did some backyard clicker free agility today, just a toy and myself with verbal/hand cues. no equipment other than his harness, which i should get in the habit of removing for things like this. i’m working on learning how to play tug properly, seeing as i’ve been doing it incorrectly for most of my life. while i’m at it, i do have to say that the ‘how to tug properly’ blog posts and video guides i’ve seen lately have taught me quite a bit.

i’m not sure where i was messing up, but he seemed to lose interest in the toy fairly quickly when i used it as reinforcement for jumping a run. when i pick up the toy, he’s all in for it, but when used after the run his interest has significantly dwindled. or, in some instances he would only look at the toy and completely blow off my cues. i assume this is because he finds the runs themselves to be more reinforcing than playing tug?

i decided to ditch the toy and just have him follow my cue with reinforcement as heavy praise alone. he knows the movement cues very well by this point, i can ask him basic directionals and he generally gets the gist of what i want. sometimes… not all the time. anyway, i asked him to go out and around to set up for the sequence, asked him to keep moving on my outside as i circled our 'arena’, and gave him a forward cue to start going. he was fairly receptive to me, as opposed to me with the toy where he’d do one jump and turn around expecting the toy, and it was much easier for me to direct him into a couple of turns. after the sequence i stopped him and praised him for a couple minutes. he asked to go again, and we did it once more with the same results.

i’m sure it is feasible to teach a dog to ignore the toy reward, but could i be the reward itself? or is this some anthropocentric bullshit?

This is my piggies cage before adding the plant enrichment. Under the bottom of the ramp is a large corner house. I know my ramps need some work and I am working on getting more grids to make them safer.

So far for enrichment I use

- paper bags and boxes filled with hay mixed with herbs and veggies
- a window box with growing live herbs and edible plants
- creating a scent trails to hidden treats
- veggies get hidden EVERYWHERE twice a day
- big piles of burrowing hay on the top floor
- a small treat ball
- the hay roller on the floor in the picture gets filled with either grass or herby hay
- lots of different textures
- cage layout gets changed every few days
- many tunnels and hides with enough space to run
- apparently the dustpan and brush (and feet) are great entertainment

Are there any other things I could to to shake it up a bit?

For Pride Month, here’s a male-male pair bond of Heterodontosaurus in early Jurassic South Africa. If modern dinosaurs (birds) can be gay then of course Mesozoic ones could be too. Gay love is far older than straight hate, and will last much longer. Plumage based on Tianyulong, and coloration on cedar waxwings and water deer.
Remember, HeteroDONTosaurus. @a-dinosaur-a-day @ghostmikeyway @koalainthecorner @hotspicyyogurt @little-queer-kid

In the social structure of hyenas, strong bonds are the most successful. Dominance is based upon connections in a social network and in hyenas the most connected female is the most dominant. They live In matriarchs, can recognize social bonds, and have fission-fusion societies.  A low rank in these clans isn’t good because chances of getting food are lower.

Multiple factors affect long term social network dynamics in a wild spotted hyena population- A IIany

Rapid Research #42


Classic life-history theory predicts that menopause should not occur because there should be no selection for survival after the cessation of reproduction. Yet, human females routinely live 30 years after they have stopped reproducing. Only two other species— orcas (Orcinus orcaand short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) — have comparable postreproductive lifespans. In theory, menopause can evolve via inclusive fitness benefits, but the mechanisms by which postreproductive females help their kin remain enigmatic. 
however, a study about orca behavior, published in Current Biology, suggests that older females provide valuable information for the survival of the group.
According to the study’s authors, female orca, who are mothers between 12 and 40 years can get to fulfill 90. But, What is the evolutionary point of living so long without being able to reproduce? Until now it was known that the longevity of mothers increases the chances of survival of their sons.
According to the authors, females led their groups especially in times of shortage of salmon. Information on how and where to find fish, it can be vital for survive.
The wisdom they bring older females “may help explain why female orca and women continue to live long after they have ceased to reproduce,” said Brent, who lead the study

  • Photo:  A postreproductively aged female, J16, leads her adult son and two adult daughters. credit: Dave Ellifrit, Center for Whale Research.
  • Reference: Brent et al. 2015. Ecological Knowledge, Leadership, and the Evolution of Menopause in Killer Whales. Cell

I feel like everyone should be occasionally reminded
that chimpanzees are ticklish
and they laugh with you tickle them

The draco, indigenous to Southeast Asia, has long flaps that can be elongated from its body to help it glide through the air. These pategia does change its colors though depending on there the species resides. Possibly due to risk of predation, the colors on their wings closely resemble the color of the leaves of the trees that they glide from. When the trees are falling they are distinct colors that match the draco’s wings almost perfectly. This may help for an aerial predator can’t notice where they are as they are landing.

Marked color divergence in gliding membranes of a lizard mirror population differences in the color of falling leaves- DA Klomp

Rapid Research #53

Free-ranging equids communicate with their companions using aggression and reliable threats of aggression. This may make horses innately tolerant of such negative stimuli but is no excuse for physical abuse by humans

Paul McGreevy. Equine Behaviour: A Guide for Veterinarians and Equine Scientists 

(Another really important quote - this is for people who justify abusive training with ethology, which is just not right. Also, in these situations, horses often use postural threats and displays towards conspecifics before any contact aggression/physical +P is used. That’s often not the case when trainers are using excessive +P on their horses.)

craftastrophies  asked:

Can you write some more (or link me to stuff) about domestication and piebald colouring? Or just even traits associated with domestication in general, you know, what comes along for the ride that might be unexpected.

Sure! I’ve actually been planning to do a long post specifically about the effects of domestication on animals, which I can try to get done within the next few days.

For now, here’s an extensive article about the farm-fox experiment, which examines the changes that occur when generations of foxes are bred for tameness (and ONLY tameness). The other traits that begin to appear (including floppy ears, curly tails, and yes, piebaldness) are completely incidental.

Here’s another article (unfortunately you’d need to buy the whole thing) for an experiment selecting for tameness in rats that found that less aggressive animals were more likely to have lighter/piebald coat colors.

For a while research like this has suggested the idea that animals with lighter coats or white patches may have less aggressive behavior due to behavioral genes being linked to coat color genes. (For those of you not as savvy on genetics, this means that the genes happen to be close together on a chromosome, so that when you happen to have one you are likely to have the other purely by its placement.) The proliferation of different linked traits like this is known as pleiotropy.

This may be why nearly all domestic animals develop piebald coats within a few generations of being tamed. (Think of coat colors of some horses, fancy rats, goats…)

However in my quest for links I came across another paper that came out pretty recently (this April!) refuting the idea that piebaldness is a pleiotropic effect of selecting for tameness. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but the abstract seems to suggest that the authors believe that the proliferation of piebaldness is purely due to human preference. While I’d think the farm-fox experiment would refute this, I’m certain they address it at some point during the paper, so I’ll have to read it.

Hope this helped!


Operant conditioning can lead to a lot of amazing things…
but getting animals to voluntarily participate in their own care is my absolute favourite.