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 This Week on Animal Radio

Animal Radio for December 23, 2023  

Dog Decoder
Victoria Stilwell, The Secret Language of Dogs

Victoria StilwellAccomplished dog trainer Victoria Stilwell returns to Animal Radio airwaves to help us decode our dog's behavior. She tells us what some common dog gestures mean. New studies show our dogs are much smarter than we give them credit for. Do dogs feel guilt? They sure look guilty when you catch them doing something bad.

The star of Animal Planet's It's Me or the Dog Victoria Stilwell reveals how to both interpret and "speak" the hidden language of dogs in her book, The Secret Language of Dogs. Filled with adorable full-color photographs and instructive illustrations, this insightful "dog decoder" will soon make you dog's best friend.

Studies into the minds of canines show that they have a rich social intelligence and a physical and vocal language as complex and subtle as our own. World-renowned trainer Victoria Stilwell explores the inner world of dogs. Her book is your guide to understanding your pooch, communicating effectively, strengthening your bond, and helping dogs learn in the most effective way possible so they feel confident navigating the human world with success.

One thing we need to understand about dogs is that they have different types of tail wags. Victoria explains that their tails are a way of expressing a dog's internal emotional state. Different breeds of dogs hold their tails in different ways. But in general, if you have a tail that is wagging in a circular motion like a helicopter, the dog is happy. But if you have a dog with its tail tucked between its legs, you know that the dog is a little nervous or concerned. And if you have a tail that is held very high and has become bushy, that is a dog that is becoming alert and aware.

There is another thing that dogs do with their hair and their tails, which is called piloerection. This is when a dog's back hair goes up and their tail fluffs out. This means that the dog is not feeling that comfortable. Most people think that the dog is trying to make itself look bigger. This is not true. When a dog does this, it is not a conscious decision; it is something that just happens in response to feeling uncomfortable. Think about it, when you are feeling uncomfortable, does the hair on the back of your neck ever stand up? It is the same thing.

The Secret Language of Dogs Book CoverVictoria believes it is important to know if your dog is left-pawed, right-pawed or good at using both paws. For example, if you are teaching your dog to do something like shake hands and you're starting with the right paw and the dog just doesn't get it, you might think your dog is not very smart. However, for this dog, it might actually be easier if you started with the left paw if your dog is left-pawed.

So before doing any training, find out if your dog is left or right pawed. You can do this by getting a toy like a puzzle or a Kong toy and see which paw the dog uses to manipulate that toy. They might use both, which is great. But a lot of dogs will either use their left or right.

Another question people have is whether or not their dog feels guilt. Victoria explains that as far as we know, dogs don't have the cognitive ability for guilt. In order to feel guilt, you must also be able to feel shame. Humans are taught to feel shame. In order to feel shameful, you need to have what's called theory of mind. You have to understand how your behavior affects other people, or that your behavior does affect other people. It is thought that dogs don't truly do that. Victoria would like to say dogs do feel guilt, because you might see signs of guilt in your dog like hanging their head low, wide eyes and a coward body, but these are all appeasement gestures done in response to your body language.

There have been massive studies done on dogs and we are still learning so much about them.

Victoria Stilwell is best known for her role as the host of Animal Planet's hit TV series It's Me or the Dog. Born and raised in Wimbledon, England, she has also served as a judge on CBS' Greatest American Dog and is involved with rescue groups around the world. Victoria lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, daughter, and two rescue dogs.

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Ripley's Weird Animals
Edward Meyer, Ripleys Unlock The Weird

Ripleys Unlock The Weird Book CoverEdward Meyer collects oddities for Ripley's and he'll be sharing his strange picks for animals that are a bit out of the ordinary, like the cat with BIG eyes and the dog that ate a round of gun ammunition.

