“It can be devastating to live with a dog that bites, especially if those bites seem unpredictable or random,” writes Ilana Reisner, DVM, PhD, DACVB in her latest blog article, Dogs Don’t Bite Out of the Blue. “It’s important to note, though, that even unexpected bites rarely (if ever) occur for no reason,” she continues. In this article, she explores the common misconceptions about aggressive behavior in dogs, and the very real warning signals and body language cues we can learn to interpret and recognize in order to safely respect and respond to a dog who may feel compelled to bite.
Learning and emotional processing for dogs and humans is actually very similar – and learning can be a total body experience for many dogs, with many factors influencing the way a dog responds to direction, just as it does for us. Choosing how to provide that direction is therefore crucial for how a handler can work with and bond with that dog in the moment and over time. How teaching happens may be much more important than what is actually be taught. All of this is explored in this wonderful article on Psychology Today written by Carlo Siracusa, DVM, MS, PhD, DACVB, DECAWBM . ~ Maren
While the strategies or practice of using punishment in animal training are contentious, behaviorists agree that in many situations punishment can unequivocally make problem behaviors worse. Particularly in fearful or anxious dogs, the distinction between an animal’s actions being voluntary versus involuntary is huge – and punishment simply does not make sense when applied to an involuntary behavior or emotional response exhibited by a fearful or anxious dog. On Psychology Today’s blog, Ilana Reisner, DVM, PhD, DACVB elaborates on the damage punishment based training can have on fearful or anxious dogs, and how to address problems stemming from fear in a way that can not only stop the behavior and/or prevent it from worsening, but help sooth the dog’s emotional state over the long term as well. Her article is incredibly clear and helpful in defining fear & anxiety in dogs as well as how punishment and positive reinforcement respectively affect these states.