Two weeks ago, I posted the first part of this two-part series by guest blogger Lee Charles Kelley, who discovered that the principles of Sigmund Freud were applicable to dog training.  I left you with a cliffhanger about Annie, an obsessive Wheaten terrier.  Here’s the conclusion to the story, and some wisdom that Kelley gleaned over the years since his encounter with Annie.

Five Freudian Principles That Can and Should Be Used in Dog Training

by Lee Charles Kelley

So What Happened to Annie?

In my previous guest post I wrote about how I discovered that Freudian psychology can and should be applied to dog training, a lesson I learned from a Wheaten terrier named Annie who was obsessively licking the doorknob of her owners’ apartment door.

My recommendations to Annie’s owners were that they “re-puppify” her: Take her back to the days before they’d punished her mouthing, and let her do what she’d been longing to do at the time.

“Let her mouth your hands softly in the evenings when she’s in a quiet mood,” I told them. “Just pet her and stroke her head, then gently insert your hand into her mouth and let her nibble your fingers.”

I also suggested they play tug-of-war with her outdoors for at least 20 minutes twice a day, every day.

They thanked me and said they couldn’t possibly do either. Their veterinarian had been anxious to put Annie on Prozac. They followed his advice. She got better for a while but, sadly, the medication stopped working. I lost touch after that.

I wish that I’d had the convictions I have now about Freud’s importance in dog training. But I didn’t. So while I gave Annie’s owners what I felt was sound advice, I lacked the ability to convince them to follow through.

Luckily for the next dog that came along (and the next and the next), what I learned from Annie gave me more confidence in my ability to diagnose and solve behavioral problems using the following five Freudian principles.

Five Key Freudian Principles

1. Impulse Control

It was Freud’s view that the conscious mind, or Ego, had the job of deciding which external or internal stimuli should be acted upon and which shouldn’t. It performed this task by controlling, ignoring, or suppressing impulses from the Id, or unconscious mind.

Blood glucose supplies the brain with most of its energy. Recent studies have shown that when the human mind is engaged in a task involving willpower, delayed gratification or impulse control, blood glucose levels in the part of the brain involved in the “executive function” go down, which seems to prove Freud’s hypothesis from nearly 100 years ago.  Two studies have been done on dogs which suggest that they may also lose some mental energy after doing an impulse-control task.

My observations have led me to believe that in a long-term dog/human dynamic—one where they’re so in-tune with one another that they’ve undergone a kind of Vulcan mind-meld—the human acts as the control mechanism for the dog’s impulses.

2. Sublimating Aggression and Sexuality

Through sublimation, human beings — and perhaps some other social animals — take the emotional energy behind their sexual and aggressive urges and transform it into socially acceptable behaviors. For example, if you take the anger you have toward your boss and invest it in creating new, innovative ways to make your department function better so that you can eventually take over her position, that’s a creative use of aggression!

Interestingly, wolves also sublimate their aggressive urges, primarily the urge to bite, into postures that scientists have called dominant and submissive displays (a lot of teeth-baring and submissive licking). Dogs have not only inherited this ability, they had to expand on it when they first became domesticated. Those who didn’t sublimate their urge to bite probably didn’t live long enough to contribute to the gene pool.

3. Repressed Emotions

As we saw in Annie’s case, nearly all behavioral problems in dogs come from emotions repressed during puppyhood.

When a puppy enters a human household, he’s always being stopped, scolded or pulled away from things that he feels emotionally attracted to. Not only that, but he also has to repress his urge to pee and poop anywhere he wants to anytime he feels like it.

So what happens to that energy when it’s repressed?  It’s bottled up like steam building inside a pressure cooker. As a result of this unpleasant feeling of pressure, the  puppy starts to develop behavioral tics and neuroses, which are generally categorized by the owner as “personality quirks.” In a worst-case scenario, the repressed energy evolves into severe behavioral problems, panic attacks, separation anxiety, intense “shyness” or aggression. But behind all those behaviors is the same general symptom: repressed energy that needs to be released.

