Are Rottweilers Good Family Dogs?

The Rottweiler is a large, stocky, muscular dog that can appear very intimidating. In TV and film, the Rottweiler often is depicted as a vicious aggressor and an attack dog. With those negative images in mind, many people jump to the conclusion that a Rottweiler will not make a good family pet and that he will not be good with children. This simply is not the case.

Are Rottweilers good family dogs? The answer is yes, they can be.

A Rottweiler should not automatically be ruled out as a family pet. When correctly trained, socialized and cared for, the Rottweiler can make a wonderful family pet – loyal, loving and calm.

Are Rottweilers Good with Children?

The Rottweiler has a very strong bond with his family, and that includes the children. If you raise your Rottweiler pup around your children, he will be loyal and protective of your children.

A Rottweiler can be very happy living in an active household with children and other pets. They enjoy playing and interacting with the children in the family and consider them to be members of their pack. Rottweilers can be very protective of their children, seeing themselves as their protectors and guardians.

A Rottweiler lives for playtime and they love playing with children. But do not assume that just because your Rottweiler loves your children he will also love other children. Rottweilers can be wary of humans they don’t know. If a Rottweiler feels that his children are being “hurt” in any way he will rush in to protect them.

Until the Rottweiler is fully trained and socialized, you should supervise him around children. If Rottweilers are not exposed to children from the time they are puppies, it is likely they will not do well in a family setting. A Rottweiler that has never been exposed to children will likely be potentially dangerous if they feel threatened by a child.

Rottweilers and Other Pets

When a Rottweiler is introduced to other household pets from a young age, he is likely to accept them as part of his pack and he will enjoy their company. Rottweiler puppies are large and they grow rather quickly, so they can be very unaware of their own size and strength. That’s why it’s a good idea to supervise play sessions that involve multiple pets until you’re certain that they’ve all adapted to one another.

This is not a breed who will immediately initiate play or interaction with new dogs.

A Rottweiler can become aggressive with other dogs, particularly those of the same sex. If he is provoked or made to feel that his family or territory is threatened, a Rottweiler can easily become assertive and dominant. And while a Rottweiler can get along with the family cat that he has grown up with, he is otherwise disposed to see cats as prey.

Rottweiler Temperament

Rottweilers have a wide range of temperaments. There are different breeding lines that are bred for different purposes, and each has a different temperament. With a Rottweiler, you must know what you want before visiting the breeder. You need to ask the right questions so that you don’t wind up with a pet that is simply too much dog to handle.

The Rottweiler Home Environment

Rottweilers are powerful dogs that require a lot of space to play and exercise, and plenty of things to do. A home with plenty of secure outdoor space is ideal for a Rottweiler. In smaller spaces and with too little human interaction and guidance, a bored Rottweiler can develop behavior problems.

These affectionate dogs prefer to be with their family members. They do not enjoy being left alone for long periods of time. They enjoy being in the same room as their family members. And despite their size, they love to cuddle in your lap and lean against your leg.

A wary breed, the Rottweiler is not immediately accepting of strangers. He must take his time to decide who is worthy of his affection. As part of his socialization, your Rottweiler should be introduced to friends and family members from an early age. It is important that you provide your Rottweiler with enough socialization so that his protectiveness doesn’t turn into aggression.

A Rottweiler is a strong-willed dog with a mind of his own. That’s why it takes a confident owner to take charge and show him who is the boss.

Although they are well respected as guard dogs, the Rottweiler loves the family life. The Rottweiler is a very sweet dog and his priority is always his family. With the right training and socialization, the Rottweiler can make a great addition to any family.

Why Dogs Wag Their Tails

 

Have you ever wondered what a dog’s tail is for? It wags all the time. It looks like frantic windshield wipers when you enter the room. It moves slowly back and forth when the animal is watching a squirrel. It drops down between his legs when you scold your pet. Whether your dog has a long tail or a short nub, he will try to wiggle it. Dogs use their tails to communicate. Wagging is like Morse code for canines. Learn what those puppy tail wags mean.

What Is Tail For?

According to VCA, the tail is part of the dog’s spine. It’s made of muscles and vertebrae that allow it to move. The tail isn’t just an afterthought; it’s an important part of your dog. It even contains nerves that help the animal control its bowels.

Your dog uses its tail for other physical functions. The appendage helps the dog balance. As your dog rolls from its belly to its side, the tip of the tail might point upwards. This helps him move gracefully, without flopping over.

