Dogs Can Do Math

 

People often think that dogs are not capable of reasoned thinking, but recent studies prove that many dogs are capable of fantastic feats. One of the more miraculous tasks dogs are now undertaking happens to also be taught in schools to children across the globe — math!

While these dogs are not learning how to calculate the hypotenuse of an isosceles triangle, or how to solve for X, they are surprising handlers with their ability to perform some basic arithmetic (albeit VERY basic).

Meet Poco, The Counting Labrador

Poco is a Black Lab with one of these exceptional skills — he can count. And though he can only count to five, for a canine that is still a pretty remarkable feat. Poco shows off his ability through a modified game of fetch.

How it works is his handler holds out up to five identical toys, shows Poco how many toys he has, and tosses them all across the yard. Once the toys are all strewn out, Poco begins the hunt, bringing back one toy at a time. “Poco, fetch!” says Poco’s handler every time he returns with a toy, and Poco heads back out to search for another toy. Once the number of toys is reached, the handler repeats the command “Poco, fetch!” to which Poco replies with a knowing bark, signifying that all the toys have been collected.

So, if the handler tosses out three toys, the fourth time he says “Poco, fetch!” Poco responds by heeling and barking “No more toys, dummy!” proving that Poco can, in fact, count up to five.

Doggies Doing Math

In another study, dogs were given a test similar to one given to infants, used to determine whether babies are capable of grasping basic arithmetic. Pinning itself on the principle of “preferential viewing,” or that we have a tendency to focus longer on something unexpected, in this test, the expected would be 1+1=2, and the unexpected being 1+1=1 or 1+1=3.

The test works like so:

The experimenter shows the dog a treat on the table. He then puts up a screen, blocking the treat from view. Then, he shows the dog a second treat, placing it down beside the first treat, still out of view. Finally, he removes the screen.

The test (or trick, depending on how you look at it) comes into play when the results are revealed. Sometimes, behind the curtain there are the two treats, side by side, just like one would rightfully infer. No surprise there. Other times, just one treat would be there, causing the dog to stare more intently, as if to question, “What happened to the second treat?” Or, in some tests, the curtain will be removed to reveal three treats, causing the dog to focus in the same way, asking, “Where did that extra treat come from?”

The fact that the dogs responded to the test in much the same way as babies shows that they have a capacity for understanding the basic principles for addition. Not exactly groundbreaking, but for a dog, still pretty impressive.

Source: Modern Dog Magazine — Mutts Doing Math: Not So Far Fetched

PetPlus is a new benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more.  

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5 Ways To Cure Your Cat’s Boredom

 


Many people assume that cats are independent creatures who have little need for stimulation. The reality is that cats are social and complex animals who can bore just as easily as dogs, and if left with nothing to zap their energy or exercise their minds, they may become anxious, aggressive, or destructive. Whether you are looking for ways to occupy your cat when you’re away from the house or activities that will reduce attention-seeking behaviors when you are home, check out these five cures for a bored cat.

1. Rotate Stimulating Toys

Has your cat’s fuzzy mouse been collecting dust in the corner for a week? Has their squeaky bird fallen silent under the sofa? The best way to keep your cat engaged with and stimulated by their toys is to switch them out regularly and introduce new toys when you can. In addition, you should save your cat’s favorite toys for times when you really want to keep them occupied; for example, if you have to be out of the house for several hours or need some uninterrupted time at home. Look for toys that will tap into your cat’s desire to hunt, and consider trying a puzzle toy that will require your cat to problem solve in order to catch their “prey.” You can even make your own puzzle toy at home out of a cardboard box — check out our DIY instructable!

RELATED STORY: 14 Essential Products For Every Cat Parent

2. Cat Scratchers and Condos

Cat scratchers and condos are two of the most popular products purchased by cat parents, and for good reason; they satisfy two of a cat’s natural instincts: their desire to scratch, and their desire for privacy and security. Cat scratchers keep your cat from shredding the sofa or drapes by giving them a surface especially designed for nail dragging, and cat condos offer your cat a cozy place to curl up. Try making your own scratchers and condos at home, and if your cat gets bored of those after a while, make new ones! After all, variety is the spice of life.

