Archive for the ‘good dog advice’ Category



Read Full Post »

Jess at DesertWindHounds discusses the importance off genetic diversity in the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC),  a gene family that controls immune responses. In dogs, it’s called the Dog Leukocyte Antigen (DLA) system

It’s very important that everyone in dogs understands these concepts.

In fact, it’s very important that everyone interested in conservation of endangered species or in breeding any kind of animal has a full grasp of the problems that can happen with reduced diversity in the MHC.

This angelfish website also partly discusses the MHC. Unlike Jess’s post, it is pro-inbreeding, but the author recognizes the need to bring new blood in.

The problem with dogs is we are operating within a closed registry or a Potemkin open registry system where new blood is not easily brought in.

And with virtually all Western breeds, all individuals within a breed are derived from the same founders.

The is the big problem with line-breeding, inbreeding, and using just a few sires  per generation within a closed registry system. At some point, the breed becomes too homozygous within the MHC/DLA, and it’s screwed when a really bad disease pops up.

My guess is we’re going to hear a lot about the MHC in the near future. Many success stories of recovering endangered species are going to turn into disasters.  Some species have recovered from a very low founding population, and that means that they don’t have much variation at all in their MHC.

That’s bad.

And there is one animal right now that recovered from intense persecution in its homeland. It was eventally protected, and its numbers grew.

But now because of a communicable disease, it may very well go extinct. As a species, it has low genetic diversity and very little variation in the MHC. If it does become extinct, it will be this compromised genetic diversity that ultimately does it in. If it had more diversity in its MHC, then some individuals might have a some immunity to it, but thus far, all have been found to be highly susceptible to this disease.

I’ll reveal that animal and its disease  tomorrow in a longer post.

Until then, read this post and get a good understanding of what the issues are.

Read Full Post »


Check out this channel for lots of pretty educational dog videos.

Read Full Post »


As you can see, the real reason why they work so well together is because they have an actual relationship– a very strong bond, which is key to everything.

Check out Leonard Cecil’s Youtube channel and website for more information. He has a wonderful resource on dog behavior literature that is worth checking out.

His Youtube channel description explain it all:

I’ve been a dog owner and lover for over 45 years. I used to be a so-called leash-popper, then a so-called balanced trainer and now I’m a +R/-P trainer and use neither choke collar, prong collar nor shock collar. I am neither the Alpha of my pack, nor the leader of my pack. I do have a relationship with my dog based upon mutual trust and respect. I want my dog to want to be with me and share her life with me for the same reason I do with her – because it’s in our joint best interest to do so and it’s fun. So that means, there are times we do what she wants and there are time we do what I want. There are times a “no” is allowed and times it’s not. Rules exist and are enforced without force, pain or fear. In June 2011 I will be finishing my Canine Behavior Science and Technology (Cert.CBST) through James O’Heare’s Companion Animal Sciences Institute. This is a certification concentrating on Dog Training and Dog Behavioral Modification. I do NOT consider myself a “Clicker Trainer” because I do not train clickers. I do however often use clickers in training as a tool. I’m not a “cookie” thrower. I eat cookies but find it rude to throw them, I do however use rewards to tell my dog she did a good job. The rewards consist of treats, play, an encouraging word of praise, a chest rub or ?? I do use punishment where necessary, but without instilling fear, pain, or touching the dog (see the term “negative punishment”). I do hope my dog does NOT know what the meaning of the word “training” is, but rather understands it to be the word “fun.”

This is where dog training is headed.

I think that most people want to have relationships with their dogs like the one Leonard Cecil and Vela have.

That’s why these methods will become the only socially acceptable way to train dogs in the very near future.

We all need to get used to this reality– and embrace them.

For some reason–which I am sure is almost entirely cultural– it is very hard for Americans to embrace these ideas.

But we’ll catch up with the rest of the Western world eventually.

I’m convinced.

Read Full Post »

I am trying to keep my blog from sucking.

So I do two things:

I keep my blog topics diverse.

I don’t jump onto bandwagons.

And those two issues make it very hard for me to have a blog network the way that some bloggers have.

For example, I don’t buy into Cesar Millan.

I saw that show in the 1990s. That was Uncle Matty Margolis. Blah.

