Posts tagged behaviour.


Your choice affects your dog’s choice — a lesson I’m reminded of everyday. (Image credit goes to Lili Chin.)

Way back this winter, when Chalo started having growly reactions toward other dogs, I made the mistake of correcting him for it. Traditional wisdom and all the training books I’d read as a kid in the ’90s told me firm discipline was necessary, so I spoke sternly and used physical corrections with a choke collar. Surprise: in just 48 hours, it became so much worse. A little growliness turned into full-on explosions of snarling and lunging and raised hackles and high emotions. The changes were happening so quickly it frightened me. This was not a dog I recognized. So I backtracked, devoured every bit of reactivity literature I could find on the internet, and soon wondered if, in Chalo’s mind, the situation looked very different. To him, it seemed to be, “Every time we see a dog, my person gets worried and bad things happen. She becomes a person I do not recognize. I need to growl more to make that dog go away, and to keep bad things from happening.” My whole perspective on the issue changed — or at least, made me more receptive to alternatives, out of desperation and concern that I was singlehandedly ruining my dog.

The next day I approached it differently, with a soft, open, patient mindset and a bag full of cheese. And in one session, Chalo was sitting quietly and sweetly, twenty feet away from the golden retriever who previously sent him into a growling frenzy.

In one week, he was walking past yards of snarling, lunging, barking, frustrated dogs with the same sweet, quiet, expectant look on his face.

Today, Chalo hasn’t growled at another dog in months.

I definitely don’t propose that there is any one-size-fits-all training method for every dog, and everything I don’t know about dogs could fill several rooms several times over. But Chalo teaches me so much, all the time: how to be a better teacher, how to approach problems creatively, how to be patient, how to motivate. So many canine behavior problems are misunderstandings, rooted partly in a failure of human imagination and empathy. And that is fixable. That can change. Chalo continues to show me what I need to give more of, not just in dog training but in life in general — reflection on my own actions, and consideration for how we all can be shaped, battered, or buoyed by the world around us. Dogs can make us better, and this dog is making me better. 

07.15.14 ♥ 5169





they want to go fishing but ICE

bald eagles look grumpy on their best days but this is grumpy waddling and it is amazing

he walks over to the others in the last gif like “man this lake fucking sucks”

07.09.14 ♥ 137374


One of the more acrobatic displays in the raptor world - The Aerial Peregrine Food Drop. 

gif’d from a choice photoset on C&C’s Ohio Peregrine Page


via makinaro:

The Hot-Hands bias comes from basketball, where a player who has scored several successive shots in a row is believed to have “hot hands” or is on a streak. Members of their team will pass to them more, and members of the opposing team will increase attacks on that player. When you look at the wider picture, it becomes apparent that their hands were not hot at all, just their perception of success.

Monkey See, Monkey Make Logical Fallacy

Like a fresh banana of psychological weirdness, here’s another cognitive fallacy for you to chew on! Follow Maki’s comic with Carl Zimmer’s wonderful New York Times article on how we aren’t the only monkeys to fall victim to the peculiarities of pattern recognition.

Zimmer, discussing recent research by psychologist Andreas Wilke, notes that our tendency to see streaks of good fortune, whether it’s 3-pointers or poker hands, might hold its origin in foraging for food:

Our ancestors were constantly searching for food, either gathering plants or hunting animals. As they searched, they had to continually decide where to look next. The wrong choice could mean starvation.

Dr. Wilke argues that this threat led our ancestors to evolve some rules of thumb based on the fact that animals and plants aren’t scattered randomly across a landscape. Instead, they can be found in clumps.

That meant that if our ancestors picked up a fruit from the ground, they were likely to find more by looking nearby, rather than going somewhere else. As a result, they became very sensitive to these streaks. They were an indication that good fortune would keep coming.

Whether you’re looking for food or a flush, the first step towards a life where you are not being tricked by your brain on a regular basis is to learn exactly how your brain is tricking you on a regular basis.

Related: Have you seen this week’s episode of It’s Okay To Be Smart? It’s all about cognitive biases, logical fallacies, and blowing on Nintendo games. Watch below:








Robert Sapolsky about his study of the Keekorok baboon troop from National Geographic’s Stress: Portrait of a Killer.

Thiiiiiiis, people, thiiiis!

1. Kill alpha male types
2. Achieve world peace

Got it.

I’ve actually read a lot of Sapolsky’s work.  He’s one of my favorite scientists in the neuro/socio world.

