Thursday, April 5, 2012


Karen London has a PhD and is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist. Plus I loved her co-authored pamphlet/mini-book, Feisty Fido which Mina says sucked b/c she likes being a Feisty Fido.

Here's what she writes on piloerection or hackling, another deeply misunderstood canine behavior.

The most confusing pattern is when a dog exhibits a patch of hair that is raised at the shoulders and another raised patch at the base of the tail. The hair in between along the back is not raised. This pattern of piloerection often occurs in dogs who are in an ambivalent emotional state and feeling conflicted. Many of the dogs who show this pattern are somewhat unpredictable in their behavior and inclined to be more reactive than other dogs.
Everything you heard about me is totally true

This is Mina. But it's not confusing to me. She is not unpredictable at all nor is she ambivalent. She is excited and deciding what her next move is based on the reaction and behavior of the other dog. She is, by far, more tense when on leash but she is still pretty damn intense even off-leash.

Mina piloerects at every new dog-dog introduction. Dogs she knows, she does not piloerect. With small dogs, the same thing happens every time - she thinks they're great. With dogs her size and larger, it all depends on the behavior of the other dog. If the other dog is a snarky bitch (like Mina, yo), Mina is going to quickly correct and reprimand that behavior. If the other dog is aggressive in any manner, Mina will react the same way. If the other dog is a big playful dork, Mina will reprimand but not going any further than a few snarls and muzzle nips. And if the other dog ignores Mina, she thinks that's pretty fabulous too.

Her outward behavior does not indicate, to me, a state of ambivalence or conflicted emotions at all.

Do your dogs piloerect?

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