(And now I will be defamed in the comments for disparaging someone’s favorite dog training guru. LOL. You people need to get lives, think for yourselves,and not believe everything you see on TV. And don’t believe every word I say either. Please look up what I say. Please challenge me. I don’t have a monopoly on truth. No one does.)

I also don’t buy into Raymond Coppinger’s theory on dog domestication. I find it very simplistic.

But the ones who critique Millan often resort to using Coppinger’s theory, which posits that dogs are a unique species derived from some sort of degenerate scavenging canid that is not a wolf. If it’s not a wolf, then all that Millan says about pack hierarchy is wrong.

But dogs are wolves. Or rather they are as part of a very diverse species that has historically produced chihuahuas and giant wolves with bone crushing jaws. (That is what fascinates me more than anything about dogs and wolves–this great diversity in phenotype and behavior that can be found in just a single species.)

Wolves do not always form packs. They are also quite capable of learning different ways of relating toward each other and toward other species.

And not all relations between wolves and between dogs can be reduced to hierarchy.

Which is exactly what we’re getting with Cesar Millan.

I don’t buy into two major camps of the dog world.

Both groups are using what I think are empirically quite nebulous and scientifically dubious theories to position what a dog exactly is in our society and in the grand scheme.

I should mention that this is really what all of these fights come down to:

What is a dog?

Is it a degenerate, garbage eating canid that is related to the wolf?

Is it a Machiavellian animal that seeks to rule the world?

Or is it both something far more simple and something far more complex?

Nobody yet has answered that question about the dog’s identity.

I am trying very hard.

But it is like an onion. Each time a bit is peeled away, another layer is revealed.

Anyone who thinks he or she has all the answers about dogs is full of crap and should be avoided at all costs.

The truth is we’re dealing with a higher nonprimate mammal.

We’re also dealing with an animal that bonds very strongly to both people and its own species.

And in that way, it become entangled in the vagaries of our culture, our society, our economic and political systems, and our own views of ourselves.

It is almost impossible to look at dogs objectively.

Same goes with wolves.

Our connection to these animals is so deeply ingrained in our culture.

It may even be beyond culture.

It may be so deeply ingrained in our evolutionary past that we cannot help but relate to these animals in any way but culturally.

We cannot look objectively at them.

For example, I can easily defend lion hunting to promote revenue for conservation, but it is cognitively harder for me to do the same for wolves– even though the economic and ecological advantages would be the same.

I find that puzzling.

I don’t think I could in good conscience shoot a wolf or a coyote.

But biologically they can be culled without making them extinct.

And because I have to consider all of these things in order to write credible nonfiction, I am not about to jump onto any one theory about the dog.

I’ll keep my topics diverse. I know that some of my readers don’t want the wildlife or prehistoric animal posts. And others want more breed histories.

And others want more about dog domestication and behavior.

But I’m doing okay with keeping things diverse.

I keep my comment moderation fairly open.

This blog is about dialog.

But one should be skeptical of those who have grand unified theories about dogs and have not included any careful analysis about how dogs are distorted through our human lenses.

It is not just that people “spoil” dogs.

That is part of the equation.

But the other part is that we have decided that we must force our will over dogs, never let them be dogs, and never let the have off-leash exercise.

Spoiling dogs can make them neurotic.

But the denying them some liberties in life can’t be good for them.

I’m not being anthropomorphic here, but the dogs where I grew up were fairly well-behaved.

And they had plenty a lot of freedom to socialize and walk off-leash.

Humans love to be bosses. We are hierarchical.

Our egos revel  in hierarchy.

Any half-assed theory that says we must have more power is going to be very popular with us.

It may not be the real world, but it sounds good to us.

Because of all of these reasons, we need to be careful what think about dogs.

We need to be skeptical of bandwagons and crap you see on TV.

Read books.

Talk to real experts (Hint: I’m not one.)

My goals on this blog are not to spoon-feed you bromides.

Think for yourself.

Think for your dog.

And try to give it the best life you can.

Don’t assume that because someone is on TV that they know what the hell they are talking about.

That’s a big problem in this country.

I don’t carry water for anyone. I defend those who talk sense, as near as I can tell.

So while I am trying to keep this blog from sucking, I’m not going to reduce myself to bandwagons.

It’s just not me.

And I do nuance. Dogs do nuance, too– but it’s less nuanced than ours would be.