Have you ever noticed that dogs known for being fast runners have long, thin tails? They use them as a counterbalance to prevent them from falling over when they’re negotiating obstacles. Swimming dogs have thick, strong tails that help them steer in the water. Dogs that are native to cold climates have bushy tails that they use to protect their faces from the weather while they sleep, according to Canidae. Cold-weather dogs’ tails are curled, a feature that makes it easier for them to snuggle into them when they’re chilly.

Some dogs, like the Australian Shepherd, Brittany spaniel, and Corgi, don’t have tails at all. In most cases, their tails have been bred out of them for various reasons. Farm dogs were often preferred to have shorter tails to prevent accidents with machinery. Certain types of terriers were sent into holes to hunt rodents, and their owners had to pull them out by their shorter tails. Many tail-less dogs have a gene mutation, however.

 

Speaking In Tails

One of the best-recognized functions of the tail is communication. The extension of the spine is part of the dog’s body language. The extremity is often colored differently than the rest of the body. It might have a white tip or colored splashes. This helps other dogs notice it.

Some positions and movements mean the same thing across the board. For example, a tail that’s held high and moves back and forth generally indicates happiness, but it could signal dominance. A faster moving tail shows that your dog is excited. If a canine is interested in something, it will usually hold its tail straight and parallel to the ground. A scared dog will hide its tail. A dog may wag its tail tentatively when it’s greeting a new animal or person.

If you watch your dog’s tail, you can get a sense of the way your pet personalizes its language. Some dogs naturally hold their tails lower than others. That doesn’t necessarily mean that those canines are fearful, though. It could be particular to the breed or just Fido’s preference. What does it mean when your animal’s tail winds around in a circular motion? She may be feeling so happy and excited that her tail is just going crazy.

Spreading Their Scent

Dogs also use their tails as a fan to distribute their scent. Glands in the anus release an odor that serves as your dog’s fingerprint. That’s one of the reasons that dominant dogs hold their tails high. They want everyone else to know that they’re in the area. Scared dogs cover their anal glands with their tails to prevent other animals from smelling them.

Do Other Animals Wag Their Tails?

Wolves wag their tails for the same reasons as dogs. Even cats move their tails around to show their emotions. Scared cats will tuck their tails between their legs just like dogs. Elephants, cows, and elephants use their tails as fly swatters. The hippopotamus beats out the dog in the spreading-its-scent department. When it has a bowel movement, it circles its tail like a propeller to spread the feces as far as possible.

Pigs are known for wagging their tails when they’re happy. Some people say that goats do too. Peacocks don’t wag their tails, but they spread open their beautiful feathers to attract mates. No two peacock tails are alike.

Why Does My Dog Lick Me

 

There’s nothing better than the unconditional love that you get from your dog. You’re covered in doggy drool whenever you step through the door. Are those sweet, slobbery dog licks really your pet’s way of showing that he’s fond of you? Is your dog licking or kissing? Dogs lick for many different reasons, so it’s tough to say. Your dog may be showing submissiveness, or you might just taste salty. Here are some other reasons why your dog licks.

Mother Dogs and Puppies

Puppies get licked by their mothers as soon as they’re born. They do this partly to keep things clean. The mother removes bodily fluids and blood from the puppies’ fur. She also ingests some hormones that help improve her bond with the new babies. This ensures that she will stick around to take care of them. The licking done by a canine mommy can be interpreted as kissing when you realize that it helps her become more attached to her babies.

Until they’re about three weeks old, puppies can’t go to the bathrooms by themselves. They have to have their bottoms stimulated in order to eliminate waste. Mom accomplishes this by licking them under their tails. She also eats their poop while she’s doing it. Although that sounds gross, it doesn’t put the dog’s health at risk.

Puppies might lick their mothers’ muzzles when they’re transitioning to eating solid food. This tells the parent that the little one wants some regurgitated food. Mom spits up some chow that’s been partially digested. It’s easier for pups to process than regular food.

Grooming

Licking is a regular part of the grooming process. Dogs’ tongues are rough, when they lick themselves that texture helps remove dust, germs, and other debris from their fur and skin. It’s kind of like the way sandpaper will pull fuzz off of a sweater. Additionally, dogs can pull dirt out of their wounds with their tongues. Also, they can’t use toilet paper, so they have to lick themselves clean after they go to the bathroom. Removing feces from their rear ends and food from their lips prevents the organic material from rotting and making dogs stink. In the wild, this gives them a better chance of staying hidden from predators and sneaking up on their prey.

