Monthly Archives: September 2016

Elon Musk unveils ‘massive’ Tesla Autopilot 8.0 update using existing radar and fleet learning


Tesla CEO Elon Musk is finally sharing the “major improvements” coming to Tesla’s Autopilot feature.

In a press call this afternoon, Elon Musk described the “massive” 8.0 Autopilot software update, which turns the existing radar system inside Tesla cars into a primary source of information for the vehicle’s self-driving features. Musk said that with “fleet learning” the update will offer “probably a three-fold improvement in safety,” and called the coming radar-only braking feature “superhuman.”

The over-the-air software improvements are expected to be “deployed worldwide in one to two weeks” to Tesla Model S and X vehicles produced since October 2014, said Musk in a post on Tesla’s blog.

What’s changing

  • Radar as primary sensor: Before the 8.0 update, the radar technology in Tesla cars was used as a supplement for the camera system, which detects obstacles visually. With the 8.0 update, the built-in radar system is now a primary signal, along with the vision system, enabling Teslas to detect, steer around, and brake for unrecognized objects. Previously “the radar and camera would have to agree, said Musk. “Unless the camera would recognize the object, it would not initiate a braking event. It’s quite tricky because there were lots of things the camera wouldn’t recognize.”
  • More on radar: Musk says the updated processing of radar signals can now be used “to see beyond the car in front of you.” Radar “can see through rain, fog, snow, and dust quite easily,” Musk added.
  • Fleet learning: Ideally, your car would never brake for an object that is not a safety threat, such as litter, an overpass, or a road sign. Musk says Tesla is using data from all of its cars on the road to develop a “list of exceptions” to “almost entirely eliminate false positives” that trigger unnecessary braking.
  • UFOs and fluff: According to Musk, the limitations of Tesla’s vision and radar systems may cause its Model S and X cars to not automatically brake for fluffy objects, or even “a small deer.” Fielding questions from reporters, Musk added: “It should work for something like a moose, because a moose is quite a big mass.” With the 8.0 update, “the car should almost always hit the brakes correctly even if a UFO were to land on the freeway in zero visibility conditions,” Musk wrote on Tesla’s blog.
  • How much safer? When asked about the magnitude of improvements brought by the 8.0 update, Musk said: “I would imagine that the 8.0 set of improvements, radar, inclusive of the others, probably cuts the accident rates more than in half — that’s my guess. I think it would make the Model S and X by far the safest on the road … This will improve over time due to fleet learning.”
  • Would this update have saved Joshua Brown‘s life? “Yes,” said Musk, adding that “these things can not be said with absolute certainty.”
  • Not “perfect safety”: With the 8.0 updates, Musk warned users that “perfect safety is really an impossible goal. It’s really about improving the probability of safety. … There won’t ever be zero injuries. So it’s really just about minimizing the probability of injury … of death … not the illusion of perfect safety.”
  • Still not 100 percent autonomous: Like before, Tesla’s Autopilot feature remains semi-autonomous. It’s not designed to completely take over the car. “The new users of Autopilot are incredibly tentative,” said Musk. “Even intermediate users. It’s actually the people who know it best, ironically, where we see some of the biggest challenges.”
  • Other 8.0 changes: Apart from radar, Musk says the update will introduce changes to Autopilot related to braking, highway exits, Autosteer, more prominent alerts, lane changing, and more.

Musk teased the 8.0 update on Twitter nearly two weeks ago. At the time, he said the changes would see a “wide release in a few weeks.” The announcement was delayed due to an “unusually difficult couple of weeks,” Musk said, following the explosion of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.


