“Force free” dog training: More than a label

Since the dog training industry has been largely ignored by government regulatory authorities, it is up to dog trainers themselves to set some standards, at least for now. Not surprisingly, the results are less than satisfactory. Dog trainers differ in their goals and values and these are not always in the best interest of their clients. While there is of course nothing wrong with promoting one’s business and setting oneself apart from the competition, the dog loving public clearly needs some reliable and unambiguous information on what it is they get for their money.

Labelling for change

Just like a patient wanting to understand a surgical procedure or a customer wanting to know the ingredients in their cereal, anyone intending to hire a dog trainer should be able to easily understand what exactly it is they are buying. The most common questions on people’s minds are “what is the result?”, “how long does it take?” and “how much does it cost?” But with growing sensitivities towards the treatment of animals and a better understanding of dog behaviour more people are turning into informed consumers rather than being easy to impress shoppers.

Unfortunately we do not hear the question “what methods do you use?” often enough but we do know people have started to pay attention to labels such as “positive”, “force free” or “reward based”. They may not know exactly what that means, but there is no reason to be cynical about it. The fact that those labels are increasingly used in the industry and that the public sees them as “qualifying” is a good thing. After all this is how change usually starts. Once there is awareness there will be questions. Soon there will be demands for evidence, for regulation and for certification. It has happened in relation to other goods and services and it will happen to dog training. In fact it has already started in some countries.

Yes, some unethical trainers label themselves “positive” and are in fact quite the opposite. As long as there is no legal protection for labelling in this industry, consumers need to be very wary and inquisitive. However, the fact that certain labels are used carelessly and seem to have no real value attached does not mean they should be avoided by those who claim them as their legitimate tags. I believe it is crucial that humane dog trainers set themselves apart from their dominance driven colleagues. We need to advertise where- and whenever we can that cooperative and scientifically supported methods work and that they come without the nasty risks and side-effects of confrontational training.

Force free training is a choice, not an outcome

While the dividing line between dog trainers generally separates those who use force and dominance from those who use rewards and cooperation, the reality can be a lot more confusing. Some trainers may not even be sure about exactly where they stand or they are reluctant to be lumped together with others. It is absolutely vital though that humane and ethical dog trainers stand as a united front to the public and in the industry. It is not helpful if we argue amongst ourselves, either because we are not clear on our own methods or because we have our own agenda. There are ways to advertise the uniqueness of one’s business without sacrificing or undermining the unifying ideals we all stand for.

Dedicated organisations who promote humane dog training such as the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) have definitions for terminology and provide training and handling guidelines. This is the kind of information that needs to be promoted widely and publicly so that everyone has a usable standard. Until we get some sort of government regulation or certification, it is in our best interest to accept the agreed-upon labelling as the best we have. There is no need to attack those labels as dishonest or misleading unless the goal is to attack the force free dog training community itself.

The meaning of force free is the avoidance of anything that could cause fear or pain (or any versions of these) in a dog. To begin with, this rules out any equipment or technique that specifically has the purpose of causing fear or pain (shock, prong and choke collars, yanking, yelling, pinching, rough handling etc.). But it also means observing the dog at all times for signs of possible stress or unease. Force free does not mean we can guarantee that a dog will have only positive emotions when we train them. Of course only the dog can truly know if they experience something as pleasant or aversive. But we can make sure we have the education and skill to minimize any possible negative impact our training might have. We can decide that we want to cooperate with a dog rather than overpower them. This is what force free means. It’s a choice of methods.

Let’s keep spreading the word

I will happily promote myself as being force free, reward based, positive, or whatever it takes to let everyone know where I stand. Furthermore, I’ll explain exactly what it is I do and how I interact with someone’s dog to achieve results. And I will continue to do so beyond the day when mandatory certification and protected labelling are introduced in the dog training industry.

Change happens because people learn about issues, talk about issues and eventually feel compelled to take action. Our global and hyper-connected society has never been more sensitive to human- and animal-rights issues or any sort of injustice or barbarity. There has never been a better time to talk about and fight for a better future in dog training. So, let’s continue to be vocal about what we do and why. Let’s not sacrifice a greater common goal for petty reasons.



The Academy for Dog Trainers. Consumer Protection: Dog Trainers
The Pet Professional Guild



Walking on leash: How to be in sync with your dog

Dog walking on lead with humanWhat most people envision or hope for when walking their dog is a picture of harmony: The dog leisurely strolling along next to them, no pulling, no zigzagging, and no charging at other dogs or people. Unfortunately, adjusting to their human’s pace is something that dogs rarely do by default. To rectify this, the dog training profession has come up with a range of measures from choke chains and prong collars to various harnesses and head halters. Equipment of that type can be more or less successful in thwarting the dog’s efforts to follow their own agenda, but it doesn’t necessarily result in harmony. A better, more cooperative approach is leash training.

We don’t all walk to the same drum beat

When I was younger I had a friend with an annoying habit. Her walking pace was slower than mine, so every time I walked ahead of her she tugged at my sleeve in order to slow me down. But only seconds later I would again be a few steps ahead since my friend’s pace simply wasn’t my pace. In fact, I’m convinced that it cost me more energy to keep a slower pace than to trot along at my own natural pace, apart from the fact that the frequent tugging irritated the $@#% out of me. Of course my friend was also clearly annoyed by having to try and keep up with me all the time.

Maybe it is because of this personal experience that I sympathise with dogs on leash. If I find it so difficult to match my pace to that of another human, just how hard must it be for a dog to fall into line with one of those slow moving humans. Unless a dog is old, sick or otherwise impaired, they usually walk at a faster speed than we do. In fact they don’t walk, they trot. They are like window shoppers. Instead of moving at a consistent speed in one direction they trot from smell to smell and linger until they have collected all the info that can be found there. If they do happen to keep to a straight path, it typically involves a clear goal, for example the dog park or some other irresistible attraction.

Of course I also understand the frustration of humans when their dogs seem to ignore them in favour of smells, other dogs or whatever the environment has to offer. It’s no fun having your arm pulled out or being tripped up by your dog zooming in front of you.

The confrontational way to stop pulling

According to traditional dog training my friend used the wrong technique. Instead of nagging me with those frequent sleeve tugs, she should have grabbed me by the collar – just once – and pull it tight so violently that I’d gag and struggle for air. Apparently this rather shocking experience would have forced me to walk at my friend’s slower pace for good. Somehow I doubt she would have been a friend for much longer after that.

