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How Smart Are Dogs — Really?

One of the themes of the “My Doggie Says…” show has been “the intelligence of dogs.”  One guest, for example, was Stanley Coren, author of “The Intelligence of Dogs.”  But I’ve always found these conversations a little unsettling. Here’s the interview with Stanley.

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The scientists keep saying, “Dogs really aren’t very smart.”  I wonder, though, if they are applying the right measures.  Obviously, dogs can’t take an IQ test — which deals with language.  But they sure do some clever things.  I have a difficult time believing that Callie Golden Retriever has the same intelligence level (whatever that means) as a two-year-old child.

Well, Brian Hare and Dognition to the rescue.  For the past two weeks, Barbara and I have been spending a few minutes every evening running Callie through a battery of tests developed my Dognition.  Here’s how Dognition describes the tests:

“You begin the Dognition Experience by playing a series of science-based games that will reveal your dog’s unique abilities. This knowledge is the first step in creating an even stronger connection with your dog — a connection that can help you be the best owner you can be for your furry friend.”

So far, we haven’t received any results on Callie’s testing, but the games have been fun, and we’re looking forward to seeing the first results.  Stay tuned!

Glynis McCants on the “My Doggie Says…” Show

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Was My Dog Really Smart Enough to Figure that Out?

If you read this blog, you know that Callie and I have a daily soccer match — at her invitation.  It’s a ritual we’ve followed since Callie was eight weeks old.  So for over five years, we’ve been doing our daily soccer game.  I kick the ball in the air, and Callie “bonks” it off her nose.

You also know that we have our little ups and downs.  Some days, Callie really gets into the game, and other days, she just stares blankly as the ball whistles over her head.  I’m never quite sure what to expect.

You also know that I think dogs are really smart — much smarter than even our scientists give them credit for.  They read our body language better than we read theirs –  most of the time.

You also know that I have all kinds of little tricks for getting Callie into the game.  Sometimes it takes us a while to get started, so I have to encourage her and try to persuade her to start the game.  She’s always enthusiastic when we run outside, but sometimes it takes a few dozen kicks on my part before Callie gets going.

Well, last night, at soccer time, it was raining fairly hard.  My first reaction was to skip soccer for the day.  But Callie kept begging me to play.  Finally, I gave in and opened the door to the back yard.  But I said to Callie, “Look, it’s raining pretty hard; the yard is getting muddy; so we need to get started right away and just play for about five minutes.”

Imagine my surprise when Callie followed my instructions to a tee.  She “bonked” the first kick and worked her golden retriever butt off for five minutes.  Then we did our ceremonial “high five” and got inside out of the rain.

Unbelievable.  What was she responding to?  Was it what I said (really, out loud)?  Did she pick up on my body language somehow?  Whatever it was, it was the first time she’s ever jumped right into the game and then stayed with it for five minutes without interruption.

We were both a little wet when we finished, but it was worth it.

Mary Collister of “Woofpackgoodies.com” on the “My Doggie Says…” Show

Mary Collister, the founder of woofpackgoodies.com, is passionate about helping rescue organizations and providing dog toys that will enrich the lives of dogs.  A portion of every purchase goes to support one of seventy five rescue organizations, and the number of supported rescue groups is growing rapidly.  In this interview on the “My Doggie Says…” show, Mary describes the very creative woofpackgoodies.com web site and some of the ways that dog toys can add joy to a dog’s life.  Mary also talks about her work with rescue groups and the challenges of getting a new business up and running.

Don’t miss this podcast:

 

David Frei, Co-Host of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, on the “My Doggie Says…” Show

Here is David Frei, co-host of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, on the “My Doggie Says… Show.”

 

Hero Dog Awards 2012

The 2012, Hero Dog Awards were presented on November 8, 2012, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, in Los Angeles.  This is always a very inspirational program.

Here’s a summary from dogtipper.com.

Here’s a three-minute audio clip from the “Dog Appreciation Lessons” CD, in which Michael Hingson describes that fateful day in New York City, on September 11, 2011.

 

Here’s my interview from last year with Michael Hingson, whose dog, Roselle, won the 2011, Hero Dog Award for leading Michael and some other people out of the World Trade Center on September 11,k 2001:

 

 

How Smart Are Dogs — Really?

One of the themes of the “My Doggie Says…” show has been “the intelligence of dogs.”  One guest, for example, was Stanley Coren, author of “The Intelligence of Dogs.”  But I’ve always found these conversations a little unsettling. Here’s the interview with Stanley.

 

The scientists keep saying, “Dogs really aren’t very smart.”  I wonder, though, if they are applying the right measures.  Obviously, dogs can’t take an IQ test — which deals with language.  But they sure do some clever things.  I have a difficult time believing that Callie Golden Retriever has the same intelligence level (whatever that means) as a two-year-old child.

Well, Brian Hare and Dognition to the rescue.  For the past two weeks, Barbara and I have been spending a few minutes every evening running Callie through a battery of tests developed my Dognition.  Here’s how Dognition describes the tests:

“You begin the Dognition Experience by playing a series of science-based games that will reveal your dog’s unique abilities. This knowledge is the first step in creating an even stronger connection with your dog — a connection that can help you be the best owner you can be for your furry friend.”

So far, we haven’t received any results on Callie’s testing, but the games have been fun, and we’re looking forward to seeing the first results.  Stay tuned!

Hero Dog Awards 2012

The 2012, Hero Dog Awards were presented on November 8, 2012, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, in Los Angeles.  This is always a very inspirational program.

