dr. ian dunbar

AN EXCITING NEW CURE FOR SEPARATION ANXIETY

Given that we developed the AutoTrainer nearly 26 years ago, I find it surprising that only recently, (largely due to feedback from dog owners and trainers), we have discovered that the device is extremely effective for the rehabilitation of dogs with severe separation anxiety. 

We designed the AutoTrainer to reduce recreational barking and other vocalizations, which it does extremely effectively, as evidenced by reviewing the barking history and plotting the decrease in number of barks per day. Our original research showed that in addition to reducing barking, the dogs paced less and spent...

Dr. Ian Dunbar and Dune the American Bulldog

BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE — FOR 110 YEARS?

Edward Lee Thorndike showed that behavior is modified by its consequences and in 1905, he published his Law of Effect, basically stating: Any behavior followed by pleasant consequences will increase in frequency and be more likely to occur in the future, whereas any behavior followed by unpleasant consequences will decrease in frequency and be less likely to occur in the future. The notion of binary feedback is the quintessence of learning theory. The Law of Effect was a wonderful start but as theory was put to practice in education and training, something went very wrong along the way. Over...

Dr. Ian Dunbar and Hugo Pup Post Potty Break Cuddle

Why Purchase a Puppy that is NOT Housetrained?

I’ve raised a few puppies in my time and it has always puzzled me why anyone would want to purchase a puppy that hasn’t already been housetrained, especially since house soiling and other behavior problems, such as excessive barking and destructive chewing, are a major source of frustration for new owners. Most kennel-bred puppies are allowed to eliminate anywhere and everywhere, chew anything and everything, bark at will and run around uncontrolled, which of course, is exactly what they’ll do in their new homes. Consequently, far too many eight-week-old puppies already have behavior...

Cradling a puppy at the vet

Why Don’t We Adequately Socialize Young Puppies With People?

Dogs may be taught manners and basic obedience at anytime in their lives. However, training puppies is just so much fun and so, why wait? Similarly, behavior problems may be resolved at any time in a dog’s life but of course, they are annoying and frustrating for owners and so, why not teach good habits from the outset? Temperament problems, however, must be prevented during early puppyhood because rehabilitating adult dogs is complicated and extremely time-consuming. For example, whereas It takes just a few days, or a week at the most, to resolve incipient signs of shyness, fearfulness,...

Puppy Classes And Canine Parvovirus

I have just read a paper in the March/April issue of the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association describing a study that concluded, puppies vaccinated at least once prior to starting puppy classes at less than 16 weeks of age were at no more risk of being diagnosed with Canine Parvovirus infection than vaccinated puppies that did not attend classes.

The study comprised two parts:

1. A total of 21 veterinary clinics were selected from both low- and high-income zones in four cities with different seasonal patterns (Atlanta GA, Chicago IL, Phoenix AZ and Seattle WA). Data were...

Jack Russell Terriers Sitting

He Won't Sit Still for a Second: Quantifying Success in Dog Training

Years ago after a puppy class, a frustrated owner (of a Jack Russell Terrier) complained that her puppy wouldn’t sit still for a second. I got out my stopwatch and checked. She was quite correct; the puppy only sat for 0.2 of a second. I wrote the number on a sheet of paper and stuck it on the wall. On the fourth trial though, the JRT proved her wrong and sat for 1.2 seconds. I wrote the dog’s new personal best on the sheet of paper. Baby steps? Yes. But because we objectively quantified the dog’s performance, we realized that these baby steps reflected a 600% improvement. I explained to...

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