Dogs have helped scientists make fascinating discoveries for almost as long as we have been cohabiting with them. They’re intelligent and compliant enough to participate in behavioural research studies, and so complex that we’re still learning more about them each year. Here’s just a few of the many mysteries that make your favourite couch-potato so special.
1. Dogs Learn Better With Infrequent Training Sessions
Do you ever feel guilty about not having time to train your dog each day? According to a University of Copenhagen study, in which groups of Beagles were trained up to three times per day, at varying session lengths and a few times per week, dogs gain fluency in new tasks faster when they are trained less frequently. Repetitive training and extended sessions may dull your dog’s interest and cause them to feel “burned out,” lessening their capacity to remember and strengthen new skills. You’re better off varying up your training schedule and making plenty of time for unstructured play and bonding.
2. Dog Experience Static Shock During Thunderstorms
Does your dog whine, shake and hide during thunderstorms? It’s not just the dark skies, flashes of lightning and booming thunderclaps that scare your dog – though these phenomonons are all likely contributing to your dog’s anxiety. Dogs also detect low barometric pressure and seek grounded areas during thunderstorms, particularly in bathrooms. Dogs with long fur are especially susceptible to feeling a build up in static electricity. If your dog suffers anxiety during storms, make sure all windows are closed and play a peaceful ambient soundtrack or white noise to cancel out the booms. You can also discharge static electricity by rubbing a dryer sheet across your dog’s fur coat.
3. Dogs Have A Third Eyelid
Have you ever noticed a flap of skin in the inner corner of your dog’s eye? It’s usually brown, pink or black. You may notice it when your dog is asleep and their eyes are slightly open. This is your dog’s third eyelid, also known as a nictitating membrane or haw, and it’s common in many animals, but not present in humans – scientists suspect that we once had third eyelids that shrank over thousands of years to become the pink bits of flesh at the inner corners of our eyes. Your dog’s third eyelid can get swollen or infected, so if it is prominent or suddenly changes in appearance, visit to your veterinarian.
4. Dogs Protect Children Against Allergies And Asthma
Promising research has shown that children born into a home with dogs are less likely to develop allergic eczema by age two, and may be less likely to develop other allergies later on in life – not just pet dander allergies, but environmental and food allergies as well. This protective effect decreases by the time the child is age ten. Kids with asthma can benefit from being around a dog, though if they are already allergic to dogs, the interactions will not be beneficial.
5. Dogs Have Unique Noseprints
Just as every human being has a unique fingerprint (even identical twins!), every dog has a unique pattern on their nose. There are no reported cases of a dog’s noseprint being used as clues to find the perpetrator of a crime, however, a dog’s noseprint can be used to prove their identity if it has been previously added to a security database. It’s much more common to use up-to-date collar tags and a microchip to identify your dog if they ever get lost. Some people use the art of jewellry-casting to create a keepsake replica of their dog’s nose that can be worn as a necklace pendant or earrings.