Tag Archive: dogs behavior

Having lived with a dog for 10 years who was very reactive when he saw another dog and quite aggressive if another dog came up to him, I understand the challenges faced by people who have dogs with this issue. Many people have asked me why some dogs simply don’t like other dogs and react so strongly. 

There is no easy answer because it could be a learned behavior (something that has happened over time). But we do know that four things can possibly make a dog react to other dogs. 

  1. Genetics – Heredity is a powerful thing for humans as well as animals. Just as we can inherit traits and characteristics from our progenitors, so can dogs. Aggression can be inherited from the lineage of either parent. This is one reason why I am so passionate about choosing a good breeder if you are considering getting a puppy. The best breeders will not breed a dog with known aggressive traits. Puppy mill breeders and many backyard breeders, on the other hand, do not care or may not even pay attention or be aware that genetics plays a role in behavior traits.
  2. Lack of socialization – If a puppy is not consistently exposed to other dogs at a young age continuing throughout adolescence, the dog may not develop good social skills with other dogs. Because he hasn’t learned dog-to-dog communications, the pup might fail to recognize signals from other dogs resulting in a possible fear-based reaction. If dogs are not socialized, they may be fearful or misinterpret another dog’s intentions.
  3. Attacked by another dog – A perfectly happy, non-reactive dog can change to a reactive, aggressive dog with just one scary incident with another dog. An attack that makes the dog feel vulnerable or resulting in a painful injury can permanently scar a dog and alter behavior. Consider yourself in a similar situation. If you get attacked by a certain breed of dog, you will more than likely fear that breed whenever you see it.
  4. Shock collars/prong collars/choke chains – Dogs learn by association. When aversive (punishment) training techniques are used, detrimental effects are sure to occur. The use of shock collars, even for electric fences, may result in inadvertent aggression. Here’s why. The dog sees another dog across the street and runs to see it. The shock collar from the electric fence delivers a zap. The dog learns to associate getting the shock with seeing another dog. The same scenario applies for people who use prong collars or choke chains, especially incorrectly. The dog sees another dog and gets yanked around the neck. The feeling is uncomfortable and the dog will associate that feeling with seeing another dog. People love to argue that prong collars and choke chains are appropriate, but they fail to understand the associative issues that may cause or amplify aggression.

It really does not matter how a dog came to be reactive to another dog. What matters is how to work with the issue. Use of counter-conditioning techniques with a qualified trainer or behaviorist is the only way to help the dog overcome the problem and learn how to be around other dogs. My dog was able to live with other dogs because I diligently worked with him. It took time and patience. There are no quick, easy fixes like some TV show trainers lead you to believe. And if you are getting a puppy, remember to be aware of these things that can create a reactive dog.


Finding an Agent

You may be wondering where I’ve been for the past couple of months. I’ve been writing, but obviously not here!  If you remember I completed writing my second book, The Trumpeter in the Woods, and it was a finalist in the Hay House Nonfiction Writing Contest. Writing the book was hard work, without a doubt. But now is the really hard work – getting the book published. 

Thanks to the digital age, there are several paths an author can take to publish their books. Many authors are now skipping getting their books published on paper and instead are creating ebooks.  The Kindle, Nook and iPad have all made this possible. Books can be published within days of completion versus one to two years for a print book. 

Another path is self-publishing, which I chose for my first book, Puppy Mill Dogs SPEAK. I had high hopes for that book – to be widely distributed and to teach many, many people about puppy mills. Publishers are looking to make a lot of money from their books, understandably so. Unfortunately, agents and publishers did not see that potential in my book and described it as a niche book. As a result, I made the decision to publish the book myself through an on-demand printer. It worked out quite well and sales have been steady. With self-publishing, the royalties I receive on each sale are higher with a traditional publisher. But I am 100% on my own with marketing and selling the book. 

The traditional publishing path is to find an agent who then tries to “sell” your book to a publisher. Large publishers will not accept submissions directly from authors, only from agents. The agent assists the author with editing the book and with negotiating the publishing contract. An agent gets a portion of the book royalties.

Right now, I have completed writing the query letter that is sent to the agents in hope of getting their attention. It’s not as easy it sounds. The letter is only one page in length but it has to pack a powerful punch. The first line needs to grab the reader’s attention and want to read more about the book and about the person writing it. Since December, I have written and rewritten my query letter five times. And I may not be finished. 

The Trumpeter in the Woods is a book that needs to be published to show the world how the animals are our spiritual partners. They have chosen me to be their voice and I will not give up!

