When You Know Better

Recently, I read a “Behavior Modification Plan” from a few years ago. This “plan” was devised for a long-time shelter resident as a way to “correct/improve” a particular dog’s kennel exit/entry behavior. Sorry for all the quotation marks, but I simply cannot use these terms in this way without using air quotes as a bit of irony.

This “plan” was not about behavior modification- it was about behavior suppression. Through the use of shake cans, […]

Open Mind, Empty Kennels

Yesterday, the shelter where I work hosted an event we called “Empty the Shelter”. It was similar the an event called “Clear the Shelters”, in which shelters throughout the country held large adoption events where animals were adopted out for low or no cost. This idea has grown in popularity over the past few years, and has had more than it’s share of critics. Until yesterday, I was one of them.

Throughout the day, I […]

More Than Fancy Words

As a dog trainer, I put a lot of effort into reframing key principles of animal learning for clients, avoiding the use of technical jargon.  They’re looking for help with their dogs, not a lecture on applied behavior analysis or Pavlovian conditioning.  Some are naturally curious, self-selecting to further learning; but most are happy to have concerns resolved without the heavy science discussion.  I respect that their time is finite, so I need to […]

People Are Not a Side Effect.

As a follow-up to my “People Do Not Suck” post, I offer this- a reminder that people- you know, humans…maybe the guy you let into traffic, or who smiled at you as you both got in line at the same time….are NOT a side effect to rescue. Or training. My life intersects with both, so those are my points of reference, and though I hear and see negative comments related to both (much more often than […]

People Do Not Suck.


I work in an animal shelter. An open access animal shelter. I see a lot of stuff. Lots of stuff I’d rather not see and even more stuff that makes me proud of where I work, the people I work with, the volunteers who show up daily, and the work we do. I love my job.

I refuse to think people suck. Not because I live in some la-la fantasy world, but because it doesn’t […]

By |February 28th, 2016|Education, Featured|4 Comments|