 

Getting Attention

What do you do when your dog slurps your face? Most people react. Whether you respond in a negative or positive manner, you’re showing your dog that she will get attention when she slobbers on you. She keeps doing it because she continues to get a rise out of you. She’s showing you who’s boss. (Hint: It’s not you.)

Other dogs lick to show respect for the fact that you’re the one in charge. According to Vet Street, dogs immediately set up a pecking order when they meet each other, except instead of pecking like chickens, one may lick the other one’s muzzle. The dog who does the smooching is saying that she’s not out to hurt the other dog. She’s showing deference. Rover may do the same thing to you. It’s similar to kissing your friends on the cheek to say hello, only you don’t drool as much.

What If Your Dog Has A Licking Problem?

Some dogs take licking to an extreme. They lap at themselves every chance they get. They might even create a wound by going over and over the same spot. This is your dog’s way of soothing himself. If he is especially anxious or stressed, he may go overboard. This repetitive behavior might be done out of boredom.

How to Stop Your Dog From Licking

If your dog’s habit is hurting him, you’ll need to step in. Excessive moisture can prevent wounds from healing and introduce bacteria. You might be able to stop your dog from licking when you’re around, but what can you do when you’re away? Some products can be applied directly to a cut; they taste bad, so they deter the dog from further irritating the area. You can cover the area with a bandage, but this can draw more attention to the irritation, making the dog unlikely to leave it alone.

If your dog doesn’t stop this troubling behavior, you could fit her with an Elizabethan collar. That’s the dreaded cone that surrounds the animal’s head, making it hard for her to get her mouth on any other part of her body. You can also find collars that just restrict the pet’s movement so that she can’t access her hind legs. These usually don’t do anything to keep the dog from reaching her front paws, though.

Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

Dogs eat the strangest things. Sure, they may devour their food and gobble up their favorite treats. They might also have unhealthy dog habits, such as eating cardboard, chomping on the stuffing inside your pillows, or nibbling on grass. One of the grossest dog behaviors might be eating poop. Whether it’s their own or another animal’s feces, the thought of your dog eating it (and then giving you a big smooch) makes your stomach turn.

While you’re gagging, you also might be wondering if this practice could make your dog sick. It’s not necessarily harmful, but it could be. It’s also more common that you think, according to the American Kennel Club. In fact, many dog owners get rid of their pets because of this disgusting behavior. Although you love your pup, you probably want to know how to help him kick the habit. Here’s some insight into why dogs eat poop and how to get them to stop.

When Eating Poop Is Normal

Did you know that there’s a technical term for poop-eating? Coprophagia is the scientific word for this icky behavior. Although it sounds like a medical condition, coprophagia is almost always done by healthy dogs that don’t have any nutritional deficiencies. About 25 percent of dogs have been observed eating poop at some point in their lives. Up to 14 percent may have a serious waste-gobbling problem.

Some experts believe that coprophagia is a survival mechanism that helped wild dogs get nutrients even when they couldn’t find real food. Others believe that it’s a way for dogs to consume digestive enzymes that help them break down the foods they eat. Some animals, like rabbits, produce poop that’s rich in enzymes and nutrients. This helps explain why your dog goes crazy for those little pellets.

Mothers of puppies will lick their babies’ bottoms to encourage them to go to the bathroom. They’ll also eat the poop to keep things clean since newborns aren’t all that mobile. As the young pups begin exploring, they may also eat the poop because it happens to be there and it smells somewhat like food. This is normal behavior. Eventually, the animals learn that there are better options for appropriate nutrition for dogs.

When Eating Poop Signals A Behavior Problem

Some dogs eat poop because they’re anxious, frustrated, bored or stressed. According to Mercola Healthy Pets, dogs that have been punished for elimination behaviors, like having an accident in the house, may start to eat their own feces to hide the evidence even when they’re outside. Pups that aren’t fed well may resort to eating feces. Puppies that are weaned early or confined to crates for the majority of their lives also have a tendency to eat excrement. Younger dogs that don’t have behavior problems can even pick up the habit from other, more anxious, canines in the family.

If your dog is stressed, he might eat non-food objects besides animal waste. Some nontoxic items commonly eaten by dogs are crayons, chalk, glue, beauty products, cosmetics, candles, and toothpaste. If your dog shreds anything he can get his teeth on, he might be telling you that he needs more play time. Eating non-edible items could also be a sign of a medical problem.