Top Posts

I find it very interesting to look at the statistics for my blog to see which posts are the most popular and what things people are searching for when they arrive at this blog. It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to see that people are coming here to learn, and that I have been able to provide quality education and help. And hopefully have spared dogs from getting turned into shelters or rescues or even euthanasia due to behavior problems.

By far, my post Why Cesar Millan is Not a Whisperer has gotten the most hits.  I can see that quite a few people have searched on different phrases such as, “don’t use the Dog Whisperer’s methods” to arrive at this post. Maybe people are finally catching on that Cesar Millan is not the expert he claims to be and that he needs to stop using detrimental methods. Sadly, however, I recently spoke with a dog walker who says that lots of people like to use that terrible “tsst” that Millan advocates. My wish is that people will gradually learn why that can backfire.

And speaking of Millan and detrimental methods, the next most read post is Showing Dominance. Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t find my blog by searching on, “how to pin my dog down” or “how to show dominance to my dog.” I hope that by reading this post, people realize that alpha rolls and pinning dogs down is no longer considered as acceptable training techniques. Being a good parent and benevolent leader is  by far the best way to teach dogs good behavior.

And tied for the third most popular post have been the training tips on submissive urination and attention seeking. Gosh, there must be a lot of dogs out there with these issues! Maybe these two problems are most misunderstood.  Or it could be that many dogs are coming from puppy mills with generic anxiety which cause attention seeking and submissive urination? I’d like to hear from you if you are one of these dog owners. Where did you get your dog?

Thanks for visiting and being an apostle for the animals!

Myths of Dog Behavior

In my years of working with clients and their dogs, and at shelters and rescues, I have heard quite a few statements about dog behavior that many people believe to be true. Here are my top six myths and the facts:

1.  “The dog did it out of spite.”

Oh, how many times I’ve heard this when a dog has housetraining issues or have chewed something! In reality, dogs are not spiteful creatures. There are other reasons for the behaviors such as inadequate housetraining, separation anxiety, or other stresses. Dogs seek pleasure and avoid pain, just as we do. More analysis of the situation is necessary to determine exactly why the dog acted that way. Usually, spiteful really equates to “scared” and even “bored” in the dog’s mind.

2. You should always go through the door first to show the dog who is boss.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that the dominance theory is nonsense. Dogs don’t need bosses, they need benevolent leadership and good parenting. When you force yourself through the door before your dog, a power struggle is certain to ensue. Instead, have the dog wait calmly at the door until you give the instruction to go ahead. It’s perfectly fine to allow your dog to go through the dog first as long you tell him to!

3. Feeding human food to dogs makes them beg.

Dogs beg because they have learned that they will get food from you. It doesn’t matter what kind of food you are feeding them! Dogs think in pictures (thank you, Temple Grandin!). If they see you giving them food when you are sitting at the table or somewhere else, they quickly learn that this is where they can get food. They associate that picture with getting good things. My dog, Gizzy, is fed small pieces of vegetables when I am preparing my salad at the counter. So he knows to stand by my side when I’m at that position, regardless if I am making a salad or washing the dishes! A better option is to always feed your dog from his bowl. If you want to give him human food, place it in his bowl and never feed from anywhere else. That way, he knows that his food always comes from that place.

4. When dogs hump, it’s a sexual behavior.

Let’s hope that your dog is spayed and neutered! With the huge problem of pet overpopulation and the killings in shelters, there is very little reason for any pet to be unaltered. Most humping behavior stops once the dog is altered. 

An altered pet may hump another dog or a person due to anxiety or an attempt to establish social ranking. You’ll often see an insecure dog try to hump another dog. Anxiety is usually at the root of humping behavior. Yelling at the dog to stop only increases the anxiety. Instead, divert the dog’s attention to something else – play and exercise is best to eliminate the anxiety hormones streaming through the dog’s body.

5. A dog who acts scared or tries to bite was abused.

I hear this constantly!  People assume that a dog who acts scared or flinches when someone tries to pet him has been hit by a person. While in some cases that may be true, many times it is because the dog has not been socialized with people. Our society likes to pamper and spoil our dogs. Many people get dogs as puppies and never allow the dogs outside of the house. Some dogs have never been exposed to children, dogs who live with only women may be fearful of men, etc. Get your puppies out and expose them to the world!

