Happiness in Animals?

Callie & Jenny

Of course! It seems like a simple question, but as is often the case, our big, complicated brains allow us to add nuance to the answer. I've gone on record as arguing that yes indeed, mammals like dogs and horses can be happy, how could they not be? Feeling good is a way for the body to tell the brain (as if they were separate, forgive me for this simplistic duality) that it is in an environment that is safe and healthy. The neuro-hormones associated with happiness, like dopamine and oxytocin are shared by all mammals, and expressive mammals like dogs have the same facial expressions as we do when we are happy ourselves. I write about this in the book For the Love of a Dog and show examples in the DVD of the same name. However, I was reminded that the question has more depth than "can a Read More

BFF in Pennsylvania, Power of Pets in Madison WI

BFF Speakers 2010

A quick post today, trying to catch up before I leave for Toronto on Friday.  Sunday at the BFF conference was great, I'll write a post soon about Pam Reid's talks on cognition, her talk about stress, and Emily Levine's talk on compulsive disorders in dogs.  All of them were great, very valuable. I thought this conference had the highest level of talks I've seen, and many others seemed to agree. Although it's hard to pack up and go before you have your paws on the ground, I'm very much looking forward to meeting folks in Toronto, and to traveling to Seattle to speak in mid-September. It is hard to turn around this fast when you've been traveling, leaving the farm and the dogs, sheep and Sushi, I won't pretend it's not, but I do meet such interesting people and always learn so much. I Read More

“Dominance” Mythologies, Suzanne Hetts

Lily lays down for Hope

I'm at the Best Friends Forever Conference in Pennsylvania, taking a quick break from the talks. I have to say that this is one of the best seminars I've attended: the quality of the talks is outstanding. Suzanne Hetts gave one today that was fantastic: absolutely the best organized and most informative talk on what dominance is and isn't that I've heard. I couldn't begin to summarize it all, but here is some especially useful information from it, based on common mythologies that people have about dominance. Common Underlying Assumptions about Dominance, from Suzanne Hetts: I. Most (all?) interactions between dogs are competitive (going out the door first, who gets the toy, etc.). Is this true? No, it's not. The fact is, many interactions between dogs are not competitive. A great Read More

Great Article on Dog-Dog Aggression

turkey 1

Have you seen the latest issue of The APDT Chronicle? It has a fantastic article by Suzanne Hetts and Daniel Estep (both CAAB & Ph.D) titled Safety and Ethics in Working with Dog-to-Dog Aggression. Anyone who treats dog-dog aggression, or who has a dog who might have that problem would do well to read it. (And to stay tuned, Chronicle will have more articles on dog-dog aggression in several issues to follow--Pia Silvani and I are writing one together for an upcoming issue.) One of the important points they make is that dog-dog aggression is often not taken as seriously as aggression toward humans, and yet, it can have horrific effects on both species. No one knows better than they: their Dalmation and Irish Setter were brutally attacked by a loose dog last year, and were only saved Read More

Veterinarians on the Front Lines

Greetings from Oregon. I just finished up with two talks at UC-Davis and a day long seminar in Corvallis, Oregon, sponsored jointly by OSU and Wonder Dogs. The participants and hosts could not have been more delightful, and I thank everyone for making the trip enjoyable and more than worthwhile. All three events had a large number of veterinary students attending, and it was such a joy to see them there. So many bright, energetic people... truly is inspiring, and especially good to see so many of them interested in behavior. One of my talks at UC-Davis, specifically for vet students and veterinarians, was on Canine Aggression. I appreciated the opportunity to speak about such an important topic, and thought I'd convey a summary of one of the points I made, which was what can vets do in Read More