The Not So Secret Life Of Dogs | Patricia McConnell | Talks at Google

[MUSIC PLAYING] CHRISTINE: Hello, everyone. Thank you for coming. I would like to introduce
Patricia McConnell. She is a zoologist and
certified animal behaviorist. And she has written several
really excellent books on understanding
your dog's behavior. Her classic is for
sale in the back. Unfortunately, I screwed
up the book order. And she has a brand new
book that has just come out. You guys should
all go and pick up the classic, because it is
like the definitive guide on understanding
your dog's behavior. And then you should
read that, and then you should go and pick up her new
book, "The Education of Will", which is also available
from Posman Books, who does the books for these.

But she'll be signing
those at the end. And so yeah,
Patricia– thank you. PATRICIA MCCONNELL:
Thank you, Christine. Thanks for coming. Thanks, Posman Books and
Nick for bringing some books. We'll talk about
different books. Hello. Glad to see you. So the word is all
over the country that Google is like a big
dog-lover group, which is so cool. The fact that you have
dog-treat stations– I have to tell you,
I'm just blown away. That's just like the
coolest business practice I can imagine. I would imagine most of
everybody here loves dogs. Probably wouldn't
be here, right? So Here's the thing, though. Just because you love
dogs doesn't always mean you understand them,
which makes a lot of sense, because I really, really love
lots of people in my life– like, let me ask you this. Do you always understand
your partner, your husband, your wife, your
mother, your child? Maybe not. Perhaps not always. So love doesn't always
equal understanding. So what I'm going to talk
about in the beginning is a little bit about tweaking– I'm guessing because you
guys love dogs so much and this is such a dog
culture, that you're really pretty good at reading dogs.

So I want to give the
advanced-level talk on reading really
subtle signs of dogs and knowing how your behavior
can have a profound influence on their behavior. That's a lot of what I
talk about in the book "The Other End of
the Leash", which is talking about humans as
primates and dogs as canines, and comparing our behavior,
which often gets along really, really well, because
we both love to play. But dogs hate to be hugged. And primates hug all the time. So I'm actually going to
start by showing you a video. It's an advertisement. And so what I want you
to pay attention to is how the tiniest,
tiniest movement can convey a huge, huge message. All right? So this is communication
between humans. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] [MUSIC PLAYING] By the way, research
and psychology showed she is actually
actively flirting with him– touching the hair,
looking over, more hair– maybe not quite to
that extent, though.

Keep watching. There. [END PLAYBACK] Did You see the double-take? How long did that last? It's like a third
of a second, right? But it conveyed a great
deal of information. So I'm going to show
you another video– this time between dogs. And there's a tremendous amount
of communication going on between these two dogs. This is from the internet. This is from Eastern Europe. These are two mastiffs standing
over a spilled pile of kibble. And I will tell you
right off the bat so that you're not stressed– there is no horrible injury. There is actually no fight here. Yes, it's OK. Don't need a trigger warning. Not necessary for dogs. I actually show a lot of videos. A lot of my work has been
with aggression with dogs. And I've shown a lot of videos
in which people were a wreck. And I learned I have
to tell them, it's OK. Nobody is going to get bitten. So here's your job. I show this video all the time
to professional dog trainers. And here's the question I
ask them, and I'll ask you.

When do you know which dog
is going to get the food? One of the dogs gets the
kibble without a fight. And I want you to call
out when you first see a sign that you think you
can predict which dog is going to get the food. That was a very
clear cue, wasn't it? Bet you missed it. [INAUDIBLE] Yep, somebody else saw it. Watch the head of the
dog in the forehand.

Watch the head turned to
the right ever– there. That's it. And watch what happens
with the dog in the back. Oh. I can maybe move forward one
inch and see what happens. And what happens is the
other dog sits down. So they've already had an
elaborate conversation. Don't feel bad if you
missed the head turn. I didn't see it until I watched
it the second or third time. So I'm going to keep playing
it, just because it's really fun and interesting. And it's a wonderful example
that quote "dominance" or something very
different– force– those are not the
same thing at all. Force does not always
get you what you want. Do you to see the dog
in the background? Do you see– not
looking directly at the other dog,
a lot of blinking.

See the blinky eyes? Blinky, blinky, blinky-eyed–
a lot of appeasement behavior. It's like when you order
something off the menu and go like, I'm so
sorry, but could I have the sweet-potato fries
instead of the regular fries? This is appeasement behavior. But it's also a really
smart, strategic dog, because I'm just doing
one thing at a time to see what the result is. And you're getting to– I'm just going to lie down. I just happened to lie down. Oh, look.

There's– This is right. I just– my nose
fell onto the ground. Cool, right? So we can also communicate
interspecifically. We can communicate between
people and between dogs. However, we're not
always accurate. Sometimes, we get confused. I talk in "The Other End of
the Leash" about the fact that we interpret
some things one way. Dogs interpret them another. I'm not actually going
to talk about hugs today, but that's a perfect example. Primates of almost all
species, especially apes, of which we are– as you well
know, of which we are one– are huggers. We hug for a variety of reasons. We hug to express love. We hug to express solace. We hug to give comfort.

A hug to a dog is a threat. You ever see dogs
hug in a dog park? No. When one dog puts an arm over
the shoulders of another dog, it's an offensive move. It's not aggressive,
necessarily. But it's a controlling,
offensive move that means, I'm on offense, you're on
defense, and I'm in charge. So how many people get bitten
when they hug their dog? I can't tell you. I have so many clients who
got bitten because they hugged a dog that they didn't know. And the dog took it as a threat.

And the person thought they were
expressing love and comfort. So we need interpret
these things correctly. And it turns out some of us
are– not surprisingly– better than others at it. This is the work
of Michelle Wan. Michelle Wan got her
PhD based on a research project in which she videoed– I think there were
12 videos of dogs– little short videos
that people have sent in of dogs behaving
in different ways.

And then she asked people– thousands of them. She did online. She has thousands and
thousands of people to tell her to rank how
stressed this dog is. Is the dog frightened? Is the dog happy? Basically, rate the
emotional state of the dog you're looking at. So I'm going to ask you. Before I tell you, I'm going
to ask you to rate this one. So what would you
say about this dog? Yes. And the first thing I
would ask, is it hot? Is it hot outside? But stressed– absolutely. And here's what
turned out to be– I guess, not shocking– apparently shocking
to some, but still a really, really interesting. She rated people
based on how much experience they had with dogs. Are you a PhD-certified
applied animal behaviorist? That would be me. Are you someone who
has never had a dog? Are you someone who's
had a dog all your life but just one dog at a time? And not surprisingly, the
more experience people had, the more likely they were to
say, this dog, for example, was stressed.

