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Skills for Every Day

Chill Out, Roger! How Clicker Training Helped One Dog Move from Crazy to Calm

Case study in communication

One of the best things about training pet animals is the almost-daily opportunity to improve communication between two different species. This opportunity is particularly precious when the pet was previously trained using outdated or ineffective methods. One communication success story from my own career concerns a dog I will call "Roger." (Note that in this article Roger's names and the names of his humans have been changed to protect their privacy.)

How to Cure a Cat-Chasing Dog

When I brought Mimi the Burmese home at the age of 12 weeks I was quite worried about my older dog. I felt sure that my young poodle, Misha, and the new kitten would rapidly become friends and playmates (which they did). However Twitchett, a 9-year-old border terrier, represented a serious threat. In fact, one senior animal behaviorist had e-mailed me advising that I rethink my plan of getting a kitten.

Teaching "Off" with Positive Reinforcement

Self control is one of the most critical skills a dog needs to learn, and it is a skill that is required multiple times a day. Dogs are expected to refrain from picking up something forbidden when it appears within reach. Some examples that come to mind include: dropped medication, chicken bones, the hamster, dead birds, Granny's hearing aid, Susie's favorite stuffed toy, the last remaining baby soother...

How to Prevent Resource Guarding in a Multiple-dog Household

Resource guarding among dogs is an extremely common and normal behavior. Dogs are pre-programmed not to want to share valued resources with others. For pet dogs, resources may include food, toys, or even the owner's attention. In most households, resource guarding is limited to simple communication, but sometimes the behavior can escalate in frequency or intensity and injuries can occur. If you are ever concerned about aggressive behavior in your dog, related to resource guarding or not, it is best to contact your vet or other qualified professional for help before proceeding on your own.

What Makes a Reward Rewarding?

"Reward your dog." We've heard this many, many times in many formats. It takes a lot of experience to get the best from a reward—where the reward delivers everything the dog needs in order to offer the behavior again and again, with passion.