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
This week's blog is an excerpt from Linda Case's newest Science Dog book, "Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog." I grew up in an animal-loving family. As a young child, I had an auspicious start to pet ownership with Beany the Bird, a parakeet who I trained to fly from his cage to land… Continue reading Becoming Dog Smart
The issue of how to classify the dog and how to best feed dogs continues to be a highly controversial topic among dog people. If you doubt this, just try posting this statement in a dog feeding chat group: "Dogs are omnivores and can thrive on a wide range of diet types." Good luck surviving the night. I discuss the current science regarding the… Continue reading A Taste for Meat?
We switched to a new veterinarian last year. We made the change on a good friend's recommendation and could not be happier. Our new vet is thorough, compassionate, smart as a whip, and an outstanding diagnostician. Her staff members are also competent and welcoming. An additional virtue of this clinic (All About Animals, in Mahomet, IL) is the topic… Continue reading Be There.
Are dogs self-aware? Do they recognize themselves as individuals, distinct from others?Other Animals Have It: Although rather tricky topics of study, animal self-recognition, self-awareness and consciousness have been examined by scientists for decades. Animal consciousness is neither a new idea, nor is it a radical way of thinking. Lucky for us, we no longer live in the age… Continue reading Does this Smell Funny to You?
Negativity bias - We all suffer from it. This is the phenomenon in which we naturally pay more attention to and give more weight to negative information and experiences compared with those that are positive. It is this particular cognitive bias that causes us to be more hurt or discouraged by insults or criticism than we are… Continue reading Do Dogs Have a Negativity Bias?
All four of our dogs like cats and are especially smitten with our current cat, Pete. They play with Pete, go for walks with him and sleep with him. Lucky for us, (and for Pete), our dogs would definitely fall within the category of ailurophile (cat lover). But, of course, this is not true of all… Continue reading Ailurophile? (Or not)
There is no longer any doubt. Clicker training is here to stay. More and more animal trainers are using it. Although I work with dogs, not dinosaurs, I too am a dedicated clicker trainer, as are most of the instructors who teach for me at AutumnGold. However, while the theoretical underpinnings of clicker training are… Continue reading Why We Click
One of my AutumnGold instructors recently completed a set of in-home lessons with a couple and their young Vizsla. The dog, Sadie, had completed our puppy class last summer and her owners were interested in working on in-home manners. One of the behaviors that Amanda, the instructor, included was target training "go to your mat and down/stay". We use… Continue reading The Many Faces of Resource Guarding
In "Dog Food Logic" and "Only Have Eyes for You", I have emphasized (okay, some might say "harped upon") the need for pet food companies to provide digestibility information to consumers. It is not a difficult value to determine and most pet food companies already conduct feeding trials that measure this (yet keep the results to themselves). As… Continue reading Digestibility Matters
Most people are familiar with the concept of a “placebo effect”, the perception of improved health while unknowingly receiving a sham (placebo) treatment that in reality should have no benefit at all. Growing up, my mother referred to this as “giving someone a sugar pill”. The assumption is that because we believe that we are… Continue reading Consider the (Caregiver) Placebo Effect
My last Science Dog blog. "When Sit Doesn't Mean S*it" reviewed a series of studies showing that training shelter dogs to sit on command is not as predictive of future adoption as was once assumed. Those results should not be interpreted as an argument against the benefits of training programs, but rather as evidence that there may be other factors… Continue reading If Sit Doesn’t Matter, What Does?
Science killed another myth today. This one has been around for a while and is almost universally accepted by shelter staff, rescue folks and dog trainers alike (including me). This is the belief that I am talking about: "Shelter dogs who have been trained to sit on command are viewed more positively by potential adopters and are more likely to be… Continue reading When Sit Doesn’t Mean S*it.
The Kindle edition of "Only Have Eyes for You: Exploring Canine Research with The Science Dog" is now available! Click on the image below for more information and to order. Book description: In her second Science Dog book, Linda Case tackles commonly held beliefs about canine nutrition, pet foods, behavior, social cognition and training. Each of the book’s 32… Continue reading “Only Have Eyes for You: Exploring Canine Research with The Science Dog” – Kindle Edition Now Available!