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Why does a dog lie on its back when you pet it?

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when you pet it

Does your puppy lie on its back when you or someone else pet it? And is this accompanied by small pees in the house as soon as visitors come? In the vast majority of cases of this urination behavior, there is (a form of) self-rewarding behavior. This means that performing the behavior itself yields the dog something that makes him or her feel pleasant or yields something that the dog experiences as pleasant.

However, it can also be the case that performing self-rewarding behavior causes something that is perceived as unpleasant by the dog to stop. Or, to make it even more confusing, a combination of both. I will come back to this later in this article.

Gentle Pets

You can encounter this behavior in various dogs with different characters. In some cases there are dogs with a particularly gentle character and in other cases there are dogs that are a bit insecure. But in certain cases it is about a sufficiently confident dog that has found a special way to command attention from people. I think you can say that this behavior is most common in dogs that have a combination of a somewhat gentle character and also a bit insecure.

You can think of dogs that are naturally somewhat gentle, but also dogs that have had insufficiently positive experiences with various people. This is part of socializing and the effect of the socializing process is strongest until about the fourteenth week of life.

Puppy and vulnerability

Lying on one’s back and/or letting a pee run through are ‘humility gestures’. It has everything to do with showing the physical vulnerability. This behavior is species specific, meaning it is innate behavior.

One reason for a dog to show such signals is to stop any threat or physical aggression from a congener. This skill is practiced daily in the nest. Now it is more common for dogs to project their species-specific behavior onto us humans. They can’t be blamed because they don’t know any better. Although thorough socialization and some obedience training can make a big difference.

Usually it is self-rewarding behavior. This can easily create a vicious circle or spiral of behavior:

This behavioral spiral looks like this

The dog is at home in its safe environment and is relaxed – the bell rings (which can already cause excitement) – strange person enters the safe area – pup is impressed and shows signs of humility due to a low, cringing attitude to take – strange person sees this and thinks; “..aaaahhhh” and strokes the puppy. – due to an increasing excitement, the puppy can now also let his urine run – this allows the strange person to increase his attention or stop giving attention.

As soon as the strange person stops giving attention, the dog quickly learns what behavior to display as soon as a strange person forces himself on him. The reward in displaying the undesirable behavior lies in the fact that the strange person takes more distance from the puppy and/or that the puppy’s excitement is less.

The dog thus creates its own ‘comfort zone’ by performing this behavior. Over time, this behavior can become a habit. More than 90% of dog behavior is habitual behavior. A dog that has never learned that this eccentric behavior is completely superfluous, can continue to display this behavior. It can even give the dog a sense of control. “I’m going to lie on my back… you pet me..!”. In this way, this behavior takes on a more coercive character with ultimately the same outcome.

Punishing the dog is pointless

Now there are always those owners who think you can change this behavior by directly punishing the dog. The only thing that causes punishment in such a case is the stress and excitement (and any physical pain) associated with the arrival of strange persons.

After all, when this person was not there yet, the dog was not punished either. At least, that’s how the average four-legged friend reasons. And since excitement and/or uncertainty is in most cases the cause of this humility, the chance that the problem will increase is not inconceivable. This behavior should never be punished!

How do you change this behavior in your dog?

Behavior that involves a vicious circle and self-rewarding behavior can usually only be solved in one way. You will have to influence the outcome of the behavior. Since the outcome of this humble behavior is difficult to regulate, it is wise to change the situation for the dog so that the motivation to show the behavior is as small as possible.

In other words; you prevent the vicious circle from arising that prevents the dog from rewarding itself again with performing the behavior.

