Care of Your Companion Dog

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Care of Your Companion Dog

At the outset, please remember that adaptation of a dog is a long-term commitment – a dog is for life not just for the holidays. Before deciding on adopting a dog please ensure that the following needs of the dog can be taken care of:

  1. Good food
  2. Clean water
  3. Exercise and Freedom
  4. Grooming and Brushing
  5. Veterinary care in case of illness or injury.

Here are a few suggestions to ensure you develop the right kind of relationship with your dog and get things off to a good start.

A dog is a pack animal and regards everyone in the home as part of the pack, animals and humans alike, so it is important that your new pet learns his place in the pecking order. If he (or she) does not, then he will become confused and strain the start of a lifelong friendship.

The best place for your dog in his new pack is at the bottom of the pecking order i.e. all humans are the boss or the ‘top dog’ in your pet’s eyes.

This state of affairs is quite easy to achieve as long as you follow these golden rules :

  1. Ground rules need to be implemented straight away otherwise the dog will only obey instructions when it wants to and ignore them if it does not like the idea. Worse still, a dominant dog can respond with aggression when forced to do something it does not want to do. Always ensure your dog sleeps on the floor or in its own bed, never on the furniture or the bed you sleep in. Ideally place the bed in an area where the dog can rest undisturbed.
  2. When feeding a dog, always ensure it is fed after everyone else. In the dog’s eyes, whoever eats first is the top dog, so if it always has to wait until you have eaten, it will always look to you as the boss. Following this rule will make the dog less inclined to beg at the table as well. Feeding time is also a good time for basic training; making them sit before getting the food, leading on to making them wait until told when to eat, is all good obedience training. In a household with young children, it is often helpful to let the children feed the dog as this will increase their social standing in the dog’s eyes making the dog behave better with the children.
  3. A dog will play games for fun, but it will also learn from games who is strongest. To a dog, whoever wins is the dominant or top dog. The most important game to win is any tug of war with an object – direct trial of strength. Any toy used in games must be back in the owner’s hand at the end of the play. If not, the dog will read the score as a canine victory, and behave accordingly. Avoid at all times wrestling with your dog, as they will invariably beat you, and it tends to make them aggressive.

 

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Animals can suffer like humans do, so it is speciesism to experiment on them while we refrain from experimenting on humans. All suffering is undesirable, whether it be in humans or animals. Discriminating against animals because they do not have the cognitive ability, language, or moral judgment that humans do is no more justifiable than discriminating against human beings with severe mental impairments. As English philosopher Jeremy Bentham wrote in the 1700s, "The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?"

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Animal tests do not reliably predict results in human beings. 94% of drugs that pass animal tests fail in human clinical trials. According to neurologist Aysha Akhtar, MD, MPH, over 100 stroke drugs that were effective when tested on animals have failed in humans, and over 85 HIV vaccines failed in humans after working well in non-human primates. A 2013 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) found that nearly 150 clinical trials of treatments to reduce inflammation in critically ill patients have been undertaken, and all of them failed, despite being successful in animal tests. A 2013 study in Archives of Toxicology stated that "The low predictivity of animal experiments in research areas allowing direct comparisons of mouse versus human data puts strong doubt on the usefulness of animal data as key technology to predict human safety."

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Drugs that pass animal tests are not necessarily safe. The 1950s sleeping pill thalidomide, which caused 10,000 babies to be born with severe deformities, was tested on animals prior to its commercial release. Animal tests on the arthritis drug Vioxx showed that it had a protective effect on the hearts of mice, yet the drug went on to cause more than 27,000 heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths before being pulled from the market.

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Animals are very different from human beings and therefore make poor test subjects. The anatomic, metabolic, and cellular differences between animals and people make animals poor models for human beings. Paul Furlong, Professor of Clinical Neuroimaging at Aston University (UK), states that "it's very hard to create an animal model that even equates closely to what we're trying to achieve in the human." Thomas Hartung, Professor of evidence-based toxicology at Johns Hopkins University, argues for alternatives to animal testing because "we are not 70 kg rats."

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Stop Animal testing!
Use alternative testing methods!

Alternative testing methods now exist that can replace the need for animals. In vitro (in glass) testing, such as studying cell cultures in a petri dish, can produce more relevant results than animal testing because human cells can be used. Microdosing, the administering of doses too small to cause adverse reactions, can be used in human volunteers, whose blood is then analyzed. Artificial human skin, such as the commercially available products EpiDerm and ThinCert, is made from sheets of human skin cells grown in test tubes or plastic wells and can produce more useful results than testing chemicals on animal skin. Microfluidic chips ("organs on a chip"), which are lined with human cells and recreate the functions of human organs, are in advanced stages of development. Computer models, such as virtual reconstructions of human molecular structures, can predict the toxicity of substances without invasive experiments on animals.

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