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Maker of Drug Fueling Heroin Overdose Epidemic Is Lobbying to Keep Weed Illegal

In 2016, cannabis is still illegal in many parts of the country, and pharmaceutical giant Insys Therapeutics Inc., a manufacturer of fentanyl, just demonstrated much of the reason why.
Arizona is currently gearing up to vote on legalizing recreational cannabis. Ahead of that vote, Insys just contributed $500,000 in the fight against Proposition 205, U.S. News and other outletsreport.
The Arizona-based pharmaceutical company recently gave the funds to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, an anti-legalization campaign group actively fighting to defeat the ballot measure.
Insys’s contributions are particularly unsettling considering the company currently markets only one product — a spray version of fentanyl, a powerful opiate.
Fentanyl has become one of the country’s most dangerous prescription drugs. It is more potent than traditional addictive opiates, which already claim thousands of lives every year and drive addicts to graduate to heroin use. Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and has been linked to a growing number of deaths in the United States. It is particularly dangerous when sold on the street and cut with other drugs. Fentanyl has been blamed for worsening the sharp rise in heroin overdoses as dealers across the country have begun adding it to heroin to make it stronger.
Yet Insys and opponents of legalization are more concerned about a plant.
According to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, “four states and the District of Columbia have already legalized [cannabis] and are seeing disastrous repercussions for their youth, workplaces and communities.”
Of course, this assessment is incorrect.
Colorado has lower rates of teen cannabis consumption than the national average, and studies have shown driving while under the influence of the plant is far less dangerous than alcohol, a legal drug. Colorado has seen a spike in tourism, business, and tax revenues as a result of legalization.
Interestingly, a study by Johns Hopkins university last year found states with medical marijuana had lower rates of overdose from opiates.
In spite of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy’s claims they care about communities, it is completely comfortable taking half a million dollars from a company that produces one of the most toxic and addictive drugs on the market. Unsurprisingly, Insys previously sold a synthetic cannabis product and has already gained approval from the FDA to launch a similar one in the near future. These business ventures provide an even deeper understanding of why they oppose legalization.
“[W]e are truly shocked by our opponents’ decision to keep a donation from what appears to be one of the more unscrupulous members of Big Pharma,” J.P. Holyoak, chairman of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol said.
His statement continued:
“Our opponents have made a conscious decision to associate with this company. They are now funding their campaign with profits from the sale of opioids – and maybe even the improper sale of opioids. We hope that every Arizonan understands that Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy is now a complete misnomer. Their entire campaign is tainted by this money. Any time an ad airs against Prop. 205, the voters should know that it was paid for by highly suspect Big Pharma actors.“
Considering the myriad healing properties of cannabis, it is obvious why a pharmaceutical company in the business of selling powerful painkillers is eager to invest in maintaining prohibition. Legalizing and normalizing cannabis pose a direct threat to pharmaceutical profits considering cannabis is effective at treating pain, anxiety, degenerative diseases, and potentially even cancer. Though much more research is needed to determine the true efficacy of cannabis as medicine, the federal government’s insistence on keeping it illegal stifles further scientific examination.
There are legitimate concerns about treating cannabis like alcohol — namely, that convoluted regulations make legalization a bureaucratic headache compounded by the substance’s illegal status with the federal government. Nevertheless, powerful interests are aggressively trying to keep cannabis illegal — Insys’s donation is the largest any group associated with Proposition 205 has received.
Around the country, the pharmaceutical fight against legalization is joined by the tobacco lobby, the alcohol lobby, the private prison lobby, and law enforcement.
Still, U.S. News reports the ballot measure is gaining popularity among Arizonans. While corporate cash has been known to influence election outcomes, only time will tell if Insys’s desperate attempts to keep a plant illegal will sway voters.

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Being The Boss

It’s hard being the boss of someone when you do the same job as them.  I’m learning this the hard way.  I understand why NG doesn’t look at me as her boss because we have a unique situation where I got promoted, yet I’m still doing reception.  Not many people have a position where their boss is doing their job until they come in, and covers their break.  At least, I don’t think a lot of people have experienced that.

It’s also hard being the boss of someone who has decided that she will be absolutely miserable the second she walks through the lobby doors.  NG has decided to no longer fake being a happy adult, but to just look and act miserable.  Don’t even ask her how her day is going unless you want to her to break it down of how awful her job is.

Being the only person in the entire office that knows what it’s like to be a receptionist and understand how painful and under appreciated it can be, you think she would look to me to guidance.  Nope.  She looks at me and doesn’t understand why I got a new title and why she has to be stuck at the desk.

