Be very careful when you say you want a smart dog.
Undómiel jumped up to join me and I reminded her “no bones on the furniture” (a cue she knows). So she put it on my lapdesk.
“As I mentioned before, I work in behavior, and my specialty is managing fear and aggression, so all my professionalism is coming to bear right now.”
I have newly returned from a dream trip I’d been planning for fully ten years, a visit to New Zealand and then a cruise back across the Pacific. Yes, it was awesome.
I wanted to take the fantastic opportunity to do things I cannot do at home. Indiana has plenty of caves (our limestone supplied Washington D.C.’s and most other major cities’ buildings and monuments, and limestone country is cave country), but we have a distinct shortage of glowworms, so I wanted to go down under to see them. And rather than take a boat, I wanted to do something a bit more adventurous. So I booked a spelunking tour.
I knew the tour would involve abseiling (also called rappelling) and swimming/floating through 50-degree water. I didn’t realize that the abseil would be 35 meters through a narrow neck into the cave itself, and thus would be the very first task.
Heights, dark, tight spaces, all the classic fears in one go. Whee! Continue reading
Do dogs and other animals have imagination?
While scientists now agree that animals are conscious (duh!) and many or most agree they are sentient, it’s harder to say how much creative and meta-thinking animals might do. We can listen to a human child tell us a silly story he’s invented, but the language barrier makes it harder for a young animal to do the same. Take away a common language, and would we think an other-speaking child incapable of inventing the story, just because we can’t hear him tell it?
We know animals can think creatively for problem-solving; it’s one of the aspects we treasure about clicker training in particular, this encouragement of creative and analytic thinking in our learners. But I hadn’t thought much on if or how animals use imagination on their own. I’m a storyteller, but only for my own species. I mean, a game of keepaway can be just as fun if it’s a piece of wood or some faux treasure, because the game is in the chase, right? When we play tug, it’s a fun game whether we’re pulling on a rope or a freshly killed caribou. Imagination isn’t a clear component. Continue reading
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
So Penny, née Mindy, is a pet dog now. Aside from the obvious things like no longer accompanying us into restaurants, church, grocery stores, etc., her life has changed in other subtle ways. Like, I can feed her what I want now, instead of sticking to a national brand available at any big box store. And she can have treats beyond her strict diet, like popcorn which falls on the floor during game night, which she previously had to ignore.
This has been a rougher transition than you would think. But really fun. Continue reading
“…delicious trachea chew….”
So Mindy’s unlocked a new achievement — she can now jump on our (taller than usual) bed. As she’s not allowed on the bed, this has resulted in repeated escorts to the floor.
Today, however, when we went out to the car, I didn’t pick her up. As I was putting in our gear, she jumped into the car and went into her crate. I treated, and away we went to the dealership for an oil change.
As we were leaving, I took Mindy to the back of the car. She looked at me, and I invited her to jump in.
Proudest moment today. Mindy got to put herself in the car, like a big dog. She was smug for whole minutes afterward. Continue reading
What a week! Mindy and I traveled to Clicker Expo in Norfolk, Virginia, and because I didn’t want to fly her, we drove. It wasn’t a bad drive, about 12 hours, and I broke it up into two days with a bit of hiking each way.
“Not a Real Service Dog”
On the way down, we had our first access trouble ever, when Mindy and I were ejected from a hotel after we were checked in due to her not being a “real service dog.” Continue reading
I’m not sure I’ve ever known a puppy who didn’t like the chewing texture of wood. Our rule is, you can sample the pieces in the firewood holder, but not furniture. Seems to be a good deal so far.
Several people have asked me questions about service dogs, whether they’re always “on the job” or could have normal dog lives. A few were under the heartbreaking impression that because one isn’t supposed to pet service dogs while they’re working, that service dogs aren’t ever to be petted, even at home.
Definitely not the case! Continue reading
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
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Remember a little film called Jurassic Park? It was recently re-released in 3D. I had forgotten that it first came out 20 years ago; it’s fun to re-watch it with my older, behavior-savvy eyes.
I went to the theater with Alena (also blogging regularly here), and as it was a late-night showing and we were the only patrons in the theater, we could indulge in a little chat as we watched. Continue reading