Home
Karen B. London

Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer whose clinical work over the last 17 years has focused on the evaluation and treatment of serious behavioral problems in dogs, especially aggression. Karen has been writing the behavior column for The Bark since 2012 and wrote The Bark’s training column and various other articles for eight years before that. She is an adjunct professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University, and teaches a tropical field biology course in Costa Rica. Karen writes an animal column, The London Zoo, which appear in The Arizona Daily Sun and is the author of five books on canine training and behavior. She is working on her next book, which she expects to be published in 2017.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Apology to Girl, Service Dog Kicked Out of Store
Company also to give charitable donation

When 9-year-old Alison Ainsworth, who is autistic, and her service dog Levi were kicked out of an Edmonton Winners store the first time, the store responded with a $25 gift card. Asking her to leave because of her dog was against company policy. When the girl and her dog returned to the store months later to use that gift card, they were again told to get out.

This time, the store’s response was much bigger. Executives of the retail chain apologized and promised to educate each employee about the company policy, which is to allow service dogs into all of their stores. They also offered to donate $10,000 to a charity of Ainsworth’s choosing. Appropriately enough, the money will go towards training a service dog for another autistic child in Alberta.

The Ainsworths will not pursue a human rights complaint against the company as originally planned and hope that the incident and associated publicity will be beneficial in affecting attitudes about service dogs in the community.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
A Beagle Is a Nose With Paws
How would you describe your favorite breed?

Capturing the essence of a breed in a short phrase is a challenge, and there are downsides even if you manage it. When an entire breed is described briefly, there’s the risk of missing the mark for many individuals. There’s the chance of explaining only a part of who these dogs are, and that doesn’t do them any favors. And, just as important, it’s easy to offend people who love a particular breed and don’t see them quite the same way.

That said, attempting to distill a breed’s fundamental nature down to a short phrase is just so fun that I can’t resist it. Here are some phrases that make me smile and refer to a few breeds I adore.

A Beagle is a nose with paws.

The Bichon Frise is mindlessly happy.

My Border Collie is smarter than your honors student.

The Labrador Retriever is the most willing play partner the world has ever known.

The Greyhound has two speeds: fast as a speeding bullet and fast asleep.

There are hundreds more breeds and so many ways to describe them as well as the few I’ve mentioned above. I find dogs’ personalities charming and I love hearing what other people have to say about the dogs they know best. How would you describe your favorite breed?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Walking Dogs for Friends in Need
This small act can be a big help

Normally, they take their dog out for long walks and runs daily, so she’s used to hours of vigorous exercise. Today, that wasn’t going to happen. The husband was in great pain recovering from surgery following an accident. The wife had been up all night attending to him and had worked all day at a stressful job trying to catch up after taking two days off following the accident.

They are very together people and capable of handling life’s speed bumps. Yet when I offered to swing by later that day and take their dog for a walk, they were most appreciative.

In tough times, something has to give, and it’s common for the dog to suffer a bit in the short term. That’s not a criticism—it’s just how it is. No matter how much we love our dogs and how responsibly we care for them, sometimes life sneaks up on us. Whenever anyone has a disruption in life, attention paid to the dog can decline. It happens when people move, when they are ill or have any serious medical complication, or even when they start a new job. It certainly isn’t the best week ever for most dogs when a new baby joins the household.

Offering to walk a dog can often relieve people’s guilt that they can’t do it. It may also prevent the dog from acting crazy, barking, chewing or performing any other behavior that is no help to a household that is already under stress.

It’s hard to know how to make life easier for people who are going through a rough time. My first thought is that perhaps I can assist with some dog care because I know how to do that. I also remember how grateful I was when a neighbor walked our dog and spent some time being with him when I went to the hospital to give birth to my son and our official dog sitter couldn’t make it until much later that day.

Many people have a hard time accepting help for themselves but will accept it on behalf of their dog. That means it can be more helpful to offer dog walking services than to bring food over, to help with the house work or to run errands.

