Features January 2018 Issue

The Emotional Lives of Dogs

If your dog was attacked by another dog in a training class, he may remain too frightened to learn anything further in that session – and tense and apprehensive in later classes, too.

The Emotional Lives of Dogs

An excerpt from Denise Fenzi’s newest book, Beyond the Basics: Unlock Your Dog’s Behavior, explains how your dog’s emotions affect his ability to learn (and your ability to teach!).

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.

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