Roger Abrantes

Roger Abrantes, Ph.D. in Evolutionary Biology and Ethology, and BA in Philosophy, DHC, DF, MAPBC, born in Portugal in 1951, has lived most of his life in Denmark. He is the author of 17 books in English, German, Spanish, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Italian, and Czech, and numerous articles on behavior. He is probably one of the most versatile ethologists in the world.

His work ranges from lecturing at the Ethology Institute Cambridge, where he is the scientific director, to appearances as a guest lecturer at universities worldwide, popular talks, seminars, as well as being a special advisor to the Portuguese GNR (the Military Academy trained police) on the canine detection of narcotics and explosives.

He has written popular books with sound advice to pet owners as well as theoretical scientific dissertations. He teaches ethology, and epistemology (theory of knowledge), besides his practical work with dogs and horses.

He is a popular guest on TV and radio programs in his home countries and in the US. His English books Dog Language–An Encyclopedia of Canine Behavior and The Evolution Of Canine Social Behavior became hits the moment they reached the US bookshelves. He lectures often in the US.

Dr. Abrantes is especially known for his views on social behavior and its applications to the daily understanding of pet behavior; and for his no-nonsense working methods, a practical and thorough application of Ethology and Learning Theory, teaching the animal the new patterns patiently and efficiently step by step.

His actual work comprises marine biology environmental management in Thailand, the supervision of the training of landmine-detecting rats in Tanzania, and his advisory work for the canine company of the GNR.

Roger Abrantes is truly a citizen of the world. If you ask him where he lives, he will answer you 'Planet Earth' and there's something about it. He lives though mostly on an island, which name he refuses to reveal, in the south of Thailand. He speaks nine languages, English, Portuguese, French, Danish, and Swedish (fluently), Spanish, Italian, German, and Thai (less fluently).

He is also a keen sportsman, having raced cars for many years. He has also played roller hockey in the German Bundesliga where he was his team's first goal-keeper. Nowadays he runs 10 ks and plays pool (8-ball and 9-ball) and when he's not working, he dedicates himself to his two life-long passions: reading (everything) and listening to music (Blues, Rock, New-Age).

Blog posts by Roger Abrantes

Roger Abrantes and boxer.

Dog Training—Let's end the fighting!

The dog trainers’ dispute about training methods blazes on unabated, with the erroneous and emotive use of terms such as dominance, punishment and leadership only adding fuel to the fire. There is no rational argumentation between the two main factions, one of which advocates a “naturalistic” approach and the other a “moralistic” stance. The term ‘dominance’ generates particular controversy and is often misinterpreted. We can detect, in the line of arguing about this topic, the same fundamental mistakes committed in many other discussions. By taking the controversy over dominant behavior as my example, I shall attempt to put an end to the feud by proving that neither side is right and by presenting a solution to the problem. Plus ratio quam vis—let reason prevail over force!

I shall demonstrate that the dispute is caused by:

 
Roger Abrantes howling with husky in 1986 (photo by Ole Suszkievicz).

16 Things You Should Stop Doing In Order To Be Happy With Your Dog

Here is a list of 16 things you should stop doing in order to make life with your dog happier and your relationship stronger. Difficult? Not at all. You just need to want to do it and then simply do it. You can begin as soon as you finish reading this.

1. Stop being fussy—don't worry, be happy

 
Golden Retriever and Puppies

20 Principles for Dog Breeders

Genes code for the traits an organism will show, physical as well as behavioral, but genes are not all. The environment of that organism also plays a crucial role in the way some of its genes will express themselves.

 
Roger Abrantes and Rottweiler.

Pacifying Behavior in Dogs

Pacifying behavior (Latin pacificare, from pax = peace and facerefacio = to make) is all behavior with the function of decreasing or suppressing an opponent’s aggressive or dominant behavior. There are two ways of classifying pacifying behavior: (1) to include all behaviors with the function of diffusing social conflict, and (2) to restrict it to a particular range within the broader spectrum of conflict decreasing behavior (see diagram). This author prefers the latter because the broad use of the term in the first option makes it synonymous with conflict decreasing behavior in general, without reference to any particular sub-class of this behavior.

 
Pekinese

The Story Of Odie The Pekinese

Odie came to me on an odd day, one of those rainy, grey days, when the only thing you want to do is stay at home, listen to good music, watch the fire roaring in the fireplace, hold a hot cup of punch in your hands and feel sorry for yourself. Odie, an ugly duckling of a Pekinese, was awaiting his turn on death row. A twist of fate meant Odie survived his death sentence and, one year later, he had turned into a beautiful wolf.

 
Muzzle grab in dogs.

Why Do Dogs Muzzle Grab One Another?

A "Muzzle grab" (as shown in this photo of Marco de Kloet) is a common behavior shown by social canines, e.g. wolves (Canis lupus lupus), dingoes (Canis lupus dingo), and dogs (Canis lupus familiaris).

 

Dogs And Children—Safety Rules And Preventing Rather Than Curing

I’ve just published “Dogs And Children,” the first time the original little book in Danish is translated into English. Its goal was to provide dog owners with sound advice that would help them prevent accidents from happening and, as such, I believe that it can still perform the same role today as it did 26 years ago.

I cannot give you the whole book here, but I couldn’t bear not giving my faithful readers on Dog Star Daily at least some of it because this is an extremely important topic as far as I’m concerned. I chose, therefore, to write a short blog giving you a few extracts from the book. If you’re interested, you can read the whole book online and free of charge here.

 
Petrine retrieving bird.

Do Dogs Have Self-Respect?

Did she cheat me? Did she manipulate me. Or was it a proof that my English Cocker Spaniel had a sense of self-respect; that dogs behave intelligently?

It happened long ago, but I still think about it, trying to find a plausible and scientifically correct explanation. My dogs have always been fun dogs, independent and skillful, but manipulative and naughty at the same time. It’s my fault. I’ve brought them up to be that way. I trained them because at the time (the beginning of the 1980s) I was keen on demonstrating that there were other ways of training dogs than the traditional, mostly compulsory and often forceful methods of the old school. Since I believed (and still do) that the best way to have someone change is not by forcing, persuading or convincing, but rather by showing attractive results, I trained my dogs to help me in this quest, and none more than Petrine, my female, red English Cocker Spaniel did so.

 

Effort or Results: What Should I Reinforce?

If you ask, "should we reinforce effort or the results?" you are liable to get as many answers supporting one idea as the other. Supporters of reinforcing effort sustain that reinforcing results creates emotional problems when one doesn't succeed and decreases the rate of even trying.

 

Supporters of reinforcing results maintain that reinforcing effort encourages sloppiness and cheating.

 

I shall proceed to argue for and against both theories and prove that it is not a question of either/or, rather of defining our criteria, processes and goals clearly.

 

 
Roger Abrantes and dog.

Yes And No: What Do These Words Mean?

Yes and no are two very short words yet they convey the most important information many living beings can receive, on one level regulating their organic functions on another, their behavior, and ultimately, their survival. If I say these words don't require any explanation, everyone would probably agree and yet we'd be wrong. Did you know that in some languages yes and no don’t exist?

 

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