What Dog Owners Think about Lead-Pulling

(And why it is such a common problem.....) One of the many joys of living with dogs is going for walks. In our family, all of our dogs have loved to hike and run, and Mike and I spend time together almost every morning with our dogs at our local forest preserve. The dogs enjoy … Continue reading What Dog Owners Think about Lead-Pulling

A New Scoop for Citizen Scientists

In recent years, the expansion of citizen scientist experiments to include owners and their dogs has been instrumental in furthering our understanding of canine behavior, social cognition, emotional responses and training. Not only are these studies of great practical importance, they also provide information about the complexities of dogs lives in ways that laboratory experiments … Continue reading A New Scoop for Citizen Scientists

Does Your Dog Love You More than He Loves Food?

(Do you want to know?) Our Dogs Love Us Of this, we are pretty certain. Of course, this is the science dog, so we like evidence. One of the ways in which researchers study dogs' relationships with owners is to measure dogs' preferences - called differential responses - in a variety of situations. In many … Continue reading Does Your Dog Love You More than He Loves Food?

NEW Science Dog Webinar

You See a Dog... You Read Their Story... You Fall in Love... Dr. Carri Westgarth Senior Lecturer, Human-Animal Interaction, University of Liverpool Studies of importing rescue dogs from overseas In this webinar Dr. Westgarth presents her research studies of the importation of overseas rescue dogs. Despite this being both a very popular and contentious practice, … Continue reading NEW Science Dog Webinar

Teasing is Bad.

(Science Says So). My dogs are retrieving maniacs; always have been. This is not surprising seeing that we live with Goldens and Tollers. Throw something (literally anything) and they will happily race after it, pick it up, and bring it back to you. We LOVE this about our dogs and they adore playing this game. … Continue reading Teasing is Bad.

If you don’t eat yer meat, you can’t have any pudding!

This week's blog is an excerpt from "Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog." Even those who are not Pink Floyd fans understand this principle. “You cannot have dessert until you first eat your vegetables” This common admonition means that you can only have the thing that you really want if you first complete … Continue reading If you don’t eat yer meat, you can’t have any pudding!

Enrichment Activities

(Are Not All Created Equal) Enrichment is a popular term these days in the dog training and dog care world. And for good reason. At its most basic, environmental enrichment refers to a variety of techniques and interventions that are intended to enhance the physical and emotional well being of animals who live under human … Continue reading Enrichment Activities

Did Lassie Love Her Job?

One of the many ways that the domestic dog (Canis familiaris) is unique is in how many different roles that dogs have in human society. Most who read this blog share their lives with dogs who are well cared for and who are deeply loved. However, around the world, some dogs lack homes altogether and … Continue reading Did Lassie Love Her Job?

The Eeyore Effect

Measuring the Emotional Toll of Aversive Training Methods The tension between dog trainers who use primarily reward-based methods (positive reinforcement) and those who rely more on aversive methods (positive punishment/negative reinforcement) is not new. Many trainers (myself included) believe that not only are reward-based methods more humane than methods that rely heavily upon aversives, but … Continue reading The Eeyore Effect

Farting French Bulldogs

Yeah. Apparently it's a thing. FLATULENT FREDDIE It is even enough of a thing that a group of scientists from Sao Paulo State University in Brazil decided to study it. More precisely, they studied a few dietary components that might contribute to unpleasant smells produced by members of this adorable (but sometimes stinky) breed. Is … Continue reading Farting French Bulldogs

The VERY First Dog Foods

Traditionally, when we discuss the history of dog foods, we look back, oh, about 150 years or so......tops. The story typically begins with a guy named James Spratt (yes, that was actually his name). Around the year 1860, Spratt created a baked patty for dogs that contained a concoction of grains, beetroot, vegetables and beef … Continue reading The VERY First Dog Foods

Wait. You Can Eat 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?

Still Be There……Once it is Safe

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

Does Your Dog Play with His Food?

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?

Reward-Based Training and Relationship

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