Traditionally, dog trainers have spent little or no energy considering a dog’s emotions when training or changing behavior; indeed, trainers or owners who did talk about emotions were often ridiculed and accused of anthropomorphizing. But when emotions are driving behavior, a dog cannot simply choose to stop doing the behavior without ramifications. The reality is that animals (including people) are quite often not rational actors. If that sounds counterintuitive to you and you believe that behavior is largely chosen rather than the result of emotional experiences, perhaps a few examples will help you understand.
The most successful dog parks have rules – and people who enforce them. Registration and numbered armbands make it easier to identify rule-breakers, which helps with enforcement. Here are some suggested rules for dog parks, which you should feel free to share with your community.
Dog parks are lifesavers for the owners of dogs who need extra exercise and outdoor stimulation in order to be able to relax and behave well at home. But well-enforced dog park etiquette is a rare thing, so what happens when badly behaved dogs at dog parks start influencing your dog? Taking your dog to the dog park for the first time should warrant caution; even securely fenced parks hold risks simply because they involve lots of strange, unleashed dogs. How do you know if you should try your local dog park? Just as with so many other dog training and behavior questions, it depends!
There are many different ways of feeding dogs – commercially prepared dry, wet, semi-moist, freeze-dried, and frozen options, as well as home-prepared diets that are cooked or raw, including both BARF (bones and raw food) and prey-model methods. Because feeding can evoke a strong emotional response in the human who fills the food bowl – in our world, food is love, after all – our reflexive response is often to assume that the way we currently feed is the best way.
What is digestibility and why does it matter? Digestibility reflects a food’s ability to deliver essential nutrients to the dog who eats it. This ultimately affects not only defecation quantity and quality (how much your dog poops and how the poop looks and smells), and a dog’s propensity for flatulence (no explanation needed), but more importantly, a dog’s long-term health and wellness. The graphic on this page summarizes how digestibility is measured using feeding trials with dogs.
When it comes to our own needs, we’re pretty boring shoppers. But send us into a good independent pet supply store, and we might not come out for an hour – with a store employee helping us carry stuff we just had to try out. Hunting for unique, attractive, fun, and/or useful dog gear is so much more satisfying than shopping for anything else! We found many of the following items at pet product trade shows, and the rest in our favorite pet supply stores. We hope you enjoy them as much as our dogs have been!
Which canned dog food is best? What is wet dog food made out of? What common ingredients of canned dog food do I NOT want my dog eating? Since the start of Whole Dog Journal 20 years ago, we have worked to seek out and highlight the pet food companies who are dedicated to high quality dog food ingredients, fair prices, and national accessibility. There are more "healthy" and "natural" dog food options than ever before; WDJ is here to separate the truly good canned dog food from just the well-marketed ones.
What type of collar should your dog wear? It depends on your dog, your personal taste, and your training goals, philosophies, and needs. But from our force-free perspective, there are some types of collars we wholeheartedly endorse, some we support with caution, and some that we regard as unnecessary and risky.
Lotus is another company we love. They make only a few foods, but with ingredients they source close to the cannery they built and operate themselves. They invited us to come and watch them make canned food and allowed us to take as many photos as we liked, of anything we saw. We love transparency!
Older dogs tend to develop mobility issues, whether from arthritis or injury. Many aging dogs will experience increased difficulty getting on and off furniture, in and out of cars, or up and down steps. Quality pet stairs come in many styles and prices. A small stepping stool designed for pets could be just what your senior dog needs to continue living comfortably!
Sports and activities that involve thinking and problem solving, such as tracking, scent work, competitive obedience and rally obedience, are great to try with many of the working breeds. Of course, many of the working breeds are used in the specific activities for which they were developed, such as water rescue (Newfoundlands, Portuguese Water Dogs), drafting and carting (Saint Bernards, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs, Leonbergers), and sled pulling (Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes).
The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation is the brainchild of Wilma Melville. It started when her retirement hobby as a civilian canine search-and-rescue handler took her to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in the wake of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing in 1995. At the time, Melville and her canine partner were one of only 15 canine teams certified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the entire country.
I’ve been a professional dog trainer for 10 years. I’ve tackled all kinds of behavior issues ranging from mild annoyances, like jumping up, to serious aggression or anxiety problems. I’ve doled out training and management advice to dog-owning families expecting babies (of the human kind), guided adopters in their selection of a puppy or adult dog, and counseled clients on what to do after their shiny new puppy finally arrives. I’ve taught group classes of various themes, including puppy kindergarten – so many puppy classes, I’d heard and seen it all.
So – you’ve made your list of desired qualities and located a well-regarded shelter, rescue group, or breeder, and are ready to start your search. Perhaps you’ve already identified a prospect on an organization’s website. What now? Go meet some dogs!
So, you’re thinking about adopting a dog. Wonderful! Your whole future with your prospective new dog is ahead of you, and all things are possible. Visions of agility, rally, obedience, trick and/or nosework titles may be dancing in your head, or perhaps long, relaxing walks in a nearby park and snuggles in front of the fireplace on cold winter nights. Maybe you’d like to give back to the community with the warm comfort of a therapy dog. Perhaps you’re looking for a pal for your child.