4. Projecting Emotions onto Objects of Attraction

Freud called this process cathexis. It can be seen most clearly in how we fall in love. Our need to form a sexual connection with the object of our affections is at times so strong it’s almost as if we’re carrying around this magic cloud of energy, thoughts and emotions about the person we’re attracted to.

When we’re not in the first throes of infatuation, we still need to project some of our energy onto other things. So we invest our time and energy in hobbies, in our jobs, favorite sports teams and the occasional fantasy about someone other than our spouse. Dreams and wishes (the conscious kind, like when we dream of a vacation or buying a new car) are also forms of cathexis.

Dogs and wolves form cathexes as well. Wolves project their emotional energy onto their prey. Seeing a prey animal, particularly when a wolf hasn’t eaten in a while, stimulates strong feeling of attraction toward it. In like manner, dogs project their energy onto squirrels, their owners, their doggie pals, cyclists, skateboarders and their toys.

5. The Constant Search for Pleasure

Why do humans and dogs project our energies onto objects of attraction? Because it feels good. Why does it feel good? Because when emotional energy builds up to a certain level, it creates feelings of pressure. Projecting some of that energy onto objects of attraction releases some of the pressure, creating a pleasurable feeling of relief.

This is probably the most important Freudian principle because it’s not only the underlying process behind the other four, but behind the concept of positive reinforcement as well. In fact, positive reinforcement is a clinical outgrowth of Freud’s Pleasure Principle, the idea that all behavior is driven by the desire to seek out and repeat pleasurable experiences and to avoid painful ones. The primary difference, though, is that Freud defined pleasure as the sudden release of unresolved emotions.

It works like this: a stimulus – such as a feeling of hunger (internal) or the sight of a squirrel (external) – creates an uncomfortable feeling of physiological pressure in a dog’s body. Nature has designed animals to feel this pressure so that we’ll act, so we’ll do something. A dog’s behavior is almost always an attempt to get rid of that feeling. If he finds a way to get rid of it, he experiences a pleasurable release. This explains why giving a dog what should be a pleasurable experience – say eating a liver treat – doesn’t always reinforce a behavior, but giving him a way to release his pent up emotions does.

Case Study: Tippy, Who Was Biting His Owner’s Arms

A few weeks after I met Annie I was called in to see Tippy, a black-Lab mix named for the white tip on the end of his tail. Recently adopted, he’d developed a bad habit of biting his owner—a wife and mother of two—on the arm when she took him for walks. The owner knew it was mainly exuberance—there was never any blood, just a lot of bruising—but she wanted my help in getting him to stop.

As I sat in the family’s kitchen, discussing things, Tippy kept pacing, lying down for a few seconds, pacing again, and occasionally coming over to hump my leg. Each time he did, I kept answering his owners’ questions, and followed a behavioral science protocol: I ignored Tippy’s behavior, waited for him to stop, then praised him softly.

After more than twenty minutes of this pattern, I finally realized that simply ignoring the behavior wasn’t working, and probably wasn’t going to. Then I remembered Freud, and what I’d told Annie’s owners to do to help solve her obsessive licking. So the next time Tippy came over to hump my leg, I scratched his neck with one hand, and put two or three fingers of my other hand into his mouth, encouraging him to use them as a pacifier.*

He complied happily for about 30 seconds, softly mouthing my hand, with a blissful look on his face. Then he went back over to his spot in the corner, lay down and put his chin on the floor, completely relaxed for the first time that evening.

His  owners didn’t quite know what to make of this. When I recommended that they do the same thing with him every evening, they were hesitant.

“Are you going to pay for my wife’s doctor bills?” the husband asked.

“I don’t think you have to worry. Look at him now!”

Tippy was sound asleep.

