Lambs in GA

Positive Reinforcement is Defined by the Receiver, Take Two

I've been thinking a lot lately about how important it is to remember that "reinforcement" and "punishment" are defined by the receiver. I'm not sure what got me thinking about it. Perhaps it was learning about a study that found cows perceived being yelled at as distressing as being shocked with an electric prod. Or perhaps it was realizing that Willie most likely doesn't enjoy practicing penning the sheep anymore (the most pressure-filled part of a sheepdog competition) because he doesn't like the pressure. (Thank you friend Donna for making the suggestion.) Or maybe it was while explaining to friends that getting a free trip to anywhere right now wouldn't be reinforcement, it would be Read More

Willie Fake Dog 2

Can Fake Dogs Help Real Dogs?

Can we learn anything about a dog's behavior around unfamiliar dogs with the use of a fake, stuffed dog? That is the question asked by a team of researchers in Massachusetts, who did a study comparing the responses of 45 shelter dogs to a live dog and a fake, plush, stuffed dog. The real dogs were presented with a neutered, male American Staffordshire mix and a similarly-sized, fake dog who was the same size as the real dog but is described as "having the appearance of a pointer breed dog". Individual behaviors were recorded as occurring or not (approach, sniff, bark, growl, back away, etc.) and were also later lumped into three categories: "aggressive, fearful or friendly/playful". The Read More

GA Dogs Play 3

Healthy Dog Play in Georgia, Sweet Georgia

We're just back from a short week with good friends Jim and Peg in northern Georgia. Heavenly! They live on a gorgeous 200 acre farm and we got to enjoy the fun of 80+ new born lambs, and none of the work, thanks to our hard working hosts. Maggie and Willie got to work sheep every day, along with numerous long walks with the seven resident Border Collies on the property. Basically, we ate (Jim A. is the best amateur chef I know), walked (two stunningly beautiful hikes and lots of dog walks) and worked dogs (Peg is one of the top handlers in the country and gave me some invaluable advice). Sounds rough, doesn't it? Here's a huge shout out to Peg and Jim for their gracious hospitality. I Read More