August 2015

Analyzing Commercial Diets

I couldn’t be more excited to introduce this new column in Whole Dog Journal. I’ve been wanting to find someone to write a regular column about home-prepared cooked and raw diets for WDJ, but no one I’ve discussed it with and proposed it to has been able to commit to the amount of work it’s going to take. Allow me to emphasize the part of that previous sentence that finally opened the door to presenting the column: the phrase no one. You see, several of the people I spoke with were willing to provide some of the work of the column. What I needed to do was to build a team of like-minded and experienced home-prepared diet formulators and raw-diet feeders who could collaborate on the creation of diet guidelines and analysis of products and recipes prepared by other formulators.   More...

Sarah Foster’s Cue Dictionary

Subscribers Only — It helps to keep track of exactly what it is that you expect the dog to do when you use a certain cue. If your dog is often confused about a particular cue or behavior, you might look over your own dictionary to determine whether your definition or cue has drifted away from what you originally taught your dog, or whether you have cues or behaviors that are easy to mistake for another one.   More...

Clean Up Your Cues!

Subscribers Only — It’s important to know what your cues are for your dog. Yes, I bet you think you know, but in reality your dog may think your cues are very different than what you think they are.   More...

The ABCs of Training

Subscribers Only — We have Edward Thorndike (1874 - 1949) to thank for teaching us about The Law of Effect. While studying behaviorism, he observed and described The Law of Effect, which states that behaviors change as a result of the consequences to actions. Boundless.com has a nice succinct explanation of The Law of Effect:   More...

Beauty for Ashes

Subscribers Only — Competing with our Sheltie Asta at her first agility trial was an answer to our prayers. After her diagnosis, we lived with months of uncertainty about what type of life she might have. Following her lovely debut, a friend aware of Asta’s condition commented on how “normal” it all looked. But our path to that first agility competition was anything but “normal” because Asta has a mental illness.   More...

9 Great Warm Up Games and Exercises for Your Dog

Every dog should be walked at least two to three minutes prior to starting activity. For more strenuous activities, walk longer and include some jogging toward the end. There is no better gait for overall exercise than a brisk walk.   More...

Preparing Your Dog for a Successful Surgery

Subscribers Only — The word “surgery,” which dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, literally means “hand work.” And, of course, one of the biggest ingredients for a successful outcome is the person at the other end of the scalpel: Everyone wants their dog in the hands of a knowledgeable, experienced, and competent surgeon.But there’s also a great deal that you can do to help your dog navigate her surgical procedure as smoothly and safely as possible, whether it’s a complicated orthopedic reconstruction, or a run-of-the-mill teeth cleaning.   More...

Teaching Trade

Subscribers Only — It’s important to be able to ask your dog to give something to you, especially something he is not supposed to have. If you take away only those things that are forbidden to him, he will learn to play the keep-away game, or worse, he may learn to resource-guard. If your dog already guards resources, you may need to do some behavior modification before it is safe to play the “trade” game with him. Ask a professional for help with this if you don’t think it’s safe.   More...

Resource-Guarding And What To Do About It

Subscribers Only — The term “resource-guarding” sends a chill through most canine behavior professionals. This is because they understand that the aggression a dog displays when guarding a valuable resource can lead to a serious injury to a human in any future home of that dog. And because of this, a display of the behavior means an almost certain death sentence for that dog, especially if the guarding occurs during a behavioral assessment of a dog in a shelter or rescue. But should resource-guarding trigger such drastic reactions? There is a growing body of evidence that perhaps we’ve been overreacting all these years.   More...

Guarded Prognosis

Pat Miller and I were discussing her article "On Guard" and laughing about the very expressive photos I have of my Chihuahua-mix, Tito, who used to resource-guard everything with the ferocity of a starving hyena. That’s him in the photo on page 20, snarling (and though you can’t hear it, crazily growling) to beat the band. The photo was taken a week after he came to live with me, four or so years ago. Today, Tito guards only meaty bones or canned food with that sort of intensity (so he doesn’t get them very often, and only when he’s safely isolated from other dogs and people). He’s a well-managed dog whose behavior had been successfully modified with the techniques Pat describes in her article, so we can laugh now at how demented the actually jolly little guy appeared.   More...