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Bichon Frise

This cheerful and companionable powder puff hails from the Mediterranean area; bichons traveled widely as companions for sailors, minstrels, and circus groups. Beginning in the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, they found favor with one royal European family after another, from Spain to Italy to France (King Henry III of France reputedly carried his bichon in a basket hanging from his neck). Bichons are the star performers of the dog world. Consummate entertainers, they love attention and can play and clown around for hours. The well-socialized bichon is friendly, resilient, and quick to learn. This, combined with a sturdy build, makes him an equally great buddy whether traveling or lounging at home. Despite his classification as a nonsporting dog, the bichon is a terrific little athlete that, with training, can excel at agility, K9 Nose Work, and Rally obedience. To give a Bichon Frise a home, search online for

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Motivating Your Dog

  Does your dog’s response to cues seem lackluster? You may not have found the right motivation. Like humans, dogs work harder with strong motivation. Here’s how to turbocharge your dog’s drive—whether to come when called or break her agility speed record.   Find What Drives Your Dog We are all motivated to action by different things. Maybe it’s that afternoon caffè latte we promise ourselves if we finish the report, or the massage we feel we earned after a month of gym visits. But the wrong reward would leave us cold. If you wanted chocolate, would you toil for a carrot? What does your dog most want? If in doubt, parade different treats past your dog to see what really gets her attention. Most dogs go nuts for meaty, greasy, and smelly. A few dogs prefer bread-based items. Some dogs, particularly working breeds like Border Collies and some terriers,

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The Best of Dog Times

The Best of Dog Times It’s human nature to get sentimental about the past. When we imagine dogs’ lives 100 years ago, what likely comes to mind are idyllic scenes of working dogs herding sheep on green pastures or bouncing alongside horse-drawn fire engines (thank you, Disney). We forget—or never learned about—the popularity of dog fighting, the widespread animal cruelty of the 19th century, or the out-of-control stray problem that saw thousands of dogs rounded up and killed in inhumane ways. Today, fewer dogs do the jobs they were bred for, but they enjoy endless advantages never afforded their forebears. Take, for example, medical advances in veterinary science over the last 20 years. Not only are there more and better treatments available, canine pain management options such as acupuncture, massage, TTouch, and swim therapy mean that dogs with injuries, arthritis, or in post-op recovery suffer much less. Then there’s the

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How Puppy Training Has Changed- and Why

Formal dog training as we know it originated during World War II. Before that, dogs had been working household members and their behavior was largely shaped through organic learning from older dogs. Only when soldiers needed to train large numbers of dogs to assist in warfare did compulsion training arise and, when the war ended, was developed into a recognized field by discharged military personnel. Back then, society as a whole accepted punishment as a valid teaching method. Typical training approaches involved physical corrections, leash jerks, and loudly yelling at the dog. This was difficult for puppies to endure, so the prevailing wisdom was to hold off on proper training until the puppy was seven months old (house-training was the exception). In some places, these outdated methods are still used. But from the 60s and 70s and on—through the work of pioneers like Bob Bailey, Karen Pryor, and Dr. Ian

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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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Arson Dogs

  For more than 12,000 years, dogs have worked alongside humans. They have herded our livestock, hunted with us, and pulled us across otherwise impassable frozen expanses. Most modern dogs are companions, of course, but those who do work have ever more extraordinary job descriptions. Accelerant-detection is one example. Arson dogs work with fire investigative units to sniff out minuscule amounts of anything from lamp oil to lighter fluid (they can detect more than 60 different ignitable petroleum-based hydrocarbons) in scenes flooded with water or covered in snow or mud. They use their 200 million scent receptors (compared to our 5 million) to help investigators accurately assess the flammable products present at a fire scene and increase the chances of collecting a positive sample. This can help rule arson in—or out. With billions of dollars in property and hundreds of lives lost every year as a result of intentionally set

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The Expectation Game

In our ongoing adventure of companionship with dogs nothing trips us up quite as much as our own unrealistic expectations. Dogs who don’t do as they are told? We think them willfully disobedient, stubborn, or, worst of all, slow on the uptake. We overestimate their attention span and level of emotional control. We think they should know instinctively how to navigate big groups of dogs playing together. We expect them to quickly grasp concepts we deem important and logical for dogs, such as going to the bathroom outside (except when it’s OK not to, like at daycare). Unless a good dog trainer sets us straight, we may even expect angelic behavior after completing a single 6-week training class. Our high and often naive expectations cause us grief and worry, so why are they so hard to shake? Blame culture, for one thing. Books and movies that portray dogs as highly

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Sibling Rivalry

All dogs squabble occasionally. Dogs who live together mostly get into scraps over stuff they both want: Food, bones, toys, human attention, and sleeping spots. Like us, they have individual preferences and moods, and might be having a grumpy day or a headache. If the fights don’t result in injuries (i.e. you’re not at the vet’s following each fight having one or both dogs sutured), you have a number of options. Fights often happen as a result of a particular situation and if you can uncover the triggers through a little detective work, you can prevent most altercations.   Trigger: Who is this new dog in my house? Remedy: Supervise your new dog closely for several days, especially when he interacts with your other dog. Praise your dogs for polite behavior.   Trigger: My sister is too close while I eat! Remedy: Feed your dogs in separate bowls at opposite

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Canine Evolution, How It Effects Your Dogs Behavior – Part 2

I feel many times we take for granted that our 4 legged friends are animals that have been domesticated and integrated into our lives over the past 130,000 years.  (Evolution of the Dog, 2001)  We take for granted that these once wild animals are now cuddling in our laps or assisting us in our daily lives.  We at times, get upset when our cuddly friend exhibits behaviors such as nipping or barking even though that is what they are hardwired to do, it’s instinct. When taking a look at the evolution of dogs Darwin speculated that the reason we have such diversity among dogs was due to breeding amongst a variety of wild dogs.  Through DNA testing it was found that Darwinwas wrong.  Dogs, are direct descendants of the gray wolf.   The reason we have such a diverse population of dogs, is due to intense and purposeful interbreeding. The key

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Canine Evolution, Recommended Reading

Dogs A New Understanding Of Canine Origin, Behavior, and Evolution By Raymond and Lorna Coppinger Domestic Dog, It’s Evolution, Behavior,  and Interactions With People by James Serpell Evolution of Canine Social Behavior, 2nd Edition by Roger Abrantes Dog Behavior, Evolution and Cognition by Adam Miklosi Wolves- Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation by L. David Mech & Luigi Boitani, Editors

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