So often dog owners want to know why they can’t get their dog to come every time he is called no matter what he happens to be doing or where. “He can be stubborn.” “He has a mind of his own.” “His breed is like that.” These are all reasons I’ve heard people use.
A dog who jumped at the sound of a heavy box falling to the floor can become frightened by other sudden noises down the road. A dog who has had many different positive interactions with children will come to learn the presence of kids means good things happen.
It happens SO often. When you ask pet owners about problems they are having with their pets, it boils down to their pet being dominant, jealous, dumb, stubborn, territorial, vicious, a pest, or just plain BAD.
Well, here’s the thing. When you tell me your dog is jealous, stubborn, or unmotivated I have absolutely no idea what it is that your dog is actually ‘doing’ that causes you to see him as jealous, stubborn or unmotivated. When you tell me your bird is dominant or vicious, a number of different pictures go through my head – none of which could describe how your bird is behaving.
(This is one of my past Hyde Park Living columns)
My whole fascination for the study of behavior science was founded over 12 years ago on an international list started by Dr. Susan Friedman (a psychology professor at Utah State University who has pioneered the use of Applied Behavior Analysis with companion animals). Having that knowledge and support helped me to transform my Timneh African Grey, Barnaby, from an incessant screamer into a bird who talks human to me all day. And it has so changed my relationship with all of my pets.
If you share your life with a dog, then you no doubt understand the magical affect of petting him. There has even been research to show the benefits to humans from being close to and touching pets.