“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

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

Sad news: my sick dogs

This entry is part 1 of 8 in the series Cancer & the Fight
Cytology from a needle aspiration biopsy of a ...

Cytology from a needle aspiration biopsy of a lymph node of a dog with lymphoma.

Not quite sure how to start this one, so I guess I’ll just jump in…. Laevatein has terminal cancer. Lymphoma.

She was just diagnosed, when a vet found somewhat-enlarged lymph nodes during a routine exam. “I have to mention the c-word,” she said, “but she really doesn’t present like a cancer dog.” Indeed not; Laev is 8, but she’s quite active (she spent about 4 hours Sunday night circling and jumping, trying to work out how to reach a critter in a tree) and looks sleek and shiny. We figured some sort of tick-borne disease was more likely and ordered panels to test.

But the biopsies came back as lymphoma. Two weeks later, her lymph nodes are already large enough to visibly distort her silhouette in front and rear. Monday we met with the oncologist, discussed options, got further tests (cancer has likely spread to spleen and lungs, but not liver), and started chemotherapy. 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

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

Help Me Title the New Book!

stressed Malinois

stressed Malinois, image from [insert new title here!]

Book titles are important things, you know. They’re supposed to resonate with the readers, and all that.

That’s why I’m asking you to help me find one that resonates. Continue reading