Seriously?, I’ve been here for YEARS.  I’ve put my time in, and I have put up with a lot.  No body is going to promote a miserable person, and everyone can tell you’re not happy.  If you’re gonna be miserable, blog! Apparently 26 people out there love reading about some random girl’s bad day! 😉

Any who! In between of thinking what the heck I was going to do with this girl, and praying that she might quit, I was sitting at the front desk with Jim (who is still my buddy – which is still freaking me out…) a store manager who was visiting the home office came up to the desk and ask if she could ask me a question.  She overheard me answer the phone while she was in the lobby and noticed that I looked up a store’s phone number, gave a contact name, and seemed to  be an overly nice person to the caller.  Is this what I normally do with callers?

I explained to her that for the most part, I always try to get the caller the information they’re looking for, if it’s available to me.  Why.  What happened.

She laughed, no no, nothing.  Just wondering.

She lied.

She went on to talk about how she had called one day (and she knew the exact date and time because she was traveling and was in her car) and the girl who answered said that she wouldn’t look up a phone number for her, and that if she wasn’t looking for anyone in the corporate office she couldn’t help her.


Now I have managers complaining about NG and how badly she sucks.  I look at Jim and he tells me I have to talk to NG, and if she doesn’t improve, I can write her up.  First of all, write her up? What the heck does that even mean?  This isn’t school.  And second, no no no! I don’t want to do this!!!

I send her a meeting request for later in the afternoon and she doesn’t accept.  She doesn’t say no, she just decided to completely ignore my email.  So I go out to the lobby and tell her Mark is going to cover the phones so we can chat.  We’ll have our first “one on one”.  Riiiight.

We get in the room and I immediately start talking about the conversation I had with the manager.  She lies and tells me maybe it was when we had a temp in.  I tell her no, she told me the date and time and that’s when you were up there.  NG, you can’t do that.  You’re a receptionist, it’s part of the job.

“ok” with a smirk on her face.

OK?? that’s all you have to say? I tell her that we’re a team and when one person isn’t doing what they’re supposed to, it looks bad on both of us.

“Yup, got it.”

I end the meeting and send her back to the lobby.  I come out of the room to Jim and Dee (my new team member), who were dying to know what happened.  When they saw NG looking all “whatever Ruby” and me looking pissed, they asked what happened.

I know I suck as a manager since I’ve never been one before, but c’mon!  TRY to help me out, NG!
Can’t she just be a normal employee and suck up to her boss??  Just bring me a coffee in the morning and everything will be a-ok! 😉


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Ex-NFL player Patrick Willis: What leaving football for Silicon Valley taught meEx-NFL player Patrick Willis: What leaving football for Silicon Valley taught me

Ex-NFL player Patrick Willis: What leaving football for Silicon Valley taught me

Many retired NFL players find their second act in coaching, sports media or small business — not working for a small tech start-up.

But former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis wouldn’t have it any other way.

For the past few months, Willis has been working for Open Source Storage, a start-up specializing in cloud technology. He is the EVP of strategic partnerships.

“I think my proudest accomplishment is being here,” Willis told CNBC.

Willis announced his retirement from the league in March 2015, ending an eight-year career at age 30. Sustaining multiple injuries contributed to his decision, but so did the desire for something new, he said.

The tough part was figuring out what came next.

“When I no longer had that passion … to get up each day and put forth my best efforts, I just knew it was time for a change,” he said.

Making the decision to retire wasn’t easy, but he had to trust his gut.

“Everybody in the world had everything that they thought I should do and the way they wanted me to do it,” Willis said.

The difficult decision taught him a valuable lesson about himself — and about making tough decisions.

“I have always been the kind of person to do what feels right for me, do what feels right in my heart,” he said.

A chance encounter would help him find a new path.

“As I was looking at some other things, I happened to come across a guy that happened to be my neighbor, and we just had a conversation,” Willis said. “One thing led to another.”

That guy was Open Source Storage CEO Eren Niazi, his future boss.

The move to leave professional football might not make sense to many, but Willis said his new job is very rewarding.

“I’m grateful for those times, but I’m even more grateful for the opportunity that I have now to be working at OSS, to be a part of the tech field and to be using my brain the way I get to use it every day.”

“I’ve just always been a different type of person, [the type] to create your own path, do things that haven’t really been done,” Willis said.

“You must trust what’s inside of you. Trust what was put there.”