3. Captivating Critters

Cats love to watch animals, whether it’s other cats, dogs, squirrels, birds, or fish. Give your cat a show that will last for hours by setting up a bird or squirrel feeder outside of their favorite window. An aquarium filled with fish can also fascinate your cat; just make sure to set it up in a safe place where your cat won’t be able to go fishin’ or accidentally tumble in.

RELATED STORY: Crack The Cat Language Barrier: Learn To Understand Your Cat

4. Meow-Worthy Media

Have you ever caught your kitty peeking over your shoulder at the TV? Or maybe your feline’s furry ears perk up when the radio turns on? Just like people and dogs, cats are often amused by television and tunes, and if left alone, having some visual or auditory stimulation can ease their anxiety, too. There are even DVDs on the market made especially for cats that include videos of animals such as rodents, birds, and fish.

5. Wear Them Out With A Walk

A tired cat is less likely to be bored, and one way to wear your cat out is by taking them on a walk. Yes, that’s right; plenty of felines have learned the satisfaction that comes from taking a stroll, and yours can too. All you’ll need is a leash, a cat harness, and an ID tag. It may take a little practice to get your cat used to walking on a leash — and used to the great outdoors if they’ve always been an indoor cat — but with consistency and tasty treats, your cat will eventually hit their stride.

How do you cure your cat’s boredom? Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more. 

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4 Must-Read Twitter Feeds of Hilarious Cats

I’m lucky. My husband works from home, so when I wonder what our cat, Vera, is up to, I can easily find out. The answer is usually that Vera is napping in a sunbeam, although sometimes my husband will catch her staring forlornly at the refrigerator in hopes of wet food, or running maniacally up and down a long hallway in our apartment for no apparent reason.

RELATED STORY: Find the Right Cat for Your Personality

Even with my knowledge of her daily activities, Vera remains somewhat impenetrable, in that way of cats. If she knew how to use Twitter, I’d love to read Vera’s 140-character updates to find out what she’s thinking. Fortunately, I can turn to these four cat tweeters to satisfy my urge to know the deep thoughts of felines:

@sockington: Perhaps the first of the cat tweeters? Sending 140-character bulletins from Waltham, MA.

@angrykittysays: The musings of an opinionated and sometimes grumpy cat.

 

@ChoupettesDiary: The tweets of Karl Lagerfeld’s cat.

 

@HenriLeChatNoir: The musings of an existential cat.

 

 

RELATED STORY: Best Creative Cat Toys

So those are some my favorites! Do you know of any good pet twitter handles? Leave a comment below and let us know! Consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more. Check it out at PetPlus.com

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One Woman’s Mission To Help Homeless And Needy Pets

Financial hardship doesn’t only affect people; it affects their pets, too. Lynn Molnar realized this back in October 2011 when she noticed people around her struggling to keep their pets and began hearing stories of abandoned pets.

“I remember being at the dog park and a woman who was a realtor came in with her dog, and she shared a story about going to a house to look at it and finding a Golden Retriever abandoned inside,” Lynn said. “I think this was the clincher for me, because I have a Golden Retriever, and I know how much they love and want to be a part of a family. I couldn’t imagine the anguish that dog went through to be left alone, then my heart turned toward the people — imagine their pain, their fear, their tears.”

Lynn decided to start Thankful Paws. Thankful Paws is a pet food bank located in Bel Air, Maryland that serves financially needy people, with a priority given to veterans, the homeless, and the elderly. Thankful Paws delivers pet food and supplies once a month to homes and a homeless resource center.