For many years, Edward Meyer has traveled around the world collecting unusual stories and unbelievable artifacts to fill Ripley's Believe It or Not! books and museums. He's a walking encyclopedia of information, some strange, some gross - but all true! He has acquired over 20,000 different museum artifacts, everything from a pin valued at $1 million dollars, to a two-trunked elephant, to Lee Harvey Oswald's mortuary toe tag, to a meteorite from Mars. The list is endless, but his all time favorite is the recent purchase of Marilyn Monroe's JFK's Happy Birthday Mr. President Dress for a world record price for any piece of clothing. Meyer has appeared on radio and television programs around the world as the Ripley historian and raconteur, the man with the world's best job!

Here are some of the animal stories we found:

ALIEN EYES -Matilda, a 2-year-old tabby cat from Canada, had huge-glassy-alien-like eyes as a result of a condition called spontaneous lens luxation, a genetic disorder in which the lens of the eye completely dislocates from its usual position. A normal-looking kitten, her pupils started to become enlarged after her first birthday and made it difficult for her to see. Her distinctive appearance earned her over 105,000 followers on Instagram.

Alien Eyes CatDUMBO DOG - When Remy, a 2-year-old Basset Hound jumped more than 30 feet out of a third floor window in East Sussex, England after spotting a cat on the ground below, he survived the fall because his hug ears slowed his descent. Although he landed face first onto concrete, he suffered only minor injuries.

CONFUSED CAT - Marbles, a cat owned by Tom Minns and Claire Gidley of Plymouth, Devon, England, had both male and female sex organs, making it a rare hermaphrodite. The couple had always thought the cat was female, but when they took it to be spayed, there were told it was half-male.

LOUD PURR - Merlin, a black and white cat owned by Tracy Westwood of Torquay, Devon, England, had a purr of 67.8 decibels, nearly three times louder than the purr of an average cat and noisier than a washing machine.

SURLY SHEEP - Russian Farmer Blasius Lavrentiev waited patiently for his prized ewe to give birth. When the time finally came, he was shocked to see a lamb resembling an angry old man staring back at him! The human-looking lamb became the talk of the village of Chirka, near the Republic of Dagestan, and Lavrentiev was even offered ten times the going rate for it! Likely due to too much Vitamin A, this abnormality wasn't a health concern - which means this strange sheep would live a full and hopefully not so grumpy life!

Surly SheepSTOMACH ARSENAL - Benno, a four-year-old Belgian Malinois dog owned by Larry Brassfield of Mountain Home, Arkansas, underwent surgery after swallowing a bag of 23 live .308 caliber rifle rounds. After the dog safely vomited four bullets, a veterinarian carefully removed 17 more from the dog's stomach, leaving two in his esophagus, which Benno "discharged" himself.

With the advent of the Internet, Edward's job changed considerably, some of it for the good and some of it for the bad. In Ripley's era, 1918 to 1949 when Ripley died, typically people mailed him photographs. He either believed it or hopped on a plane and went and saw it himself. Today they tend to get very little mail, as most of it comes from the computer. The supply of the material is more, but the vetting has become harder.There are ten chapters in the book and something for everyone!

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InsPurrational Posters for Cats
Mo Golden & Ross Cowman

Mo Golden and Ross CowmanMo Golden and Ross Cowman created a business of making motivational posters for cats. At first it was a novelty idea, but it turned into something truly beneficial for both cats and humans, explained Ross.

The sizing of the Inspurrational Cat Posters is proportionate to the size of a cat. The Inspurrational Posters are about the size of a postcard, which to a cat, would be like the size of a poster. Mo and Ross also wanted to make sure that the posters were placed where cats could see them easily. Both of these are a scientific process, according to Ross.

While deciding what to put on the posters, Mo and Ross knew that they didn't want pictures of cats on them. This is because they didn't think cats would respond to strange cats and may actually be terrified of them. The posters they designed had images of things that cats like to look at. This included kibble, fish or even their owner.

Cat Looking at PosterThey also included inspurrational quotes like, "Dream Your Dream," "Reach for the Stars," and their latest one, "YOGNY." This means you only get nine YOLO'S (You Only Live Once).

