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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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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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Ways You Can Support Animal Welfare in Your Community

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Animal shelters and rescue groups do so much for pets and people, often with limited resources. Please show them your appreciation by donating your time, items, or money.

Every animal welfare organization has bills to pay, including veterinary care, food, and supplies. Monetary donations help with daily operations, training, animal housing upgrades, and community outreach programs.

Donate to a Shelter

Many local animal welfare programs and shelters rely on monetary donations to continue their work in the community. Donations help fund staff, supplies, and housing upgrades. Donations can also allow shelters to offer fee-free pet adoptions during a certain period to alleviate overcrowding and increase adoptions.

Check with your local shelter to see what physical items they need. Many have wish lists that can be viewed on their social media pages or websites to ensure your donation is most beneficial to the organization.

Often, the best way to donate is through a fundraiser. Hosting your fundraiser can help you greatly impact the lives of needy animals. The funds raised can be used for anything from staff training to pet food.

Volunteer

Millions of dogs and cats come into animal shelters nationwide each year, and sadly, many of them will never be adopted. One way to assist is by offering your services as a volunteer at a nearby shelter or rescue group, such as Virginia Chipurnoi does. Whether walking dogs, socializing cats, or assisting with adoptions, your time is greatly appreciated!

Other volunteer opportunities include implementing trap-neuter-return for community cats (TNR), helping to raise funds, and supporting ongoing fundraisers. Check-in with your local shelter to see what their current needs are.

You can also become a vocal advocate for animals in your community by boycotting companies that experiment on animals and stores that promote pet mills, speaking out against cruelty, and voting for bills that will protect animal welfare. Incorporate these activities into your daily routine to prioritize animal welfare and give voiceless animals a fighting chance.

Adopt a Pet

Getting involved with your local animal shelter or rescue group is a great way to support animals and their well-being. Depending on the organization, you can volunteer, donate items, or even foster pets! Fostering is where you take in a pet temporarily to help ease overcrowding.

Each year, 8 to 12 million dogs, cats, and puppies are euthanized because there aren’t enough homes for them. Adopting from a shelter or rescue helps to break this cycle!

Supporting animal welfare can also mean promoting compassion towards animals and educating others to be responsible with their pets. Reporting cruelty is essential to helping fight this issue and ensuring that animals are treated respectfully. Nipping this problem in the bud is crucial for their long-term health and happiness.

Report Cruelty

You can help end cruelty by donating to local shelters and volunteering. You can also spread the word about responsible pet ownership and support initiatives to strengthen animal anti-cruelty laws.

If you witness abuse or neglect, it’s important to report it immediately. Signs of abuse can include untreated wounds, thinness or lack of food, and behavioral signs like aggression, fear, withdrawal, and more. Providing detailed information and photos can assist the police and other authorities when investigating suspected cruelty. Reporting animals in need can also help protect yourself; state law provides legal indemnity for veterinarians who act to stop the mistreatment of pets and other animals. Including animal welfare in your community’s daily lives helps prioritize animals, and it can start at home by teaching children about compassion and respect for all living creatures.

Educate Others

From shelter pets to wildlife, all animals need our help sometimes. Volunteering, fostering, and making a donation are just a few ways that you can help.

Building a coalition of animal welfare and social service organizations is another way to increase the number of animals your community can greatly help. Coalitions can help prevent duplication of efforts and ensure that your community works together to address the issues.

Talk to your local lawmakers about policies that prioritize animal welfare. They can be a huge factor in shaping the future of your community. Encourage them to support cage-free products, ask restaurants to stop serving shark fin soup, and promote humane education. It’s the small changes that make a difference.

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The best plant based organic food ranges for your pet.

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Many people choose to buy organic foods to live a healthy lifestyle and protect the environment. Should pet owners also make this switch for their four-legged friends? The answer is yes, Organic plant based pet food can be found practically everywhere, but you need a reliable place to buy plant based food for your furry.

Boosie.co is the most reliable food selling store for your pets. Their plant based food promote canine and feline health by including essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12, vitamin E and zinc. In general, they are prepared with natural ingredients, such as edible mushrooms, vegetables and flaxseed oil. The main benefit of switching to organic food is promoting your pet’s health.

Their organic diets use ingredients grown without the application of pesticides or chemical fertilizers. The organic diets are designed and produced using all the specialized care and health knowledge you would expect from a veterinary pet nutrition brand, but made with organic ingredients.

Some tips for introducing your pet to plant based organic food.

1. Use foods of plant origin as a topping on his usual food: placing 2 or 3 spoons of vegan food on your pet’s usual meal is an excellent way to vary his diet while benefiting from the benefits of foods of plant origin.

2. Try Meatless Mondays: Follow the human trend and start with small steps. This is a great way to introduce your pet to the delights of vegan pet food.

3. Go for half portions of meal: Try offering your pet vegan options for half of his meals. You can try vegan breakfasts or dinners. The boosie.co herbal range is available in different recipes, so you are spoiled for choice.

4. Take it easy: A sudden change in diet can upset pet’s delicate stomach. For your information, the transition to super food should be done gradually over a period of 2 weeks. They should replace 25% of their current food for 3 to 5 days, then 50% for another 3 to 5 days, and finally 75% for the final days. For the most sensitive stomachs you can facilitate the transition by giving different tablets which will provide an additional supply of prebiotics and probiotics and help to find a good balance of the intestinal flora.

5. Be flexitarian: you decide what your pet eats. If you want to try your pet’s regular meat foods along with plant foods, that’s perfect. The choice is up to you and the furry.

6. Eat a fully vegan diet: Research has shown that pets can thrive on a vegan diet, as long as it is nutritionally balanced and contains all the essential nutrients a pet needs. Once your pet has adjusted to his new diet, you can transition to a completely vegan diet. Scientific evidence shows that plant-based foods can provide all the nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that helps your pet to stay healthy, while providing a clean, transparent and sustainable alternative to meat-based diets. A vegan diet can also help regulate your pet’s weight.

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