Facial recognition software for dogs

A new app, Finding Rover, aims to reunite owners with their lost dogs and to support the work of animal shelters.

Simply register (for free), upload a photo of your dog, and go.    When someone finds your dog, they send in a photo of the dog’s face to be scanned and matched through the database.

Of course, micro-chipping  is also a good way to identify your dog in the event it gets lost.  Micro-chipping is now mandatory in New Zealand.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

What Dog Sled Teams Can Teach Us About Leadership

Sled dogs

Dr Ivan Misner, founder of BNI, an international business networking organization, wrote this really interesting piece on leadership.  For where you work now, ask yourself – who are the leaders?

SuccessNet Online – What Dog Sled Teams Can Teach Us About Leadership

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Wordless Wednesday, part 48

Photo courtesy of Karen Eckstein Han

Photo courtesy of Karen Eckstein Han

Blog Hop

Beware of riding escalators with your dog!

The San Francisco SPCA has issued a warning for all dog owners:  exercise caution when taking your dog with you on an escalator.

EscalatorThe SPCA’s two hospitals regularly receive emergency visits by dogs injured on escalators.  The majority of cases are small breed dogs who are riding on escalators at BART stations (the rapid transit/commuter services in the San Francisco area) or at shopping malls.

However, any size dog can be injured on an escalator.

Injuries are usually to the paws, often requiring toes to be amputated.

Prevention is easy:

  • Use stairs or elevators (lifts) as opposed to escalators
  • Fit your dog with protective booties
  • Carry your dog when using an escalator

Teddy’s journey: what the fracture looked like

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and so before next week and another update on Teddy’s progress, here is what Teddy’s elbow fracture looked like.

Compare the x-ray of the right, broken leg with that of the left.  It was a dramatic break.

Left elbow xrayRight elbow xray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are not looking back, however.  Teddy has had a good week and we are looking forward to even more as we get him comfortable and happy in his new life as a tripod.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Using GPS to understand sheep herding

Border collie for herding column

Dr Andrew King of Swansea University has used GPS technology to understand how sheepdogs do their jobs so well.

He  fitted a flock of sheep and a sheepdog with backpacks containing extremely accurate GPS devices designed by colleagues at the Royal Veterinary College, London.  Daniel Strömbom of Uppsala University and colleagues then used data from these devices, together with computer simulations, to develop a mathematical shepherding model.

The team found that sheepdogs likely use just two simple rules: to collect the sheep when they’re dispersed and drive them forward when they’re aggregated. In the model, a single shepherd could herd a flock of more than 100 individuals using these two simple rules.

Andrew King explained,  “If you watch sheepdogs rounding up sheep, the dog weaves back and forth behind the flock in exactly the way that we see in the model. We had to think about what the dog could see to develop our model. It basically sees white, fluffy things in front of it. If the dog sees gaps between the sheep, or the gaps are getting bigger, the dog needs to bring them together.”

Daniel Strömbom said, “At every time step in the model, the dog decides if the herd is cohesive enough or not. If not cohesive, it will make it cohesive, but if it’s already cohesive the dog will push the herd towards the target.”

King believes that the research team’s model will have many applications for tasks like crowd control, herding of livestock, and keeping animals away from sensitive areas.  The algorithm developed could be used to program robots for these tasks.

Source:  Natural Environment Research Council media release

Electronic training collars are a welfare risk

Animal behaviour specialists at the University of Lincoln (UK) have published a study that supports the use of positive reward-based training methods over the use of electronic shock collars.

Shock collar

The immediate effects of training pet dogs with an electronic collar cause behavioural signs of distress, particularly when used at high settings.

The study involved 63 pet dogs referred for poor recall and related problems, including livestock worrying, which are the main reasons for collar use in the UK. The dogs were split into three groups – one using e-collars and two as control groups.

The trainers in the study were industry approved and fully familiar with the guidelines for use of e-collars which are published by collar manufacturers.

Trainers used lower settings with a pre-warning function and behavioural responses were less marked than during a preliminary study (the results of which have since been discounted because the trainers did not follow collar protocols). Despite this, dogs trained with e-collars showed behavioural changes that were consistent with a negative response. These included showing more signs of tension, more yawning and less time engaged in environmental interaction than the control dogs.

Following training most owners reported improvements in their dog’s problem behaviour. Owners of dogs trained using e-collars were, however, less confident of applying the training approach demonstrated.

These findings indicate that there is no consistent benefit to be gained from e-collar training, but greater welfare concerns compared with positive reward-based training.

Lead author Jonathan Cooper, Professor of Animal Behaviour and Welfare at the University of Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences, said: “e-collar training did not result in a substantially superior response to training in comparison to similarly experienced trainers who do not use e-collars to improve recall and control chasing behaviour.

Accordingly, it seems that the routine use of e-collars even in accordance with best practice, as suggested by collar manufacturers, presents a risk to the well-being of pet dogs. The scale of this risk would be expected to be increased when practice falls outside of this ideal.”

The peer-reviewed journal article for this research is:

Jonathan J Cooper, Nina Cracknell, Jessica Hardiman, Hannah Wright, Daniel Mills ‘The welfare consequences and efficacy of training pet dogs with remote electronic training collars in comparison to reward based training’ PLOSone http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0102722

Source:  University of Lincoln media statement