Medical Reasons Why Dogs Eat Poop

Medical reasons for coprophagia are not very common. In rare cases, dogs have a deficiency that makes them unable to produce enzymes to process food. They may also have parasites that interfere with digestion and make a dog more likely to eat feces. Malabsorption issues and irritable bowel syndrome could cause your dog to engage in this behavior.


(?)

How to Treat Coprophagia

There are no proven methods to stop dogs from eating feces 100 percent of the time. One of the best ways to stop the behavior is to prevent it. Pick up poop from the yard immediately. Don’t make the cat litter box accessible to your canine.

If you can’t restrict your dog’s access to feces, refrain from scolding your dog. In most cases, the punishment doesn’t occur at the same time that the dog did the offensive activity. Therefore, the dog doesn’t understand why he’s being punished. In other instances, the punishment can be interpreted by the dog as attention. Therefore, he might keep up this response-seeking behavior because you are attentive to him when he does it.

Why Do Dogs Run In Their Sleep?

The saying says to “let sleeping dogs lie.” However, what if your dog doesn’t look like it’s sleeping at all? If your dog runs while sleeping it may look as though it’s more activity sleep than it does during your daily walks. The American Kennel Club reports that dogs sleep for about 12 to 14 hours a day, during some of the dog sleep cycle, it may twitch, jerk or even bark. Seeing this can be humorous, but it can also be disconcerting. Is your dog having a nightmare, or Is your dog simply dreaming about chasing a squirrel? This article explains these strange sleeping dog habits.

What Is Normal Dog Sleep Behavior?

The normal sleeping behavior of dogs involves lots of lounging. Experts aren’t sure why dogs spend so much of their lives sleeping. Puppies may sleep 18 to 20 hours a day because their boundless energy makes them tired whereas older dogs may need more rest just to rejuvenate their bodies. Different dog breeds require different amounts of sleep, for example, larger dogs tend to sleep more than smaller dogs. The amount of sleep that a dog needs is also dependent on the animal’s physical activity. Working breeds might not sleep as much as a pet that stays home all day. However, some dogs sleep just because they’re bored. Make sure that your dog is getting enough stimulation throughout the day to keep him from falling asleep out of boredom.  Additionally, dogs that are kept busy throughout the day may sleep better at night. This isn’t necessarily a problem for the dog, but a dog that’s up all night may become a problem for its owner.

What’s Normal For A Dog Sleep Cycle?

Dogs have similar sleep cycles as humans, the length of time for which they stay in each stage differs, however. Dogs stay in REM sleep for about 10 percent of their downtime. Humans, on the other hand, spend about 25 percent of their snoozing time in REM sleep. Do dogs dream? Experts believe that dogs do dream during the REM stage. According to Dog Notebook, the muscles are partially paralyzed during this stage and that’s why your dog might shiver or twitch but not take off running across the house. How frequent are REM cycles? The rate of REM sleep depends on the dog. Smaller dogs may have brief dreaming periods every 10 minutes and bigger dogs may not have as many REM cycles, but they tend to have longer dreams.

What’s Normal for A Dog to Do When It Dreams?

When your dog first falls asleep, it is quiet and peaceful. The animal’s breathing will slow down, and it won’t typically notice what’s going on around it. During this stage, the heart rate slows, and the blood pressure drops. Within about 10 minutes, the dog may enter the REM stage of sleep. During this time, it’s normal for a dog to twitch; the tail may move, or the skin along the dog’s entire body may jerk gently. Sometimes, a dog may move its paws as though it is running. During REM sleep, the eyelids may open, revealing the whites of the dog’s eyes, additionally a dog’s whiskers or lips may quiver, and he may cry out or whimper. If your dog barks in its sleep, it is not necessarily having a bad dream. Barking is one of the only ways that dogs can communicate.


(?)

Is Twitching During Sleep Affected by Where Dogs Sleep?

How is the REM stage of dog sleep affected by the location of where it sleeps? Do dogs dream more if they sleep alone or with their owners? If a dog is frequently woken throughout a sleep cycle, it may not linger in REM sleep very long. Therefore, if your dog’s bed is in the living room where the kids are always running around, you may not see your dog dreaming very often. However, that dog may sleep more often to try to make up for the lack of REM sleep.

Dogs that sleep through the night with their owners or in their crates may fall into REM sleep more easily. If your dog sleeps with you, you may wake up to its movements or cries. Where should your dog sleep? That’s up to you.

How Can You Tell the Difference Between a Dream and a Seizure?

