Observations and Interpretations – Video Analysis

tootsie on lap

I hope you got a chance to watch the video I posted last week from trainer Aki Yamaguchi (thanks so much!). I greatly enjoyed reading the comments; some of you did a fantastic job providing detailed descriptions of the behavior of all three dogs. My goal in posting the video (beyond the fact that it is a great video of dog behavior) was to 1) emphasize how much behavior can occur in a very short period of time, and 2) how difficult it can be to separate out descriptions of what you saw from interpretations of what you think the behavior represented. First off, here are a couple of tips that all budding ethologists are given when asked to describe behavior, especially when viewing multiple animals: 1) Learn to identify each animal as an individual.  This was easy here but when Read More

Video Analysis – The Obnoxious Pup

Here is a fantastic video for our analysis, provided by dog trainer and blogger, Aki Yamaguchi, or "BCNerd" (love the name!). In it you'll see three dogs, one an adolescent with the typical over enthusiasm for his age. There's lots I can't wait to say about what is going on here, but I'm going to tape my mouth shut and let anyone who would like to play use it as an exercise in observing and describing behavior. (Lots of you loved the idea of us watching and analyzing videos together, which I'm thankful for, because I love doing it too.) If you want to respond with a comment, and I hope you do, I suggest that you include : 1) An objective description of what is happening. Practice making clear, detailed observations about what you are actually seeing. Hold off on making any Read More

The Texas Two-Step

Susan-Mary Floye-Hap-Doree TX 11-12

What a great time we've had the last two nights: I had the pleasure of doing a fund raiser for the Austin Humane Society in Austin Tuesday night, and for the Animal Defense League of Texas in San Antonio last night. Both nights had fantastic turn outs and raised lots of money for good causes. By the way, please please please check out the website of the Austin Humane Society. This is what I shouted in my office, months ago, when I first found it: "You guys, you guys, you HAVE GOT TO COME SEE THIS!!!" A few hours south of Austin, the newly formed San Antonio Pet Trainers Alliance (all progressive trainers, and as nice a group as you can imagine) organized the San Antonio event and donated all the money to the Animal Defense League. You can learn more about the Alliance by writing Read More

Autonomy II: Do Ask, Do Tell

KC sniffs LG 11-12

Last week I posted a blog about giving our dogs more autonomy, and asked for comments about ideas on how to do so outside of working dogs on sheep. Many of the comments sent in response to that post are extremely helpful, and I encourage you to read through them. However, I know that time is short for many of us, so I've summarized some of the best ideas and some of my own this week. First, as a preface, it is important to note that just like people, dogs vary tremendously in their desire for autonomy. Some dogs are extremely independent and others find too many choices burdensome. That's why Willie stays in a crate when I'm gone. I am 100% sure that he is more comfortable in his 'bedroom' than being left loose in the house. When left loose he's been a wreck when I returned home; no Read More

Autonomy & Domestic Dogs

W 1

How much autonomy does your dog have?  Willie's work with sheep is  what motivates me to ask this question. As I mentioned earlier, Willie and I attended a sheepdog clinic 2 weeks ago with Patrick Shannahan, and the big take away for us was that, too often, Willie looks to me to tell him what to do while working sheep. It's not that he doesn't know what to do himself, he's just in the habit of being dependent upon me to tell him before he takes action on his own. This was not a complete surprise to me, but I didn't realize what a significant issue it was until I worked with Patrick. I think I know why this has happened: First, Willie is a naturally biddable dog and dependent dog. I chose him over his 7-week old brother because Willie seemed to care deeply about where I was and what I Read More