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Aversive training techniques create aggressive dogs; deemed risky

In case anyone reading this needed confirmation, treating your dog with aggression creates aggression in your dog. In an article published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science earlier this year, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania released their findings on aversive training techniques and suggested that veterinarians warn pet owners about the associated risks. The abstract:

Monkey business? Go fish!

Clicker trainers know that old dogs can learn new tricks. And so, apparently, can monkeys. From the Associated Press, as reported by LiveScience:

Long-tailed macaque monkeys have a reputation for knowing how to find food - whether it be grabbing fruit from jungle trees or snatching a banana from a startled tourist.

Now, researchers say they have discovered groups of the silver-haired monkeys in Indonesia that fish.

Groups of long-tailed macaques were observed four times over the past eight years scooping up small fish with their hands and eating them along rivers in East Kalimantan and North Sumatra provinces, according to researchers from The Nature Conservancy and the Great Ape Trust.

The species had been known to eat fruit and forage for crabs and insects, but never before fish from rivers.

"It's exciting that after such a long time you see new behavior," said Erik Meijaard, one of the authors of a study on fishing macaques that appeared in last month's International Journal of Primatology. "It's an indication of how little we know about the species."

Read the full article here.

Concerned about chemicals? Consider your pet too

Concern about chemicals in our environment—especially those inside our homes—is growing. From water bottles, baby bottles, and Teflon pans to cleaning chemicals, products that many of us rely on may be making us sick. This may be even more true for our beloved animals. Unfortunately, the US does not regulate the chemicals that pets are exposed to, including those used in manufacturing chew toys and pet accessories.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit research and advocacy organization. Founded in 1993, EWG works to protect human health and natural resources. EWG's groundbreaking investigations into human body's toxic burden led to the creation of Pets for the Environment.

In a study released April 17, 2008, EWG reveals that pets are indeed carrying a toxic burden—one that is even higher than their human owners.

"In the first study of its kind, Environmental Working Group found that companion cats and dogs are polluted with even higher levels of many of the same synthetic industrial chemicals that researchers have recently found in people, including newborns.

"Dogs and cats were contaminated with 48 of 70 industrial chemicals tested, including 43 chemicals at levels higher than those typically found in people, according to our study of blood and urine from 20 dogs and 40 cats. Average levels of many chemicals were substantially higher in pets than is typical for people, with 2.4 times higher levels of stain-and grease-proof coatings (perfluorochemicals) in dogs, 23 times more fire retardants (PBDEs) in cats, and more than 5 times the amounts of mercury, compared to average levels in people found in national studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and EWG.

"Just as children ingest pollutants in tap water, play on lawns with pesticide residues, or breathe in an array of indoor air contaminants, so do their pets. But with there compressed lifespans, developing and aging seven or more times faster than children, pets also develop health problems much more rapidly. Pets, like infants and toddlers, have limited diets and play close to the floor, often licking the ground as well as their paws, greatly increasing both their exposures to chemicals and the resulting health risks."

Wondering how to protect your pets? Here's a list of tips to keep your pet healthy. You can also read EWG's press release or visit Pets for the Environment for more information.


Operant conditioning and the creative artist

Robert Genn is a painter who hosts the website www.thepainterskeys.com and sends out a semi-weekly e-newsletter on various art-related topics. I've been a subscriber for a few months now. When I received a newsletter on the connection between operant conditioning and creativity, I chuckled. I think you'll enjoy it. The letter is reprinted here (click "read more"), with Robert Genn's permission.

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