Lots and lots and lots of people
who had dogs and loved them that didn't have a lot
of experience with them said this dog is
happy and friendly. And there's something that– [DOG BARKING NOISES]
I love dog talk. So I want you to
watch something. Did you pay attention to the
hindquarters of this dog? Look at its hindquarters. Something's wrong
physically with that dog. So one of the things
I would have said is, I want to take this dog to
a sports-medicine physiologist, because he's not putting
any weight on his back end, especially his back right. There's just so much we
can see if we get really, really good at paying
really careful attention. So let's start with
facial expressions, because we are
primates after all. And facial expressions are
incredibly important to us. And it turns out they're
are important to dogs, too. Dogs are highly social. Social animals tend
to have very plastic, labile faces that are
emotionally expressive.

So compare a dog's face and
all the different expressions you can see on a dog's
face with a panda bear. Panda bears are adorable. I mean, they're incredibly cute. And they're just vicious
as hell, basically. That's not fair to say to them. But they're asocial. They're solitary animals. They don't need to
express emotions or what they're about
to do in their face. And you can just look
across the board. Who loves horses here? Do we have horse lovers? Horses are highly social.

But they don't have an
elaborate social system as dogs and primates do. And I think part of
the reason we get along with dogs so well is their faces
are so plastic and expressive. And as we'll find out,
many of their expressions are very similar to ours. So if you compare– one of my other books is
"For the Love of a Dog– Understanding Emotions in
People and Your Best Friend". I knew that there was
a lot of similarity between expressions of people
and expressions on dogs' faces. But honestly, I had no idea how
much until I wrote that book. I was blown away. If you analyze it down to the
level of individual muscles, literally, the same
muscles get moved when dogs are happy,
when dogs are fearful, when dogs are angry. So on the left,
you can see fear. And by the way, the
photos of the people are from Dr. Paul Ekman. He's a psychologist. He went around the world
studying expressions of emotions in a
range of cultures and basically found that
people look happy, or sad, or frightened, no
matter what culture they are, whether they
are a New Guinean If preindustrial
hunter-gatherer society.

They look happy when they're
happy in the same way that we look happy
when we're happy. By the way, when it
came out in the– oh man, what was it? I think it was maybe
the '40s and '50. It was really controversial. It was when Margaret Mead
came out and was talking about the importance
of culture and how so much was enculturated
and so little was genetic. And that was sort of a hot
belief perspective at the time. And Ekman came out
and said, yeah, but expressions are
actually universal. He got trashed. I mean, somebody poured
water on his head at a scientific conference. I'm serious. If you think science
is like this– I don't need to tell you. I mean, really. People can get very agitated. So it turned out
Ekman was right. Margaret Mead was wrong. But if you compare, it not just
within people across the world. It's also within species,
because frightened dogs– do you see the
corners of the mouth? Frightened dogs pull the
corners of their mouth back.

The commissure is the
corner of your mouth. So it's a retracted commissure. And when we're frightened,
we do the same thing. The eyes also– the preorbital
muscles around the eye do the same thing. Happy, relaxed faces on people
and dogs are very similar– relaxed muscles, sort of
open-faced, and very often, an open mouth. And I'm going to talk
about mouse in a minute, because that's one of the ways
to keep from getting bitten by a dog you don't know.

Anger– now this is
more controversial. I actually gave a talk at the
National Institute of Health. And I was talking
about this work and making the comparisons. And I said, the faces
of a dog when it's angry is similar to the face of a
person when they're angry. And after my talk, a
battery behaviorist actually stood up– literally, and
ironically, shaking with anger, and said, how dare you
talk about anger in dogs. That's an anthropomorphic
attribution that has no basis in fact. And you're going to– and
then she sort of launched. And I've never been quite
that attacked publicly. And so when I sat down,
one of the leaders in the field of anthrozoology,
James Serpell said, what the hell did you do to her? But what I did to
her was I suggested that the paragons of love– you know, the dogs who give us
non-judgmental positive regard and constant unconditional
love could actually get angry.

Well the fact of the matter
is, if a mammal can be fearful, they can get angry, because
those two things are paired together in the amygdala. And the flip side
of fear is anger. And as we all know– ask anybody in the military,
ask any police officer, who is most dangerous? It's a frightened person. Frightened people can
become angry people. And they can get
really dangerous. And when people
are really angry, they make the mouth and the
face of that woman on the top. And dogs– I'm not
saying they have the exact same emotional
internal state. Of course they don't. I mean, I don't have the
exact same emotional state of any of you out there. But is the glass half empty
and a glass half full? And what I will tell you
is that a dog with a face like that dog on the bottom,
that is a dog on offense. And that is a dog
willing to do something. Anger is an emotion
that provides energy. That's what anger is about.

Anger is about
providing energy to help you fight for your life, to
fight for your baby's life. And when you get
really angry, you know how you want
to do something? And when you get smarter,
you're like, just calm down. Just take a breath. So this is a dog who
has a valuable resource right under his
paws, and somebody is about to take it away. That is not a dog I would
reach my hand towards and take something away, because
it's telling me, I am full of energy. And I'm on offense. And I'm willing to use it. So eyes– what's more important
in human communication than eyes? Eyes are really,
really important. As we all know, in our species– and you all know–
with dogs, eye contact can be really friendly,
especially really soft and squinty looks,
or threatening.

People talk about hard-eye. Hard-eye is a round,
fixed eye on a dog. It's really hard to
get a photograph of, because it doesn't last long. And if you get too close,
you're going to get bitten. I actually looked for years. People said, watch for
the dog, because I'm specialize in aggression. So my mentors were
like, watch for when the dog's eyes go hard. And I kept looking for it. I was like, I don't see it. I don't see it. I don't know what
they're talking about. I asked them to describe it. And they were
like, I don't know.

