What Can Mayor Bloomberg Teach You About Dog Training?

Bloomberg-Logo-650x400 (This is not a political blog. Please bear with me for a few paragraphs. It will get to dog training, I promise. Also please note I am drawing parallells not commenting on policy. This is a dog training blog, not a blog about politics, (human) education, or race relations. Save it for Facebook!)

The news in New York City has been dominated the past few weeks with the mayoral race. (Now that the primaries are over, we’ve got a brief respite, but it’s sure to heat up again in October.) It’s been an entertaining season, partially because more than one of the candidates are more sideshow than serious politician and partly because of the spectacle of candidates trying to figure out how to walk the line on Bloomberg policies that seem both effective and morally and/or ethically compromised.

Like all New York City Mayors, Michael Bloomberg has been a polarizing figure. I have found some of the controversies particularly interesting because he comes from the same corporate and technological culture I do, and this often seems to drive his policy decisions.

On Wall Street (as well as technology companies like Google and Apple) data is king. Business decisions are made based on measurable results. This is often an effective strategy, especially when you are in the business of selling data (which is how Bloomberg became a millionaire) or selling widgets. What can be more effective than measuring results and then adjusting tactics based on them?

But this very practice is what has gotten Bloomberg in trouble more than once. The two examples that come immediately to mind are his school testing policies and the New York Police Department’s infamous “stop and frisk” practices, which Bloomberg has staunchly defended.

In the case of school testing Bloomberg is following the national trend of administering copious amount of standardized tests in order to measure school results. From a data-driven perspective this makes perfect sense. However educators and parents insist that is leads to “teaching to the test” and unnecessary stress for the children.

In the case of “stop and frisk” data analysis led to Ray Kelly’s ill-advised statement about how “African-Americans are being under-stopped.” Here again numbers and measurable results, examined in a vacuum, led to Kelly’s assertion. The broader picture however, might lead some to disagree. (The more I read Kelly’s and Bloomberg’s defense of stop and frisk, the more I think of the engineer and the balloon.)

So what does all this have to do with dog training?

In the ABCs I spend a lot of digital ink laying out a formula for problem solving. It’s an approach to solving behavior problems that anyone from Bloomberg’s world would embrace. And we can learn a few things from Bloomberg’s successes and failures that apply to using the ABCs too.

Before you can solve a problem you need to define it. This may seem obvious, but it’s not.

What do you think is the problem with education? Basic skills, dropout rates, or college admissions? Which one you pick will have a tremendous impact on your approach.

What do you think is the underlying cause of crime? Poverty? Recidivism? Illegal weapons? Drug use? Again, how you define the problem will have a tremendous impact on your solutions.

In the animal behavior training world the obstacle to defining the problem is often one of using labels and classifications over behaviors. Is “my dog is jealous” a problem? How about “my dog is dominant” or even “my dog is fearful?” Is your definition of “fearful” the same as mine? Roger Abrantes has written about the issues behind defining what dominance really is and for many, including myself, he highlights a conflict that has made the word at least temporarily useless.

Properly defining problems is critical to the solving it because if you can’t measure it you can’t say you solved it. Can you measure dominance? Or jealousy? Or fear? No, you can’t. You can measure barking, lunging, growling, pulling on leash, and fleeing. These things might be part of a “package” we call jealousy, dominance, or fearfulness, but we need to agree on the actual measurable actions first and chances if we do that well the labels are unnecessary.

With Bloomberg & Co. the case could be made that part of their problem is a lack of agreement on the defining the issues and the desired results. “Better schools” is something everyone can agree on…until it’s time to agree on what a better school actually is and then take steps to achieve it.

Similarly “less crime” wins elections, but if your tactics land you in trouble with the public, press, and even the courts, than there is an obvious disconnect between you and the people. The NYPD and the City Administration are measuring a result that does not seem important enough to others given what (they claim) it took to get that result.

I wrote earlier about defining what you want instead of what you don’t want. A critical part of that definition is making sure that what you want is specific and measurable. I’ll be writing more about this in the next few weeks.