“Anyone is eligible if they fall within the Federal Poverty Guidelines,” Lynn said. “But we are small and deliver food personally, and try to keep our client base to the elderly, veterans, and the homeless. We help those we can. The first year we were in full operation, we delivered 12 tons of pet food. Last year that number jumped to 20 tons! The need is great!”

Paw Sign

 


Fulfilling The Needs

When delivering to homes, Lynn and her team take food right up to the door. Because delivery is once a month, they try to offer a month’s worth of food and supplies. When delivering to the homeless resource center, the provided supplies are based on a sign-up sheet where homeless pet owners can list what they need.
“Homeless populations go through leashes and collars at a much faster rate than non-homeless because of the constant wear-and-tear,” Lynn said. “We usually bring a big box of such supplies and let them take whatever they need. I believe in totally respecting a homeless person. Can you imagine living in a tent with your dog — rain, snow, heat? It would be so easy to abandon the dog and go to a shelter, but many take the harder way because of love. We serve them because of love, too.”

In doing this work, Lynn has seen some extraordinary compromises made by financially needy pet parents.

“Last year, an elderly woman shared with me that before we came to deliver food, she stopped taking her medicine because she couldn’t afford the medicine and cat food,” Lynn said. “Now, she is healthy and so is her cat! It may seem like a small thing – cat food – to but some it is like bars of gold!”


Most of the food and supplies that Lynn delivers come from PetValu, a pet food and supply store. Thankful Paws also receives donations from the Maryland Food Bank and individuals. While food donations are great, Lynn says that Thankful Paws is in need of financial donations, too.

“We are growing and need to hire staff,” Lynn said. “So far it has been all volunteer, but the workload is too demanding and we need a warehouse, trucks, and some paid positions. In the first quarter of 2014 we already picked up 7 tons of food!”

The Value of Giving Back

Despite all of the hard work, Lynn says that her job brings her tremendous joy. As a pet parent herself, she is familiar with the unique love that pet parents feel for their pets, as well as the value that a pet can bring to your life. She has a cat named Happy and a Golden Retriever named Hero.

 

“I knew early on that something was special about Hero, and it taught me that universal love — the unconditional love of a dog — is something we all need. People need love and to be accepted. People should do that for one another, but somehow we are forgetting to do so. Dogs represent that love and never judge us and always welcome us. We can learn a lot from dogs!”

Just last week, Lynn put those beliefs into practice when she saw a homeless man standing on a median with his dog. She stopped her car and talked to the man, and found that he’d fallen on hard times. She offered him a bag of dog food and a box of Milk Bones that she had in her car for Hero.

“After I left him and I was waiting for the traffic light to change, one of the man’s homeless friends came over to him and asked about the bag of dog food,” Lynn said. “I couldn’t hear everything, but what I did hear warmed my heart. He said to his friend, ‘I don’t know, this lady came out of nowhere and gave me the bag.’ That’s all I could hear. The light changed and Hero and I went home. I chuckled to myself, ‘this lady came of nowhere…’ I kind of felt like a superhero for a minute.”


We definitely think that Lynn is a superhero, and to thank her for all that she does, we are giving her a free trial of PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more.

If you want to support Thankful Paws, head over to the website to make a donation or volunteer: http://www.thankfulpaws.org

 

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7 Ways to Puppy-Proof Your Summer BBQ

Summer parties are a blast, and what better way to introduce your dog to your clan and friends than hosting a BBQ? To make sure everyone stays safe and has fun, here are some tips to keep in mind.

1. Create a Puppy-Only Lounge

Dogs need a lot of sleep, and it’s exhausting to get passed around all day long. Make sure there’s a VIP spot your pup can retreat to when he needs a time out; create your set-up so that your dog may be gated away from the festivities when he needs to rest.

RELATED STORY: Create a Special Space for Your Dog

2. Keep a Dog’s Eye View When Setting Up

Imagine what this party is going to look like from your dog’s point of view, and set up accordingly. Don’t place hors d’oeuvres on end tables, coffee tables, or anywhere else that’s within reach of the dog. Resist the urge to use candles, especially on low tables where a tail-wag could knock a candle over, or on a table with a tablecloth in case the dog ever decided to climb or pull on it.

3. “Don’t Feed the Dog!”

Spread the word far and wide: Do Not Feed the Dog. There are too many people foods that are poisonous for dogs, and besides, many pet parents don’t want their dog to learn obnoxious begging behavior by being fed people food at every turn. It’s a great idea to place a sign on the food table telling guests not to feed your pet so that you don’t have to nag.

RELATED STORY: The Most Poisonous Foods for Dogs

4. Puppy-Gate the Grill

Avoid painful burns by keeping your dog away from the grill. All that sizzling food smells delicious, but spare your dog from splatters by making sure he can’t get near a hot grill, bon fire, or other cooking surfaces.

5. Lifeguard Your Pup

It’s a common mistake to think that all dogs are strong swimmers. Drowning accidents are quite common amongst pets, so be sure to supervise the pup around the pool.

RELATED STORY: 5 Tips for Dog Safety Around the Home

6. Watch the Dog Around Kids

Dogs and kids just seem to go together, except when they don’t. Some kids can get a little too rough around pets. Likewise, many dogs might bite when provoked by behavior that’s perceived as aggressive or unpredictable. Make sure an adult keeps an eagle eye on the situation anytime kids and pets mix.

7. Bus the Tables

Parties are really fun for dogs, especially when food scraps are left unattended! Make sure you have a crystal clear system for bussing the tables and making sure leftover food isn’t left where the dog can nab it. Clear scraps immediately, and also don’t let trash overflow.

How do you plan on enjoying the warmer weather with your pet? Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus to save on your pet’s medications, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.

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5 Ways To Make Your Senior Pet More Comfortable

Senior pets are special pets. By the time your pal reaches their golden years, they’ll have exhausted most of their high energy and will be content to lounge around the house, take easy-going walks, and curl up by your side. Basically, senior pets are big-time sweethearts, and you can love them back by making the final years of their life as comfortable as they can be.

In addition to special foods or supplements that your veterinarian may recommend, there are a number of accessories that can help your senior pet live a more comfortable life. Let’s take a look.

1. A Better Bed



Senior pets snooze away a large portion of each day, and because they spend so much time catching zzz’s, their resting spot should be as comfortable as possible. Consider a bed with bolstered sides that will support your pet’s back and give them a sense of security, or a soft plush bed that will cushion their joints and bones.

2. Elevated Eating (And Drinking)



Adjustable, elevated food and water bowls
make it so that your pet doesn’t have to bend, thus reducing stress to the joints and neck. Elevated food bowls also aid in digestion because food moves more easily down your pet’s esophagus when their head is upright.

3. A Step Up


Because of sore joints and bones, senior pets sometimes have a hard time jumping off or onto furniture. In addition, jumping can further damage already worn out joints. A set of pet steps will keep your pet from jumping while allowing them to still join you where you are.

4. Bathroom Accident Aids


Aging pets need to use the bathroom more frequently, and they may even become incontinent and have regular accidents. Your pet doesn’t like it any more than you do, so don’t get frustrated. Instead, think about purchasing some supplies that will give your pal more chances to “go” and ease your cleanup, too. Wee pads and diapers (disposable or washable) are both great options. For cats, you may also want to consider a ramped litter box that makes it easy for your cat to get in and out.
RELATED STORY: 8 Reasons For Cat Incontinence And Out-Of-Litter Box Messes

5. Balancing Booties

Sometimes, dogs with joint problems end up splay-legged on slippery surfaces, like the floor of the waiting room at the vet’s office. Help your pal to stand up straight with booties that are worn over the feet and have non-slip bottoms. In addition to helping your pet keep their balance, booties also protect your pet’s feet from heat, cold, and foreign materials.

How do you help your senior pet feel comfortable? Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus to save on your pet’s medications, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.

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Meet Naki’o the Bionic Dog; 4 Prosthetic Legs and 1 Winning Personality

Meet Naki’o

Naki’o is a mixed breed dog from Colorado Springs, CO. that loves to run, jump, and play fetch.

He is also the first dog to have a prosthetic on all four of his legs.

Found frozen in a puddle, Naki’o suffered from severe frostbite, causing him to lose parts on his legs, tail, nose, and ear. On top of the frostbite, Naki’o was also suffering from mange.  And while he somehow managed to survive this tremendous ordeal, the cold did take his mother’s life.

RELATED STORY: Can Dogs Get Colds? And Other Winter Questions Answered

After he was rescued, Naki’o was adopted by a veterinarian assistant, Christie Pace, who promised to provide this special dog with all the care he could need.

For the first few weeks, Naki’o was able to walk around on his stumps, but as he grew up, his damaged legs were no longer sufficient for holding up his weight. At this point, it was time to consider prosthetic limbs. And while prosthetic limbs can be incredibly expensive, the good people at OrthoPets, moved by Naki’o’s story, simply gave him all the equipment he could need, free of charge.

Naki’o took to his new legs with remarkable determination, astonishing Christie and OrthoPets. He was quickly able to do anything any other dog could do, restoring to him much of what was taken away as a puppy.

And it doesn’t end there. Acting as a source of inspirations to pet parents all over, Naki’o sparked the idea for a rescue group dedicated to finding homes for dogs with disabilities, and is now the mascot and spokesdog. Beyond that, Naki’o has been traveling all over, showing people exactly what dogs with disabilities are capable of — a lot.

Do you have a pet without limits? Then you should get them a protection plan to match! Sign up for PetPlus today!

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Purina One’s Cat Cafe is a Smash Success

This past week, Purina ONE and the North Shore Animal League joined forces, coming up with the idea that ended up being a perfect storm for a real world viral sensation — a pop-up cat cafe. All the ingredients are there. Cats. Lattes. Impermanence. Did I mention they had cats? How could the masses resist!

For those unaware of what a “pop-up shop” is, it is a store that exists for only a brief period of time. A common example are stores that sell seasonal wares (i.e., Halloween costumes, Christmas decorations).

And this was not done simply to amuse. The North Shore Animal Shelter has filled the cafe with cats eligible for adoption. So, while you may have only come in for a cappuccino, you might have ended up leaving with a kitty under your arm.

cat-cafe-cat-blog

The first establishment of its kind in America, this cat cafe was piggybacking off the recent trend cropping up first in Japan, and now a few cities across Europe (like the popular Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium in London). And while it is not a permanent fixture, this “pop-up” has certainly sparked its fair share of interest. Just look at what Twitter had to say.

Due to the massive popularity of the cafe and limited amount of patrons allowed inside (they didn’t want to overstimulate the cats), the average wait time to even get through the door at Purina’s Cat Cafe was around 2-3 hours! But for those that made it through the arduous wait, the experience made it worth their while.  

cat-cafe

If you missed the Purina ONE Cat Cafe, just keep your ear to the ground. With the massive success that it was, you can be sure that other companies and shelters will be following suit, offering patrons the unique experience of sipping a latte while petting a kitty.

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4 Creative Ways to Celebrate Your Pet

Our pets are more than just pets; they are our best friends, constant companions, and instant mood-lifters. Many pet parents proclaim their love for their four-legged friends by making them their cell phone background, placing a bumper sticker on their car, or even getting a tattoo, but we’ve found some other creative ways to celebrate your pet, and they make great gifts, too! If you’re artistic, you could even try making some of these creative projects at home!

