Well this is pretty exciting news ...
My podcast, Tails From The Dog House: Separation Anxiety Explained, has been named in the Top 20 for anxiety podcasts in the UK by Best Startup.
The podcast features myself and two other separation anxiety specialists, one in the UK and one in the US, and we delve into the ins and outs of having a dog with separation anxiety and how to address it.
We are only very young and haven't reached 50 episodes yet so this is a big win for us.
You can read the article HERE!
Why it's so important to teach your dog to come when called
Ever been out with your off-lead dog and it alerts to something? Maybe another dog, a person, a child, a kangaroo or bird.
Ever thought ... eeeep ... this is going to go pear-shaped? Knowing that your dog is going to take off after the object of interest and completely ignore all your calls for its return?
Does it get your heart pounding when they do this? Maybe they narrowly miss getting hit by a car or perhaps they are headed straight for a dog fight. Nothing gets the adrenaline going more, that's for sure.
So why doesn't your dog listen to you?
There are a few factors at play here but first and foremost is Relationship. When training, it is one of the most essential elements you can achieve with your dog. Without that, your dog believes everything else is more important / interesting than you.
Where do we start? We start by building Engagement with you to help develop that relationship and ensure you are the most important thing in their life. Much more important than the jogger, bird, skippy, cyclist etc
A dog that won't recall is a dangerous dog, either to itself or to something else. A solid recall could save its life.
I believe it is THE most important obedience exercise you can teach them.
But like all training it takes time. It takes Consistency. It takes Clarity and it takes clear Communication - The 3Cs.
If your dog doesn't recall reliably, it is an accident waiting to happen and you have 2 options - Management (dog remains on lead whenever you are out) or Training.
Which one will you choose?
How emotions affect behaviour ...
Just as dogs have evolved from wolves, so to has our training regimens undergone an evolution over the years. What was once an expectation that the dog will obey, usually via the use of what some call “yank and crank”, has emerged into a much more beautiful picture of a willing partnership between man and beast.
Even more encouraging is the way in which we view our training partners – not as mindless, soulless creatures, but as emotional sentient beings who feel pain, have moods and fears and likes and desires. They are more like us than many would give them credit for. And just like us their behaviour reflects their emotions.
And, it must be said, that emotions are essential to our survival. They keep us alive. For example, without fear how would we know to run from the attacking lion?
Loneliness drives us to seek out social interaction. Curiosity helps us problem solve and ensures we learn as we progress through life – for good or for bad!
A child who throws a tantrum in a supermarket because mum won’t buy him a sweet is displaying a behaviour but the emotion behind that behaviour is what is actually driving it. That emotion is likely Rage (as detailed by Estonian-American neuroscientist and psychobiologist Jaak Panksepp’s Seven Core Emotions,2004[i]).
If a dog is reacting aggressively towards another dog, in most cases the emotion behind the behaviour (barking and lunging at the end of the lead, for example) is likely Fear. (Note: this is not always the case and can also sometimes be attributed to Rage).
It is clear in both these examples that it is the emotion driving the behaviour and, as such, a trainer must address the Reason, and not just the Reaction. Just to be clear, yes, the reaction must be tackled but a holistic trainer, must be mindful that if the Reason is not acknowledged, it is the same as taking a pill for the headache. The cause is not addressed.
Emotion plays an enormous role in behaviour and it is hoped more trainers will come to understand this and not look for the ‘quick fixes’ of the past. It’s easy to strap on a bark collar to stop a dog barking when left alone but what does it actually achieve accept pain and fear? When we are really frightened learning becomes impossible, and the outcome is a dog that shuts down and can’t think. The behaviour is stopped, yes, but what learning has occurred?
The flipside is that dopamine is associated with focus and quick learning and interestingly, here the role of the gut can come into play: “Surprisingly, the health of your intestinal flora impacts your production of neurotransmitters. An overabundance of bad bacteria leaves toxic byproducts called lipopolysaccharides which destroy the brain cells that make dopamine.” [ii]
Other factors that will play a role in a healthier mindset (by boosting dopamine levels) include ensuring the dog is receiving enough exercise, providing an appropriate raw food diet, ensuring the dog is a healthy weight and addressing any obesity issues, using massage and T-Touch, playing soothing music, and supplementing the diet with anti-inflammatory organic curcumin in the form of Golden Paste.
[i] Panksepp, Jaak, 2004, Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions
[ii] Alban, Deanne, 2016, How to Increase Dopamine Naturally, Be Braiin Fit, Better Mind, Better Life