Good Fences Make Safe Dogs

Robert Frost ended his poem Mending Wall with a line which continues to be quoted decades later—“Good fences make good neighbors.” While Frost’s line has proven to be sound advice for neighbors of all kinds, it can also be said that good fences make safe dogs.

Dogs not only like to be outside—it’s good for them! Dogs need to commune with nature, sniff the great outdoors, and have a safe place to play.  Dogs that have the opportunity to play outside are happier and healthier.  And, does anything warm the heart more than seeing a happy dog?

Even the most devout dog walkers can attest to the advantages of opening the door to a protected yard so Fido can go out to play or do his business—even when it is not convenient for you to be there with him.  If you can keep your dog safely contained in your yard, he’ll be free to explore and play; and you’ll be happy knowing he is safe.

Veterinarian, Dr. Jeffrey S. Kordell, tells us that clients often ask his opinion about the best way to contain their pet in a yard.  He recommends hidden underground fences to his clients for several reasons.  Dr. Kordell says “Homeowners quickly realize that (a hidden fence) not only looks better and is more affordable, but it also has the benefit of adding a training tool for their dog. They end up spending much more time with their pet and good training leads to good habits.”

Raymond J. McSoley, an internationally renowned Animal Behaviorist, believes training is key to successful dog containment. McSoley who is well acquainted with the DogWatch Hidden Fences system says, “DogWatch dealers follow the same behavioral and conditioning principles professional trainers use…A DogWatch Hidden Fence is in itself a 24-hour trainer for your dog. The system reinforces what the dog has already been trained to do by your DogWatch Dealer – respect the boundaries you have set.”

McSoley also speaks about the effectiveness and safety of DogWatch products. “By keeping your dog contained in your yard, the DogWatch system protects your dog from harm. The fact is that a slight correction is much better for your dog than risking a potentially fatal run-in with a car on a busy street.”

So, if you’re still on the fence (so to speak!) about an underground dog fence, tell us what you need to know!  We’d be happy to answer your questions!

P.S.,  Hidden Fences work well for cats, too—inside or outside!

Dog Matters

Book cover, Inside of a DogAlexandra Horowitz, author of Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know, takes us into the dog’s world in a way few authors have before. She describes in great detail their umwelt: their subjective or self-world.

Not only does the the book provide insights into a dog’s sight, sound and olfactory abilities, it also explains the wondrous dog-human bond. Horowitz asks us to consider what accounts for our bond with dogs, and offers eleven worthy explanations: they’re diurnal, a good size, their body is familiar with parts that match ours, they move more or less the way we do, they have a relaxation to their stride and a grace to their run, they are manageable, we can leave them by themselves for long stretches of time, they are readable, they are resilient and reliable, their lifetime is in scale with ours, and they are compellingly cute. While all of these are relevant she says, “They don’t fully explain why we bond.”

The human-dog bond, we learn, is formed over time. Not just on looks, but on how we interact together. Horowitz suggests that there are three essential behavioral means by which we maintain—and feel rewarded by—bonding with dogs. The first is contact, the second is a greeting ritual, the third is timing (the pace of our interactions with each other) Together, they combine to bond us irrevocably.

Horowitz believes that the bond strengthens and changes us. Physically we are calmed by simply petting a dog, and the social support they offer us reduces our risk for various diseases, from cardiovascular to diabetes to pneumonia, and provides better rates of recovery from the diseases we do get. The bond with our dogs makes us someone who can commune with animals, and according to Horowitz, “a large component of our attachment to dogs is our enjoyment of being seen by them.”

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Tail-Wagging Dogs & What They Communicate

2 labsIn case you couldn’t already tell—we’re interested in Dog tails and tales. We’re curious about the tails which Anna Swir so perfectly describes in her poem, “Happy as a Dog’s Tail.” And of course, we’re also intrigued by dog tales; classic and popular fiction and non-fiction dog stories, and the priceless ones our DogWatch Dealers and clients share with us.

What do dogs communicate with their tails?

As Dr. Stanley Coren author of How to Speak Dog writes , “In some ways, tail-wagging serves the same functions as our human smile, polite greeting, or nod of recognition…For dogs, the tail wag seems to have the same properties. A dog will wag its tail for a person or another dog. It may wag its tail for a cat, horse, mouse, or perhaps even a butterfly. But when the dog is by itself, it will not wag its tail to any lifeless thing. If you put a bowl of food down, the dog will wag its tail to express its gratitude to you. In contrast, when the dog walks into a room and finds its bowl full, it will approach and eat the food just as happily, but with no tail-wagging other than perhaps a slight excitement tremor.”

Dr. Coren suggests says this is an indication that tail-wagging is meant as communication or language and that the dog’s tail “speaks volumes about his mental state, his social position, and his intentions.” It’s interesting to note that puppies don’t wag their tails when they’re very young.

Dr. Coren says there are differences among the various breeds and that on the average, “By thirty days of age, about half of all puppies are tail wagging, and the behavior is usually fully established by around forty nine days of age…Pups learn to connect their own signals and the signals provided by their mother and their siblings with the behaviors that come next. They also begin to learn that they can use signals to indicate their intentions and to circumvent any conflicts. This is where and when the tail-wagging behavior begins.”

It’s believed that young puppies don’t wag their tails because they need to send appeasement signals to other dogs but when communication between dogs is needed, they rapidly learn the appropriate tail signals. Tail language uses three different channels of information: position, shape, and movement.

Virginia Wells explains position and movement further; “By looking at the position and movement of the tail, you can often tell what dogs are thinking. When a dog wags his tail high and wags it back and forth, he’s usually feeling pretty good. When he is interested in something, his tail is usually horizontal to the ground. A tucked tail indicates the dog is frightened or submissive. When the tail goes from horizontal to upright and becomes rigid, he is feeling threatened or challenged. A tail that is low and wagging indicates the dog is worried or insecure.”

The tail also has another vital role in communicating. Virginia Wells writes, “Every time your dog moves his tail, it acts like a fan and spreads his natural scent around him…A dominant dog that carries his tail high will release much more scent than a dog that holds his tail lower. A frightened dog holds his tail between his legs to keep others from sniffing him, and in that way does not draw attention to himself.”

Take a look at your dog’s tail in different situations: when they greet you after you’ve returned home, as another dog approaches when you’re out walking, during a thunder storm.

What have you noticed about your dog’s tail? What tales could you tell us here?