Writer's Blog

A "Dominance Denier" Answers His Critics

Here’s My Credible Debate on Social Dominance in Dogs and Wolves Flipping Polarities: Dominance and Submission or Just Play? “In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful.” —Carl Sagan In a recent (July 7, 2016) blog article at PsychologyToday.com, “Dogs Display Dominance: Deniers Offer No Creditable Debate,” Dr. Marc Bekoff says: “As I'm writing a book on dog behavior, I've been very interesting [sic] in

The Genetic Basis of Social Behaviors in Dogs and Wolves

Are There Social Genes That Dogs Share With Humans (But Wolves Don’t)? A recent study done by researchers at Linköping University in Sweden, published last month in Scientific Reports, suggests that the social abilities of dogs may be affected by certain genes that also influence human behavior. "Our findings are the first to reveal genes that [may] have caused the extreme change in social behavior, which has occurred in dogs since they were domesticated," according to Per Jensen, professor of ethology and leader of the research group. The scientists found a relationship between five different genes and certain abilities dogs exhibit when they interact socially with humans. Four of these gen

Language, Time, Love, Math and Money: Part 4, Money.

What Do Economics and Game Theory Have to Do With Dogs? “[Darwin] pointed out how, in numberless animal societies, the struggle between separate individuals for the means of existence disappears, how struggle is replaced by cooperation ... He intimated that in such cases the fittest are not the physically strongest, nor the cunningest, but those who learn to cooperate so as to mutually support each other.” —Prince Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution Huxley vs. Wallace, Competition vs Cooperation It seems to me that evolutionary science took a huge wrong turn the day it was discovered that some chickens form pecking orders. Suddenly, the Darwinia

Language, Time, Love, Math and Money: Part 3, Math.

Are Dogs Smarter than Toddlers? You Do the Math! Um ... E Equals What Now? Canine Math Tests In 2009 Dr. Stanley Coren did a study on dogs and their apparent math skills. This came at a time when dognitive science was making a big splash in the news: dogs had just become the “it” animal for scientific research into the nature of animal consciousness, and the question of whether animals have some of the same cognitive abilities as humans. AOL: “The canine IQ test results are in: Even the average dog has the mental abilities of a 2-year-old child.” CNN: “Counting ability is tested in drills such as one in which treats are dropped, one at a time, behind a screen. When the researcher either snea

Language, Time, Love, Math and Money: Part 1, Language.

Four Things Dogs Know Nothing About and One They Know By Heart Do Dogs Understand Human Language? Recently I came across a list of amazing cognitive abilities that dogs reportedly have, all based on recent studies and research. The list was posted on National Geographic’s website. In my view most of the studies cited created artificial results based on confirmation bias, which in turn is probably based on a partial reading of Darwin’s words on the differences in consciousness between humans and animals. In their paper, "Darwin's Mistake," Derek Penn, Keith Holyoake, and Daniel Povinellis write: "Over the last quarter century, the dominant tendency in comparative cognitive psychology has been

Language, Time, Love, Math & Money: Part 2, Time.

Hey, Doggie, Do You Know What Time It Is? Three Ways of Experiencing Time There are three ways of experiencing time: linear, cyclical, and perceptual. Linear time plays out with one moment following immediately after another. First A happens, then B, then C, etc. Example: A: The phone rings. B: You answer it. C: It’s a tele-marketer. D: You say, “No thanks,” and E: You hang up. That’s a clear, linear sequence of events. An awareness of the linear nature of time is linked to what’s called “episodic memory,” the ability to recall information relating to past events: the what, where, who, when and why of things. It also entails an awareness of past, present and future, or mental time travel, th

Fear, Force, Punishment & Corrections.

Part 4, Fear Lack of Physical and Emotional Balance Human beings can suffer from a panoply of fears and phobias including a fear of flying, fear of public speaking, fear of heights, fear of confrontation, arachnophobia (fear of spiders), agoraphobia (fear of open spaces), and on and on. Dogs, too, can develop fears and phobias: a fear of loud noises, fear of the vet’s office, thunderphobia, fear of men in hats, and so on. And whether in dogs or humans, fear has an easily recognizable signature that can be seen in how the person or dog moves in their body through space. (This is much more transparent in dogs than it is in human beings.) What this kind of posture ^ indicates is a feeling of be

The Truth About Fear, Force, Punishment & Corrections: Part 3, Force.

Why There’s No Such Thing as Force-Free Dog Training “Is This Really Necessary?” You’re Using Force You’ve just come home from work. Your dog is happy to see you. You put the leash on and take him for a walk. You want to go to the bank, which is to your left, but your dog wants to go to the park, which is to the right. What do you do? If you take him to the bank, you’re using force. You let your puppy out of her pen for some free time. You try to keep an eye on her but your attention wanders. And when you look back you see her chewing on some electrical cords. Do you let her continue chewing or do you pull her away from danger? If you pull her away, you’re using force. You’re teaching your d

Sweetness, Stillness, and Resilience

Obedience Comes Naturally by Bringing Out 3 Simple Qualities in Dogs Instead of imposing discipline and dominance on our dogs, or subjecting them to an unnatural model of learning that only works in a controlled laboratory setting, why not bring out a dog’s sweetness, stillness and resilience? What exactly are these qualities, and why should we bring them out in our dogs? Sweetness Like a lot of things related to our canine companions it can be easy to misinterpret what I mean by sweetness so I’ll do my best to reduce the possibility of misunderstanding. For starters, if being cautious and wary constitute one end of the scale, and being needy or over-friendly constitutes the other (though bo

Fear, Force, Punishment & Corrections:

While positive punishments can cause behavioral problems in dogs, negative punishments—time outs and the like—are mostly ineffective.

The Truth About Fear, Force, Punishment and Corrections.

Part 1, Corrections. Corrections as Information There are two types of corrections used in dog training. Verbal (or vocal) corrections, and physical corrections, which includes leash corrections. Verbal (or vocal) corrections include things like saying “No!” “Quiet!” “Uh-uh!”or making a “Tch-tch...” sound. Physical corrections involve using your hands to physically manipulate (or gently force) a dog into a sit or down position, etc. Leash corrections can be something as simple as a slight tug on the collar or “hanging” a dog, where you momentarily lift the dog’s front legs off the ground, a technique which should only be used in an emergency situation to prevent a dog from harming himself or


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© 2016 by Lee Charles Kelley.