The "Major" problem with dog behavior

The behavior of Major, one of President & Dr. Jill Biden's German Shepherds, recently made headlines. While it's unclear exactly what happened, the 3-year-old First Dog was involved in two recent incidents at the White House where he reportedly barked and nipped at unfamiliar people. Reactive behaviors like what Major showed, are a common issue faced by many dog owners. Slate.com asked CCBS' President/CEO, Dr. Nicholas Dodman to dig deeper into Major's behavior in this recent article: "Why does Major Biden keep biting?"

The major problem isn't a specific behavior, it's finding a successful solution. Owners looking to address their dog's behavior issues must sift through pages of resources, filled with non-credentialed "professionals" and a plethora of training methods promising immediate solutions. Many involve using tools that inflict pain and punishment like collars that choke, pinch, or shock. Studies have shown that these methods are ineffective and cause long-lasting trauma to an already troubled dog.


This issue helped inspire the creation of our nonprofit, the Center for Canine Behavior Studies (CCBS). World-renown Veterinary Behaviorist Dr. Nicholas Dodman and the CCBS team, recognize the challenges behavior issues create for dogs and their owners. The research conducted by CCBS discovers more about canine behavior and treatments, all to support the special bond we share with our canine companions.



The answers are in our research: The most effective ways to manage dog behavior was identified in our latest study, “An investigation into the effectiveness of various professionals and behavior modification programs, with or without medication, for the treatment of canine aggression published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research (Elsevier). First, owners should schedule an appointment with their veterinarian. “We were surprised to find that a significant number of aggressive dogs had medical problems underpinning their aggressive behavior. Lesson 1: Always check in with your veterinarian first,” says Dr. Dodman. If there isn't an underlying medical condition, the next best step is to consult with a true professional: A Veterinary Behaviorist, or Certified Professional Trainer versed in positive reinforcement training methods. Here are a list of resources from our website. These professionals use science-based, methodical training methods to work together with owners to address problem behaviors.

Solving the major problem: Successful behavior management improves the well-being of your dog, creates a more peaceful home, and strengthens the bond you share with your canine companion. We're here to help, so please reach out to us at info@dogstudies.org with any questions about our studies, behavior, or resources.


Life-saving research, made possible by you: Our research is solely funded by the generosity of our supporters. It is people like you - the dog lovers, animal welfare advocates, and citizen scientists - that make our research possible, and in turn, save lives. The work we do today can save a dog's life tomorrow. Donations can be made here. Any donation is welcomed and appreciated. CCBS is a non-profit, tax exempt public 501(c)(3) corporation (tax ID number 83-0908914) and contributions are tax deductible.