6. A dog who leans up against you is being dominant.

Eek, dominant, there’s that word again.  A dog’s behavior should not be assessed based on one action. Other behaviors and body language need to be considered. Many dogs like the affections of humans and love to be close to us. That does not make them “dominant.” They may be attention seekers.  I’ve met so many Pit Bulls who are “leaners” and are not at all aggressive or “dominant.”  They’re sweet and affectionate. If you are looking to see if a dog has a strong personality, assess other factors too. Does he look away when you look him directly in the eye? Are his ears and tail perked up? Will he allow you to stroke him down the back or hug him?  Dominance is not a character trait but an action within the context of situations.

How about you? Do you hear people say things about dog behavior that you know are just wrong?

Why I Have Baaaaad Dogs

From the moment I met Gizzy on November 16, 2002, my life has been about bad boys. Three to be exact, all Golden Retrievers. And who knows how many more there will be in the future. I love them. They’ve been the loves of my life despite all of their foibles, and the very best teachers as a result. 

Prior to adopting Giz, I had Caper for almost 14 years. She was a very typically sweet, smart Golden Retriever. She was perfect. But as my career of working with animals was developing, so was my need to experience first-hand what it was like to live with and try to rehabilitate a dog with behavior problems.  Oh boy, that was Gizzy!  

I hadn’t intended to adopt Gizzy. I was going to be his foster mom. Caper had just passed away and I was depressed and lonely. I needed a dog in my life.  I was told by the rescue group in Quakertown, PA that he was “not good with children” and that I would be the perfect foster home for him because I had no children.  Great, I could definitely deal with that!  I travelled an hour and a half to meet Gizzy (his name was Gizmo at the time). He came bounding out of the grooming room, jumping and kissing in a tornado of blonde fur. He took my breath away, he was so beautiful and friendly – and he looked almost exactly like Caper, except the face. Same coloring, same long white feathering down the legs and tail.  How could I just foster this dog? He was mine forever; I signed the adoption papers on the spot.

Then we got home and I gradually uncovered his true personality. He was not Caper, that’s for sure. (Lesson number one from Gizzy: Never adopt a dog to replace your deceased dog based on looks.  They will be entirely different personalities!)  In addition to being bad with children, I discovered that Gizzy was violently reactive to other dogs. Like a stealth bomber, he would let them approach and as soon as the dog got into his face, he attacked. Ferociously. Wow. They didn’t tell me about this… Okay, I can deal with this. I learned all about working with dog aggression in school and had worked with clients on the issue.

Next came the bones. Gizzy growled at me one night when I tried to take his bone from him. Hmm, they didn’t tell me about this either. And finally, he growled at me when I tried to move him off of the sofa. As it turned out, my new dog had just about every behavior issue imaginable! Oh yes, he was also afraid of thunderstorms, a problem that grew into a full-blown phobia. I guess I got what I wished for when I said I wanted a dog to show me what my clients go through.  Little did I dream that it would be wrapped up in one doggie package!

In our 8 ½ years together, I have learned more from working with him and understand exactly what my clients are dealing with when they call me for help with their dogs. I am completely empathetic. Now that he’s an old man of 13 years, his behavior problems are all but gone.

In 2004, along came Donner, the old stray who had been at the rescue’s shelter for 9 months. Besides being older, he had a limp and a major nipping problem. He was on the verge of getting put down when I stepped in and adopted him. When Donner got excited, he liked to hump you then chomp down hard on your arm, leg, rear end – whatever was in his reach. He was pretty obnoxious. And I still have the scar on my arm to prove it. But I loved him dearly. And I learned a great deal from him about how to deal with his kind of behavior problem, especially the benefits of keeping a dog calm.

Donner only lived for 20 months after I adopted him, succumbing to a tumor on his heart in May, 2006. As he was slipping away from me, I wrote the story, The Old Dog Nobody Wanted, published in the book Pets Across America.

A year later Archie arrived, my joyfully amusing 9-year-old with the stumpy wagging tail. He was a happy, loving dog – until you touched his feet. He turned into the Incredible Hulk, a snarling, snapping changeling. He was inspiration in writing my article, Grappling With Grooming. Archie taught me the benefits of counter-conditioning dogs to tolerate something that they had previously hated. In the 2 ½ years that we were together, he learned that wiping feet and nail trims were not so bad.

My three bad boys. I will love them dearly forever. What they have taught me cannot be underestimated. I admit I often long for a sweet creature like my Caper, a dog without behavior problems who is easy to live with. But for someone like me, with the training and knowledge to help dogs who maybe cannot live with others, I’m the perfect home and will greet more with open arms in the future. Bad dogs are the best teachers!  Thanks boys!

