In the Wake of the Boston Marathon Bombings Came Dogs Who Healed

I dont consider myself an animal person, says Kat Powers. But there I was sitting on the floor, getting kissed by a mini horse and patting a very, very large Newfie. At the same time, I was looking over at very tense mental health volunteers flown in from all over who were assisting families going through their worst week ever. And for the first time since the tragedy, as they walked up to dogs…

Might You and Your Dog Make a Good Therapy Team?

Fortunately, therapy dogs almost never end up responding to a mass trauma event like the Boston Marathon Bombing or, say, the shootings in a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school. They are more likely to be involved in one-on-one situations with a hospital or nursing home patient or small group situations, say, at a home for adolescents at risk. …

Dogs Are Figuring Us Out, Too

Weve devoted a fair amount of space in Your Dog to explaining that dogs experience the world differently than we do because of differences in their senses of sight, hearing, smell, and so on. But, it turns out, dogs are busy assessing how we experience our world, too - and using it to their advantage to gain access to resources. Researcher Juliane Kaminiski of the United Kingdoms University of Portsmouth made the discovery when she observed whether dogs took food they were firmly forbidden to eat.

True or False? An Aggressive or Willful Dog Is Trying to Dominate You.

It used to be accepted as common knowledge that dogs maintain a rigid social hierarchy largely through displays of physical might by an alpha who maintains his dominant position with aggressive force. The thinking was based on studies of wolves and other species in captivity, who couldnt get away from each other and had been thrown together artificially rather than forming a family in a natural manner. That led, not surprisingly, to physically pushy…

Is Canine Dominance Dead?

I dont use the words pack, alpha, submit, submissive, dominant, or dominance - at all, ever, and havent done so for almost 20 years, says Karen Overall, VMD, PhD, a Glen Mills, Pennsylvania-based board-certified animal behaviorist. Neither do many other well-trained animal behaviorists. And for good reason. The word dominant and all the other words associated with it have entered the common lexicon in a way that inaccurately describes dogs approach to their relationships, both…

My Dog Wont Let Me Take Off His Collar

My miniature dachshund, Otto, becomes aggressive when you go to take off his collar or harness. He is fine (most of the time) putting it on, but getting it off presents a big problem. Sometimes it takes days. Please help.

Does Tug-o-War Make Dogs Aggressive?

When I first got into animal behavior, says Tufts Animal Behavior Clinic Director Nicholas Dodman, BVMS, the story was that you didnt want to play tug of war with your dog, especially if he was displaying aggression. The thinking was that it would over-build a dogs confidence and the next thing, hed be biting you. It fell into the category of games that were tough in nature, like getting down and pushing a dog…

How to Stop Your Dog from Tugging on the Leash

Youve seen some dogs wearing head halters. Theyre the collars with one thin strap that goes around the muzzle, up near the eyes, and another thin strap that goes around the neck but higher up than regular collars, closer to a dogs ears than the base of his neck. Perhaps because they consist of two straps rather than one, they look too confining for a dog, or too difficult to get the hang of. Neither supposition is correct. Head halters are quite comfortable for dogs and, once you know how to put one on, are a cinch to use.

Dear Doctor – Urine Marking in the House

Letters to Tufts Veterinarians - Urine marking - in the house; Testing positive for Lyme disease even with no symptoms

How to Get Your Dog to Come When You Call

Most people, if you ask them, What is the one thing youd most like your dog to be able to do? respond by saying, Come when I call. So reports Nicholas Dodman, BVMS, the director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts. It makes sense. If your dog understands Come, you can keep him safe. He wont run into the street, get into scrapes with other dogs, or otherwise put himself in harms way.…

What Definitely Wont Work When Teaching Come

How many times have you seen people angrily or exasperatingly telling their dog to come to no avail, then, when they finally catch up with their pet, yelling at him and letting him know what a bad boy he was. Would you come if you knew the person calling you was angry? Never, never, tell your dog to come in anger or frustration. Thats teaching him that coming will only led to unpleasant consequences, which…

Does Your Dog Jump On People?

People often start out with the right strategy when trying to teach their dog not to jump on people, says our Behavior Clinic director, Nicholas Dodman, BVMS. They ignore the behavior. But what they fail to realize is that when you ignore a behavior that in the past has gotten a reaction, the first thing that happens is that it gets worse. So owners lose patience, assume theyve taken the wrong tack, and resort to the counterproductive measures they have been using all along, like pushing the dog off, which only makes the animal think thats part of the game - jump/push, jump/push.