Jurassic World and Training Dinosaurs


You might not have noticed, but there’s been a bit of a reaction in the animal training community to the blockbuster release of Jurassic World. And not just the recreations of actor Chris Pratt’s pose — which I absolutely love, by the way. (No way I’m picking a favorite pic. Go scroll through them.) Continue reading

Perception and Service Dogs

This entry is part 21 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training
An incorrectly-worded service dog sign ("Seeing Eye Dog or ADA certified")

Don’t do this.

I stopped on my way into the shop to take a photo of the sign on their door. Then I went in, did my shopping, and then gently mentioned during checkout that they might want to revise the wording on their no-pets sign to be more accommodating (and legally acceptable). The shop owners, two women behind the counter, were not aware that their wording was exclusive to many users of service dogs and also not even feasible — there is no such thing as “ADA-certified” — and were eager to learn more. One took notes as I answered questions.

The clerk at a convenience store smiled as Mindy and I approached the counter to pay for my drink. “Your dog is cute, ” she said. “What exactly does she do for you?”

I explained that I was training Mindy, that she didn’t assist me or anyone yet, but that in general it was considered unmannerly to ask a user of a service dog about their medical issues. The young woman hadn’t realized the implication of her question and agreed that it could be invasive.

Most violations of service animal law are not intentional, or even from a position against service animals. Many people use “Seeing Eye dog” as a generic term, without realizing that the Seeing Eye is just one specific organization training dogs for just one specific disability. Saying “Seeing Eye dogs only” is like saying only persons with a specific brand of wheelchair may enter — but their intentions were probably friendly. Continue reading

“A Walk in the Park” Is Supposed to Mean “Easy” – When Aggression Isn’t Funny

0529141318bYesterday Mindy and I met some friends at the park for a picnic lunch. I debated and then decided to make it a rare “non-working” outing for Mindy, so she wasn’t in her vest and was free to sniff around and be a puppy. (She gets plenty of puppy time at home, remember, but everyone can take a vacation once in a while!)

Another dog was with us, too, who has spent years recovering from severe fear aggression. She’s remarkably functional now — no one could guess, looking at her, how fearful and reactive she used to be — and she was really enjoying her day, too. Mindy and I respected her space, sitting at the opposite end of the picnic table, but everything was absolutely fine.

Until we started walking. Continue reading

Autumn Fun

It’s autumn, perhaps my favorite season, and I’m keeping an eye on the Dober-thermometer (the tightness of a Doberman’s sleeping curl indicates the overall temperature). So far it’s been mild and lovely, but I expect to see tighter sleeps in the coming week. First snow might be Wednesday. I’ll have to stock up on firewood.

Laev is NOT LOOKING at the caramel apples off the right side of the picture.

Laev is NOT LOOKING at the caramel apples off the right side of the picture.

We took a trip to a local orchard, just for fun. Laev was walking happily beside me until we got the caramel apples. Then she sniffed the goodie-laden air, got excited, and promptly flattened herself to the ground. “Look at me! Look at how not-pushy I’m being around the yummies! Do I get one?” 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

On TAGteach and Skill-Building

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series CT for Shooting

Okay, I was a bit slow to adopt TAGteach when I first encountered it in the early 2000s, but I’ve caught on, and I’ve been applying it more and more in my life. Sometimes I use TAGteach principles without the actual tagger (clicker), simply because that’s what I have to work with, but even without a key tool the principles still work. A marker can be many things, not just a clicker, and even with no marker (or instructor) at all, the concepts can be turned to Focus Points instead of TAGpoints and used the same way.

I’ve used clicker-less TAGteach backstage at a major performance event and with kids on the verge of losing it. And last weekend I had a reminder of how very useful TAGteach can be for myself. Continue reading

Cropping, Docking, Political Correctness, Opinions, Animal Welfare, Free Speech, and Dogs

Dobermann Pinscher from 1915

Dobermann Pinscher from 1915 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fair warning: most of my posts I at least try to keep civil and positive. No guarantees today.

As regular readers will know, I have a breed which is in this country normally cropped and docked. Yes, that’s the actual AKC standard: “ears normally cropped.” There is some debate over whether that line should be interpreted “are usually cropped but not always,” or “are cropped in a normal manner.” And when I say “some debate,” I mean wars have been fought over this ground. Continue reading

Yellow Journalism & Breed Bias — Again

A friend told me about a dog attack story just released by the Indianapolis Star. “Four pit bulls attacked a fifth dog,” he said. “But, you know, it’s the Star, so they could have been anything at all and if they bit something, they’re pit bulls.” He doesn’t even own dogs, but he’s aware of the paper’s bias.

When I first read the published news story, I was irritated, ranted on Facebook, and wrote a rational-but-angry letter to the editor. Alena has written up our complaints in her own blog, and I am copying her post here. — Laura… Continue reading

Storm Watch & Success, Part 4 – Safe Places & the Mental Continuum

This entry is part 4 of 7 in the series Storm Watch

As I write this post, thunder is rolling overhead with enough resonance to shake the house. As I write this post, a Doberman is curled up at the foot of my bed. That’s our only storm coping tactic at the moment. How does this work? Continue reading