News

Dogs' emotional journeys

Australia’s top dog communicator Martin McKenna sits with his mate Firefly.
Australia’s top dog communicator Martin McKenna sits with his mate Firefly. Marc Stapelberg

NORTHERN Rivers “dog man” Martin McKenna is Australia’s best-known expert on dog behaviour.

His book The Dog Man was a runaway best-seller. His second book, What’s Your Dog Telling You, is due to be published by Harper Collins on September 1.

He credits his expertise to the fact that he lived in a hay barn with a pack of stray dogs after running away from his drunken, abusive father in Limerick, Ireland, at the tender age of 11.

Responding to a recent statement by Sydney veterinarian Peter Higgins, of the group Dogs NSW, that “dog depression” can be treated with herbs and homeopathic blends and/or conventional anti-depressant drugs, Mr McKenna says dogs do not need to be medicated to treat symptoms that appear to humans to indicate depression.

For 10 years, Mr McKenna broadcast a popular segment on ABC Local Radio, advising listeners on their dogs’ behavioural problems.

“I have lived as a dog myself,” he told The Northern Star.

“I used dog language and learnt their ways by intuition and experience. The major thing I learnt was that humans have to stop dumping their own emotional problems on their dogs.

“Dogs will pick up on what they sense in the people who care for them. If you are stressed, they will be stressed; if you are depressed, they will be too. They pick up your feelings from the tone of your voice, your pheromones (smell) and most especially, from your body language.

“Dog owners have to learn not to use their dogs as emotional sponges, but to show leadership by being firm, quiet and gentle. Dogs don’t like to be hugged or stared at. They don’t like to be watched while they eat.”

Mr McKenna said it is possible for humans to learn how to communicate and co-operate with their dogs, and achieve immediate changes in their dogs’ behaviour.

He demonstrated this when meeting Eliza Jane and Firefly, two Rhodesian Ridgebacks who habitually bark wildly whenever visitors leave “their” house.

The Dog Man put an immediate stop to this by yawning widely, then turning his back on the dogs while emitting a soft, low throaty growl.

The dogs settled down at once.

“It’s amazing what happens when you use the right body language,” he explained.

“Yawning, closing your eyes, tilting your chin up, relaxing or turning away are all loud and clear signals to a dog that all is well and they can be at ease.”

 

SAD POOCHES

Symptoms of dog depression

  • Licking their lips
  • Blinking their eyelids
  • Chewing at their skin
  • Shaking their coat
  • Excitedly running around, tails wagging, panting
  • Excessive attention seeking

Topics:  author veterinarian



How to reduce your plastic footprint

Wasteful world.

Last night's episode of War on Waste hit the nail on the head again

Byron council accused of backflip over Bruns foreshore plans

The Terrace Reserve Caravan Park at Brunswick Heads. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star

Councillors putting their faith in "cartoons"

Latest sea level rise scenario would see Byron underwater

INUNDATION THREAT: Areas in dark blue show the impact of a 0.74m seal level rise, while areas in light blue show a 2m rise.

The threat of sea level rises to the North Coast escalates

Local Partners

Kim Kardashian slammed over Manchester tribute

KIM Kardashian has been slammed by her followers after posting a tribute to the victims of the Manchester terror attack.

Top Gun 2 movie is happening, Tom Cruise confirms

Tom Cruise in a scene from the movie Top Gun.

TOM Cruise delights fans with announcement on Sunrise.

The first Baywatch movie reviews are in

From left, Jon Bass, Alex Daddario, Zac Efron, Dwayne Johnson, Kelly Rohrbach, and Ilfenesh Hadera in a scene from the movie Baywatch.

Critics were less than impressed.

Boyfriend loses it over sex lie

Stacey Louise’s sex lie destroys her relationship.

SEVEN Year Switch’s Stacey told a fib about her sex life.

Why Crowe’s thankful for those ‘bulls**t’ rumours

Russell Crowe and Terri Irwin in 2007.

Crowe and Terri Irwin have been dodging dating rumours for years now

Stars line up for writers festival

POPULAR: Byron Writers Festival 2016 recorded the biggest crowds in 20 years of the event.

John Safran, Deng Thiak Adut and Dava Sobel among others

MOVIE REVIEW: King Arthur - Legend of the Sword

Charlie Hunnam in a scene from the movie King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

Why the critics have got Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur all wrong.

How Toowoomba house prices compare in Australia

For sale sign in front of home.

Here's what $700,000 will buy you in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Sydney

Slaves in Byron: The dark side of housing crisis

Housing generic.

A darker side to Byron's economy

Bonville to become new housing hub

REZONING: Large areas of Bonville have been rezoned for residential

Land rezoning will turn farmland into housing

One of Maryborough's most historic homes is still for sale

FULL OF HISTORY: Trisha Moulds is owner of the historic Tinana state known as Rosehill. The beautiful home is currently for sale.

It has been the scene of both joy and tragedies over the years.

The face of the Sunshine Coast's overpriced rental crisis

Alyx Wilson had to rent a $385 unit in Currimundi because the market was too competitive for cheaper rental housing. She is now renting a room from friends who own a house in Currimundi, and says its much more affordable.

Young people feel the strain in competitive, expensive rental market

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!