I just watched the documentary and there is so much more about the troop that isn’t in this photoset—not only does the troop have a culture of little aggression and greater cooperation, but any incoming jerk baboons learned within a few months that their shitty behaviour was in no way acceptable, that the troop only rewarded sociability, and they changed accordingly. 

If effin’ baboons can learn this there’s pretty much no reason to believe that our only option in dealing with assholes is to just ignore their behaviour and let it continue.

there really is no excuse.

"incoming jerk baboons" hahaha

07.02.14 ♥ 120842




The wild colony from our old oak swarmed one February afternoon (the result of a successful mating cycle) and I came down to the garden to find a football shaped -vibrating- object hanging from the little trunk of one of my Persian Mulberry bushes.  Bees!  A call to our friendly neighborhood beekeeper, the fabulous Kirk at Backwards Beekeepers, and he was there within the hour.  It could not have been a gentler, less intrusive process for the bees.  They just walked into their new home.

I learned about this. So amazing.

What a fantastic opportunity!

06.18.14 ♥ 4647


Broken-Wing Act

When a predator threatens their nest, adult Killdeer birds (Charadrius vociferus) put on a distraction display. The bird holds its wings as if injured and makes distress calls, in attempt to attract the attention of the predator. Thinking that the bird is an easy target, the predator follows the bird away from the nest.

If the parent sees that a potential predator is not following them, they will move closer and get louder until they get the attention of the predator. When the they are sufficiently far from the nest, the bird just flies away.

Ken Slade on Flickr


youbreccia took some FANTASTIC photos at the Hawk Conservancy Trust, as I was going through them I saw that these were in sequence and I couldn’t resist putting them together. You kill that rubber snake, Miss Secretarybird!

Go birdy go!


Wheel-running is probably not a welfare concern!

Hey guys, check this out!

There is a lot of concern about exercise wheels in the cages of captive small animals (like mice and rats), because people tend to view the behaviour of wheel running as unnatural. It’s thought to be a stereotypy (a repetitive movement or action with no discernible benefit).

But this new study suggests that actually, wheel-running has absolutely no connection to captive behaviours at all! Why not?

Well, researchers placed a wheel in the wild, and found that wild animals spent just as much time on it that captive animals did. Originally, researchers added food to the protective cage where the wheel was found to encourage animal visits. Then they removed the food, and although the number of visits decreased, the number of visits that included a bout of wheel running actually increased by 42 percent, which suggests that the reason for the visit was actually to run on the wheel.

That’s right - in the absence of a food reward, wild animals do in fact run on these wheels!

And that means that wheel-running cannot be considered a stereotypic behaviour, because it’s not dependent on a food reward, and it was comparable in bouts between wild and captive animals.

It’s possible that it’s simply a play behaviour. That is awesome, and reassuring for small animal owners (and researchers who rely on behaviourally sound animals).

You can read the whole Guardian article here.

And you can read the paper itself here.

06.14.14 ♥ 3001


One of the Biggest Arctic Migrations You’ve Never Heard Of

by Carmen Yeung

The Bering Strait—located between Alaska’s Seward Peninsula and Russia’s Chukotka Peninsula—is the only marine gateway connecting the Arctic Ocean and Pacific Ocean. At its narrowest point, the strait is just 55 miles wide. Big Diomede Island (Russia) and Little Diomede Island (U.S.) are located near the middle of the Bering Strait, and are separated by a strip of water less than three miles wide.

Despite its cold, remote location, the Bering Strait is a key biological hotspot, a region that contains a significant number of species – some of which are found nowhere else on Earth. This strait is both a bottleneck and a pathway for marine life.

Each spring, millions of seabirds and hundreds of thousands of marine mammals traverse the narrow strait as they migrate to the Arctic Ocean. Sea ice—frozen seawater that floats on the ocean surface—plays a major role in this seasonal migration.

In the spring, migratory birds and marine mammals gather in the Bering Sea and follow the retreating ice edge north through the Bering Strait and into the Chukchi Sea and the Arctic Ocean. The ice edge is highly productive, and the sea ice itself provides important habitat for microorganisms, birds and marine mammals. The Bering and Chukchi Seas are one of the most productive ocean ecosystems in the world…

(read more: Ocean Conservancy)

photos: Ribbon Seal - NOAA Fisheries; Satelite Images - NASA; and Northern Bowhead Whales - NOAA Marine Mammal Laboratory

06.12.14 ♥ 1141




Oh shit.