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The relationship between trade and wages

In the words of my friend Mike Macartney, “free trade isn’t.”

This week “The Economist explains” is given over to economics. For each of six days until Saturday this blog will publish a short explainer on a seminal idea.

DOES trade hurt wages? Or, more precisely, do imports from low-wage economies hurt workers in high-wage ones? Many people assume so. Economists take a bit more convincing. Back in the 1930s, one trade economist, Gottfried Haberler, argued that “the working class as a whole has nothing to fear from international trade”—at least in the long run. This confidence rested on three observations. Labour, unlike other many other productive resources, is required in all sectors. It will thus remain in demand however much globalisation shakes up a country’s industrial mix. Over time, labour is also versatile. Workers can move and retrain; new entrants can gravitate towards sunrise sectors rather than industries in decline. Finally, workers are also consumers, who often buy the foreign goods in local shops. Even if competition from cheap imports drives down their (nominal) wages, they will come out ahead if prices fall by even more. Haberler’s confidence was not universally shared, however. Wolfgang Stolper, a Harvard economist, suspected that competition from labour-abundant countries might hurt workers elsewhere. In 1941, he teamed up with Paul Samuelson, his Harvard colleague, to prove it.

Their Stolper-Samuelson theorem concluded that removing a tariff on labour-intensive goods would depress wages by more than prices, hurting workers as a class, even if the economy as a whole gained. The theorem’s logic rests on the interaction between industries with different degrees of labour-intensity. It is perhaps best explained with an example. Suppose a high-wage economy were divided into two industries: wheat-growing (which is land-intensive) and watchmaking, which makes heavy use of labour and shelters behind a 10% tariff. If this protection were removed, watch prices would fall by 10%. That would force the industry to contract, laying off labour and vacating land. That in turn would put downward pressure on wages and rents. In response, wheat growers would expand, taking advantage of the newly available land and labour. This dance would continue until watchmaking’s costs had fallen by 10%, allowing the industry to compete with tariff-free imports.

Stolper and Samuelson paid close attention to the combination of rents and wages that would achieve this cost reduction. One might assume that both would fall by 10%. But that would be wrong. Since watchmaking is labour-intensive, its contraction releases more labour than land, putting greater downward pressure on wages than on rents. Conversely, the expansion of wheat growers would put more upward pressure on rents than on wages. The end result is that wages would have to fall by more than 10% because rents would fall by less. Rents would paradoxically rise. The combination of much cheaper labour and slightly pricier land would restore the modus vivendi between the two sectors. It would halt the contraction of the watchmakers (because cheaper labour helps them more than pricier land hurts them). It would also check the expansion of the wheat growers (because pricier land hurts them more than cheap labour helps them).

Trade liberalisation, in this example, depresses wages by more than prices, hurting labour in real terms. This gloomy conclusion has proved remarkably influential. It appears even 75 years later in debates about the Trans-Pacific Partnership between America and 11 other countries, many of them low-wage economies. Some economists regret this influence, arguing that the theorem’s crisp conclusion does not hold outside of the stylised settings in which it was first conceived. Even the theorem’s co-author, Paul Samuelson, was ambivalent about the result. “Although admitting this as a slight theoretical possibility,” he later wrote, “most economists are still inclined to think that its grain of truth is outweighed by other, more realistic considerations.”

Previously in this series


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Wells Fargo sparks firestorm over ads bashing the arts


Young people pursuing careers in the arts often have their hands full dealing with mom and dad’s worries about prospects for the life of a starving artist.

Now they have to deal with one of the nation’s most powerful banks expressing its trepidation over their career choices.

Wells Fargo set off a social-media firestorm over ads for its upcoming Teen Financial Education Day that touted smiling young people who had apparently seen the light. Next to one woman, the ad copy reads: “A ballerina yesterday, an engineer today.” Another featuring a smiling young man reads: “An actor yesterday, a botanist today.”

The artistic community took it as a slap in the face, with one actor tweeting, “I want @WellsFargo to stop managing my money if they don’t respect how I make it.”

Prominent artists and actors voiced their outrage, including singer Josh Groban, former Glee star Jenna Ushkowitz, and actor and singer Laura Benanti, the New York Times reported.