I don't know what it is. I think what it is, is there are
different levels of nystagmus, which is your eyeballs
actually moving back and forth. It's a way of
triangulating the world. It gives your brain
lots of information. So visually, right now, just
watching me or the screen, your eyeballs are actually
going back and forth the tiniest little
bit to triangulate, to give you information about
depth perception and location. During certain potentially
frightening or dangerous encounters, what
happens is that stops. You get information
from the brain. It signals your
neurophysiological system. And everything
stops for a second. And I finally saw it on a dog. She was visiting the farm. She grabbed a dead bird. I went to take it
out of her mouth. And the coolest thing
was that my body saw it before I consciously
registered it.

So I went to reach towards her. And I literally felt
this gut warning system. It was like a-ooga, a-ooga. Dive, dive. Literally, what I felt
was chill in my body. And then I was like, cool. That's hard-eye. I saw hard-eye. I finally saw it. So basically, usually, it's not
just the eye that goes still. It's the whole body
that goes still. Anytime I'm working
with a dog I don't know, I am watching for a loose
body versus a still body.

And one of the mistakes
people sometimes make, relatively often, is
they will sort of– we're told when we're
kids, be a tree. So they'll go like this. And dogs are like, oh, shit. They are so dangerous,
because they're totally stiff and still. And that's what dogs do when
they're fearful and believe that they're in danger. So the dog on the
bottom right, that's a dog actually in a shelter. This is a dog that
would literally scare me to death if I was on
the other end of the leash, because the whole body is tense. It's looking directly into
the eyes of the person holding the leash. And it's a hard, direct stare. That dog is basically
saying, make my day. Just move. Just give me a reason. So that's when you start– you go really
loose, and you sing. And then you try and
distract the dog. And you say, hey, you
want to go on a walk? If you're dealing
with a dog that you're worried about, if you say,
you want to go on a walk, you want your ball, you
want to treat or something– I can't tell you how
many dogs I've flipped.

You know, there's this
German shepherd like, [VICIOUS BARKING NOISES]
outside somebody's door, because they forgot
to take the dog who bites people– when they
come to visit– they forgot to take the dog inside. When I came out and
I got out of my car, there's this huge dog going
[VICIOUS BARKKING NOISES] And so I don't know how
many times I've been like, you want to play ball? And they're like,
yeah, I do, yeah. Distraction is really good. The direct stare is
a really big deal. And this is why a lot
of kids get bitten, because they get right in the
face of a dog, and they lean– will he bite me? I don't know if he's
[INAUDIBLE] They lean.

And they loom and they lean. And they look directly into
the face of somebody else. And it's funny, because
we should understand this, because if you were walking
down the street and somebody you didn't know walked
up to you, you know, and just walk
straight up to you. And we're like,
[BABY TALK],, right? I'd friggin' kill him. But we do that to dogs all the
time, and we think it's good. Here are two individuals of
different species who get that. Watch how hard they work
to not look at each other.

Yep, nope. Nope. Nope. Don't see anything. Yep, nope. Nope. Yep, nope. Nope. Yep. Nope. Ah! Yep. Now I can look. I love that video. So be really careful
of direct contact. I meet a lot of
dogs sideways, and I lean backwards a little bit. Because we're going to talk
about looming in a minute and how important that is. So still on eyes– I call this the anti-Botox
dog trainer trick– is squinty eyes in
both humans and dogs usually means relaxed and happy. So I literally will meet dogs
going like, hi, how are you? Hi! So the more wrinkles
you can get, the better. This is good. Wrinkles are good. I have wrinkles. Again, rounded eyes, aroused. And so this dog on the
left, that's a sled dog.

I was at the sled dog race. And the dog's chained. So any dog who's
trapped is going to be more potentially
on, sort of, defensive– potential defensive aggression. Also, see the pupils. Holy, moly. Widely dilated
pupils which often means arousal or fear,
or constricted pupils, means that dog's
about to attack you. This dog, however, is looking
directly into the sun. And it was snowing
really bright. So this dog's eyes
are just trying to protect his brain from
being brought out, basically. So you do need to
look at context. Whale eye. This is something trainers
talk about all the time. So you meet a dog you've
never met, or your own dog.

And somebody comes
up to your dog. And your dog turns its
head a little bit away, so here's who I'm greeting. And then– and then
turns the eyes back. So you see a lot of
white of the eye. I call it the horror movie
thing, where you're watching, and you're like, I can't watch. And then you can't not watch,
because if you're not watching, you may be killed by
the whatever, you know, the monster thing. But it's like so scary, so
you turn your head away. But then you look. So you get this white of the
eye and the side of the eye. It's a classic example of
a dog who's uncomfortable. So this is a poor little
Rottie in a shelter, who somebody went up to and said,
you know, woosy, woosy, do you want to come home with me? And the Rottweiler was
like, I'm terrified of you. I'm not going to leave.

I'm going to turn my head
away, but I'm not going to take my eyes off of you. This is my favorite
whale eye picture. This was brought to me
when I was doing a seminar about the other end of the
leash kind of stuff, primate versus canid, hugging. So look how happy that kid is. Squinty, happy eyes, open mouth. Oh, so happy. Look how happy the dog is. It's the hugging. The dog is being hugged. Scary. So the mouth is also
really important. I showed you pictures of
this forward commissure. And so a forward commissure
doesn't necessarily mean the dog is angry. But it means it's on offense. On defense– when
you see dogs playing, for example, you'll see one with
the corners of the mouth back, and you'll see one with the
corners of the mouth forward. It's not an area of the body
people tend to pay attention to on the dogs very much. But start watching. Because it's very cool. So the wolves on the right– one is in a higher
status situation.

See the commissure
is slightly forward. Dog in the back is doing
a little tongue flick. That little tongue
flick is often the sign of either appeasement
or low level anxiety. So you go to a vet clinic,
you'll see tongues just flapping everywhere. Just tongue flick, tongue flick. Horses do it too, by the way. And it turns out
that so do people. So that's another
thing to watch for. When you're meeting
with somebody, you see them do this
a lot, they're nervous or they're anxious. Or their lips are really
dry, or I don't know.

I have an overactive tongue. So this is the
classic scary dog. This dog is terrified. And we know it's terrified
because the commissure– look at the commissure. That is a fear grimace
as big as you can make. That dog's really terrified. And you see the
muscles over the eyes. See how they're contracted. The eyebrow-like area is like
pushed medially and down, in the classic "I'm
worried" position. It's the same thing that
people do with their faces. So what we're looking for– if you want to know if your
dog is relaxed and happy, you're looking for neutral eyes,
relaxed muscles, and especially that open mouth.