Here’s a summary from dogtipper.com.

Here’s a three-minute audio clip from the “Dog Appreciation Lessons” CD, in which Michael Hingson describes that fateful day in New York City, on September 11, 2011.

 

Here’s my interview from last year with Michael Hingson, whose dog, Roselle, won the 2011, Hero Dog Award for leading Michael and some other people out of the World Trade Center on September 11,k 2001:

 

 

Why Do Dogs Sniff Before and After Peeing?

When I wrote “My Doggie Says… Messages from Jamie,” I was curious about why Jamie did so much sniffing before peeing.  Was she looking for something?  Was she looking for the absence of something?  Well, there are several on-line articles that answer this question.  Mostly, they are sniffing for other dogs’ “marks,” so they can “mark over them.”  That is, so they can claim the territory for themselves.

This probably explains why Jamie would also sniff her way all the way to the end of someone’s yard before peeing.  Presumably, because there were no other marks to “mark over.”

Here is one set of answers.

A related question is, “Why do dogs sniff their own urine?”  I’ve always wondering if they were doing some kind of medical “self-diagnosis,” or something like that.  Well, maybe not far off.  Here’s an article titled, “Why Does My Dog Smell Its Urine.”

Was My Dog Really Smart Enough to Figure that Out?

If you read this blog, you know that Callie and I have a daily soccer match — at her invitation.  It’s a ritual we’ve followed since Callie was eight weeks old.  So for over five years, we’ve been doing our daily soccer game.  I kick the ball in the air, and Callie “bonks” it off her nose.

You also know that we have our little ups and downs.  Some days, Callie really gets into the game, and other days, she just stares blankly as the ball whistles over her head.  I’m never quite sure what to expect.

You also know that I think dogs are really smart — much smarter than even our scientists give them credit for.  They read our body language better than we read theirs –  most of the time.

You also know that I have all kinds of little tricks for getting Callie into the game.  Sometimes it takes us a while to get started, so I have to encourage her and try to persuade her to start the game.  She’s always enthusiastic when we run outside, but sometimes it takes a few dozen kicks on my part before Callie gets going.

Well, last night, at soccer time, it was raining fairly hard.  My first reaction was to skip soccer for the day.  But Callie kept begging me to play.  Finally, I gave in and opened the door to the back yard.  But I said to Callie, “Look, it’s raining pretty hard; the yard is getting muddy; so we need to get started right away and just play for about five minutes.”

Imagine my surprise when Callie followed my instructions to a tee.  She “bonked” the first kick and worked her golden retriever butt off for five minutes.  Then we did our ceremonial “high five” and got inside out of the rain.

Unbelievable.  What was she responding to?  Was it what I said (really, out loud)?  Did she pick up on my body language somehow?  Whatever it was, it was the first time she’s ever jumped right into the game and then stayed with it for five minutes without interruption.

We were both a little wet when we finished, but it was worth it.

Thinking About Renting a Dog? Check with Barley, Labrador Retriever and Rent-A-Dog: Podcast

Can you imagine being a dog with more than one home to go to every week?  Well,  I interviewed Barley, a Labrador Retriever and Rent-A-Dog, to find out what it’s like for him.  Here’s a short sample from Barley.

 

And here’s the full interview:

 

I Am So Attached to this Dog!

This photo was taken on a recent fishing trip at Lake Arrowhead.  Callie loves to go fishing.  Actually, she loves just about everything at Lake Arrowhead, but she’s really in her element on our boat, cruising from fishing spot to fishing spot, sniffing my bass before I release them back into the lake, and roaming around the boat without her leash.

She’s a terrific fishing buddy.  She obviously loves being on the boat and letting her coat blow in the wind as we cruise around the lake.  She starts to get excited when she sees my fishing rod bend down from the weight of a fish.  She watches attentively while I net a fish and remove the hook.  (I release all the bass I catch.)  And she usually takes a sniff, or a lick, at my catch before I put it back in the lake.

I’ve had a lot of dogs, and, as you know, I wrote a book about Jamie Golden Retriever (“My Doggie Says…: Messages from Jamie”), but I’ve never had a dog that participates as much as Callie.  She’s part of the team, and she knows what she’s supposed to do every step of the way.  When we first get on our boat, Callie is on her leash — so she won’t dive into the lake and do one of her other favorite things — go for a swim.  But once she’s on the boat, the leash comes off.  It was easy to train her to stay inside the boat.  All it took was a couple of corrections when she started to climb up on the bow or the stern.  Now she roams freely on the boat, and she’s obviously proud to have so much freedom.

Some dogs would just be a “bump on a log.”  They might just go along for the ride, but not Callie.  She interacts and participates every step of the way.  She asks for fresh water if her water bowl is low.  She looks for a comfortable place to sit — or lie — sometimes in the sun, sometimes in the shade.  On a hot summer day, she will ask me to put up the bimini top, so she’ll have some shade to lie in.  When we leave one fishing spot for another, she looks for a place to sit beside me.  Sometimes, she’ll wait to climb up on the seat until I move a fishing rod or boat line out of the way.  Always interacting, and always extremely polite.

If you follow this blog, you know  that Callie and I play soccer every day.  Here’s what that looks like.

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This has been an incredible bonding process.  Callie’s focus “comes and goes” during our soccer matches.  So I’ve had to learn how to adapt to, and “manage”, her focus and attention span.  Sometimes, Callie gets off to a hot start and then loses interest.  Sometimes, she has a difficult time getting started.  I’ve learned a few tricks about keeping her interest level up.  If she gets completely distracted (by eating grass, for example) it usually works to “stop” the game (literally, put the ball away) and then “start” it again.

We’ve gone through a couple of periods (a few days, perhaps) when Callie just didn’t seem very interested in playing soccer.  One thing I’ve noticed this summer, though, is that usually after a few days at Lake Arrowhead, she attacks the soccer game with more vigor than ever.  She’ll play for ten minutes without letup, answering my every kick with a “noser” — a “bonk” off her Golden Retriever nose.

As I try to tune into her energy levels, I’ve discovered that her “focus” sometimes reflects mine.  If I’m distracted and thinking about some work issue, Callie seems to lose interest.  If I work hard at staying “in the present” and staying focused on the game, she gets more “into it.”  It’s almost as if she is training me to stay focused and “in the moment.”  Is Callie my Zen-Dog Person Trainer?

My relationship with Callie goes far beyond fishing and soccer.  Callie is the most socially interactive dog I’ve ever been around.  She has several doggie boyfriends in the neighborhood, and, when she sees them coming, she gets very excited — wagging her tail and rushing to say “hello.”  But it’s not every dog; she’s selective.

Callie is the same with people.  If she sees a people friend, she either rushes to say “hi,” or she sits and waits for the person to catch up.   When she’s walking near, or on, the nearby golf course, Callie is always looking for greens keeper Jeff — or his red golf cart.  Jeff is probably Callie’s favorite person outside our family.  Because Callie is so friendly, I have made a lot of new friends — both dog friends and people friends.

One of the most endearing things that Callie does is to sit down beside me and “ask” me to scratch her throat and neck.  This can happen when I’m working in my office, watching TV, or sleeping soundly at 2:00 in the morning.  It doesn’t matter; I’m always glad to accommodate her request.  The message seems to be, “Just checking to make sure everything’s OK.”

This kind of #dogbonding has a spiritual and philosophical side to it.  It sure feels like Callie is helping me grow in a lot of different ways.

Callie Golden Retriever: “You leave my man alone!”

Callie Golden Retriever (in the foreground of the photo) is the most social dog I’ve ever known.  She has countless doggie and people friends.  But that doesn’t mean she’s friends with everyone.  She’s selective.  And she has a few favorites.  In this photo, she’s visiting with her Lake Arrowhead neighbors, Reilly, Ruckus, and Rowdy.

But yesterday, she did something that just blew me away.  In our home neighborhood, Callie has two special “boyfriends,” Sampson, a yellow Labrador Retriever, and Lucky, a Golden Doodle.  We were walking with Cousin Maggie Golden Retriever (my daughter’s dog), and joy-of-joys, for Callie, along walks her special friend Sampson.  Maggie is very friendly, too, but when Maggie tried to say “hello” to Sampson, Callie pushed herself in between Maggie and Sampson.  She wasn’t going to let Maggie get anywhere near her “man.”  Where’s the camera when I need it?

Don’t dogs do the most amazing things sometimes?

Have you seen dogs act like this before?  If so, please comment.

Video of Callie Dock Jumping and Retrieving Her Water Frisbee

Like Jamie, Callie Golden Retriever loves dock jumping and swimming at Lake Arrowhead.  She has her own routine, which is great, because it keeps her safe from boat traffic on the lake.  First, she runs to the end of the boat dock.  Sometimes, she waits for someone to throw her Frisbee in the lake, but sometimes she just jumps in, knowing that the Firsbee will soon follow.

Once the Frisbee is in the water, she swims to it, retrieves it, and swims to shore.  Fortunately, she has some very convenient stone steps for climbing out of the water and back to the dock.  She shakes off all that water — on anyone who’s close — picks up the Frisbee, and heads out for another lap.   She would keep dock jumping and swimming all day, if we let her.

It’s a great #dogbonding activity, because getting it all set up involves some real teamwork.

Here’s what it looks like:

The Towhee Conspiracy

Usually I write about dogs, but this post is strictly for the birds.

One of my objectives on my recent Lake Arrowhead vacation was to get a better photograph of a spotted towhee that I saw last year.

On the first day of vacation I heard towhees several times, making their somewhat mechanical sounding very high-speed click click click sound. They sound almost like a cicada.

But I was never able to spot one of them. It seemed like they were always at a distance and buried in the bowels of an oak tree or on the other side of a tree.

This went on for several days. On the fourth day of my vacation, Barbara and I went for a long walk, and we heard the towhees calling, but they were always “over there” somewhere. I was never able to get a closer than about seventy five yards to one of them. I have a powerful telephoto lens for my cameral, but that’s still not exactly a clean shot

Several times when I spotted the towhees, I tried to get a little closer, only to have the birds fly away. They are obviously very skittish and not comfortable around people.

About a week into my vacation I started to get the idea that all of the towhees on the mountain were conspiring to avoid me. It seemed like, no matter what I did to get closer to one, they outsmarted me. Several times I thought I was in good camera range only to have the birds fly away just as I started to focus.

So now I’m starting to perseverate on these little guys. This is getting serious. It seems like they are really ganging up on me and avoiding me at all costs.

One evening, one of the towhees let his guard down a little and gave me a pretty clean shot. It was clean, but the bird was about one hundred yards away, so the image did not enlarge very well. I thought “well this is good enough for now, but I need a better shot.”

Several mornings later, I thought I finally had my perfect shot. I was practicing golf in a net, and all of a sudden I realized that one of the towhees was buzzing away in the top of an Oak tree about thirty yards away.

