Your Puppy Will Grow Up

Normally, when people remind you that your puppy will grow up, they’re talking about the fact that your dog won’t be an adorable three-month-old forever. This post is all about the in-between stage. Your dog is still mentally a puppy, but he’s close to his adult size and full of doofy energy and enthusiasm for destruction. You think he’s going to be like this forever, but he’s not.  Read More Your Puppy Will Grow Up

Your Vet Probably Isn’t a Dog Trainer

When they’re feeling overwhelmed with a new puppy or they’re having a behavior problem with their dog, many people turn to their vet or the staff for advice. Sometimes they can be a great resource; unfortunately, being an expert in veterinary medicine doesn’t qualify someone to deal with training and behavior problems. Read More Your Vet Probably Isn’t a Dog Trainer

Remembering Sophia Yin

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.

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Your Dog The Gambler: The Magic Of Variable Rate Reinforcement

A very common concern or problem with reward-based training is that the dog only performs when he knows you have the reward. The secret to success is to understand the difference between a lure and a reward, and work on giving your dog a gambling addiction. Read More Your Dog The Gambler: The Magic Of Variable Rate Reinforcement

Training an Alternative Behavior in Dogs

I talk a lot about training an alternative behavior to replace an asshole one, but what does that really mean and how should you go about it? If it was as easy as just telling your dog to sit every time he was bad, everyone would be a dog trainer. What’s the devil in the details? Read More Training an Alternative Behavior in Dogs

The Problem With Punishment

Until about 15 years ago, it was standard to include, and primarily rely on, punishment to train your dog. Many of the best trainers in the business started out in classes that used choke chains, shock collars, hitting on the nose or butt, and other types of punishment to discourage behaviors. If you weren’t willing to punish, then you weren’t willing to train. Thankfully, times have changed and newer, better, more scientifically sound methods have been developed, but why did that happen? What’s wrong with punishment? Read More The Problem With Punishment

Feeding the Fear Monster

I have read a lot of books and articles about training, some of them from very famous trainers, that base their training on the idea that you can intensify fear, aggression, and other “negative” emotions in dogs by rewarding them with attention and treats. In order to avoid feeding these emotions and the related behaviors, you must ignore or correct your dog. If you give them positive attention at this time, you’re preventing them from developing independence and an ability to confidently navigate the world. So how does that work, and what does science have to say about it?   Read More Feeding the Fear Monster