Archive for April, 2015

Subway Dogs

Russian-Subway-Dogs1It’s truly is amazing how adaptable our canine counterparts can be. These Russian dogs have been studied and found to be uniquely clever when figuring out the best methods of securing their survival while living as homeless dogs in a human environment.

“The elite of Moscow’s 35,000 stray dogs are about 500 Russian dogs constantly living in the Moscow subway (Metro). About 50 of subway dogs have learned to ride the trains, commuting from quiet suburbs stations where they spend the night to downtown where it’s easier to get some food.

Each morning, like clockwork, they board the subway, off to begin their daily routine amidst the hustle and bustle of the city. But these aren’t just any daily commuters. These are stray dogs who live in the outskirts of Moscow Russia and commute on the underground trains to and from the city centre in search of food scraps.

Then after a hard day scavenging and begging on the streets, they hop back on the train and return to the suburbs where they spend the night.

Living in the subway is just a survival tactic the Moscow stray dogs have come up with. The subway dogs have figured out how to use the city’s huge and complicated subway system, getting on and off
at the stops they need. They recognize the desired station by smell, by recorded announcer’s voice, and by time intervals basing on their biological clocks. Usually they ride first or last car to keep away from crushes.

Experts studying the dogs, who usually choose the quietest carriages at the front and back of the train, say they even work together to make sure they get off at the right stop – after learning to judge the length of time they need to spend on the train.

In Soviet times stray dogs were barred from subway. Today Moscow Metro’s passengers are so accustomed to dogs on subway – sleeping on empty seats and hanging around stations – that they do not pay any attention.

For these strays the Moscow Metro is their home. The subway dogs get outside to do all their deeds and behave friendly to the passengers. They have very good instincts about people, greeting happily kind passengers and avoiding contacts with intolerant. And they always find somebody who will share food with them.

With children the dogs “play cute” by putting their heads on youngsters’ knees and staring pleadingly into their eyes to win sympathy – and scraps.

Dogs are opportunistic and intelligent, and when they figured out they were no longer chased away from the subway stations, they began hopping trains for a lift into the city. The Moscow subway system is a maze that can be confusing for people, but the dogs appear to have learned the system.

Once in the city, the dogs have their own special ways of getting food. Some position themselves outside butcher shops and wait for dog lovers coming out of the shop to toss them a bone. Others
have refined a technique of sneaking up behind people who are eating food and surprising them with a loud bark which hopefully scares the person into dropping whatever they’re eating. If the dog is successful in getting the person to drop their food, he grabs his prize and runs.

Packs of stray dogs are led not by the strongest or most dominant member, but by the most intelligent dog in the pack. The dogs understand living among people in a large city requires brains and
not muscle to survive. Researchers have observed dog packs selecting pack members that are smaller and cuter than the other ones who are then sent out to beg for food.

The dogs also don’t leave messes laying around where someone can step in them, and they relieve themselves in out of the way spots away from the main traffic areas. The subway riding stray dogs of Moscow have essentially learned how to interact with people and move among them in order to survive.” ~

^..^ Asia Moore
Author & Dog Whisperer
85+ dog breed books & counting!

Do You Trim Your Nails?

dog-toenailsWe humans regularly trim our finger and toenails, but what about our dog’s toenails?

I’m always finding myself talking to my dog whispering and grooming clients about how important it is to keep their dog’s nails trimmed short. Unfortunately, for most humans, they find the task of clipping their dog’s nails too daunting, so they just leave them long until the next grooming session.

Also, when you do not regularly keep your dog’s nails trimmed short, the vein or quick that grows in the nail will grow longer into the nail, which will then prevent you from trimming the nails as short as they need to be for your dog’s good health.

Nail clipping is really a task that you should not leave only to your groomer because many dogs require their nails to be clipped every week or two, and most full grooming sessions occur every six weeks. This means that many of the smaller dogs that spend much of their time indoors have toenails that are too long for most of their life.

A dog that is not regularly walked on hard surfaces, but spends most of their time playing on a grass covered back lawn or running about inside on carpet or hardwood flooring simply will not naturally wear down their nails. Also, many dog’s have dew claws that never touch the ground, and these will grow until they actually cut into the dog’s leg.

When a dog’s nails are too long, it adversely affects how a dog carries themselves. Toenails that are too long place undue stress upon the dog’s joints, bones and their entire skeleton because long nails cause a misalignment that begins in the bones of the dog’s toes and travels all the way up to the spine.

