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
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.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Canine Behavior Type Index
A personality test for your dog

Pet Connect offers an opportunity to learn more about your dog with a quiz that will reveal your dog’s personality. Personality types from the Canine Behavior Type Index have names such as Adventurer, Dreamer, Companion and Deputy. You can find out which category best matches your dog’s personality for free, but you have to pay a fee ($9.95 Australian) to receive the full 15-page report with details about traits, management, training and exercise information for your dog’s specific personality.

The quiz has 26 choices parts and each one asks you to choose between such phrases as:

My dog seems to be very diplomatic./My dog seems to be insensitive to others./My dog seems to shift between trying to please and being insensitive.

My dog is quite lazy./My dog is quite active.

My dog seems to be unassuming./My dog is a show off./ My dog seems to have a noble attitude.

Though I enjoyed the personality test, I didn’t take the results too seriously, or consider it overly scientific. This test claims to be the first ever, scientific dog personality test, but actually, there have been many scientific dog personality tests, some of which you can read about Psychology Professor Stanley Coren’s book, “Why Does My Dog Act That Way: A Complete Guide to Your Dog’s Personality.”

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Under the Table
Why do dogs claim this spot?

Dogs often rest under the table, and in many cases, we really don’t know why. Sure, we can think of many advantages to being under the table, but that doesn’t mean that we know which reason matters to any particular dog. Here are some possibilities, though:

They can see what’s going on, but are not likely to be stepped on by people, especially kids, running about the house.

It’s a cozy, protected space that many dogs find comforting.

It’s a great place to wait for food to fall from the sky.

It’s cooler and darker under the table than elsewhere in the house, and that’s better for napping.

The table is a place where the rest of the family spends a lot of time, so it smells familiar to dogs.

Some dogs choose this space only when they are afraid, such as during Fourth of July fireworks, or bad weather, including thunderstorms, but a lot of dogs rest there even when fear does not seem to have anything to do with it.

Do your dogs rest under the table? If so, why do you think they are doing it?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
The Dog Song [Video]
Canine cheer courtesy of music and paintings

Feeling a bit down? Need a pick-me-up? May I suggest taking a peek at this video featuring “The Dog Song” (written and performed by Emily Westman) and a series of dog paintings by Nancy Schutt?

It made me so happy that I wanted to pass it along. I’m surprised how much it lifted my mood and for how long, especially as I was feeling perfectly well before I saw it for the first time. I’ve watched it at least a dozen times since. My mood is up, but my efficiency is down. It’s a worthwhile trade.