Safe Off Leash?

tootsie runs around corner 1-13

Last weekend Jim, Willie, Tootsie and I stayed in a lovely log cabin owned by friends in the woods in eastern Wisconsin. I mention that because for the first time in her nine years of life, Tootsie got to run off leash in an unfenced area off the farm. Wooo Hooo! Some people might not understand what a huge step that was for a little puppy mill dog, but I'm guessing that many of you get it completely. I was over the moon with happiness that I could unsnap the lead, and trust that she would stop when told, come when called, and as importantly, get to sniff and explore with more freedom than she's ever had in her nine years of life. The decision I made got me thinking about the issue in general: When IS it safe to let a dog off leash? What do you need to know to evaluate the risk and Read More

Lure & Clicker Training to teach Sit – Advantages & Disadvantages

New Sheep 5 2012

It makes me so happy to say that Tootsie is doing great. Right now she's sleeping in her crate beside my desk. The door is open, but she loves it there. The only places she likes as well are 1) being in bed with me, 2) being on the couch or 3) being by herself in the crate in the back of the car. She likes it so well in the car crate that I am actually having to train to leave it. I'm assuming this is baggage from her puppy mill days and that she feels most secure and comfortable in a small, confined space. She's progressed so well in so many ways: I'm especially taken with her flipping around mid-air when outside after I call her to come, ears flying like a furry dumbo, her open, happy mouth taking up half of her tiny little Cavalier head. As I mentioned in an earlier post, now that Read More

Therapy Dogs – Born or Made?

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As many of you know I recently presented a seminar on animal assisted therapy in Naples Florida. (Yes, it'll be out as a DVD later this winter. Happy Dance!) One of the motivations for doing the seminar was the number of clients I had who wanted me to help them prepare their dog for therapy work. Sometimes it was like swimming downstream on a warm, cozy river. Their dog was a perfect fit and ended up doing wonderful work in the community. Other times... well,  it was reminiscent of trying to paddle up a cold, frothy waterfall. The fact is, therapy work can be hard work, and it takes a special kind of dog to be both good at it and to enjoy it. The directors of AAA and AAT (AAActivities and AATherapy) will tell you that one of their greatest challenges is working with people who want to Read More

Cotton Top Tamarins-The World’s Cutest Monkey

CTs from lab

Well, they're not dogs. Or cats. Or domestic animals of any kind. But I spent two years working with Cotton Top Tamarins and hearing my university BFF describe how she is continuing her work with them was one of the highlights of my trip to Florida. Anne Savage, Senior Conservation Biologist at Disney World, has been studying Cotton Top Tamarins in the wild since graduate school at UW-Madison. She and I worked together with the squirrel-sized monkeys in the lab of Charles Snowdon, who did non-intrusive behavioral research on their vocalizations and reproductive behavior. The lab was committed to letting them live in family groups (rare at the time) in enriched environments (also rare at the time) and Anne and I spent many a night planning how to improve their environment, help young Read More

Yup, Dogs Can Be Disgusted!

Emmeraud 2

Well, it seems appropriate now to talk about disgust after a weekend of gluttony. (But what fun cooking paprika chicken and pot roast and roasted brussels sprouts and home made bread and pumpkin and cherry/raspberry/rhubarb pie. Not to mention eating all the turkey that others cooked and I ate up as if I was starving.) It's been interesting reading about whether dogs people believe that dogs can experience disgust. Recall that 66.2 % of seminar participants said yes, and 78.3% of blog readers who responded said yes (this may have changed as later responses came in, but not significantly). (The Morris research listed only 34% of people responding yes, but a blog reader commented wisely that the question wasn't "Can your dog..." but "Have you observed your dog experiencing Read More