1. Personalized Pet Paintings



What could be better than a custom artwork featuring your favorite furball? Artist Nicole Momaney works from photos to create unique and beautiful paintings that have caught the attention of Apartment Therapy and other media outlets. “Paying homage to our loyal sidekicks in life through a painting makes for a very special gift that is sure to be treasured,” Nicole says. Her paintings start at $150 a piece, and that’s not bad for a lovely piece of pet art that will last a lifetime. Head over to her Painted Pet Menagerie Facebook page to see more of Nicole’s paintings and request one of your own.

2. Professional Pet Photos


We all snap photos of our pets on our phones, but there’s nothing quite like a pet portrait by a professional who knows how to bring out the best in your buddy. Kim Rodgers from Bark Pet Photography has gained plenty of praise for her charming pet photographs — everyone from The Wall Street Journal to People Magazine has taken notice. “Professional pet photos are more than just capturing a moment in time,” Kim says. “They capture a bond between two species.” Photos start at $450 for a touched-up, color-corrected set of 25, plus an online proofing gallery of 50-100 images.

3. Paw-Tastic Paw Prints


Welcoming a new pet into the family, celebrating a pet’s birthday, honoring a pet’s achievement, or looking for a way to preserve happy memories? ClayPaws® Print kits make it easy to create lasting keepsakes of your pet’s paw prints. All of the kits contain a non-toxic modeling compound, a storage bag, and directions, and most also include ribbons and charms for decoration. “Like a child’s handprint, each ClayPaws® print captures the unique markings of a pet’s paw,” says Laurel Lagoni, co-owner and Director of Resources and Development. “A ClayPaws® print preserves the memories of special times shared with a pet.” Kits start at $12, and you can buy them at the Veterinary Wisdom website.

4. Pretty Pet Pendants



We all wear our love for our pets on our sleeves, but you can also wear it around your neck or wrist with personalized jewelry, like that available at the StampedUnderTheMoon Etsy shop. Each custom pet piece has a hand-stamped paw print plus your pet’s name. You can even get multiples names if you have multiple pets — the more the merrier! “The unconditional love your pet has for you is like no other,” says Cisco Cosgrove, owner of StampedUnderTheMoon. “A personalized necklace helps you celebrate your pet and show the world that you love them just as much.” Necklaces start at around $38.

PetPlus is another creative way to celebrate your pet — members get savings on vet visits, medications, boarding, and more! Check it out at PetPlus.com.

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Prep Your Pup for Baby’s Arrival

For moms- and dads-to-be, right alongside all of the other mounting to-dos of getting ready for baby, is making sure that your dog is prepared for the new family member. Here are four helpful tips for what you can do before your baby’s birth to make sure your pup knows how to behave around your fragile little one.

Give a rules refresher: Hopefully, your dog is already good at the basics — sit, stop, down, heel — and isn’t a jumper. Just in case, spend some time reviewing obedience skills, and making sure your dog knows how to behave properly.

RELATED STORY: Dog Behaviors

Introduce any new rules and routines: Once baby’s around, you might need some new guidelines for your dog. Perhaps it will become extra important for him not to bark at loud noises. Or maybe it’s just a matter of your dog getting accustomed to the idea that your schedule for meals and walks may shift. If there are any changes that you can predict will occur after baby’s arrival, do your best to get your dog adjusted early.

RELATED STORY: Try An Indoor Training Class With Your Dog

Set limits around baby items: Will you be allowing the dog in the baby’s room? Can the dog go on or near the baby’s crib? Don’t let it be a surprise for your dog about new areas of your home that might be off-limits, or any furniture that has a strict “no dogs allowed” policy. Start training the dog to avoid furniture and rooms that are off-limits, or set the guidelines for what kind of behavior is allowed around baby items early on so that your dog won’t be surprised with new rules and scolds when baby arrives.

Scale Back Your Time Together: You may be used to your dog as your constant companion, but once your baby arrives, you’ll likely have less time together. Make the transition less shocking for your pup by easing up on the amount of time you spend together gradually.

PetPlus members get savings on vet visits, medications, boarding and more. Check it out at PetPlus.com.

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