Why Does My Dog Lick The Carpet?

There’s nothing quite like the slobbery kiss of a dog. When you come home, you’re probably used to your furry friend running up to give you some hello kisses. But what happens when your dog starts licking some other things, like for example, the carpet? That’s right some dogs have a tendency to obsessively lick carpeting. If your dog suddenly starts getting overly familiar with the floor, there are a few causes that may be irresponsible.

A Lack of Nutrients

A dog’s diet plays a significant role in his or her well-being. Dogs have evolved to a point where they can sometimes subconsciously try to cure or correct any deficiencies that they perceive in their diet. Sometimes those cures can take place through some unusual means – like licking or eating inanimate objects, such as carpeting. Below we’ve laid out what a dog’s ideal diet should consist of. Read through our list and see if your dog is getting everything he or she needs in her diet.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are essential to keeping your dog happy and healthy. Carbohydrates are what give your dog the energy to run and play every day. Carbohydrates can also provide essential vitamins minerals and fiber. Ideally, your dog will receive his carbohydrates through whole grains. Whole grains will help to keep your dog’s blood sugar level steady and will keep him feeling fuller, longer. This will lead to less in between meal whining and begging.

When looking at potential dog foods try to find a brand that contains two to three carbohydrate sources. The best sources of high-quality carbohydrates include whole grains, brown rice, whole corn, barley, and potato.

 

Protein

Protein is another essential aspect of a dog’s diet. Protein helps our dog build muscle, maintain their energy levels, and grow properly. Ideally, a protein source should be one of the first few ingredients listed in your dog food. The best sources of protein include chicken, fish, beef, lamb, pork, chicken meal, soybean meal, and eggs. Try to find a dog food that has one to two sources of protein,  because when it comes to protein more is not better. The main ingredient in your dog’s food should be carbohydrates followed by protein. Too much protein can be potentially harmful to dogs.

Fats and Oils

You may have been a little weary when you saw the word fat, but just like humans, fats and oils play an essential role in creating a balanced diet for our pets. You may find it helpful to think of your pet’s diet like the common human food pyramid. Carbohydrates should be the base of the pyramid, followed by protein, then fats and oils, vitamins, and lastly, minerals. Dogs don’t need to be as concerned about fats and oils as humans do. Typically, when humans think about fats they usually also think about cholesterol levels and the subsequent effect that fats can have either on their good or bad cholesterol. Dogs naturally have higher levels of HDL (good cholesterol) than LDL (bad cholesterol). Try finding a dog food whose source of fats and oils is one of the following options: chicken fat, pork fat, soybean oil, or sunflower oil. A dog food only needs one source of fats and oils.

Vitamins and Minerals

When looking at the list of nutrients needed for your dog’s food you probably wondered why fruits and vegetables weren’t listed. Instead, we’ve listed vitamins, and the primary source of vitamins in dog food is fruits and vegetables. Vitamins aid in the release of energy from other nutrients and help to boost your pet’s immune system. There are two basic types of vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins, and water-soluble vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins get absorbed into our pets bodies the same way that fats are absorbed, whereas water-soluble vitamins are absorbed in the small intestine. The food that will provide vitamins for your dog will also be responsible for providing much-needed minerals. Like vitamins, minerals help keep our pet’s bodies healthy and working at their highest capacity.

Good sources of fat-soluble vitamins include carrots, eggs, asparagus, corn, and cabbage.  Some excellent sources of water-soluble vitamins include fish, leafy greens, beans, broccoli, and sweet potato.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder  (OCD)

While less frequent, dogs can get OCD just the same as their human counterparts. OCD in dogs can also be referred to as Canine Compulsive Disorder (CCD) or Compulsive Behavior Disorder (CBD). OCD can be brought on by a multitude of stressors including

Escape Artists 101: How To Outsmart Your Pup

There are some dogs that would give even Houdini a run for his money. These dogs are clever tricksters that constantly manage to escape the yard to go on “adventures.” And as frustrating as this tendency can be it is important to always remember that dogs descended from wolves, and wolves are free spirited roaming animals. Dogs may not seem like wolves on the surface,  but beneath their fluffy exterior, they still maintain some ancient wolf DNA. Escape artists can cause their owners lots of worry. From cars to wild animals, there are plenty of dangers out there that your dog can encounter after having escaped the yard. We believe that off-leash time is great, but escape time is not. Here are our tips to counteract even the cleverest escape artists.

Reasons That Dogs Escaped The Yard

They are left alone for long periods without any company, human or canine

Their environment lacks any enrichment

They are young and have an excessive amount of built-up energy

They are one of the more active breeds

They receive rewards from the places they visit after escaping, such as getting fed by neighbors or being pet by children.

Way To Curb Your Dog’s Wandering Ways

  • Take long walks daily. Taking walks not only physically exercises your dog but mentally exercises your dog. A tired dog won't be an escaping dog.

  • Teach your dog how to play a game such as fetch, frisbee, or flyball, and play frequently.

  • Take obedience classes and learn some new tricks or polish up existing knowledge. Have practice sessions at home that last from 5 to 10 minutes each day.

  • Provide toys that are mentally stimulating such as puzzle and treat dispensing toys.

  • If possible,  keep your dog inside when you are unable to supervise them. It is much harder for a dog to escape a house than it is for a dog to escape the yard.

  • Consider having your dog spayed or neutered to help prevent sexual roaming.

  • Work on desensitizing your dog to any fears they may have while outside. Typically we see these fears manifest as noise phobias, common noise phobias include thunder and fireworks.

You know that your dogs are escaping the yard, but have you ever thought about how he escapes the yard? Knowing how your Houdini escapes will help you better prepare for the future. Below are the three most common ways that dogs escaped their yard. If your dog has a unique way of escaping, we'd love to hear about it in the comments below.

Jumping and Climbing

More dogs actually climb the fence then jump,  but both ways of escaping are common problems. If possible, try the following techniques to deals with escape artists who jump or climb the fence. First, try making your fence taller; a few added inches may be all you need to keep your dog in your yard. Next, try adding an addition onto your fence that leans in towards your yard ever so slightly. By tilting your addition 45º, you may be able to keep your dog from leaping or climbing over the top of your fence. For a more aesthetically pleasing option, you could try to install a roll bar to the top of your fence. The benefit of a roll bar is that they will keep your dog in and predators, like coyotes, out. A roll bar makes it impossible for your pet to grab the top of your fence, keeping them from being able to pull themselves over.

If your dog is prompted to jump or climb the fence because he or she is reacting to something they see outside the yard, then these next two solutions may be best for you. First, try adding some bamboo or reed rolls to your fencing. This is an affordable way to block your pet’s line of sight. If you have a chain link fence, you can weave plastic slats through the links to create a semi to complete vision block for your dog.

A Day In The Life: Search And Rescue Dogs

Disasters strike when we least expect them. Tornadoes tear up the Midwest, hurricanes plague the south, earthquakes rock the coasts, and snow storms and avalanches blanket the north. In times of need, we rely on every available body to lend a hand; or sometimes a paw. Search and Rescue Dogs play a vital role during disasters. Be it human or man-made, Search and Rescue Dogs have been on the scene for nearly every major and minor disaster for decades. These canines heroes are hard working, dedicated team members of our internal emergency response system that deserve high praise and lots of love and cookies for the work they perform.

History Of Search and Rescue Dogs

Arguably, as long as little Timmy has been falling into wells, heroic dogs have been alerting their owners that something was amiss. Most agree that Search and Rescue Dogs got their official start in the Alps between Italy and Switzerland in the St. Bernard Pass. It is said that in the early 18th century, monks who lived in the St. Bernard Hospice in the Alps would keep a team of St. Bernard dogs around to help them locate lost travelers after snowstorms. The St. Bernard Hospice and monastery was created in 1050 by St. Bernard de Menthon to help travelers safely traverse the dangerous pass. The St. Bernard Pass is the only route through the Alps between Italy and Switzerland, its sister pass, Little Saint Bernard Pass, is located between France and Italy. It is estimated that over 2,000 travelers disappeared between the pass in a 200-year span.

The first dogs to arrive at the St. Bernard Hospice were said to have been the descendants of the mastiff style Asiatic dogs that were brought over by the Romans years earlier. Sadly, not much is known of the breed in the early years of its existence. Due to paintings and scarce documentation, the estimation has been made that St. Bernards officially came into existence between 1660 and 1670. This new breed, aptly called St. Bernards, had an uncanny sense of direction and resistance to the cold, making them perfect for the harsh winters that are so common in the Alps. It was here in the snowy Alps, nestled between Italy and Switzerland that Search and Rescue Dogs got their humble beginnings.                           