Conscientious dog guardians really need to begin trimming toenails when their puppy is very young because this way they will not learn to fear it when they get older. If you do not slowly introduce toenail trimming at a young age, you will have set your dog (& yourself) up for a lifetime of stress and trauma every time their nails need trimming, or even worse, because your dog has learned to hate the process, both of you will be so stressed by it, that you may just decide to not do it at all.

If you currently have a dog that is fearful or nervous of having their toenails trimmed, you need to spend the time to slowly desensitize them (& yourself) by working slowly and gradually until your dog no longer fears the process and will calmly allow you to trim their nails every week or two. Start by just holding their paw and giving a treat. Then hold a toenail and give a treat. Next, hold the clipper next to a toenail and give a treat. Once your dog is accepting of this preparation before actual clipping, go online and watch all the videos you can find about the proper way to clip a dog’s toenails. There are many that are very good and will give you the confidence you need.

You will only need to purchase a professional type of nail clipper once, because the best ones never need sharpening and will last you a lifetime. They can be purchased at just about every pet store and are not an expensive item. This is the “Miller’s Forge” or “Plier” type of clipper, which comes in small, medium or large sizes, depending on the size of your dog.

Also, in case of accidentally cutting too short and making the nail bleed, you need to buy a container of Kwik Stop powder. Before beginning the process, tap out a small amount of the powder into the cap and if you accidentally cause a nail to bleed, simply tap the bleeding nail into the Kwik Stop, which will almost instantly stop the bleeding. Alternatively, you can wet the end of your finger, dip it into the powder and apply it to the end of your dog’s toenail with a little pressure.

I also like to use a powered sanding tool or nail file after clipping to round off the sharp edges that are left after clipping, and some dogs actually fuss less when their nails are trimmed with a rotary sander, and this is a perfectly acceptable way to trim a dog’s toenails if you are really nervous about cutting too much nail and causing the quick to bleed. The rotary sander (such as a Dremel 7300-PT designed for dog nails) can be a less stressful alternative for both dog and human. NOTE: do NOT use a regular Dremel from your tool box because these are too high speed and will burn your dog’s nails.

No matter whether your dog tolerates nail clipping or hates it and screams and wails each time it needs to be done, and each time you clip a nail your dog yelps so loudly that you have a minor heart attack, what is most important is that you do not use your dog’s dislike of the process (no dog really likes having their nails trimmed) as your excuse for simply not doing it. If you cannot bring yourself to learning how to do this important grooming task, be kind to your dog and hire someone to regular do this for you every 2-3 weeks.

Regular nail trimming will help to ensure your dog will have a steady, even gait and will eliminate the pain associated with a misaligned skeleton that can also lead to a higher incidence of bone fractures. If you can hear your dog’s nails clicking on hard surfaces when they walk, chances are that their nails are too long.

The nails on the back feet are almost always shorter than the front nails as the back nails push off of surfaces and propel the dog forward when walking or running. Also, many dogs scratch the ground with the back feet to mark territory after they do their business.

Until our canine companions master the skill of speaking English and can tell us when their long nails are causing them shoulder, back, neck or headache pain, it’s up to us humans to make certain that this ongoing grooming maintenance is carried out as often as is necessary for our particular dog to be healthy and pain free.

The left side image in the diagram shows the correct alignment with a short toenail, whereas the image on the right side of the diagram shows the angled misalignment caused because of a toenail that is too long. (Image provided by Dr. Lisa Kluslow)

^..^ Asia Moore
Author, Dog Whisperer, & Groomer
85+ dog breed books and counting!

The Windows to Your Soul

IMG_1150I’m sure you’ve heard the expression that someone’s eyes are the windows to their soul. Well, it seems that, according to a new study carried out at the University of Japan, that this is also true of our canine counterparts who communicate far more through eye contact than we may have previously realized.

“…A new study in Science led by Takefumi Kikusui, an animal behaviorist at Azabu University in Japan, carried out a series of experiments that examined the impact of the gaze in the dogs and their owners and found that those puppy dog eyes are even more meaningful than we thought. 

“Our data suggest that owner-dog bonding is comparable to human parent-infant bonding, that is, oxytocin-mediated eye-gaze bonding,” Kikusui said. “And this is surprising to us because there is not a reproductive relationship between human and dogs, but both of them have acquired similar skills.