As every writer or creative person knows, you need to have mental focus in order to do your best work. I find with myself that if I’m scattered and in a tizzy (which is pretty frequent for me), my writing suffers. Sure, I can put words on paper but they’re not brilliant. They’re just passable. And the changing hormones of menopause also bring jolts of anxiety and sleeplessness (see Dawn at 3:00am) that drain creativity. I also think I’m an adrenaline junkie. I like the high from chocolate and tea!  But I’ve learned a few things that have helped me to stay calmer and more focused; maybe these will be of help to you too:

Stop rushing:

–          Leave early for appointments. The worry of not being on time creates major stress and anxiety.

–          Take your time with everyday activities. A slower pace can make you feel more relaxed. One example for me when I tend to rush is returning from the grocery store.  I hurry to get the perishables into the fridge/freezer.  A few extra seconds will not mean spoiled food!

–          Stop trying to race the clock – i.e., driving fast to see if you can break your record for getting somewhere (okay, I’m guilty).

–          Don’t multi-task. Yes, it was a popular notion several years ago but studies have now shown it creates stress and that most of us are actually more effective if we focus on getting one thing done at a time.

–          Okay, how do I say this delicately…take your time in the bathroom.  No, I don’t mean putting on makeup and drying your hair. I mean allow yourself time to sit and relax.  I’m often so much in a hurry that I do my business and I’m outta there.  But I remember my dad used to spend what seemed like hours in the john. And my ex-husband did too.  (Is that a man thing?)

–          And speaking of bathrooms, I also rush through my showers. And never take bubble baths anymore. Too much of a waste of time. I think there’s a pattern forming here…

 Driving creates anxiety:

–          Don’t speed when driving. Try driving closer to the speed limit and see if you feel any better.

–          Don’t let the gas tank go too low. Nothing creates anxiety more than running on fumes.

–          Let others pass you. If you’re like me, you get really mad when someone tailgates you (yes, I can be an aggressive driver – really?). Remember, driving isn’t a competition.  Nobody gets a trophy for getting somewhere first.

–          Don’t talk/text while driving. As noted above, multi-tasking is stressful  – and staying focused on driving is obviously safer.


–          Cut out anything with caffeine or stimulants: coffee, tea, chocolate, RED BULL!

–          Watch how many high glycemic carbs you eat. Spikes in sugar levels can play havoc with anxiety. Examples of high carb foods are white flour (breads, cookies, cakes, pretzels), white rice, corn, potatoes (and any junk food made from these), alcohol, and sugar. I feel much better on a low glycemic diet but it can be difficult to stick to, especially if you’re feeling stressed.

Other suggestions:

–          Take along something to read wherever you go in case you need to wait (I take a notebook for one of my writing projects).

–          Get some exercise. It’s amazing how just a short walk will help create relaxation. An even longer period of exercise is tiring and burns off adrenaline.

–           Try meditation or some kind of relaxation ritual.  This is a tough one for me because I can’t sit still but it’s helpful for some people.

My work with dogs taught me a lot about anxiety. Keeping dogs calm is often the key to preventing or eliminating  problem behaviors. We can benefit from these lessons too.

So you get the idea that I need to slow down and enjoy, huh?  Well how about you? What are your best ideas to help alleviate anxiety?

Why Cesar Millan Is Not a Whisperer

Facebook is such great fodder for my blog! Last week someone posted an article about Cesar Millan, a.k.a. the dog whisperer. It’s amazing how just the mention of his name creates controversy. Almost as much as Michael Vick!  You either love him or you wish he would go away. Yes, I was one of the people joining in the “conversation” about Millan.  Want to take a guess at where I stand?

When some people meet me and I tell them that I’m a pet behavior consultant, they often say, “oh, like the dog whisperer.” And that makes me cringe. No, please don’t compare me to him. It’s an insult. Unlike Millan, I have extensively studied animal behavior, learning theory, and behavior modification. I have attended numerous seminars and read just about everything imaginable written by scientists and professionals. Conversely, Millan had no formal education; he learned from watching his farm dogs and from experiences as a groomer. He created his own methods – whatever worked for him, he used on all dogs regardless of if it was sound or not. Pleeeeeeease don’t compare me to him. 

He became famous when he trained Jada Pinkett Smith’s dogs and she then told Oprah about him.  And the rest is history, of course, because of the “Oprah effect.” I do not respect some of his methods nor do I believe that the “results” he shows are always for real. It’s a TV show; it’s edited and made to be spectacular. After all, Millan has to live up to his image as a wunderkind. But guess what, he’s not a whisperer.