Let’s fast forward to 1914 when World War I began. While dogs had been used for search and rescue purposes before now, a certain canines made his mark on the world in a big way during the trials of WWI. Stubby, a Pit Bull Terrier, was America’s first and most decorated WWI War dog, and the only dog to be promoted to Sergeant. Some of Stubby’s duties included locating injured soldiers on the battlefield, improving morale, and alerting to the presence of mustard gas in the trenches.

There are countless tales of dogs performing heroic feats in the name of search and rescue throughout the years. From the Twin Tower attacks on 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina; Search and Rescue Dogs continue to save lives to this day.

The Nose That Knows

Temperament and disposition play a significant role in determining which dogs can become Search and Rescue Dogs. Whichever dog is selected, whether it is a puppy or an adult, it must be able to focus on the task at hand and find a specific human scent no matter what obstacles or additional smells are present. For some types of search and rescue work, different breeds can work better than others. In general, working breeds seem to work the best for search and rescue work. Those breeds can include Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Border Collies, Belgian Malinois, and Golden Retrievers. The American Rescue Dog Association says that a dog must have the following quality to make a good Search and Rescue Dog.

  • Excellent scenting capability

  • Strong drives (prey, pack, play, etc.)

  • Physical endurance/stamina

  • High degree of intelligence

  • High degree of trainability

Types Of Search and Rescue Dogs

Tracking/Trailing Dogs

Tracking and trailing Search and Rescue Dogs specialize in scent discrimination, meaning that they can follow human sense over large distances. A standard tracking search and rescue dog can track a scent over any terrain including grass, gravel, concrete, asphalt, sand, and wooded areas. Tracking Search and Rescue Dogs are typically either used to locate lost and missing persons or to track criminals on the run.

ESA, Therapy, and Service Dogs: What’s the Difference?

Dogs play a significant role in the lives of many. For as long as dogs have been a part of our society they have performed many important jobs such as seeing eye dogs and search and rescue dogs and have carried out various other vital roles. Three such prominent roles include Therapy Dogs, Emotional Support Animals, and Service Dogs.

Sometimes these roles can get confused. On the surface these titles can seem a little confusing, each animal helper assists people in some way. Yet each position is unique and comes with its own set of rules and regulations. In fact, regulations play an important role in the distinction between Therapy Dogs, Emotional Support Dogs, and Service Dogs.

Therapy Dogs

A Therapy Dog, as the name implies, provides a form of therapy for other people. Therapy dogs and their owners traditionally volunteer in settings that include schools, hospitals, nursing homes, public libraries, and wherever their presence is needed. It should be noted that therapy dogs and comfort dogs, or crisis response dogs, are not the same thing. Therapy dogs will be present in the locations listed above whereas crisis dogs will only be present at natural and manmade crises to offer comfort to those in need.

Therapy Dogs can sometimes be called in for serious incidents; such was the case with Calie, a Therapy Dog in Moore, Oklahoma who visited first responders after a severe tornado tore through town. Another example would be the kind-hearted Therapy Dogs who brought comfort to those of West Columbia, SC at the West Columbia Disaster Recovery Center after severe flooding.

Therapy Dogs are not the same as Service Dogs and Emotional Support Dogs and as such do not have the same rights. For the most up-to-date rulings and statutes on the rights of Therapy, Service, and Support Dogs consult the ADA for further information. 

Therapy Dogs go through training to become a certified Therapy Dog. Most frequently, trainer will strive for an AKC Therapy Dog™ title. All dogs are eligible to earn AKC Therapy Dog™ titles from purebreds to mixed breeds. Size, shape, and breed doesn’t matter when it comes to a Therapy Dog – it’s all about personality, temperament, and trainability. According to the ACK, the purpose of the AKC Therapy Dog™ program is to:

  • The AKC Therapy Dog™ program awards official AKC titles to dogs who have worked to improve the lives of the people they have visited.

  • AKC Therapy Dog titles can be earned by dogs who have been certified by AKC recognized therapy dog organizations and have performed the required number of visits.

  • AKC does not certify therapy dogs; the certification and training is done by qualified therapy dog organizations. The certification organizations are the experts in this area and their efforts should be acknowledged and appreciated.

Key legislator highlight for Therapy Dogs: Therapy Dogs are to be allowed on public transportation while commuting to or from a therapy engagement.

