Your Doggie's Tail Wagging
What does it all mean

     Dogs wag their tails, not their tongues, because the Creator took away dog's speech before he could reveal the secrets of Creation, according to an ancient Mexican tale. While legends like this are entertaining, animal behaviorists offer more practical explanations.

     A joyfully wagging tail is the picture of a happy, friendly dog. But occasionally dogs also wag their tails when they are uncertain, concerned or feeling aggressive. A tail wag can indicate a mood, but it doesn't tell the whole story. It's the whole body that is key to the dog.

     There are different types of wags. When that whole body goes into an excited wag, a dog I usually extremely friendly. Another type of wag is the slow back and forth wag. A dog will wag his tail like this to show he's uncertain. His tail carriage is lower and his head may go down just a bit. The more concerned or submissive the more the tail drops down, even hiding between his legs.

     A slower wag can also indicate aggression, if it's combined with both head and tail standing up. The dog holds his tail high to show his dominance. Look at the rest of the dog to determine his mood.

     Once you get to know your dog you can virtually read his every tail movement. Rats are extremely expressive with their little stubs and usually the butt moves right along with it. It may be a saving grace that they are short docked tails because with all the enthusiasm of them, a lot of our belonging would be sailing all over the room when they get happy!!

Cranky Canine?

The stereotypical aggressive dog is tied to a stake in his yard to guard the area from intruders, barking and growling at everyone walking by.

     Of course, your dog is nothing like him. She's sweet and loving. Sure, she growls when you discipline her, but that doesn't really mean that she's aggressive, does it? Take this important quiz to see if you can recognize aggression in dogs.

1. Aggressive behavior in dogs includes:
a. growling while tail wagging
b. mounting or humping your leg.
c. Chasing a squeaky toy
d. Tail wagging.

Correct answers: A and B
Listen to the growl; ignore the tail. Jumping on, mounting and humping people are dominance behaviors that should not be tolerated.

2. Dogs who are friendly toward women but are aggressive toward men:
a. were raised by women
b. know women give tastier treats than men
c. were abused by men at an early age
d. had limited social interactions with men

Correct answers: A and D
Without evidence of past abuse, the majority of these dogs are afraid of men because of minimal exposure to men during a critical phase of their social development, or because they view men as more serious dominance rivals or territorial intruders.

3. Games between dogs and people that promote aggressiveness include:
a. wrestling
b. tug of war
c. chasing and teasing
d. flyball

Correct answers A, B and C
Rough play between dogs is normal, however, games that teach dogs or puppies to nip, growl at or chasse people could result in the same behavior in more serious contexts.

4. Your dog steals the remote control, but growls when you try to remove it. You should:
a. ignore her
b. insist on removing it
c. let her choose which TV shows she'd like to watch
d. call her to "come" and "sit"; give her a treat for dropping the object.

Correct answers: A and D
Possessive aggression sometimes starts as attention seeking mischief. Dogs guarding an object may bite. Ignore the dog or defuse the situation by making a trade for the object. Teach your dog to "leave it' or "drop it" with objects of increasing value.

5. On your way home, you meet an unchained neighborhood dog who stares at you and growls. You should:
a. run
b. stare back at the dog
c. avoid walking at night in your own neighborhood
d. back slowly away, avoiding direct eye contact

Correct answer D
Dogs with territorial aggression are menaces. Staring or running could provoke and attack. Report incidents to your local animal control officer.

6. When you move during the night, your dog growls because:
a. you startled him from sleep
b. he was dreaming of that cute little Rat Terrier
c. you take up too much room on the bed as it is
d. he was having a nightmare about that bully Chihuahua

Correct answer A
Resting dogs can become irritable if disturbed. However, this scenario also suggests that the dog is asserting preferential use of prime real estate. If your dog has issues with dominance and or territorial behavior, he should sleep in a comfy doggie bed nearby.

7. When your children argue, your dog jumps and barks because she:
a. has a headache
b. is breaking up their fight
c. is tired of their constant bickering with each other
d. is trying to respond to the commotion and disciplining her sibling subordinates

Correct answer D
We can't be certain of a premeditated goal, but dogs normally respond to any excitement and agitation.

8. You should get help if your dog is:
a. growling when hugged or reprimanded
b. making you feel afraid or intimidated
c. needing to be confined to avoid people or other dogs and growls or refuses when you command, "sit " or "down".

Correct answers: All of the above.
Your dog doesn't have to be perfect, but she should be perfect for you. Ask your vet for a referral to a behaviorist or trainer who can correctly diagnose and treat your dog's problem behaviors.

     If you answered all these questions correctly, congratulations! You know how to recognize aggressive behavior in dogs.

     Did you miss any questions? Then consult your vet about the behavior, if it's occurring in your dog. He or she may be able to refer you to specialist or trainer or prescribe a medication to help.


How to Introduce Cats and Dogs

Thinking of having an inter-species home? Most pet owners would at least like their cats and dogs to get along. Dr Luescher says these tips can help you make new pet introductions easier.

· One half of the equation should be young; a puppy with a cat or a kitten with a dog. (Ideally, start with a puppy and a kitten)

· Until the animals get used to each other, they should be exposed to one another without being able to touch each other. Kennels work well.

· In the beginning, you should always supervise them. Praise both animals energetically. You want them to associate being together as a good thing.

· If you feel your dog may pose a danger to a cat or kitten, make sure you keep the dog on a leash and head halter so you can quickly correct inappropriate behavior.

· Reward appropriate behavior with treats and praise