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

Spring Photo Album

Pepper looks at headstone 2014

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE FARM today. Because, well, spring has sprung and it seems like everything is happening all at once. Lambs in the barn, brush to clear, gardens to tend, barn roofs to patch, etc. It's all good, there's just a lot of it. I'm happy to report that the three lambs we have are doing well. Barbie, aka "Explodo Ewe" was due yesterday, but so far, she seems oblivious. The photo below is of Lady Godiva (lambs = Salt and Pepper) and Lady Baa Baa (with Chess, the black and white lamb in the middle). This is the first time that they have left the barn and gone up the hill to graze on real grass. That's Pepper on the left, unclear what to make of Luke's tombstone, which says That'll Do, Luke, That'll Do. (I wrote about Luke and the headstone in For the Love of a Dog, if you'd like Read More

Dogs As Family, People As Packs

willie on ball 2  7-13

It's not just us that sees our dogs as family; apparently, dogs see us as family too. This may not be shocking news to many of us, but it is always good to look at our beliefs objectively. An interesting study was recently published on Plos One about whether dogs are attached to their owners in a similar way that children are attached to their parents. Done by Horn, Huber and Range, the study was based on the early work of ethologists Bowlby and Ainsworth, who argued that human infants require a "secure attachment base" to develop normally. Far beyond simple "affection," what they called true "attachment" included voluntary close proximity between parent and child, distress from the child at separation, seeking out the attachment figure for contact and reassurance if stressed, and most Read More

Summer Books: What are You Reading?

Iris

Question: Is there ever enough time to read? Answer: No. I read every night and every morning at a minimum, and if I ever had a genie rise out of a bottle and ask me for one wish, I'd ask for another hour or two of reading time in every day. (And long, pretty legs instead of stumpy ones. And world peace.) Here are some of the books I've been savoring, in hopes of beginning a conversation about other great books just waiting for me to turn the page: The Possibility Dogs. I wrote about it last week, but couldn't skip mentioning it again. Here's the quote I sent to the publisher after reading the review copy: "What an amazing book. Combine love, knowledge and real-life drama with pitch-perfect writing, and you'll end up with The Possibility Dogs. Simply brilliant!" I like it so much Read More

How Do You Play with Your Dog?

fence posts snow 2-2013

Surely our mutual love of play is one of the reasons that dogs and people get along so well. As Karen London and I write in Play Together, Stay Together, "Play is powerful stuff. It influences so many things, including development, motivation, emotions, physiology, communication and behavior. Wow! That's an impressive list." After years working as Applied Behaviorists, it was clear to Karen and I that play has the power to strengthen one's relationship with a dog, or alternatively, to destroy it. You can use play to teach self control and good manners, or to inadvertently teach a lack of frustration tolerance and a lot of rude behavior that ends up getting a dog into trouble. You can use play to allow a dog to release tension, to learn a behavior incompatible with a problematic one, or Read More