Millan advocates the use of force which studies have shown is detrimental to the psyche of the dog and erodes the trust in the relationship. Force evokes fear.  Millan often tells people to hold the dog down to make it submit and to show the owner’s dominance. This method was derived from studies of wolves and contended that the highest ranking wolf would roll the other wolves and hold them down to show dominance.  Sadly, this study proliferated among dog trainers and many still hang onto this notion. What they don’t realize is that more studies were performed and this theory was debunked. But the trainers obviously didn’t get the message! If you remember, a book by the Monks of New Skete advocated this training technique.  But the monks have since come out with a statement that they now do not advocate forced submission. Their book is still on the bookshelves – minus the recant.

Some people contend that Millan is working with highly aggressive dogs and that he has to use these methods.  Really?  Well what do people think most dog trainers and behavior consultants are doing, just teaching dogs not to pee in the house? Trainers work with aggressive dogs constantly; it’s what we do. The dogs we work with are no different than those on Millan’s show.

My biggest complaint about Millan is how he uses that “tsst” sound and a poke at the dog to disrupt inappropriate behavior. People who are well-versed in animal behavior know that what he is doing is not advisable for several reasons:

1) If a dog is growling and you do a “tsst” and a poke, you might make the growling worse.

2) You may get the dog to stop the inappropriate behavior but it may be temporary. What you are in danger of doing is causing the dog to stop the growling, which is in fact a warning signal that he is upset, but the dog is still not happy. He may skip the growl and go right for a bite.

3) Calling attention to inappropriate behavior often rewards and reinforces the behavior.

4) You are not addressing the root cause of the dog’s inappropriate behavior which is often fear. When you’re afraid, would it help if someone were to poke you and say “tsst”?  Not likely.

Others who have studied and understand animal behavior know it’s more advisable to use counter-conditioning techniques instead of force to modify dogs’ behaviors. (See my last post on February 16.) But this technique takes time and that would be boring on a TV show. I guess the American public likes quick fixes, that’s why Millan is so popular – train your dog in 15 minutes!  Real life is not a TV show. Proper dog training techniques require time and dedication.

I think the biggest reason why I hold Millan in disdain is not just for the inappropriate methods but more because he has become so popular. Why can’t someone who knows more about animal behavior and promotes respectful and positive training methods be as popular?  It makes me sad that Millan’s fame proliferates poor training techniques and that so many unknowledgeable dog owners are buying into it, thus the arguments on Facebook. It’s always the people who are not so well-versed in animal behavior who like Millan and defend him and his techniques most vehemently.

In all fairness, he does a lot right and I need to credit him for that. I completely agree that people need to be the leaders. (But not through force.) He’s also right on when he talks about calm energy. Dogs are masters at reading our energy and feeding off of it. And finally, Millan is very correct when he says that dogs need exercise. Just like people!

I hope that this post does not appear to be “bashing” Millan; I’m simply stating my viewpoint as an educated behavior specialist in the same field. After all, if someone in your field of expertise was on TV showing people how to do your job, you would have an opinion too! My passion is advocating for the animals and if I see someone doing something that I believe is not in their best interest, I need to speak up.  You do too!

Dog Training Tip of the Week – Begging

Quite possibly one of the most irritating of bad behaviors is a begging dog. It is engendered by a spectrum of possible actions from the ignorable silent stare (which my dog favors!), all the way to barking, pawing, whining, and nudging that cannot be overlooked. Sorry to tell you, folks, most dogs are taught to beg by us, their loving people!

It’s so tempting to sneak your dog a tasty morsel while you’re watching TV and snacking on popcorn, chips and pretzels. You may even laugh as you teach your dog to  catch it. Dogs are fast learners. They see the “picture” of you sitting in the spot where you fed them and they think that they know what’s coming next. The first time that your dog signals to you (a stare, a whine, a bark, a nudge, a paw) and you give the dog what he wants, you have taught him to beg. He gets what he wants by staring, whining, barking, etc. My dog knows the sound of the spoon scraping the last drops of ice cream from the bowl. He knows that he gets to lick the bowl when I’m finished. When he still had his hearing, he would come running from another room when he heard that sound!