So where should you place these posters? Each set of posters came with a detailed installation guide. It was a multiple-step process:

Step One: You chose a poster with your cat
Step Two: Take a measurement with the enclosed measurement tool of your cat's paw-to-jaw so you can hang the poster at eye level
Step Three: Hang the poster at the appropriate height

Cats are quite sensitive to changes in their environment and will appreciate the extra attention and care put into their special places around the home.

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Dr. Debbie WhiteTop Holiday Pet Gifts - Dr. Debbie

As Americans, we love our pets and include them on all household fun, including holiday gift giving. In fact over 50-percent of American pet owners will be shopping for their favorite dog, cat, ferret or other critter this holiday season. Wondering what to give the pet that special pet? Here are some cool gift ideas for that pet that deserves spoiling to the max.

As a veterinarian, I suggest pet gifts that provide more than short term enjoyment and which prove useful in the prevention or treatment of a health or behavioral issue. Think beyond food or treat gifts this year and consider a pet gift with a purpose. You'll keep your furry friend happy and healthy in the coming years.

Gifts to Keep Them Busy
Interactive toys and puzzles are designed to provide an outlet for mental and physical energy - an ideal gift for dogs that are prone to destructive chewing or separation anxiety. Check out food dispensing toys like the Kong Wobbler Dispensing Dog Toy. Also the Canine Genius line of toys challenges your dog's problem solving ability. As dogs play with interactive toys it focuses attention, decrease boredom and makes the dog work for his food.

With any chew toys , remember your dog's size, jaw strength and chewing history before shopping. Plush toys, soft latex rubber toys and small edible bones are not suited for large dogs with powerful chew force. For large dogs, check out the Bionic product line, which includes balls and toys made of a durable rubber that withstands tough chewers.

The Gift of Good Behavior
Both kitties and cat owners will enjoy the gift of a clean litter box through use of the Scoop Free self-cleaning litter box. Keep the litter box clean to the most fastidious cat's standards. A tidy litter box environment helps prevent litter box aversion and unpleasant house soiling. Check out the Scoop Free features including motion activated cleaning cycles and a disposable waste tray.

Other useful gift ideas for nervous pets are items that help them cope with anxiety. The Thundershirt is a firmly fitting body wrap which calms dogs fearful of storms, fireworks or car travel. Pair the Thundershirt up with a doggie pheromone collar such as the Adaptil collar, and you empower your pooch to cope with his fears in a natural way.

Frolicat TwitchIndoor felines will thank you for entertaining interactive toys by FroliCat. Check out the Pounce, a furry critter that runs on a track, or the Twitch, a teasing toy that bounces and swings about, providing kitty an outlet for that hunting drive.

Technology Goes to the Pets
If you are more a high-tech gifter, then consider Tagg - The Pet Tracker a GPS outfitted dog collar. Using your cell phone, you can track and locate your pet via GPS technology. And the added feature of Activity Tracking allows you to monitor your dog's daily activity and adjust exercise needs accordingly. Tagg - The Pet Tracker is more than another form of identification. It looks after your best friend to track his well-being.

Want to take pet fitness to a new level? Look at the Dog Pacer Treadmill an indoor dog treadmill that comes in a standard size for dogs up to 179 pounds, and now a small dog size up to 55 pound dogs, great for apartment dwellers. No more excuses about extreme weather - you can exercise your dog regardless of weather conditions. Daily physical exercise keeps your pet in healthy weight, but also is an outlet for your dog's abounding energy, decreasing boredom and naughty destructive behaviors.

The Best Gift of All
While these are all excellent gift options, just remember that the greatest gift you can give your pet is your love and attention. Appreciate your pet every day by cuddling on the couch or taking walks to the park. The close bond with your pet is the most cherished gift you both get to enjoy.

