Blogs by Steve Duno

July 1, 2014 by Steve Duno
puppy

If you want a child, have one, or adopt one. Just don’t make one out of your dog.

The need for humans to nurture is eons old. It’s natural, and good. It’s not even limited to humans: all parenting mammals show an innate drive to nurture, cherish, and protect their young. It’s preservation of the species, clear and simple- an effective way to ensure survival, and pass along the genes of successful animals.

But what of dogs? Should we cherish them in the same way we do a human

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May 20, 2014 by Steve Duno
Olf flavio

Every now and then I’ll read about an ancient nursing home patient who wanders off in the middle of the night in his underwear, only to end up two hundred miles away at a bus depot or cattle auction. No money, touch of dementia, his wonky gait like a rubber duck in a wave pool. How he got there nobody knows, but get there he did. Maybe no one saw him, or maybe, like a garden snail, he moved too carefully to ever be noticed. Or, perhaps everyone just turned away from the nutty, stinky old man

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April 25, 2014 by Steve Duno
dog and raven

I watched a NOVA special the other night about the intelligence capabilities of dogs versus birds. One segment pitted a raven against a brace of poodles in a race to open a puzzle box, in which had been placed a treat appropriate to the animal. The box consisted of several Lucite boxes, one inside another, that could be removed and opened by manipulation of hinged doors. The researcher would have needed to put a crisp hundred dollar bill in it for me to have opened it in under a minute.

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March 21, 2014 by Steve Duno
Old dogs

I’ve had pretty good luck getting big dogs to live sixteen or more years. My old super dog Lou lived to be sixteen, despite his Rottweiler/Shepherd genes telling him otherwise. From the time I found him running feral in 1989 in the Mendocino pot fields, to the last day of his life here in Seattle in 2005, he barely ever called in sick. Apart from cancer surgery at thirteen and degenerative myelopathy late in life, he’d been as hardy as a brick. I’d fed him a quality lamb-and-rice kibble,

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February 7, 2014 by Steve Duno
CUlpability and a roast chicken

No dog/human relationship can work unless both parties take responsibility for their behavior.  For instance, excuse a dog for a bad behavior it knows is bad, and you’ve lost the game, and damaged the relationship.  Of course, it must be a behavior that happens in the present, with you there to witness, and not one that occurred hours before.  Dogs live in the present, after all, and don’t understand being reprimanded for an act that’s hours old. 

People too, need to be culpable for

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December 21, 2013 by Steve Duno
Duno and Flavio

Your dog needs to get around more.

When we get a puppy, we take her from her mom and littermates, or from her fellow shelter puppy pals.  And her dad?  Who knows where that rake is.

Your new pup goes from a warm, sociable, somewhat busy environment filled with friends and milk and licks and nips and wrestling, into a nice home with you and maybe a few other humans, and perhaps another pet or two.  In comparison, it’s quiet, and rather lacking in doggish spectacle.  But

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November 18, 2013 by Steve Duno
Thanksgiving dog

• For the chance to blog here.
• For my 16 year-old dog Flavio still being able to walk, eat, and smile.
• For my 7 year-old dog Rico, who’s birthday is today (though he is a beef-brained, bumbling pin ball who would jump into a furnace if I threw a cookie in there).
• For having the chance over the last 22 years to save thousands of troubled dogs from the grim reaper.
• For having the good luck to publish 18 books over the past 18 years, and for the people who

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October 18, 2013 by Steve Duno
Power of Emotion

Passion is everything.

That’s what I tell clients when they ask me what they can do to be better dog trainers, and better mentors to their dogs.  Then of course I have to explain.

As per a recent study done by neuroscientist Gregory Berns at Emory College, it has been shown through MRI tests that dogs have emotion capabilities and responses nearly identical to humans.  Duh.  We, of course, have known this all along from experience, but it is nice to have the clinical

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September 10, 2013 by Steve Duno
rescue ethics

I’ve commented before on how I’ve noticed the quality of shelter dogs degrading, while the competence of new owners seems to be doing the same.  These anecdotal observations are impossible to quantify, to be sure- but as a behaviorist with over twenty years of experience, I sense them nonetheless.

With regard to the “quality” of dogs available, let me explain.  In the past, shelter dogs who needed training generally were good natured animals with poor obedience, lack of focus, and

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July 23, 2013 by Steve Duno
free dog

One of the biggest mistakes dog people make is to give a new dog too much independence, too soon.  Whether a puppy or adult dog, one of the most important techniques in getting a new pet to fit in nicely is to start with a regimented routine, then gradually, over a period of months, reward him with more and more privilege, and freedom.  A puppy, for instance, has very little understanding of decorum, housetraining, manners, etc.  If left to his own devices, he would surely live his life like

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