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What Can Mayor Bloomberg Teach You About Dog Training? is a post written by . You can see the actual post at Dog Training in Bergen County New Jersey


Dog Spelled Forward Website and Blog

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Nice Flea photos

A few nice Flea images I found:

Flea Market Flutist
Flea

Image by muckster
This girl was making good money busking at the flea market.

Flea Market statues
Flea

Image by MShades
Some little statues for sale at the Kitano Tenmangu flea market.

Brooklyn Flea
Flea

Image by Atomische * Tom Giebel
Brooklyn Flea

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You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Your Turbulent Times by Max Lucado {Book Review}

You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Your Turbulent Times by Max Lucado My rating: 5 of 5 stars I try to imagine the thoughts Joseph must have had when his day went from….perfectly ordinary to finding his world completely turned upside down by the very people he not only grew up with, but…



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Sunflower Faith

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Possibly the worst dog commercial–ever

Car maker Audi has spent millions filming this commercial with the teaser ads to run during the Super Bowl. It features a man and woman in a pet store. He is taken with the Chihuahua and she loves the Doberman. So the sleazy sales guy suggests a compromise, breeding them together, the Doberhuahua. What follows in their minds in supposed to be funny but the humor eludes me. The Doberhuahua is not only a grotesque…
The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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Meloetta Mite Mite ☆ Kochichi

Spero vi piaccia ;) Tra pochi giorni metterò il video in cui “io” stessa ballerò Mite Mite Kochichi *-* (e spero di andare bene e di non fare figure come al …
Video Rating: 4 / 5

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Which Dog Breeds Make the Smartest Dogs?

You may have heard the recent VetStreet.com survey of the five smartest dog breeds. The top five breeds, according to veterinarians, are:

  1. Border Collie
  2. German Shepherd
  3. Poodle
  4. Australian Shepherd
  5. Golden Retriever

Given that my dog is an Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix, according to this survey I may be living with the canine equivalent of a brain surgeon. My dog may in fact be smarter than your honor student.

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It’s hard to top Chaser, the dog who knows more than 1,000 words. Image: Facebook

And Sasha is smart -- don’t get me wrong. But she’s not the caliber of Chaser, the Border Collie who knows the names of more than 1,000 objects. (He even has his own Wikipedia page.) And, she’s certainly not as smart as Lucy, the shrewd Beagle who knows how to get chicken nuggets out of a toaster oven. So why isn’t she as clever, given her “pedigree”?

Dr. Stanley Coren, author of The Intelligence of Dogs, uses trainability as a marker of intelligence, and he agrees with most of the veterinarians’ top five choices, but he substitutes the Doberman Pinscher for the Australian Shepherd. (Another ding for my dog, Sasha.) Rounding out his top 10 most intelligent breeds are: Shetland Sheepdogs, Labrador Retrievers, Papillons, Rottweilers and Australian Cattle Dogs.

However, Dr. Brian Hare, author of The Genius of Dogs, has a differing theory on what makes some dogs smarter than others. Hare’s philosophy is that intelligence is not tied to breed. Hare says there is no scientific research on breed differences in relation to intelligence, and favors instead the “unique intelligence” of each individual dog. Hare says that some dogs are able to follow social cues and some dogs are better at making inferences, while others excel at understanding gestures or navigating.

I think I know what he means. I know that Sasha is not very adept at understanding gestures. When I ask her, “Where’s your ball?” and point in a certain direction, she looks frustrated and jumps at my hand, instead of looking toward the direction I’m pointing. But she is pretty good at understanding words, and we’ve even resorted to spelling certain trigger words (t-r-e-a-t) instead of saying them.

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Here's Sasha trying her hand at a crossword puzzle.

So where else does Sasha shine? Well, she’s really good at waking me and my husband up every morning promptly at 7 am. We no longer even need to set an alarm clock. And she’s also efficient at telling us when it’s time to go to bed (are you getting the picture that our dog runs the household yet?). She’s very effective at communicating to me when she’s hungry, and she can go and fetch the newspaper (as long as there’s not a squirrel in the vicinity). And, as far as her ultimate ability, Sasha excels at catching things. She can easily catch balls and Frisbees in midair. 

