Dogs: Effect on Human Mental and Physical Health


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Quantifying sources of environmental contamination with Toxocara spp eggs.

Low risk of dogs contributing to contamination of public spaces with Toxicara eggs

Source: E.R. Morgan, D. Azam, K. Pegler
Veterinary Parasitology, vol 193 no 4, April 2013, pp 390-397

Toxocara contamination can cause disease in humans, and different species of wild and companion animals can excrete Toxocara eggs, which can then be accidentally ingested by humans. There appears to be no link between Toxocara eggs being found in private gardens, and households owning a pet. There is, however, concern that dogs could spread infection.

This study aimed to assess the contribution of dogs and other animals to Toxocara contamination of public places like parks. This involved analyzing 220 faecal samples, 99 from dogs aged between 6 months and 16 years old (69 of which were from Bristol and 30 from Swansea), 97 from puppies under 6 months from Bristol, in addition to 14 samples from Swansea foxes, eight samples from stray cats and two samples from stray dogs, the strays being from Bristol. The samples came mostly from Bristol, with some from Swansea, UK. Samples from puppies came from breeders. Samples also came from shelter dogs and cats before they were given worming treatments.

Puppies under three months were more likely to be infected, and to shed a lot of eggs, while the prevalence of infection declined the older the dog, even though worming treatments were not always given regularly. Puppies are often confined until after their first shots, so young puppies are unlikely to be a major source of environmental contamination, despite their higher infection rates.

Foxes, stray cats and stray dogs can also pàss on infection, but there were too few stool samples to assess their relative importance in this study. Adding this data to other studies, it appears that foxes could become the main source of contamination in public places, especially if owners pick up their dogs’ faeces, so reducing transmission from dogs. More information is needed on the role of cats and foxes as sources of infection.


Clostridium difficile in faeces from healthy dogs and dogs with diarrhea

Clostridium dificile in dogs with diarrhoea might affect humans

Source: K.-J. Wetterwik, G. Trowald-Wigh, L.-L. Fernström, K. Krovacek (2013)
Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica, vol 55 no 1, March 2013, p23 doi:  10.1186/1751-0147-55-23

The bacteria Clostridium difficile can cause diarrhoea, and fever in humans, and may be life-threatening. Other animals can also be affected, though little is known about the extent to which pets may be affected. This Swedish study has tested for Clostridium difficile in dogs, through the analysis of faeces from 50 healthy dogs and 20 dogs suffering from diarrhoea, 18 of which were in hospital due to their illness. The dogs came from Stockholm-Uppsala region. Two of the healthy dogs, and two suffering from diarrhoea were found to be affected by Clostridium difficile.

Clostridium difficile strains affecting humans produce toxins, known as A and B. In addition, they have genes allowing for these toxins to be produced. The genes are called tcdA and tcdB. The samples from the healthy dogs in this study tested negative for both A and B toxins, as well as for the genes producing the toxins. The dogs with diarrhoea, however, tested positive for toxin B and for both tcdA and tcdB genes. Further testing, or ribotyping, revealed that the the toxigenic ribotype 014 (SE-type 21), associated with disease in humans, was present in the samples from the dogs with diarrhoea, while samples from the healthy dogs revealed a different ribotype. Usually these infections in dogs can be treated with antibiotics, but a sample from a healthy dog in this study initially showed resistance to metronidazole.

These results show that dogs may carry Clostridium difficile, and that dogs with diarrhoea can be infected with the toxigenic variety which also affects humans, so Clostridium difficile could cause diarrhoea in dogs, and these dogs might infect humans. More work is needed on the role of Clostridium difficile in canine gastrointestinal disease.