Our human brains think that by giving the dog what he wants when he begs, it will satisfy the dog and the behavior will stop: “I’ll just give Rover a piece of my steak to quiet him.” Wrong! You’ve just reinforced the behavior and taught the dog that he gets what he wants when he barks, stares, whines, etc. Most begging behavior will escalate to downright obnoxiousness if you continue to indulge the dog.

How do you stop begging behavior? It’s not easy and will require diligence, patience and consistency from everyone. When the dog begs, you must ignore him completely. Yes, I know it will be stressful to listen to your dog barking at you during dinner or while you’re trying to watch the game. But it’s vital to show your dog that he gets nothing by being pushy. And everyone who interacts with your dog must adhere to this policy.  Eventually, your dog will get the message that nothing is coming his way.

In addition to ignoring the begging, teach your dog an alternative behavior. Have your dog practice an extended down-stay when you’re eating dinner. This will take practice but as we know, anything that pays off requires some work.  And if you really, really want to share your food with your dog, place it in his bowl. Have him sit and wait, then give it to him.  As for my dog and ice cream, he must lie down quietly or else he gets nothing. When the bowl is ready for him to lick, I ask for a paw and a kiss.

A well-mannered dog is such a pleasure to be around!

Happy Anniversary!

This week marks the 8th anniversary of when I met and adopted my dog, Gizmo, also known as Gizzy, Giz-Giz, Goofball and Gizzy Bear. We’ve been through a lot together, like an old married couple: sickness and health, good times and bad. Our love has grown and matured, starting as infatuation (on my part – I can’t speak for Giz).

When we met, he was a gorgeous guy, almost 5 years old, big and fluffy and physically resembling the Golden I had just lost to a stroke at 14 years old.  But Gizzy was unlike her in personality; he was baaaaaad!  That’s why he needed a new home. His family surrendered him to the rescue run by their veterinarian’s office. Gizzy was growling at the children in the family. This rescue group knew of my work as a trainer and a behavior consultant, plus they knew I didn’t have kids.  I could easily deal with him.  Or so I thought.

I very quickly discovered that my pretty boy had some major issues besides his dislike of kids. Giz reacted wildly when other dogs came into view, wanting to attack if they approached. He was also very possessive of bones, he growled if you tried to move him off of furniture, and unpredictably would growl when strangers pet him. Giz was so much more of a challenge than I ever imagined. And to top it off, he was not very affectionate. Bonding to him became very difficult.

Together, we worked on his issues using positive reinforcement, counter-conditioning techniques and practicing “nothing in life is free.” Needless to say, he was not allowed on the furniture! He showed a gradual, steady improvement over the years.  He was a remarkable teacher to me – I learned first-hand just what my clients were going through with their problem dogs!! I became a much better consultant and way more empathetic to their issues.

Giz is completely over the possessiveness with bones and considerably better with other dogs.  He even lived with two dogs with no issues.  I never would have imagined that 8 years ago. He can sleep on the sofa next to me and be asked to move with no problem. But…he still cannot be trusted with children. Makes you wonder what transpired with the kids he used to live with?

Gizzy is now an old man, his hearing diminished, his joints stiff and his body lumpy with fatty tumors so common in Goldens. He’s turned into a mommy’s boy, becoming more affectionate with age.  He’ll never be an attention seeker but I relish the sweetness of his senior years. Oh how I love old dogs!

Happy anniversary, my Gizzy! I’m so glad  I never gave up on you.

Temple Grandin

Did anyone watch the Emmy Awards show this week?  If so, then you saw my hero, Dr. Temple Grandin, the lady dressed not in a glitzy gown but a cowboy outfit!  The HBO movie about her life won several Emmys.  Why is she my hero?  Two reasons: She reviewed my book and called me not once but three times to discuss it then provided me with a great quote to use on the cover.  But more importantly, she’s opened up the animal mind and let us all see what’s in there. 

Two of Dr. Grandin’s books, Animals in Translation and Animals Make Us Human, have helped me to understand dog behavior more than ever. And that knowledge has made me a much better behavior consultant, trainer and communicator for the animals.  You see, Dr. Grandin is autistic. And her accomplishments are amazing.  The reason she can give us insights into animal behavior is because she sees things the way that animals do, in pictures. 

I quote Dr. Grandin’s work in my book, Puppy Mill Dogs SPEAK!, because the dogs rescued from lives as breeders in captivity act in ways that are very much like autistics.  If we learn about how their minds work, then we have a better shot at helping the rescued breeder dogs.

My hat is off to Dr. Grandin and everyone involved with the movie about her life.  Please add her books to your reading list!