and anxiety—fear-based behaviors always come with some physical, postural giveaways. It might be muscle tension, a tightly closed mouth or one wide open showing all the teeth, crouching, dilated pupils, yawning, ears held back,

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The Many Benefits Of Agility

Think agility is only for serious dog sports enthusiasts willing to spend every weekend on the obstacle course? Think again. Agility can be enjoyed at any level—all the way from the World Championships to low-key backyard training—and you and your dog still reap the many benefits of this fun, bond-building dog sport. For example: Dogs of all sizes and breeds can participate in and enjoy agility. Yes, Border Collies and Australian Shepherds excel at it, but titleholders also include Yorkies, Papillons, Spaniels, and Boxers. You can work the obstacle course at the pace that’s right for you, meaning agility can provide gentle, moderate, or strenuous exercise. Training your dog to navigate agility obstacles using only hand signals and voice cues is a terrific way to improve communication—and further strengthen the bond—between you. Best of all? The fun you’ll have together and the confidence boost you’ll likely see in your dog.

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Getting Real With Your Dog

One of the most frequent sources of frustration in dog training? Unrealistic expectations. Dogs’ intelligence shines through in so many ways that we tend to ascribe them decidedly human cognitive skills, such as the ability to understand complex sentences. It’s what some dog trainers refer to as “the Lassie syndrome.” If you often find yourself frustrated with your dog, here’s a primer on what it takes to create a Lassie: Patience. One basic training class won’t do it. The calm, attentive pooches you see on TV picking up slippers and opening doors? They have spent years in training. You wouldn’t expect a child to become a piano virtuoso after one semester of classes, right? Repetition. Dogs don’t generalize well. This means they need to learn the same lesson—don’t jump on people, for example—in many different settings before they grasp that we’d always prefer them to greet visitors politely, not just

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Maternal Altruism In Dogs

Human beings are capable of and often display maternal altruism well beyond our own species. We adopt other people’s children, yes, but we also adopt dogs and cats, even trees and roadways. Viewed through an evolutionary lens, this is interesting. Why aren’t we focusing on the survival of our own species—even our own tribe—instead of wasting precious energy and resources on stray cats or endangered fungi? Scientists explain this peculiarity by pointing to our sophisticated cognitive equipment. Because we can project thoughts into the future, we’re able to see the long-term view. The bigger perspective. We understand the principle of goodness and know that caring for others not only makes us feel good, but also sets a standard for kindness that strengthens our community and the potential for reciprocal help. In other words, what goes around comes around. But if that explains why humans show maternal altruism, what about dogs

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Treibball

Pronounced “try ball,” this fun new dog sport was born in Germany in the mid-2000s when a Dutch hunting and herding dog trainer, Jan Nijboer, wondered if he could teach high-energy dogs to play soccer. The game boils down to getting your dog (or a team of dogs) to push large exercise balls across a field into a goal. While herding-type dogs and dogs who love chase games are natural Treibball contenders, dogs of any age and breed can take part. As with all dog sports, some foundational skills are important. For Treibball, it’s an advantage if your dog knows sit, down, left, right, and object targeting. Playing the game is simple. Arrange eight exercise balls (some play with fewer) in a triangle in the center of your field and set up kid-sized soccer goals or mark the goal zone with orange traffic cones. The dogs—with handlers using commands like

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4 Ways To Keep Your Senior Dog Healthy

Regular vet check-ins. This is the gospel throughout your dog’s life, but extra important in those golden years. Twice-annual exams is a good rule of thumb; more for dogs with known health issues. Between visits, look out for changes in your dog’s appetite, irritability level, or trouble hearing or seeing. Injury prevention. Provide ramps and stairs to give your dog easy access to furniture and beds. Consider carpeting slippery floors to give old paws solid footing. Age-appropriate diet. Dietary needs change with age. Some dogs gain weight; others can’t hold on to theirs. Consult your vet about adjusting your dog’s diet for optimal health. Sleep therapy. Consider investing in an orthopedic dog bed especially for seniors. Memory foam helps cushion aging joints—some beds even have heat and vibration functions.

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The English Cocker Spaniel

This dapper little gun dog was originally bred for flushing and retrieving small game. Don’t be fooled by her melting spaniel eyes and soft, feathery coat: the Cocker is an all-terrain dog and can be a handful to live with. Exuberant, strong-willed, and energetic, she needs lots of exercise and careful training. Cockers love having a job—something scent-related, preferably, otherwise anything demanding will do: agility, obedience, flyball, canine disc, etc. The well-socialized Cocker is affectionate and wants to be part of all family activities. Beware the noise, though, she’s quick to alert to doorbells. (A Cocker Spaniel holds the world record for the most persistent barking: 907 times in ten minutes.) With her soulful expression, the Cocker is popular in arts and entertainment too, most famously in Disney’s enduring 1955 animated classic, Lady and the Tramp.   To give an English Cocker Spaniel a home, search online for nearby rescues.

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