Causing a one-off traumatic experience is exactly the philosophy behind choke and prong collars. You are supposed to yank at your dog’s neck so hard the first time you use the collar that you will never have to yank again. One massive yank and your dog’s pulling on lead will have been solved for life. Apart from the fact that this treatment risks the dog’s health and even life, how could anyone actually want to do this to their dog? One explanation why this technique is still widely used could be the desensitisation of people to violence in dog training.

I had to witness a demonstration on the “correct technique” to use a choke chain when a former instructor of mine yanked a client’s dog around in front of the whole class. Today, under the same circumstances, I would suggest the client quickly take their dog and get as far away from that person as they can. Instead I stood silently, together with everyone else, while we were lectured on the dog’s experience. It didn’t matter that the dog yelped every time he was catapulted backwards. It wasn’t pain we were told, the dog was just surprised.

What exactly a dog feels when all of a sudden the chain around their neck tightens, digs into their throat and hurls their body back, we will never know. But I think we can make an educated guess that the experience is not pleasant. If the procedure succeeds in stopping the dog from pulling, then it must have been painful or frightening enough, so the dog will want to avoid the experience in the future. Chances are the dog will also become wary of the person holding the leash.

The practical way to stop pulling

Moving forward, there are more humane solutions these days to stop a dog from pulling. However, even harnesses and head halters rely on thwarting rather than training. Front clip harnesses which have the leash attached to a clip on the dog’s chest rather than their back, work by pulling the dog’s body sideways when the dog pulls forward. Some dogs learn to walk that way, i.e. they still pull but walk sideways at the same time, leading to an awkward gait which could cause health problems in the long term. Other harnesses tighten around the body or even the throat to prevent pulling.

Head halters are generally not readily accepted by dogs and it’s better to desensitise them to wearing this equipment (preferably in combination with counter conditioning). Otherwise the dog may forever try and get the thing off their face rather than enjoy the walk. Head halters can be dangerous if the dog still pulls or the leash suddenly stops the dog’s forward movement with a violent head turn.

Compared to choke and prong collars, these types of walking aids are clearly preferable but a thoughtful approach is required. As long as the dog seems comfortable and doesn’t suffer side-effects, harnesses and head halters can be a very good solution. It can even mean the difference between the dog being walked or not at all. Ideally, though, the use of these mechanical aids is partnered with training, so the dog doesn’t feel the need to pull anymore in the first place.

The harmonious way to stop pulling

Truly walking together in harmony requires that dog and human pay attention to each other. Neither dragging a dog nor being dragged results in a pleasant outing. It’s worth reminding ourselves that dog walking is primarily for the dog’s benefit. It’s about sniffing and investigating, taking in sights and sounds, marking here and there and having toilet breaks. These are important activities for a dog and given that many dogs spend countless hours alone in their homes, a “walk around the block” in the evening is often the only daily excursion they get.

For us humans walking the dog clearly has benefits too. It gets us outside and moving and it’s a chance to have some “us” time with our dogs. If we tune in to our dog’s activities and experiences on walks we can learn more about them and increase the bond we share. We can make our dog, as well as other dogs and people, feel safe by keeping an eye on our surroundings, moving away from situations if required and monitoring our dog’s interaction with others. Paying attention is of course also useful in preventing doggy stomach aches due to ingestion of unidentified objects.

Teaching a dog to walk at our pace means making it attractive for the dog to adjust their natural movements and slow down*. It requires time and patience. If the dog is a strong puller, it’s a good idea to start off with a harness or head halter to get a foot in the door. Otherwise the frustration levels – especially the human’s – might be too much to do any effective training. The dog must then be heavily rewarded, starting in a no distraction environment and with tasty treats, for walking within a given semi-circle next to our leg. The most important thing though is to frequently allow the dog to do all those worthwhile things on walks like visiting a tree or lifting a leg. If these are used as rewards for not pulling, everyone wins.

Another important point is not to use the leash to move the dog around. A leash is simply a safety device, nothing more. To move the dog about, we are much better off encouraging the dog verbally to come to us or with us or directing them with hand targeting**.

In another world in a parallel universe dogs may be walking and running freely without the need to be tethered to us. Unfortunately ours is a dangerous world and full of restrictions. But with some thought and effort we can make walking together a more enjoyable experience for us and the dogs. There really is no need to punish dogs for being dogs.



* In case a dog moves slower than their handler, the human needs to slow down too. Unless the dog is old, disabled or injured, a dog can be encouraged verbally or with treats to pick up pace. However it’s important to be mindful about possible reasons the dog is unable or unwilling to walk or walk faster. These can be physical health reasons or even fear or anxiety. A vet check should be considered and – if this does not result in anything – a veterinary behaviourist or good dog trainer may be able to help.

** Hand targeting is a useful behaviour where the dog aims for and touches the outstretched hand of their handler.



Loose Leash Walking by Lousiana SPCA
Loose Leash Walking in 30 days by Bina Lunzer

The language of fear and loathing in dog training

Human language is powerful. It enables us to express what we think and feel but it can also influence how we think and feel. Language can be wielded by people to shape opinions and it can serve to reiterate and confirm cultural norms and beliefs. Throughout history we have used language to discriminate against people based on their race, gender, religion or customs but we are also continuously adapting our language to reflect progress and changes in our societal values and sensitivities.
At present we are experiencing a change in the language related to dogs and dog training in parallel with a more informed and humane treatment of dogs and other non-human animals.
Word associated with dominance

How we talk about dogs

The language of dog training has traditionally, and not surprisingly, been full of human-centric terminology. Dogs are expected to follow commands, be obedient and loyal, understand discipline and authority and respect their masters. Normal dog behaviours such as barking, chasing, chewing, digging or jumping up are considered behaviour problems that need to be fixed, commonly via some sort of punishment. Good dogs know right from wrong and want to please their owners.

After observing wolf packs we decided that dogs are pack animals and therefore needed a leader which fitted nicely with the human notion of social status and rank. A dog owner is meant to adopt the position of the alpha dog and assert their dominance over the dog. The dog must rank lower in the hierarchy and know their place. Manoeuvres such as alpha rolls, muzzle grabs or scruff shakes should be employed to force the dog into submission as they are considered natural wolf behaviours.

In addition to being subordinates, dogs occupy an even lower status of course: they are property. To classify a dog as property endorses the view that dogs are tradable and replaceable goods. We breed them, buy them, sell them, treat or mistreat them and kill them as we please.

Much of the traditional language in relation to dogs is still around in the 21st century but it feels increasingly awkward and out of date. The dominance lingo never made much sense to begin with and it is not how most people want to treat their dogs these days. This change in perspective is a logical result of our ever growing knowledge of the nature, needs, and emotions of dogs as well as the general abandonment of force in teaching. We have been gradually shifting our thinking to include more of the dog’s point of view.

The language of change

Every “rights movement” has its own story of language. At first, certain words are identified as offensive, for example as racist or sexist, and then they are banished from the general vocabulary. How big a role can language play in generating change? Does the way we talk about our dogs influence how we view them and subsequently how we treat them? If so, adjusting our language and dropping the jargon relating to dominance and ownership may help accelerate the spread of modern dog training.

We are already hearing less about dogs having to respect their owners and more about the need for people to respect their dogs. Overall, we are seeing a move away from confrontation and towards cooperation – something we humans are actually quite good at, even if that’s hard to believe sometimes.

The signs of advanced methods and attitudes in dog training are everywhere. People are learning more about dog body language and how to notice signs of discomfort or stress. Dogs are given space and children are taught how to behave around dogs. Positive reinforcement is fast becoming the preferred training method and is replacing the disciplinarian corrections. Commands are being changed to cues, obedience is giving way to life skills and dog owners are more often referred to as dog parents or dog guardians. Dominance first morphed into leadership and now leadership is falling out of favour too. The maxim Nothing in Life is Free is yielding to Plenty in Life is Free.

It seems we are starting to treat dogs as those best friends we always claimed they were. We are dropping force and intimidation from the tool bag of dog training and replacing it with science and compassion. We are finally letting dogs be dogs instead of moulding them into our concept of a human-dog social hierarchy. There is increasing acceptance that we share our lives with members of a different species who have a right not to be humanized. And all of this is reflected in how we talk about dogs.

How dog trainers talk about dog trainers

There is another aspect to language in dog training and it’s ugly. It shows a deep chasm in today’s dog training industry. First, there is the direct combat between dog trainers of different camps, which is mostly played out on social media with its usual share of vitriol, and then there’s the far more dangerous war of words directed at the public. Potential clients and anyone interested in dog training are the real victims when dog trainers talk about each other and themselves.

Apart from the name calling and sledging of the competition, it is the warped, confused and pseudo-scientific gibberish that is mostly concerning. It is facilitated by an industry that lacks requirements for formal education and accountability. You don’t need a piece of paper to be a dog trainer. All you need is clever language to convince your clients that you are a dog training guru. As long as your clients see results, you are in business. Since the dogs you train – with whatever methods – can’t speak up, your only problems may arise from the occasional knowledgeable or concerned client who dares to ask the right questions. Long term, however, you should be worried about a tightening of animal welfare laws and mandatory licensing for dog trainers. It’s already happening in other countries, so it’s best to be prepared.

The biggest disservice to the public is done by trainers who make unsubstantiated and misleading claims about their own and other trainers’ methods. A layperson may be able to look beyond language which aims to insult or ridicule other trainers, but they may not have the knowledge to detect false or worrying statements in relation to training methods and results. Dog training is a science. If a dog trainer is not able to talk expertly and clearly about the scientific principles behind training, they are not credible. Throwing some technical jargon around which a client can’t verify or boasting with decades of experience (doing what exactly?), has nothing to do with proving one’s expertise and up-to-date credentials. Making nasty comments about the motivations, character or ethical values of other trainers is also not helping.

Speak clearly, change your tune or fade out

The fact is that many dog trainers have been using whatever methods they want to successfully* train dogs for decades. The debate is not about what works or what doesn’t work. It’s about what works with using the most dog-friendly and risk-free approach, in other words employing the least invasive training methods with the minimum risk of causing detrimental outcomes. And that is where many dog trainers fail their clients, either intentionally or because they don’t know any better: they simply aren’t upfront about exactly what will be done to the dog to achieve results and how this may affect the dog and their humans in the short and long term. Of course if the only objective of dog training is to get the dog to do or not to do something, regardless of potential risks for dogs and people, then any methods are equally valid. The choice remains ours, at least for now.

Fortunately more and more dog trainers are joining the ranks of an educated, scientifically literate, humane and progressive community. It is echoed in how we talk about dogs and dog training but also in the increasingly acrimonious language amongst dog trainers. Every societal change inevitably creates resistance. For some people change can be inconvenient or even frightening. It may challenge their long held beliefs or even their livelihoods. But progress is a necessary and inevitable element of our society and no amount of kicking and screaming can stop it. You can either hop on board or you will be left behind. The choice is yours, for now.



* The term “successfully” here is used strictly as a measure of satisfying the trainer’s objectives, not as an evaluation of the quality of training

Thinking of getting a puppy this Christmas? Think again!

Christmas Puppy looking sad in a box wrapped in Christmas paperGiving a puppy as a Christmas present is a bad idea. Why? Well, think about what you are really giving: A commitment to love and care for a high maintenance animal over a period of 10 – 15 years or more. It means a significant investment of time to provide daily companionship and exercise, spending time, money and effort on dog training, paying veterinary bills, registration and insurance, buying toys and equipment, paying for boarding and grooming and so on. Is this your intention? And, if so, how confident are you that the recipient will happily show this sort of responsibility and commitment to the dog? And bear in mind that this person might be you.

Since most recipients of a “Christmas puppy” are children, the responsibility for the dog lies firmly with the parents. While it is a good idea to teach children how to care for animals by having pets in the family, they cannot be left in charge of an animal’s well-being on their own. Children’s lives change quickly as they grow up and so do their activities and interests. But unlike a neglected toy, a dog cannot sit in the cupboard and be dragged out only when someone feels like playing with them. A bored and lonely dog will likely develop behaviour problems, become a burden for the family and end up at an animal shelter. This is what happens, sadly, over and over again.

