365: Say Cheese!

Today has been family portrait day. We shot some photos on our Enchanted Rock trip last Friday but decided that we needed some additional shots for our new press kit…so out came the tripod and…

[[ This is a summary only. Click the title for the full post, photos, videos, giveaways, and more! ]]


Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged | Leave a comment

ABCs Part 3: What Do You Want?

Question_markIn part one of this series I explained a formula for solving behavior problems.

Antecedent -> Behavior -> Consequence

In part two I demonstrated how being aware of what immediately precedes a behavior can give you a way to control when it occurs and can define a path to solving the problem.

Now it is time to look at the B in ABC. The behavior. The behavior is what the dog does. Pretty simple in terms of definition.

In most cases identifying the behavior isn’t complicated. The hard part is stopping it. If you let it.

Once you identify the behavior ask yourself one simple question.

What do you want?

This is not, as it may look at first blush, a twist on Norman Vincent Peale. Or even a sly reference to Babylon 5. (See below.) It’s actually the first step in trying to use a very common idiom in Applied Behavior Analysis called Differential Reinforcement.

Unlike a lot of behavioral science jargon, what differential reinforcement means is embedded in the jargon itself: reinforcing a different behavior.

So what we’re going to do is change the formula:

Antecedent -> Behavior -> Consequence


Antecedent -> Desired Behavior -> Consequence

On the surface this looks like a pretty simple question. Figuring out what you want instead should be pretty easy, right? But this question gets its own blog post for reason. Figuring out an alternative behavior requires a completely different mindset. Instead of focusing on what you don’t want you must now focus on what you want instead.

So let’s take a look at the example I have been using in most of these blog posts

Antecedent: Someone enters home through front door.
Behavior: Dogs jumps up on person.
Consequence: Dog receives attention.

What do you want instead? Would you like the dog to sit? Would you like the dog to run to another room? Would you like a dog to run to a bed? Or maybe into a crate? The best solution would depend on you, your dog, and your home.

All of these solutions would be considered DRI. Differential reinforcement of an incompatible behavior. Your dog cannot jump on somebody while sitting or after moving away from the door. For many behavior problems DRI is a very effective solution, since many obedience behaviors that already have a strong history of reinforcement happen to be incompatible with annoying behaviors.

DRI is the tip of the differential reinforcement iceberg, so to speak. There are several types of differential reinforcement and I am sure I will cover them in future posts.

I am not finished with the ABCs or with DRI. Next post I will spend more time on how to effectively implement the alternative behavior and then how to keep it strong.

Here is your Babylon 5 reference. I am sure you were looking forward to it.

ABCs Part 3: What Do You Want? is a post from: Dog Spelled Forward

Dog Spelled Forward Website and Blog

Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Speed on the Beach

This little Jack Russell pup was having the best time flying around Larvotto Beach in Monaco a couple of days ago.


Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What is the best place to apply topical medications?

Question by Tim43: What is the best place to apply topical medications?
I need to apply topical magnesium and other medications/supplements since they give me a stomach ache when taken orally. So, what is the best place to apply them for maximum absorption – stomach, shoulders, arms, other?

Please let me know. Thanks.
Note – It’s not for the skin.

Best answer:

Answer by Kenneth
Well I’m pretty sure topical is supposed to be for skin. so you need to apply it to the skin in the area you need.

Add your own answer in the comments!

Posted in Pet Care Media | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Thanks to the #SuperDogSunday Cheer Team!

As I type this, another great Super Dog Sunday™ is drawing to a close. The photos are in the judges’ hands, over $ 1500 in prizes are waiting to go to their new homes, and, most of all, a new…

[[ This is a summary only. Click the title for the full post, photos, videos, giveaways, and more! ]]


Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment


After running away during a family trip, a very determined little cat recently traveled nearly 200 miles home to her ecstatic family.

Holly, a four-year-old Tortie, was on vacation in Daytona Beach, Fla. with her family, Bonnie and Jacob Richter, when she slipped out the door of the Richters’ R.V.

The Richters were desperate. They searched the area for days, contacting local shelters, rescues and animal control, posting flyers and worried sick about their little cat. Finally, they had to return home to West Palm Beach, Fla. without her.

Click here to read the complete story.


Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment


We like to share this letter we received from Cindy of TX who has several rescue senior cats:

Hello Halo,

I have to tell you THANK YOU. My “old man” cat Shady, who is 17 years old, has had problems with many, many different foods. I have wanted to transition him off of the dry food he eats because I know it isn’t the greatest.

