Category Archives: dog ownership

A different way to encourage owners to scoop

Let’s make the world less crap…

That’s the opening line of a current Kickstarter campaign to obtain funding for Poopins, a biodegradable marker for piles of dog poo that haven’t been removed by unthinking dog walkers.

Scoop Ya Poop

Motivated by walks on Sumner Beach here in Christchurch, where numerous piles of dog poo have been observed, local man Stephen McCarthy came up with the idea of Poopins  (think ‘poo’ and ‘pins’ combined).

I’m not sure if this product will ultimately get funded.  But, the fact that someone is thinking of this type of open reminder to dog owners, points to the fact that we have too many irresponsible dog owners in this city.

Picking up your dog’s feces should be non-negotiable.  Today, as part of my weekly shopping, I bought a package of nappy bags (diaper bags for Northern Hemisphere readers) for picking up poop.  Bags are probably the easiest thing to get hold of; I re-use bags when I have them available, and then the nappy bags the rest of the time.

Some of the options that could be available if Poopins are able to launch onto the market

Some of the options that could be available if Poopins are able to launch onto the market

I personally would like to see the City of Christchurch become more dog-friendly with urban design that makes responsible dog ownership the norm – and apply peer pressure to those dog owners who are not responsible.  When dog owners don’t clean up, they make it harder for the rest of us to enjoy our dogs openly and with a variety of locations to choose from.

My other posts on this subject include:

Please – no matter where you live in this world – clean up after your dog.  It’s the responsible thing to do!

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

A closer relationship than with siblings

Matt Cassels had at least 10 pets when he was growing up and yet it had never occurred to him to think about how important his relationships with them were. Until he came to Cambridge and started working on a rich data set from the Toddlers Up Project led by Professor Claire Hughes at the Centre for Family Research.

This 10-year longitudinal study of children’s social and emotional development included a section on children’s relationships with their pets, as well as a broad range of other data from the children, their parents, teachers, and siblings.

William and Peaches 2008 Credit: Amy McCartney

William and Peaches 2008
Photo Credit: Amy McCartney

Matt was looking for a research topic for his MPhil in Social and Developmental Psychology. He says: “The data on pet relationships stood out as it had never occurred to me to consider looking at pet relationships although I had studied children’s other relationships for some time and even though my own experience of pets while I was growing up was so important.”

Research on pet relationships has been going on for some time, but few studies have used the same tool to compare children’s relationships with pets with their other relationships or have focused on how the quality of pet relationships affects outcomes for children.

Matt decided that was what he wanted to focus on. What he found surprised him. He had thought strong pet relationships would make for happier children, but the truth was more complex.

Instead he discovered that children who had suffered adversity in their lives, such as a bereavement, divorce, instability and illness or were from disadvantaged backgrounds, were more likely to have a stronger relationship with their pets than their peers, although they did less well academically and suffered more mental health problems.

Matt says this may be because they come from backgrounds that predispose them to such problems. Despite this, the study showed children with stronger relationships with their pets had a higher level of prosocial behaviour – such as helping, sharing, and co-operating – than their peers. The study also demonstrated that these children, particularly girls and those whose pet was a dog, were more likely to confide in their pets than in their siblings.

Matt says: “It is really surprising that these children not only turn to their pets for support when faced with adversity, but that they do so even more than they turn to their siblings. This is even though they know their pets don’t actually understand what they are saying. “

Asked why the research might show girls talk and argue with their pets more than boys when previous less detailed research tends to suggest it is boys who have a better relationship with their pets, Matt adds: “They may feel that their pets are not judging them and since pets don’t appear to have their own problems they just listen. Even confiding in a journal can be therapeutic, but pets may be even better since they can be empathetic.”

Matt’s research was based mostly on data collected when the children, 88 of whom had pets at the time, were 12 years old, 10 years after they had begun participating in this study. The children, their parents, siblings, and teachers all provided information on prosocial behaviour, emotional wellbeing, academic ability, and children’s relationship with their pet. Matt measured this information against how much children confided in their pet, how much they argued with their pet, what satisfaction they got out of their relationship with their pet, and how often they did things with their pet each day.

To do so he used a new pet attachment scale adapted from an established and psychometrically validated measure of human attachment. His results supported the validity of using the tool and of considering human-animal relationships in similar terms to human-human relationships. “I had to first prove that it was valid to talk about child pet relationships in the same way we talk about sibling relationships and that we were not indulging in anthropomorphism. My research found the tool was better than those that have previously been available so the possibilities for future research in this area are exciting.”

Matt, who is now doing a PhD in the Psychiatry Department with the support of a Gates Cambridge Scholarship, has written two papers on his research, which are currently under review for publication. He says there is a lot more that could be done with the Toddlers Up data, for instance, looking at the impact of pet deaths on children.

“Pets are relatable and ubiquitous,” he says. “In the US and England pets are more common in families with young children than resident fathers and yet we don’t quantify how important they are to us.”

Source:  University of Cambridge press release

Want a compassionate child? Get a dog!

My dog Izzy meets a little boy at a promotion for Greyhounds as Pets

My dog Izzy meets a little boy at a promotion for Greyhounds as Pets

Children who grow up with dogs and cats develop a greater level of emotional intelligence, research shows.

Children living with a pet develop:

a) Compassion – by learning to care for someone other than themselves, and understanding that a dog has feelings

b)  Self-esteem – by being assigned tasks to help care for the family dog

c) Cognitive development – by playing, talking and even reading to the family dog

d) Understanding of life – because our dogs don’t live as long as we do, sometimes it is the loss of a family dog that is the child’s first real loss, teaching them to understand and manage grief.  If your dog has puppies, they also understand that other animals become parents and have little offspring to care for.

