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Dogs act jealously even when they don’t see their rival

Dogs appear to be one of the few species that might display jealous behaviors in ways similar to a human child showing jealousy when their mother gives affection to another child. In humans, jealousy is closely linked with self-awareness, which is one reason animal-cognition researchers are so interested in studying jealousy and other secondary emotions in animals.

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Photo by Jamie Street from Unsplash.com

Past surveys have shown that more than 80% of dog owners report observing jealous behaviors from their dogs–vocalizations, agitated behavior, pulling on a leash–when they give attention to other dogs. New research published in the journal Psychological Science supports these observations and finds that dogs also exhibit jealous behaviors when they merely imagine that their owner is interacting with a potential rival, in this case, a highly realistic artificial dog.

“Research has supported what many dog owners firmly believe–dogs exhibit jealous behavior when their human companion interacts with a potential rival,” said Amalia Bastos with the University of Auckland and lead author on the paper. “We wanted to study this behavior more fully to determine if dogs could, like humans, mentally represent a situation that evoked jealousy.”

Dogs appear to be one of the few species that might display jealous behaviors in ways similar to a human child showing jealousy when their mother gives affection to another child. In humans, jealousy is closely linked with self-awareness, which is one reason animal-cognition researchers are so interested in studying jealousy and other secondary emotions in animals.

To test how and when dogs display jealous behavior, the researchers presented 18 dogs with situations where they could imagine a social interaction between their human companion and either a realistic fake dog or a fleece cylinder. The fake dog served as a potential rival for attention while the cylinder served as a control.

In the experiment, the dogs observed the fake-dog rival positioned next to their owner. A barrier was then placed between the dog and the potential rival obscuring them from view. Despite blocking the line of sight, the dogs forcefully attempted to reach their owners when they appeared to stroke the rival fake dog behind the barrier. In a repeat experiment using a fleece cylinder rather than a fake dog, the dogs pulled on the lead with far less force.

Through their study, Bastos and her colleagues found that dogs showed three human-like signatures of jealous behavior. Jealous behavior emerged only when their owner interacted with a perceived social rival and not an inanimate object; occurred as a consequence of that interaction and not due to a potential rival’s mere presence; and emerged even for an out-of-sight interaction between their owner and a social rival.

“These results support claims that dogs display jealous behavior. They also provide the first evidence that dogs can mentally represent jealousy-inducing social interactions,” said Bastos. “Previous studies confounded jealous behavior with play, interest, or aggression, because they never tested the dogs’ reactions to the owner and the social rival being present in the same room but not interacting.”

“There is still plenty of work to do to establish the extent of the similarities between the minds of humans and other animals, especially in terms of understanding the nature of nonhuman animals’ emotional experiences,” said Bastos. “It is too early to say whether dogs experience jealousy as we do, but it is now clear that they react to jealousy-inducing situations, even if these occur out-of-sight.”

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Pet Care

Home sweet home: Pet cats rarely stray far

The domestic cat is one of our most popular pets. In Norway alone, 5.4 million people own approximately 770,000 cats. But where do our four-legged friends go? The cat wants to go outside, you open the door, it leaves and disappears. After a while it returns, but where was it in the meantime?

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Photo by Mikhail Vasilyev from Unsplash.com

The domestic cat is one of our most popular pets. In Norway alone, 5.4 million people own approximately 770,000 cats. But where do our four-legged friends go? The cat wants to go outside, you open the door, it leaves and disappears. After a while it returns, but where was it in the meantime? 

Researchers and master’s students at NMBU, the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, are shedding some light on the feline mystery. They have GPS-marked almost 100 pet cats in a small town in Eastern Norway and tracked the cats when they were outside.

“The goal was to map the movements of  an entire population of pet cats within the same area,” says NMBU-professor Richard Bischof.

The cat owners all lived within about one square kilometer, which gave the researchers a very detailed insight into many cats’ activities within a limited area. The high number of cats within such a small area makes this cat tracking study unique.

In your neighbor’s garden

The results from this small Norwegian town corresponds with similar research from other European countries: the answer to the cat mystery lies significantly closer to home than the owners probably expected.

The cats spent an average of 79% of their time outdoors within 50 meters of the owner’s home. The average maximum distance for all cats was 352 meters.

“Some individuals traveled relatively far, sometimes several kilometers, but those were the exceptions,” says Bischof.

Most cats are literally just around the corner when they are outside.

The “catscape”

“As far as we know, no one has ever tracked that many cats in one small area. This made it possible for us to show what a domestic cat population looks like in time and space,” Bischof says.

“We tend to think of animal populations as a collection of individuals or a single number,” Bischof continues. “Instead, I prefer to see them as surfaces that envelop and interact with the landscape.”

Bischof also points out that most cat owners probably do not think of their cat as a member of a larger animal population. But they are clearly part of what the researchers called the “catscape” in their article.

“The catscape is the combined intensity with which an area is used by all cats living there, and we were able to create a map of it using GPS data,” Bischof says. 

Large differences between individuals

The results showed that there was great variation between the individual cats in how they used the landscape.

“This is quite typical,” says Bjarne O. Braastad, professor emeritus of ethology at NMBU. “Cats have different personalities, and research results reflect this: there is often great variation.”

He goes on explaining that the cats probably spend a lot of time near the home in their own garden to rest.

“It is also worth noting that almost all the cats were neutered,” he adds. “It will of course play an important role. Neutered cats are less likely to roam.”

Student participation

How the animals use the landscape also dictates how they interact with the environment. And cats definitely have some effects on their natural surroundings.

“An interesting topic for further studies is of course the effects on local wildlife,” says project manager and professor Torbjørn Haugaasen. “We did not have the opportunity to include it in this project period, but in the future we would like to take a closer look at that as well.”