If you are determined to get a dog this Christmas, please ask yourself first: Do we, as a family, have the time and commitment to love and properly look after a dog for as long as the dog lives?
If the answer is a resounding “yes”, please

  • do your research to chose a type of dog that suits your lifestyle
  • consider adopting a dog from a rescue organisation (they can make great pets)
  • never get a dog from an unlicensed breeder or any other source which cannot be trusted




RSPCA Puppy Info
Life Skills for Puppies
PPG Puppy Socialisation Info
ASPCA Puppy Socialisation Info


Socialisation matters: Don’t let the clowns eat your puppy

I admit I’ve never been particularly fond of clowns. I find them neither funny nor sad. Just weird. For some people though clowns can be outright scary. Some people are afraid of clowns. And this unfortunate fear even has a name: coulrophobia. Some experts think the fear of clowns is linked to the uncanny valley effect, a fascinating phenomenon which describes how a “human-but-not-quite” appearance makes some people feel uncomfortable or repulsed. When I watched a news report on a clown convention the other day, showing a room packed with hundreds of clowns, I could only imagine the nightmarish horror this would create in a coulrophobic person. And what on earth does that have to do with puppies?
Puppy sitting in yard while scary clown peeps over fence
Well, thinking that clowns are weird is of course a personal matter but clowns certainly look weird. They typically transform their faces with heavy makeup to create a frozen emotional expression such as a wide laughing mouth, raised eyebrows and other exaggerated features. We humans are able to “look beyond the mask” (even those who are phobic) – we still know there’s a human underneath – but what about other animals? Can dogs automatically assign a disguised person to the broad category of human? Do they even have a category of human?

Fear and survival for the modern companion dog

Dogs, just like many other animals, learn crucial lessons about the world they live in as they grow up. Everything they experience during the early stages in life – sights, sounds, smells, other animals, plants, objects etc. – will be catalogued in their brains as familiar. Most of these familiar things will fall into the category of safe (irrelevant, harmless, good or desirable) while some may be considered potentially dangerous (to be avoided). Anything a dog does not experience during early development will generally be met with caution, suspicion or fear later in life. This makes perfect sense from an evolutionary perspective: You better believe the clown is going to eat you before your trusting nature makes sure you’ll never get another chance.

But, if a dog’s early developmental environment is so impoverished that almost everything they come across later in life falls into the unknown category, their quality of life will be greatly diminished. There will be clowns everywhere. It is one thing to experience stress once in a while when faced with a real or perceived threat but to live in a constant state of anxiety creates a serious mental and physical health risk. Imagine you can’t leave the house because there are scary clowns lurking on your doorstep. Imagine that sometimes they even come inside and you are powerless to stop them. And worse, imagine that the only person you thought you could trust seems to conspire with those clowns against you. This is what fearful dogs must experience whose humans fail to understand their anxieties.

Domestic dogs, and in particular companion dogs, have the best chance to succeed in a human world if they believe that world is safe. Dogs who are not fearful of people, other dogs and whatever life throws at them will hopefully never feel the need to defend themselves. Our society has zero tolerance for dogs defending themselves and dogs who growl (“leave me alone”), snarl (“I mean it”) or bite (“I told you”) can quickly end up with a one way ticket to the vet.

So the goal has to be that there is very little left in the unknown category when a puppy starts to emerge from their sensitive period of development some time between 12 and 18 weeks of age. Given that puppies generally come to live with their families at no younger than 8 weeks of age this may only leave a small window to socialise a young dog and expose them to as many new and positive experiences as possible (known as puppy socialisation).

The ideal puppy graduates with an “I ♥ humans” badge

It seems dogs are perfectly able to form categories based on visual information but they may not generalize as well as we do, at least when it comes to variations of human appearance. One favourite and often repeated example of incomplete puppy socialisation is the fear of bearded men. I think we can be quite sure that dogs don’t have an issue with beards per se, unlike pogonophobic people (yes, believe it or not, there is a fear of beards). Maybe they consider bearded men as a new (unknown) category. Or maybe they recognize bearded men as humans but feel uncomfortable because “something is not quite right”. The important message to take away from this is that puppies need to have friendly experiences with more than just a human in order to strike humans off their list of potentially dangerous.

The human species comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colours and camouflage. We differ in age and gender, the way we speak and the way we move. Clearly, we are a diverse bunch and modern technology has made us even more variable. Be it headphones, wheelchairs or snorkels, humans often have stuff protruding from or attached to almost every part of their bodies. Only a dog who has seen different versions of human appearance and locomotion as a young puppy will be untroubled by encounters with the human kind.

Does a dog have to like all people? No, and they probably won’t anyway, but at least we don’t want them to fear people. Unfortunately we cannot teach a dog to distinguish between good people and bad people. If a dog thinks humans are generally good news, we can confidently take the dog anywhere and invite people to our homes without worry that a particular person or type of person might trigger the dog to react badly. Yes, your dog might one day happily take a treat from a burglar instead of raising the alarm. But that’s nothing compared to dealing with an agitated neighbour at your doorstep because their child got bitten by your dog. A poorly socialised dog may make a good guard dog but they will probably spend their lives in relative isolation. That’s a sad fate for such a social species.

Puppy socialisation and beyond: we can always make a difference to our dogs’ lives

Puppy socialisation is hard work and it doesn’t happen by itself. It’s a proactive, well-planned and controlled procedure (for details see the resources below). But those early weeks in a puppy’s life simply cannot be wasted. How we treat puppies and what we expose them to makes a huge difference for the dogs, their families and the community they live in. Part of the responsibility rests on the shoulders of breeders and the regulating authorities. The rest is up to everyone who takes a dog into their home.

While the early weeks are super important for the puppy’s development, the need for socialisation doesn’t end once the sensitive period is over. Social skills can be lost and problems can develop over time if a dog lives isolated and without frequent exposure to other people, other dogs and the outside world. The first three months are the most crucial in terms of impact and long lasting effects, but every animal is shaped continuously by experiences throughout their entire life. We may not be able to repair damage done and opportunities lost during the sensitive period, but we can always try to maintain and possibly improve a dog’s quality of life.

It should be noted that there is of course always a genetic component to a dog’s behaviour. Some dogs for example are naturally wary of strangers or easily spooked by new things (neophobic) and not even the most extensive socialisation program can turn them into sociable and relaxed dogs. But we should always do as much as we can to make our dogs feel as safe and comfortable in their environment as possible.




Note: The term puppy socialisation usually includes habituation (strictly speaking socialisation means learning to live with humans and other animals while habituation means getting used to one’s environment).

The PPG (Pet Professional Guild) and the ASPCA have good advice on puppy socialisation including checklists:
PPG Puppy Socialisation Info
ASPCA Puppy Socialisation Info

Range F, Aust U, Steurer M, Huber L (2007) Visual categorization of natural stimuli by domestic dogs. Anim Cogn 11(2):339-47
Visual categorization of natural stimuli by domestic dogs

And just in case you are now curious about the fear of clowns, here are some interesting links to articles on coulrophobia and the uncanny valley effect which have absolutely nothing to do with dog training:
History and Psychology of Clowns Being Scary
Why zombies, robots, clowns freak us out


How to avoid totally ruining your dog’s recall (coming when called)

The Disaster

It’s a beautiful day and a couple and their two dogs are walking across a wide open field at a popular off-lead park. Gradually one of the dogs strays off, apparently following an irresistible scent near the trees. When the people finally notice that their dog has gone missing, the man shouts the dog’s name. The dog immediately lifts his head, briefly looks around to locate the source of the sound and, as the man shouts a second time, promptly runs back to his people.
dog coming back
When I witnessed this scene the other day I was impressed. Despite being distracted and quite far away, the dog responded instantly to his person’s voice and quickly returned. In my book this was a “perfect” recall (coming when called). However, as I watched the dog return to his family things did not unfold as I expected. Instead of praising and rewarding the dog for his stellar performance, the man immediately commanded the dog into a sit, grabbed his muzzle and gave him a stern talking to. Now, I have seen worse being done to a dog for so-called “disobedience” but I was very disappointed by the man’s reaction. Apparently he was completely oblivious to the missed opportunity and the potential damage he had just done. What was going on here?

The Analysis

The answer may be found in the nature of the human mind and in particular its capacity to ponder the perceptions, thoughts, feelings and intentions of others. Known as Theory of Mind, this mechanism allows humans to attribute mental states to other people as well as themselves. It plays an important role in social interactions as it allows us to understand, predict and feel for others, but also to manipulate, judge and deceive others. Unfortunately we also routinely believe that we know what non-human animals think or feel and this is when Theory of Mind becomes a liability.

Here is what Daniel Povinelli, a prominent chimpanzee researcher, has to say about the ‘distorted’ human view of animal minds:

“Faced with the overwhelming similarity in the spontaneous, everyday behaviour of humans and chimpanzees, how can someone like me – someone who has dedicated his life to studying these remarkable animals – entertain the possibility that their minds are, in profound respects, radically different from our own? How can I challenge the received wisdom of Darwin – confirmed by my own initial impressions – that the mental life of chimpanzees is best compared to that of a human child?
Actually it’s easy: I have learned to have more respect for them than that. I have come to see that we distort their true nature by conceiving of their minds as smaller, duller, less talkative versions of our own. Casting aside these insidious assumptions has been difficult, but it has allowed me to see more clearly that the human mind is not the gold standard against which other minds must be judged. For me it has also illuminated the possibility of creating a science that is less contaminated by our deeply anthropocentric intuitions about the nature of minds.”

If even science is “contaminated” with anthropocentrism, as Povinelli puts it, then maybe it’s not so surprising that most people treat their dogs like human children who need to learn “obedience”. Without necessarily subscribing to the idea that the minds of chimpanzees and other animals are radically different, I think Povinelli points to an important problem not just in animal research but in the wider public, namely the perception of animal minds as lesser versions of the human mind. Humans have a long history of viewing animals as less refined and less intelligent life forms while considering themselves as the “crown of evolution”. Fortunately we are seeing a shift away from this sense of supremacy and towards a better understanding that non-human animals are not less developed but simply different compared to humans. Each species has their own distinct features, optimized for the environment they naturally live in, and their behaviour and abilities only make sense when viewed in that context.

So, going back to the scene at the park, what can be said about the man’s behaviour towards his dog and what are the potential ramifications?

By scolding the dog after calling him back the man demonstrated

  • an inappropriate application of Theory of Mind and moral judgement – he seemingly made assumptions about the dog’s thoughts and intentions, i.e. the man obviously believed the dog made a conscious decision to follow a scent instead of following his people despite knowing it was the wrong thing to do;
  • anthropomorphism – he treated the dog like one would a disobedient child and attempted to lecture the dog about his apparent wrongdoing;
  • a lack of understanding of the principles of animal learning, specifically the behaviour-consequence contingency which states that consequences affect the probability of the preceding behaviour to occur in the future, i.e. negative consequences make the preceding behaviour less likely to happen in the future and positive consequences make it more likely.

Trying not to fall into the same trap of assuming to know what the dog was thinking, here is my take on what the experience might have been like for the dog:

The dog picks up a scent and follows it. This is perfectly normal dog behaviour without which his wild ancestors would not have survived. To assume that the dog would ponder the consequences of his actions other than hoping to find something of interest is without foundation. Once on the trail the dog continues undisturbed since neither do his people pay attention nor does the dog seem to be aware of the separation from his family.

The dog hears his person’s voice and immediately responds to it, looking slightly confused as if woken from a slumber. He then runs to his family as soon as he spots them in the open field. Maybe whatever had drawn his attention previously was not that appealing after all. Or maybe he was worried because he didn’t know where his family was. Maybe he had previously been trained successfully to come when called or maybe a bit of everything contributed to his quick response – who knows.

Although the dog seems at first happy to run back to his family, his body language changes as he gets closer. On approach he lowers his tail and assumes a slightly cowering posture suggesting he is uncomfortable or even afraid. He stands still as the man holds him by the muzzle and talks to him. Afterwards the dog continues for a short while with tail low before returning to normal.

At any stage the dog seems to directly respond to the current events in his environment: the scent that causes him to change path, the voice that makes him pay attention, the sight of his family which makes him happily run to them, his person’s threatening body language which makes him cower. There is no reason to believe, and no research to support it, that the dog understood that following the scent was somehow ‘wrong’ and that he will refrain from doing so in the future because his human got angry. In fact, according to everything we know about animal learning today, the dog will most likely associate approaching his person with a negative experience and avoid that person in the future in a similar context (assuming the dog experienced the muzzle grab and ‘lecture’ he received as punishing which – judging by the dog’s body language – seemed to be the case). I’m quite sure this is not what the man intended.

The Solution

The only way to prevent such disasters is through knowledge and awareness. By actively keeping one’s own mind in check whenever the temptation arises to make assumptions about the thoughts and intentions of another species, solutions to real or perceived problems could become a lot easier and – most importantly – a lot more humane.