I convinced them to follow my advice (which included playing fetch and tug-of-war outdoors, and letting him play with other dogs during off-leash hours in Central Park). Tippy’s behavioral problems didn’t disappear overnight of course. But with the idea firmly in mind of giving him a pleasurable outlet for his oral urges, one that didn’t involve bruising his owner’s arms, Tippy’s owners were able to bring him back to normal fairly quickly (see “Human Fingers as Puppy Pacifiers”).

Q & A

Why was Tippy humping my leg? What was reinforcing his behavior? Why didn’t ignoring him work? And how come letting him nibble on my fingers did?

The way I see it, Tippy felt a social attraction to me—as dogs do to any potential “pack mate.”  By entering his “den,” I aroused strong emotions in him that created feelings of pressure that he could feel in his body. He projected those emotions onto me (he formed a cathexis), but because of repressed emotions (probably caused by being punished for mouthing, chewing and nipping during his oral development phase), his desire to connect to me wasn’t given a satisfying outlet. As a result, it took the form of a displaced sexual behavior (the pressure he felt in his teeth and jaws was literally pushed down toward his hips). But humping me didn’t fully relieve the emotional pressure he felt.

The reason he kept repeating the behavior wasn’t because I was reinforcing it (I wasn’t), nor was it because the behavior was reinforcing itself (well, it was, sort of). The reason he kept doing it was that it felt good, but not quite good enough to get rid of all of the internal pressure he was feeling (this is also why Annie kept licking the doorknob).

Meanwhile, mouthing my hand for 30 seconds did relieve his feelings of pressure because, underneath it all, he didn’t want to hump me, he wanted to connect to me through his teeth, the same way he wanted to connect to his owner by biting her on the arm while they were out walking together. Allowing him to mouth my hand helped begin to re-puppify Tippy, the way I believe it could have helped Annie.

* I was enormously lucky that Tippy didn’t bite down as hard on my fingers as he’d been biting his owner’s arms. At the time I hadn’t yet clarified in my mind the difference between a dog who needs re-puppification and one that needs re-domestication. The first can usually be helped along the way, fairly safely, using the “fingers-as-pacifiers” ritual (among other things). With the second type you can’t re-puppify the dog until you re-domesticate him first. And that takes a tremendous amount of time and patience. I was lucky to be able to sense that Tippy was in the first, not the second category, or I wouldn’t have been able to type this blog post today!

So if you want to let a dog use your fingers as a pacifier, be very, very careful!

Bio: Lee Charles Kelley is a dog trainer and best-selling mystery novelist. He lives and works in New York City, and is the only dog trainer to write for  For more, see

42 thoughts on “Five Freudian Principles That Can and Should Be Used in Dog Training”

  1. When we first found Buster, I noticed that he’d nibble on me gently when he was anxious. Putting his harness on to go for a car ride was a big trigger – the only way he could control his excitement was to nibble me. My initial reactions was “We can’t allow this 70-pound German Shepherd puppy to put his teeth on us,” but it didn’t take long for me to begin to understand that he had no intention of hurting me and was using this behavior to calm himself. Great article – this kind of thinking could help many dogs!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Amy. And good for you that you were able to trust your instincts — and Buster’s!

  2. I’m not sure what to make of this, Edie. I gotta think about it. But… hesitations aside, Sadie does mouth Ira’s fingers when they greet. She is crazy in love with Ira. He’s the only with whom she does this behavior. He LOVES it. So does she.

    1. I’m hoping it’ll generate some conversation/comments from trainers; these ideas definitely aren’t conventional and — in fairness — I cut some of the rationale for these theories because I didn’t want the piece to be too technical.

      1. While the “re-puppification” process is beneficial — particularly this idea of using one’s fingers as transitional objects — for me the main take-away from looking at dogs training a Freudian lens is the idea that animals are driven to engage in a relentless search for pleasure. And the idea that pleasure is most often experienced as the sudden release of pent-up emotions, or of actual physiological feelings of tension and physical pressure in the body.