And I’m not sure I’d want to have a dog who’s smarter than me, anyway! Hare says in The Genius of Dogs that he would like to see dog parents at the dog park trade information about their dog’s unique talents instead of talking about how smart breeds are.

So how about it? What are your dog’s unique talents? Tell me in comments!

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The Scoop | The Scoop

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Book Review ~ Taken for English by Olivia Newport, Gets 4 Stars In My Book!

Title: Taken for English (Valley of Choice Book 3)
Author: Olivia Newport
Publish Date: Feb. 1, 2014 

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LoveMy2Dogs

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Josh Klinghoffer e Flea em entrevista para a RDS (2011) – Legendado em Português

Tradução e Legendas: http://joshglingoffer.org.
Video Rating: 4 / 5

Exterminator shows you how to trap fleas with this homemade flea trap.

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THE RIPPLE: Chapter 1: Man Plans. God Laughs. Dogs Poop

In the first week of launching the Austin to Boston walk in 2008, the whole weight of universal forces bore down on us like the wrath; a swift and unforgiving maelstrom that tested our mettle absolutely.  
——–
First there was the crippling weight of my pack because I didn’t want to be caught on the road without some essential tool, doo-dad, device or sundry to assuage the uncertain world I had just thrown myself into.  
Though I made a pact with God to get me and my boys to Boston safely didn’t mean I didn’t have a backup plan. Or two.  
Hudson and Murphy’s safety was of paramount concern to me and I packed for it. Shit, I carried enough medical supplies to run triage in a war zone.  I had a secondary leash that could counter as a tourniquet, micro flasks of iodine and isopropyl alcohol, and gauze pads of all sizes and shapes.   
A NOAA radio, batteries of all flavors, my clunky Dell laptop, and a seven iron to ground against lightening strikes and guard us from gophers, golfers, or god knows what.  
I barely made it five miles the first two days and even though I was in supreme physical condition, the weight of my pack almost became walk ending.  My lower back was already badly damaged from a work injury and later a car wreck and the sheer act of lifting my overloaded 5500 cc Osprey tweaked it even further. 
——–
And then the skies unleashed their fury.
Scientists say that of all of the senses, smell has the longest memory.  For example, you’ll never forget the acrid, stinging stench of a skunk.  That’s true, but I’ll never forget two sounds.  
One of which is the shrilling of my NOAA radio warning followed by the voice of the Atari Man, the nom de plume I assigned to that analog version of a linesman casting weather forecasts like a Pong match.  
Tornado warning. Wind speeds up to 50 mph.  Freezing hail.  Flash flooding.   Seek shelter.  
And indeed, Atari Man called it right.  Lightening storms and unrelenting rain opened up all around us and it got so bad that we abandoned our $ 20 Walmart tent off the northbound side of 973 for the underbelly of a nearby bridge.  
Clearly, this wasn’t the way I planned it.  
And that was just for starters.  
Fire ants, crazy sponsors, a lost bag, forgotten antibiotics, bad burritos, and a mad cow man followed in that first week. 
——–
YBD’s Notes 1:  I have a good friend going through a tough patch and in her words, she’s in ‘Protection Mode’.  

There are some things in life for which there is no shelter and if it wasn’t for the proverbial kitchen sink being thrown at us the first week of our walk, we would have never made it.  

I remember with perfect clarity in the tent with my boys what made the difference.  

YBD’s Notes 2: Early on, I had to understand which weight to shoulder and which to shrug.  That wisdom carries forth to our second walk.  

YBD’s Notes 3:  Very few things are worse than being in a bad bad storm when your dogs gotta poop.

2 Dogs 2,000 Miles

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Thank you Donna for background info, parsing out w…

Thank you Donna for background info, parsing out what we need now, and the contact list. And, thank you Jill Posener for always willing to stand up when others sit.
BAD RAP Blog

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