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Blog: Karen B. London
Reinforcement on the Radio
What will NPR do this time?
Each time KNAU, my local NPR station, has a pledge drive, they try a new combination of reinforcement strategies. As a dog trainer, I am naturally very interested in reinforcement since half of operant conditioning consists of reinforcement. (The other half is punishment, but thankfully, positive punishment is used in dog training less than ever, and never, as far as I know, by any NPR stations...
Blog: Guest Posts
Football and Dogfighting
Malcolm Gladwell explores the morality of the NFL.
Malcolm Gladwell provides a thought-provoking take on football and dogfighting in this week’s New Yorker. Essentially, he provides a synthesis of the latest brain studies that reveal the cause of Alzheimer’s-like symptoms in former football players. The accumulation of blows to the head leads to depression, aggression, memory loss and dementia. Then he draws the link to dogfighting—through...
Blog: Karen B. London
Dogs and Their Outstanding Noses
How has your dog amazed you?
It is well known that dogs have an extraordinary sense of smell. Nearly everyone who has lived with dogs has a story illustrating these astonishing olfactory abilities, and here is mine: Our dog Bugsy (half black Lab, half handsome stranger) was not the cleverest of dogs, and we eventually learned to embrace the moments when he showed his lack of Einsteinian brain powers. One day on our farm, he...
Blog: Karen B. London
Beware of Silent, Stealthy Aggressors
They can be the most dangerous.
Threat displays can function to thwart serious aggression, which is why many of them occur without ever leading to real trouble. By showing their weaponry or signs of strength, dogs are communicating that it would be unwise to challenge them. Dogs can assess each other, and often one or more decide that to proceed would be unwise. However, dogs who never give any warning before behaving...
Blog: Karen B. London
Interpreting the Dog’s Mouth
Clues to behavior and emotion
When assessing dogs, I often look at the mouth. With such a strong interest in canine aggression, I have spent a lot of time looking at this part of dogs’ bodies, and wrote about my observations recently in my local newspaper. The basics of interpreting the internal state of a dog from the mouth involve the following questions: Is the mouth open or closed? Is the dog panting? Does the dog display...
Good Dog: Behavior & Training
Building the Dog-Human Bond
It’s never too late to reinforce this critical foundation
It was a misty spring evening, the first break in the April showers in over a week. My dog Sumner was strolling off-leash about 20 paces ahead of me, taking in the smells and leaving his mark when the mood struck. Then, a crash amid the trees. Deer! Sumner paused for an instant, one foot in the air, and then took off full tilt after the white tail disappearing into the darkness. “Sumner, wait...
Blog: Karen B. London
To Pee or Not to Pee
What your puppy’s urination patterns reveal.
Submissive urination is a common problem among sweet young puppies. A lot of people’s evening routines involve getting off work, driving home, coming inside the house and then getting down on their hands and knees to clean up the lines and droplets of urine that their puppy made while wiggling her body and wagging her tail with great enthusiasm. Some dogs who are otherwise completely housetrained...
Blog: Guest Posts
Listen To Your Dog
A non-doglover heeds Malti-Poo’s warning.
My editor sent me a story a few weeks back about a woman who says a dog saved her from a life-threatening brain injury. I added the story to my virtual "To Read" folder and only got to it yesterday, when it hit me like a ton of bricks. The short version: A nurse in Missouri was fighting off what she thought was a severe migraine headache when a colleague’s Maltese-Poodle mix (for whom she had no...
Blog: Guest Posts
Guide Dogs for Cats and Dogs?
Amazing stories of seeing-eye canines.
A story in the Daily Telegraph about a blind Border Collie who has his own guide dog didn’t surprise me. I’ve heard a number of stories about dogs acting as guides for blind animals. One news story—about a dog who guided a blind cat to safety after Hurricane Katrina—was even made into a children’s book. I learned about Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival at...
Blog: Karen B. London
Do Dogs Turn on Their Guardians?
Is aggression predictable?
[Editor’s note: This post was inspired by a comment from a reader identified as Lou to a post about a seizure of dogs in dog-fighting bust. Read the original post and the comment here.]   Everyone who has experienced aggression from their own dog deserves lots of sympathy and the sympathy I personally have for them is deeply felt. It's horrific to be hurt by an animal you love and even more...

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