So, here is what a correct application of animal learning principles looks like when teaching your dog the recall:

Call your dog (happy voice)

  • your dog comes to you –> reward your dog like there is no tomorrow
  • your dog doesn’t come:
    • try again when your dog is less distracted
    • try again when your dog is closer to you
    • try again when your dog is hungry

Watch Cozmo, the Maremma, demonstrate a rockstar recall:



Daniel John Povinelli, Behind the ape’s appearance: escaping anthropocentrism in the study of other minds. Daedalus, Journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Winter 2004, Vol. 133, No 1, Pages 29 – 41.

Daniel John Povinelli, Behind the ape’s appearance: escaping anthropocentrism in the study of other minds.




The Slow Dog Training Revolution – Part 2

person with dog at beach

Previously I wrote about the importance of taking a slow approach when deciding on training methods for our dogs and finding professional help. I also suggested that dog training can, and should, be more than just another task to tick off the to-do list. There are some parallels that we can draw with the process of raising children, with the significant difference that the kids (usually) move out at some stage. By contrast, our dogs’ dependency on us is complete and for life. It follows that our decisions are of vital importance to the quality of their life and indeed their survival. Clearly something that requires a fair bit of thought and smart choices!

Let’s look at some of the aspects of dog training that can make all the difference in the world we share.

Training for all (TFA1)

Sometimes we don’t know what our dogs’ lives were like before they come into ours. Sometimes we don’t know anything about their breeder or even their breed. Sometimes we choose a dog that doesn’t fit our lifestyle. Sometimes we just end up with a dog.

While ideally the process of getting a dog in the first place should be just as thoughtful as training and living with a dog, the reality is often quite different. But choosing a dog is not the topic of this article. Once the dog is in our home, it doesn’t matter anymore how they got there. It is now up to us to give them the best possible training and a happy life. It also doesn’t matter if the dog is young or old, large or small, a Shepherd or a Retriever, a carefully designed Groodle, Schnoodle or Cavoodle or the product of an unscheduled romance. It doesn’t matter if the dog has only one leg or is deaf or blind. Training benefits every dog and vastly increases their chances in life.

We all know that prevention is better than cure. But of course we also frequently ignore this wisdom as my dentist was fortunate enough to find out recently. Like my dentist I’m in a profession which is largely involved in remedial action. Dog trainers are too often called when problems already exist rather than being engaged early on. Without training most dogs cannot fully take part in their people’s lives or be a valued member of their family. Their unrefined behaviours may condemn them to spend too much time alone or subject them to impatient or even harsh treatment from their people. But neglecting our dogs’ mental and emotional health can be just as costly as neglecting their physical health. It not only affects our hip pocket but is likely to cause our dogs – and potentially us – considerable grief. Rather than waiting for things to go wrong, training our dogs should be as much standard as educating our children, and ourselves. So here it is again. Repeat after me: Prevention is better than cure.

Are you talking to me?

In a recent review of a new book on parenting2, the author was quoted as follows: “You can tell your kids until you’re blue in the face,’Don’t take drugs, don’t drink, don’t have sex with the wrong people’ but you actually have to tell them why, and how they can have a more meaningful life.” With some modification this statement could easily appear in a modern dog training manual. We can tell our dogs to stop jumping up, pulling on leash or barking until we’re blue in the face. But we actually have to change their motivation and teach them alternative behaviours to get what they want.

Communicating efficiently with our dogs is not possible unless we learn how they communicate first. We are a species of many words. Dogs use body language. We rely heavily on eyesight. Dogs are guided by their noses. We have foresight, hindsight and insight. Dogs are impulsive and opportunistic. An appreciation of how our dogs experience and negotiate their environment is not just essential for a successful partnership, it’s also incredibly fascinating.

Simply knowing about canine senses and behaviours isn’t quite enough though. I won’t suggest you get down on all fours and sniff around your house with your eyes closed (not such a bad idea actually) but what we really need is to build compassion out of academic knowledge. Truly understanding our dogs’ world requires imagination (“how would I feel if that air freshener smelled a hundred thousand times more intense?”), observation (“did that dog just freeze when the child hugged him?”) and practice, i.e. awareness of how our dogs may experience various situations needs to become second nature.

We will never know what our dogs feel or think, but we can use our mental capabilities to develop awareness and change our point of view. We can evaluate the effects our behaviours have on our dogs and we can change those behaviours to be non-threatening, less confusing and more informative for canine minds.

Training fast and slow

Once we have obtained the necessary knowledge and gained an insight into our dogs’ lives we are ready to dive into the nuts and bolts of dog training. What exactly are we going to teach our dogs and how do we go about it?

The number one goal should be to equip our dogs for life in human society. What generally turns dogs from cuddly puppies into adult pariahs is lack of impulse control. Teaching our dogs not to jump on, run at or grab anything they fancy is usually essential for a harmonious relationship and could be considered basic education. Beyond that, we can teach our dogs all sorts of things. Any training, as long as it is safe and enjoyable for the dog, is good for them, just like learning new skills is good for us.

Ideally we want the essential behaviours to be installed without much delay, as soon as the dog joins our household. With proper planning we can often quickly teach new skills at home – the time investment can be as little as a few minutes per day – and then practise and refine those skills in more challenging contexts. Every dog has a vested interest in the consequences of their actions, so they are just as eager to cut to the chase as we are. They want to figure out how to turn good things (food, play, companionship) on just as much as we want to turn bad behaviour off. However, if the speed of learning is our prime parameter, we risk being sloppy and may switch focus back from teaching skills to merely suppressing behaviours. And with it comes a whole cascade of messed up emotions and undesirable behaviours. This is how we end up on the potentially very slow road to modify behaviour problems.

Keeping a cool head is essential if we want our dogs to succeed in our homes. If we get angry or feel exhausted because our dogs are behaving “badly” (for example the dog barks a lot in the yard) we need to put measures in place to give us a reprieve. By not giving the dog the opportunity to engage in the troublesome behaviour (for example, by keeping the dog in the house at times when there is too much stimulation outside), we keep our sanity and don’t take our frustration out on our dogs. I need to stress that taking measures for managing problematic behaviour does not include putting citronella collars on a pair of Border Collies who bark all day in the yard out of boredom while their people are at work or anything of that category. At best it’s thoughtless, at worst it’s heartless. Punishing dogs for our failure to keep up their required mental and physical exercise cannot possibly be an option, ever. Once we have control of a situation with good management, we can then start thinking about a long term solution that works for both us and our dogs.

