Hi from the Madison Seminar

madison audience 2011

Wow. What an amazing experience for me, and I hope for the 250 participants in the Madison Seminar. We spent the weekend immersed in hot-off-the-press research on canine behavior, (I was worried it would be too wonky but apparently I'm not the only one starved for intellectual stimulation about dog behavior!), and Ken Ramirez's inspiring wisdom about training, well illustrated by compelling videos and stories. You just can't listen to this man talk and not be a better trainer for it. We were even honored by the presence of David Wroblewski, the author of the deservedly best-selling and instant American Classic, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. I'm basically brain dead today, able only to mumble monosyllabic nonsense, but I'm looking forward to lots of posts inspired by the weekend, from Read More

What’s a “Better Learning Performance?”

sandhill cranes 3

A study on training frequency by Meyer and Ladewig (Applied Animal Behavior Science 2008) is getting some attention lately, and I thought it'd be useful to mention it here. It's a great example of how a 'rose is a rose is a rose...' (but not.) Cutting to the bottom line, the authors found that dogs "learned better" if they were trained only once a week to touch a target rather than five times a week. They divided the dogs into 2 groups and one group received only one training session once a week. The other group received 5 training sessions each week. The results showed that the "once a week" group did "better." Wow. Really? What about those short, multiple sessions scattered throughout the day that I and many others recommend? Uh oh, have we all been wasting our time? Nope, God Read More

Aromatherapy for Dogs?

fall barn trees 2011

When I was quitting smoking everyone told me how much better my nose would be at smelling wonderful scents. (Yup, I smoked two packs a day in my twenties and thirties. Hard to imagine now.) "Flowers will smell better!" they said. "Just wait until you smell cinnamon buns once you stop smoking!" They were right, things that smelled good smelled better. But they didn't add that bad smells would smell worse. Sort of like the noontime moon no one talks about in the Arctic. Midnight Sun, yes. Noontime moon in winter? Not so much. Little did I know how aversive were the smells of engine exhaust, moldy hotel rooms and, argh, fox poop. I also began to notice that different smells seemed to have an effect on my mood and cognitive ability. Engine exhaust made me grumpy, and moldy rooms made it Read More

Cat Talk and Cats Talking

If you're in the area, I hope to see you on Thursday night at the Wisconsin Humane  Society for a fund raiser and talk, "Dogs Have Owners, but Cats Have Staff." I don't get asked to talk about feline behavior as much as I'd like to, so this is a special treat for me. I find it interesting that although cat lovers love their cats dearly, in general, as a group, they tend to be less likely to read books about their behavior or go to talks about cat behavior. However, I hear that almost 150 people are signed up, so join me and others to celebrate all things feline. Willie and I were reminded of the importance of reading feline postures and expressions just a few days ago. We were visiting my yoga teacher Scott Anderson, to get some exercises for Willie (more on that later!), and Scott's 2 Read More

Dog Laws Around the World

apples 2011

One of the most enjoyable parts of doing seminars around the world is talking to people from a variety of countries about their countries' and culture's attitude  and regulations regarding dogs. A group of us got to talking in Edinburgh about the dog-related laws of their own countries, and what a range of regulations we found. In Sweden dogs are allowed off leash in many areas, but must be "under control." (Very sensible!) I was told when I was in Sweden that keeping a dog in a crate was illegal--any Swedes want to confirm or deny? Sweden has very strict animal welfare laws that also apply to domestic pets. For example, all indoor animals must be able to see out a "sunny window." This is especially interesting to me, given that I've advised many a client to keep their dogs AWAY from Read More