A Trip to the Clinic with a Reactive Human

Did you ever wonder exactly what the heck could be going on inside your dog’s head at the vet? Maybe why your toddler is freaking out, or why your cat tries to make your insides into your outsides when it’s time for a medical exam or treatment?

We don’t have mind-reading equipment yet, but we’ve got the next best thing — a human who can explain from inside a clinic where she’s uncomfortable. 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

Book Release: Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out!

Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out: Training Crazy Dogs from Over-the-Top to Under ControlToday’s the day: Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out: Training Crazy Dogs from Over-the-Top to Under Control has hit the shelves. Well, virtual shelves, as it’s online for now… but it’s out! Continue reading

Training a Dog to Wear a Muzzle

I ran into Chirag Patel at ClickerExpo last year. He showed me a Baskerville muzzle and asked what I thought of the design. “I’d like to try it,” I said. “I’m thinking of making a video on muzzle conditioning.”

“I have one,” he said. “Have you seen it?”

I hadn’t. And I soon realized there wasn’t a need for me to make another one.

Continue reading