I can't tell you
how many clients I get come to my office, and
they'd say, here's Barney. And I'd say, I'm just going
to let Barney just walk around the office and sniff the carpet. Barney's looking pretty nervous. His mouth is, like, glued shut,
and he looks pretty tense. And every action
is sort of stiff. I'm just going to not
pay attention to him. And I will wait. And I actually have in my
notes, every client I see, how long it took the
dog to open his mouth.

It's a wonderful, wonderful
way to pay attention to a dog. So let's talk
tails for a minute. Just watch this video, and just
watch how much is going on. So you can see, tails are moving
in a whole variety of ways. So I think of dog's
tails as another– I'm going to play it
again, a couple of times, actually– as another
equivalent of the human mouth. So it's like a smile. So we can smile in a
whole variety of ways.

So there's like. oh, hi! So thank you for coming. So glad to see– there's a true
smile that affects– it's called a Duchenne smile. It affects the muscles
around the eye. So watch for people's
eyes to get crinkly. Because if they don't, then
there's that social smile. They're so like, right. Right. Oh, what an interesting sweater. There is that smile. So dogs can do the same
things with their tails. Dogs can move their tails in a
myriad of ways, some of which you are looking for a big, wide,
sweeping, relaxed tail, where all the muscles are relaxed. Tail is sweeping back and forth. That's a relaxed dog. But I have had, literally, over
100 clients who said to me, his tail was wagging, and
so we thought he was fine. And so that's why
I went to pet him. Or that's why I let
my friends pet him.

Wagging tails are no
more a sign of happiness than all versions of smiles
are signs of happiness. The kind of a stiff body,
base of the tail not moving, and just top of the tail moving,
we think what that means– we're not sure, but
the research suggests that's a dog who is basically
encouraging decreasing the distance between it
and another individual, but not necessarily
for good purposes. So there's also some
research about the direction of tail movement
makes a difference. Let's just watch one dog now.

Pay attention to the little
black and white terrier cross. Watch that dog's tail. So see it's mostly
moving to one side. Now it's freer and bigger. And now it went
over to the right. See that? So it turns out– it turns out there's research
that tells us, perhaps, what this means. And I have to tell
you, I watched relax sweeps versus stiff wags. But I never paid
attention to which way a dog's tail was wagging
until this research came out. So this Italian
researcher, Quaranta, did this really great work
in which, basically, they quantified the sweep, the
magnitude, and the direction of a tail wag.

They had a device overhead,
and so they watched it straight down from a bird's eye view. They quantified it, depending
on what was approaching the dog. Was it an owner? Was it a dog that the
dog had never met? And so, basically, what they
found was illustrated perfectly by that Terrier. So there was a right side bias
towards the owner or something the dog was comfortable with. Just like you saw
with the Terrier who was meeting that really
sweet, soppy little Golden who was in that
super appeasing position with its tail flattened. [DOG TALK] says hi. And I'm glad to see you. And as soon as he was
greeted by that dog, the tail went to the right. When it was being
greeted by that Husky, that I would suggest, given
the tail posture and the way the Husky came up, the Terrier
was a little intimidated by, it went to the left side. So go home and start
watching your dog's tail. And I'll tell you it's awful. Because for a couple of days,
you're going to be like, I don't know. Is it going– which way? And then once I was
walking down the stairs, and my dog's tail kept
going to the left.

I was like, oh, no, my
dog doesn't love me. But I was walking down– he's
at the bottom of the stairs, and I'm walking down the stairs. This was Willy. And then when I
got to the stairs, it switched to the other side. So pay a lot of attention. Because I think we
have a lot to learn. Obviously, we have
a lot to learn. It's really fun stuff. So looming, I referenced
this a little bit earlier. Looming over dogs is the
perfect way to get bitten. And I would guess, honestly–
and I'm making this number up completely, because nobody
has done the research– but I would almost
guarantee you it causes 50% of the
bites in this country. Because one, little kids
don't know not to do it. The most common
demographic of a dog bite is a five to seven-year-old boy. Are we surprised? No. And kids don't know. You know, they
really don't know. They run up, and they want to
hug, and they want to loom, and they want to do that hi
ya thing, right in faces. But even if nobody is
reaching out to peck, look at the physics of this.

I mean, it's really–
or the geometry. It's really, really simple. When dogs are
confronting others– and some would call
this a dominant posture. We can talk about the D
word later, if there's time. It's very controversial. It's been misinterpreted and
misused just relentlessly. But so one dog is in
an offensive position. Another dog is in a
defensive position. They loom. And I actually had– I had somebody, I think
it was on my blog– who wrote, I have a
dog who never bites. There was this case
where the dog never, ever bites another dog. But at a dog park, he
sort of knocks dogs over, and then stands over them,
and then won't let them up. Is that aggression? I'm like, yeah. Yeah. That's called really
serious bullying behavior. I mean, little
dogs on the bottom, they can be terrified by that. I mean, it's just jerks. So if you have a dog who
does that, then teach them– it's not that hard– just
teach them to be called away when we ask them. So it would be like, that'll do.

Here, here. So if you have a
dog like that, you need to be sure that you have
enough obedience on that dog, enough training on the dog,
you can just call him away. Because it's really rude. But also, when
you meet a dog you don't know, be really thoughtful
about this versus this. Because one of the cool things
about my field in zoology was ethology, which
is a lot about– well, it's about behavior
in the field.

But I specialize
in communication. And one of the
things we all know is that a tiny
shift– so I'm going to lean one way or the other,
like a half an inch, OK? So tell me which way. Am I leaning forward
or backwards? So that was like, I
couldn't move less. I don't know how much
I moved, but it's not possible to move less. And you saw it. You all saw it, right? That's a tiny bit forward. Dogs are brilliant
at reading this.

So when I meet dogs who
are defensively aggressive, the first thing I do
is I stand sideways– because I don't want
to loom, right– I stand sideways, and I put
my weight on my back leg. Because that's a
huge cue to them. They got it. I'm already saying, I'm
not going after you. I'm back here. We're good. I'm the Mastiff who's
going to get the food.