Stress relief in seven minutes

Short, unstructured session with a dog reduces anxiety levels in students, and improves their mood

Source: Hal Herzog 
Psychology Today: Animals and Us  Nov 19 2015

Molly Crossman and her team from Yale University have carried out research to investigate the effect of interacting with a dog, a mixed-breed therapy dog called Finn, on students' anxiety levels and mood. A total of 67 students were divided into three groups. One group saw pictures of the dog, the second group interacted with the dog, and the third group was a control group which neither saw, nor interacted with the dog. All the students were tested for anxiety and mood both before and after the interaction, picture viewing, or period of waiting. Only the group which interacted with the dog showed a significant change. The change involved both an improvement in anxiety levels and in mood, and this was true whatever the level of the students' previous experience with dogs. There are still unanswered questions, such as how long such an improvement is likely to last. The research will be published in Anthrozoos journal under the title of 'Brief unstructured interaction with a dog reduces stress'.  


Research suggests canine companionship helps calm children undergoing cancer treatment 

American Academy of Pediatrics finds indications that therapy dogs can help reduce anxiety in child cancer patients

Source: ScienceDaily October 23 2015.

A study of the effect on child cancer patients of interacting with therapy dogs is being carried out at five US hospitals by a team led by Amy McCullough, American Humane Association's National Director of Humane Research and Therapy. Preliminary results indicate that heart rate, blood pressure, and anxiety levels can be improved through therapy dog programmes. The study, which is due to be completed in 2016, has so far involved 68 children between the ages of 3 and 17. The number of participants is expected to double by the end of the study. The behaviour and temperament of the therapy dogs are also being assessed.


Your faeces, my furry friend, are blowin' in the wind

Most winter airborne bacteria in three US cities originates from canine faeces

source: New Scientist vol 211 no 2825, August 13 2011 p16

Most winter airborne bacteria in three US cities originate from canine faeces, according to Noah Fierer, from Colorado University, Boulder. He and his team used DNA analysis to test air from Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland. Summer air includes bacteria from tree leaves, soil and dog faeces. Winter air has less bacteria, since there are fewer leaves, and ice and snow may cover soil. The bacteria are at low concentrations, so unlikely to give rise to disease in humans.


'Vicious' dog, vicious owner?

Owners can affect dogs' behaviour

New Scientist vol 202 no 2704, April 18 2009 p15

A study of owners of dogs from breeds sometimes seen as 'vicious' has found that these owners are more likely to confess to fighting, usage of illegal drugs, vandalism and other crimes, than are owners of other breeds, or people who do not own dogs. The study was carried out by Laurie Ragatz and a team from West Virginia University, Morgantown, who used a questionnaire with 758 students. The study classed breeds as vicious if they were seen as posing a high risk of injuring people according to the American Kennel Club. The study was reported in the Journal of Forensic Sciences, 2009.



Barking dog saves child

German shepherd alerts owner and saves child

source: Guardian November 27 2003 p9

A German shepherd dog travelling in the back seat of a car with a child, alerted the owner when the child stopped breathing. The 18-month-old child has since left hospital.


To the rescue

Newfoundland dogs are trained to rescue humans from water

source: Justine Hankins
Guardian Weekend October 18 2003 p83

Newfoundland dogs were bred to work in the sea off Newfoundland, carrying catches, or pulling boats. They are large, strong and placid dogs, with double-layered coats giving good insulation, and skin between their toes.

Newfound Friends is an organization that organizes rescues using this breed, and helps train lifeguards working at the Cotswold Water Park.Newfoundland dogs like to get muddy and wet. The dogs were originally used to carry cargo, but instinctively helped humans in trouble, and were reknowned for these life-saving feats by the early 19th century. They still perform a role as life-savers in the US, France, and some other countries. They can be taught to turn over unconscious people so their heads are above the water level. Newfoundland dogs have also been taught to jump from helicopters.


Sheepdog saves man who put message in a bottle

Border collie saves homeless man

source: Kirsty Scott
Guardian August 8 2003 p9

A homeless man found himself ill in a deserted farmhouse, and put a message asking for help in a bottle, which he threw from a window. A border collie called Ben found the bottle, and took it to his owner, who found the homeless man. The man had suffered an attack of asthma, and had not eaten for over a week. He recovered after a stay in hospital.


Breaking the silence

Work of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People

source: Justine Hankins
Guardian Weekend May 24 2003 p63

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People is a charity which provides some 125 dogs annually to people with serious hearing problems. The dogs have been taught to respond to doorbells, fire alarms, and other everyday sounds. The dogs help by making life safer for deaf people, and they can also break through the isolation that many deaf people feel.