A large part of the project has been carried out by NMBU’s master’s students.

“It has been a good combination of research and education,” says Haugaasen. “The students have gained a lot of practical experience with applied science, and also been co-authors of the scientific article.”

Popular project

Although the study has so far been focused on eastern Norway, rumors spread, and the project received inquiries from across the country to join.

“People are obviously very curious about what their cat does when it is out and about. Interest has been really high,” says Haugaasen.

After the data collection and data analysis was complete, the cat owners gained access to digital maps where they could see where their pet had been. The researchers conclude by pointing out how important the cat owners’ help has been.

“We could not have done this without them. As an added bonus, we had the opportunity to include many families with children in our research. Maybe we have inspired some budding scientists?” 

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Pet Care

4 Tips to make adopting a dog a paws-itive experience

When you involve the entire family and plan ahead, you can be better prepared to provide a loving home and enjoy all the unconditional love only a four-legged best friend can give.

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Photo by Hannah Lim from Unsplash.com

Adding a dog to the family can be exciting, but it comes with responsibility, too. When you involve the entire family and plan ahead, you can be better prepared to provide a loving home and enjoy all the unconditional love only a four-legged best friend can give.

From preparing your home to researching the best dog for your family and completing the adoption process, these tips and insights from the PEDIGREE brand’s “Ultimate Guide to Dog Adoption” can help you prepare for what to expect:

1. Prepare Your Home for Adoption
In order to make the transition as smooth as possible, prep your home and make sure you have all the necessary items for your furry friend’s arrival. You’ll need supplies like a crate or kennel, food and water bowls, collar, leash, grooming supplies and toys. It’s also a good idea to stock up on puppy pads and cleaning supplies for inevitable accidents when you’re potty training.

2. Search for Your Ideal Dog
When you start your search, you’ll likely discover a wealth of choices and options. Think about your lifestyle and the type of breed, mix or size dog that best suits your family. Some breeds require more exercise than others, so you’ll need a fenced yard or enough time for regular walks. Also think about grooming and maintenance; longer-haired dogs require more regular, hands-on care. If you’re overwhelmed by all the options, try using a breed selector tool to help narrow down the choices.

3. Encourage Kids to Get Involved
Childhood pets can create sacred memories in later years, and having your kids take an active role in helping choose the family dog can make the experience even more special. Kids aren’t always able to communicate what they envision, but they can often show you in a drawing.
Now, thanks to AI technology and machine learning, you can have fun with the process of finding a dog and use a tool like the PEDIGREE brand’s Rescue Doodles to match your child’s drawing with a similar looking, adoptable dog nearby. To match a doodle with an adoptable pup, parents take a snap of their child’s masterpiece and text it to the dedicated number to guide them to an available dog nearby.

4. Begin the Shelter Adoption Process
To find “your dog,” keep an open mind. It’s important to find the right dog for you – one that fits your lifestyle, family dynamic and home. Be prepared to visit and meet potential matches as many times as it takes. Bring a notepad and pen so you can write down pertinent information and important questions you want to ask, including any information the shelter can provide about the dog’s history, health, training and behavior. Once you find the right dog to join your family, be prepared for some paperwork. Adoption questionnaires help shelters ensure dogs are going to loving, responsible families that are willing to provide forever homes.

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Pet Care

5 Ways to go plant-first with your pet

Even dogs can play a role in going plant first. One simple way to make a positive change is to incorporate a plant-first, nutritious diet for your dog.

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There are many reasons people shift toward eating less meat. While some are looking to improve personal health, others are making the conscious decision to reduce meat consumption for the health of the planet.

However, doing good for Mother Nature with your diet doesn’t mean you have to go full vegan or swear off meat forever. If everyone takes collective, small steps toward a greener world, it can help better the planet – dogs can help, too. If you’re looking to try a plant-first lifestyle for you and your dog, consider committing to these simple tips from KARMA pet food.

Go Meatless One Day a Week
When starting out on your plant-first journey, it can be intimidating to figure out how to cook without animal proteins, especially if you’ve been eating that way your whole life. Sometimes, it’s easiest to start small. Try to go meatless one day a week. Once you get the hang of cooking meatless meals, you may find you’re more comfortable making recipes without meat more often.

Focus on Protein-Rich Plants
There are a variety of protein-rich plants available, including tofu (made from soybeans), lentils, nuts, seeds, quinoa, beans, potatoes, vegetables and more. Open any plant-focused cookbook and you will find plenty of recipes to try. From familiar favorites modified to be meatless to new, adventurous combinations, you may find a new go-to dish.  

Try Plant-Based Meat Alternatives
As more people are searching for alternative proteins, many are turning to plant-based “meat” alternatives. As you peruse the grocery store aisles, you may find a variety of plant-based meat alternatives created to look, feel and taste like the real thing. Several restaurant chains also offer these plant-based meat alternatives on their menus, so you have options whether eating in or dining out.  

Eat Animal Protein Other Than Red Meat
You don’t have to fully abandon meat. It’s about taking small steps. Try just making a shift away from red meat. By making a choice to consume animal proteins that make less of an environmental impact, such as chicken or fish, you are still taking a step toward a greener lifestyle.

Try a Plant-First Pet Food
Even dogs can play a role in going plant first. One simple way to make a positive change is to incorporate a plant-first, nutritious diet for your dog. Talk to your veterinarian about switching your dog to a plant-first dog food, such as KARMA Balanced Nutrition, which is crafted with more than 60% plants plus real chicken or sustainably sourced white fish. With a balance of plant and meat proteins, you can nourish your dog’s whole-body health and vitality while living a greener lifestyle.

Visit karmapetfoods.com/kollective to learn more about leading an earth-friendly lifestyle with your pet.

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