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

Abrantes and Dunbar in San Francisco in 2005

Abrantes or Dunbar—Who’s the Best?

The other day after a seminar, an attendee came to join me at the pool table. I have a habit of selecting the bar with the most decent pool table as my after hours office wherever I happen to give a seminar. I invite the attendees to join me there in the evening, assuring them that they will be most welcome to ask me any question they like; and indeed they do, they approach the pool table, drink in one hand and pool cue in the other; and fire away.

Balls racked up, I took the break, didn’t pocket any balls, didn’t scratch and passed the game to my opponent, a local, female dog trainer in her late twenties. She took a shot and missed. Then, she looked at me with a radiant, slightly coquettish smile.

“Is it now that I can ask you any question I like?” she enquired teasingly.

“Yes, it is, but please do it before or after I take my shot,” I replied, stressing the words before and after.

 
English Bulldog puppy.

Ten Important Skills To Teach Your Puppy

"The First Ten Skills You Should Teach Your Puppy" are my chosen ten skills. I believe most will agree with my choice, but if you don't, you're off course entitled to add, subtract and modify as you seem fit. In any case, I hope this will help you in your work as a puppy owner instructor or a puppy owner.

 

The First Ten Skills You Should Teach Your Puppy

There are many skills that your puppy must learn in order to enjoy a good doggy life in our human world. It is your responsibility to teach your puppy these skills. Opinions may differ as to what are the most fundamental skills to teach your puppy. In my opinion, you should focus on the ten skills I describe here so that both you and your puppy enjoy being together and can safely begin to discover the world.

 
Male lion and cub.

Cue or Signal—What is the Difference?

Thanks for your comments to my blog "Commands or signals, corrections or punishers, praise or reinforcers." It's wonderful to write to such an audience! Your comments prompted me to do some research about signals and cues.

 

Commands or signals—does it matter what we call them?

If you think it doesn't matter, there’s no need to read any further. If you think it does matter, please continue reading because I'd like to help you. I noticed some inconsistencies in contemporary dog training terminology and will proceed to argue that they need correcting. Trainers use too many terms that either are badly defined, not defined at all or already exist and mean something else.

Why is it important to agree on one single terminology? Because only then can we have a meaningful discussion and avoid falling out with people with whom we might otherwise like to cooperate.

 
Cute Dog

The Truth About Reinforcers and Punishers

Basically, and it is as simple as that, the behavior of all living creatures changes because of its consequences; and there are only two ways in which behavior can change. It can become either more of it, or less of it. Even what we call new behavior is nothing else than an increase in frequency, intensity and/or duration of components of a behavior in the repertoire of the individual in question. Sometimes, new behavior amounts to the recombination of well-practiced elements.

 

Five Easy Steps To Teach Your Dog To Be Home Alone


Number one canine problem behavior is "home alone." Don't panic if someone tells you that your dog suffers from separation anxiety. It's probably not the case. Anxiety is a serious disorder and most dogs don't have any anxiety when left alone. They are either under-stimulated and burn their surplus energy by wrecking the furniture, they're having fun and don't know that it is wrong to destroy human possessions, or the owners have not taught them the desired routines when left home alone. There is a good chance that you can solve the problem with my five steps program.

 

Can My Dog Be Sad?

"Can my dog be sad?" is a question many dog owners would like to have answered. We have all heard that it's wrong to attribute human characteristics to animals (anthropomorphism).

The argument for anthropomorphism is valid enough: if I can't prove (verify) something, I'd better disregard it (at least scientifically); and I can't prove that my dog is happy, sad, or loves me.

Then again, we are not better off with our own spouses, children, friends, not to speak of strangers. What do we know of their feelings and emotions? We can't prove either that they are happy, sad, or love us. We assume it (and often we are wrong) because we compare their behavior with our own when we are in particularly similar states of minds.

 
Wolf gazing between trees.

The Truth About Wolf Extermination

Our fear and hatred of the wolf begun much after its domestication, when humans took the first step to distance themselves from nature, to enslave nature and to exploit it—it happened when we invented agriculture. In the beginning, there were only some skirmishes provoked by the occasional domestic animal taken by a wolf. The wholesale extermination of the wolf is not due to a single factor, but to an intermingled combination of factors, i.e. mythology, religious zeal, environmental changes and economic incentives; and a deep psychological scar, as we shall see.

 

Wolves In France: The Hunt Is On

Antoine Agasse writes on July 28, 2011, on physorg.com, the article ”Ravenous  wolves  colonise France,  terrorise  shepherds.”

He writes, “Regional authorities estimate the French wolf population at between 170 and 200 this year, up from 140 to 170 last year. The government says wolves killed 1,329 animals, mostly sheep, in France this year up to July 22.” (203 days)

This means the wolves killed almost exactly one sheep per wolf a month (if all 1329 were sheep). Estimating the average weight of a sheep at 150 pounds (68 Kg), each wolf should be eating about 4.9 pounds (2.23 Kg) per day.

Gray wolves, Canis lupus lupus, can survive on about 2.5 pounds (1.1 Kg) of food per wolf per day, but they require about 7 pounds (3,2 Kg) per wolf per day to reproduce successfully. Adult wolves can survive for days and even weeks without food if they have to.

 

Why Do We Have Dogs?

We all have dogs because it pleases us and we feel good about having them. One way or another, dog ownership satisfies one or more of our specific needs. The problem is when we don’t realize it or don’t want to admit it. When we do, we are grateful, we know that we are in debt to them and we want to pay them back (or forward), preferably with dividends. When we don’t, we fall into a series of pseudo explanations, easy interpretations, knee-jerk solutions—and that’s abuse.

I have a deep respect for all life independently of species and race. It appears to me that the dog/owner relationship, in this one aspect, should not be much different from any other relationship, be it with a spouse, a lover, a friend, a parent, a child. We should be content with what we get and not ask for what we can’t get. We should never take any relationship for granted. Every new day should be one more day we should feel privileged to share with that particular living being.

 

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