Introducing A New Dog: Maggie and Willie as a Case Study

3 lambs 4-21

In hopes it will be helpful to others in the same situation, I thought I'd outline how I handled the introduction of lovely little Maggie into the family. Here's some background on the actors: 1) Willie: Eight-year old BC neutered male, at one point extremely aggressive to unfamiliar dogs, relatively comfortable outside now with new dogs, but tense when unfamiliar dogs come into the house. Willie is a classic alpha-wannabe: Fearful but desperate to maintain control. He is very responsive to acoustic cues from me, 99% of the time a sweet, lovely dog, but can lose his temper around other dogs and be downright rude and inappropriate when tired and/or stressed. Willie at his worst? Think Jack Nicholson's face in the movie The Shining. Willie at his best? The best dog you'll ever be lucky Read More

Meet Maggie

Happy Maggie

Yup, Redstart Farm has a new member of the family. Maggie, a 15-month old female Border Collie from Idaho, has stolen the hearts of us all, Willie especially. He is gobsmacked. In love. Head over heels. Watching the two of them play has become one of my greatest joys in life. Those of you who have been following the farm for awhile know that finding the right dog for Willie hasn't been easy. He started life as a puppy pathologically afraid of unfamiliar dogs. He grew into an adolescent torn between fear and the desire to control everything, the kind of dog I call an "alpha wanna be." He has always loved to play with dogs who also loved to run together outside, but became tense and a tad crazy if they came into the house. Remember Jack Nicholson's face in the movie The Shining? Read More

Ralphie’s Adventure at Summer Camp

ralphie

This week, it's all about the farm: (Next week I'll write a full report of the talks at the Animal Behavior Society 2013 Meeting in Boulder. It was great, lots to tell you about!) [I should mention here that I just changed that last sentence on 8-8, after a call from Jim who noticed I had actually written "I was great..." instead of "It was great". He pointed out that that didn't sound like something I would say, and he was right. I meant the latter, not the former. Argh, how embarrassing.] First, although it was lovely to be on Vancouver Island and invigorating to be at ABS in Boulder, it is heaven to be home.  Willie is doing well, I'm even giving him a little time off leash, and Tootsie is as adorable as ever. They both seemed awfully glad to see me, but they couldn't possibly have Read More

Favorite “Non-Traditional Cues,” Part II

Polly in Tree 10-12

Wow. You all are amazing. So far there have been 165 answers to the question posed two weeks ago, "What's Your Favorite Non-Traditional Cue?" I've read through every one of them with great interest (and often amusement). My plan was to go through all the comments, list every cue mentioned with it definition (some people included as many as 7 or 8), and see if I could  find some patterns. Several hours later, and less than a fifth through all the cues mentioned, I suspected that a smart person might want to modify the plan. So that's what I've done, whether either out of laziness or wisdom, I couldn't tell you. I'm using the list I've generated so far as a sample, and have re-read all the rest of the comments that have been so thoughtfully provided. Here's what I'm seeing so far: Read More

Willie and Tongue Flicks and What it All Means

As if any of us REALLY knows "what it all means," right? But thank you for your interesting and thoughtful comments about the previous post's video of Willie and the "Get Back" signal. They were great. I'll cut to the chase about my own interpretation. Here's the data: Willie tongue flicks when I ask him to back away from somewhere or something he wants to go toward: the outside of the house, into the car, or toward the toy. All of these have been taught using lots and lots of reinforcement with food and play and "life rewards," like going outside after I say "Get Back" or getting the toy as soon as he backs up (But  I don't reinforce every single response every single time once he has a cue down pat. That would be unnecessary in my opinion, not to mention completely impractical.) But Read More