“You should find a good trainer.” How many times have we heard this advice but don’t know exactly who to turn to? When one of my dogs began exhibiting aggressive behavior, many people told me that I should “find” a behaviorist, as if it were a simple, ordinary task and that all I had to do was search. In my quest to find the best behaviorist, I realized that the options were much more nuanced, the licensing/certification organizations much more varied, and the process much more complicated than I had initially thought.
Author: Sophia Yin
Have you ever been in a new city or location or situation and uncertain of where to go and the person who’s supposed to be guiding you keeps getting you mixed up? It’s this confusing if we don’t provide dogs with proper guidance and direction. Read here for some great insight on giving appropriate cues to dogs when walking and stopping.
People frequently ask me why I use hands-free leashes in my dog classes instead of letting owners hold the leash. One main reason is the hands-free leashes allow the clients to easily handle and deliver treats quickly, in rapid succession, and with correct timing. A less obvious but very important reason and my answer: Have you seen what people do with a leash in their hands? I remember attending a seminar early in my career by Patricia McConnell where she showed a video of chimpanzees handling objects. They grabbed, swung, lifted and pulled at these objects. Her point was, primates can’t help but manipulate objects in weird ways.
What type of weird ways do human primates handle leashes?
Whether you are in the U.S., Indonesia, Australia or China, one thing is true about the dogs; they love to chase things passing by their property. Mailmen, cyclists, runners pedestrians and even cars, a dog could be lying seemingly in deep sleep and in a blink he’s on red alert. He flies out barking at full speed and after the person or object disappears in the distance, the dog returns triumphantly—and chalks up another win. It’s a success that fuels the motivation to repeat the behavior again.
As one might expect, if these dogs can leave their property, then this territorial behavior becomes particularly bothersome to passersby. In fact in regions where dogs are regularly able to roam, such as on the Island of Bali or the streets of Fiji, or an Aboriginal town camp, the behavior has lead to conflict within the community. Dogs bark at and chase people, people get scared, and they often respond by carrying sticks or throwing rocks, which leads to increased aggression from the dogs.
Most dog owners dream of having a well-behaved dog—one that greets guests politely, walks down the street calmly and will come when called. We all know that dog training is a process that takes time and persistence, but often we become overwhelmed with the demands of our hectic schedules and the needs of our dogs. How can dog owners balance these conflicting interests, perhaps in addition to their own inexperience, and still develop a well-socialized, well-trained and well-behaved dog? One program, Bark Tutor School for Dogs in Indianapolis, offers an innovative way for dog owners to do just that. I had the opportunity to talk with Brad Phifer, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, the trainer who developed this exciting program.