A number of studies have shown that dogs possess the ability to learn new behaviors and even problem solve by observing the actions of other dogs or humans. Several forms of social (aka observational) learning are defined by researchers. Discussions regarding dogs' proficiency, the types of tasks that can be learned, and the relative cognitive… Continue reading Wait. Should I like that?
Poop eating. Lots of dogs do it. Many are quite proud of it. Owners? Generally not so enthusiastic. What do they eat? The technical term for poop-eating, of any type, is coprophagy. Many dogs readily consume the feces of other animal species - rabbit, deer, horse, possum and raccoon. Additionally, dogs who share their home… Continue reading Wait. You Can Eat THAT?
The taste preferences of dogs are a big deal to pet food manufacturers. After all, a food may contain quality ingredients and be highly nutritious, but it cannot benefit dogs if they refuse to eat it. Traditional Palatability Tests All pet food companies are concerned with their food's tastiness (aka palatability) and they all measure… Continue reading Taste Tests with Your Dog’s Food Toys
I have written previously about research examining the value that training treats have for our dogs and the importance of considering "high level vs. low level" treats when we train (see "Treat Please" and "Speaking of Treats"). A second, and equally important consideration for reward-based trainers is the quality of the treats that we select… Continue reading Treat Tips for Trainers
The Question: Are dogs less stressed when their owners are present during routine veterinary examinations or do they fare better when examined in the owners' absence? I have written about this issue before (see "Be There"). The study reviewed in that piece reported that having a dog's owner speak softly to and pet their dog… Continue reading Still Be There……Once it is Safe
Most people have heard the admonition "Stop playing with your food!" at some point during their childhood. It is rare to hear the dog version of this rebuke, however, especially if you live with Golden Retrievers (or Labs......). When the food is only in the bowl for 30 seconds, there is little time for playing… Continue reading Does Your Dog Play with His Food?
Trainers who use reward-based training methods (aka positive reinforcement training) often expound about its benefits to dogs and likewise caution about potential risks associated with punishment-based training. Although not extensive, there are a few studies that support the behavioral and emotional benefits of reward-based training and several others showing that the use of aversive stimuli… Continue reading Reward-Based Training and Relationship
I am happy to introduce the newest member of the Case family. Meet Stanley (aka Stan the Man, Stanley Manley, Stanley Pants). Mike and I love having a new puppy in the house (lack of sleep and reduced writing time aside). One of the many things that we enjoy is sharing a new puppy's excitement… Continue reading The Emotional Life of Puppy Stanley
Despite the presumed superiority of our brains, humans are susceptible to a wide range of mental mistakes. These are collectively called "cognitive errors" and they impinge upon our judgement and can lead our decision-making astray. I have written about several of these previously in The Science Dog (attribution error, the availability heuristic and negativity bias),… Continue reading The Nose Knows Bias
One of the benefits of offering puppy classes is that we often have the opportunity to follow dogs from the early stages of puppyhood through adolescence and adulthood. An example of this is a young dog named Sassy, who attended class with her owners, June and Mark. They completed our 5-week puppy course and then,… Continue reading You Say Tomato, I Say……..
We started training nose work games with our dogs about 8 years ago. One of the many neat things about this activity is observing the different search styles of each dog. For example, Chippy, our Toller, was very focused and methodical. He stopped and thoroughly sniffed each box before moving on to the next, finally… Continue reading Science Says: “Nose Work is Good for Your Dog!”
Like many dog training schools, AutumnGold includes an orientation night each session. Owners attend without dogs to learn about our training philosophy and methods. Because it is not unusual for young dogs to react with a bit of anxiety on the first night of class, we teach students how to reduce their dogs' stress and provide methods for helping dogs to feel secure and… Continue reading Clown Fear
This week's Science Dog essay is an excerpt from Chapter 8 of "Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog". I introduced the previous chapter with a story about starting each orientation class at AutumnGold with a version of the training game. While I emphasized that our students are usually impressed by these demonstrations and… Continue reading Choosing Kindly – An Excerpt
This year, for her birthday, Alice got a pony. She named him......Pony. Pony has rapidly become Alice's favorite toy. She carries him everywhere, wrestles with him, wrangles him, growls at him, and generally treats Pony quite badly. (Apparently, Ally has not yet been convinced of the benefits of reward-based pony training). Regardless, Pony and Ally have become inseparable. Until… Continue reading Get Help! Pony is in Trouble!
A favorite activity of the Case dogs is the "Find It" game. We play this out in the training building and begin by asking the dogs "What's Hiding Today?". We all visit the giant toy bin and select a toy for the day's game. I show the toy to everyone, making sure that each dog gets a good… Continue reading The Smell of the Blue Ball