Tag: dog behavior

Citizen Science: Understanding Breed-Specific Behavior and Dog Genetics

How well can we identify the breeds in a mixed-breed dog by appearance alone? How much is breed-specific behavior influenced by the way different breeds are treated?  Now you can help scientists find out!

The Mutt-Mix Project

Darwin’s Dogs and the International Association of Animal Behavioral Consultants are collaborating to learn more about the ways small changes in the DNA of dogs over time have influenced canine behavior.  Project Mutt-Mix uses a citizen science survey to gather information about how well people can identify dog breeds in a mixed-breed animal.

The survey is the first step towards a larger goal of understanding how people perceive different breeds, and how this perception influences our relationship to dogs.

You don’t have to be a dog parent to participate!  Anyone will be able to test his/her breed recognition skills through a short survey.  Participants will receive a certificate of participation as well as the answers to the survey in about two months  This survey hasn’t launched, but those who are interested can sign up now.

A better understanding of breed-specific behaviors may help to prevent breed discrimination.  This knowledge may also help advance training techniques to better match breed characteristics and owner expectations.

Darwin’s Dogs

Darwin’s Dogs is run by the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT and UMass Medical School.  The project studies canine genetics to understand and to develop treatments for psychiatric and neurological disease in both humans and animals.  Like the Mutt-Mix project, Darwin’s Dogs relies on citizen science surveys.

Participating dog owners complete a series of brief surveys.  Once an owner completes ten surveys, they are eligible to submit a saliva sample for their dog.  From each sample analyzed, owners will receive information about their dog’s genetics and breed.  Scientists will compare the genetic information to behavioral data provided by the owner.  Scientists will not analyze every sample submitted.  Instead, the scientists will select samples for analysis based on the needs of the project.  Enroll your dog(s) at Darwin’s Dogs enroll to begin.

Get involved

Together, the Mutt-Mix project and Darwin’s Dogs provide an opportunity for dog lovers to contribute to science.  Sign up today and get started.

What do you think?  Are you already participating in Darwin’s Dogs?  Comment below to share your story.

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It’s Train Your Dog Month 2018

It’s National Train Your Dog Month 2018, and the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) has the resources you need for successful training. January is the perfect time to focus on training, because so many people get new pets over the holidays.

What is National Train Your Dog Month?

The APDT initiated National Train Your Dog Month in 2010.  The group aimed to promote awareness of the importance of socialization and training for dogs. The ADPT designs each NTYD month theme and resources to emphasize how rewarding and fun training your dog can be.  This year, the group is promoting training basic behaviors for the family dog.  These skills are covered in their Canine Life and Social Skills (C.L.A.S.S) program.  You can learn more about the types of basic skills your dog needs to achieve levels from Bachelors to PhD on their website.

What resources are available to pet parents during Train Your Dog Month 2018?

The APDT will offer free webinars throughout the month of January to help you teach your dog basic skills like sit, down, stay, wait, recall, and walking on a leash.  Be sure to follow them on Twitter at #APDTTrainYourDogMonth2018 and on Facebook to stay up to date on events and resources.  The NTYD website links to a wealth of free resources including training videos, tips, and more.   You will want to click through the website, because training tips and videos are located under several tabs.  On the homepage you will find several videos to get you started.

Where can I find a local trainer?

The APDT maintains a listing of member trainers with a convenient search feature.  Local trainers may offer discounted services and special training classes during January.   Use the quiet winter months to get a head start on training your new dog or brushing up your trusted companion’s basic skills.  It’s never too early or too late for training.

Image: Shutterstock.com