Emotional Support Dogs (ESA)

Up next are the Emotional Support Dogs. In reality, almost any animal can be an Emotional Support Animal, but for this blog, we’ll focus on dogs. Emotional Support Dogs provide comfort and support in the form of affection and companionship for any individual suffering from mental or emotional conditions. Such conditions may include:

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Bipolar disorder

  • Mood disorder

  • Panic attacks

  • Fear/Phobias

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

  • Suicidal Thoughts/Tendencies

Emotional Support Dogs need to be prescribed to an individual by a doctor or mental health professional for an existing medical condition which would otherwise keep the individual from performing daily tasks. In the eyes of the law, an Emotional Support Dog is not a pet; they are viewed as companion animals that provide therapeutic benefits to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability. Put simply, all of this means that someone has to need an Emotional Support Dog for a verifiable disability as opposed to simply wanting a dog for companionship.

Under the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHA) Emotional Support Dogs classify as a “reasonable accommodation” meaning that they must be allowed residence in “no pet” buildings and loadings. The FHA ruling does not allow for Emotional Support Animals to accompany their humans everywhere they go such as grocery stores, restaurants, or to the movies. Emotional Support Dogs do not require any special training or certification but are expected to behave properly in all settings.  

Do Our Dogs Really Love Us?

Do Our Dogs Really Love Us?

In the English language, we have just one word to describe the different types of love. The ancient Greeks were a bit smarter in this respect; they used different words to describe the love for a spouse, a sibling, a parent or a friend.

You have to wonder which word they used to describe the love between pets and people. We know how we feel towards our pets, but do they experience the same emotions toward us? Or is the bond simply a mixture of instinct, dependence and social role?

In short, do our pets really “love” us, as we understand it? In a word, the answer is yes, according to clinical evidence. Food does play a large role in feelings of affection between pet and owner. But dog does not live by biscuit alone – and neither does a cat’s affection depend solely on treats. The mere presence and/or touch of a preferred person has been shown to reduce the heart rate of these animals – a sign of bonding. (The same is true with horses.)

Puppy Love

Like people, dogs don’t simply like or love someone just because they are there. The personality of the pet and the person makes a large difference. A dominant or independent dog, for instance, is less likely to become enamored with a submissive owner. But he may become attached to someone who is a strong leader. This same person may terrify a dog that has endured hard times. A dog like this is more likely to adore a comparatively gentle owner.

In his book, Dogs Don’t Lie About Love, Jeffrey Masson wrote about his relationship with three rescued dogs. Presuming that these dogs were needy, and he is a kind person, the title makes sense. These dogs very likely wear their adoring hearts on their sleeves, so to speak. In my first book, The Dog Who Loved Too Much, I wrote about a needy, hyper-attached dog with separation anxiety. It was the dog’s owner who came up with the title to describe her dog’s apparent, total devotion and intolerance of separation.

Some dogs do become hopelessly devoted to their owners, greeting them so exuberantly that the owner has no doubt he or she is the center of the dog’s universe. But this kind of love is fawning, pathetic and, in a way, self-serving to the dog. It is certainly not a healthy sort of love.

At the other end is a very dominant, confident and independent dog. These dogs may border on indifference, and their feelings are along the lines of tolerance than attachment. They tolerate the owners simply because they are fed.

What is far better is the love in which a dog has learned to trust and respect his owner without abject humility, fear or desperate need to be around all the time. The image this brings to mind is that of a mature Labrador or golden retriever, walking beside his beloved owners, perhaps on the beach. Such dogs have enough confidence to run off and play in the ocean, but enjoy returning to the social group that is the family. This can be described as a healthy love.

Of course, there are those special bonds we have all heard about – when an owner dies, but his or her dog waits patiently for their return. Such was the case of Greyfriars Bobby, an Edinburg dog who sat by his master’s grave for many years, until his death, waiting for his master’s return. If that is not love, I don’t know what is.

Jealousy in Dogs

If dogs and cats do love us, do they feel jealousy? The answer: not in the same way. They may perceive a change in hierarchy or status when a new person or animal comes in, which changes their behavior (this is particularly true of a new animal). Change in routine is upsetting to both dogs and cats, and they react accordingly.

Love of a Cat

Cats are said to be independent, aloof, and not in need of company except on their terms. This is true only of some cats; certainly not all. Cats raised by people from an early age either think they are almost human, or that the human is almost a cat.

In fact, throughout a cat-person bond, the two may switch roles without realizing it. On occasion, a cat will bring home a dead or half-dead animal as a token of her love and respect (a touching, if gruesome, method of confirming the bond).

Bringing home “love offerings” of this type is a sign of attachment and belonging. There are others that require less clean up. When the bond is strong, a cat will: