Treatment Plans for Behavioral Regressions

willie in wonderland 2011

Or, alternative title: Adventures in the Willie Wonka Fear Factory. If you're cocking your head in confusion, this is about Willie's recent (and relatively new) fear of men. To review briefly: As a puppy he was pathologically afraid of other dogs, exceptionally sound sensitive and, in some contexts, quick to anger. But he adored people, loved everyone. As an adolescent, like many dogs, he developed new fears, and became cautious around unfamiliar men, but it was easily handled by having guys throw balls for him. I always knew I'd need to manage it and that I could never completely close the book on his fears, but it was easily handled and he usually appeared to be thrilled to meet unfamiliar men after about 4-5 months of counter conditioning. And then, three weeks or so ago, he barked Read More

Explaining “Step by Step” Training, Step by Step

One of the great comments on my post about the new Puppy Book reminded me that training "step by step" is not intuitive. Someone may know that there are multiple steps between a dog sitting on cue when asked in the kitchen at dinner time, versus being asked to sit when barking at the visitors at the front door. But what are those steps? And how do you know when to move on to the next one? I thought it would be helpful to give a few examples. However, I would love it if some of the experienced readers would add an example of their own. My favorite part of writing this blog is the wealth of knowledge of its readers, and I am sure that many of the readers would benefit greatly from hearing a range of examples. Here's an example, using the dog sitting on cue when it's easy for him to comply Read More

The Secret Life of Dogs

There is a great BBC special on dogs on YouTube, (sent to me by an alert reader, thank you!). I spend so much time in front of my computer that I rarely want to watch an hour long show on it . . but this time I sat down and didn't move for 60 minutes. It's called The Secret Life of Dogs, and it's great. Hands (and paws) down, great. It has sections on Miklosi's work on dog barks (people are very good at discriminating between barks given in 6 different contexts), Juliane Kaminksi's work on the ability of dogs to follow a pointing gesture (which chimps and wolves do not seem able to do), Belyaev's & Trut's work on selection for docility in foxes (resulting in a profound number of physical as well as behavioral changes which basically result in domesticated foxes in 20 generations), and Read More