Category Archives: Uncategorized

“He’s very protective”

Paws Abilities

“He’s very protective of me,” bragged the owner of the German Shepherd I had been called out to evaluate. “He won’t let anyone near me.”

Photo by Dan Foy Photo by Dan Foy

Indeed, her 18-month-old Shepherd was telling me in every line of his body that he did not want me anywhere near him. Head down, eyes wide and staring, muscles tense, and softly growling, he was not a dog I had any desire to approach. He was not, however, “guarding” his owner.

Many fearful or insecure dogs act just like this Shepherd, growling and posturing when people come near their special person. However, their body language tells the true story: these dogs are worried. Their weight is often shifted over their hindquarters, and they rarely position themselves in between the new person and their owner. They lack confidence, and make up for it with their “the best defense is a good…

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Do Dogs Have a Negativity Bias?

The Science Dog

Negativity bias – We all suffer from it.

This is the  phenomenon in which we naturally pay more attention to and give more weight to negative information and experiences compared with those that are positive. It is this particular cognitive bias that causes us to be more hurt or discouraged by insults or criticism than we are pleased or encouraged by compliments and shining reviews.

It’s hardwired: We cannot easily escape negativity bias. Research studies have shown that the human brain actually experiences stronger neural activity when reacting to negative information compared with when we are given positive information. As a result unpleasant experiences are inevitably more memorable to us than are pleasurable ones.

Why do we have it? Our negativity bias is thought to have evolved as a method for keeping ourselves and those we love out of harm’s way. Think about it like this – your chances of survival are greater if you have a natural tendency…

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Myth: Anxiety Medication Should Only be used as a Last Resort

Paws Abilities

I’ve written about medicating anxious dogs before, and it’s such an important topic that I want to touch on it again. There are so many misconceptions surrounding this subject.The idea that anxiety medication should only be used after everything else has been tried is so sad and harmful, and is a myth I encounter on a regular basis. Let’s clear up some of the fog surrounding this common misconception.

Photo by Heather Photo by Heather

Before we get any further, please remember that I am not a veterinarian and I don’t play one on the internet. The information contained in this blog is not meant to diagnose or prescribe, and is only provided for your information. I’m drawing from my experience as a certified veterinary technician, canine behavior consultant, and the owner of an anxious dog to educate you, but your best resource is always going to be a licensed veterinarian.

So, let’s…

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So quick and easy and you can use whatever your dog likes best for flavour, or omit ingredients your dog is sensitive to.

Best dog treat hack ever! Here’s how to make batches of more than 500 small treats at a time without having to cut them up. Buy a silicone cooking mat for low-fat cooking. One brand available by mail order is called the Pyramid Pan. It has 556 little protrusions. The idea is that you can…

via No More Cutting! Making 500 Non-Crumbly Dog Treats From a Mold — eileenanddogs

Treating fear with pain – Why does it appear to work and what really happens under the skin?

Dog training nantwich

Over the years I have been working in Animal Behaviour I am always amazed at how many people disregard science and research. The world of dog training has really moved forward as science has discredited some of the more outdated methods such as Dominance and pack leadership style methods.

There has been a huge amount of research on the devices used in animal training and their effects on the physical and emotional state of the animal involved.  It amazes me how people insist on treating fear with pain but unfortunately they do. Devices of any description are a quick fix method. They are effective at interrupting the emotion the animal experiences but they won’t remove that emotion and this is where the problem lies.

Lets’ imagine the scenario of a dog that is scared of traffic and is struggling to walk down a road and lets’ use the shock collar as an…

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At what cost?

Paws Abilities

As a professional trainer, I hear a lot of disturbing stories. One local trainer routinely advises owners of reactive dogs to briefly hang their dogs from prong collars when the dogs lunge and bark. The same facility told one of my clients to pull her nervous dog’s ear or pinch his flank if he stopped paying attention. Another recent client was advised by one of her friends on Facebook to step in front of her aggressive dog whenever the dog began growling at anyone and then to stare the dog down (which, not surprisingly, resulted in a pretty severe bite to her leg).

Photo by Marie Carter Photo by Marie Carter

With all of these disturbing stories, a common thread runs through. The owners really love their dogs, and were simply following the advice that had been given to them. In many cases, these people were desperate to fix a serious problem. These weren’t…

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