The Mystery of the Overmarking Express


Well, we must be making progress. After reading every single one of your comments, recording them by sex, familiarity and social status (maybe, sort of, more on that later) and comparing it to Dr. Anneke Lisberg's research on urine marking, I now am completely flummoxed about what it all might mean. But you know how the learning curve often gets steeper once you're making some progress (same thing happens in dog training, right).... ? Maybe total confusion means we're getting somewhere? Here's what I came up with when summarizing your comments. First, an explanation: I recorded sex of over marker and over markee if known, or noted it as 'unknown" if necessary. I recorded if the urine first deposited was from a familiar or an unfamiliar dog. Finally, I recorded the writer's description Read More

Laughed ’til I Cried; Cried ’til I Laughed

meg and willie 5-19-11

I was going to write a follow up blog about over marking, but I want to gather a bit more information before I do. I have to say that I've found the comments about over marking absolutely fascinating. I'm going to summarize them next week and will give you a report of what I find. I suspect there won't be any patterns there, given how variable the sex, status and context of markings that have been described, but if that's true, it's interesting in itself. (Keep the comments coming to my last post on the 17th, I'll post my summary next Tuesday.) While I'm working on that and Willie's recovery, here's a laugh for you. This is another video that is just plain funny, and doesn't involve intimidating a dog. And we all know that laughter is the best medicine. Wish I could watch old comedies Read More

The Power of Pee


Last week I talked about John Bradshaw's new book, Dog Sense, which I am enjoying immensely.  In it, he discusses why wolf behavior doesn't necessarily predict dog behavior as well as any book I've seen. If you're interested in this issue you definitely want to read this book. In response to last week's post, some thoughtful comments came in about "over marking" behavior, when one dog urinates directly on top of the urine of another. It's traditionally been assumed to be a status-related behavior in which one dog 'covers' the scent of another with his or her own. However, if you look at the behavior closely, it's not at all clear that the hypothesis holds up. Of course, as I've discussed in other posts, the whole concept of dominance has been mis-used and mis-understood by the public Read More

Female Dogs More Attentive than Males?

Insta Flock

Well, now, this is interesting. Corsin Muller at the Clever Dog Lab in Vienna believes he has found a sex difference in the attentiveness of dogs to the expected size of a ball. Dogs were brought into a room and were allowed to play with 2 balls, one big and one small. They then were taken out of the room while the researcher set up the experiment. When the dog returned, he or she saw a ball, on the left side of a visual barrier, that gradually moved to the right and eventually behind the barrier itself. After a pause, a same or other size ball appeared on the other side, as if the ball had continued to move to the right and had passed behind the barrier. The experiments scored how long the dogs stared at the ball that appeared on the other side. This is a standard paradigm used in studies Read More

A New Book: Dog Sense by John Bradshaw

indigo buntings

There is a new book that just hit the book shelves, John Bradshaw's Dog Sense. I just started reading it and think it is a book with a lot of value. Here's a summary from the back of the book of some of its messages: "Don't be an Alpha," "Dogs can feel love but not guilt," "Avoid punishment," "Look beyond breed," Respect your dog's sense." All good, absolutely. The question, of course, is what does the book add to the conversation, there being a good number of books on the market that say the same thing. Here's something, from just the first chapter that I think makes the book worthwhile: Bradshaw begins with a valuable discussion about the genetics of canids and the derivation of the domestic dog. I love his inclusion of the entire group of canids (not just grey wolves) and his Read More