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From the cover of "Dog Sense" by John Bradshaw

I just returned from Chicken Camp in Sweden. Bob Bailey‘s admonition to us novice chicken trainers—Remember. You are bigger, you are stronger, you are smarter than the chicken!—is still careening through my cranium. (For those of you who have never heard of Chicken Camp, you might be wondering why anyone would have to be so reminded. For those of you who have heard about, or who have attended, Chicken Camp, well, you know that when you are in the thick of it Bob isn’t stating the obvious.)

Still foggy from jet lag, I was listening to NPR today while fumbling with an unyielding package that contained a book I had ordered. I felt like I was anxiously opening a birthday present because I couldn’t remember what I had bought pre-Chicken Camp. What surprise waited inside?

Finally I liberated the book from its hermetically sealed wrapper when I heard Terry Gross’s mellifluous voice saying, “From WHYY in Philadelphia, this is Fresh Air.” Her guest for today was John Bradshaw, the author of the book I was holding in my hands, Dog Sense: How the new science of dog behavior can make you a better friend to your pet!

You’re right. I should read a book before I talk about it. So I won’t suggest you run out and buy a copy of Dog Sense, although, I might, after I read it.

But, I will tell you that I think Terry’s interview with John is well worth a listen. Right out of the gate he blasts alpha dog-ma, and all that nonsense about how if you allow your dog to step through the door ahead of you you’re opening the door to being your dog’s pawn. John also said to avoid punishment and use positive reinforcement to teach dogs how to behave. He further has a lot to say about the unrealistic expectations with which we burden our dogs today, and how we can help our dogs to adjust better to how we live now.

You probably won’t agree with every point John makes. I didn’t. But, that’s okay. That just makes things interesting. In the big picture he strikes big blow to dumbinance, ah dominance, and other stupid stuff about dogs we hear on TV. Talk about a breath of fresh air!

To listen to Terry’s interview with John go here, then click on “Listen to the Full Show”.

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12 Responses to “From Bird Brains to “Dog Sense”: Terry Gross Interviews John Bradshaw”

  1. barrie says:

    So, what is Shaping behaviors with Sadie like post Chicken Camp? Are you microshaping lip licks and eye blinks??

    • LOL! I jumped from Chicken Camp into KPA. The first assignment for KPA is capturing, not shaping, lip licks, thankfully. We didn’t do all that much shaping at chicken camp. We did some. For example, the chicken learned to peck at a one shape and not to peck at 4 other shapes. Then we used shaping to do a stimulus reversal so that the chicken pecked at one of the other shapes it didn’t peck at before, and refused to peck at the first shape we taught the chicken to peck. I have to say that two weeks of chicken camp was the most intense learning experience I’ve ever had. I think it’s because of the intense focus required ALL the time, and because we used both sides of our brains ALL the time. Despite not training my chickens with as much aplomb as I would have liked, I learned a lot and I’m sure I grew new neural pathways.

      • barrie says:

        Goodness! You are going all out! Ready to put out a shingle for Deb and Sadie’s Dog Training?

        The people I have seen study with the Baileys have totally enviable clicker mechanics and timing!

        • No shingle yet. Our first trainer, Nana, studied with the Bailey’s for hundreds of hours. I know what you mean about “enviable clicker mechanics and timing.” Nana certainly has them. Me? I’m a work-in-progress :-) Sadie? She’s already there.

  2. Kristine says:

    I admit. I had never heard of Chicken Camp. But now that I have I want to know all about it! What a fascinating concept.

  3. Sharon Castellanos says:

    Your blog and content always captures my eye!! Fearful dogs. Chickens. Lip licks. Shaping. How could I not want to know more ? Thank you for making me want to click and read your writing every time Deborah. You are a rare bird..

  4. Edie says:

    I really enjoyed the John Bradshaw interview and thought that he was very diplomatic. I thought Terry Gross was trying to bait him a little, i.e., to make Bradshaw give examples of the type of training he disapproved of, but he didn’t take the bait. I thought that showed great restraint. I’m very eager to read Dog Sense — and, of course, to hear about Chicken Camp!

    • I liked the interview also. I just started the book. I don’t recall what he said in the interview (I should listen again) but in the book he refers to the outdated and flat-out wrong information about dogs that people get from TV shows, but of course, mentions no names. Why would he? Who needs a battalion of lawyers stalking them.

  5. Pup Fan says:

    Very interesting!

  6. Pamela says:

    Finally got the time to listen to the John Bradshaw interview. It was terrific (but I expected no less; I adore Terry Gross and Fresh Air.) Thanks for sending the link.

    Look forward to reading your thoughts on Dog Sense and more about the chicken clicking.

    Was working addressing Honey’s fears of the Doggy Ride bicycle cart this week and thinking how much more I need to learn to be effective at helping her. I know just enough about clicker training to be dangerous. :)

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