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A Tale of Courage & the Human-Animal Bond. Originally published in slightly different form on October 14, 2011 at PsychologyToday.com. “The phenomenon of thought-transference is so close to telepathy and can indeed without much violence be regarded as the same thing." —Sigmund Freud, 1932. Telepathy in Horses? David Letterman, who has a property in Montana, had an interesting guest on his show the other night, a horsewoman with a great story of courage: not only her courage, but her horse’s as well. Her name is Erin Bolster. She’s a guide at Swan Outfitters, operating near Flathead National Forest in Montana. On July 30

Celebrating the Wolfiness in Dogs

How Dogs and Wolves Are Alike Originally published in slightly different form on October 27, 2010 at PsychologyToday.com. Dog Training Is No Longer Working That Well “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 The quote above comes from Dunbar’s blog. Dunbar is right, especially later in the same post when he writes that the teaching process he espouses “cannot really be defined by existing learning theory.” As of this writing, Dunbar has agreed to contribute a chapter to Cesar Millan’s new book. As for

Pattern Recognition and Dog Training

There Are Three Forms of Dog Training Not Just Two Originally published in slightly different form on September 30, 2010 at PsychologyToday.com. Dopamine And the Law of Effect In a recent post we learned that The Law of Effect—the idea that animals learn new behaviors through how the consequences of those behaviors impact the animal in either a positive or negative way—may not, in fact, be what’s going on when learning takes place. A new model—developed by behavioral neuroscientists—is based on identifying how and when specific dopamine neurons in the brain do or don’t fire during a learning regimen. This research indicates that pattern recognition may be the true agent of “reward,” meani

Bringing Dogs to Work Increases Social Cohesion

Study May Give the Term “Working Dogs” New Meaning Originally published in slightly different form on August 25, 2010 at PsychologyToday.com. Take Your Dog to Work Day, Every Day Have you ever wanted to take your dog to work with you, but couldn’t get the idea past your boss? According to an article in The Economist, you might soon have some ammunition on your side. Christopher Honts and Matthew Christensen, under the guidance of Stephen Colarelli, Ph.D., at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, wondered if the mere presence of a sociable, well-behaved canine in the office might make co-workers more likely to co-operate. It turns out that it very well could. At least that’s what the

Obtaining Status? Enforcing Dominance?

Stanley Coren and Magical Thinking About Dogs Originally published in slightly different form on July 26, 2010 at PsychologyToday.com. I Was Wrong In my last post I said that Stanley Coren had made a turnaround on the alpha theory. I was wrong. The only turnaround, if there was one, concerns whether to use force. He still believes in the alpha theory, as made clear by his latest post, “Obtaining Status, Rather Than Enforcing Dominance.” Dr. Coren also denies ever advocating force: “Contrary to Mr. Kelly’s [sic] claim,” Coren writes, “I did not advocate [forcing a dog on its back] in my 2006 book, The Intelligence of Dogs.” It’s true. That advice is not found in the 2006 edition. However

Deconstructing the Concept of Dominance

Are These Dominant or Stress-Related Behaviors? Originally published in slightly different form on February 8, 2012 at PsychologyToday.com. Sense or Nonsense Dr. Roger Abrantes is a well-known figure in the dog training world. He holds PhDs in Evolutionary Biology and Ethology. He is the author to 17 books, written in English, German, Spanish, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Italian, and Czech, and is one of the most versatile ethologists in the world. In a recent blog post, “Dominance: Making Sense of Nonsense,” Dr. Abrantes proposes that we stop denying that dominance exists in dogs and wolves, and set out to remedy the “nonsense” by a) demonstrating that dominance does exist, b) establishin

The Emotional Center of Gravity

Why Dogs Chase Moving Objects. Originally published in slightly different form on May 10, 2010 at PsychologyToday.com. The Emotional Center of Gravity Have you ever wondered why dogs like to chase Frisbees and tennis balls? Some would say, “They do it because they think it’s a bird or a squirrel.” Others might propose that some dogs just have a “strong ball drive” or a strong “toy drive.” Since the kind of dogs who enjoy chasing tennis balls and Frisbees seem to really, really enjoy it, I think the real reason probably lies more within the realm of emotion than abstract thought or blind instinct. Dog trainer and natural philosopher Kevin Behan says that when dogs chase prey objects, they’re

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© 2016 by Lee Charles Kelley.