Wells Fargo was quick to circle the wagons over Labor Day weekend, offering an apology.

“Wells Fargo is deeply committed to the arts, and we offer our sincere apology for the initial ads promoting our Sept. 17 Teen Financial Education Day,” the bank tweeted Sept. 3. “They were intended to celebrate all the aspirations of young people and fell short of that goal.”

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The campaign left some scratching their heads. After all, Wells Fargo has donated billions of dollars over the years to support the arts, culture and education. Wells donated $93 million to such organizations last year alone. In the Bay Area, Wells last year donated $8.9 million to support a range of arts organizations, including the American Conservatory Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre and the San Francisco Opera.

That support is clearly evident — at least to those of us outside the bank’s marketing department — in the fact that Wells Fargo’s name is splashed on theaters and playbills across the country.

Supporters of the arts definitely demonstrated that they have a sense of humor over the weekend. One actor suggested the bank revise the ads to read, “A banker yesterday, a ballerina today.”

Minutes after the bank apologized, one arts enthusiast tweeted that now’s a good time to submit that grant application.

In its apology, Wells said, “We are making changes to the campaign’s creative that better reflect our company’s core value of embracing diversity and inclusion, and our support of the arts.”

But Wells was mum Tuesday when asked to explain what inspired the ads bashing the arts. Was a marketing executive struggling with issues over their son or daughter’s decision to pursue a career in the arts? Did Wells Fargo’smarketing department think they could garner a lot of free publicity for the Teen Day event if the bank said something truly outrageous?

We may never know the answers to those questions, or another posed to the bank Tuesday morning, “Where does journalism fall on Wells Fargo’s spectrum of worthwhile careers?”

Ironically, many people passionate about the arts, culture — and yes, even journalism — have parlayed that experience into successful careers at Wells Fargo.


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How to raise a well-rounded kid

While single-sport specialization is all the rage, it’s the well-rounded children who become more confident, curious and empathetic.


Happy students at school

Kids who are exposed to different experiences will be better able to handle the zigs and zags of real life. (Photo: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock)

So your son wants to be a professional baseball player, and he’s pretty good for his age, too. Or maybe your daughter wants to be the next Simone Biles, and she’s begging for more gymnastics lessons. But before you go all-in on their big dreams, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) wants you to know this: Kids who specialize in one sport are at added risk of stress, burnout and overuse injuries, whereas kids who dabble in several sports are more likely to stay active throughout their lives.

The AAP’s new report shows that in the world of athletics, there’s a long-term benefit to being well-rounded. But the same is true off the mat or away from the field. College admissions officers look for applicants with a mix of extracurricular activities, and more and more hiring managers are looking for well-rounded candidates in an age where many companies have to do more with less. But what does being well-rounded really mean for kids?

“Think about well-rounded as moms and dads developing both sides of the report card,” explains Dr. Michele Borba, an educational psychologist and author of “UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World.” In school, kids learn reading and math and develop cognitive abilities. But away from the books, they learn people skills, empathy and character, and they are exposed to different experiences, Borba says. “Put those two together, and that’s what you need to navigate the world.”

Borba breaks down five things parents should do to walk the fine line of raising a well-rounded child.

Push, but not too hard

“We are pushing our kids so fast, so soon that we’re pushing the love of the topic or subject or sport right out of them,” Borba says. “By 13, the most talented kids are giving up because of us and the way we’re pushing.”

And it’s so important to hold onto that love, because it can remain with them forever, Borba says. “It becomes a source of resilience — their hobby. They may not be playing baseball at age 42, but they’re going to the game,” she adds. She encourages parents to consider whether their child is pulling the parent or whether the parent is pushing the child. If it’s the latter, it may not be worth the push, Borba says.

Let them quit … sometimes

Kids at karate classYou don’t want to teach your kid to be a quitter, but at the same time, you don’t want him to suffer through activities he doesn’t enjoy. (Photo: Ravil Sayfullin/Shutterstock)

The kind of experience kids have while engaged in a sport or activity is key. They may not love it or even be very good at it, but they’re hopefully learning other things, like how to get along, be a good sport, encourage others, stick it out and handle failure. “Those are amazing experiences, and if you do it right, it isn’t just that you’re helping the kid learn to hit the ball, but you’re helping him learn an important thing called character, which seems to be going by the wayside,” Borba says.

