Brian’s brain


There’s been quite a lot of research into animal brain development (Hebb, Cunningham to name a few). It seems that the more stimulation (social and environmental) the bigger the benefits: not only in terms of logical and analytical thinking, but also in the way animals react to new situations and in reduction of fear and aggression.


So, to improve Brian’s brain I use toys that vary in size, shape, texture, the level and kind of noise they make, the smell of them and the environment where they are normally found. So, ropes, balls, plastic noise makers, soft toys, pieces of stretchy fabric with knots and/or rattles, cardboard boxes with various treasures hidden in them…the list is endless. I supervise his play, I use things that are safe (or rather relatively safe, he’s a puppy -that’s why I watch him). The best toys can easily be made, thy don’t have to be expensive (and nothing will buy the quality time – playing TOGETHER). I definitely prefer to make a toy than buy something cheap that I’m suspicious of. Our toys are often messy, but that’s the beauty of having a young dog.

The area where much more progress needs to be made is still people. Brian does not like people, men more than women, children more than anyone else. He freaks out when someone approaches unexpectedly. He can’t be off the lead with noisy kids around (teenagers rather than toddlers). There’s lots of work to be done to make him calm around people in every situation. I’m actually surprised he likes me…as he seems to be suspicious of anyone and everyone.

But I promise, he’ll be fine πŸ™‚


14 thoughts on “Brian’s brain

  1. Another excellent post- I really find your blog so helpful, thank you! I have a question regarding barking at guests coming to your home.

    Are both dogs fine with it? My rescue (Greyhound/Husky mix we think) barks and growls a lot. Generally he’s very submissive when meeting people/dogs outside, but in our flat his body language is quite aggressive. To reassure him yesterday (a 5 year old was there) we totally did the wrong thing by comforting him to try and calm him, but I’ve read this is seen by dogs as praise to continue their aggression.

    What do you suggest? I don’t want it to get any worse and I want him to enjoy people coming over, and relax.

    Any words of wisdom would be much appreciated! Thanks πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ow, thank you πŸ™‚ Comforting is not ALWAYS a bad thing-with fearful/aggressive dogs it actually works better than anything. As barking is natural (and it’s an important signal) it can be very difficult to eradicate. It seems the growling and barking are signs of feeling insecure-so it might be good to try and teach your dog to focus on you (‘sit’ is brilliant as well) no matter what. Try making sure he’s generally happy with strangers around (praise, treats and so on), then do a lot of practice at home – with friends-when he’s quiet and focused on you even for a second, reward him. Once he understands you want him to be quiet-it will get much easier, but carry on the training (as in real life we often get startled by the doorbell and dogs react to very subtle signals from us). It takes some time (I know from experience-all my dogs bark) but it works πŸ™‚ Ah, and barking is good-it means the dog is warning. You’d have a real problem with a quiet aggressive dog! At least you know he doesn’t know you WANT people to visit-you just need to explain it to him…

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I’m no real expert, but here’s a spin.
      In your home, Dog’s job is to guard you and your clan.
      Barking is an alert. I respond by acknowledging, accepting, and even praising the alert, usually with the simple phrase “Who’s here?” in a calm-curious manner (not a “who-do-I -need-to-bite” manner).
      (Trying to teach a dog to not bark is a little like teaching a sentry to NOT say “Who goes there?”. Counter-intuitive at best.)
      Then I separate the alert from the greeting of people at the door.
      These are two distinct behaviors. One is how to alert in an appropriate fashion, the other is how to greet (or act when people come to the door or come in).
      Greeting is a separate lesson. After the alert is accepted, we move on to the “greeting mode” lesson.

      Perhaps this may help.

      Seek peace,


      Liked by 2 people

  2. Interesting post…Erin has a variety of toys, rubber pig being the favourite…Charlie spent weeks with a loofah as her favourite toy. Animals are all so individual..and do you know what, with you as Mum, I’m sure Brian will be just fine too πŸ™‚ x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you πŸ™‚ Charlie doesn’t like cats toys (and he’s so fast it’s actually difficult to play with him) but Ulysses is the opposite: he loves toys (mainly watching me waving them in front of his nose. He makes faces for ten minutes and then…attacks…slowly) πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Apparently, the shaking ‘kill’ game means there are no chances for rats in the household…(killing a rat is quite a skill and the cat needs to do a lot of shaking-not that I’m an expert, just a remnant from one of my courses). I think there are no rats in our house because they’d risk a nervous breakdown with all the pets and their slightly hyperactive mum…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes…I saw a programme where country cats don’t think twice about tackling a rat, whereas townie cats are more cautious. I know Charlie has never killed a thing but she can be extremely scary and has chased off a fox before. Lily would just kill anything. Regardless of size…I fully expect to see her dragging a heron through the cat flap one day…x

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Must be something in their names! My Charlie and Lily are fierce creatures, too! Despite their sizes πŸ™‚ And you’re at least protected by the size of the cat flap- so, hopefully no cows, wild boars or clowns πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I am sure he’ll be fine, in your hands!
    On a different topic, I have been remiss in not letting you know that I have nominated you for a Real Neat Blog Award. I apologize, and here is the link You are not in any way obligated to accept, and I fully understand that not everyone has the time and inclination to participate in these self-and-others-promoting exercises. Therefore, I will truly appreciate if you accept the nomination, as I sincerely think you deserve it, but I won’t get offended if you don’t. Nominating each one of you is my way of giving credit to some exceptional bloggers and perhaps attracting attention to your work.
    All my love to you and yours,

    Liked by 1 person

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