We have tried so many brands from inexpensive and low quality to very expensive, natural holistic foods. Within minutes, he is vomiting. With Shady’s history and fragile state, I had given up ever trying to find anything else that would work.

About six months ago, we bought Halo to try for our two other senior cats to try. Well, Shady is fast and before we could pick it up he had eaten a little bit. We waited for the awful gagging sound… 5 minutes… 10 minutes… nothing!!

So, we tried again later that evening – he was able to keep it down. Over the next month, we tried almost every flavor of Halo and Shady has been able to digest it just fine. He is a little more smelly – LOL, but I am elated that we are able to provide him with a higher quality food and increase his water intake! I am so thankful that we have finally found a food that he can not only keep down but he LOVES as well.

A grateful feline pet parent,

Thank you Cindy for sharing your story with us and we are happy that all of your senior cats are doing so well.


Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Arthur Needs Space

Arthur’s chances at dating an old high school classmate are jeopardized by The Tick; Captain Liberty struggles to stop some nude photographs of her from being published. Watch hundreds of free full-length streaming movies and TV shows on crackle.com TAGS The Tick Ben Edlund Patrick Warburton Arthur Larry Charles Nestor Carbonell Batmanuel Liz Vassey Captain Liberty supervillain super villian superhero hero

Music video by The Hives performing Tick Tick Boom. (C) 2007 No Fun AB Under exclusive license to Universal Music Operations / Polydor Ltd.
Video Rating: 4 / 5

Posted in Pet Care Media | Tagged , , | 50 Comments

He’s so Alpha!

datalore108-300x229In Star Trek: The Next Generation popular character Data, an ostensibly emotionless automaton, had an "evil twin" named Lore. While Data was (again, ostensibly) logical and methodical, Lore was jealous, emotional, and self-serving.

I always found the selection of Lore’s name rather clever — especially for The Next Generation — a show that spent a lot of time dancing on the edge of greatness without ever managing to really fall in. (Many of the novels are better.) The difference between the brothers is very much like the difference between data and lore in real life.

data: a body of facts; information

lore: the body of knowledge, especially of a traditional, anecdotal, or popular nature, on a particular subject: the lore of herbs.

Data is raw knowledge. Lore gives us some color and context but may not always be entirely factual.

The field of dog training is, of course, full of both. Data is, as far as we know, the things that are provably true. (Because of the nature of science data can change or be completely disproven, but for the most part when we refer to data we refer to the current state of our knowledge as we know it.) Meanwhile lore is what we refer to as “common sense” or “common knowledge”. It may be true and it may not.

Lore can be useful, because it can give facts context. But unfortunately a lot of dog training lore is not true. For example let’s examine the colloquial definition of "alpha."

“Alpha” is often used to describe a dog that displays aggressive or "pushy" behaviors. The dog that steals toys from others. The dog that guards toys, food, or furniture. The dog that puts on an aggressive display when encountering other dogs. And so forth.

This seems like a good place to dig up an actual definition for the term alpha. Right off the bat, the definition in Wikipedia is already tagged for not having enough citations. A Google search for “define alpha male” yields hits for obviously unscientific Yahoo answers and an article in askmen.com about dating.

So part of me wants to stop right here and simply assert that the term has too broad a definition to be useful at all — it’s all lore and no data. The list of behaviors attributed to so-called alpha dogs is best addressed with the ABCs anyway.

But there is a scientific definition for “alpha”. The term wasn’t created in pop culture, just diluted and overloaded. Let’s use the definition at free dictionary.com, which is very close to the definition used in most of the scientific literature (and easier to link to than papers that requires money to buy.)

alpha: being the highest ranked or most dominant individual of one’s sex. Used of social animals (sic): the alpha female of the wolf pack.

(In order to completely understand that definition, we need a definition for dominance: "priority access to desired resources." Start here with a recent blog post by Marc Bekoff for more on dominance.)

This very concise definition for "alpha" establishes a couple of important concepts. Alpha is a position in a relationship. Alpha is a position relative to other members of the same sex in a group.

The proper definition of "alpha" has nothing to do with personality traits. You’re either the alpha in a group or you’re not. You might not be the alpha and want to be, and this might make you display aggressive or pushy behaviors, but if you think about it that’s the opposite of alpha!

When I hear someone describing a dog as alpha here’s what I expect to really see (in no particular order):

  • A dog with very poor impulse control and/or excess energy.
  • A dog in the throes of adolescence (often the same as the previous.)
  • A dog that is prone to resource guarding.
  • A dog that is fearful or at least ambivalent around other dogs.

In other words, a dog that resembles most of the dogs I see for training. Nothing special. Just a dog and a human that need helps.