Obsessed as I had become with getting a picture of this little guy, I had brought my big camera and lens so I only had to walk a few feet, and I had a fairly open shot of the bird. He (the males have the fancy colors) was about forty feet high on a dead branch — with no obstructions. A very nice shot.

Unfortunately, the bird was facing away from me. I did get a couple of marginally acceptable shots, but I remained convinced that the towhee community was conspiring against me and alerting the the others anytime I got within fifty yards of one of them

So now I’ve got about a week left to get a good image of the towhee, and I’m becoming more and more convinced that he and his friends are conspiring against me. I say “he” because one of the birds lives in a wooded transition area adjacent to my property. I hear him every morning and every evening.

A few more days go by and I’m hearing the little guys everywhere. Buzz, buzz, buzz. But I never got a good shot. I walked out onto the street a couple of times because I heard a towhee near the street, but every time I got within about seventy yards the bird would fly to another tree.

On the very last day of my vacation, I had to pack up my golf practice net and carry it up to the house for storage. I had my large camera and lens with me, just in case, and as I approached the house I heard a “click-click” sound. Not the usual “buzz” — just a few clicks. It occurred to me that that the usual buzzing sound is made up of high-speed dozens of these “clicks,” and, sure enough, I looked up, and about forty feet away sat my spotted towhee friend — in wonderful, soft morning sunlight and looking right at me.

You only have a few seconds in these situations, so I quickly grabbed my camera, focused on the bird, and fired off half a dozen shots (using the “automatic shutter” feature). After about six shots, the towhee flew away.

Now the conspiracy thickens. When I looked at the images I realized that I had set my camera for multiple focal points which is great for in-flight photos — like a cooper’s hawk flying overhead. But in this case the camera focused on everything except the towhee, so the image was very fuzzy.

Now, in case there was any doubt, I am totally convinced that the towhee conspiracy is in full motion. But it gets better — or worse.

When I returned to Los Angeles, I went to the golf club for some practice, and I was totally surrounded by the towhee “buzzing” sound. This time, it wasn’t coming from a spotted towhee; it was coming from a biological relative — the black phoebe, which is abundant around my home. In fact, every year, several of them nest under the eaves of my house.

All of a sudden, their sound took on new meaning. So now it’s not just the spotted towhee who is out to get me, it’s also his buddies, the the black phoebes, who are slowly — or maybe not so slowly — driving me crazy. Paranoia to the max.

Finally, I decided the photograph I got last year wasn’t really all that bad.

As a post-log, I was back at lake arrowhead three weeks later, and I realized that I was not hearing the spotted towhees at all. After a little research on their migration patterns, I discovered that they visit the mountain elevations only in the spring and early summer. Then they return to the lower elevations and coastal California.

Maybe next year.

A Dog’s Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Five Ways to Figure Out What Your Dog Is Telling You

Does your dog ever do something that leaves you scratching your head and wondering, “Why did he (or she) do that?” If so, you’re not alone. Dogs tell us important things all the time, but sometimes we don’t “get the message.”

Dogs communicate in different ways and at different levels. Sometimes they “talk” with their tails, or their ears, or their posture. Sometimes they “talk” by barking, or yelping, or whining. Sometimes they use subtle signals that were used in wolf packs to “keep the peace.” These messages can include licking their own lips or yawning.

But dogs frequently communicate with their behavior. A dog’s actions speak louder than words. The trick is to figure out what the actions means. It can be obvious. For example, when your dog sits and begs while you’re eating a piece of steak, there’s no mystery in the message. But many messages are much more subtle than that. Here are some ways you can try to “break the code” and understand what your dog is telling you.

Click Here to Read the Rest of this Article

Sounds That Scare Dogs: Do Rings and Beeps on Your Radio Bother Your Dog?

Now I know my dog, Callie, listens to the radio, and I’ve discovered some of the sounds that scare dogs.

We usually have a couple of radios jabbering in our house with local news or talk radio. I’ve never been sure if my dog Callie golden retriever hears what’s on the radio or not. But now I know she does.

There is one ad on the radio that drives Callie nuts. At the beginning of the ad there is a distinct sound of a doorbell ringing. Every time Callie hears that doorbell ring, she bolts for the front door to see who’s there. “Is it the postman, a delivery man, or a repair man?” She gets excited because when the doorbell rings it always means there’s somebody at the front door.

The doorbell ringing is usually a happy event, because Callie gets to greet a person — one of her favorite things to do. But one of Callie’s most unhappy sounds is the beeping of a smoke alarm or a carbon monoxide monitor. It really freaks her out. I assume it actually hurts her ears. This is definitely a sound that scares dogs.

A few months ago the battery in our carbon monoxide monitor at Lake Arrowhead got low and the monitor started to “beep” very loudly as a warning. Poor Callie raced up two flights of stairs to get as far away as possible from that horrid, irritating noise.

Last night we were watching TV and there was an advertisement for a lithium battery. To illustrate how lithium batteries could extend the life of your smoke alarm, the advertisement has a smoke alarm with nearly-drained batteries going “beep, beep, beep” in a very loud high-pitched squeal. Callie’s first move was to dart out of the room to escape the noise. Another sound that scares dogs.

When I called her back, she immediately jumped up on the sofa between Barbara and me with her tail between her legs. This is not a behavior we encourage, but under the circumstances, we gave her a lot of love and assurance that the beeping sound would not continue.

