Do Dogs have a Sixth Sense?

Q            I think my dog has a “sixth sense”, because he seems to know what I am going to do before I do it. Is this possible?

A            It’s probably fair to say that dogs are acutely aware of our movements and that they learn to predict what we are going to do before we even realise that we have given any indications or signals of our intentions. Dogs as mind-readers? It’s unlikely.

Take, for instance, deciding to take the dog out for a walk. What preparations do you make before you actually tell him that it’s time to go out? We might shut the windows, get our boots out, pick up our keys and mobile phone, etc., all of which is indicative of preparing to leave the house and that’s before we even put our coats on and pick up the dog’s lead. Each action is part of a jigsaw that our sensitive dogs piece together; they are great at observing our behaviour and even before we announce that it’s time for a walk he seems to know!

It’s not that dogs have a psychic ability to read our minds, but their innate sense that enables them to be so in tune with what’s going on around them gives them what we may interpret as such. There are many historical accounts of dogs acting strangely or fleeing areas in advance of earthquakes or tsunamis and from my own experience, my dogs know when it’s going rain soon. The barometric pressure drops along with the temperature as the weather changes; they generally come indoors a few minutes before the rain starts, which is really helpful when I’ve left the washing out!

So why not observe your dog a little more closely, just as he watches you and learn a little more about his behaviour? It will give you more of an insight into how dogs think, which in turn will develop a mutual understanding and a closer bond between you and your dog.


Dogs in Cars

Dogs in Cars

Most dogs are happy to jump into cars knowing that journey’s end will bring excitement, new terrain and the chance to explore.

Laws have been enacted to safeguard children when travelling in cars, however, no such provision is made for dogs, so here are a few suggestions that may just make your dog’s – and your – journey a little happier and safer.

  • Secure your dog into the car with a safety harness, to ensure that he doesn’t become a missile: Sharp braking can project a dog forward, towards or through the windscreen. It will also stabilise him and help to prevent travel sickness.
  • A travel cage/kennel is useful to help your dog feel comfortable during transit.   An added benefit is that a dog is less likely to bark at other dogs, cyclists or passersby.
  • When going on a long journey, plan to stop regularly to ensure that your dog can be given water and the chance to make himself comfortable. Avoid feeding him before the journey – remember it can take several hours to digest food, more if he’s excited.
  • Always allow plenty of ventilation during the journey and also when you stop. Never leave your dog in an unventilated car, even in cold weather – winter sun heats up cars just the same as solar panels.
  • Keep the volume of your car radio or music to a modest level – remember your dog’s hearing is much more acute than yours.
  • Plan ahead and the journey for you and your dog will be a good experience for you both.






What Dogs and Bears have in common

A recent finding of research into nutrition for zoo animals revealed that giving bears larger enclosures with added distractions (activities) helped to reduce the focus on food so that the bears were healthier and fitter.
This is also an excellent tip for pet owners with a dog that seems to be constantly hungry. Environmental enrichment, including plenty of exercise and social interaction, is a great cure for boredom and stress-related behaviour problems. It also helps in weight management, which appears to be an increasingly common problem in pet dogs.

Dog Dental Care

Dentists – love them or fear them – are as essential as doctors to our healthcare, but dental care for dogs is not as high on our priority list as perhaps it should be. Dogs rely on their teeth for eating, chewing, playing and picking up things, so it’s essential that their oral hygiene is our priority. Plaque and tartar build-up offers the ideal environment for bacteria to populate a dog’s mouth leading to bad breath, gum infection, toothache, root abscesses and serious infection to internal organs.

Chewing and biting on raw bones or strong rubber toys (Kongs) stimulates enzyme production in the dog’s mouth, which strengthens the teeth and promotes good oral health. When we humans visit the dental hygienist once or twice a year, the plaque is removed and we are advised how to care for our teeth: daily brushing, flossing, etc., is recommended, so why should we assume that our dogs’ teeth will be OK without regular daily oral care and oral hygiene checks? 

As devoted owners we want the best for our best friends, so a few minutes spent in brushing their teeth can ensure that they are kept in tip-top condition. All you need is a toothbrush and some toothpaste specially formulated for dogs, which contains enzymes that break down bacteria and tastes good to dogs. Our toothpaste is not suitable for dogs: it foams, tastes awful to dogs and has chemicals in that may cause them to run a mile from you on sight of the toothpaste tube!

The latest research proves that manual brushing is best and whilst initially your dog may be a real fidget and make life difficult for you, with persistence she will soon enjoy the extra attention and taste of the toothpaste, too.

Here’s how to do it:

Start by gently stroking your dog’s cheeks for a minute or so and let her lick the toothpaste from your finger. When she accepts this, gently rub a small amount of toothpaste onto the gums and along the teeth. It may take a few days for your dog to accept this, but persist! Using a soft brush to start with, gently apply some toothpaste either on the brush or continue applying it with your finger, then with the brush. Just a point, if your dog tends to snap or will not calm, keep yourself safe and go back to stage one, stroking the cheeks until eventually she will trust you to apply the toothpaste etc. If using a brush to too difficult, try using a rubber pimpled finger tooth cleaner, which are available at pet stores.

A trip to the vet can be avoided by regular brushing, but in the event that your dog will not tolerate  it, you may need to have her teeth scaled and polished for a more thorough cleaning. She will have to be sedated, which generally means a day’s stay at the veterinary surgery.

Tripe sticks and similar natural dried chews also help keep dogs’ teeth healthy, but avoid commercially produced dental sticks that contain additives and sugar.

Just a couple of minutes a day can make the difference and keep your dog away from the dog dentist!