This can be done in various ways:

  • Do not look at the dog when entering and turn the dog’s body away. This generally takes away the tension and excitement. This allows the dog to investigate on its own and to learn that there is not much going on.
  • Let the dog make contact on its own with your open palm that hangs along your (turned-off) body. It helps to keep this open palm lower than the dog’s nose. Most dogs experience this as less threatening.
  • You can also make yourself smaller by lowering yourself through your knees and showing the inside of your palm with your body turned away.
  • If the dog reacts positively to this (i.e. does not show exaggerated humility signals), then it is best to reward with something tasty. The blade then cuts both ways. The dog is rewarded for different behavior and an association takes place that strange people bring something tasty. This is especially useful for dogs that are a little accustomed to or insecure about the arrival of strangers.
  • You as the owner can call your dog to you and let him sit. A dog that sits is more relaxed than a dog that stands. This creates a base for the dog where excitement plays a less important role.
  • With dogs that really like to play, you can start the game as soon as a strange person comes in. In this way, the dog associates the arrival of strangers with playing a game and the dog is less likely to show exaggerated signals of humility. Side note: This will not work if the arrival of strangers is so overwhelming to the dog that the game is associated with the arrival of strangers.

A combination of the above elements appears to be the most effective in practice.

It’s about teaching your dog that strangers coming in aren’t a threat. In addition, the intention is that he learns to make contact with such persons in a different way and that showing humble signals is completely unnecessary. This is best achieved by keeping the level of arousal as low as possible and by preventing the dog from entering its self-rewarding vicious circle of behavior.

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Clear Enclosures Give Your Pet Safety and a Great View

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A lot of pet owners close their pets in a single room or a kennel when they’re away from home. That’s particularly true of dogs, because they can sometimes get into things while their owners are gone. Cats are less likely to do that, so they’re usually not kenneled. If you have a dog who needs its own enclosure when you’re at work or the grocery store there are options to provide your pet with comfort, security, and a good view of the world around them.

Problem: Standard Kennels Have Bars to Look Out Of

Most kennels are square or rectangular cages that keep your dog enclosed. They can be large enough to turn around comfortably in, but they don’t give your pet a lot of room beyond that. Kennel training or crate training is a common way to keep your dog in one spot when you can’t watch over them, and a lot of pet owners also use this method at night, so everyone can sleep without interruption. The lack of space inside the kennel, though, can get uncomfortable for your pet pretty quickly.

Solution: A Clear Enclosure Provides an Unobstructed View

With clear enclosures from a company like Clearly Loved Pets, your dog will be able to see everything around them without bars in the way. They also don’t have small spaces to stick their nose or paws through, so they won’t get pinched accidentally. Another bonus of clear enclosures is that they can be made to fit nearly any size or space. Your dog can have more room than it would have in a kennel, so it can enjoy playing and moving around much more freely, even if you have to be out of the house for a while.

Keeping Your Dog Safe Is Extremely Important

Your pet’s safety matters, and the right kind of enclosure will enhance that instead of taking away from it. Not only can your pet see you and the rest of its environment easily with a clear enclosure, but you can also see your pet and everything it has access to. Toys, food and water, puppy pads, and a soft place to lie down can all be put into the enclosure, and your pet will have everything it needs while you go about running errands or head off to work.

An enclosure that matches safety with aesthetics and comfort for your pet really is possible, when you can create the right size and type of space. There’s no more worrying about what your pet is up to while you’re away, when you can keep them confined to a space they can still enjoy.

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Caring for Your Furry Friends: The A-Z of Pet Care Essentials

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Welcoming a pet into your family is a decision that brings joy and a sense of companionship into your home. It’s essential to consider how to ensure their well-being, primarily when regular responsibilities or travel pull them away. For those moments when you can’t be there personally, services like cat sitting services San Diego CA, provide reassurance that your pet is in caring hands. However, the need for comprehensive pet care extends beyond securing a loving pet sitter; it encompasses understanding and catering to the in-depth needs of your pet to cultivate a thriving environment for them.

Pets, like humans, require consistent care that addresses health, nutrition, and emotional well-being. Their essential needs vary widely depending on the species, breed, and individual personality. By acknowledging this, pet owners can personalize their approach to pet care, ensuring their furry friends lead a comfortable, happy life.

Creating a Safe and Welcoming Home Environment

A pet’s environment significantly impacts its health and happiness. Establishing a safe and pet-friendly home is one of the first steps toward responsible pet ownership. This includes safeguarding against potential dangers such as toxic plants, household chemicals, and small objects that might pose choking hazards. However, pet-proofing doesn’t end at safety; it’s also about creating an environment that encourages your pet to learn, play, and relax. Choosing the right toys and providing various forms of enrichment cater to your pet’s instincts and can prevent boredom and associated destructive behaviors.

