If you’re subscribed to any animal-related news outlets, you may have heard that one of the most influential members of the animal behavior community passed away unexpectedly this week. Dr. Sophia Yin was incredibly helpful and influential to me as a first time dog owner, to other private pet owners all over the world, and on a much larger scale by working to further our understanding of how animals learn and react scientifically, and convey that to pet professionals everywhere. She was an incredible woman who worked tirelessly to improve the lives of animals. My dogs would be incredibly screwed up without her, and I know I’m not alone in that.
If you’ve got a new dog, or just want to brush up on general training techniques, but don’t have any specific problems you need to work on or interest in slogging through a bunch of excess behavioral research, these are my favorite books.
Anyone who’s had multiple dogs will tell you that some dogs are easier than others. These are my favorite books for those dogs that keep you counting to ten in your head while you focus on calming breathing. Read More Book Recomendations for Difficult Dogs
My first post on this site was about dominance theory and how it doesn’t apply to our pet dogs. This post will be dedicated to rebutting the most common arguments I’ve encountered for sticking with it. Any old hand at dog training used to use these methods because that’s all there was. It can be hard to change, but behavior science has moved on to bigger and better things and we should too. Read More Dominance Theory Revisited
It’s pretty typical to just accept guilt as something we feel as humans, but it’s actually a very complex emotion. It’s a something children don’t develop until between 3-6 years of age, and they tend to have a pretty wobbly grasp of the concept until closer to 5 or 6. Many dog owners will swear that their dogs “look guilty” and therefore know when they’ve done something wrong while their owner was absent, but when guilt in dogs is studied, the conclusion seems to be that we’re giving dogs too much credit. In this case, that extra credit is actually pretty harmful to them. If their owners believe they know what they’ve done wrong and they’re clueless, that very seriously impacts training and sets dogs and owners up for failure. Read More The Myth Of Doggy Guilt
Or at least a whole lot of them. Read More Impulse Control Will Solve All Your Dog Problems
In order to become generally confident and relaxed, and therefore relaxing companions, dogs need to be exposed to lots of different types of people, animals, situations, and things. Exposing your puppy or dog to new stuff is good for him, but there is more to good socialization than exposure. The quality of those interactions is important. Because socialization is so important and most commonly considered during early puppyhood, I’ll focus there, but adult dogs can still benefit from socialization. Even a dog that missed out on key socialization areas as a puppy can learn to deal appropriately with new things. Read More Socializing Your Dog: More Than Just Exposure
A few weeks ago, the dogs started barking at 1:00 a.m. and they just would not shut up. My husband and I ignored them because usually they’re just excited about a deer or coyote or cat. It’s part of living in the country with hound dogs, and we’ve learned to filter it out. In the morning, we woke to discover that my husband’s wayward luggage had been delivered by the airline at 1:00 a.m. That was what our dogs had been barking about. If I had been paying attention, I’m sure I would have noticed a pretty big difference between the barking triggered by strangers in my yard and on my porch in the middle of the night, and the barking that happens when something four-legged and chaseable is in view but out of reach. Though we’re humans and communicate primarily via mouth noises, we’re remarkably able to misinterpret or ignore the mouth noises of other species. We’re all pretty willing to accept this about ourselves, but we’re still surprised when our pets ignore all the talking we do. Read More Your Dog Is Ignoring Your Gibberish