How do you tell a dog, “It’s just on TV?”

Finally, to top off our week of nasty noises, this morning, the new washing machine completed one of its cycles and sounded an alarm that sounds just like a smoke alarm. Callie really didn’t need that. She started to run and said, “Here we go again!” So poor Callie went running away from the laundry room to avoid the horrid “beeping” sound.

Wouldn’t it be nice if advertisers and manufacturers could be a little sensitive to our “best friends’” ears? Can’t they anticipate the disturbance their ads are going to cause when they contain doorbell and smoke alarm sounds?

I suppose it would be asking way too much to expect a washing machine manufacturer to tone down the end-of-cycle alarm in order to protect my dog’s ears. But what would be wrong with a nice little “barking dog” sound?

Please, no more noises that scare dogs!

Wuuf!

Does Your Dog Have Daily Rituals?

Does your dog have ritual behaviors? Does it have activities that it repeats at specific times, or in specific situations? If you’re not sure, you might want to pay attention. Learning about your dog’s rituals can increase your enjoyment of your pet — and help you nurture its behavior.

Since all dogs are different, I’ll share some of Callie Golden Retriever’s rituals with you, so you’ll get the idea.

“Good Morning.” Callie starts most mornings by walking over to my bed, sitting down perfectly within reach of my right hand, and “presenting” her neck for a “good morning” scratch. I scratch the under part of her neck around her throat and adam’s apple. Sometimes she tips her head so I can scratch the top of her head, but for most dogs “under” is better than “over.”

Sometimes Callie’s “good morning” scratch turns into a full-body massage. She’ll move her body around so that the only part I can reach is her back, for example. This can go on for a long time!

Read the rest of this post.

How to Improve your Dog-Talk Skills: Look for Patterns in your Dog’s Body Language

You might be surprised how much your dog is communicating with you. You just have to learn to speak its language, which is often behavior-related. A dog’s actions can speak volumes; you just have to be clever about figuring out the message in “dog talk.”

There is no better way to understand your dog’s personality and nurture its “dog nature” than to tune into your dog’s body language and become more interactive with it.

There was a peculiar pattern in Jamie’s (the heroine of “My Doggie Says…: Messages from Jamie”) decisions about “where to be.” I believe that dogs are pretty thoughtful about deciding where to hang out. They often choose places for specific reasons.

Read the rest of this post.

Dog Bonding Lessons You Can Learn from the Pros

What do Dean Koontz, Ted Kerasote, Kyra Sundance, Michelle Douglas, and Tom Sullivan have in common? For one thing, they love dogs. Secondly, they have very strong and caring relationships with their dogs. And, finally, they have been guests on the “My Doggie Says…”radio talk show on KFNX-1100, in Phoenix.

Every Wednesday night, on the “My Doggie Says…”radio show, I interview one of the top dog-book authors in the country, or one of the best dog trainers, or someone else who’s life, or livelihood, depends on dogs. One consistent message is that many dog experts get into very close relationships with their dogs. It’s a trend that I like to call “dog bonding”– building a strong connection with your dog.

The notion of “all alpha all the time” or making sure that you are dominant over your dog at all times, is giving way to kinder, gentler training methods. Many trainers are working on “positive reinforcement”methods, where they try to always reward good behavior without penalizing bad behavior.

Read the rest  of this post.

Tara Paterson, Founder of the “Mom’s Choice Awards” Interviews Author Fred Haney at Book Expo America (Watch the Video)

Some Things Your Dog Might Be Saying To You (That You Might Not Be Hearing)

Dogs communicate a lot, but not always in ways that are obvious to humans. Sometimes their messages are puzzling and you have to work hard to “decode” them. But it’s worth the effort, and you might be surprised to learn some of the things your dog is saying.

Dogs communicate in different ways at different times. Sometimes they send messages in the very subtle ways that their ancestors used within wolf packs. At times, they use their voice to woof or bark. Other times, they use their tails, ears and posture to send messages. But many of their messages are simply sent by their actions. A dog’s actions speak louder than words, or “barks.”

Read the rest of this post.

Hero Dog Awards 2012

The 2012, Hero Dog Awards were presented on November 8, 2012, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, in Los Angeles.  This is always a very inspirational program.

Here’s a summary from dogtipper.com.

Here’s a three-minute audio clip from the “Dog Appreciation Lessons” CD, in which Michael Hingson describes that fateful day in New York City, on September 11, 2011.

 

Here’s my interview from last year with Michael Hingson, whose dog, Roselle, won the 2011, Hero Dog Award for leading Michael and some other people out of the World Trade Center on September 11,k 2001:

 

 

Thinking About Renting a Dog? Check with Barley, Labrador Retriever and Rent-A-Dog: Podcast

Can you imagine being a dog with more than one home to go to every week?  Well,  I interviewed Barley, a Labrador Retriever and Rent-A-Dog, to find out what it’s like for him.  Here’s a short sample from Barley.

 

And here’s the full interview:

 

I Am So Attached to this Dog!

This photo was taken on a recent fishing trip at Lake Arrowhead.  Callie loves to go fishing.  Actually, she loves just about everything at Lake Arrowhead, but she’s really in her element on our boat, cruising from fishing spot to fishing spot, sniffing my bass before I release them back into the lake, and roaming around the boat without her leash.

She’s a terrific fishing buddy.  She obviously loves being on the boat and letting her coat blow in the wind as we cruise around the lake.  She starts to get excited when she sees my fishing rod bend down from the weight of a fish.  She watches attentively while I net a fish and remove the hook.  (I release all the bass I catch.)  And she usually takes a sniff, or a lick, at my catch before I put it back in the lake.