The dogs themselves often come from rescue organizations, and their size and breed are unimportant. The dogs are taught to take their owners to where sounds are coming from, using rewards. The dogs are also taught an 'alert signal', a particular way of lying, for when they hear an emergency sound.

Assistance Dogs UK has five members, including Hearing Dogs, guide dogs for blind people, Support Dogs, and Dogs for the Disabled. Dogs should be allowed access to locations where dogs are generally banned, if they are registered as assistance dogs. This does not always occur, and education is seen as the best way to improve access for assistance dogs. The Disability Discrimination Act can be used to prosecute services and businesses that deny access.

Deaf people aged over 18-years-old are eligible for hearing dogs, and they are good companions as well as working dogs.


Canine cancer detectors

Cambridge University researchers may use sniffer dogs to detect cancers

source: Guardian April 28 2003 p7

Researchers from Addenbrooke's hospital and Cambridge University, England, may use sniffer dogs to detect prostate cancer in its early stages, though smelling samples of patients' urine. The plan is for a 12-month trial, so long as funds can be obtained.


Vulture deaths bring rise in rabies

Drop in Indian vulture population leads to increase in rabies cases

source: Paul Brown
Guardian February 4 2003 p13

There has been a sharp increase in feral dog numbers in India, as a result of a sharp drop in the number of vultures. This has led to a rise in cases of rabies. India has the highest number of deaths from rabies of all countries in the world. The vultures have been hit by a virus which has led to the disappearance of some 97% of them. Vultures performed a useful role in scavenging. Butchers, for example, would throw offal outside their shops, and it would be taken by vultures, but this no longer happens because the vultures have gone.


Give the dog a gong

Dogs win awards

source: Justine Hankins
Guardian Weekend January 11 2003 p51

Dogs tend to be awarded more prizes than other pets. One assistance dog that has won many awards is called Endal. He is a labrador, and Canine Partners for Independence trained him to help Allen Parton, his owner who was seriously injured in the Gulf War. Endal can shop, buy bus tickets, and use a cashpoint. Other award-winning dogs include a Scottish search and rescue dog called Rosie. She has rescued a 3-year-old child who was missing at night. Dogs for the Disabled also has many dogs that the organization sees as worthy of rewards. The dogs realise that they have been rewarded, and their biscuits are well-earned.


Human toxicariasis and direct contact with dogs

Petting infected dogs may put humans at risk from toxicariasis

source: A.Wolfe and I.P. Wright
Veterinary Record vol 152, no 14, April 5 2003
Starts p419, 4 pages long

Toxicariasis canis is a nematode which lives as an adult in the small intestines of canids such as foxes and the domestic dog. Eggs are shed through canid faeces, and take 2-7 weeks to become infective. The most important way that dogs are infected is through their mothers, and infection rates when dams are not wormed can reach almost 100%. Dogs can also become infected when suckling, and from eating infected small rodents. Dogs tend to develop immunity as they age. Some 2%-31% of the healthy European human population could have antibodies to toxicariasis, though there is a low incidence of clinical toxicariasis in Europe. Humans can become infected in different ways, one of which may be ingesting contaminated soil, though there is little evidence to support this.

This study investigates results found after testing hair clippings from 60 pet, farm, and shelter dogs from the UK and Ireland. The hair was removed from the tail underside, the perianal region, and the caudal area of the dogs' back legs. No sample had visible faecal staining. T canis eggs were found on 15 of the dogs, or 25% of the total sample, with 71 eggs recovered, 24% embryonating and 4% embryonated. Embryonated and embryonating eggs were found at higher densities than those recorded in samples of soil.

There do not appear to be strong links between humans testing seropositive for Tcanis,and soil contamination. Seroprevalence tends to be higher in some rural than urban areas, despite urban densities of dogs being higher. Humans have a three-fold increase in risk of contracting toxicariasis if they have a dog in the household, and a five-fold increase if they have a litter of puppies at home. Owners of more than one dog are also more at risk. A higher proportion of people in rural areas own dogs, so have more direct contact. Ireland has the highest European dog ownership rate, and the highest seroprevalence rate.

