Monday, November 2, 2009

Dexter's Corner

Hello, I'm Professor Dexter. I used to be a professor in bug chemistry, but now I'm a professor in canine communication. Because my person rescues dogs, I was exposed at a very early age to all sorts of personality types – in dogs that is. At well over 3 years of age, I am now a canine counselor.

I have seen many, many troubled dogs come to us that later did very well because my sister and I taught them better canine communication skills. I have found that many dog problems stem from an inability to communicate with each other the right way. Sometimes we simply misunderstand each others’ body signals (which is mostly what we go by). When this happens, everyone gets upset, really for no reason at all. Then, when the humans step in and they don't understand what's going on, it can get even worse. Sometimes humans think dogs are so much like themselves!

Dogs really are professors of sorts. They learn, then teach, learn, then teach. They teach for the purpose of survival and that survival is for all involved, not just for one. I learned from my older sister Hailey, with her gray muzzle, because she had to teach other rescue dogs lessons and learned from those lessons herself. Now I'm teaching my little sister, Posie, proper dog-to-dog skills. She's still in the "positive experience only allowed" mode because, at a year and a half, she's still young. She has to build up her skills and have a fair amount of confidence to do a job like mine and work with the tough guys. My person says that we've all taught her about us.

I like being a professor/counselor. I like helping dogs that are insecure. They're usually the really loud, barking, growling, lunging dogs that make a big dramatic display. They are also the type most often misunderstood by the humans. Humans usually think these dogs want to fight and are aggressive. But usually they're just trying to AVOID a fight. Funny, huh? I just completely ignore the noisy, dramatic show. Showing them the side of my face makes it clear that I don't care if they're loud and trying to get me to go away. I'm not afraid of them because it's all just BS anyway, and after they're done with that business, I reward them with play for stopping that behavior. This also shows them the proper way to greet, instead of using gaudy distancing type behaviors that only drive away potential friends.

I have helped shy dogs because I'm not pushy and I don't HAVE to play with anyone, because I myself am very secure in how I feel. I let them come to me and I give them their space, and use special signals to show I'm not threatening. I have a very well formed and structured pack, so I'm cool. Our people are careful to make sure we are guided correctly too. But some dogs don't have that, because the humans that took care of them in the past didn't understand that early play, socialization and guidance are like food to a young dog. Without these things, it's like there's a malnourishment of the canine spirit. Some horrible people go a step further and actually do the opposite, and get their dogs to communicate the wrong way on purpose so fights start. Then, of course, one can't help it, you're stuck and sort of forced now to defend yoursel. It’s sad when that happens to dogs because it goes against our grain. When those guys come to us, I see right away that they never wanted to be in a fight at all. Most of them are so happy to see that, at our place, we do fun stuff where everyone wins.

The dogs begin to realize that there's a lot of confidence to be gained from other dogs, especially in a pack sense, and they really start to feel better. I see tails rise out of butts, heads come up even with or above the shoulders, and sometimes maybe even for the first time in their life, a smile.

Now I see Leo doing it. A dog my person took into rescue recently got really noisy while on his leash around Leo. Leo used to live with Michael Vick, so you can imagine that when he first came to us, he was initially a little sensitive around this sort of behavior....poor guy. Anyway, this new dog was barking and lunging at Leo while Leo was on his leash. Lo and behold, there was Leo, looking just like me, calm, still and turning his head so the insecure dog could see the side of his face. He told the dog, "I know how you feel but you're wrong, I'm just here, doing nothing, so it's ok and all will be well....when you're calm we'll meet." I was so proud of Leo. And the new dog will learn too. See how it works? We've worked with many dogs that are now helping other dogs.

My person says to please pardon the anthropomorphism (making dogs sound like people) but sometimes we have to explain things to dogs in dog language, like what I do for a living. Other times we have to explain things to humans in human language, like what my person does for a living.

Thanks for listening to my story. I may be starting a column somewhere called "Dexter's Corner" or "Dear Dexter," so that I can answer your questions and concerns about canine behavior. I hope you’ll find it useful.