I’ve had a lot of dogs, and, as you know, I wrote a book about Jamie Golden Retriever (“My Doggie Says…: Messages from Jamie”), but I’ve never had a dog that participates as much as Callie.  She’s part of the team, and she knows what she’s supposed to do every step of the way.  When we first get on our boat, Callie is on her leash — so she won’t dive into the lake and do one of her other favorite things — go for a swim.  But once she’s on the boat, the leash comes off.  It was easy to train her to stay inside the boat.  All it took was a couple of corrections when she started to climb up on the bow or the stern.  Now she roams freely on the boat, and she’s obviously proud to have so much freedom.

Some dogs would just be a “bump on a log.”  They might just go along for the ride, but not Callie.  She interacts and participates every step of the way.  She asks for fresh water if her water bowl is low.  She looks for a comfortable place to sit — or lie — sometimes in the sun, sometimes in the shade.  On a hot summer day, she will ask me to put up the bimini top, so she’ll have some shade to lie in.  When we leave one fishing spot for another, she looks for a place to sit beside me.  Sometimes, she’ll wait to climb up on the seat until I move a fishing rod or boat line out of the way.  Always interacting, and always extremely polite.

If you follow this blog, you know  that Callie and I play soccer every day.  Here’s what that looks like.

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This has been an incredible bonding process.  Callie’s focus “comes and goes” during our soccer matches.  So I’ve had to learn how to adapt to, and “manage”, her focus and attention span.  Sometimes, Callie gets off to a hot start and then loses interest.  Sometimes, she has a difficult time getting started.  I’ve learned a few tricks about keeping her interest level up.  If she gets completely distracted (by eating grass, for example) it usually works to “stop” the game (literally, put the ball away) and then “start” it again.

We’ve gone through a couple of periods (a few days, perhaps) when Callie just didn’t seem very interested in playing soccer.  One thing I’ve noticed this summer, though, is that usually after a few days at Lake Arrowhead, she attacks the soccer game with more vigor than ever.  She’ll play for ten minutes without letup, answering my every kick with a “noser” — a “bonk” off her Golden Retriever nose.

As I try to tune into her energy levels, I’ve discovered that her “focus” sometimes reflects mine.  If I’m distracted and thinking about some work issue, Callie seems to lose interest.  If I work hard at staying “in the present” and staying focused on the game, she gets more “into it.”  It’s almost as if she is training me to stay focused and “in the moment.”  Is Callie my Zen-Dog Person Trainer?

My relationship with Callie goes far beyond fishing and soccer.  Callie is the most socially interactive dog I’ve ever been around.  She has several doggie boyfriends in the neighborhood, and, when she sees them coming, she gets very excited — wagging her tail and rushing to say “hello.”  But it’s not every dog; she’s selective.

Callie is the same with people.  If she sees a people friend, she either rushes to say “hi,” or she sits and waits for the person to catch up.   When she’s walking near, or on, the nearby golf course, Callie is always looking for greens keeper Jeff — or his red golf cart.  Jeff is probably Callie’s favorite person outside our family.  Because Callie is so friendly, I have made a lot of new friends — both dog friends and people friends.

One of the most endearing things that Callie does is to sit down beside me and “ask” me to scratch her throat and neck.  This can happen when I’m working in my office, watching TV, or sleeping soundly at 2:00 in the morning.  It doesn’t matter; I’m always glad to accommodate her request.  The message seems to be, “Just checking to make sure everything’s OK.”

This kind of #dogbonding has a spiritual and philosophical side to it.  It sure feels like Callie is helping me grow in a lot of different ways.

Callie Golden Retriever: “You leave my man alone!”

Callie Golden Retriever (in the foreground of the photo) is the most social dog I’ve ever known.  She has countless doggie and people friends.  But that doesn’t mean she’s friends with everyone.  She’s selective.  And she has a few favorites.  In this photo, she’s visiting with her Lake Arrowhead neighbors, Reilly, Ruckus, and Rowdy.

But yesterday, she did something that just blew me away.  In our home neighborhood, Callie has two special “boyfriends,” Sampson, a yellow Labrador Retriever, and Lucky, a Golden Doodle.  We were walking with Cousin Maggie Golden Retriever (my daughter’s dog), and joy-of-joys, for Callie, along walks her special friend Sampson.  Maggie is very friendly, too, but when Maggie tried to say “hello” to Sampson, Callie pushed herself in between Maggie and Sampson.  She wasn’t going to let Maggie get anywhere near her “man.”  Where’s the camera when I need it?

Don’t dogs do the most amazing things sometimes?

Have you seen dogs act like this before?  If so, please comment.

Paula Brown, Animal Behaviorist and Author of “Fur Shui” on the “My Doggie Says…” Show

 

Paula Brown, animal behaviorist, has written a delightful book titled “Fur Shui.”  As you might guess, the book adapts the concepts of Feng Shui to our furry friends.  The book offers many insightful ideas about why our pets choose to be in certain parts of the house, or of a room.  It gave me some wonderful ideas as to why Callie decides to put herself in certain places at certain times. 

One special treasure in the book is a simple map that shows how the spatial relationships and colors in a home, or room, can relate to life attitudes such as “helpful people,” “creativity and children,” “relationship,” and five others.

This is very fun and thoughtful reading.  It can also be a guide to decorating your home or room with colors that enhance the important attitudes.