Unless we are eager enough and can afford the time to learn everything about dog training ourselves, getting competent help is usually the way to go. However, hiring a dog trainer or sending our dogs off to a “board & train” does not absolve us from the task of integrating our dogs into our lives. The expertise on how to train a dog and some of the actual training may well be delivered by a qualified professional, but it is our continued behaviour and lifestyle that ultimately determines our dogs’ success or failure in the long run. If we do not get involved in our dogs’ training, we may not just lose out on the thrill of seeing our dogs win, we may lose our dogs altogether. So, let’s get serious about training our dogs for life and have some fun.



1 I borrowed this from an important initiative to improve human quality of life: “Education for All” (EFA) is a global movement by UNESCO to provide quality basic education for all children. Let’s have a movement to provide basic training to all domestic dogs!

2 Stark, J 2014, Taming teen troubles, The Sunday Age, 31 August, p. 6. (Book review: Fuller, A 2014, Tricky Teens: How to create a great relationship with your teenager without going crazy!, Finch Publishing, Sydney).

Crosspaws Dog Training Information


The Slow Dog Training Revolution

About 25 years ago, somewhere in Italy, an idea took hold that would grow into a global movement: The “slow food revolution”. It started as an attempt to counter our ever increasing fast food, fast paced and unmindful lifestyles. It promoted “real food” – locally and ethically produced food and wine that was to be savoured slowly and consciously rather than gobbled up in a hurry to fill the stomach. What may be less known is that the initiative also targeted the potential risks of thoughtless consumerism after a greedy businessman poisoned hundreds of unsuspecting people with cheap diluted wine.

Our society’s hunger for fast and cheap products and services has resulted not just in a loss of conscious and mindful living, but also in potential risks to people from unscrupulous businesses.

I think it might be time for a “slow dog training revolution”. Rather than being just another chore, training our dogs can be an enjoyable and enlightening activity. It offers a unique opportunity to learn up close how another species experiences the world. It teaches us new things, opens our minds and ultimately brings us closer to our dogs. Taking a slow approach also means we become more aware of our own actions and behaviours and how they affect our dogs. It helps us to make smarter choices when deciding on training methods, getting professional help and allowing others to interact with our dogs.

What exactly is dog training?

First we need to understand what dog training really is. Dog training is the teaching of one or more new skills to a dog. It is a step by step process towards a specific training goal. It can also apply to the modification of existing behaviour which may require an even more incremental process, especially if the behaviour is controlled by underlying fear or anxiety.

Acquiring a new skill or changing one’s behaviour is rarely compatible with expectations of fast results or instant gratification. Just like humans, dogs need time to learn new things or to overcome their fears and phobias. Furthermore, many skills we want them to learn are either not in their natural repertoire or even go against their natural instincts. Without an understanding just how difficult it can be for our dogs to comply with our requests, we risk wasting our time, losing our temper and harming our dogs. Thoughtfulness is the first essential step in state-of-the-art dog training.

Apart from time and patience, good dog training requires knowledge, self-discipline and good observational skills from the human teacher and motivation and confidence from the canine student.

When time is running out, patience is running thin

Unfortunately when our dog’s behaviour turns into a problem we quickly feel stressed or under pressure. Maybe the dog is destroying the house or the neighbours have started to complain. The problem needs to be fixed – now. That sense of urgency can easily lead to hasty decisions, leave us vulnerable to dodgy advice and risk our dogs’ wellbeing. We might hand our dogs over to “boot camp” without enquiring exactly what will be done to them. We may take advice from a person who calls themselves “dog trainer” or “dog behaviourist” without checking their qualifications and methods of training. We get roped in by clever marketing or a trainer’s air of authority. This is how we and our dogs get hurt. The dog training industry has no shortage of misleading claims and promises of quick fixes and guaranteed solutions without any mention of the potential risks and side effects. The result may well be a change in the dog’s behaviour, but at what cost? And with the real fallout not always being obvious until much later, we are left with no one to blame but ourselves.

The path to safe and efficient dog training

Long gone are the days when people were intimidated by authority. These days we are more informed and educated than ever before. We ask questions, we demand explanations, we want to see evidence. Even the most time-pressed person has an interest in getting the best value for their money, but it does require some effort. Before we can evaluate a particular service we need to understand what to look for, how to interpret marketing language and what questions to ask. Without knowledge we remain at the mercy of salesmen. But, how to find the right knowledge? The amount of available information, vastly increased by the internet, is almost paralysing. Where to begin?

Well, we already know that dog training is the teaching of skills. This allows us to weed out any trainers whose methods sound like magic tricks or some form of secret business. Animal learning is a science. It’s not a matter of opinion or the dominion of people who believe they have special gifts. Animal learning deals with classical and operant (instrumental) conditioning, reinforcement and punishment. The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) has an informative brochure on this which provides anyone who cares about their dog with a good understanding of the basics for dog training.

When trying to find a suitable dog trainer we may then enter something like “positive dog training” into our search engines. Unfortunately the phrase is as unreliable as the “organic” or “free range” labels on various food products. Anyone can claim that they are using “positive” methods. It doesn’t mean anything. When “positive reinforcement dog training” started to take off, many businesses jumped on the bandwagon and adjusted their marketing. But did they also change their methods?

A possible first step when screening a trainer could be to look for a formal qualification. I doubt anyone would send their children to a school where teachers are not suitably qualified. Or how about hiring a psychiatrist who doesn’t have a degree? Those professions have clear regulations for qualification, but sadly this is not the case with dog trainers. Even the term “behaviourist” is not legally protected. Asking lots of questions may help but only if one knows what questions to ask. Here is where relevant professional organisations can give a hand, such as the “American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviour“. AVSAB has a very useful info sheet on how to choose a dog trainer which is essential reading for anyone looking for help with their dog.

With a proper understanding of what dog training is and how it affects our dogs – both short term and long term – we are able to take better control of outcomes. By investing some time in our dogs’ training we can all benefit – dogs, humans and the community. Well behaved and happy dogs are not just less likely to become depressed, aggressive and end up in shelters; they are simply easier to live with and can add a great deal of happiness to our lives. Apart from playing, cuddling and exercising with our dogs, training them can be another enjoyable activity if we allow it to be. All it takes it to slow down a little, so we can make the best choices for us and our dogs.



