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

Sunflowers Make Me Smile

sunflowers 2 pope conservancy

Today's blog isn't quite what was planned, because Willie scared us by developing a mass on his foreleg that looked exactly like the sarcoma tumor his uncle Luke had at a similar age. Willie's mass developed quickly over the weekend, looked like a copy of Luke's tumor and is on the same part of his foreleg as Luke's was. Scary stuff. But good news! It looks like it is just a cyst, so in all probability it is nothing to worry about. The vet did still recommend taking it off, in part to prevent it growing and causing trouble, and also to be absolutely sure that it isn't cancerous. Willie will have the surgery tomorrow, which means much of our sheepdog work will have to go on pause until he recovers in 14 days. He is NOT going to like being back on a leash (argh, breaks my heart to do this Read More

Intervening in Tug Games: Plan A to Plan B

hay to barn 2014

When do you intervene when your dog's play becomes borderline? We all know that there is no simple answer to this question. (Except, of course... "It depends.") I wrote extensively on this topic in May. However, the evolving relationship between Maggie and Willie continues to keep the question relevant on a daily basis. You might recall that I mentioned earlier I was quietly intervening when the dogs became emotionally aroused while playing tug. Maggie gets so excited she starts sounding like a chainsaw on steroids, and Willie sometimes gets that flat-eyed, lizard look that means he's about to do something he shouldn't. When that happened I began saying, always in a cheerful voice, "That'll Do" or calling Willie's name to come to me. I was always happy and upbeat about it, careful not Read More

Resource Guarding, Dog to Dog

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Not long ago I re-posted a blog about Resource Guarding (RG), but focused treatment options on dogs who direct their threats toward people. Many of you asked about RG between dogs, and I promised I'd address that this summer. Here we go... There's no doubt that RG between dogs is a bit trickier than when it occurs toward a person, perhaps because it is simply easier to control the behavior of a member of our species than it is a dog. But there is a lot one can do to prevent or treat RG between dogs. Can it solve all problems between all dogs? Do I have a bridge to sell you? No, but here are some ideas that I've found helpful in the past. PREVENTION I know this isn't helpful once the problem has begun, but don't miss the chance to prevent RG before it rears its jealous head. Say you Read More

Three Ways to Confuse a New Dog

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"Three days, three weeks, three months." That's the mantra of many dog trainers and behaviorists, when welcoming a new dog into their household. The "magic of threes" is especially relevant when adopting an adolescent or adult dog into your home. Dogs, especially non-puppies, are often in a bit of shock for the first three days in a new home, and don't show you too much about who they are until they've been there a few days. After three weeks many dogs have settled in such that they behave as though they feel like they are "home" now, but don't fit into your routine until about three months have gone by. The number three has another relevance to new dogs: See below for the three ways we most confuse new dogs, and how to prevent it. I've thought about this a lot lately, for a couple of Read More