Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Talking Dogs

This is a brief public service announcement. Recently, many of us have had conversations about various health and behavior based dog issues. The best compendium of information, in my opinion, is the Whole Dog Journal. WDJ does not accept any advertising. This means that everything they write is free of bias. When they do a product review, they don't have to worry about offending any important advertisers. Sort of like the Consumer Reports for dog stuff. As an example, the current issue includes a discussion of behavior-altering drugs for dogs with phobias and anxiety disorders. Several issues back, they discussed experiences with the increasing popular DAP devices - Dog Appeasing Pheromones - in which they acknowledge that the devices don't always work for every dog or dog problem. Their contributing writers are some of the best in the field, like Pat Miller on training and Patricia McConnell on behavior. I could go on but the point of this is to encourage you to check out their website at There you will find an articles archive and can
  1. download articles of interest, or
  2. make a note of the month and year published and I can send you my copy
I have been a subscriber for a few years and keep my back issues for reference. Just so you know.


  • Speaking of dog behaviors, here is a problem I have had some recent progress with. I am very encouraged, so please indulge me and read on, even comment if you want...
    Reggie has only one access to a view of the front yard, and that is the window of my home office. The problem: when dogs go by or obnoxious kids--he knows the neighborhood pretty well--he barks horrendously and lunges to the window with such force that I'm afraid he'll miss the Rin Tin Tin effect and really get hurt. Rather than dragging him away with a scolding as I found fruitless, I've taken to standing between him and the window and ordering "BACK". He tries to get around me, barks in frustration, but finally realizes he won't win and lays down... until I move. As soon as I sit back down to work, he's back at it. This is when I give him my version of a dog time-out. I put him in my bedroom and close the door. Thanks to a 'dog soulmate' reference with Jo, I wondered if the best discipline is not allowing Reg to be around me. So, he's in the bedroom until he is quiet for 10 minutes, then I let him out. This morning he was on the verge of a lunge and bark routine but at my stern BACK from where I sat he settled for a growl and sat down. Yea! Ok, one down, a thousand to go.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:26 AM  

  • My favorite strategy is to substitute a positive, rewardable behavior for the negative. So, specific to window barking, I say "turn around". As soon as the dog turns to look at me, he gets rewarded with a treat, or a game or attention.

    I also use the reward-for-looking-at-me technique to stop leash pulling. The dog can only pull you when you're moving. If you stop every time the leash gets tight, eventually the dog will look back to say "hey, what's wrong with you back there?" Reward him just for looking the first time, then raise the ante each time until eventually he has to come back to your side to get rewarded.

    Learning is much more powerful if the right action is taken by choice rather than coercicon.

    An interesting aside, I've noticed with some dogs that they only bark when a stranger passes but if it's someone familiar they remain silent.

    By Blogger First, at 11:06 AM  

  • Yep, learned the tight leash/looking thing in obedience class. Isn't it strange how differently dogs react to different approaches? Interesting animals, they are.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:01 PM  

  • Do dogs hallucinate? I think my pal either has bionic eyesight or has ingested something poisonous.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:07 PM  

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