Movies & Monkey Pellets

I need to stick at least one actual behavior post in here between medical updates, I think, so here’s one from the creative side of things.

Besides my day job in training and behavior, I also write fiction. I just spent three days at the Midwest Writers Workshop, charging up my creative batteries and getting new techniques for revision and for developing ideas. And while I didn’t run into this Joss Whedon quote there, it was brought to mind again: Continue reading

Fear is Funny. No, really, it can be funny.

Zombies as portrayed in the movie Night of the...

Night of the Living Dead (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I watched a scary movie, and while the soundtrack swelled and the people around me screamed and jumped in their seats and my heart pounded, I was thinking about behavior. There’s a good chance I need professional help. (But in the meantime, I have blog posts.)

Yes, a room full of people watching a horror film can be a great example of an important behavioral concept. Let’s talk about the third of the Four F’s. Continue reading

Fly Casual: The Importance of Posture, and its Rewards

What does the Millennium Falcon have to do with aggressive dogs? Read on.

What does the Millennium Falcon have to do with aggressive dogs? Read on.

Body language is really important. When dealing with species that don’t use English, it’s really, really important.

Trainers who work with a lot of fearful, aggressive, or fear-aggressive dogs soon learn not only to read dogs’ body language, but to communicate effectively with their own. I often enter a home containing a dog who isn’t really sure he wants me there, and my first priority is to convince him that I mean no harm.

There are three ways to do this, and two of them are dangerous. Continue reading

On Fear-Aggression and Leadership

stressed Malinois

stressed Malinois, image from FIRED UP, FRANTIC, AND FREAKED OUT

World’s shortest CIA blog post, just because I was just surprised by my own succinct summary in an email I was writing.

I don’t use “leadership” or social hierarchy to work with fear-aggression; they’re generally not related. A child may love and respect his mother, but still find the dentist chair a scary experience. We need to teach him how to view the dentist, not his mother.

Time — and dogs — can be saved by focusing on the real issue. Continue reading

Music and Memory: Classical Conditioning in Real Life, part 3

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Music and Memory

Last time I shared examples of an extremely aversive experience poisoning what had once been a pleasant, rewarding behavior. So when something outside of your control goes wrong, how likely is it to destroy the behavior you’ve trained? Continue reading

Music and Memory: Classical Conditioning in Real Life, part 1

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Music and Memory

Have you ever heard a particular piece of music, or smelled a certain scent, and had a powerful emotional response that you couldn’t quite explain? Well, it happens to everyone – even your pets – and it’s how your brain is hard-wired. Continue reading