Most infected dogs were found to have hair with non-infective T canis eggs, and many humans may have exposure to T canis antigens, but no disease. Direct contact with dogs appears to be more important for transmission of T canis to humans than transmission through contaminated soil.


Postmen stamp out roaming dogs danger

New Zealand Post to use dog rangers to protect postmen

source: Kathy Marks
Independent January 23 2003 p14

New Zealand Post is to use dog rangers with poles and nooses to protect postmen in parts of Auckland where roaming dogs are a serious hazard. This follows 30 cases of dogs biting postmen over six months in Otara, Auckland. Postmen have even ceased to deliver mail in some streets in Otara. The local authority also plans to tackle the problem of unregistered dogs.


Market losses force Guide Dogs association to impose severe cuts

Cutbacks at Guide Dogs for the Blind

source: Terri Judd
Independent 6 September 2002 p5

British charity Guide Dogs for the Blind, is close all residential centres, and may shed 150 jobs. The cutbacks are the result of losses on the charity's stock portfolio in 2001. The charity has also overspent. Guide Dogs for the Blind is putting 31 district teams in place of 15 training centres. This change should help improve the flexibility of the service offered by the charity, as well as cutting costs, the charity notes. People increasingly want training in their own homes. Guide Dogs' income comes from legacies and donations, which are forecast to decline. There are some 4,800 users of the charity's guide dogs.


Dog sparks health alert for owners

Concern about risk to humans from Brucella canis

source: James Meikle Guardian August 24 2002 p14

The first case of Brucella canis has been reported in Britain, and affected a pet dog owned by a Spanish family which had journeyed from the US. Brucella canis can be treated using antibiotics, and leads to symptoms resembling influenza, such as fatigue and a high temperature. Damage to the heart is a risk, though is rare. The case was discovered in Berkshire, England, after the dog had been released from quarantine.

Vets argue that the possibility of brucellosis should be investigated if dogs show symptoms of urinary tract disease or spinal problems, and have come from areas where the disease is endemic. The dog has been cured, and has since travelled between Spain and the UK, using the pet travel scheme, where no quarantine is needed. The case does lead to concern, with more pets travelling from one country to another. Public health scientist, Robert Smith, argues that pets that are well cared for should not pose a risk for their owners, especially if vets are alert.


German postmen put dogs on the couch

German postal authorities train postmen to deal with dogs

source: Jane Burgermeister
Guardian November 21 2002 p17

Deutsche Post, the German postal services company, has started to train postmen to help them deal with dogs they meet on their rounds. The company filed 1,874 complaints against owners of dogs in 2001. Deutsche Post has considered and decided against usage of CS gas against dogs. Over 12,000 working days are lost as a result of dogs, the company claims. Animal psychiatist are teaching postmen to understand canine body language better,in order to recognize and avoid impending trouble. A trainer noted that dogs see postmen as coming onto their territory.


Three children savaged by dogs

Three separate dog attacks on children in England

source: Independent May 29 2002 p6

Three children have been injured in separate attacks by dogs in England. A six-year-old boy is in hospital in Sheffield following an attack by a Japanese akita, a seven-year-old girl has been attacked by a pit bull in Newcastle, and a 10-year-old girl has been attacked by a rottweiler in Wolverhampton.


Co-operative interactions between blind persons and their dogs

Studies of British and Hungarian blind owners and their dogs

source: Sz. Naderi, A.Miklosi, A. Doka, and V. Csanyi
Applied Animal Behaviour Science vol 74 no 1, 11 September 2001
starts p59, 22 pages long

Cooperation has been analysed in a number of ways, and involves working together towards the same goal. Sometimes dominant animals use aggression to force submissive animals to co-operate, and such behaviour cannot be called a complex cooperative interaction. Species with strong dominance hierarchies may cooperate less, as is shown by observing monkey species. Flexible dominant hierarchies appear to be necessary for cooperation, or attachments formed between members of a group.