But I'm like, I'm good. Versus the other dog who's like,
[GROWLING] who got nothing. Because again, force doesn't
always get you what you want. This is an ancient, old video. So I apologize for the quality. But this is my Lassie,
long since gone. Bless her adorable, sweet,
ice cream, little heart. Lassie was just
learning to work sheep. And she's at a friend's farm. This is Beth Miller. And she's working sheep
who have baby lambs. Sheep are not– people
think sheep are defenseless, frightened, docile. Yeah, they're not. They have heads like anvils. And they can, like, smash
you into the ground. And they usually don't
choose to do that. But the mothers who
have babies, who are being faced with a
predator, a canid, who could eat their babies,
they can be very defensive.

So watch Lassie. And watch where her
center of gravity is. And watch the effect
that it has on the sheep. And then we're going to
compare it with another dog. So these are sheep with lambs
in a corner, which is like sheep herding graduate school. basically. So see the blackface
just challenged her? And Lassie was like, oh, shit.

pexels photo 5749819

I'm going to go over here. So Beth is doing
the right thing. She's protecting the dog. I've had to do this
with my current dog. You basically have to
teach– they don't know they have teeth in their mouth. Life's not fair So I'm
actually going to fast forward to the opposite. So Lassie became a
great herding dog. So this is an older dog
who is the opposite. And watch the direction
of his energy. And watch the
reaction of the sheep. So this is a very
confident older dog who's being asked to walk up. So each step predicts that
he's going to move forward the next time, right? She puts her– it's
a little try here, so she just went
a little forward.

And the dog was like, um, yeah,
that's going to get me closer. And now he does a really wise
thing, which you might think is weak. But it's actually
strategic and really smart. He's going to get
attacked, or threatened. And he's going to lie
down, which is brilliant. Because it's like, I don't want
to get in a fight with you. We're good. Did you see the stomp? Did you see the
blackface stomper? She just turned. So he just– it's
like, yeah, we're good. But I'm not backing up an inch. I'm going to lie down to
take the pressure off of you. But I'm not backing up an
inch, not a half an inch, not a quarter of an inch. I'm just here, and you're
going to leave the corner. Yes, you are. We're good, girls.

And there we go. So isn't that a great example? So pay a lot of attention,
when you're meeting a dog, where your body is. Because believe me, your dog
is paying a lot of attention. Here's another not
particularly great video. This is just, actually, me
teaching two dogs to stay, using a combination of
positive reinforcement. They've never heard
this command before. I would never normally throw a
treat behind me to test them. Normally, I would just
be giving them treats. See, she shook off a little bit. That was just, what happened. I'm a little nervous here. So this is Diesel. So he's never been taught stay. And again, I would normally
never go that fast.

So I body blocked him,
just using my body. Never touched him. And then I give him treats
for being where I wanted him. And I'm going to do it again. This is only the second time
this dog has ever been told, stay. And watch my face. It's like, holy god,
this stuff works. How cool is that? So one of the things– I don't have time to talk
about sound very much. That was what my PhD
was actually on, sound. And basically reminds
us that short, rapidly repeated notes, like
bup, bup, bup, bup, encourage dogs, speed dogs up,
and good dog, stay, lie down, soothes and slows them. But after that, after spending
all these years studying sound, I started training classes. And I discovered that honestly,
the dogs were preferentially paying attention
to visual signals. And so that's the biggest thing
you could learn from today. Your dog is always watching you.

All this stuff comes
out of our mouth because we're
primates and humans. They're watching you. And that overrides
what you have to say. There's a little study I did. We taught dogs to sit and
stay to a visual signal, and simultaneously, an acoustic
signal, and then tested them one by one. So the five Border Collie
puppies all did better. They had five possible correct
answers, five out of five visual, puppy one
through four, acoustic– not so good, right? These are the Beagles. This is my "that will teach
you to call your beagle when running in the woods" data set. So they were all taught to
sit to a sound and an action.

And none of them paid
attention to the sound, at all, whatsoever. So one of the things to think
about is that every signal– if you think about
it ethologically, from my background as a
biologist– every cue, every movement,
every signal, has a message from the
sender to the receiver. But what the receiver
gets is the meaning. So when we analyze
cues and signals, like movements, like
leaning forward, are we always asking
ourselves, is it an expression in the internal state? Is it a predictor
of future behavior? Or is it an attempt
to influence another? And what I want to focus
on at the end of my talk is the internal state.

These are, of
course, all combined. Internal state
will often tell you what the animal is about
to do, and often is an attempt to influence
the behavior of another. But I want to focus on the
internal state of emotions right now. Because emotions in
animals are actually still very controversial. This is a email I got after
one of my books came out. "Tell Patricia she's a
naive sentimental fool for believing dogs love us. What total bullshit. Dogs don't love us. It's modified
groveling pack behavior due to selective breeding. Dogs are lobotomized wolves." I would argue that our
relationship with each other is actually modified
groveling pack behavior.

Because we're all doing
it to meet our own needs. I love my husband. I'm happy to do
groveling modified pack behavior to keep him happy. Because he's a wonderful man. And I love him, and
I like being married. So yeah, we're all doing that. And it doesn't mean that– it doesn't mean that
dogs don't have emotions. So here's a very quick video
of a somewhat controversial emotion, which is jealousy. Some people think
dogs can be jealous. Some people think only
humans can be jealous. It's a secondary, more
complicated emotion. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] – So that's the
experiment we did. Recently, we video
taped these new monkeys who had never done this task,
thinking that maybe they would have a stronger reaction.

And that turned out to be right. The one on the left is the
monkey who gets cucumber. The one on the right is
the one who gets grapes. The one who gets cucumber,
note that the first piece of cucumber is perfectly fine. The first piece he eats. Then he sees the other
one getting grape, and you will see what happens. So she gives a rock to us. That's the task. And we give her a piece of
cucumber, and she eats it. The other one needs
to give a rock to us.

And that's what she does. And she gets a grape. And she eats it. The other one sees that. She gives a rock to us. Now guess again, cucumber. [LAUGHTER] She tests a rock now,
against the wall. She needs to give it to us. And she gets cucumber again. [END PLAYBACK] PATRICIA MCCONNELL: if
that's not jealousy, I don't know what is. I think it's a very
simple emotion, basically. I think of course
dogs can be jealous, it's just sort of angry
because they're not getting something
somebody else is getting. How cognitively complicated
do you have to be. However, there's another
emotion that is often, I think, misattributed
to dogs often, which is guilt. You came home.