Has anyone every helped you out by caring for your dog when you were struggling?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dog Jokes
The best bone is the funny bone

“Why do dogs run in circles? Because it’s hard to run in squares!” I overheard a child at the park tell this joke and I laughed out loud. I shared it with several other people over the next few days and a clear pattern emerged. Dog lovers found it at least a little amusing, but other people offered a courtesy laugh at best and an eye roll at worst. It seems dog humor is another bond that those of us who love dogs can share. Dog jokes typically strike me as funny even if they are just silly little plays on words.

Here are a few of my favorites:

“What do you get if you cross a cocker spaniel, a poodle, and a rooster? A cockerpoodledoo!”

“Why are dogs like phones? They both have collar IDs.”

“Why did the dog chase the red cape? Because he was a bull dog.”

“Why are there Dalmatians on fire engines? To help the firefighters find the nearest fire hydrant.”

What dog jokes make you laugh?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Cool Weather Crazies
Is your dog peppier now?

There’s a wondrous time between the sweltering heat of summer and the deep cold of winter. It’s the season of vibrantly colored leaves, cool mornings, favorite sweaters and apple cider.

If you have a dog, it might also be the season of insane amounts of energy expressed in the form of running in circles, racing back and forth or with a bit of a lapse in attention and responsiveness. These bouts of boundless energy have been called by many names. My favorite is “puppy zoomies” though the condition can affect a dog of any age.

So many dogs seem to come alive when the weather cools off. If you live with one of them, each autumn is a reminder that in summertime, your dog’s calmness is the canine equivalent of sitting on a porch with a glass of lemonade wishing for a cool breeze.

Is your dog enthusiastic about the fall weather?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Don’t Like Your New Dog’s Name?
It’s okay to change it

It’s common to adopt an adult dog with a name that doesn’t really thrill you, and many people have soldiered on for the rest of the dog’s life, stuck with a name that they just don’t feel right about. But if you don’t like your dog’s name, you can change it.

Names like Baby, Poopsie and Pudding are often not popular with new adopters. On other extreme, many people feel a mismatch when they adopt a dog who has been going by Killer, Spike or Vengeance.

Changing a dog’s name is one of the easiest parts of adopting and training a new dog. Here’s how you do it. Start by saying the new name and giving him something great like a piece of chicken, a belly rub or a play session if he looks at you. This teaches him to love hearing his new name and responding to it. Most dogs learn a new name within a few weeks if you do this multiple times each day, and some learn it in just a couple of sessions. Progress will be faster if you avoid using the name for no reason and also refrain from associating it with anything bad.

Have you changed a new dog’s name? What was the old name and what’s the new one?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Canine Behavior and Enlightened Training
Exciting upcoming seminars

Dog books and seminars excite me more than makes sense to most people, but you’re with me, right? It’s just so FUN to learn more about dogs. No matter how much we know, there’s still so much out there. Every opportunity to drink from the fountain of knowledge is worth pursuing. And one of the best of these opportunities is coming up at the end of this month in the form of a weekend seminar in Madison, Wisc.

On Saturday, October 29, Patricia McConnell will present her “Advanced Canine Behavior Seminar,” with the latest information about development, genetics, learning, cognition and play behavior. She’s an engaging speaker with so much knowledge to share.

Sunday, October 30 features Ken Ramirez discussing “From Purgatory to Nirvana: The Path to Enlightened Training.” If you want to improve your training skills and go from being a good trainer to a great one, this seminar will offer the information and inspiration to do so. He’s a riveting speaker with tons of incredible videos. You will leave this seminar so excited about training and so full of ideas to try that you’ll be tempted to wake your dog up from a sound sleep just to get started.

I hope many of you can go, and that you’ll share your experiences if you are able to attend.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Canine Political Clout
Dog issues may influence San Francisco election

San Francisco is named after St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and is about as dog friendly as a city can be. It has beautiful dogs parks and many restaurants and stores allow dogs. I guess it makes sense in a city with more dogs than children that the residents of San Francisco take dogs and their interests seriously.