Dogs and humans have long cooperated, and cooperation between blind owners and their dogs is an example of complex cooperation. Training includes teaching the dogs to walk straight ahead in the middle of pavements, unless obstacles are present, without turning corners, unless a command is given, ensuring that owners do not bump their heads, and tackling traffic.

The first study investigated how different training methods used in Britain and Hungary affected cooperation between owners and their dogs. This study involved 20 blind owners from Britain, 7 of whom used Labradors, 3 used yellow labs, 3 used golden retrievers, 4 used lab-golden retriever crosses, and there was one collie-retriever cross, one poodle retriever cross, and one German shepherd (GSD). They had all owned their dogs for a minimum of one year. There were 14 Hungarians with 9 GSDs, four Labrador retrievers, and one Airedale.

The owners were videotaped taking a walk with their dogs, and the videos were analysed to see which initiated actions. The British and Hungarian groups showed marked similarities, and patterns emerged. Blind people were likely to initiate much of the starting, turning, slowing down and stopping, whereas dogs appeared to have full control of initiation only in the case of avoidance. The dogs and their owners took turns to initiate activities, though dogs were more likely to initiate in long sequences, sometimes with three to four actions initiated by dogs followed by one action initiated by owners.

A second study looked at differences between trained dogs with blind owners, and naïve pet dogs with blindfolded owners, in terms of their ability to go through obstacle courses. There were 18 guide dogs, 9 Labrador retrievers, 5 German shepherds, 3 Golden retrievers, and one Rottweiler. There were 13 pet dogs, 9 Tervueren, 2 Groenandael, and a Malinois and a Boxer.

The trained guide dogs and blind owners made fewer mistakes, and were faster. Blind dog owners were more willing to allow their dogs to take the initiative for longer, or guide dogs did not need their owners to interfere in tackling some of the obstacle. However, the differences between the guide and pet dogs were not as great as might have been expected.

Behaviour does not appear to have been affected by breed in either study, and a larger-scale study would be needed to detect the influence of breed.

Guide dogs have been trained using operant conditioning methods, and their role has been seen as leading their owners. However, ethology shows that cooperation is involved in leading owners, with both participants playing important roles.

Initiation rates differed between pairs of dogs and owners, with some dogs initiating more whereas with other pairs, the humans initiated more. In no case, however, did either the owner or the dog initiate more than 80% of the activities.

The similarities found between the British and Hungarian owners and dogs may be because the owners and dogs had got used to one another, and some parts of trained behaviour were altered or disappeared.

The ability to cooperate seems to be partly inherited, since some pet dogs also showed this ability. Guide dog training seems to depend partly on dogs’ innate ability to cooperate and observe humans. Cooperation can be understood at an action level (eg avoiding, starting, etc) and at a program level (eg travelling to a shop). Both parties have to be able to follow an initiator at action level, and both have to work out who is initiating and take turn in initiating for continuous cooperation. Dogs are unaware of owners’ planned actions, and owners do not have visual information. A rapid interchange of situation-dependent leadership is made possible through co-operation. A relaxed hierarchical relationship appears to have emerged between humans and dogs, which has helped foster this kind of co-operation. Effective interaction is only possible if each party can take the lead, or accept the other party taking the lead, and a mutual ability to change roles of initiators is needed for this interaction to happen.

Click here for books by V. Csanyi and A. Miklosi


Freud’s dream companions

Dogs helped Freud through illness

source: Susie Green
Guardian, Weekend March 23 2002 p67

Sigmund Freud did not have a dog until he was in his 70s, when he was given a German Shepherd called Wolf, by Anna, his daughter, in the 1920s. Anna later complained that he transferred his affected from her to Wolf. Freud was then given a chow called Lun-Yu, in 1928, but she was hit by a train and killed 15 months later. He was greatly saddened by her death, and then felt able to take on her sister, called Jofi, who became his close companion.

Jofi was always fed choice tit-bits when Freud was eating. He suffered from cancer of the jaw, which made eating painful, so sometimes she ate the whole of his meal, and she became a little tubby. She was a great comfort to Freud when he was wearied by his illness, and when he suffered pain from his operations. He wrote that she seemed to understand everything, her sympathy for him was so great.