Featured veterinarian known as "Dr. Debbie" on national pet radio program, Animal Radio. Ebook author of "Yorkshire Terriers: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; "Pugs: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; "Mini Schnauzers: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; and "Shih Tzu: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend." Dr. Debbie's books.

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5 Holidays Traditions That Can Land Your Pet on the Naughty List
Robert Semrow, Listomania

Cat and Dog Under tMistletoeIt's a timely reminder during the busy holiday season that some of your holiday traditions can put your pet at risk. Here are some helpful reminders for pet parents.

Decking the halls with boughs of holly can be very dangerous for our pets, so you may want to skip that tradition all together and just stick to Jingle Bells.

Mistletoe and Holly are a holiday tradition, but if ingested by dogs and cats these can cause some severe issues so make sure that if you are going to use them, you do so with care and vigilance and check daily to make sure they are still where you placed them and they haven't gone missing.

Christmas Trees are holiday tradition for most and I know that brings with it several things that responsible pet parents must take into consideration.

Let's start at the bottom. The water reservoir is so tempting for pets. The problem is that the water may contain bacteria, chemical additives and other preservatives used to keep the tree fresher longer which can cause problems for our pets. One simple solution may be to put a small amount of chicken wire or screen over the opening of the water basin. It allows you to check and fill the water, but keeps your pets safe.

Ornaments make the Christmas tree beautiful and warm. Unfortunately for our pets, this can be seen as a new playground for them to explore and play with. So be sure to have an ever-watchful eye on the ornaments and keep ornaments off of the lower and easier to reach branches. Also if you have glass ornaments, keep them in the curio as they are too dangerous and not worth the risk to your pet.

Dog Drinking BeerSpeaking of dazzling Christmas trees, let's not forget Christmas lights. These blinking and flashing lights add beauty to the tree and raise the curiosity level, especially for cats. So again, be sure to keep these off easier to reach branches and as always, watch and see how your pets react to these new introductions to their environments. They are going to be curious, but the bigger concern is where and what that curiosity leads to. If you see them engaging the tree to get at the decorations, you are going to need to redirect them and make sure they know and understand that they cannot touch the tree. Remember the mantra, "We look with our eyes, not with our mouths and paws."

Finally, holiday foods and get-togethers are what the season is made for. This too can be extremely dangerous for our pets. Make sure your guests know they are not to share their food and beverages with your pets, knowingly or unknowingly. Also, make sure your pets have a safe place to retreat to so that they are not overwhelmed and stressed.

We here at Animal Radio hope you enjoy the holidays, just do it with an eye toward the safety of your pets. Let's not find our pets on the naughty list and find ourselves at the vet's office for something avoidable this holiday season.

Share your top pet holiday safety suggestions on our Animal Radio Facebook Page.

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The Dogfather's Grooming Tip with Joey Villani

Coat HandlerSo Many Dog Shampoos - So Many Choices!
There are many professional shampoos on the market, which makes it hard to select the best one for you pet. So we ask Joey, the grooming expert, what he uses.

Joey's personal favorite is a professional product called Coat Handler. Joey likes this product because it has all of the "un-ingredients" in it. That means it doesn't have oils nor does it have any silicone or lanolin. It has nothing that is going to stay behind on your pet's coat. As a result, it won't stain your dog's coat or leave it tacky.

Unlike human items that are professional and only available to the professionals, anyone can purchase a professional dog shampoo like Coat Handler.

The only problem with purchasing this product yourself is that they have a dilution breakdown and are not ready to use. You have to break it down and mix it with water in different containers before using it on your dog. Prepare just a little bit at a time, so you can throw away the unused portion, as it doesn't keep well over time once it has been mixed with water.

Besides shampoos, Joey gives us a hint on dealing with our dogs during the dry, winter months where we are using the heaters in our homes. Just like humans, the dry warm air is actually drying out our pet's skin.

