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

Adopting Littermates… (Don’t)

wwsda course close up 2014

The title of this post is a bit strong, but I do want to caution people from adopting two dogs from the same litter because "it's easier" to raise two at once (ask someone with twins if it's easier than having one child) or "we don't want our dog to be lonely." (Because you might be if the dogs are so enchanted with each other that they ignore you). I'm writing this now because we have gotten a number of questions about this issue lately: "Someone told me I shouldn't adopt dogs from the same litter, is that true?" Far be it from me to say what you should or shouldn't do, but there are a lot of red flags related to getting pups from the same batch. Before I say more, I should add that I've looked and asked around for any research on this issue and haven't found a thing that supports (or Read More