Your dog ripped up the pillow. And your dog is like, right? And he looks guilty. I know he knows he shouldn't do
that because he looks guilty. Here's a summary by my
colleague Julie Hecht, who did work with
Alexander Horowitz at Columbia, here, on guilt. Did
you hear– this dog went viral. You guys saw this, right? [VIDEO PLAYBACK] – Did you do this? Look at me. Come here. Listen, let me see your face. [END PLAYBACK] PATRICIA MCCONNELL:
So this, by the way, is expression we haven't
had to talk about. It's appeasement. It looks like smiling. It's cuter than hell. But it's appeasement. It's not guilt.

Dog was
on "Good Morning America," became so famous. [MUSIC PLAYING] [VIDEO PLAYBACK] [DOG BARKING] – Leave it. Leave it. Leave it. Leave it. Leave it. [DOOR CLOSES] PATRICIA MCCONNELL: So the
experimenter's going to lie, say the dog ate it. – Come back in. She ate it. – What did you do? [END PLAYBACK] PATRICIA MCCONNELL: There it is. That is appeasement.

It is not guilt. Am I saying
dogs can never be guilty? I'm not saying they
can't, but it's very rare. And mostly what we're
seeing is appeasement. And it's really different, and
we need to pay attention to it. So if you're into
dog cognition– I won't spend too
much time on it– but there's a phenomenal amount
of research going on about canine cognition and the mind. Gregory Berns taught
dogs, using nothing but positive reinforcement,
to lay absolutely motionless in an MRI machine.

How cool is that? And so they're doing MRI
brain studies on dogs. And all kinds of really
wonderful stuff is coming up. One of the things that we need
to understand more about– and I'm going to end talking
about– a uncomfortable emotion, the emotion of fear. Honestly, every behaviorist that
I know agrees that at least 90% of the serious
behavioral problems, especially aggression,
that people have with dogs relates to fear. People are very bad at reading
fear on the face of a dog. I can't tell you how
many times people have misread a fearful
face as a happy face, or just not seen more
subtle signs of it. Dogs are tiny. We're big. We have all the power. Dogs are often very fearful. This little puppy,
this is Will, was on the cover of
the book that's not here, "The Education of Will." So my memoir that just came out. But Posen's will get it for you. So yay for them.

So this is Willy. Is a little puppy,
absolutely adorable. And he's a wonderful dog. Jim and I live on a farm. He's a working sheep dog. He loves to play
with other dogs. He's just a great, wonderful
dog, except when he's not. And, actually, this slide
makes me unbelievably happy. Because this was just
taken last summer. And he's giving what I call
"snake face" to a hound cross who's visiting as
an adolescent male, just being a typical,
sorry, adolescent male.

Just doing goofy, silly
things, and sort of jumping on top of Willy. And Willy was communicating,
don't do that anymore. And this is not a very nice
face on the face of William. However, I am thrilled
with this photograph. Because when Willy was a
year old, or two years old, or even two and
1/2, this would have resulted in a horrific attack. I never would have
let this happen. Willy came to me as
a puppy, as if he'd come back from three
tours in Afghanistan. And it turned out that,
unbeknownst to me, I thought I'd healed
from all these traumas. "The Education of Will"
is about dogs and people facing and healing from trauma. And it turned out that
I thought I was good.

And then Willy came. And he was super sound reactive,
and really problematic, and super aggressive,
in all these contexts. And he ended up setting me back. Set me quite a ways back. And I finally figured out
that in order to heal him, I had to heal me. So dogs like these,
these are scared dogs. Now, I'm not saying
they won't bite you. They might, if you
do the wrong thing. Of course, you have
to protect yourself. But fear, again, is a
very, very powerful emotion and can take over the
behavior of a lot of dogs. Dogs don't need–
oh, this, by the way, that slide I started with? See the whale eye now? This dog is telling you,
please go away from me. I'm afraid of you. Not quite as big a signal,
but still a very clear signal.

There's a very clear whale eye. So fear is a really
primal, primal emotion. And it's shared
between all mammals. You all know about the
amygdala, holds the key. And fear out of balance
can create trauma. If you want to talk to me about
it later, or any questions, I'm happy to talk about it. Basically, I'd been traumatized. I was raped. I was sexually molested earlier. And a man fell from
the sky five stories, and landed there, and died at
my feet, when I was about 17. And it changes your brain. And I thought I was good. I thought I was healed. And then Willy came, and he
was super sound reactive.

And he set me back. So all my PTSD
symptoms came back. So that's what "The
Education of Will" is about. Willy is good now. He's 10. He's really good. I would never bring him
here to meet your dogs. But if he was outside and
saw your dog on the street, he'd be like, hi, are you a dog? I'm a dog. He was incredibly
dog, dog aggressive. He'd be like, good. Hi, how are you? I am really good too. I went through periods where
I didn't sleep for months. I couldn't go into
a dark building. And so I write about that
in "The Education of Will." I promise you it's
a happy story. But it does talk
about trauma, and how dogs can be traumatized too, and
how they don't need dominance. Don't buy into
any of this alpha, you have to dominate your dog to
get your dog to listen to you. There's no science behind that. People just made that up. And it felt good. I think dogs need a sense
of safety and security. So you need to be a
benevolent kind of a leader.

But leader is a word
that's actually been compromised in some senses too. So what dogs need is to
feel safe, and secure, and like they can trust you. And they can trust you to
read their communication, and they can trust that you will
communicate clearly with them. So thank you. It's really fun to be here to
talk to all these dog lovers.

I'm happy. Do you want me to answer
a few questions up here? I am happy to sign
books back there. Where's Christine? Where's Alex? Do we have time for
a few questions? Are we good? You can ask me anything. You can ask me about– I don't know. Hashtag me too. You can ask me about your
dog peeing on the carpet. You can pretty much ask me
anything about behavior. And if I don't know,
I'll say, I don't know. AUDIENCE: Thank you
so much for coming. This is amazing. PATRICIA MCCONNELL: Thank you. AUDIENCE: I have a beautiful
one-year-old 100-pound Berner. And as you can imagine, she's
a pretty big, fluffy target. PATRICIA MCCONNELL: A
Bernese Mountain Dog. AUDIENCE: The
streets of New York. And I know management is the
first Kiefer dog behavior. But try as you might,
people pat her butt. PATRICIA MCCONNELL: Oh, yes. Loom and reach.