While there’s something to be said about sticking to commitments and seeing things through, what if your kid is truly miserable in an activity? And what if you shelled out big bucks for a soccer uniform or a trumpet, and after three practices your kid hates it? Is it OK to let them quit?

Borba says 83 percent of kids ages 6 to 17 are involved in some kind of extracurricular activity, so sooner or later most parents will be faced with a child wanting to quit something. And whether or not to let them depends on several things.

  • The child’s age: If you have a younger child, you’re trying to expose them to different things so you can figure out what’s a good match, Borba says. With these kids, it’s probably fine to quit and try something else.
  • The financial situation: If you’re paying for pricey ballet lessons hoping your little girl will become the next Misty Copeland, but she’s just not having it, then stop. There’s no reason to hurt yourself financially while forcing your child to do something she doesn’t enjoy.
  • The reason: Why do they want to quit, Borba asks. Are they sick? Do they have a mean coach? Is the teacher not child-oriented? Borba says studies have shown that kids grow to love challenges as long as they have nurturing teachers early in their lives.

“As a child gets older, you can set up a premise ahead of time: You stay for three times, or if it’s a team sport, you stay for the team’s season,” Borba says. She offers these tricks to keep up your sleeve: “If he does want to quit, make the child tell the coach. All of a sudden it’s a different forte. Or say, ‘I’m sorry, this was the deal that we made beforehand, and you gotta stick it out because that’s the deal.’ At this point it’s not just about you — it’s about them.”

Encourage curiosity

Girls looking at flower through magnifying glassLet kids ask questions and explore, and if they ask you something you don’t know, show them how to figure out the answer. (Photo: Phovoir/Shutterstock)

Curiosity is core to creativity, and it’s plummeting in kids at much earlier ages. We’ve made everything so regimented these days, and if you’re afraid of failure or not doing it perfectly, your curiosity will not open,” she warns. Instead, create an “I wonder” home and model the behavior yourself, she suggests. Say things like, “I’m really curious about that!” or “I don’t know. What a great question!” “The child begins to realize you don’t know everything, but you can go figure it out,” Borba says.

Also, make time to sit outside and just look at the clouds or turn rocks over and see what you find. Let kids know “it’s OK to explore and get your feet dirty and wonder about things you didn’t know about before,” she says.

Praise the right way

Mother and daughter huggingAffection plays an important role in raising well-rounded kids. (Photo: Blend Images/Shutterstock)

Don’t praise kids by lavishing them with material things, Borba advises. “We’ve misinterpreted giving your kids stuff or things as praise, and the value of that is lopsided. Kids above all else want our approval. But the approval shouldn’t be in materialism, it should be your love — with your face, your high fives, your hugs. All of these can be enormously powerful, as well as your words.”

Instead, she says, “praise his efforts: ‘Gosh, you hung in there’ or ‘You’re getting better.’ And praise the effort made along the way: ‘You didn’t give up! It looks easier this week!’ You’ll stretch your child’s persistence,” Borba says.

She reminds parents to praise the other kids or team as well. If you point out the teamwork and camaraderie, your kid will see that matters to you, she says. Don’t always praise the win — praise how they played the game. “Those little things you’re praising the right way — you’re focusing on the character traits of your child,” Borba says.

Emphasize empathy

“Empathy and a well-balanced kid go hand in hand,” Borba says. Researchers have found that popular, well-liked kids have higher levels of empathy and can take the perspective of other kids. “Empathy gives your kids an edge in terms of being able to get along on a team, getting out of their comfort zone and getting into the shoes of other people. It’s the benchmark for the relationship so you can understand what your coach or teammate really wants,” she says.

Plus, it’ll give them an employment edge later on in life. As the Wall Street Journal reports:

Individuals who master listening and responding to others are the most successful leaders, and this skill outranks all others, concluded a study released this year by human-resources consultancy Development Dimensions International. … About 20% of U.S. employers offer empathy training as part of management development, up significantly from a decade ago, estimates Richard S. Wellins, a DDI senior vice president. He expects that percentage will double in 10 years.