        This is why positive reinforcements don’t always work in the real world. One example is the idea of giving an aggressive dog an alternative behavior of hand-targeting, or doing the “watch-me” game to replace the barking and lunging when what’s really needed (in my opinion) is giving the dog a safe alternative outlet for his aggressive feelings. If the alternate behavior, or even the alternative outlet for the dog’s feelings, don’t provide the dog a pleasurable release commensurate with the internal pressure he’s experiencing, he’ll continue to gravitate to behaviors that do.

        Another way to look at the equation is this: What is actually reinforcing the lunging and barking? I think it’s the feeling of releasing feelings of pent-up aggression that weren’t being given a proper outlet otherwise.

        Now in some cases (maybe many cases) the dog’s aggression is anxiety-based, and having something else to focus on in that moment of stress (caused by seeing another dog coming toward him) reduces the dog’s feelings of anxiety. But I still think that the most direct route to changing a dog’s behavior is to change his underlying emotional state, not the external, outward expression of those emotions.

        When you change a dog’s emotional state, you automatically change his behavior.


  3. This is such a fascinating topic! I am going to forward it to my trainer to see what she thinks. My dog never had any obsessive behaviours such as mouthing or licking but she was quite destructive in the first year, no matter how much exercise she received. I wonder if something like this could have contributed.

    1. The problem with physical exercise is it only works if it gets down to the core emotional issues that the dog is holding on to (usually the repressed and/or sublimated urge to bite). And it only works if it provides a safe and satisfying release for those repressed urges.

      For me is based on the fact that when wolves hunt they’re generally only successful 1 out of 13 times. If you can imagine how much energy it would take to track, chase and wear down a large prey animal a single time (and fail), then multiply that by 12, and you can maybe see that the wolf always has to keep a certain amount of energy in reserve; energy that is only totally released when the gets a chance to go in for the kill and rip the hide off its prey.

      This is probably why your dog was destructive despite the amount of physical exercise she got. She never got all that destructiveness out in safe, satisfying way.


  4. This post is absolutely riveting. So much to consider in light of my new rescue dog’s behavior. Here’s a question for Lee Charles Kelley as well as for you, Edie:

    Fergus was abandoned on the mean streets of Oxnard, perhaps after having been encouraged to be aggressive, and then having bitten the wrong person or dog. When we take walks, he barks, lunges and attempts to nip at or bite any dog we encounter. My trainer has posited that I need to show him that I will protect him, that it’s no longer his job to fend off all who approach. When I spot a dog in the distance, I have been taught to sit on the ground, put Fergus in a down stay, and sooth him, while using my body to block his view of the approaching dog (i.e., rotating around Fergus as the dog comes parallel, then passes). At the same time, I tell the approaching dog’s walker the situation and ask the two of them to stay out of our “zone of comfort”. The latter is useless: people just don’t comprehend, generally, or have their own opinions as to the behavior of my dog, my worth as a human, etc. But what do you think of the basic theory and technique suggested by my trainer? I use it with variable success.

    1. The mean streets of Oxnard, indeed. I will turn this over to Lee and hope that he comes up with some good alternatives to the embarrassment of your having to sit in the middle of the street protecting your dog! (You never admitted this to me over the phone, knowing, I suspect, that it would be more ammunition for me to use against your trainer…)

      1. Hi Clare,

        First of all I don’t think there’s anything wrong with your trainer’s idea of communicating to your dog that you’ll protect him. That’s a good thing, and I commend your trainer for thinking along those lines. But I’m not sure that the method he’s given you actually accomplishes that goal.

        If I were you, I’d communicate feelings of you-as-protector to Fergus on a regular basis, but I would do it far away from other dogs and any other triggers. When you deliberately put Fergus in a situation he can’t handle emotionally, he may feel that you’re protecting him, he may not. If he’s going into sensory overload he may actually feel like you’re part of that experience, if not actually causing it, which in a way you are.

        In my opinion the very first thing one should do with a dog like Fergus (and all rescue dogs, for that matter), is to make the dog feel safe. In my mind, what you’ve been told to do is sort of like putting the dog into a caldron and expecting him not to feel hot. There’s only so much of, “Don’t worry, I’ll keep you cool,” that he can accept when he feels like he’s on fire.

