There is a fierce debate raging in the dog training world between traditional dominance and punishment-based trainers and the positive training movement. Common Dog Training Myths: There is more than one way to train a dog. Positive training methods don’t work on 'red zone' dogs. Dogs only 'respect' leaders who assert their 'dominance.' Positive trainers Read More
If cats are likely to live longer and healthier lives indoors – why are we still allowing them outdoors? Surprise, living indoors – though – has shortcomings too. Sixty years ago, indoors vs. outdoors wasn’t an issue. Most cats could come and go as they pleased. It wasn’t welfare issues that changed their world, encouraging Read More
There is no lack of division in the dog world; training methodologies, training tools, cropping and docking, spaying and neutering are but a few potentially explosive topics. Complementary therapies however, are way up on the list of hot buttons to discuss. One person mentions something that even *might* fall into that category and everyone else Read More
If you treat fire with fire, you will get burned. This concept is not rocket science, but it is still science. A study published in the Journal of Applied Animal Behavior concluded that confrontational training methods such as hitting dogs, intimidating them with punitive force and using techniques of restraint like the 'alpha roll' actually Read More
Many people assume that since dogs evolved from their wolf-like ancestors, we can and should easily draw parallels between the two, and use what we see in wolf behavior to help explain how to understand our domesticated dogs. Bad idea. Even though dogs and wolves are genetically similar, they are separated by at least fifteen Read More
A couple of weeks ago, I posted the first part of my 'Fact versus Fiction' blog. There are so many myths and misunderstandings out there about the science and reality of dog behavior, I thought I would try to help clear up a few more things here in part II. (See the Myths & Truths Read More
I want to dispel a few myths about positive reinforcement training methods. There seems to be a great deal of confusion as to what positive reinforcement really is and about which dogs and behaviors it is useful for. For example, I have heard people say that positive reinforcement trainers only deal with obedience training, but Read More
Dogs are not on a quest for world domination. They are not socialized wolves who are constantly striving to be ‘top dog’ over us, and they are not hard-wired to try and control every situation. Contrary to what traditional training ideologies and much modern media would have you believe, most canine behavior problems stem from Read More
Before I started my career as a dog trainer, I studied broadcast journalism in college. I remember one of my professors constantly repeating the phrase "consider the source." That phrase has stuck with me throughout the years, and I've found it to be quite relevant to my work as a trainer.
It’s understandable that people in the dog training world get so agitated when the word “dominance” is mentioned, even when used in the right context. The idea of dominance in dogs has been so misunderstood by some trainers in popular media for so long that it has now become a dirty word, such that even when trainers and behavior experts use the word correctly, they risk a backlash from people that are – let’s face it - exhausted from having to continually reeducate the public about what dominance really is and what it isn’t, particularly when so much damage has been done because of the way the word has been used by some people in the dog training world.
I firmly believe that any decent trainer is always learning – we should never feel we know ‘enough’, and I thoroughly enjoy being inspired, educated and challenged by our amazing roster of presenters at this conference year after year. It has developed into one of the most sought-after dog behaviour experiences available in the UK, and I’m incredibly honoured to be able to bring such a diverse, passionate, educated, engaged, and dog-literate group of people together in the name of better understanding our canine companions each June.
Breed bans do nothing to enhance public safety; they ignore the real reasons why dogs of any breed attack. So where there are breed restrictions and bans – bites happen anyway.
Cue the wistful music before starting the video rolling and many dog lovers just see what they want to see in a video making the internet rounds. When you accompany sweet music with an overlay of words meant to convey what you want people to see, as long as the opposite isn’t glaringly obvious to Read More
Breed traits are important. But these breed traits certainly don’t mean that only a very small segment of society should parent those particular breeds.
Why is it that our pet dogs are struggling more than ever to cope in our domestic world? Resource guarding, leash aggression, aggression towards other animals, and aggression towards people are some of the most common aggression examples that dog trainers see on a daily basis.
I was forwarded an article which basically claimed that while positive reinforcement was a nice tool for training nice pups, it was not a strong enough or effective enough tool to deal with aggression or so-called 'red zone' dogs. It is time once and for all to put an end to this myth, especially when the arguments being used to support it are so painfully inaccurate and the supposed claims are so completely at odds with what behavioral science has already proven to us time and time again.
Resource guarding is when a dog controls access to food, objects, people and locations that are important to him through defensive body language or overt aggressive display. This is a relatively common canine behavior and is influenced by a number of environmental and situational stimuli, including a dog’s natural instinct to survive. The dog Read More
Do you really need to be the 'Pack Leader' to your dogs? First of all, that is impossible, since your dogs know perfectly well that you are not, in fact, a dog. But even if you were, the whole concept of 'pack leadership' in domestic dogs as it is commonly understood has long been dismissed Read More
Dog-to-human aggression can be unpredictable and dangerous, especially when there is an extensive history of aggressive behavior. Dog bites account for a large number of hospital admissions each year and cost insurance companies millions in claims. While most dogs live in harmony with their families, dogs of all breeds and breed mixes have the capacity Read More
Aggression in dogs is a massive issue. From dog bite prevention and public safety to the pet overpopulation problem due to over-capacity animal shelters, aggression is a leading cause of many of the major problems in the dog world. Dogs aggress under many different circumstances from leash reactivity to territorial issues, and aggression can be Read More
There are many different methods when it comes to training dogs and everyone has a different idea for the best techniques to use, but what is now becoming clear to much of the dog loving public is that even though there is more than one way to train a dog, there is a right way Read More
There is much debate on whether a dog’s experience of emotion is similar to that of a human’s or if a dog’s behavior is simply influenced by an inner drive to survive. While we cannot claim to have all the answers yet, science is helping increase our understanding of how the dog’s brain works, producing Read More
People used to think that dog training was only about teaching dogs obedience commands, usually through the use of heavy-handed punishment-based techniques. It was viewed as somewhat of a luxury for pet parents and was often wrongly considered to be something so straightforward and simple to achieve that anyone could do it on their own without Read More
For the majority of modern dog owners, choosing the right dog trainer is one of the most important decisions they will have to make regarding their dog. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the most difficult decisions to get right. Assuming you have already determined that you need the help of a trained professional Read More
Cancer is a disease that we veterinarians are diagnosing more frequently in pets. According to the Morris Animal Foundation, “1 in 2 dogs will develop cancer and 1 in 4 dogs will die of the disease.” As there is no guarantee for a cure, we should strive to prevent our pets from developing cancer in the first place.
There are over 78 million owned dogs in the U.S., and 39% of all American households include at least one dog. This Sunday, August 26th, is National Dog Day, giving many of those dogs and the people that love them reason to celebrate. As someone who has dedicated my life to helping people build healthy relationships with their pets based on mutual trust, respect and love, I have one of the best seats in the house on days like this and I honestly believe that I have one of the best jobs in the world.
Victoria Stilwell: Hey Steve! We last met up at American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Awards in L.A. – What have you been up to since then? Steve Dale: I emceed an American Humane Association animal assisted therapy dinner, celebrating the work of many dogs and their volunteer handlers in Denver. I’ve contributed to a couple Read More