Dog registration

It’s that time of year again – time to renew Izzy’s registration.

Dog registration is a legal requirement throughout New Zealand and dogs must be registered before they reach the age of 3 months.

Licence tag

Dog registration fees vary widely across different city and district councils but most offer discounts for spaying/neutering and also holding responsible dog owner status.  In my case, I have held responsible dog owner status for years and this qualifies me for the lowest rate possible.

My $57 fee goes towards the support of services like impounding lost dogs until they can be re-united with their families (hopefully) and officers responding to complaints about dog bites or attacks.

Unfortunately, there’s a portion of our community who don’t register their dogs and so they are not paying their fair share for services.  I know that some people will say that they can’t afford to pay the fees; but I have to ask – if you can’t pay your registration fee how can you afford to care for your dog?

I support efforts to make people better dog guardians.  It starts with an understanding that having a dog is a privilege and not a right.  If you are going to be a good dog owner, then pay your fair share to manage dogs in your community.

Below is the schedule of dog registration fees for 2017/2018 in the Christchurch City Council area:

Item Fee
Dogs classified as dangerous
If paid on or before 31 July $137.00
If paid on or after 1 August $169.00
Un-neutered dogs (other than Responsible Dog Owner status)
If paid on or before 31 July $91.00
If paid on or after 1 August $124.00
Spayed/neutered dogs (other than Responsible Dog Owner status)
If paid on or before 31 July $80.00
If paid on or after 1 August $112.00
Owner granted Responsible Dog Owner status
First dog
If paid on or before 30 June $57.00
If paid between 1 July and 31 July $80.00
If paid on or after 1 August $112.00
Second and subsequent dogs
If paid on or before 30 June $39.00
If paid between 1 July and 31 July $80.00
If paid on or after 1 August $112.00
Working / Rural dogs
First dog
If paid on or before 31 July $27.00
If paid on or after 1 August $39.00
Second and subsequent dogs
If paid on or before 31 July $22.00
If paid on or after 1 August $32.00
Disability Assist dogs NIL
More Than Two Dogs licence (other than rural zoning and Banks Peninsula wards)
Licence for 3 dogs $70.00
Re-inspection fee – same property $32.00

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Take Your Dog to Work Day

Take Your Dog to Work Day is coming up on Friday.  I hope many of you are able to take your dog with you for the dayand maybe even convince your manager that a pet-friendly workplace has ongoing benefits.

Here’s my column on Office Dogs…profiling two Christchurch businesses that allow dogs to come to work!

September 2016-page-001

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Picking puppies most suited to guide dog training

Animal behaviour experts at the University of Nottingham have developed a new tool which can be used to predict a young dog’s likelihood of successfully completing guide dog training.

Guide dog

Working dog organisations like the charity Guide Dogs, who funded the research, need to regularly assess the behaviour of the dogs they breed for training as not all of them turn out to be suited to the role. The charity is the largest of its kind in the world, breeding around 1,400 dogs for possible guide dog training every year.

As part of a wider £500k epidemiology research collaboration with Guide Dogs, the researchers in the University’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science have created and tested a questionnaire-style decision tool which could help trainers from Guide Dogs to monitor and evaluate their dog’s behaviour. The tool successfully predicted training outcomes in 16.9% of young dogs of 5 to 12 months old to an accuracy of 84%. The tool is called the Puppy Training Supervisor Questionnaire (PTSQ).

The aim is to identify dogs who are not suitable to a guiding role early, before they enter time-consuming and costly formal training. The PTSQ is also intended to improve the understanding of a young dog’s behaviour, which Guide Dogs will use to inform their future training processes to give the best chances of success. The full study has been published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Lead researcher on the project, Dr Naomi Harvey, said: “Predicting working dog suitability in puppies has been a huge challenge to organisations for many years. If you’ve ever owned dogs you will know that every dog is different. They have their own characters and personality, which are heavily influenced by their life experiences. We were really pleased that this questionnaire-style behaviour assessment was able to effectively identify the dogs who were most, and least, suitable to guiding work, from a young age, and help to highlight those in between dogs who were at risk of failing training.” 

Chris Muldoon, Guide Dogs Research Development Manager, said: “The Puppy Training Supervisor Questionnaire is part of a suite of tools developed by the University of Nottingham for Guide Dogs. This tool, and the wider research project, is increasing our understanding of dog behavior and temperament to make informed decisions that will shape and improve our training processes.” 

The new behaviour assessment has been designed to be completed by training supervisors of young dogs at the age of 5, 8 and 12 months old. Questions were sourced either from previously published literature or created from suggestions from Guide Dogs staff surveys and feedback. This large study revealed seven reliable and interpretable character scores for measurement by the questionnaire. These were:

  • Adaptability
  • Body sensitivity
  • Distractibility
  • Excitability
  • General anxiety
  • Trainability
  • Stair anxiety

The research also evaluated aspects of the questionnaire’s reliability and accuracy. The results of the questionnaires completed by the training supervisors – 1,401 in total – showed consistency of individual dogs’ scores over the three age ranges. Of the dogs included in the study, 58% went on to qualify as guide dogs, 27% were behaviourally unsuited to guiding work and the remainder were unsuited for health reasons. Within this number there were also dogs with exceptional character and temperament who were selected for breeding.

The researchers say the work could be extended in the future to follow up the dogs’ working life as a guide dog. They say this could help shed light on why some dogs are retired early for behavioural reasons and the human and dog factors which contribute to this unique partnership’s success.

Source:  University of Nottingham press release

Owner, dearest friend

One of the saddest times in our lives will be those times when we face the loss of our animals.

This poem helps to remind us that grieving is expected – and accepted.