        Just so you know, I don’t have as much information about you and your dog as your trainer does. But what I would do with a dog like this is keep him away from triggers until he’s more emotionally balanced. And I’d work on giving him emotional balance by a) hand feeding him all his meals, in a quiet spot outdoors, using The Pushing Exercise. I would also work on freeing him up emotionally by getting him to Play Tug-of-War with me outdoors.

        Again, these are my thoughts, based on limited information. So take them for what they’re worth. Apparently Edie has something against your trainer. I don’t per se. I think that a dog who’s easily thrown off-balance emotionally needs to be given at least a few tools from an emotional-balance toolkit before he being put into positions that lie outside his current level of emotional stability. That’s all.

        If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.


        1. I defer in this case. However, there are other things that I’ve found problematic — including the training without Clare present at times. And I do draw the line at public embarrassment. Or I should say avoidable public embarrassment. I often experience it, just not on purpose.

          1. I wouldn’t know anything about what the trainer does when Clare isn’t around. But another thought occurred to me after I posted my last comment.

            My feeling is that what a dog like Fergus needs is an alternative, yet pleasurable outlet for his pent-up emotions. He needs a way to release those feelings without doing harm to himself or others. But by putting him in a position where he has to sit still while other dogs are nearby, and where Clare has been given the task to comfort him physically, in my view that puts a lid on Fergus’ energy and prevents him from achieving the pleasurable release he needs and is seeking through his aggressive outbursts.

            Now it may be that this trainer is able to facilitate some sort of release for dogs like Fergus, without putting a lid on their emotional energy. If that’s the case, more power to him. I personally don’t know how to do that, nor do I think it’s possible (but I could be wrong).


          2. Just to clarify. I didn’t mean to suggest the trainer was doing anything weird when Clare wasn’t around. I just meant that I think training should be done when the owner is present — so she can be trained too.

            Have we both lost you by now, Clare? 😉

          3. When I’m working with a dog personally I don’t always tell or show the owner everything I’m doing. It’s not that I’m hiding anything from them, it’s just that there are too many nuances that the owner may not have the time to understand or digest.

            So I only give them a precis of my process.


  5. Thankfully, I’ve been reading more and more about bite inhibition and how important it is for puppies to learn it in a safe and nurturing environment. I currently have an adoptable 12 week old Beagle puppy. She is whip smart (practically house trained; sits and observes) and uses the other dogs as foils for play. Some are willing to play; others make her submit and go away. I don’t intervene unless a dog (usually her favorite foil) starts crying; this dog is not good at communicating “stop” to puppy so I push pup away. I’m also trying to get her to play tug with me as an alternative to her using the other dogs.

    This entire article set is incredible; reinforces the “lizard” brains we all have and helps me think through first “why” and then “how to…” to benefit dog and myself. I’ve watched SAR people use toys as rewards more than food; after reading, it makes more sense to me – more release for the dog!

  6. If Mr. Kelly has a day to counsel me on Delilah…..he can e-mail me. 🙂 J/K (sort of)

    Having gotten Delilah later in her life, I have no knowledge of her puppy experience. I suspect she was abandoned and needed to find food on her own, hence her obsession with food and her pushiness (and boldness) with everything.

    She does have a tendency take your whole hand when you are giving her a treat, she definitely does not have a ‘soft’ mouth. I wonder if allowing her to suckle my fingers would help with that.

    My bigger issues are getting her to respond to me when we are walking and ensuring she will come back to me if she is off-leash. I wonder what Mr. Kelly’s thoughts are on this topic?

    Great post, I never really thought of applying human psychology to my dog but I do see how it could be beneficial.

