The Truth Behind Dog Impulses: What They Mean and How They Shape Behavior

The beagle dog in sunny autumn forest. Alerted huond searching for scent and listening to the woods

You cry. I feel weepy. We all have impulses that just pop up naturally, and unless we have learned to inhibit them for some reason, we tend to act them out whenever the trigger events for them happen. They don’t need to make sense in a “thinking about it” way. In people, these can […]

Two Myths about Behavior Evaluations for Shelter Dogs

You might think behavior evaluations make placing shelter dogs safer. But, research shows that some of the most common beliefs about shelter dogs and evaluations are actually just myths. Myth #1 Dogs living in shelters are behaviorally different from dogs living with families There is a prevailing myth that shelter dogs are “damaged” or “have […]

Behavioral incompatibilities, not behavior problems

“It’s not a problem for the dog; it’s a problem for the human,” is among the first mottos regarding so-called dog “behavior problems” I learned as a novice dog trainer. The famed behaviorist, Dr. Ian Dunbar, would often begin a lecture on behavior modification with some version of this pronouncement. But even though he acknowledged the […]

Building Social Competence: The real deal in dog safety training

In 2013 the most comprehensive study to date asked whether the dogs (fewer than 1 dog in 2 million)  involved in dog bite-related fatalities (DBRF) had anything in common with one another. The collaboration of a veterinary epidemiologist, a public health expert, an animal behaviorist and dog behavior researchers examined the available evidence regarding every […]

A Dog and Her Family Show Us the Importance of Social Competency

“Oh behave,” we often say to our children and dogs alike, when they do stuff that irritates us. But no one, not kids and not puppies either are born knowing how to “behave.” Understanding what’s expected of them, and how to read the signals others give off, and generally how to behave appropriately in social […]

Words Matter 101: Let’s get rid of the A word

I have a personal litmus test for dog knowledge among humans.  If someone asks, “is that dog aggressive?” I understand immediately that we are starting from zero. Karen Overall, the noted behaviorist, once said that as far as she could tell, the word “aggression” simply meant anything a person didn’t like. She was speaking to […]