Dr. Dexter
Expert in Dog Behavior Challenges
Shelter Volunteer
Well Loved Family Member


  1. Dr Dexter is AWESOME. Thanks for transcribing his wisdom.


  2. Thank you Emily. I'm glad you like my blog. I have to give a lot of credit to my very experienced sister who's in her 6th year of life now and has done this a lot.
    Thanks again,
    Dr. Dexter

  3. Excellent post and what a great way to explain proper dog behavior... you are wonderful too Marthina. :-)

  4. Well Doctor Dex, You seem pretty smart to me. Maybe you can help me with some of my problems, such as "how do you get your husband to put the toilet lid down, and flush it too!" And how do you make yourself get up bright & early in the glorious pre-dawn morning, up & rarin' to go? And how does one get rid of that haunting fix of that Twinkie or Ding Dong that calls you in the middle of the night: "come & eat me, come & taste my delicious goodness filled with chocolate and cream delight?" - I know Dr. Dex that you may not be familiar with such problems as these, since you deal with the canine sorts, but you do seem pretty smart to me...

  5. Oh Professor Dexter, You are such a handsome guy and I love that you are helping me become a counselor too

  6. Gosh folks! You have me laughing and blushing all at the same time!
    Hanna....I never knew! (hearts popping all over)
    Dr. Dexter

  7. This was great!

    I will post it in a couple of days. Thanks!

  8. -Warning to all you who may have an emotional attachment to your dim-witted brutes of pit bulls, detach yourselves now and send those unpredictable ticking time bombs of resented dog breed to the pound to get euthanized, long story short I am promising that I will be the leader of the movement to get pit bulls and pit bull like dogs banned in the United States of America. These are my credentials, I am a survivor of a pit bull attack with scars to show, my family members have been attacked and will never look the same because of it; my cousin in particular was 6 years old when 3 pit bulls got their lock jaw on his face, arm, and torso, I personally stabbed 1 to death to get it off of him while my uncles and older cousins worked the other 2; these pit bulls were our family dogs as long as I could remember until that unfortunate day. I am currently a college student, and my school is Stanford University. I have conducted countless hours of in-depth research and I am convinced with out a doubt that there is no need for sensible intelligent human beings to ever own such dogs. There are hundreds of safer breeds out there. Yes, I agree not every pit bull and pit bull like dog is dangerous depending on the owner, but stone cold hardcore statistics and facts prove that pit bulls and pit bull like breeds are responsible for the estimated 70% of dog attacks and deaths of. So why take the risk of allowing ownership of such violent breeds in the United States? Reports of dog attacks will drop drastically, and even if a dog attack were to still occur it would not be nearly as brutal as what pit bull and pit bull like breeds are capable of. To put it metaphorically, would you allow your children to play with bombs if you knew that PROBABLY none of them were going to explode? I did not think so. Pit bulls and pit bull like breeds are to bombs as non pit bull like breeds are to skateboards. Meaning if your child is playing with a skateboard yea he or she could get a scrape or a bruise, but if your child is playing with a bomb, well use your imagination. Those of you who feel I have flaws in my claim, take into account this is just a concise summation of it, merely 1/10 of 1/10 of 1/10 of my claim in its entirety, but its enough for you to get the idea. If you still feel you could prove me wrong also take into account I have an IQ of roughly 165, I am part of MENSA, my high school GPA was 4.7 and my college GPA is 3.89, and I did get into Stanford. I will also be getting a J.D. degree after receiving my masters in engineering. I am the real deal; one of my dreams/goals is to be the person responsible for the banning of pit bull and pit bull like breeds.

    -To join my movement and show your support or debate me(which you will lose unless you could resurrect the lives that were taken by pit bull and bull like breeds and make my little cousin look normal again), email me at

    ***WARNING: For those who will feel they will never agree with me, oh well, chances are I am smarter, harder working, and more educated then you, and that because of me and my supporters pit bulls WILL get banned; PERIOD. That’s going to be the reality in the near future, so accept it. Save your self the emotional distress and detach yourself from your wolf in sheep’s clothing of pit bull and pit bull like breed of dog. Rule of thumb, no one can make every one happy. So I will worry about making those who agree with me happy.

  9. I feel sorry for you and feel horrible that your pet attacked you. That would terrify anyone. The incident has obviously scarred you in many ways and you are still recovering. But you are so angry and I'm positive is not limited to pit bulls. I hope you find the strength to heal yourself and that you do not continue to live in fear.