Importance of dog morphology in apparent behaviour and trainability: examining how morphological differences in dog breeds can affect perception of their trainability


Domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) are one of the most morphologically varied species, exhibiting an enormous variety of sizes and body types. Different breeds also exhibit different behavioural traits, and are perceived by dog trainers and owners as having variable abilities to be trained. There is evidence of a strong genetic component in canine behaviour. However, recent studies suggest that some differences, particularly in apparent ability to learn a task (trainability), may have a basis in morphology rather than cognitive ability. Owner behaviour probably plays a strong role as well, particularly in the case of small dogs, which are often considered less obedient than larger dogs (Arhant et al., 2010). Continue reading Importance of dog morphology in apparent behaviour and trainability: examining how morphological differences in dog breeds can affect perception of their trainability

Slam dunk for otter health!

Sea Otter HoopsTraining animals in zoos is not just about enrichment – although that is certainly a worthy aim. Increasingly, trainers are working with veterinarians to condition animals for medical examinations and even therapy.

The benefits are obvious – being able to undergo diagnostic tests and treatments without the need for sedation and general anaesthesia minimises the potential for iatrogenic harm and builds a bond between the patient and veterinary team. But staff at Oregon Zoo in the United States discovered another benefit when their efforts to assist an aging otter went viral in a public relations coup.

The patient, a 15 year old male neutered southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis), was admitted for a routine veterinary examination last year. Eddie has lived at the zoo since he was abandoned off the California coast as a pup. According to zoo experts, he would not have survived otherwise. Continue reading Slam dunk for otter health!

Japanese vets explore up-skilling, Downunder

A number of Japanese veterinarians have attended a two day neurosurgical workshop at the University of Queensland (UQ).

The event was hosted from July 20-21 by VetPrac, an organisation that provides practical skills training for registered veterinarians in clinical practice.

VetPrac director Ilana Mendels coordinated the workshop over six months, liaising with UQ and Philip Moses, president of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists.

The workshop covered spinal surgery and including topics such as thoracolumbar disc disease, lumbosacral disease, atlanto-axial stabilization techniques, ventral slot and spinal fractures.

Mendels found the hospital grade surgical facilities of UQ’s Clinical Studies Centre and the veterinary technicians on hand ideal for the workshop.

“It’s great to use the facilities and show them off internationally,” she said. Continue reading Japanese vets explore up-skilling, Downunder

Eagle Post

In what sport do competitors at times lie down in the middle of the course, unmotivated and bemused? The answer is cat agility tournaments, a competition in which cats run through a miniature obstacle course crammed with hurdles and tunnels. The phenomenon of cat agility contests started about 10 years ago when two couples involved in cat shows were at dinner and started talking about the tricks their cats did. They modified selected dog agility obstacles and showed them to their cats. From that chance meeting, International Cat Agility Tournaments (ICAT) was born. In 2004, cat shows began featuring agility contests, and they are now a fixture on the cat show circuit. As promoted on their website (, ICAT is devoted to “creating a new category of cat competition in which cats negotiate an obstacle course designed to display their speed, coordination, beauty of movement, physical conditioning, intelligence, training, and the quality and depth of their relationship with their owner, who trains with them and guides them through the course.” Continue reading Eagle Post

Pigeon Post: August 2011

What passes for summer on the Damp Isles is running its usual course: cool, cloudy days, unseasonable flu outbreaks and vague memories of a warm, dry spring fading into folklore. As usual we’re dreaming into autumn … part of the reverie is that as I write India are struggling to save the First Test at Lord’s! It’s the final day of the 2,000th test match in cricket history. The four match series has been billed as the decider for the ICC Test Ranking crown. Before the series began India topped the rankings with 125 points, followed by South Africa on 118 then England on 117. (Australia were fifth on 100 points). If England can get two clear wins over India this summer they will be propelled into the world no. 1 spot … and for a change some of us believe they might just be good enough to do it! It makes a refreshing change for England cricket fans wearied by match fixing allegations and Murdoch media monopolisation.
Continue reading Pigeon Post: August 2011