Don’t waste calories!

green alfalfa

Well, this could be a blog about my as-yet-to-be-successful attempts to lose 10 pounds, but more on point, it's a discussion about the value of a dog's dinner in training and behavior modification. I am inspired to write this after seeing Kathy Sdao's seminar last January in Orlando, and reading her new book, Plenty in Life is Free. It's a really good book, in which her primary point is that the so-often-recommended "NILIF" (Nothing in Life is Free) programs recommended are based on a flawed assumption, and should be replaced with using Operant Conditioning to teach the behavior we want. I say "Here Here!" to that. It's just another version of dominance theory, and as Kathy argues, it can have a negative effect on the relationship between a dog and its owner. What I especially like Read More

Repeating Cues: Information or Affect?

daffodil close up 3-12

A blog reader asked a great question recently, in response to my comment that I couldn't help myself and repeated "Stay, Stay, Stay" to Willie when in a dangerous situation at the side of a busy highway. We all know that repeated cues, like the ever popular "Sit, Sit, Sit" are not exactly "best practice" in dog training. And yet, they are commonly used, especially by beginners; just go to any Beginning Family Dog Training class and you'll hear repeated cues thrown around like confetti at a homecoming parade. It was that very occurrence that helped inspire me to write The Other End of the Leash, about how the evolutionary backgrounds of people and dogs both help us (we're both crazy social and insanely playful) and hurt us (direct facial contact is polite to people, rude to dogs). "Sit, Read More

Tom Turkey (& Okay, a Sale)

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So Katie Martz, Client Services Coordinator at McC Publishing, came into my office this afternoon and said: "You're going to hate me for asking, but would you mention the sale on your blog?" She knows that 1) I'd rather not mention business-related things on my blog and 2) that people really do appreciate hearing about a sale, and 3) I'd rather have a trust fund to support myself and my staff, but one is not forthcoming in the near future. Given all that, here's official notice that 1) I could never hate Katie (she's absolutely a joy to work with and, besides, what would I do without her?) and 2) There's a March Madness sale on at McConnell Publishing for 20% off of everything, good through this coming Friday (March 23rd) at midnight. I hope it comes in handy for some of you. Here's my Read More

Who’s Doing Research on Canine Cognition?


Julie Hecht, who holds a Masters in Applied Animal Behavior and Animal Welfare from the University of Edinburgh, gave a great talk at IFAAB this year that included a summary of the labs around the world that are studying canine cognition. Since I so often get inquiries about graduate level education in all things dogs, I thought some of you would be interested. Right now Julie is managing the Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College in NYC, teaches Applied Animal Behavior to Anthrozoology graduate students at Canisius College and writes for The Bark about canine science. And I love her blog, DOG SPIES, which is dedicated to getting solid, scientific information about dogs into the hands of dog lovers everywhere. I say yeah for her! Here is her list of Canine Cognition Research Read More

Size Matters

Rosebud & Dorothy spring

Here's an interesting study that came out in 2010 comparing the perceptions, behavior and training of larger versus smaller dogs ("Behavior of smaller and larger dogs:  Effects of training methods, inconsistency of owner behavior and level of engagement in activities with dogs." Arhant et. al. Appl An Beh Sci 123 (2010), 131-142.) There's a lot in this study, based on 1,276 questionnaires, but the part I want to talk about today relates to owner's perceptions of dogs of different sizes. I'm always suspicious of data from surveys about behavior, since what we think an animal does and what it really does is often not the same, but because these surveys were about perceptions as well as behavior they definitely have some merit. The authors found that, as they summarize in the abstract, Read More