And, as in adults, dog ownership is linked to managing stress.  In today’s very modern world, children have more pressures on them at an earlier stage of life.  Having a dog is an outlet for managing stress; such as when a child plays with or walks the dog – exercise helps reduce stress.

Source:  Mother Nature Network

 

America’s pet friendly rental markets

Finding rental housing when you own a dog (or two, or more) is a big issue here in Christchurch.  Our housing market has done some very weird things since the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 with sky-rocketing property prices and escalated rental costs (people getting their homes repaired move to temporary accommodation – paid by their homeowners insurance, adding to the competition for rental properties).

Those people who did not own their homes pre-quakes and were dog owners have been some of the most severely affected by the increases.

And so this article from Forbes Magazine caught my eye.  It’s about renting housing in the USA when you are a dog owner; the largest 25 property rental markets are compared.

Pet friendly rental markets

Three factors were used to rank the rental markets:

a) the percentage of landlords willing to allow pets (counted by reading the ads for rental properties)

b) the least expensive pet fees.  That’s a fee that you pay on top of any deposit because you own a pet.  Most fees are refunded when you leave the property in good condition.  Others are simply higher rents for pet owners that are non-refundable.  In Christchurch, pet fees, particularly in terms of higher deposits, suddenly appeared on many properties where there were none before.

c) and my favorite criteria:  a high concentration of pet stores and services.

The western cities of San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Oakland and Portland topped the list.

Sadly for dog lovers, the survey revealed that landlords are much more tolerant of cats than they are of dogs.  And the larger the dog, the harder time you have when renting.  Only 4% of landlords were prepared to allow large breed dogs like a St Bernard.

What this information reinforces is that dog ownership costs money.  If you are considering adding a dog to your pack, spend some time considering your income and life situation before making the commitment.

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

Get Healthy, Get a Dog

The Harvard Medical School has published a special health report entitled Get Healthy, Get a Dog:  The health benefits of canine companionship. 

The report details the many ways that dogs can improve the lives of humans.

Get Healthy, Get a DogIn promoting the report, the School says:

There are many reason why dogs are called humans’ best friends: not only do they offer unparalleled companionship, but a growing body of research shows they also boost human health. Owning a dog can prompt you to be more physically active — have leash, will walk. It can also:

  • help you be calmer, more mindful, and more present in your life
  • make kids more active, secure, and responsible
  • improve the lives of older individuals
  • make you more social and less isolated

Just petting a dog can reduce the petter’s blood pressure and heart rate (while having a positive effect on the dog as well).

The report can be purchased in print (US$20), in .pdf electronic version (US$18) or both (US$29) from this webpage.

I’m pleased to see this type of publication coming from such a reputable institution.  Dogs and humans both benefit when  humans take responsibility for a committed and healthy relationship.  I particularly like that the report also covers grief, since we all will face grieving the loss of beloved pet (given the odds – since we live a lot longer than our dogs do).

The chapters in the report include:

  • Our dogs, ourselves
    • Benefits of dog ownership
    • Service dogs
  • How dogs make us healthier
    • Physical activity
    • Cardiovascular benefits
    • Reduced asthma and allergies in kids
    • Psychological benefits
    • How human contact benefits dogs
  • SPECIAL SECTION
    • Nutrition guidelines for dogs
  • Exercise for you and your dog
    • Exercise whys and wherefores
    • The exercise prescription for people
    • Exercise guidelines for dogs
    • Help your dog avoid injuries
    • Walking with your dog
    • Hiking
    • Running
    • Biking
    • Swimming
    • Playing fetch, Frisbee, or flying disc
    • Agility training
    • Skijoring
    • Playing inside the house
  • Adopting a dog
    • Deciding on the qualities you want
    • Breed considerations
    • Finding your dog
  • How to be a responsible dog owner
    • Basic equipment
    • Veterinary care
    • Dogs in cars
    • Providing for your dog while you’re at work
  • Raising a well-behaved dog
    • Obedience training
    • Housetraining
    • Keeping dogs off furniture … or not
    • Soothing the anxious hound
  • Grieving a loss
  • Resources
  • Glossary

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

Dog people vs cat people

As you know, I enjoy writing about research that gives us new insights into  all things dog.

Earlier this year, I blogged about research into personality and what makes a good pet parent.

But I think the debate will continue for some time in terms of characterizing dog people vs cat people.

Here’s another video to add to the debate:

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

Lost Dogs – Is your dog at risk?

DoggyMom.com:

I really like the checklist in this item. Sometimes, without thinking, we put our dogs at risk. Losing a dog would be one of the most heartbreaking things that any of us experience – let’s re-think our habits before it is too late.

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

Originally posted on No Dog About It Blog:

IMG_6838I’m often brought to tears by stories of lost dogs that have been found.

Just this past weekend, a ten-year-old dog was found after being lost and out on her own for several days in frigid temps. As I read her owner’s teary and thankful response to all those who helped her get her dog back, I wept.

I remember the powerful waves of emotion that swept over me when I finally had Cupcake back in my arms again – relief, gratitude, and extreme happiness. Even though it has been three years since Cupcake went missing, I have never forgotten those twelve days she was gone. I have only to read another lost dog story or see another missing dog posting, to feel all the fear, worry and sadness all over again.

Losing a dog (no matter how long) changes you. It makes you more cautious, and more attentive. It also makes you less likely…

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