8 Ways You Might Be Endangering Your Dog Without Realizing It

iStock/stock_colors
iStock/stock_colors

As a dog parent, you want to make sure you're doing everything right when it comes to the care and well-being of your four-legged companion. Whether it's choosing the right dog food or buying them all the best toys, you just want to give your dog a happy and healthy life.

However, according to Bright Side, there are some potentially dangerous things you may be doing as often as everyday without even realizing it could harm your dog. Here are eight ways you may be unknowingly endangering your dog.

1. LEAVING THEM ALONE IN THE CAR

This one is fairly common knowledge at this point, but we wanted to include it because it's so important to never leave your dog alone in a car! According to Bright Side, ​internal car temperatures go up by 20 degrees in 10 minutes, regardless of whether you're parked directly in the sun or not. Dogs don't sweat like us, so overheating is extremely easy, and it's hard to tell when they're getting too hot.

2. CHOOSING THE WRONG COLLAR SIZE

Puppy wearing a super large studded collar
iStock/Maximilian100

Choosing the correct size of collar is important for both the safety and comfort of your pup. You don't want it to be so loose that they can slip out of it, nor do you want it so tight that they're constricted. The general rule is that if you can fit a finger between the collar and dog for small and medium sizes, and two fingers for big dogs, you should be set.

3. TAKING A PUPPY TO A DOG PARK

There have been stories of puppies being attacked at dog parks, and it can easily be due to the fact that larger dogs who are playing or roughhousing with one another can easily scare and/or attack your small puppy. Better to keep their play area in a controlled setting until they're bigger.

4. YELLING AT THEM WHEN THEY'VE DONE SOMETHING WRONG

Businessman in a suit takes his dog for a walk
iStock/Spiderplay

Just as yelling at another person when they do something you think is wrong rarely improves a situation, yelling at your dog is even less productive. If you're yelling at your dog for something that happened a while ago—for example, if you come home to a mess that could've happened hours ago—not only are they just going to be scared, but they'll also be confused. It won't seem like punishment for what they did wrong, they'll just see you as the enemy.

5. PHYSICALLY PUNISHING THEM WHEN THEY DO SOMETHING WRONG

Bright Side emphasizes that physical punishment only assures one thing: your dog will be afraid of you. Using a reward-based system to train your dog is the key to a much happier, and well-behaved, pup.

6. NEGLECTING BREED-SPECIFIC HEALTH REQUIREMENTS

Small dog with a large underbite
iStock/Rolf_52

From grooming needs to health issues, every breed of dog has its own specific requirements. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the specific needs of your dog's breed, as well as any potential warning signs associated with specific health issues they may be prone to, in order to give your dog the best care.

7. NOT BRUSHING THEIR TEETH

Your dog's teeth should be brushed almost as often as yours. It's recommended to start getting them used to the routine when they're puppies, so that you can avoid a mini-wrestling match with them every time you try to brush as they get older. Supplemental chewing sticks aren't nearly as effective as actual brushing, because if you're doing the brushing you can assure every tooth is reached. Be sure to use dog-specific toothpaste as well.

8. NOT KEEPING THEM MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY STIMULATED

Bad dog sits on chewed up couch
iStock/stephanie phillips

Dogs basically need as much mental and physical activity as people. You should be regularly walking your dog and making sure they're exposed to a mix-up in their routine every so often (e.g. Bright Side recommends exposing them to different sounds and smells to increase brain activity). If your dog gets bored, they'll find a way to entertain themselves—which usually means destroying some of your personal belongings.

Do Dogs Understand What You’re Telling Them? Scientists Are Scanning Their Brains to Find Out

iStock/kozorog
iStock/kozorog

We all know that dogs can learn to respond to human words, but it’s not always clear what’s happening in a dog’s brain when they hear and recognize words like “cookie” and “fetch.” Do they have to rely on other clues, like gestures, to figure out what we mean by that word? Do they picture a dog biscuit when you say “cookie,” or just the sensation of eating? In a new study, scientists from Emory University and the New College of Florida tried to get to the bottom of this question by training dogs to associate certain objects with words like “blue” and “duck,” then using fMRI brain scanners to see what was happening in the dogs’ heads when they heard that word.

The study, published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, examined the brains of 12 different dogs of various breeds (you can see them below) that had been trained to associate two different objects with random words like “duck,” “blue,” and “beach ball.” Those two objects, which were different for each dog, were brought by the dogs’ owners from home or chosen from a selection of dog toys the researchers compiled. One object had to be soft, like a stuffed animal, and the other one had to be something hard, like a rubber toy or squeaky toy, to make sure the dogs could clearly distinguish between the two. The dogs were trained for several months to associate these objects with their specific assigned words and to fetch them on command.

Then, they went into the fMRI machine, where they had been trained to sit quietly during scanning. The researchers had the dogs lie in the machine while their owners stood in front of them, saying the designated name for the toys and showing them the objects. To see how the dogs responded to unknown words, they also held up new objects, like a hat, and referred to them by gibberish words.

Dogs in a science lab with toys
Prichard et al., Frontiers in Neuroscience (2018]

The results suggest that dogs can, in fact, discriminate between words they know and novel words. While not all the dogs showed the same neural response, they showed activation in different regions of their brains when hearing the familiar word versus the novel one.

Some of the dogs showed evidence of a greater neural response in the parietotemporal cortex, an area of the dog brain believed to be similar to the human angular gyrus, the region of the brain that allows us to process the words we hear and read. Others showed more neural activity in other regions of the brain. These differences might be due to the fact that the study used dogs of different sizes and breeds, which could mean differences in their abilities.

The dogs did show a surprising trend in their brains’ response to new words. “We expected to see that dogs neurally discriminate between words that they know and words that they don’t,” lead author Ashley Prichard of Emory University said in a press release. “What's surprising is that the result is opposite to that of research on humans—people typically show greater neural activation for known words than novel words." This could be because the dogs were trying extra hard to understand what their owners were saying.

The results don’t prove that talking to your dog is the best way to get its attention, though—it just means that they may really know what's coming when you say, "Want a cookie?"

Scientists Find Fossil of 150-Million-Year-Old Flesh-Eating Fish—Plus a Few of Its Prey

M. Ebert and T. Nohl
M. Ebert and T. Nohl

A fossil of an unusual piranha-like fish from the Late Jurassic period has been unearthed by scientists in southern Germany, Australian news outlet the ABC reports. Even more remarkable than the fossil’s age—150 million years old—is the fact that the limestone deposit also contains some of the fish’s victims.

Fish with chunks missing from their fins were found near the predator fish, which has been named Piranhamesodon pinnatomus. Aside from the predator’s razor-sharp teeth, though, it doesn’t look like your usual flesh-eating fish. It belonged to an extinct order of bony fish that lived at the time of the dinosaurs, and until now, scientists didn’t realize there was a species of bony fish that tore into its prey in such a way. This makes it the first flesh-eating bony fish on record, long predating the piranha. 

“Fish as we know them, bony fishes, just did not bite flesh of other fishes at that time,” Dr. Martina Kölbl-Ebert, the paleontologist who found the fish with her husband, Martin Ebert, said in a statement. “Sharks have been able to bite out chunks of flesh, but throughout history bony fishes have either fed on invertebrates or largely swallowed their prey whole. Biting chunks of flesh or fins was something that came much later."

Kölbl-Ebert, the director of the Jura Museum in Eichstätt, Germany, says she was stunned to see the bony fish’s sharp teeth, comparing it to “finding a sheep with a snarl like a wolf.” This cunning disguise made the fish a fearful predator, and scientists believe the fish may have “exploited aggressive mimicry” to ambush unsuspecting fish.

The fossil was discovered in 2016 in southern Germany, but the find has only recently been described in the journal Current Biology. It was found at a quarry where other fossils, like those of the Archaeopteryx dinosaur, have been unearthed in the past.

[h/t the ABC]

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