Confrontational Techniques Elicit Aggression

scarlet tanager 5-13

Remember the movie Groundhog Day, in which Bill Murray wakes up every morning to repeat the same day, over and over? That is a bit of what it feels like to write about the value of benevolence in dog training, and the problems associated with aggressive, confrontational techniques. And yet, I just can't stop, because there is still a flood of advice about using force and confrontation to correct a dog for ..... (fill in the blanks).... because 1) misbehavior is a sign your dog is attempting to dominate you and 2) you can only counter it by using force. Sigh. Those of us arguing that we should be teaching our dogs, rather than forcing and threatening them, have an excellent study by Veterinary Behaviorists to support our perspective. Meghan Herron, DVM, DACVB, Frances Shofer, DVM and Read More

Resource Guarding: Treatment and Prevention

bee-crocus 4-13 small )

Years ago, I took care of a gooey-sweet adolescent Border collie, (Tilly, I'll call her) who flattened her ears and folded like a bird's wing every time you said her name. She was responsive and polite, and the other dogs seemed to like her as much as I did. It was especially rainy when she visited, so I appreciated that she never objected to endless paw wiping and toweling off, not to mention body checks for ticks and dental inspections. One morning I saw that she had grabbed something from the leaf litter in the woods, the kind of "something" you figure would be better off melding its way into the soil rather than ending up in the stomach of even the hardiest of dogs. I couldn't tell what it was, but it looked well on its way to rotting itself into organic mush. Probably not the best 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 couldĀ  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

What’s Your Favorite “Non-Traditional” Cue?

Sheep by Road 9-12

A few weeks ago I wrote a post on the cue "Get Back," which is one of my favorites because it is so useful in so many contexts. Katie Martz, Communications Coordinator here at PMcC, video taped Willie getting back in a variety of contexts, and we noticed that every time I said "Get Back" in a context in which he'd rather not, he tongue flicked. That led to a very interesting discussion with readers about why he was tongue flicking, but distracted us from the reason we did the taping: the usefulness of "non-traditional" cues in dog training. Yes, we all need Come, and Sit and Stay; I can't imagine what I would do without them. But there are a variety of cues that are equally useful, but not as common or well known. I thought it would be fun to canvass readers to learn about their favorite 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 (ButĀ  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