Oxytocin is a hormone associated with trust and maternal bonding – it increases when you’re close to someone you love and gives you that warm fuzzy feeling.
The researchers found that when owner’s and their canine charges gazed into one another’s eyes during a 30-minute period, levels of oxytocin (measured in their urine) increased in both the humans and the dogs. And when oxytocin was administered to dogs, it increased the amount of time that female dogs – but not males – gazed at their owner.

Kikusui said he believed the gaze was acquired by dogs as part of their efforts to communicate and form social bonds with humans.

“Eye gaze from human to animals is usually threatening, not affiliative,” he said. “We speculated that some small population of ancestor of dogs show an affiliative eye gaze toward humans, due to the change in the temperament. In this process, we agree that there is a possibility that dogs cleverly and unknowingly utilize a natural system meant for bonding a parent with his or her child.”

Duke University’s Evan MacLean and Brian Hare, in an article accompanying the Science study, said “dogs have proven much more adept at reading human social cues than even chimpanzees or great apes.


Inspired by developmental psychologists studying human infants, comparative psychologists began studying family dogs. It quickly became apparent that dogs have much more to tell us about cognition, and ourselves than they might have imagined,” they wrote. “This is particularly true when it comes to how dogs understand the social world. Even as puppies, dogs spontaneously respond to cooperative human gestures, such as pointing cues, to find hidden food or toy rewards.”

In a bid to bond with their new neighbors, MacLean said dogs might have come to recognize the importance of the gaze between parents and their children and then saw how that helped them build a similar relationship.


One fun evolutionary scenario might be dogs find a way to basically hijack these parenting type responses,” MacLean said in a Science podcast. “Over time, dogs may have taken more and more sort of childlike and juvenile characteristics to further and further embed themselves into this parent-child kind of framework.”

Nicholas H. Dodman, director of the animal behavior clinical at Tufts University, questioned whether the gaze alone was the reason dogs and humans bonded thousands of years ago. He said it was more likely the juvenile characteristics exhibited by dogs won over mankind, noting that other interactions between human and dogs such as petting have also shown to result in elevated levels of oxytocin.
“The look is part of the package but it’s not the sole reason why we chose dogs,” he said.

But the bonding isn’t all the dogs’ doing.

MacLean said dog owners play their part, noting that one study found that participants responded very similarly when shown pictures of their dogs as they would their children. “Owners are famous for treating their dogs like members of the family, doting on them, talking to them in child-like voices and even dressing them in special doggy outfits.


There have been some fun studies showing that, indeed, we respond to our dogs quite a bit like human children,” MacLean said. “One of my favorite ones was a recent brain imaging study that looked at mothers who were being shown pictures either of their own child or somebody else’s child and their own dog or somebody else’s dog.

What the researchers found in this study is that there were brain networks in mothers who responded very similarly when they saw pictures of their own child or their own dog but didn’t have that response from looking at someone else’s child or somebody else’s dog.”

MacLean said he felt the Japanese study reinforces the idea that the human-dog relationship is like a parent-child relationship and could help explain the biological mechanisms that are involved in the use of dogs in therapy to treat everything from autism to post-traumatic stress.

“If it turns out there are benefits of administering oxytocin for some of these disabilities, using assistance dogs may actually be a fairly natural way to stimulate the system,” he said. “There may be some sort of medicinal properties of our interaction with dogs that we could use.”

© 2015 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Read the entire article here: cbsnews

Certainly, all these canine studies are interesting, however, there is no question in my mind that our canine counterparts are indeed capable of far more that what the eye might see, in terms of both inner and outer health. For instance, there is no drug on the market that can take the place of the joy, companionship, loyalty, and unconditional love that our dogs bring to our lives.

^..^ Asia Moore
Author and Dog Whisperer
85+ dog breed books and counting!

A Tough Way to Find a New Home

dogbumper“A stray dog in China was hit by a car and managed to get stuck in the grill of the car at the moment of impact. The driver thought he had hit and killed the dog, but didn’t realize the dog was stuck in the car until the dog started making noises.

Unable to remove the dog, they had to drive 250 miles to the nearest town to get the dog out. After freeing the dog, they took it to a nearby veterinarian who checked the dog over and said other than some scratches and bruises, the dog was completely unharmed.

The driver of the car felt that it was fate that put the two together and decided to adopt the dog. The driver, known as only Mr. Zhang, describes the dog as his “best friend” – what a story!” ~ Three Million Dogs

Asia Moore
Author & Dog Whisperer
80+ dog breed books & counting!