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Published Articles by Kama Brown 

Why Do We Train Sit? Should We Reconsider Its Relevance?

Published Oct 2016 The IAABC Journal - International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants 

 

"Training obedience behaviors to pet dogs as a means of controlling their behavior is an ethical decision. Whenever we train a behavior, it is important to determine how the behavior functions for the dog and whether asking for the behavior is appropriate in a given context, even if it is trained using positive methods. Before we teach a dog any behavior, we should determine the consequence of the behavior from the dog’s perspective. I believe we should be, as Kay Laurence put it in a recent seminar, “assisting the dog in being a dog. Positive training is about training normal dog behaviors by construction, not deconstructing unwanted behavior by suppression.”

Foundation Training Skills Part 1 

Published Sept 2016 The Pet Professional Guild - BARKS from the Guild 

 

There is a plateau point that seems to keep dogs and puppies that were excelling in puppy and novice class from reaching the same level of focus and cue response out and about with their owners.  So often owners who were thrilled with how their 10-12 week old responded to positive reinforcement, are frustrated and exhausted with the behaviors of their 10-12 month old.  The same thing can happen with a newly adopted dog; the beginning starts out great but the progress halts at a certain point a few months later.

 

To counteract this, I have written a list of pre-foundation behaviors that pet dog owners can teach their dogs early on to avoid the “adolescent plateau” later.  These are behaviors I find more useful than obedience when starting a new dog or puppy.

The Need to be Specific with Puppy Socialization

Published May 2016 The Pet Professional Guild - BARKS from the Guild 

 

The idea that we must find 100 people to expose our puppy to is based on the idea that 100 people will look and smell differently, do different things and thus at the end of the 100 people, our puppy will have a solid history of being exposed to enough variety that they will calmly and happily accept touch from the general public. The problem with this is that we are guessing and hoping our way through a vital time in puppy life.

 

We are also expending a lot of owner energy on non-relevant people.  Dozens of owners come to me having completed stranger orientations yet the puppy hasn’t met the neighbor’s three doors down.  I promise, it’s much worse to have an adult dog that’s barks at the neighbors than it is to have an adult dog that barks at strangers at Target. In the same way, dealing with an overly fearful or aggressive dog when grandpa comes over once a month, when the UPS guy comes every other day, when at the vets or groomer, or when visiting family out of town is a nightmare.  Think of the relevant people who will be around your dog and focus solely on socializing with those people as much as you can during these 8 weeks.

Recognizing Fear and Aggression in Dogs During Grooming 

Published May 2016 Groomer to Groomer Magazine

 

Though, it’s usually slight and mild discomfort for most dogs, some dogs can become so fearful that they aggress. Rescued dogs and dogs that are new to the tools used in professional grooming (high velocity force dryers, nail dremels, toothbrushes, to name a few) usually won’t hide their feelings of discomfort and taking note of their personal threshold for anxiety can be obvious and easy.

 

Other dogs however, the signs of fear and pre-aggression can be slight and are not always obvious.  I remember in particular a golden retriever who walked in on his own accord, didn’t move an inch in the bath, stood like a statue for the haircut, made not a single noise, and promptly bit my employee in the face as she was putting a bandana on his neck.  On the other hand, I’ve had countless dogs start a session with growling and go on to playfully giving me kisses by the time we are through.

 

So how are we supposed to know which signs to take seriously and which to ignore?  As with everything in dog behavior the answer is always; it depends.

 

Even though we can’t predict with total accuracy, which dogs are bluffing and which are serious threats, there are a few tricks that can get us closer to the answer.

 

A dog’s need for aggression is need based.  When dogs are fearful, aggression is an option available to them. Dogs have three options when being confronted with a fearful situation: Fight, Flight, or Freeze.