What Do “Dog Walkers” Need to Know?

dog@tec

Dog walkers do not show up on my radar very often, living as I do on a farm in the country. Jim and I are the dog walkers, and we like it that way. However, I am also aware how very lucky we are to have the time and the logistics to be able to take our dogs on long walks. Certainly I've worked long hours--I've seen many a twelve-hour day in my time--but I always had the luxury of working close enough to run home to let out dogs or to bring them to my office. There have been some days, especially when I taught at UW-Madison, that I had to ask a friend to take my dogs out (thank you Harriet!), but those days were relatively rare. Nor have I seen a lot of clients as an animal behaviorist who came to me because they wanted to be a dog walker and wanted to know how to get started. But when a Read More

Placebos and Dogs: Really? (Yes!)

logs sheep 1-2015

I've always been fascinated by placebos and I never understood why the phrase "the placebo effect" was often spoken with such disdain. Here is a standard definition (from Wikipedia): "A placebo is a simulated or otherwise medically ineffectual treatment for a disease or other medical condition intended to deceive the recipient." Except, it's not necessarily ineffectual, right? That's the point, if you think about it: We know that you can be helped just by the belief that something can help you, and that factor must be eliminating when testing new medications or treatments. Yes, the placebo effect can be a confounding factor when trying to discern if a particular treatment or medication is worthwhile, but isn't it even more remarkable that belief itself can be therapeutic? Study after Read More

Doggy Day Care –Fun for Fido or Not?

BCs good interaction Knox clinic 2014

When I was five or six years old my mother took me to kindergarten. I am told I cried the entire day, sitting in the corner and sobbing hysterically. Nothing anyone did assuaged me. When my mother returned to pick me up, I reportedly ran screaming across the room, grabbed onto her legs and wouldn't let go. Oh my.  I thought of that somewhat embarrassing story when a friend asked if they should put their dog into a local Doggy Care. If you've been following my blog you know my answer: "It depends." A bad doggy day care is no less than abusive and dangerous. A really good one can be a wonderful option for some dogs, but not others. I can relate to the "not others". If I'd been a dog when I was young, I would have hunkered in a corner, big-eyed and silent, or growling and snarling under a Read More

Assistance Dogs International (Or does the “I” Stand for Inspiring?)

Dementia Dogs adi 2014

If you're feeling a tad disheartened by the news, or maybe the view in the mirror when you went to buy new pants (okay, that's probably just my problem), I have a suggestion: Go out of your way to go to the Assistance Dogs International Conference, wherever it might be held in the years to come. I'm at the 2014 conference in Denver, as I write, having spoken yesterday about People, Trauma and Dogs (focusing primarily on identifying trauma in dogs and using what we know about healing from it in humans to apply to helping traumatized dogs). It's hard to imagine a more inspiring place. The rooms are full of awesome people doing wonderful things, many accompanied by equally awesome service dogs doing equally wonderful things themselves. One of the things you take away from a conference like Read More

When to Intervene in Dog-Dog Interactions

Luke, Indiana & me

This is one of the questions I am most frequently asked, and with good reason. It's a tough one. It's also relevant to my own life right now, after having just introduced a new dog into the household, and having to make split-second decisions several times in the first few weeks. I should say first off that there is no ultimate truth here. No research, no data, just my opinion based on experience with thousands of client dogs and plenty of my own. Certainly there is no dearth of opinions about when to intervene when dogs "get into it," from the extremes of "I never intervene, I just let them work it out" to the opposite attitude of calling a dog off instantly, or correcting her, for a hard eye or a quiet growl. You won't be surprised to learn that I live in the middle ground, not being Read More