To all my clients who are grieving for their lost dogs…

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Play date

A change of scene, play, and social time with other dogs are all important to the emotional health of our dogs.

Izzy, for example, has a boyfriend who lives on the other side of the city.  His name is Bergie and they have a special relationship.  I can’t even remember when it started; they just met at greyhound walks and bonded to each other.

So, it’s important to his owners and to me that we make the time for them to see each other.  This week, they finally managed to have a play date after being severely rained out of one date and then missing another chance to see each other when, again, the rain and cold interfered with the monthly farmers market display for Greyhounds as Pets.

On this date, Bergie decided to impress Izzy with his hole digging skills…she took a front row seat!

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

The Great Global Greyhound Walk

The Great Global Greyhound Walk has become an annual event since 2014 to raise the profile of adoptable greyhounds.  (The event was started in 2010 as the Great British Greyhound Walk but interest soon went global.)

Groups from around the globe organize walks with their hounds to show them off to the public and to raise funds for greyhound adoption.

This year, the date is this Sunday – 11th June.  gggw-logo  If you follow the Walk’s website, there’s a searchable database to find the walk closest to you.

Check out the map while you are there – this event is truly global.

As Izzy is a greyhound and we volunteer for Greyhounds as Pets, you can guarantee that we will participate in our local walk in central Christchurch.

Interested in knowing more about bringing a greyhound into your life?  Why not come out on Sunday and meet lots of hounds and their owners.  Owners love to talk about their dogs and their enthusiasm is infectious.  Bring your spare change and make a donation, too, so more hounds can find a forever home.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Dogs can adopt the perspective of humans

Humans are able to interpret the behaviour of others by attributing mental states to them (and to themselves). By adopting the perspectives of other persons, they can assume their emotions, needs and intentions and react accordingly.

In the animal kingdom, the ability to attribute mental states (Theory of Mind) is a highly contentious issue. Cognitive biologists from the Messerli Research Institute of the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna could prove with a new test procedure that dogs are not only able to identify whether a human has an eye on a food source and, therefore, knows where the food has been hidden. They can also apply this knowledge in order to correctly interpret cues by humans and find food they cannot see themselves.

This perspective taking ability is an important component of social intelligence. It helps dogs to cope with the human environment. The results have been published in the journal Animal Cognition.

 

The so-called Theory of Mind describes the ability in humans to understand mental states in conspecifics such as emotions, intentions, knowledge, beliefs and desires. This ability develops in humans within the first four or five years of life while it is usually denied in animals. Indications that animals can understand mental states or even states of knowledge of others have only been found in apes and corvids so far. Dogs have been tested several times, but the results were poor and contradictory.

With a new experimental approach, cognitive biologists from the Messerli Research Institute could now provide solid evidence for dogs being able to adopt our perspective. By adopting the position of a human and following their gaze, dogs understand what the human could see and, consequently, know.

This ability to ascribe knowledge is only a component of a full-blown Theory of Mind, but an important one.

Identifying the right informant

The so-called Guesser-Knower paradigm is a standard test in research into the attribution of knowledge to others. This experiment involves two persons: a “Knower” who hides food, invisibly for the dog, in one of several food containers or knows where somebody else has hided it, and a “Guesser”. The Guesser has either not been in the room or covered her eyes during the hiding of the food. A non-transparent wall blocks the animals’ view of the food being hidden. After that, the two humans become informants by pointing to different food containers.

The Knower always points to the baited container and the Guesser to another one. All containers smell of food. “To get the food, the dogs have to understand who knows the hiding place (Knower) and who does not and can, therefore, only guess (Guesser). They must identify the informant they can rely on if they have to decide for one food container,” said principal investigator Ludwig Huber. In approximately 70 per cent of the cases the dogs chose the container indicated by the Knower – and thus were able to successfully accomplish the test. This result was independent of the position of the food container, the person acting as the Knower and where the Guesser was looking.

Eye on hidden food source

Dogs are able to identify the human having an eye on a hidden food source. (Photo: Ludwig Huber/Vetmeduni Vienna)

Dogs can adopt human perspectives

The only aim of this test series, however, was to independently confirm a study carried out in New Zealand. Clear evidence of dogs being able to adopt our perspective and take advantage of it was provided in a new test developed by the team, the so-called “Guesser looking away” test.

In this new experiment, a third person in the middle hides the food. This person does not give cues later on. The potential informants were kneeing left and right of this hider and looked to the same side and slightly down. Thus, one of the two persons looked towards the baiter, the other person looked away. “This means that the tested dogs, in order to get the food, had to judge who is the Knower by adopting the informants’ perspectives and following their gazes,” explained Huber. Even in this test, which is very difficult for the animals, approximately 70 per cent of the trials had been mastered.

Adopting the human perspective leads to invisible food

Being able to adopt the perspective of a human does, however, not require the ability to understand intentions or wishes. “But the study showed that dogs can find out what humans or conspecifics can or cannot see,” explained Huber. “By adopting the positions of humans and following their gazes geometrically, they find out what humans see and, therefore, know – and consequently whom they can trust or not.”

In similar experiments, chimpanzees and few bird species such as scrub jays and ravens were able to understand the state of knowledge and also the intentions of conspecifics and modify their own behaviour accordingly. For dogs, there have only been specualtions and vague indications so far. But dogs understand our behaviour very well, for example our degree of attention. They can learn from directly visible cues such as gestures or gazes. Thus, they are able to find food even if their view of it has been blocked. “The ability to interpret our behaviour and anticipate our intentions, which has obviously developed through a combination of domestication and individual experience, seems to have supported the ability to adopt our perspective,” said Huber. “It still remains unclear which cognitive mechanisms contribute to this ability. But it helps dogs to find their way in our world very well.”

Source:  University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna media release