Dogs will bend to fit us. And we’ll congratulate ourselves for their effort.

That’s the way it always has been.

That’s the real important thing about dogs.

They genuflect to our needs in so many ways, and we don’t really seem to marvel at that.

Maybe we should just do that.


And stop the BS.

Be skeptical.

You owe it to yourself and your dogs.




Read Full Post »

Check it out.

“Basing dog training on a misunderstanding of wolf behavior is as useful as basing human education on a misunderstanding of chimpanzee behavior.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

Read Full Post »

Source for cartoon.

This is good post at Trainer Tails.

As I’ve said before, I am not a dog expert. I merely play one on the internet, but I do know that every word of that post is true.

But if you are around dogs long enough, you’ll see that you’re actually influence their behavior a lot.

It means that you have to take a step back. Put the ego on hold for a bit.

And then you can consider the dog.


One of the reasons why I think dominance theory is so prevalent is that it is really good food for a crappy ego.

I mean need to control something to make yourself feel good, right?

And why not come up with some “science” that says you must do so with your dog?


So now, you can be a jerk to your dog.

And when other people who aren’t jerks to their dogs aren’t like you, you can attack them.

Which is also good for your crappy ego.

Not only do you control dogs.

You can find ways to feel morally superior to other people.


I also think a bit of this has something to do with nostalgia for the good ol’ days when people just about half drowned their dogs to stop behavior problems.

It’s the old way.

We must do it that way.

It says so in the book.

You see, a lot good things have disappeared over the years.

I won’t deny it.

We don’t have the Gemeinschaft  in our communities that we once had.

We don’t have safe neighborhoods anymore.

We don’t have a lot of the working characteristics we like in our dogs.

We like to hold onto the old as best we can.

But sometimes that means holding onto the old, just because it’s old.

That actually is something I would avoid.

Just because it’s the old way doesn’t mean that we should be nostalgic about it.

And maybe we should move on.

See, I’m writing this so it will be read on the internet, which I do believe they have on computers now.

Read Full Post »

Really good blog post here.

Most important part:

One of my favorite things about Turid’s presentation was that she provided me with the opportunity to see dog training as it is viewed in another culture, that of Turid’s native Scandinavia. In the course of her presentation, Turid said something to the effect of, “you Americans are control freaks with your dogs! You want to control when they look at something in the environment, for how long, when they look at you, when and if they are allowed to sniff something interesting in the environment, how quickly or slowly they walk, etc.”

I see what Turid is saying. As a culture, we Americans tend to be pushy, demanding, type A, control freaks. We want what we want, when we want it, and how we want it. The concept of, “we must be leaders to our dogs at all times,” really does fit nicely in with our fast-paced, control freak culture.

I am hesitant to post this, imagining what will probably be a passionate backlash from those who may disagree with me, but I will say that now I’ve had many months to reflect on Turid’s presentation, I have come to decide that perhaps, just maybe, we should try to let our dogs take the lead more often.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have what might be called hippie ideas about how humans relate to dogs.

Unlike the author of that blog post, I am not so hesitant to post anything like this, simply because I know that we Americans like micromanaging our dogs.

We take it as an affront to our egos if the dog doesn’t do what we say every time.

When someone is in that mindset, it is hard to have any kind of rational discourse. Trust me. You’ve read my blog posts that counter Cesar Millan’s poppycock. You know what even considering this does to certain people.

I actually think a lot of this comes from a certain level of personal insecurity. I can’t control everything in my life, but I can make my dog “mind me.”

And I think some of it comes from the bizarre romance about what working dogs are. If the founders of a certain type of dog training did it this way, then we must do it now, even if there are other ways of doing it.

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them,” Einstein once said.

And I think so much of that applies to dogs.

Dogs are not living up to their potential as a species. I could only imagine what the relationship between our two species would be like if we’d just let go a little.

We’re the species with the control problems.

It’s not them.

It’s us.

Yes, train them. Teach them rules and social mores.

But we have to let go at some point. Otherwise, the dog becomes an extension of egos and ceases being its own entity.

And you don’t have a relationship.

You have master and slave.

Read Full Post »

Hat tip to Jess Ruffner.

Read Full Post »

This a good proposal to solve a major problem in the breed.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: