Dogs Unknown

Dogs Unknown

You love your dog as family…but how well do you really know them? Dogs Unknown is an award-winning show that unlocks the mystery & magic of dog behavior. From the team at Instinct Dog Behavior & Training. Join co-hosts Brian Burton and Sarah Fraser as they interview dog behavior experts on topics about our canine family members. Named Dog Writer’s Association best behavior podcast of 2020. (fka DogLab)


August 29, 2023 54 mins

Living with a dog who displays fear, anxiety, or aggression is challenging, no matter what. Seeing these behaviors present in your new puppy can be incredibly stressful and overwhelming as you try to jump in and work on the issues (in addition to “normal” puppy behaviors) while also imagining what life will be like for you AND your puppy as they grow and mature into an adult dog.

Today, we’re joined by Mikaela, a client at Instinct ...

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Today we are going to delve into the question of whether telling your dog 'no' can have a place within a positive training approach. We think it's a pretty fair question and it's one we actually get asked a lot by new clients who come to see us.

It's understandable because there's a lot of emphasis in positive training (as there should be) on trying to set your dog up to succeed, trying to he...

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For most of us, bringing home a new puppy conjures many warm, fuzzy images and feelings. We think about puppy snuggles and kisses, introducing the puppy to family and friends, taking them for walks, and including them in our favorite activities.

And while puppies are amazing and can bring a lot of joy, they’re also a TON of work, and the reality of puppy ownership doesn’t usually match up to the vision we’ve created in our mind (or ...

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If you are the guardian of a dog with a more complex behavior profile, finding the right care team to work with them (and you) - the right trainer, the right veterinarian, the right pet sitter or boarding kennel - can be a real challenge. When speaking about the training/behavior field, this is made more challenging by the fact that dog training is an unregulated industry, and it can be very difficult to discern what someone’s cred...

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While waiting for Season 4 to start in October, we will drop summer mini-episodes in August and September! Episodes will drop each Monday. Also, a reminder that we do have video versions of the podcast in our recording studio, which can be viewed on our YouTube Channel

In this episode, Brian and Sarah give an update on their international move and discuss one of their viral Instagram reels that received over 2 million vie...

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June 26, 2023 69 mins

This week we are talking about dogs in urban environments. We discuss some of the most common challenges facing urban dogs, and also some of our favorite hacks for navigating city life to protect and enhance your city dog's welfare; because let's face it, living in an urban environment can be pretty stressful for dogs AND humans.

During the conversation we also discuss which personality traits, and breeds typical...

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June 12, 2023 73 mins

Most of us have breed preferences; whether it's how they look and/or the collection of traits we assume the breed to have.

Today we explore if these breed stereotypes are really valid because the existing research on breed and behavior is largely mixed; while breed can influence some behavior, there's a wide range of variability, even within breeds. The science is a bit of a mess.

So we thought it would...

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June 5, 2023 67 mins

Leash reactivity (lunging and barking at dogs and people) is one of the most common issues people come to us for help with, and so many of our clients experience a ton of judgment and disparaging comments from other dog owners when out on walks.

People ASSUME things about them and about their dog, based on that reactivity; "What's Wrong with that dog?" or "Why does their owner allow them to keep doing ...

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May 29, 2023 54 mins

For the past several decades, dog owners have been inundated with messages that we need to be a "pack leader" or "alpha" with our dogs. Those specific terms imply that we need to take a power position by actively asserting dominance over our dogs in our daily lives.

So is all of this really necessary? Do dogs need leadership from us? And if so, what does that actually look like?

- ...

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May 22, 2023 52 mins

We often state that dogs are family, but are they? We navigate a frank, sometimes uncomfortable discussion about the strange dual role of pet dogs, simultaneously cast as family members and captive animals.

We discuss:
- Do you consider your own dogs to be family members?
- Do dogs have family responsibilities?
- What are the benefits to dogs of viewing them as family members?
- What are the downsides to ca...

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Today's episode is all about separation anxiety in dogs. This is absolutely one of the most common reasons that folks might reach out to a dog behavior professional for help. It's also one of the issues that can be truly one of the most stressful (and sometimes feel debilitating) and can have a big negative impact on welfare on both ends of the leash. 

Despite it being a really common issue, separation anxiety is...

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May 8, 2023 59 mins

When we get a dog, we generally expect to fall madly in love and experience this instant, one-of-a-kind connection with them.

But what happens when you and your dog just don’t mesh? How do you form a positive relationship with a dog who you - truthfully - just don’t like very much?

In today's episode, we tackle this semi-taboo topic to explore the reasons WHY you may find yourself disliking your current dog, ...

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This is Part 2 of "Behavior Therapy: Behind the Curtain". In Part 1, we had clients discuss what the behavior journey is like from their side. Today we flip the script and talk to some of our most experienced behavior consultants across INSTINCT to better understand what they do, and what can set you and your dog up for success.

We discuss
- What are common misconceptions about behavior consulting?
- What...

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This may be our most important Dogs Unknown episode to date. We are joined by INSTINCT clients Stephanie Chen and Jessica Arnold, who have worked through (and continue to work through) complex behavior challenges with their dogs Nimbus and Nova in Manhattan, NYC.

We discuss
- What they were feeling prior to reaching out for help, and what prompted them to seek professional guidance.
- How the process was differe...

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April 17, 2023 36 mins

Have you found yourself on The Struggle Bus with your dog? Or are you currently on it? Whether it's normal (but sometimes challenging) puppy stuff, behavior challenges, a newly adopted dog, or an older dog that has changed recently, it's easy to find ourselves on The Struggle Bus, and it can be difficult to find a way to get off.

Today we discuss why you are not alone if you are on The Struggle Bus, how to use it...

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Today we’re talking about Dog Parks: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly (cue the scary music).

Among dog training professionals, opinions on dog parks vary greatly. And for many owners, using a dog park can often feel like a necessity, and/or it can sometimes feel scary to use.

So today we discuss the risks with dog parks, when it's appropriate to use them, and how can you increase the likelihood that your dog will ...

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April 3, 2023 71 mins

Today we’re covering a topic that applies to EVERYONE who shares their home with a dog - whether it’s a brand new puppy, a totally happy-go-lucky, loves-everyone-and-everything dog, or a dog with fear, anxiety, or aggression issues.

  • We’re talking about CONFLICT that arises in your relationship with your dog - and more specifically, we’re talking about how your dog (and you) approaches conflict and tries to resolve it. 
  • Conflict i...
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Brian and Sarah react to the recent study on dog breed and behavior which has caused some controversy in the dog world. Brian and Sarah both have graduate degrees in Animal Behavior and bring a neutral, nuanced take on the results.  Both were also listed in the acknowledgments section of the paper as they were on the original brainstorming team for the owner survey questions.

If you have mixed feelings about this research,...

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Today we have Sarah Fraser back to talk about the common pitfalls and things overlooked during the different phases of your dog’s life; we cover puppyhood, adolescence, adulthood, and the golden senior years. If you have a young dog, you’ll want to listen to the entire episode. If you have an older dog, you can see the timestamps for the various stages in the episode notes below, but it certainly is helpful to listen to these earli...

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February 11, 2022 62 mins

First, thank you to the tens of thousands of listeners who tuned into season 1. We had a lot of fun, and with your support, we won the Dog Writers Association of America's best podcast of 2020. Something we are really proud of and wouldn’t be possible without all of you!

Based on feedback, the theme for season two is “the role of dogs as family members”. The lives that dogs live now are very different than how they existed thro...

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