Crosspaws: About Slow Dog Training

Reward Based Training – link to ‘AVA’ info sheet, PDF
How to Chose a Dog Trainer – link to ‘AVSAB’ info sheet, PDF
The Use of Punishment for Behavior Modification in Animals – link to ‘AVSAB’ position statement, PDF


Why Sausage Rolls are Better than Alpha Rolls

Humans are smart, right? Not only are we capable of impressive mental gymnastics because of those uniquely complex brains of ours, we also understand more and more exactly how our brains work. We have come a long way in finding out what we share with and what sets us apart from other animals’ brains. This is how we know that dogs think differently from us.

Dogs are smart too. But their mental capacities and brain functions have evolved to accommodate a different lifestyle to ours. When training our dogs we need to keep this is mind. Unfortunately, neither the still popular “alpha dog” techniques, which are supposed to teach your dog that you’re ‘the boss’, nor expecting our dogs to be moral creatures and do things out of the goodness of their hearts are considering the true nature of the dog. Not very smart on our part.


Good teachers know and respect their students

Understanding a dog’s intelligence and behaviour is essential if we want to find the best approach to living with and training our dogs. It is more scientific, more efficient and ultimately more humane than many current dog training methods. A dog’s behaviour is firmly based in the evolutionary history of the species which equips each individual with the necessary toolbox for survival and reproduction. Intelligence then could be described as possessing the complete toolbox and being able to use these tools to one’s advantage. This can differ significantly between dog breeds. Artificial selection by humans has enhanced certain traits in dogs while neglecting or sacrificing others and we did so purely with our own agenda in mind. Now we are left with a large variety of abilities and temperaments in our modern dog breeds (not to speak of the myriad of genetic diseases and malformed bodies).

When we talk about a dog’s intelligence, we usually refer to her ability to respond to us humans, for example how quickly can this dog learn a specific command or solve a task set by a human mind. While we can see the relevance for a dog to respond to human commands, they do not have the capability to ponder the long term consequences of their actions. A dog does not know what her future might hold if humans do not approve of her. The dog’s genetic legacy is that of a hunter-scavenger who survived and prospered by locating and killing prey, fending off competitors, escaping injury and finding mates. This is far removed from the life we force upon our dogs today when almost everything we ask of them goes against their natural instincts. If they can’t cope, it’s certainly not their fault.


What does this mean for modern dog training? Firstly, the recognition that dogs instinctively do what is right for them – and not what is right for us – and that this is a perfectly normal result of their genetic makeup can help us understand our dogs better. Secondly, by knowing what is normal dog and breed specific behaviour we can use this knowledge to our advantage and train them better. And thirdly, by refraining from judging our dogs’ intelligence by criteria that only we find relevant, we can appreciate our dogs better.

Dog training can be as simple as ABC – no need for Alpha

A dog’s world view is primarily shaped by experiences in the form of “if A happens, then B happens”. If your friendly neighbour regularly gives your dog a sausage, the dog will make a connection: neighbour means tasty food, i.e. “neighbour = good stuff”. The same rule can be applied to the dog’s own behaviour. If – let’s say every time your dog jumps up at you – you throw him on his back and pin him down in an attempt to perform an “alpha roll”, your dog will learn that jumping up results in being rolled over. What happens next is entirely dependent on how your dog experienced the event: was it scary or was it fun? If it was scary, chances are the behaviour of jumping up will decrease, which means the behaviour was punished. If the dog enjoyed being thrown on his back – maybe because he perceived it as play – the behaviour of jumping up will likely increase. The behaviour was rewarded and hence reinforced. What will likely not happen is that the dog becomes more obedient because he somehow realizes that his human is dominant over him.

Social status and dominance hierarchies are human concepts. While we can observe behaviour that we label ‘dominant’ or ‘submissive’ in many other animals, this is quite different from our human understanding of social status today. In modern human society the term ‘dominance’ has been largely disconnected from the original purpose of gaining or retaining essential resources. Although social status can be related to socio-economic status, humans also tend to consider social status as a goal in itself. Honour and self-worth come to mind. Judging by everything we know today, there is no evidence that dogs use so-called ‘dominant’ displays in any other way than to obtain or defend valuable resources. Dogs don’t fight for something as abstract as status or glory. They don’t spend their days contemplating their relationships with other individuals and think of ways to become more dominant over them. Even if they did have a grasp of how their lives fit in with ours, they would probably quickly realize that we control all of their resources. It’s a needless worry that there may be a status contest between dogs and humans.

At the very least then, alpha rolling your dog or using other confrontational methods in an attempt to establish yourself as the dominant ‘pack leader’ could be considered a waste of time and energy. In reality, however, it’s worse. For most dogs being subjected to any sort of violent and threatening behaviour is a scary experience. It creates fear and avoidance of the person who subjected them to the experience. It can also cause fear and phobias of certain contexts and situations and it can trigger a whole range of other problem behaviours including aggression.

By sticking to the simple “if A, then B” principle, we don’t need to fish for complex explanations for our dogs’ behaviour. By actively avoiding intentional or accidental anthropomorphising (there it is –the ugly word!) and the projection of human values and abstract concepts onto a different species we are off to a better start in our relationship with dogs. We have the power to modify our dogs’ behaviour without frightening them, simply by focussing on how behaviour is triggered and how it is either reinforced or discouraged.

Life is better with wine and sausages

Using reward-based training methods is safe and humane as it carries none of the risks mentioned above. Rewards can be whatever your dog fancies, but food is by far the most convenient reinforcer. There is nothing wrong with using food. It doesn’t ‘corrupt’ a dog, just as accepting a nice bottle of wine for helping a friend move house doesn’t corrupt you. You would have helped anyway, right? But what if your friend moves house every six months? When does it become too much effort for you to keep doing it out of the goodness of your heart? Yet this is what we generally ask of our dogs, creatures who do not possess our moral values and ethical codes. We expect them to do things that they would never do voluntarily, whenever we want, and we expect them to do it for free!

Is it really too much to ask that our dogs be rewarded for doing what we want? Why deny our dogs – or ourselves – the good things in life? Force-free dog training methods based on positive reinforcement strengthen the bond with our dogs instead of making them fearful. As a consequence they are more likely to comply with what we ask of them in the future and less prone to develop behaviour problems. Happy, well-behaved dogs make happy people. It’s a win-win situation.



Dog Training Methods – link to resources at www.crosspaws.com.au
Status as a Valued Resource in Humans – link to ‘Social Psychology Quarterly’ article, PDF