    1. Hi Jodi,

      First, I think a bit of clarification is in order. Sigmund Freud got himself in a lot of hot water when he first proposed his ideas of psychology because a huge part of his work operated on the proposition that on a certain level there’s very little difference between human and animal behavior. So while the more rarefied aspects of Freudian theory don’t apply to dogs, some of the basics that I’ve outlined do.

      Secondly, it’s not a good idea, generally-speaking, to give out training advice in a comments section of someone else’s blog. (!)

      That said, please feel free to email me for information on how to help Delilah.


        1. You didn’t offend anyone, Jodi — please don’t think that. Lee was just saying that it was tough to evaluate your case without knowing all the circumstances. It was a tongue-in-cheek response too, given the lengthy discussion of my friend Clare’s case that both he and I were engaging in yesterday.

          No apology needed, honest.

  7. This is a great post. I’m a big fan of the Freudian principle and try to follow some of his rules. I like this post very much and will try and follow each of them properly.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful post.


  8. Many dog trainer tip is to “just ignore the bad behavior”. Yet we all know that sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. I like that Freud’s principles can explain why that is. Your story of Tippy was an excellent example of that. I would like to give this approach a try with our barking Hovawarts (they are natural barkers). Do you have any idea what I could offer them instead of barking that would release their energy? They bark for alarming, protection of the family.

    1. Just as a general rule, the urge to bite is what lies behind most barking behaviors in most dogs, particularly an “alarm” bark. So if you satisfy the dog’s urge to bite, by giving him or her a toy, you should eventually be able to get the barking to stop.

      With persistent barkers, particularly those who seem to be bred for it, it’ll be more difficult.

      Do your dogs like to play tug-of-war? Dogs who love tug are easier to redirect into a toy.


      1. They love to play tug-of-war. Thanks for all of this and the additional link, I will give it a try. Looking forward to see how they will react, exciting!

  9. Sorry, Lee and Edie, for failing to respond earlier…fell off the planet for a couple of days by falling off a structure and hurting myself (a familiar story to Edie, who has witnessed my klutzy prowess). I’m grateful for the insights. I should have clarified that the first thing the trainer did was tell me to keep Fergus away from emotional triggers. I had made the grave error of taking him to a dog park for about three weeks thinking, “Dogs need to run freeeee,” not realizing that I was putting him in emotionally threatening situations. Now that I look far and wide for spaces to take him, we run into dogs only occasionally, but I practice the trainer’s protective instructions at those times. This is a dog town, and it is virtually impossible to find a completely safe environment that also has public access.

    Meanwhile, after two months of intensive training (some hours are spent training me), the trainer is incrementally introducing Fergus to dogs he has trained and dog-sits regularly, in a safe environment (large, fenced back yards primarily); he learns how to interact with each dog, both by instruction from the trainer and by emulation of, and correction by, the dog.

    I’ve practiced your hand feeding suggestion, and I think it’s helping. Tug-of-war became disastrous after two days of two 20-minute outdoor sessions per day: Fergus became more wound up and aggressive. Oh well, each dog is a different being, and without having met him (and sometimes even with having met him) it would be difficult to evaluate the finer points of his behavior.

    It is so kind of you to have given repeated consideration to my question, and I’m eager to read more of your theories and work.

    1. And here I thought we had driven you crazy — and off the site — with our discussion of Fergus in absentia.

      So sorry to hear about your fall! Hope you’re recovering. I’ll phone soon for details.

    2. Hi Clare,

      When you played tug with Fergus, did you follow the “instruction manual?” Meaning, did you always let him and praise him for winning? Did you quit before he got tired or bored with the game? Did you mix it up with a little fetch? Did you do it before or after you started doing the pushing exercise?

      If you did it before you started pushing with Fergus, give that a few weeks to work its magic, try to get to the point where he’s pushing into you with all his might, and then try playing tug with him again.


  10. Your Freud and Fido series is a winner Edie, paws up! Therapists/Behaviorists that could work through our neuroses and our pet’s neuroses at the same time; I’d sign up for that. Mimzy and I could share the couch and Harmony could have the large fluffy dog bed at our side.

