Not Faking Death . . . But What?

Day Lilies 1 2011

Seen this? The announcer tells us that the dog is "faking death." I'm just not even going to pursue how and why someone came up with that as an explanation for this dog's behavior, BUT... What IS going on?  I have two hypotheses, but I'm staying mum until I get your ideas.  I'll add mine to the comments sometime this weekend.   MEANWHILE, back on the farm: It's high summer here, hot and humid but the flowers are bursting all around, the bees are laden with pollen, the ruby red tomatoes are swelling and the fresh corn has arrived. Yummm, have you ever eaten corn from the cob minutes after it's been picked? I mean, ripping off the husks while standing in the field and sinking your teeth into the kernels? SOOO sweet! Why anyone would cook it is beyond me! Willie is doing Read More

Case Study – Dog/Dog Reactivity – Hailey

YardJune2211 026-1 (Custom)

  Here's Hailey, who was one of the demo dogs in Pittsburgh a few  weeks ago. Crystal is fostering Hailey, and had only had her for about a month before the seminar, and we were both concerned that her general arousal levels might make the seminar too much of a challenge for her. As it turned out, she did very, very well. She was definitely reactive when she saw other dogs, but it did not appear that she was fearful or intent on aggression. Hailey was the classic bark/lunger who became so excited when she saw another dog that she lost control. She could work herself up into increasing levels of excitement until her behavior became difficult to manage. Managing arousal did seem to be the name of the game here. Hailey was extremely friendly to me, mildly stressed about being on Read More

Case Study – Dog/Dog Reactivity – Ceilidh

swallows in nest

I did a seminar last week in Pittsburgh for the Westmoreland County Obedience Training Club, and worked with 3 dogs who had "dog-dog reactivity" problems. In choosing those dogs I had a problem myself: I had to choose from over 12 people who offered their dogs for demo's. Right now I'm working on choosing dogs for a similar seminar in DENVER next weekend and have the same problem: too many dogs, too little time. And so I thought it might be useful to use one of Pittsburgh's dogs as a case study in the blog, and her owner, Jan, graciously agreed. I should say here that I don't have the depth of information I would if they were my clients, but here are the basics: Ceilidh (pronounced Cay-lee) is a 6.5 year old female Border Collie who fixates on other dogs with what I call the "locked Read More

Super Normal Sign Stimuli (What the heck?)

Perhaps "Super Normal Sign Stimuli" is not a phrase that you often use? Ah, but it should be! It summarizes a common behavior that is relevant in both human and canine behavior. SNSS refers, first, to stimuli that elicit an inherent response in individuals of a species. Red flowers, for example, attract hummingbirds, no matter what the bird's experience. Hummers are naturally and inherently attracted to the color red, as Orioles are attracted to the color orange. The other part of SNSS, "super normal" refers to the size or intensity of a stimulus. A good example of this is from the ethologist Tinbergen, who learned that nesting female sandpipers will sit and try to incubate anything that is egg-shaped with the appropriate size and spotted patterns that look like real eggs (even if they are Read More

Help! Willie Bored, Me Brain Dead.

rocky rockies 6-11

Here's the challenge: Besides 3 sessions a day of physical therapy, Willie is now supposed to walk for 10 minutes three times a day. On the flat, on leash. No trotting, no spinning, just slow, controlled walking. Sounds simple, but then, life being what it is, it isn't. There's very little flat on my little hilly farm in southern Wisconsin. We basically have 2 paths to take, about 60 strides each. Otherwise, all the rest of my 13 acres is off limits. I could take the heavy ramp he uses to get into the house (to avoid the 3 stairs) and load him into the car and take him into town where it's flatter, but it's a big hassle to get the heavy ramp set up to get him in, put the ramp back in the car, take it out to load him back up, etc.  It'll be worth it when he can walk for longer periods, but Read More