Are you enjoying my posts? Hating them? Leave a comment below. And while you’re at it, why not sign up for my newsletter using the form on the right? You’ll get weekly updates from this blog right away and some extra special content I am cooking up for the Spring!

He’s so Alpha! is a post from: Dog Spelled Forward

Dog Spelled Forward Website and Blog

Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Feeding Pets a Variety of Food Ingredients Help Them Stay Healthy

In Dog Dish Diet, I help pet owners understand that it is the allergens, carbohydrates, and the nature of dry food and especially treats that causes dry itchy skin, infected ears, obesity, urinary problems, and even seizures. Changing to hypoallergenic food (salmon/potato, rabbit/potato, chicken rice) and stopping treats and chews loaded with wheat gluten may really help some dogs. Adding eggs, sardines, raw meat, meaty bones, olive, and canola oils to a commercial diet may really increase the quality of proteins and healthy oils. These changes may be enough to help cure some ear, skin, and bowel problems. Feeding a moister hypoallergenic food with more oils (canned food, home cooked, and raw food) may help pets with more severe issues and urinary problems. I think that the better ingredients in raw and home cooked food may be best for organ health and preventing chronic medical problems and cancer.Instead of biscuits, feed turkey or chicken hotdogs, carrots, sardines, boiled eggs, or pieces of meat as “treats”.

Try a better commercial food, add some healthy food, feed some raw meat, or home cook a bit. Mixing hypoallergenic healthier commercial food with better proteins and oils will definitely prevent some medical issues. Raw food, home cooked, and canned  food are better choices for others. I think that home cooked and/or raw food are the best choices.

I have been receiving more and more letters like this.

Hi Dr. Greg.

I have switched over my dogs cooking for several years now and she is very healthy. People are surprised she is already 8 yrs old. My recipe is also using a crock pot and very similar to yours. Adding veggies, meats, gizzards, etc and sometimes oats and quinoa.

I have had numerous people in my apartment complex asking me to make it and have gladly given me money. I have researched the AAFCO guidelines which is a requirement for selling dog food. Crude protein content -a minimum of 12 percent, Crude fat content -a minimum of 5 percent, Crude fiber content -a maximum of 5 percent, Moisture content -a maximum of 65 percent. The food I make has enough protein and fat content to reach the minimums. The problem is the moisture content can not exceed 65 percent and fiber content cannot exceed maximum 5 percent. This is difficult considering how moist the food I make is and also has a lot of fiber content from the oats. Does that mean that I need to make it more “dry”, does it mean that I need to remove the “oats”?
It has been a frustrating road because I know that the meals that I make for my neighbors and my dogs are very healthy and much more nutritious than the kibbles and wet food that AAFCO considers complete and nutritious!
Anyway sorry for the long comment here but I was curious if you looked into this since you have a cookbook for dogs! Thanks again and I love your dogs so much! Take care!


My Reply:

Great job in cooking for your dogs! NRC and AAFCO guidelines are based on keeping animals from getting sick from deficiencies and help commercial companies sell food. If we consider what their ancestors ate, then carbohydrates may actually not be needed at all. Protein, fat, and moisture would be the diet! An all meat diet would contain much more protein and fat and a bit less moisture. Dogs are carnivores with an omnivore slant to help in times that prey are scarce.

I personally think that they can stay perfectly happy and healthy in a wide range of moisture, protein, and fat percentages above the minimum.Nutritionists argue about the right mix of ingredients in human nutrition and the NRC and AAFCO are certainly not the last word on animal nutrition. Commercial foods following their guidelines have created diets that cause allergies, seizures, bladder stones, urinary crystals, bowel problems, obesity, and diabetes in pets(30% of pets may have medical problems related to diet!) . Genetics and inbreeding share some of the blame.

My mixtures mirror prey, just as yours do. I use more eggs and sardines these days and feed raw meat several times weekly. I use veggies, even though some authors promote only raw food and think that dogs do not digest the complex carbohydrates in veggies well. I think veggies provide important nutrients like antioxidants and vitamins that may not be present in the processed, high grain, animal feed. (chicken,turkey,cow,pig,and sheep). If you vary meat and veggie ingredients and use 50%-80% meat and organs in the mix, your pets will be healthy!

I’ve seen quite a few urinary problems this winter!

Urinary crystals and stones are a common problem. They are found in dogs and cats that are peeing small amounts more often and straining to do so. Some dry commercial diets in some breeds can lead to urinary problems. Dogs and cats prone to urinary issues should be fed a moister, lower carbohydrate diet. In fact that same diet is healthier for all pets!

Dr. Greg’s Dog Dish Diet

Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment