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Good Dog: Behavior & Training
Fear in Dogs
Where does it begin?
Holly
Imagine this: a purse falls off a chair in the vicinity of two seven-month-old puppies. Terrified, one of the puppies refuses to go anywhere near it. Her sister takes a look, gives it a quick sniff and then leaps over it and goes on her merry way. Scenarios like this happen every day to Holly and Kit, the Border Collie/Beagle mixed-breed pups adopted by the editor of The Bark a few months ago....
Dog's Life: Work of Dogs
Dog Assisted Therapy: Is Your Dog a Good Fit?
Lending a Helping Paw
Is your dog a good fit for therapy duty?
“He’d be perfect as a therapy dog — perfect. You just have to help me stop him from biting so much.” I wish I could say I’m making this up, but yes, I did have a client who said that, and yes, he truly thought his dog could be a great therapy dog. My client had the best of intentions, but it took a while to convince him that his pathologically shy and potentially dangerous dog was no better...
Good Dog: Behavior & Training
Lessons from Sheepdogs
The source of a lifetime of learning
As I write this, I have just come back from a day at the 2011 World Herding Dog Trials in northern England. I was in the UK once many years ago, watching the International Sheepdog Trials. I was just getting started with sheepdogs and had not yet begun to work as a behaviorist. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot, and I hope to learn a lot more in the future. But the lessons I’ve been taught by...
Good Dog: Behavior & Training
Down with Dominance
Both Ends of the Leash
Here are some “rules” for you dog lovers out there (that is, if you’re given to following just anyone’s advice, whether or not they’re qualified to give it): • Don’t pet your dog unless he works for it first. • Don’t let your dog move his head so that it is higher than your own. • Don’t feed your dog until after you’ve eaten. • Don’t step around your dog if she’s in your path; make her get up...
Good Dog: Behavior & Training
Rewards Redux
Positive reinforcement is in the eye of the beholder
Visualize this scenario: Comet, a sixmonth- old Labrador in a beginner-level dog training class, ignores all distractions and charges back to her guardian, Barbara, after hearing “Comet, come!” As soon as she arrives, Comet receives effusive praise and petting from Barbara. A great example of positive reinforcement, right? Except that, in this very common situation, Comet responds to the actions...
Good Dog: Behavior & Training
Reducing Fear in Your Dog
A gentle hand or a tasty treat doesn’t reinforce fear, it reduces it
It was one in the morning, and I was wide awake. Thunderstorms had been rolling like waves over the farm all night, and this one was so loud I thought the windows might break. Lassie, my 14-year-old Border Collie, lay panting beside me. She’s almost deaf, but the combination of a falling barometer, lightning flashes and the crashes of thunder were enough to send her into a panic. As we lay there...
Good Dog: Behavior & Training
Training Daze
Even a bad example can have a good influence.
Patricia B. McConnell and Lassie
He was short, only 5' 4" or so, but his broad shoulders and thick arms gave an impression of size and strength. He had close-cropped, steely gray hair, and none of us in his dog-training class had any reason to doubt that he was the Marine he claimed to be. You’ve never heard of him, but he had as much impact on my life and career as anyone I’ve ever met. I encountered him (I’ll call him Mark)...
Dog Culture: Readers Write
A Dog by Any Other Name
The science and art of naming your dog or Sometimes, what you say is what you get.
“His name is ‘Baby,’” Helen told me as she stroked her dog’s massive black head. “Baby” weighed in at about 65 pounds, was seven years old and had bitten 13 times. The last bite had been to Helen, when she tried to stop an attack on her disabled son. Needless to say, we had a lot to talk about, and one of the topics was her dog’s name. Helen explained to me that Baby had always been “her baby,”...
Good Dog: Studies & Research
What are the Differences Between Male and Female Dogs?
Do male and female dogs learn differently?
“If you want a good dog, get a male. If you want a great dog, get a female and cross your fingers.” That old saying has been passed down through generations in a variety of fields from retriever training to sheepdog handling. But is it true? Are there significant sex-related differences in the training and performance of the domestic dog? When the editor of Bark asked me that question, I had an...
Good Dog: Behavior & Training
Love Story
Our extraordinary love affair with dogs.
In 1992, I fell in love with a dog named Luke. I brought him home from a herding dog trial one chilly October evening, not sure whether I’d keep him, not sure I wanted another dog. A gangly adolescent, Luke had been a disappointment to his first owner, who reported that he wouldn’t come when called and had failed his first herding lessons. I’d had my eye on him ever since he was a pup, and had told...

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