Helping Puppy Mill Dogs

sheep ultrasound 2011 (1)

This weekend I visited a wonderful woman doing rescue for small breeds, mostly bichons from puppy mills. I had somewhat randomly discovered that she lived close to me, and went to visit in hopes I could help out a bit. I also had a selfish motivation: as many of you know, Karen London and I are writing a booklet on adopting an adolescent or adult dog, and we are always looking for input from people in shelters and rescues. There were 4 or 5 dogs from puppy mills that were terrifically shy; so much so that they ranĀ  away from people, even after being there for a very long time. Obviously, this is a very common problem in dogs who grew up in almost total isolation, and was one of the challenges she was facing I hoped I could help with. We had one session, and it looked like it might be Read More

Thunder Phobia in Dogs

I promised I'd write more about treating thunder phobia in dogs, beyond the earlier posting that it won't make things worse if you try to comfort them. It's such a serious problem for some dogs (and their humans), and everyone who has a dog who suffers from it deserves some help (or just support!). All I can do here is to summarize some of the treatments I have known to work.. a thorough discussion of treatments requires a booklet unto itself . I encourage you to send in comments to let others know what has worked for you, because if there's one thing I've learned, it's that there is no one treatment that works for all dogs. Counter Classical Conditioning: This is the first treatment I recommend, and it is especially effective in mild or moderate cases. I'm doing it now to prevent Read More

You Can’t Reinforce Fear; Dogs and Thunderstorms

It thundered last week during a rain storm, and it reminded me how much trouble a storm can be in the life of a dog (and for those of us who love them.) Since thunder season is approaching, this seems like a good time to talk about one of the oft-repeated, and ever-so-inaccurate pieces of advice handed out to dog owners: "You mustn't pet your dog if he runs to you because he is afraid of thunder." That's just wrong. Totally and completely and utterly wrong, but it has gathered gravitas, as things often do, because it has been repeated over and over again. There are several reasons why that advice is wrong, here's one of them: Fear is designed to be aversive, that's why it is an effective way of affecting behavior and keeping animals out of trouble when they encounter something that might Read More