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Blog: Guest Posts
Breedism
Stereotyping is no laughing matter.
You know what really gets my hackles up? Stereotyping a breed of dog, or what I'll call breedism. Did you hear Chris Rock's latest joke? On "The Jay Leno Show," he said, "What the hell did Michael Vick do, man? A Pit Bull ain't even a real dog." Fortunately, the late Richard Pryor's widow, Jennifer Lee Pryor -- who together with her late husband created Pryor’s Planet, an animal rescue group and...
Good Dog: Behavior & Training
Teach Your Dog a Flip Finish Trick
Dog trick training
A nifty trick, handy for convenience and control from a sit front to heel position. It’s also really fun for the motivated dog and handler! Picture the finished exercise: On cue (a small sweeping hand signal), your dog flips from a “sit front” into heel position on your left side.   Sounds easy, but for the dog, this is a complicated series of movements that eventually add up to one final...
Blog: Karen B. London
Teaching My Dog To Stay
I did it for the ice cream.
Well-trained dogs are a joy to be around and they are more likely to stay safe. Additionally, they often have a better quality of life due to the fact that they get to accompany people to more events since their behavior is trustworthy. These are all worthy reasons to train our dogs, but I must say I am often just as motivated by my own quality of life. Specifically, I needed my dog to have a...
Blog: Guest Posts
Life with An Autism Service Dog, Part II
Wherein “kisses” are learned.
[Michelle O’Neil writes about the first days of meeting and training at 4 Paws for Ability with her daughter’s autism service dog, which she received this month.] Day 1 We are in our hotel suite with Riley’s new doggy! We are exhausted from all the excitement. Jingle is a very sweet dog, a good match for Riley. We were told she’s 35 pounds but she’s taller than I thought she’d be, a lean, young...
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...

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