    1. Hey, thanks for coming by Cynthia! I love the term “Freud and Fido”; if Lee doesn’t steal it, I will. I also love your idea of interspecies group therapy; I’d sign on for that too.

      1. “Freud and Fido” is all yours, I put dibs on it for you. Come to think of it, what are dibs?

  11. My dog, who I named Hachiko loves to bark at family members and cats but not to strangers. I thought it means she hates us and she finds more affection in other people’s company that I am looking for ways to reverse this mentality. Would it still be possible even if she’s already four years old and been on a leash for long? I’m afraid she hates us although she is tame once in a while.

    Looking forward to our advice. Thanks!

    1. Hi Justin,

      It’s hard to say what’s going on with Hachiko. I usually do a full case history before offering any thoughts on a dog’s behavior.

      As a general rule, I recommend that owners hand feed their dogs all their meals outdoors using what’s called “The Pushing Exercise.” (Featured in the Nov, 2011 issue of DogFancy.)

      Here’s a link:

      Here are some case histories showing a wide range of behavioral problems that it can have a positive effect on.

      Please feel free to contact me via email if you want more info.



  12. Lee, I missed the connection between the pushing and the tug of war. Will start over. Thanks.


  13. Another thought-provoking post. Although I was sorry to read there was no happy ending for Annie.

    When we worked with Honey on bite inhibition, we yelped if it was too hard, allowed her to play with our fingers some, and always gave her an acceptable toy to chew on. I don’t know if we followed all the textbook ideals but she has an amazing ability to sense a person’s hand in her mouth even in the excitement of play. My husband continues to play mouthy/hand games with her safely.

    As she grew up, I stopped using toys so much as a release but I’ve begun doing it again. I’m adding more tug to our play time (it’s usually my husband’s game with her) and keeping a ball for fetch nearby whenever we’re doing training.

    I think the very best +R trainers are not limiting their methods to food rewards and are suggesting the kind of tension release Mr. Kelley is even if they don’t use the same terminology.

    But some of Mr. Kelley’s phrasing about creating an emotionally balanced dog is similar to language used by Cesar Millan. Defining terms could lead to Dog War III.

    1. It sounds like you both did a great job — for whatever theoretical reasons — working with Honey on bite inhibition.

      I — and perhaps Lee — expected more arguments, um, discussion, on training theory. But of course with less regular dog blogging, especially on this type of topic, came less regular engagement with the professional trainers who used to visit in the past. One of the tradeoffs with trying to work on another project. Sigh.

      1. I had no expectations going in. Once Deborah posted her reply I did expect a response to my comments and clarifications, but what are you gonna do?

        Oh, this reminds me, I don’t like to use the term “bite inhibition” because that’s not what I would recommend for puppies. I recommend teaching a puppy the difference between soft mouthing and hard biting. Bite inhibition implies that you don’t allow the puppy to use her teeth at all. In fact, if you work too much on bite inhibition you also inhibit the dog from playing fetch and tug, and to me those games are the best therapy for troubled doggies, much better than Prozac.

        Anyway, that’s how I see it,


        PS: I’ve been very critical of Cesar Millan at my blog.

  14. Squid almost didn’t make it to the dog adoption option at the Humane Society of Washington County (HSWC), Maryland. Whole Dog Journal readers who have been with us for a year or more already know part of his story: the eight-week-old Jack Russell Terrier mix was surrendered to our full-service shelter by his owners because they “didn’t have time for him.” What that really meant was that the small white-and-tan pup was a heckuva handful: they couldn’t deal with his incredibly high energy level, fierce puppy play-biting, low tolerance for frustration, lack of impulse control, resource guarding, and sudden, intense aggression when restrained. He easily failed his canine behavior assessment. It’s a good thing he was impossibly cute! We started by identifying all Squid’s inappropriate behaviors and creating a modification plan for each. Some of the pieces overlapped, so it wasn’t quite as daunting as it might appear – but it was still plenty to work on!

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