Trish McMillan—an extensively educated, highly experienced behaviorist with a long, varied resume involving training and otherwise helping animals shape (or re-shape) their behavior—recalls growing up loving animals, feeling a kinship with them, both as a kid in her family and, later, training and showing horses. While animals were clearly a lifelong passion, she describes her circuitous academic and professional path to work as a behaviorist, including attending art school, and, afterwards, eking out a living. But then she managed to talk her way into The University of Exeter, in England, where she earned a master’s degree in Animal Behavior. (She is also a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, and an Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant.) McMillan outlines some of the most common behavioral challenges in dogs, and how best to address them. She also talks a bit about cat training, how it differs fundamentally from dog training, how effective a clicker (or making the sound of a clicker) can be, and how cat training is most often employed to mitigate litter box issues. McMillan spent a sizable chunk of time discussing the complex and controversial topic–behavioral euthanasia: defining it, how animal lovers who have a deeply troubled animal—often, a dangerously aggressive one—inevitably feel there must always be one more option to try, recounting her own experience with such a dog and eventually recognizing there actually wasn’t one more option. As a measure of how powerful this situation is, and how much more common it is than many might think, McMillan recalls how she and fellow trainer Sue Alexander decided to create “Losing Lulu,” a support group for people who have lost animals, of all species, to their own behavior—in just two years, the group has swelled to 9000 members. She offers her suggestions for looking for a trainer &/or behaviorist to help with an animal’s behavioral issues. (https://trishmcmillan.com, https://www.facebook.com/McMillanAnimalBehavior, https://www.facebook.com/teothepitbull, https://www.instagram.com/pibbling/)
ALSO: I spoke briefly with Jennifer Kanady, who has led, or consulted, on campaigns to pass anti-tethering laws that prevent people from leaving their dogs chained or otherwise tied up outside. She discussed the challenges in passing these laws, including the resistance of some dog owners, and why. Owing partly to the efforts of the League of Humane Voters—Florida, the state of Florida now has anti-tethering bills pending in both the House (HB 177) and the Senate (SB 650), and Kanady suggests steps people can take to help advance these bills. (http://lohv-fl.org)
COMEDY CORNER: Steven Wright’s “Dog Stay” (http://www.stevenwright.com)
MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals
NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.
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