The Importance of Regular Exercise

Exercise plays a pivotal role in your pet’s physical and mental health. It helps control weight, improves cardiovascular health, and can reduce behavioral problems related to excess energy. However, as with humans, the type and amount of exercise appropriate for a pet can vary greatly. Dogs generally require daily walks and play sessions for physical and mental stimulation, whereas cats can benefit from interactive play to keep their predatory skills sharp. Regular exercise can reinforce the pet-owner bond and ensure your pet’s well-being regardless of its form.

Grooming and Hygiene: Beyond Aesthetics

Many people associate grooming with the visual appeal it gives their pets. However, grooming practices such as brushing, bathing, and nail trimming are not only about looking good; they are paramount to maintaining your pet’s hygiene and discovering health issues early. When integrated into a pet’s routine, grooming can become a bonding experience and an opportunity to check for abnormalities like lumps, infections, or parasites that might go unnoticed. Learning proper grooming techniques for pet owners can be challenging, but it is a gratifying part of responsible pet care.

Veterinary Visits and Preventative Care

While caring for a pet at home is vital, having a good partnership with a veterinarian is equally essential. Annual or semi-annual check-ups can help catch issues before they become severe and provide an opportunity to discuss diet, behavior, and any concerns. Preventative care, including vaccinations and regular deworming, keeps diseases at bay. Insightful information on this topic can be found within the AVMA Preventive Pet Healthcare guidelines, highlighting how regular health checks and preventive measures are crucial for a pet’s long-term wellness.

Mental Health and Emotional Well-being of Pets

Pet owners often underestimate the importance of their pet’s mental health. Like people, pets experience various emotions and can develop stress-related behaviors. Signs such as excessive barking or meowing, chewing inappropriate objects, aggression, or withdrawal can all indicate psychological distress. Therapeutic methods such as interactive play, cognitive games, or structured training can improve your pet’s mental well-being. Additionally, creating a predictable and calm environment reduces stress, making your pet feel more secure and enabling them to live a balanced, happy life.

Training and Socialization: Building Good Behaviors

Educating your pet is not just an exercise in obedience; it is about mutual respect and understanding. Practical training hinges on consistency, patience, and gentle reinforcement of desirable behaviors. Thoughtful socialization practices introduce pets to various experiences and teach them how to react to the world around them healthily and confidently. Teaching basic commands, as well as complex skills, can offer mental stimulation and problem-solving exercises that are essential for your pet’s development.

Nutritional Needs: Feeding Your Pet Right

The cornerstone for any pet’s health is appropriate nutrition. The diversity in pet dietary needs can baffle even the most seasoned pet owners. Canines might thrive on a balanced commercial diet, while felines require a diet heavy in meat proteins. Understanding your pet’s specific nutritional requirements and adapting their diet as they age is a responsibility that cannot be taken lightly. Pet obesity is a significant health problem, often attributed to overfeeding and lack of knowledge about species-appropriate foods. Certain foods are crucial for robust health, but others can be harmful. Items like chocolate, avocado, and certain sweeteners like xylitol are toxic for many pets.

Additionally, dietary supplements can affect your pet’s nutrition, particularly as they age or if they suffer from health conditions requiring specific vitamins or minerals. For further information on how to feed your dog appropriately, valuable insights can be gained from resources, including the ASPCA Dog Nutrition Tips, which provides comprehensive guidance on dog diets and nutritional best practices.

The Lifelong Commitment to Pet Care

Pet ownership is a long-term commitment that doesn’t end as your pet ages – in many ways, it deepens. Understanding the specific care requirements of senior pets, such as modifying diets for decreased activity levels or managing chronic health issues, is part of this commitment. This stage of life may require frequent vet visits and changes to your home environment to accommodate decreased mobility. Being attuned to these shifts in your pet’s needs ensures that you continue to provide the highest level of care throughout their lifetime.