Here’s Paula on the “My Doggie Says…” show:

 

A Lesson You Can Learn from your Dog

Here’s one of life’s important lessons that you can learn from your dog:  How to appreciate little things.

This is one of my favorite sound bytes from the “My Doggie Says…” show.  In it, Dean Koontz, the famous author, describes how, at one time in his life, his Golden Retriever, Trixie, helped him see the world in a completely different and wondrous way.  In Dean’s words, Trixie “made the familiar fresh again.”  She helped him see “great beauty in mundane scenes.”  He goes on to say, “Trixie reawakened in me an awareness of the mystery that’s woven into the warp and weft of everything we perceive…”

I really love this clip (2:28).  It’s one of the best examples of the spiritual connection that can exist between a human and a dog.  A great example of a lesson you can learn from a dog.

 

Your Dog’s Energy Level May Mirror Your Own

Are you aware of your dog’s energy level? Can you sense when it goes up and down? Can you tell when your dog is “full of beans?” Can you tell when your dog is feeling down and drained of energy?

Most of us don’t pay attention to our own ups and downs, much less our dog’s energy changes. “Am I feeling robust and energetic?” Or, “Am I feeling down and lackadaisical?” Many of us go through energy ups and down every day without realizing it.

But dogs may be different. My dog Callie and I play soccer every night or fifteen to twenty minutes, and, because of that, I’ve become pretty tuned in to my dog’s energy levels. Interestingly, this experience has put me more in tune with my own energy fluctuations.

Our daily soccer match always starts with a burst of energy. Callie tracks me down, usually in my office, and gives me a very intense gaze. Her “look” means, “It’s time for our soccer game!”

I start the game by kicking the soft, under-inflated ball almost the length of our backyard. Callie races after the ball and traps is under her tummy. Then I make a shorter and higher kick, and Callie leaps into the air and “bonks” the ball off her nose. We call it a “noser.” It’s like a header but when you’re a golden retriever your nose gets in the way.

Sometimes we do a rapid volley of nosers. I kick the ball back to her as quickly as possible, and she leaps up and “bonks” the ball as hard as she can. This usually gets her really pumped up for a few minutes.

But invariably, sometime during our game, I’ll kick the ball to Callie and she’ll just look at me, as the ball flies over her head and lands on the grass. It’s as if she’s saying, “What was that all about?” She makes no effort whatsoever to go after it. My next few attempts are likely to have the same result. It is as if she doesn’t care about the game any more.

So now I’m wondering, “Is there a way to get the game back on track?” Another thing I wonder is, “Is she mirroring my energy level?” For the next kick, I’ll run to the ball faster and try to project more energy. Sometimes that works. Callie senses my increased enthusiasm and reflects it with an outburst of harder “nosers” and faster chasing after the ball.

Other times Callie ignores my new energy level and the ball flies over her head, and, once again, she looks at me like I’m crazy.

Another trick I’ve tried is to “fake” an end to the game. I kick the ball back to our starting place and put it back on the chair where it sits when we’re not playing. Sometimes Callie tries to play “keep away” so I can’t pick the ball up. She’ll put a paw on the ball, for example, or trap it under her tummy, or position herself between me and the ball.

After the ball has been back on its chair for a few seconds, I pick it up again and ask Callie if she wants to play. Usually by this time, she’s stationed herself in the middle of the yard and she’s giving me that “let’s play soccer” look again.

So, starting over, I kick the ball toward her and she goes scampering after it. Usually this works, and it re-energizes her, at least for a few minutes.

Sometimes I think this interaction is just about a dog’s energy level and enthusiasm for the game. At other times, it seems like she’s reflecting my energy — or lack of energy. It probably also has something to do with focus and concentration — both of which, I believe are closely related to energy expression.

This energy interaction has been fascinating to follow. I’ve learned a lot about Callie’s energy levels as well as my own. There have been times when I was certain Callie was simply mirroring my energy — that her lack of enthusiasm probably reflected the fact that I was distracted or thinking about something else. In these situations, I am able to regain the energy of the game by getting more enthusiastic and putting more into it myself.

Sometimes I think that Callie’s enthusiasm has helped to spark my enthusiasm to a higher level which has led to some really fun “noser” volleys.

Any way you look at it, this “energy exchange” has enriched my relationship with Callie. I understand her a little better — and probably myself, as well.

Try paying attention to your dog’s energy patterns!

Dog Behavior: “Your Dog is Your Mirror,” by Kevin Behan — on the “My Doggie Says…” Show

Kevin Behan is a long-time dog behavior expert.  On the “My Doggie Says…” show, he talked about his noe book: “Your Dog is Your Mirror.”

Kevin Behan on the “My Doggie Says…” Show:

 

Kevin Behan, dog behavior expert,  grew up on his parent’s farm in rural Connecticut immersed in a landscape of natural beauty and surrounded by dogs. Kevin’s father, John Behan, founded Canine College, trained dogs in the Canine Corps in WWII and was the first in America to train protection dogs for hospitals, police units, and even retail stores such as Macy’s. Kevin worked in his father’s kennel where he encountered every possible type of dog exhibiting every type of behavior. Consequently, Kevin grew up without judgment about dog behavior, even aggression, as everything dogs did was taken as a matter of course.

