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Showing posts from April, 2012

The Effect of Recession on Companion Animals

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Two studies show the effects of economic hardship on companion animals.

With the news yesterday that the UK is in a double-dip recession, and other world economies still struggling, the effect is likely to be felt by animals too. Over the last few years, there have been many reports in the media about animal rescue charities being inundated with cats and dogs due to the recession. These reports are illustrated with heart-breaking examples such as the sixteen year-old border collie surrendered to a rescue because her owner could no longer afford to look after her.

Although many rescues are bursting at the seams, actual data is hard to come by. Two recent studies address this by looking at the effect of the recession on animal relinquishment and adoption in the US.

A paper by Gregory Morris and Jennifer Steffler considered foreclosures and dog relinquishment in the Californian city of Turlock in 2008, which was the height of the foreclosure crisis. First, they tried to match the addres…

The Dog Dominance Myth

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One of the things I often hear about dogs is that they are always trying to be dominant. It comes up in advice that is sometimes given about dog training. For example, that you should always eat before your dog, otherwise it will think that it is dominant; that you shouldn't let your dog walk in front of you, or go through a door ahead of you, or win a game of tug of war. It makes people's relationships with their dogs sound like a constant battle.








Fortunately it's not true. This idea of dominance comes from what I'll loosely call 'pack theory', and is based on studies of captive wolves. In a captive wolf pack, it seems that there are battles between wolves fairly frequently, and at the top is the 'alpha wolf', the one that is in control. Since dogs are evolved from wolves, a l…