Being Prepared: Emergency Care and First Aid

Preparedness for potential emergencies can be the difference between life and death for a pet. Familiarizing yourself with basic first aid procedures and having supplies on hand can help stabilize your pet until professional medical help is available. An important aspect of preparedness is knowing who you can trust with your pet if you need more time to reach them.

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The Impact of Animal Welfare Organizations on Communities

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Animal rescue efforts are essential for local communities because they help save animals’ lives and promote policies that prevent animal cruelty. They can also provide educational opportunities to community members.

Stakeholder networks must be resilient to the disturbances that inevitably affect their work. Ideally, they can adapt to these disturbances without losing their identity or purpose.

Advocacy

Animal welfare organizations frequently advocate to champion policies benefiting animals and humans. Examples include collaborating with lawmakers to promote responsible pet ownership, eliminate breed-discriminatory laws, and develop more humane housing options for pets. Some organizations, such as The Humane Society of New York (HSNY), a non-profit dedicated to animal welfare, extend their efforts beyond advocacy. HSNY provides essential and emergency medical services for cats and dogs, offering shelter and day-to-day care for rescued animals until suitable owners can be found. Additionally, animal welfare organizations undertake community programs, such as hosting low-cost spay/neuter clinics, organizing adoption fairs, and implementing no-kill initiatives to achieve shelter save rates of 90% or higher.

Some of the most successful advocates work in countries with established farmed animal movements that are more willing to accept and support activist tactics like street protests and other high-profile campaigns that generate media attention. However, talented and well-prepared individuals can get involved with farmed animal advocacy even in countries where these strategies could be more effective. This could include working as a volunteer or offering to act in a temporary care role, such as a foster home for a farm animal.

Educating the Community

Many animal control and field services officers believed community outreach was essential to their organizations. These officers felt that a focus on providing events for the public to interact with them personally increased community trust and led to positive outcomes for animals and people alike.

Officers also identified a need to continue outreach programs such as pet food pantries and community cats. Other resources that could be added included community veterinary clinics, free or low-cost spay/neuter services, and training for animal behaviorists.

These programs can address human inequities that limit access to pet care and veterinary services, contributing to the risk of shelter relinquishment. In addition, research has shown that community stressors such as economic disadvantage, poverty, crime, crowded housing, and high percentages of female-headed households are related to higher levels of reported animal cruelty. Providing pet support services may be an effective strategy for addressing these social stressors. This study’s findings can help these organizations establish and manage programs that benefit their communities and the animals within them.

Volunteer Management

The ability to recruit, train, and manage volunteers is a critical component of an animal welfare organization. A thriving volunteer program helps reduce staffing shortages and overwork, which can lead to burnout among animal shelter personnel and volunteers.

Although there are many books on general volunteer management, there needs to be more specific information available for animal care and control organizations on how to recruit and retain volunteers. This specialized manual fills that gap.

Community engagement is essential to addressing the root causes of animal cruelty and neglect. Research shows that areas with higher levels of human economic stress have higher rates of stray intake and euthanasia. Providing pet support services, such as food and supplies, low-cost veterinary care, training assistance, fences, and crates, in communities with financial distress is a critical way to improve access to the resources needed to keep pets healthy and thriving.

Fundraising

Animal welfare organizations depend on donors to fund their operations, and these supporters can be a crucial resource for helping animals. Faunalytics has researched how people support animal-focused causes and found that donating to an organization with a clear mission is associated with higher satisfaction levels for the donor.

Officers also discussed community engagement and how it related to their work. Many officers described the need for a more collaborative approach with their community. Some pointed out that there is a need for more resources to help with outreach and education and to allow officers the opportunity to interact with the public.

Other officers noted that “trap neuter return” (TNR) programs have positively impacted trust in the community and reduced the number of healthy cats euthanized. However, some officers indicated that they struggle to get support from their supervisors and leadership (“they should do more”) and from other local animal control and field service organizations and governments (“wish they had a different perspective”). This is an area where partnerships can be beneficial.

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