Dog trainers say that some behaviors are more "expensive” than others. It’s behavioral economics, and we do it instinctively all the time with each other, with our children, and in the workplace. Only we don’t always do it with dogs.Read More
Upward Hound Blog
It's a long game, right? Maybe you thought this dog was going to be like your last one. Happy-go-lucky, go-with-the-flow, low-maintenance. Your training goals were going to be house training and teaching him not to jump on your guests. Instead, your goals have centered around helping him navigate and feel comfortable in a world that doesn't seem built for him.Read More
Fergus often puts his ears back and turns his head away when Olivia approaches him. If Olivia gets closer or reaches for him, he gets up to leave. If she pursues him, he will roll over, showing his belly and staring at Olivia with wide eyes.
And when Fergus can’t get away fast enough, he growls.Read More
Transitions are hard for some dogs. We've made really good progress helping Bruce be less afraid of unfamiliar men, and these days you'd never know he used to have raging separation anxiety. But we're in the middle of a move and have been packing for weeks, and it's showing in our sensitive boy.Read More
I remember being that owner who had been told not to feed my dogs “people food” lest it reveal my weak moral fiber, and I remember the sneaky pleasure of finally getting permission from a bona fide dog trainer to just go ahead and pull out the cheese. What a crime it is that we’ve been told not to use our most powerful motivator when trying to train a dog to do a really difficult behavior.Read More
Have you been following the latest Dog Whisperer hoopla and are not sure what to believe? After all, isn't it just a matter of opinion? Isn't it unfair to persecute someone for a difference of methodology? Isn't there room here for all of us? Treats are fine for casual training purposes, but don't Red Zone dogs really need a tough-love approach?
Here's why dog trainers everywhere are so upset.
Consider for a moment that there are some among us who believe in witchcraft. Also a matter of opinion, perhaps. But let's say someone managed to land a TV show in which real children with diabetes were treated by a self-professed witch, using a new magical approach that was not based in any known medical principles. Let's say some of the children felt marginally better afterwards but some were actually being harmed by the treatment and, what's worse, many parents were so impressed by the magic of the approach that they were trying it at home instead of following trusted medical protocols. There would be outrage.
That's what's happening in the dog training community. We're outraged that someone would ignore decades of evidence-based animal learning theory, invite the most challenging dogs to him to be rehabilitated, and apply methods based in principles of calm assertive leadership. Which is folklore. Appealing folklore, I'll admit, but nonsense it is nevertheless.
Folklore versus science. It's that simple.
It's ironic, some dogs respond just fine to methods based in folklore. The resilient, happy-go-lucky, I'll-do-anything-for-a-milkbone types. But the most difficult, the most panicked, and the most vulnerable -- of all the dogs out there, they deserve our very best. They deserve the science.
Behavior change is a slow, methodical proposition. It's about as sexy as ironing, about as dramatic as lawnmowing. Maybe it's OK to be entertained by magical behavioral transformations that occur simply through calm assertive leadership, but let's not sell it as truth and get people out there trying it at home.
It's so hard for us humans to understand how a dog could be afraid of being alone. I mean, it makes no sense. It defies all logic. Some of us—busy parents especially—crave being alone.
Here's the deal: it's like being afraid of flying. Which DOES make sense, right?!Read More