The formation of the political action committee DogPAC is one of many signs of the political clout of dogs, or at least their guardians, in San Francisco. The group formed in order for people to promote the interests of their dogs, particularly being allowed to run off leash in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. This park is over twice the size of the city itself and is enjoyed by many dogs and their people.

According to DogPAC’s president, Bruce Wolfe, people with an interest in dog issues will have a big impact on the election of the next mayor. Members expect mayoral candidates to address canine issues, including the Park Service’s proposal to require leashes in some parts of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and to fence off some popular areas for dog walking. The reason for these changes is concern about approximately 1,200 native species of plants and animals, including the endangered Snowy Plover, which consistently disappears in areas where dogs are allowed.,

Other canine issues matter to San Franciscans, and earlier this week, 7 of the 16 candidates running for mayor attended DogPAC’s forum. They answered questions on all things canine: pet-friendly rental housing, the cost of dog licenses and trash cans in parks to dispose of pet waste. Some websites include sections detailing how candidates stand on canine-related issues.

Has your vote ever been influenced by dog issues?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
The Plush Canines of Childhood
Were yours important to you?

My kids have lots of stuffed animals and many of them are dogs. It makes me feel nostalgic to see them play with the dogs, which is the second official sign that I’m old. (The first sign was that a few years ago, I began to dress hideously during the worst of the winter weather. Apparently, I had hit the point where I didn’t care what I looked like as long as I was warm.)

In a recent conversation with my sister, we reminisced about our childhood “friends,” our stuffed dogs.

Goggy, whose name was a result of a mispronunciation of “doggy,” was the first stuffed dog we acquired.

Dimples, who was all white with black spots, miraculously remained white where she was supposed to be white.

PuffPuff was named after Puff the Magic Dragon, and was incredibly soft and fluffy with a mix of white and psychedelic purple fur.

Kidenly, who looked vaguely like a Poodle and had movable legs, was named after Friendly, our aunt and uncle’s Great Dane, since their dog was sometimes called Friendly-Kidenly. Dimples, PuffPuff and Kidenly originally belonged to our Dad’s sister but were passed on to us as children.

Rusty and BlueBlue were matched in size and best friends, with both named for their coloring.

Brownie was named after the food, not the color. He was the dog I took on all trips since he was small enough to pack and big enough to be comforting.

Old Ratty was my favorite. He was so battered that he has about a dozen patches, and his nose and eyes were replaced by buttons pretty early on. He has absolutely NO plush remaining anywhere on his body. He got his name because our Dad once said with considerable alarm, “You’re not taking that ratty old thing with us, are you?” His name was simply “Ratty” until it became necessary to distinguish him from a similar toy, who took on the name New Ratty.

New Ratty shows what Old Ratty originally looked like. Our family acquired two identical dogs, but they took different paths. New Ratty was left alone, largely forgotten until he was found years later. Because he was never loved by a child, he’s still in good shape.

My sister and I loved those stuffed dogs. Most of our toys are long gone, but the stuffed dogs were too special to pitch. They remain at our parents’ house though it’s been many years since we moved out and went to college. Now they are played with by a second (or third) generation because my kids head straight for them when we visit my parents.

Did you have stuffed dogs as a child?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dogs on Waves
Canine surfing event in California

The list of activities we do with our dogs continues to expand. Over the weekend in Huntington Beach, Calif., the Surf City Surf Dog competition took place. If you know anyone who thinks of surfing as a sport in which only humans participate, these pictures of dogs catching waves will prove them wrong.

Dogs competed in heats lasting 30-40 minutes. Judges awarded points to the dogs for each ride, with standing on the board worth more than lying down, and riding backwards richly rewarded. Even recovering from nearly falling was a way to score extra points.

These dogs are clearly channeling their inner Gidget—to the delight of all the spectators.

Pages