AUDIENCE: So just curious– one, like for the times when you
can't manage those situations, what's the best way to either
educate, and then just make sure she's not scared, or
just salvage a situation that happens, probably,
10 times a day. PATRICIA MCCONNELL:
So you're asking me to influence human behavior. AUDIENCE: Well, or how can I? I've got to do this. PATRICIA MCCONNELL: Aren't
you guys good at this? AUDIENCE: I was wondering if you
had talked about [INAUDIBLE].. PATRICIA MCCONNELL: It's hard. It is. I really sympathize. AUDIENCE: Yeah. Or just talking more about
appropriate greetings for strangers on the street,
which is like a common New York City dog owner.

PATRICIA MCCONNELL: Right. Yeah. No, great question. It's really fun. I mean, Jim and I
live in the country, outside of Black
Earth, Wisconsin. Now, I work and teach
in Madison, Wisconsin, which is the capital,
the capital of the state, a beautiful urban place. But nonetheless, we live on
a farm So it's so fun for me to walk around New York and
think about, like, oh, my god, my dogs would be freaking
out if they were here. So a couple of things. And one, I'll just answer
the most extreme, sort of, extreme intensity
of the level.

I have had clients who
literally taught their dog to wear a muzzle, not
because the dog needed it, because people don't pet
dogs with muzzles on. Which is amazing, because
when they have a muzzle on, they're safe, theoretically. You'd have to be careful. Don't ever use a cloth muzzle. You always want to use a big
basket muzzle if you do that. But I literally have
had clients do that, to literally protect their dog. Another thing you can do
is always teach your dog to sit in back of you.

I do a lot of body
walking to people, lots. So I'd work with
a lot of dogs who are fear aggressive
to unfamiliar people. And when we're doing
conditioning programs, I literally– the dog
was always back here, and I was always really quick
to body block the person. And sometimes you have
to be somewhat assertive, especially with dog lovers. And this is just
speaking as a zoologist. I will tell you that,
in general, women will ignore you and reach
towards to pet the dog, and say, oh, no, no,
no, dogs love me.

I have a way with dogs. And guys are more
like, I'm not afraid. It's like, it's not about you. It's about the dog. So if I lived in New
York, then I literally would teach my dog– this would be the cue. And I wouldn't be a cue for me. I would start with a cue for me. So it would be like, back. And I would teach a dog, if I
see somebody about to do this, it would be– so
your dog steps back and is a little bit behind you,
so you can always protect them. But turn it into an auto cue. So turn it into the reach
towards, is I'm going back and I'm sitting down. Wouldn't be hard. Really wouldn't be hard. So that's one thing to do. And another thing to do is from
a level of, oh, I'm so sorry. He's recovering from rabies. One thing I've done a lot– this is only if you have time– is I've said, you need time, and
you need to be far enough away.

So I don't know how
much it would work on the streets of New York. It's like, oh, you
look like a dog lover. I know you're going to help me. I know you know not to come up
and just reach towards the dog right away. Because you look like
a real dog lover. And nobody is willing
to say, like, I was about to reach toward your dog. So does that help? AUDIENCE: Yeah,
that's super helpful. It's like, when they do ask– like, the people that
do the right thing is the best way for,
like, greetings.

Just like a hand out, and
letting the dog decide. PATRICIA MCCONNELL:
Yes, side of the face. So one thing you
can do is always good to give people
something to do. So you can say, oh, I would
love it if you pet my dog. But, you know, here's
what I'd love you to do. Would you take this treat? Put a treat in their hand,
and then you illustrate and say, give him
a treat like that.

And so if you do it, half of
them will do what you say. The other half will just do it
totally wrong and then you– AUDIENCE: We'll start
with the get started. PATRICIA MCCONNELL: Good
So you have one too. AUDIENCE: Yeah. So I have a six-year-old
Dachshund, and he's a rescue. He's like Will–
I'd say, definitely traumatized, like, very
dog aggressive, except when I'm at the dog park. He's not that bad. On a leash, though, terrible. Like, very aggressive. PATRICIA MCCONNELL: Classic. AUDIENCE: Yeah. I've gone through
training with him. So he has a good foundation
of, I'd say, like, sit, stay, go to bed, you know. PATRICIA MCCONNELL: Good. AUDIENCE: But as far
as, you know, still being dog aggressive and even
with strangers, very aggressive with strangers. What are some– PATRICIA MCCONNELL: Yeah. Oh, I hear you. First of all, yay for you,
for rescuing that pup. So here's the best
thing I would do.

And I'll give you the
really short version. The longer version is
in a booklet I wrote, called "Feisty Fido." So basically, you're
going to combine operant conditioning,
Skinner's four quadrants of positive
reinforcement, plus classical conditioning. So the classical
conditioning part is that your Doxey is going
to learn– what's his name? Her? AUDIENCE: Chaco. PATRICIA MCCONNELL: Chaco. So Chaco is going to
learn that each movement towards him– and so remember
to break it up into tiny steps.

So say– oh, I wish he was here. So say Chaco's there with you. So I'm your friend. And I'm one of your friends
who does what you say. So you eliminate half of them. Because we're people. So you would ask your friend
to walk forward one step, and then stop. And as he walks forward, you're
going to give Chaco a treat. And you might even– I like to put an operant
conditioning cue on it too.

So before he sees the
person, you might say, Chaco, look at me. Or look at the person. Like, who is that? I actually taught Will that. It's like, who's that? So he looks at the person. Click. You can just say, good. You don't have to have
a clicker with you. But mark that behavior. And then you give him a treat.

So first, you're going to teach
him an incompatible response. So if he's looking
at you, he's not going to be going
after somebody else. But at the same time,
as you work on that, as people get
closer, they're going to be the ones
throwing the treat. So it's step, throw. Step, throw. And so he's being
classically conditioned in a Pavlovian way, of,
like, person, chicken. Person, chicken. I am no longer afraid of person. But you have to
go really slowly. And what happens
is it's really easy to do the first steps right,
and then go too far too fast. And then all of a sudden,
your dog just bit somebody. So do it way slower and longer
than you think you need to.