Jofi’s death in 1937 caused Freud intense grief, and he wondered whether he would get over her loss. He noted that it was not easy to recover since she had shared seven years of closeness with him.


Should people with epilepsy have untrained dogs as pets?

Need for people with epilepsy to own trained, rather than untrained dogs

source: Val Strong and Stephen W. Brown
Seizure (9) 2000
starts p427, 4 pages long

Dogs can bring major improvements to human wellbeing, and this includes people with epilepsy. Dogs can be trained to warn their owners of an approaching seizure, giving warnings from between 15 to 45 minutes before a seizure actually happens. These Seizure Alert Dogs are trained by a charity called SUPPORT DOGS. The dogs do need to be trained properly, however, and there can be problems if untrained dogs live with people who have epilepsy.

Untrained dogs may react in a variety of ways, based on survival strategies, involving flight, fight, freeze, or appeasement. Seizure Alert Dogs are trained to see human seizures as something positive, whereas untrained dogs are anxious and restless prior to a seizure. Owners often say their dogs run to tell another person when is seizure is due, but this is an escape response. Untrained dogs have also been recorded as becoming aggressive following their owners’ seizures, attacking their owners during a seizure, becoming agitated and fearful, running away, and even suffering seizures at the same time as the owner.

SUPPORT DOGS selects dogs for training, and has trained 20 of these dogs within six months. Their owners had less frequent seizures after the training was completed. These dogs can give greater independence to people who have epilepsy. A specialist in this sort of training is needed, since there are risks to the public, the owner, and the dog, if the dog is not trained properly.


Lean on me

Dogs help homeless people

source: Adam Macqueen and Tina Jackson
Guardian Weekend December 15 2001 p79

Dogs are valued by many homeless people as friends who can also protect them, and they can motivate their owners and give them a feeling of belonging. St Mungo’s is one important charity in London, England, which runs accommodation schemes where owners can stay with their dogs. The National Canine Defence League also helps homeless dog owners, by providing free treatment through its Hope project, started in 1996. Vets from the project often note that homeless people’s dogs are well socialised and healthy. The Hope Project neuters and vaccinates dogs, distributes food, toys, and other donations from manufacturers such as Pedigree, and helps homeless people and their dogs with winter shelter.


Too much to bear

Dachshund saves elk hunter from bear

source: Independent on Sunday November 11 2001 p6

An elk hunter in Sweden has been saved from a bear by his dachshund dog. The hunter was being mauled by the bear when the dachshund attacked, by biting the bear’s private parts and hanging on until the bear ran away.


Ruff love

Maryland scheme brings at-risk boys and abandoned dogs together

source: Rachelle Detweiler
The Animals' Agenda March-April 2000
starts p28, 2 pages long

A scheme near Baltimore, Maryland, set up in May 1999, brings at-risk boys and abandoned dogs together. The boys learn to train the dogs and benefit from achieving cooperation without violence or threats. They learn new problem-solving skills. The dogs are non-judgemental, and can help the boys deal with suppressed emotions. Both the dogs and the boys may have shown anti-social behaviour. The boys learn to analyze the dogs' behaviour when they act out, and this reinforces the training that the boys themselves are receiving. The Baltimore Police Department notes that abuse of animals can be linked to violence against humans. The boys respect animals more when they go back home.


Dog bites off man's genitals

Pit bull terrier cross attacks man in Wolverhampton, England

source: Guardian September 2 2000 p11

An American pit bull terrier cross-breed dog has bitten off the genitals of a 26-year-old man in Wolverhampton, England. The man is recovering after surgery. The dog was owned by a friend of his, and will reportedly be destroyed.


Drunk gets up pit bull's nose

Pit bull terrier bites off part of man's nose in Amsterdam, Netherlands

source: Guardian October 19 2000 p20

A pit bull terrier has bitten off part of a man's nose in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The 43-year-old man was drunk in a market in Amsterdam. He placed his nose in the muzzle of the dog, seeking to rub noses with it. He has been treated in hospital.