The easiest thing to do for your pet is to get a spray bottle of water and spray their coat a little. Don't saturate it; just dampen it a little, which will hydrate their skin. If they are afraid of the spray bottle, just dampen a cloth or a sponge and wipe it over them.

Lori and FlobearAnimal Radio News - Lori Brooks

Placeboes Work On Pets
A placebo is anything that seems to be a real medicinal treatment such as a pill, a shot or any other fake treatment. Placebo effect is the result of a patient given a placebo treatment and it may work for pets too! Research on the placebo effect proves that there is a great relationship between mind and body of a person. In a study in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, researchers tested a treatment for canine epilepsy and discovered that dogs in the placebo group were having fewer seizures than when they'd started the trial. It didn't mean that the dogs were reacting to the placebo. Experts explained placebos change the behavior of pet owners more than anything in the animals' physiology. As a result, this would imply that the pet itself was not experiencing a placebo effect. It is the pet owner who might be responding to the placebo. The fact that the owner is monitoring their pet is helping the pet feel more at ease and to get better.

Border CollieEight Dog Breeds That Are Easiest To Train
If you or your family is thinking about adopting a new puppy or dog, one thing to consider is how easy it will be to train your dog. From house training your dog to teaching him fun tricks, dog training is an essential factor in a positive human to canine relationship. A well-trained dog that listens to his master is also a safer dog. Here are the top eight dog breeds that are the easiest to train: 1. Golden Retrievers; 2. German Shepherds; 3. Poodles (While the poodle may not look like a dog that can be trained for advanced commands, in actuality, the Poodle is incredibly easy to train); 4. Labrador Retrievers (The Labrador retriever is another great breed to consider getting if you have a family. Labs are also one of the first choices of dog breeds for service dogs to the disabled. ); 5. Collies like "Lassie;" 6. Doberman Pinschers (Although some may see the Doberman pinscher as an aggressive dog, a Doberman can be a great companion if properly trained. With a Doberman, you must ensure that your dog sees you as the alpha leader in the household.) 7. Australian Shepherds (Australian shepherds are extremely energetic and best suited to do advanced tricks and agility courses.); 8. Border Collies (The final great choice of dog breed for easy training is the Border Collie, a working dog that needs to be kept busy with things around the house, so you can enjoy teaching it tricks that help you get your chores done.)

Pet Funeral Home
More than half of all Americans own at least one pet and hopefully this trend is sweeping the country. We're talking about a pet funeral home in Lockport, New York. Pets in Peaceful Rest allows families to say goodbye to their pets, much like we say goodbye to a human member of the family. Scott Schmidt is the President of Pets in Peaceful Rest. His family transformed a vacant building in town into a place dedicated to helping people honor and remember their pets. But Schmidt isn't new to the funeral business. He's been a funeral director for more than 30 years and people kept asking him about funeral services for pets. Because New York laws allow people to be buried with their pets, he felt the time was right to start his own business. It includes a Rainbow Bridge Room and a state-of-the-art crematory. This is a family affair, as his wife is a pastor.

Milk-Bone Pill PouchMars Sued Smucker Over Similar Pill Treats
Mars Inc. found another company's pill-disguising pet treats a little hard to swallow and sued J.M. Smucker Company, best known for its Smucker's jams and jellies. Mars claimed that Smucker was infringing on its trademark for Greenies Pill Pockets pet treats, with its new Milk-Bone Pill Pouches. Mars said Smucker and its pet division, Big Heart Pet Inc., which owns Milk-Bone, created a "confusingly similar" product. Mars also argued the term "pouches" is misleading because the "pet treat is simply a treat with a hole in the middle and thus is not a "pouch.'" Mars claimed the product could damage the reputation of its Greenies Pill Pockets, which have been sold online and in pet stores since August 2002 with sales in excess of $80 million per year. Smucker purchased Big Heart Pet Brands, which includes Milk-Bone dog treats and Meow Mix cat food.

Ear Listen to the entire Podcast of this show (#1255)

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