Subscriber Archive

So Many Cute Puppies – Where Do You Start?

May 16, 2022
Puppy litter photo

Many puppies are gifted with perfect homes. We love that. Sadly, some are the wrong fit from the get-go. When planning to puppy pick start with common sense. If you are not a robust physical specimen or if you have a small yard, get a small dog. A human couch potato and a mountain climber should be looking for different sizes and personalities. Puppy temperament testing is supported by science but it’s controversial, including among veterinary behaviorists. A lot can change in those developing, immature canine brains. Who knows what behaviors may lurk now and appear later? There are no guarantees but you can objectively evaluate each fuzzy candidate and find pretty good predictors of adult behavior, including future challenges. Relationships matter. I’m talking about you and the breeder/foster. These folks love their parent dogs and they’re proud as punch of those adorable offspring. If you are patient you can…

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Doing Down – How Much Better?

May 16, 2022
Down step 2 thumbnail

Mick is getting clear on the concept of “Down” on command but he still needs a little hint so he can succeed every time. There’s no point in putting an early skill to a test too soon. After a canine student of any age has the idea, the food lure can be a partial movement. After a dog gets that right, you can repeat with just a tiny movement of the treat toward the ground. His enthusiasm shows that he has no anxiety about this. Mick will be ready for the command without the food next. One baby step at-a-time, especially for a baby.

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Puppies are Cool & Complicated

May 9, 2022
puppies

First in a series Adopting a baby dog isn’t the only way to bring a member of this excellent species into your life but if you decide to take this path you’ll need to be prepared. Raising youngsters, canine or human, is not for the faint of heart. We dog leaders (call us dog owners or pet parents if you prefer) have a whole lot of influence on how our puppies develop and who they turn out to be. They are not, however, a blank slate on the day they ride home with us. Just like the color of their coats, their brains are programmed with genetic coding. Epigenetic influences are also significant. I’ll explain. Mothers are important. What happens to them from 3 weeks prior to the birth of their litter and until 3 weeks after can have an indelible impact on the genetic wiring of their babies’ brains.…

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Wild & Exuberant – Punish? Yell? A New Skill?

May 9, 2022
Target training

Out-of-control behavior in a dog of any age can drive you crazy. Reprimands and physical corrections teach nothing, except more intense agitation. Instead, you can “redirect” your kid to earn an immediate reinforcer (a click) and a food reward. She’d much work for you than annoy you anyway. Here is step 1 of target and clicker training.

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Cougar Still Attacks

May 2, 2022
cat toy

Last in a series And Stays in His Home Mary Beth was committed to bringing out the best in “Cougar”, not to mention her vested interest in her own safety. Getting perforated on her way out the door had never been on her bucket list. On my advice she purchased some challenging food-dispensing toys that she loaded with tasty canned food. Allowing her cat to get good and hungry ahead of her departures made it easy. He attacked those simulated rodent carcasses with a vengeance, leaving his caring, calculating caretaker free to get herself gussied up for a rousing game of pinocle in the recreation room. So far, so good. But she still had to get out alive. Like all self-respecting predators, Cougar found erratic movement impossible to resist. Browsing local pet supply stores, and the Internet (petlinkssystem.com/play) Mary Beth found a battery operated toy that drove her inveterate feline…

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Get into a Dog Crate? Are you Kidding?

May 2, 2022
puppy crate training video

Mick is only a kid. He’s not ready to be trusted to behave if we left him loose in the house at night. A dog is a denning creature but a puppy needs to go there when his folks tell him to. So that he isn’t forced (he’d quickly learn to hate it) he gets to choose. I made it easy for Mick by rewarding each baby step with a tiny treat. As he walked into the crate I “captured” the behavior I wanted by saying, “Mick, Crate!” You’ll see later how he follows the command without argument.

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Taming the Dangerous Feline Predator

April 25, 2022
cat lurking

Third in a series Sharing stories of “Cougar’s” good behavior while living at their old house helped Mary Beth, his caring person, to relax. I told her that she really did have a good cat, despite his aggression. It was hard for him to live indoors in their new studio apartment, missing the thrill of the hunt of those furtive outdoor creatures of his previous backyard. He was struggling to adapt but I believed I could help Mary Beth tame her wild beast and get out of her apartment alive. I picked my moment and finally asked, when did Cougar lunge and bite? Mary Beth explained that this only occurred just as she walked out her door. Her burst of activity, and the location of her exit, had become predictable to Cougar. He laid in wait by the door, slipping into his innate feline predatory mindset. Lurking, perfectly still behind…

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Your Dog Digs Where???

April 25, 2022
digging puppy

Digging dogs can damage a great yard. Don’t punish; it’s normal behavior. Instead, give that dirt dog its very own wonderful digging box. Make it attractive by loosening the dirt, misting with water, and burying tasty, challenging food-dispensing toys. Everybody wins.

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Cat Be Gone or Cat Behave?

April 18, 2022
cat on a skateboard

Second in a series Aggression is never acceptable, especially toward the frail and vulnerable. The science of animal behavior would be central to “Cougar’s” treatment but the elderly lady on the receiving end of his assaults struggled with conflicting emotions that were every bit as important. Cougar had always been a loving kitty toward Mary Beth – until they moved into an assisted living apartment. Now, rather than just a fish out of water, this pussy cat was a predator in desperate need of a rodent. Cats are popular pets because they seem easier to manage than dogs, chimpanzees, or rattlesnakes. You can leave out food, water, and litter and enjoy that indoor cuddle bunny at your convenience. Actually, a stuffed kitty would work better. Real live cats become stressed and badly behaved in a barren environment. Cougar made it easy for Mary Beth back when his outdoor access allowed…

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