Kevin trained his first dog, a poodle named Onyx, at age ten. As Kevin matured, so did his ideas about his experiences and the behaviors he witnessed. By carefully watching the workings of nature, Kevin began to see that what made the modern dog adaptable and trainable was not the dominance hierarchy, as taught to him by his father, but the dog’s ability to work as a cooperative group member in the hunt. Influenced by European police dog trainers and a German shepherding sage named Mannel, Kevin’s theories and techniques came together in the 1980′s as Natural Dog Training. Kevin then started his own kennel, Canine Arts, in Brookfield, Connecticut and published his first book, Natural Dog Training in 1992. Using techniques totally unique, Kevin has trained hundreds of police, protection, and border control dogs, as well as thousands of America’s pets. He has become the nation’s foremost expert on the rehabilitation of aggressive and problem dogs, which is now where he concentrates most of his work. A seasoned lecturer and seminar host, Kevin’s presentations go well beyond the training of dogs and into the very core of canine behavior. He has pioneered the Natural Dog Training movement with his articles and theories on energy, the linkage between dogs and emotion, prey vs. predator model, as well as instrumental training techniques like pushing and eye contact.

Kevin now lives with his family on their 60-acre farm in beautiful Southern Vermont. His second book, Your Dog is Your Mirror: The Emotional Capacity of Our Dogs and Ourselves is now available in bookstores and online. He also actively participates in readers’ comments and conversations on the NDT site. Follow the Discussions here.

Learn more about Kevin’s work by clicking here.

Glynis McCants on the “My Doggie Says…” Show

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maggie Golden Retriever Goes Nuts Over Dogs On TV

Can dogs see what’s on TV?  The conventional wisdom is that they see TV very differently than humans — that they don’t really know what they are seeing.

Here is an article from dogs.thefuntimesguide.com that explains how dogs’ vision is different from humans’.

And here’s one from petpeoplesplace.com.

Now you tell me what’s going on in this video of Maggie Golden Retriever.  Is she just reacting to a “blob,” or does she think she’s seeing a dog?  Notice that most of the time she’s right in the face of the dogs on TV.

Update on Callie’s Soccer Nosers

Here’s some slightly better video of Callie doing her soccer “nosers.” Sorry about the lighting, but you’ll get the idea.

Animal Assisted Therapy at Phoenix Childrens Hospital and the “Dine With Your Dog” Program: Podcast

Learn from the pros about “animal assisted therapy,” as practiced at Phoenix Childrens Hospital.  Mary Lou Jennings and Julie Adams talk about:

  • How animal assisted therapy works
  • Some wonderful successes in helping children recover from illness and/or surgery
  • What is required of a therapy dog
  • How to get involved
  • How to support the program
 

Julie Adams also describes the “Dine With Your Dog” program.  Here are some photos from past “Dine With Your Dog” dinners.  For more information about the “Dine With Your Dog” program, click here.

Dog Bonding Lessons You Can Learn from the Pros

What do Dean Koontz, Ted Kerasote, Kyra Sundance, Michelle Douglas, and Tom Sullivan have in common? For one thing, they love dogs. Secondly, they have very strong and caring relationships with their dogs. And, finally, they have been guests on the “My Doggie Says…”radio talk show on KFNX-1100, in Phoenix.

Every Wednesday night, on the “My Doggie Says…”radio show, I interview one of the top dog-book authors in the country, or one of the best dog trainers, or someone else who’s life, or livelihood, depends on dogs. One consistent message is that many dog experts get into very close relationships with their dogs. It’s a trend that I like to call “dog bonding”– building a strong connection with your dog.

The notion of “all alpha all the time” or making sure that you are dominant over your dog at all times, is giving way to kinder, gentler training methods. Many trainers are working on “positive reinforcement”methods, where they try to always reward good behavior without penalizing bad behavior.

Read the rest  of this post.

Dean Koontz on the "My Doggie Says…" Radio Show

Dean Koontz has published over a 100 books, and, in many of them, he has included a dog as a character. He has also written several books about Trixie, his Golden Retriever, such as “Life is Good! Lessons in Joyful Living,” by Trixie Koontz, Dog. On the occasion of the release of his newest dog book, “a big little life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog.” Dean describes the close relationship between himself and Trixie, as well as several humorous things that Trixie did. He also expresses amazement at Trixie’s intelligence.

 

The “My Doggie Says” show helps listeners gain a deeper appreciation for Man™s Best Friend. The show is broadcast live from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday nights, on KFNX 1100, Phoenix. It is streamed live on www.1100kfnx.com. Host Fred Haney interviews dog whisperers, dog trainers, authors of dog books, and experts on all aspects of dogs and dog behavior and dog nature. The show is also available as a podcast on iTunes. Go to the iTunes store, click on “Podcast,” and search for “My Doggie Says…”

Check out the dog-relationship books written by all of the authors who have appeared on the “My Doggie Says” show: http://mydoggiesays.com/?page_id=1479

What Person are You, Golden Retriever? By Dr. Callie, Golden Retriever

You may have read that there’s a new book that helps people figure out, if they were a dog, which dog would they be? Here’s a link to the article. The book is called, “Which Dog Are You?”

There are also some sites where a person can take an on-line test to see which dog they are. Here’s an example at www.ivillage.com.

Well, if people can have a “which dog are you?” book, I decided my doggie friends should have a “which person are you?” book. So I decided to start writing it, and I thought I’d use myself as an example for the first chapter.

According to the AKC, Golden Retrievers are supposed to be friendly, reliable, and trustworthy. I think I’m all of those things. But I decided to learn more about my personality, so I took an on-line personality test. You (my doggie friends) can do this at this web site.

Read the rest of this post.




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