We’re lucky octopuses don’t have bones, because if they did they’d come on land and take over.

they could for sure take over even without bones i think 

you’re right. 
good thing they can only be out of the water for an hour.
actually that might be enough time for them to take over…
I hope this blog serves as enough evidence that I love them and they will then decide to let me live in servitude instead of killing me outright.





Oh shit.

We’re lucky octopuses don’t have bones, because if they did they’d come on land and take over.

they could for sure take over even without bones i think 

you’re right. 

good thing they can only be out of the water for an hour.

actually that might be enough time for them to take over…

I hope this blog serves as enough evidence that I love them and they will then decide to let me live in servitude instead of killing me outright.

06.10.14 ♥ 149546




Meet Porter. The World’s First Driving Dog. - Video


why not

The best bit? Porter was a rescue dog, as were the other dogs taught to drive. Dogs looking for homes!

06.09.14 ♥ 155875


ingo arndt (previously featured) has travelled the world photographing the architecture of animals, who he points outs were building nests, dams, and huts while we humans were still living in caves. he also points out that these animal constructions — which are typically used over many generations, and are all biodegradable — can teach us something about sustainable living. these photos, part of a collection of over two hundred, show:

1. a spinifex termite tower made of small earth and saliva balls, found in australia’s northern territory. at over twenty feet tall, it is capable of housing two to three million termites, and features a ventilation system that ensures a consistent internal temperature. 

some termites, charged with defending a tower, are unable to feed themselves given the size of their jaws, and rely on other termites to feed them. but this kindness may be repaid, as these soldier termites will give their lives in defence of the colony.

2. a communal silk nest, known as a tent, made by a group of buff tip caterpillars, who often gather in lime, birch, hazel and willow trees.

3. the nest of the european red wood ant, here in hessen, germany. though these ants are just one centimeter long, their homes are over six feet high and are built so tightly that water is unable to seep in. 

4,5. a weaver ant nest in australia’s northern territory, which the ants build by weaving together leaves bound with the silk produced by their larvae. should any other animal venture within smelling distance of the nest, weaver ant soldiers will charge out, spraying bullets of formic acid. like the termites, they will sacrifice their lives in defence of the group. 

6. a maypole in western new guinea built by a male vogelkop gardener bowerbird with the sole intention of attracting a mate.

7. (left) the shell of a marine snail of the genus xenophora, which has been covered in rocks, other shells and debris from the area. a young snail will adds these to its growing shell to both provide camouflage and anchor its shell from sinking into the seafloor. (right) a paper pulp nest made from chewed, weathered wood by the common wasp (vespula vulgaris)

8. the nest of a baya weaver in namibia, built from blades of fresh grass which then harden in the sun. note that the nest can only be accessed from below. 

06.09.14 ♥ 995
i pride myself as a dog person, but i honestly never knew all this stuff that you're saying about caesar millan. thank you for spreading the correct information and educating people, including myself, on the topic. i've never employed his tactics to begin with as i get positive results from kind training as is, but i did watch his show and always admired him for what he did. do you know if there are any stories about specific dogs being worse after a millan "intervention"?

Asked by phinflynn


Hey no worries! I’m glad you found it useful! :)

And yep I can give you several examples - There are probably more but Millan requires people to sign a nondisclosure agreement, so it’s very hard to come out and say something.

Cotton: A dog who had to have his teeth filed down because he CONTINUED to bite even after CM “rehabilitated” him.
Shadow: The rescue that adopted him out took him from the owners after witnessing the episode.
JonBee: Put to sleep.
Ligia Morris has come out after her Fila actually became aggressive after CM came in. She managed to rehabilitate him using positive reinforcement and clicker training. He now does herding work.

Not to mention the numerous dogs he “replaces” in homes because they’re “too difficult for the owner.” Or takes to his ~Dog Psychology Centre~ like poor Holly was. That entire place is messed up

Here’s a report from someone who boarded her dog at the centre - the dog developed an anxiety disorder.

There was also a lawsuit filed against Millan when a tv producer left his dog at the Centre only to find it “bleeding from his mouth and nose, in an oxygen tent gasping for breath and with severe bruising to his back inner thighs”. They were accused of putting a choke collar on the dog and forcing it to overwork on a treadmill.


Information on reading a dog’s body language. Useful information on how to read a dog, especially a dog you are new to.