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Are bitches friendlier than males? Print E-mail
Monday, 11 May 2015 09:41

A team of Swedish researchers think so.  They set 400 pedigree beagles an impossible puzzle: they were presented with three boxes with transparent lids and each containing a biscuit.  The dogs could open two of the boxes but not the third.  The researchers found that bitches were significantly more likely to look to the humans for help, using eye and physical contact.  One possible reason for this gender difference is that it is a side effect of a bitch's natural, nurturing instincts.  Since closely related beagles behaved in a similar fashion, it is likely that there is a genetic basis to this social behaviour.

Dogs abroad Print E-mail
Wednesday, 06 May 2015 15:31

DEFRA issues 72,000 pet passports a year and most of those are for dogs.  Dogs can travel to and from the UK to EU countries and others such as Norway, Sweden and the US providing that they have a current passport showing that they have the required vaccinations and medical checks.  But many owners are unaware that their insurance will not cover them if their dog needs a vet whilst abroad, thereby risking huge bills.  So the advice is to check your policy very, very carefully and if in doubt, give the insurer a call.  You also need to investigate each country's views and laws on dogs: for example, in France they are largely welcome everywhere, in Belgium you need to carry three poo bags at all times, and most Spanish hotels do not welcome dogs.  www.dogpeople.co.uk has some great suggestions for dog-friendly holidays abroad.

Do genes determine personality? Print E-mail
Tuesday, 05 May 2015 12:13

Since 1989 the Swedish Working Dog Associaiton has carried out a standardised behaviour test called Dog Mentality Assessment and each year thousands of dogs representing more than 180 breeds are scored in six test situations called social contact, play, chase, sudden appearance, metallic noise and ghost.  Based on the DMA, research was carried out on more than 10,000 German Shepherd and Rottweilers to explore to what extent and how behaviour traits are transmitted over the generations.  The results support a genetic basis for a broad personality trait called boldness-shyness that underlies 16 other behaviour traits.  Only aggression appears to be inherited independently of other traits.  It is interesting to note that in humans only a few genes are associated with personality traits; it is possible that selective breeding since the early days of domestication has resulted in striking behaviour differences in dogs such as emotionality, aggressiveness, activity and predatory behaviour with a strong genetic base.

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