Writer's Blog

Dog Training in New York City: Do Puppy Classes Create Learning Deficits?

Are Some Trainers Putting Too Much Pressure on Puppies to Learn Obedience Too Soon? “I have spent the past few years puzzling over why dog training is no longer working that well. Today there is much more management and less reliability…” —Dr. Ian Dunbar Puppies Are Like Actors I was a film and theater major in college, with an emphasis on acting and directing. During my first 7 years in New York—long before I became interested in dog training—I made my living solely as an actor, except for one summer when I also taught a professional acting workshop. So I was tickled a few years ago when Jeff Goldblum was profiled by the New York Times and made

An Open Letter to New York Dog Trainers

This blog post is actually written for all dog owners and trainers, everywhere. I'd like to introduce you to a wonderful training technique. It can help shy dogs become confident, turn aggressive dogs into love-muffins, eliminate fear, decrease unwanted barking, make dogs happier and more playful, increase obedience, and can even help with housebreaking issues. In fact, it does all that and a lot more. I must be joking, right? Nope. It's called "The Pushing Exercise" and here are just a few case histories: Ginger: A few years ago I got an e-mail from a veteran dog trainer of 35 years who started out using “pack leader” methods but switched several years ago to an “all positive” approach. She

Training Equipment: Collar, Harness, or Halter?

What's Best for Your Dog? "I'm a Good Dog! Do I Have to Wear This Thing?" Collars There are 5 basic types of collars commonly used in dog training. 1) The flat, or buckle type collar, 2) The slip collar or choke collar, 3) The martingale (a “choke” collar designed for whippets and greyhounds), 4) The Cesar Millan collar, 5) The prong collar. Of these 5 the least intrusive, the most comfortable, and the most humane are 1) the flat collar, 2) the prong collar, 3) the martingale, 4) the slip (or “choke”) collar, and 5) the Cesar Millan collar. Note: I listed the prong collar as the second most comfortable and second least intrusive. That’s because despite the negative hype, when used properly p

Canine Cognition: Are Dogs Capable of Feeling Guilty?

Three Simple Reasons Why Dogs Don’t Feel Guilt I Didn't Mean to Do It! “We Don’t Know If Dogs Feel Guilt, So Stop Saying They Don’t” In a May 22, 2016 post at PsychologyToday.com Dr. Marc Bekoff writes, “According to Dr. Susan Hazel, a veterinary scientist at the University of Adelaide, ‘There have been a number of studies, and it’s pretty clear that dogs don’t feel or display guilt. It’s not the way their brains work.’” Bekoff rightly disagrees. “There are no studies that show that ‘dogs don't feel or display guilt.’ And, surely, there have been no neuroimaging studies that focus on guilt. So, we really don't know if dogs feel guilt … existing data do not tell us that dogs do not feel guil

Dog Training: Positive Reinforcement vs. Drive Training.

In certain training circles it’s widely believed that learning theory is the only truly scientific and, therefore, the only correct approach for training dogs. Is this true? Not exactly. To be fair, learning theory (also known as behavioral science or behavior analysis) is much more scientific than dominance theory, especially as it’s applied to dog training. There is plenty of scientific evidence showing that dogs and wolves form dominance hierarchies, but none showing that such hierarchies can cross species boundaries. Still, while dominance training is based mostly on fantasy, not science, positive training is not based on hard science. There are no underlying scientific principles behind

Dealing With a "Pushy Dog"

Why Do Some Dogs Act Pushy? Lack of Manners or Lack of Momentum? Does your dog insistently push toys at you when he wants to play? Does he bark and whine to get your attention, paw at your legs or feet, exhibit begging behaviors or try to push between you and another dog or person who also wants your attention? Then you may have a pushy dog. Before writing this piece I looked at several online blog articles on pushy dogs to see what the general consensus was about this subject. Here’s Victoria Stillwell’s take: “At six months of age, your puppy has entered adolescence, a phase where boundaries are tested and the ‘crazy’ brain takes over.” It’s true that the adolescent brain is, in some ways,

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© 2016 by Lee Charles Kelley.