The sense of smell of a German Shepherd

“Maggie’s long German shepherd nose had more than two hundred twenty-five million scent receptors.This was as many as a beagle, forty-five times more than the man, and was bettered only by a few of her hound cousins. A full eighth of her brain was devoted to her nose, giving her a sense of smell ten thousand times better than the sleeping man’s, and more sensitive than any scientific device. If taught the smell of a particular man’s urine, she could recognize and identify that same smell if only a single drop were diluted in a full-sized swimming pool.”
— Robert Crais  (Suspect)

The Old Trainer: You Can Teach Your Dogs Almost Anything

DEAR OLD TRAINER: Your advice on how to teach “left” and “right” really worked. I was skeptical if Keely, my Springer, and Spec, my Brittany, could figure it out, but they learned it in two days and it was easy. What else can I teach them?

A: Anything that pops into your mind. The nice thing about routine training is you just go about your daily routine, assign commands to what you do and your dogs learn with no effort on your part.

I try to add at least one command a week for my pack. Two weeks ago I started saying “feed the birds,” as I got the bird seed ready. Now, as soon as they hear it they race me to the bird feeders.

I added one this week they love. They already knew to bark when I said, “speak.” I changed the command from “speak” to “say goodbye,” and held the phone out when I said it. Now, when I finish a call with a friend, I say, “hold it, the dogs have something to say,” then hold the phone out to the pack and tell them “say goodbye.” They like it so much they listen for the slight change in voice tone when I’m about to end a call and start singing to hurry me up so they can bark.

It makes no difference what you say as long as it’s part of your routine. Some of the others I use are “go for a ride,” “dinner time,” “bed time,” and “take a nap.” If it’s something the dogs are used to doing with you, all you do is give it a name and let them figure it out.

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A wolf pack: the first 3 are the old or sick, they give the pace to the entire pack.  If it were the other way round, they would be left behind, losing contact with the pack.  In case of an ambush they would be sacrificed.

Then come 5 strong ones, the front line.

In the center are the rest of the pack members, then the 5 strongest following.

Last is alone, the alpha.  He controls everything from the rear.  In that position he can see everything, decide the direction.  He sees all of the pack.

The pack moves according to the elders pace and help each other, watch each other.

The Old Trainer – Behavior

DEAR OLD TRAINER: Max, my 10-month old English Sheep Dog, loves to play at the dog park and has a favorite dog he plays with. They roll over and over, take off in a wild run, then come back and start rolling again. A lady said, “Max is a submissive dog.” She said if a dog rolls over on its back that shows it’s submissive. What does that mean?


DEAR ANONYMOUS: It means a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. There is probably more hot air around the dog park about submissive/dominant behavior than all other subjects combined.

Max rolling over on his back while playing has zero to do with submissive behavior and everything to do with the way puppies play.

All dogs display submissive and dominant behavior. A dog may show both a dozen times in a one-hour span.

People like the dog park lady see submission as weakness and dominance as strength, but canine behavior is far more complicated than that. They are projecting human psychology onto dogs, a failing that causes most problems people have in training and understanding their dogs.

All canine acts are based on pack psychology and designed to keep peace within the pack. Dogs assess a situation, decide which act will make their lives the most pleasant and act accordingly.

And most of the time they are faking it. We have all seen our dogs break a rule, act submissive long enough to convince us they are sorry, then take off running and playing the instant we forgive them.

The most dominant dog I ever had, an alpha female who thought she and I ran the world, was submissive to a lazy Greyhound because he was the only dog she couldn’t outrun.

I have never seen a dog that is always dominant or always submissive, and I doubt one exists.

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No way out

That’s why we burn the boats when we land on the beach.

Because the only way out is through.

It’s pretty easy to bail out of a course (especially a free online course that no one even knows you signed up for). Easy to quit your job, fire a client or give up on a relationship.

In the moment, walking out is precisely the best short-term strategy. Sometimes this place is too hard, too unpleasant, too much…

The thing is, though, that the long-term strategy might be the opposite. The best long-term approach might be to learn something, to tough it out, to engage with the challenge. Because once you get through this, you’ll be different. Better.

Seth’s Blog

The Old Trainer – Chewing on dog bed

DEAR OLD TRAINER: Charlotte, my 18-month old Aussie/Lab mix, loves to pull her bed out of her doghouse and chew it. I have tried everything to stop her, but nothing works. Sometimes when I come home the backyard looks like storm hit it. Do you have any suggestions?


A: I know the problem well, Carol. Some of my best and smartest dogs spent their youthful years doing the same thing. Beds are just another toy to a young dog.

I use old blankets and sheets for my dog’s beds and I have one of the world’s finest collections of blankets and sheets with holes in them.

It’s not a serious behavior problem and is easy to cure if you catch the dog in the act, but that can be hard to do. You can’t scold a dog for something it does while you are gone or it thinks it is being scolded because you came home.

If you do see her in the act, roll up a newspaper and whack it on your leg, making as much noise as possible, and tell her, “no, this is not a toy, don’t you chew this bed, blah, blah, blah.” The words are unimportant as long as you make lots of noise with the paper and let her know you are upset. Point the paper at her between whacks.

If you don’t catch her in the act but see she has pulled the bed out, use a variation of the same lecture. Pick up the bed and hit the bed with the paper. Tell her “this is my bed. My bed. This is not a toy! This is my property.”

Again, the words are unimportant. You are showing her the bed belongs to you and you get mad when something happens to it. That way you focus your anger on the bed, not the dog. She begins to realize there is something special about the bed that is different from her toys.

Another solution is to remove the bed when you leave and only put it back in the doghouse when you can watch to see if she starts to play with it.

But the easiest solution is to remove the bed and spread about a foot of straw in the dog house. Dogs love straw or hay as a bed, they can’t chew it, and when it gets worn after a few weeks you just empty it out on the ground and it becomes compost. You can get straw and hay at any farm and ranch supply store.

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In The Time Of Your Life

“In the time of Your life, live-so that in that good time there shall be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life your life touches. Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding place and let it be free and unashamed.

Place in matter and in flesh the least of the values, for these are the things that hold death and must pass away. Discover in all things that which shines and is beyond corruption. Encourage virtue in whatever heart it may have been driven into secrecy and sorrow by the shame and terror of the world. Ignore the obvious, for it is unworthy of the clear eye and the kindly heart.

Be the inferior of no man, or of any men be superior. Remember that every man is a variation of yourself. No man’s guilt is not yours, nor is any man’s innocence a thing apart. Despise evil and ungodliness, but not men of ungodliness or evil. These, understand. Have no shame in being kindly and gentle but if the time comes in the time of your life to kill, kill and have no regret.

In the time of your life, live—so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it.”

Allies – Humans and Dogs

Dogs are the only species on earth that have allied with humans.

There is no stronger interspeceis alignment on planet earth than man and dog.