Talking to animals

When I was little, I became mesmerized by Dr Dolittle.

Dr Dolittle could talk to animals. He’d ask them questions, they’d vocalize, he’d nod wisely and translate their chirps, whistles, woofs and meows to plain English, to the astonishment of those present.

It was my all-time favourite movie, when I was nine.

(Credit Image: SNAP)

Side-note: the 2,5-hour film from 1967 was broadcast on TV at a time in the evening when I was supposed to go to bed about three-quarters of the way through. So after one hour and 45 minutes, dad said: “time to go to bed, Karolina”.

And I pleaded. Threatened. Screamed.

To no avail; there were to be no exceptions to that bedtime hour. I remember being lead to my room, still protesting loudly. And then I spent several hours having a loud and ugly meltdown alone in my room, way past the time that the film ended, and at some point somewhat triumphantly shrieking at the door: “If only you’d let me watch the whole film I’d be asleep by now!!!”

Continue reading “Talking to animals”

Most-listened-to animal-related podcasts (August 2020)

Last week, I asked the people on my email list, and my Facebook community, whether they listened to any animal-related podcasts, and if so, which ones.

I don’t know what I expected, maybe a handful of answers. Little did I know…

Podcasts – yes, no, or huh?

517 people answered, and I just summarized the wealth of data that they provided.

Continue reading “Most-listened-to animal-related podcasts (August 2020)”

Dogs and fireworks (30+ proven techniques to eliminate noise phobia)

Is your dog afraid of fireworks? How about thunder?

Keep reading, this blog post contains everything you need to know. This post is updated about twice a year, last on June 15th, 2020 – look for the “revised” signs in the post to find the latest changes.

Is your dog not fearful of fireworks, thunder or other loud noise?

Keep reading anyway. That may change, and you should be prepared.

fearful dogs fireworks
It’s the combination of different techniques that produce the best effect (Crowell-Davis et al., 2003: 93%). Nobody’s tried using all the techniques suggested in this blog post, as far as I know.

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How to teach a cue

Is this familiar?

You’ve been training tricks with your dog, and want to impress some visiting friends with his new skills.

You ask him for a high five.

He gives a high five, then he lies down, plays dead, rolls over… all the while throwing expectant looks at you, as if saying “is it this?!”

“Is this what you wanted, mommy?”

In other words, you ask for one specific behaviour, and he enthusiastically responds by giving you his entire learned repertoire of tricks.

What’s going on?

Well, in technical terms, he’s not under Stimulus Control.

In less technical terms, he hasn’t yet quite learned about cues. Continue reading “How to teach a cue”

Animal Welfare and her fairy godmothers

Once upon a time there was a princess.

She was quite furry and partly covered in scales, and also had a beak, and so she was named Animal.

Her last name was Welfare.

Animal Welfare had four fairy godmothers, who all gave her precious gifts.

The fairy godmothers came from different scientific realms, and they were called Applied Ethology, Veterinary Medicine, Affective Neuroscience and Applied Behaviour Analysis – and each of them offered priceless, irreplaceable gifts to Animal Welfare.

And here’s the twist of this fairy tale: Continue reading “Animal Welfare and her fairy godmothers”

The Modern Principles of Shaping

Back in 1984, Karen Pryor wrote the 10 Laws of Shaping into her book Don’t shoot the dog.

That book, and those laws, have been extremely influential in shaping the contemporary animal training community. But inevitably, some of those laws became outdated.

So, 30 years later, she and her team updated them – they’re now called the Modern Principles of Shaping.

Incidentally, the principles can all be understood in terms of traffic signs.

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