Midwest Veterinary Conference – Jane Killion/Puppy Culture


I knew of Jane from her older book on dog training When Pigs Fly: Training Success With Impossible Dogs (though I’ll say it’s mostly just dog training, appropriate for all kinds of dogs!)  I knew of her Puppy Culture DVD/program, but was not very familiar with it.I have an unscientific bias towards a puppy raising program developed by Griffin’s breeders.

Me and puppy Tonks, photo by M Nelson

The Puppy Culture DVD is extremely well produced/professionally done. By every standard I can think of, it’s the best done dog training related DVD that I have ever seen. The editing is great, the sound quality, music added, content, how the content is displayed, it’s all very, very professional. And the content is well done. I had to go and look up some of the studies she referenced and don’t know that they are very persuasive on their own, though I do agree with the points she was trying to make. 

The sessions confirmed something I have felt for a while – breeders and shelters with litters/puppies should be doing a lot more to get puppies prepared for life in an average home. Puppies should have training to pay attention to people, to not be worried about the environment, to problem solve without being frustrated, to be fine crated alone (with a delicious chew), to have a great start on house training, training to take food from a hand, and polite ways to ask for what they want (sit and watch vs bark//paw/panic). I hope to see more of this catch on, it will only help families be better able to help puppies in their care and for puppies to transfer to new homes with less frustration.

Her early effort on attention/eye contact was interesting. She referenced this as important for bonding, especially from the perspective of the human. Apparently one study found that attachment-forming-related-hormones increased during eye contact – for both people and dogs.  This didn’t happen with people and wolves. And it didn’t happen if the dog were cued/commanded/made to look at the person, only if that attention was willingly offered.

The talk made me really want to raise a litter of puppies. For a while I’ve been half-joking about breeding/raising puppies specifically to be awesome pets (laid back, calm, healthy, social with people and dogs but not frantic) – but I don’t know that those are the kinds of dogs I want to live with myself.

I took many pages of notes, it was fun to jump into a topic I don’t know very much about and I’m especially excited about some of the widespread data collection plans Jane has for the upcoming years.  There’s so much variation within breeds and individuals – her project will let us know what to better expect – and better help – puppies and families.