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Empathetic, calm dogs try to rescue owners in distress, study finds

Empathetic, calm dogs try to rescue owners in distress, study finds

Science
July 24 (UPI) -- Behavioral experiments suggest dogs are prosocial and empathetic, and some dogs will help owners in distress. To better understand how dogs relate and react to humans in distress, scientists observed the responses of dogs to different stimuli and scenarios. In one scenario, researchers had dog owners either make cries of distress or hum while sitting in a chair behind a transparent door. Researchers observed the dogs' responses and measured their heart rates. In a followup experiment, researchers analyzed how dogs looked at their owners to gauge the strength of their relationship. The results showed dogs were equally likely to open the door in response to both crying and humming. However, dogs opened the door more quickly when reacting to their owners' cries. Dogs with l...
Imported guard dogs deployed as part of US wolf-sheep study

Imported guard dogs deployed as part of US wolf-sheep study

Technology
Federal scientists say a four-year study involving nearly 120 guard dogs imported from Europe and Asia found the animals do well protecting sheep from wolves and better than traditional guard dogs deterring coyotes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture supplied Cao de Gado Transmontanos (COHN day GAH'-doh TRANS'-mahn-tan-ohs), Karakachans (kah-RACK'-a-chans) and Kangals (KAN'-gahls) to guard sheep in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Washington and Oregon. Scientists say they're still analyzing information from fieldwork that includes remote cameras and GPS collars from the dogs that can weigh up to 140 pounds (64 kilograms). The dogs were gathered as puppies in Portugal, Bulgaria and Turkey and sent to the American West, where they spent four years guarding sheep. Environmentalists say guard dogs c...
Chocolate poisoning risk to dogs at Christmas

Chocolate poisoning risk to dogs at Christmas

Science
Chocolate poisoning is a risk to the family dog at Christmas, say vets. They warn that dogs are four times more likely to fall ill from eating it at this time of year. A study found hundreds of cases of dogs needing veterinary treatment after stealing chocolate Santas, selection boxes, chocolate oranges and even a mug of hot chocolate.Vets are trying to get the message across that it should be kept out of reach from the family pet.While dogs like the taste of chocolate, it can make them ill, even in small quantities.''The take home message is firstly to make sure that people recognise that chocolate is a potential problem and to be vigilant with their chocolate gifts over the holiday period,'' said Dr Philip Jones, lecturer in veterinary epidemiology and public health at the University of ...
Study finds wolves understand cause and effect better than dogs

Study finds wolves understand cause and effect better than dogs

Science
Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Scientists from the Wolf Science Center of the Vetmeduni Vienna have shown that wolves understand the connection between cause and effect better than dogs.The study, published today in Scientific Reports, found that domesticated dogs could not make the connection between cause and effect when tested with an object that contained food made noise when shaken, but wolves could.Researchers tested whether wolves and dogs can make use of communicative cues, such as direct eye contact and pointing gestures to choose a correct object, and if the animals had to rely on behavioral cues where they were only shown the location of a hidden food through the researcher's behavior without making eye contact with the animals.The animals were also tested to make inferences about the locati...
Dogs help conservationists protect hermit beetles

Dogs help conservationists protect hermit beetles

Science
Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Hermit beetles are at risk of disappearing. But in order to protect them, conservationists must find and monitor their health -- not an easy task.New research, however, suggests trained dogs can make the task easier, allowing researchers to locate and track the species' health.Like cicadas, hermit beetles only spend a brief amount of time as an adult. Unlike cicadas, adult hermit beetles are elusive. Worse yet, hermit beetle larvae are equally hard to find. They hide in the wood mold of hollow trees.In a proof of concept study, researchers were able to successfully train a golden retriever to sniff out the presence of hermit beetles.Scientists began by associating the smell of hermit beetle larvae with a food reward. Researchers then trained the retriever, a six-month old ...