And you'll never be done. But just you can manage it, and
he'll get better and better. AUDIENCE: Thank you. PATRICIA MCCONNELL: So yeah. AUDIENCE: Hello. Thank you for being here. PATRICIA MCCONNELL:
Oh, thanks for coming. AUDIENCE: A couple of questions. I also have a rescue and
a lot of fear aggression. It's getting better, now
that living in New York City and having a lot more
exposure to people. PATRICIA MCCONNELL:
Yeah, good for you. AUDIENCE: But as a
result of anxiety, she would never
pee in the house, no matter how long I stay
and keep her in the house, eight hours should be fine. When I leave the house– PATRICIA MCCONNELL: Oh,
she has separation anxiety. AUDIENCE: –she will do it. And I don't know how to explain
to her, how to help her not be afraid that I'm gone. I will be back. So that's one. And then secondly,
what is your point of view on e-collar,
electronic collars? PATRICIA MCCONNELL: Oh, OK.

Two questions. I'll answer the second one
first because that's quicker. I hate them. AUDIENCE: OK. PATRICIA MCCONNELL: I really,
really dislike them intensely. In 28 years or something,
I've used them twice, for dogs who were killing
livestock, and who's– the owners of whose
livestock had a gun, and were going to shoot the
dog if it happened once again. So that's the only situation
I've ever used them in. So back to your
separation anxiety. There's, again,
the longer version is a book that I wrote
called "I'll Be Home Soon." But the short version is– first of all, be sure
that's what it is.

Because some dogs
are like she's gone. I can pee now. But if that's what
it is, then you need to start conditioning that. So basically, figure
out the trigger. So can you tell a time your
dog starts to get nervous? When you're getting your
keys, getting your coat, going in the bathroom
and brushing your hair. Is there any sign she's getting
nervous as you're leaving? AUDIENCE: I think so. She's watching me every
move, following me. PATRICIA MCCONNELL: Yeah, OK. So watch her really carefully. Start to see when she
shifts her behavior. And you'll see it.

She'll start to
follow you around. And figure out what
is it you're doing, and use that as
your first trigger. So you're going
to condition her. Say these are my keys. So I'm going to pick
up my keys, and I'm going to throw a treat for her. And then I'm going
to put them down. And I'm going to do that
like 10 times in a row. And maybe part of the day, I'll
just pick up the keys and go sit on the couch and
watch television.

So you deload the keys. And then you go– you do that for each step. Keys, coat– every dog
has a different set of triggers– walking to the
door, touching the door handle, opening the door two inches. You really do do this in
tiny little increments. And eventually, you go
outside for a second. And then you go outside for 10
seconds, then 30 seconds, then five minutes. The end goes way faster
than the beginning. Meanwhile, when you
really have to leave her, find a different
place, whether it's one room, a crate, or a
daycare, or something else. So you can separate
those environments. So that's the quick answer. AUDIENCE: Yeah. PATRICIA MCCONNELL: And I
can hang around a little bit afterwards if you have more. But I know there's– so hopefully, that
helps a little bit. AUDIENCE: Thank you. PATRICIA MCCONNELL: Yeah. AUDIENCE: Thank you very much. PATRICIA MCCONNELL: Hi! AUDIENCE: Hi. So the other day, I
was playing piano. And my dog started howling.

And he's never done that before. PATRICIA MCCONNELL:
You hit the right note. AUDIENCE: I was playing piano. PATRICIA MCCONNELL: So his
dog howls when he plays piano. I love it. Nobody quite understands it. But howling is contagious. Howling is a social function. We think it's sort of
like singing in church. It's a way of bonding
animals together. So you're just hitting exactly
the right note, that somehow is a salient trigger for a dog. Basically, your dog
thinks you're howling. So you can either– I would put it on cue, and then
do a video and put it online. So I think one more, and then
I know some of you have to go.

But I can hang around, and sign
books, and answer questions. Yeah. AUDIENCE: Hi. So I have an eight-month-old
Goldendoodle in the city. And we've had him
for four months. And he's scared of a lot of
things, but getting better. It's definitely
getting a lot better, like over the time
we've had him. But he's still like super
terrified of skateboards, especially. And there's a
couple other things.

But it's like
definitely skateboard. PATRICIA MCCONNELL:
The worst, yeah. AUDIENCE: And I'm just
curious about what I should do in the
moment that happens, and he wants to just
freak out and run home. And my instinct is to
bend down and hug him. And I'm learning maybe
that's not right. PATRICIA MCCONNELL: Maybe not. Yeah, right. I'll torture you
while you're scared. But you're a primate,
and you love him, and you're trying to
provide solace, right? First of all, skateboards,
this is, like, ubiquitous. I cannot tell you how
many dogs freak out. And I think it's partly
because of the vibrations and the low level noise. It's a growl. That's why dogs are
afraid of thunder. The world is growling. So this low– it just
scares so many dogs. So you can't control
it, necessarily. When it happens, as
soon as you see one, you need to be, like,
on constant alert, which I'm sure you are already.

So as soon as you
see one, you're going to move away as far as
you can, whatever that is. And then you're going
to ask for a sit. Good boy. Good boy. And then you're going
to give lots of treats. Good boy. And if he looks at
your face, good boy. I would teach a watch or look
at me, and do that separately.

So get that down,
where it's easy, and it's not too scary for
him, and then go somewhere where you know you– do
you have places where you know they're going to be? AUDIENCE: Skateboards? PATRICIA MCCONNELL: Yes. AUDIENCE: Central Park. I mean, they're
kind of sporadic. PATRICIA MCCONNELL: So
some predictability. So stay as far away as you
can, and say, do you see it? Where is the skateboard? Where's the skate–
name your fears. It helps with dogs too. Where is the skateboard? Where is it? Where is the thing? Where is the thing? And if he looks,
it's like, good. Treat. And then you're going
to back away, also to reinforce him,
because you're going to increase the distance
between him and that. So that's what I'd do.

If you're blindsided, you
don't have time for anything, I would just walk away. Don't hug him. Don't pick him up. Just walk away. Get as far away
from it as you can. And then work your way
up to getting closer. OK, thank you all. It was really fun to be here. I love your dog culture. Thanks, Christine,
for asking me. And thank you, Alec.

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