Pet dog 'Tyson' kills owner

Staffordshire bull terrier kills owner in Belgium

source: Independent July 18 2000 p13

A Staffordshire bull terrier has killed a man aged 28-years-old in the Belgian town of Herstal. The dog attacked its owner when he was getting up from bed., and he later died in hospital from neck wounds.


Shocked Germans to execute thousands of 'killer' dogs

Tighter regulations on attack dogs in Germany after child is killed

source: Imre Karacs
Independent on Sunday July 2 2000 p26

Regulations on attack dogs in Germany have been tightened after a pit pull terrier killed a six-year-old boy in Hamburg. The pit bull, Zeus, and a Staffordshire terrier, Gypsy, jumped a fence and attacked a group of children. The boy, Vulkan, tried to run away, and Zeus bit and held onto his throat. Gypsy also seriously mauled a child. Armed police shot both dogs, but Vulkan had died before they arrived.

The federal government of Germany had previously taken a gradual approach, arguing that regions should take control of dangerous dogs. This attack on children has led to a change in policy. The Hamburg government has decided that attack dogs should be tested for aggression, with dogs failing the test being put down. Other regions are also seeking tougher measures to control dogs. Chancellor, Gerhard Schroder, has called on his cabinet to draft measures on control of dogs. There has been more coordination between regional governments, and attack dogs will have to be neutered, muzzled and registered, with imports prohibited. Penalties for non-compliance include a three-year jail sentence. The new regulations have led to some attack dogs being abandoned, and there is a shortage of muzzles in pet shops.


Puppy love

People with dogs interact more easily with strangers

source: Michael Day
New Scientist Feburary 19 2000 p21

Researchers from Warwick University, England, have found that people are more likely to interact with someone with a dog, whatever that person's appearance. Researcher, June McNicholas, used a dog trained to leave strangers alone. She recorded her interactions with strangers over five days when she had the dog with her, and five days when she did not. There were 156 interactions when she had the dog, compared to 50 interactions when she did not. Men accounted for 60% of the interactions. A male researcher did the same thing, dressed scruffily and dressed smartly. The number of interactions with strangers increased tenfold when he had a dog, however he was dressed. McNicholas suggests that dog owners could train their dogs to wag their tails at strangers they find attractive. This research was reported in British Journal of Psychology, vol 91, p61.


Pining for pets may damage your health

Research planned on dog owners who go away on holiday without their pets

source: Roger Dobson, Independent July 12 2000 p5

Research at the University of Wales, Swansea, will study the effect on dog owners of going on holiday without their pets, comparing this group with owners who take their pets on holiday. Psychologists suggest that leaving a pet behind could cause stress and anxiety, which could lead to cardiovascular problems and affect the immune system. The Society of Companion Animal Studies supports the research. The aims is to show the health benefits from owning dogs, and to convince the National Health Service to permit dogs as visitors in hospitals.


Postman wins 4,750 pounds sterling for dog bite

British postman awarded compensation for dog bite

source: Guardian May 6 2000 p22

A postman has been awarded 4,750 pounds sterling in compensation for having been bitten by a springer spaniel, Toby. He will receive additional payments for his legal costs and loss of earnings. The incident occurred in Oct 1998, when the dog bit the postman, who was delivering mail, in the groin. The postman is worried about the effect of the bite on his ability to have children, though he has been told that this should be unaffected.


Dangerous dogs

Dogs can track pesticides into the home

source: Kurt Kleiner
New Scientist February 10 2001 p16

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has carried out initial research on whether dogs can track pesticides into the home from lawns recently treated with organophosphates. Researcher, Marsha Morgan, studied one family with a dog, who had used the insecticide diazinon to treat their garden. Samples were taken both from the dog, and from the carpet and air within the home. Pesticide levels in the home sometimes rose to 50 times background levels, and were even higher on the dog, from 55 to 250 times greater than background levels. The research was reported in 'Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology', vol 66.


Puppies ride free

Bus company allows guide dog puppies to travel free

source: Guardian September 8 2000 p4

A bus company in Dundee, Scotland, has given free travel passes to the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, to be used by volunteers who walk the association's puppies. This is the first British bus company to take such a measure.