When you’re empathetic, “you’re constantly working to make things fair — it’s an enormous advantage,” Borba says.


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Why Do Dogs Lick?

Do you frequently find yourself the recipient of your Labrador’s licky affection?

Do you leave cuddles with a damp face, or legs covered in drool?You are not alone!

In this article we are going to answer the popular question: why do dogs lick?

Looking at why dogs lick people, why they lick our faces, why dogs lick their paws and help you to work out why your own dog licks so much.

Dog Licking

Many dogs like a good lick, and Labradors are often at the wetter end of the spectrum. If you want a cuddle, they want to turn it into a kiss.

But not every dog licks as much as his friends. For example, our 4 year old chocolate girl Rachael rarely licks, whereas fox red Lab Tess will barely ever leave an encounter without making her damp mark.

So what is it that causes dogs to lick? Why do some lick more than others? What is the licking appeal when it comes to our faces, their paws or even their toys?

Let’s find out!

Why Do Dogs Lick You?

Almost all dogs will lick their owners. Some more than others, but they will nearly all do it at some point. Especially if they are Labs.

Why Do Dogs Lick People?

Dogs lick people for a variety of possible reasons.

They might like the taste, want to show you affection or be trying to communicate something with you.
The motivation behind your dog’s lick can be guessed at by looking at where he is licking, and what the situation is that prompted him to begin.

Some dogs will lick you for attention, say if you are a bit late with their dinner or they want to go outside.

Some appear to lick simply for affection.

To prompt you to pet them or give them a treat.

Licking people is also a way of a dog making contact with his owner. He is using his tongue to feel your clothes or skin.

Why Do Dogs Lick your Face?

When a puppy is young and with their mother, they will lick her mouth to encourage her to regurgitate food. From the moment they arrive in the world, licking faces is something which pays serious dividends.

If you are happy for your dog to lick your face, then you will continue to reward this behavior into adulthood even accidentally. By giving him physical attention or even more rewarding food treats.

Dogs licking faces then becomes a learned behavior, reinforced accidentally by the owner. If you want to reduce your dog’s face licking, then immediately removing your attention when he does so should over time help to reduce it.

Remember that if you like your Lab licking your face, you should be even more careful about making sure that he is up to date with his wormer.

Why Do Dogs Lick Your Hands

On a daily basis, how much yummy stuff do you pick up? Preparing your meals, snacks, the kids’ dinner. Unpacking the shopping, clearing up the kitchen counters.

Every time you touch something that your dog might like the taste of, you leave tiny particles on your skin that his sensitive tongue can detect.

It has also been hypothesised that dogs like the salty taste of our skin, especially if we have sweaty palms on a hot sunny day!

Why Do Dogs Lick Themselves?

The reasons dogs lick themselves can be broken down into the following four simple categories.


Dogs like so many other animals use their tongues to keep themselves clean.


When a dog is injured, they will lick the wounded area. Their saliva can help to remove dead skin particles and dirt.

However, if your dog is licking an injury you should take him to the vet to be checked over. As some injuries can be exacerbated by licking,


When dogs are worried they will often lick themselves. The act of licking releases hormones that make them feel happier, calmer and relieves stress.

Unfortunately this can lead to compulsive licking behaviors, which we will look at below.


Dogs may lick themselves, you or their toys simply because they find the act of doing so enjoyable. If they find licking fun, it’s self-rewarding, and they will do it more often. Licky dogs are often dogs who simply love licking!

Dog Licking Paws

All dogs will lick their paws from time to time for cleaning purposes. They will lick between their toes or nibble gently at their pads to remove dirt particles and clean the fur.

However, if they are paying particular attention to one paw or licking them far more than usual it is worth a trip to the vet to have them checked.

Dogs paws are a common point for injuries and accidents, treading on spikes, having reactions to plants they have encountered or hurting them when running can cause them to lick them more than usual.

Dogs chewing paws can also be a sign that something is amiss.

Dog Licking Lips

Dog lip licking is a little different to the other examples of dog licking discussed above.

Dogs lick their lips when they are worried about something. The act of licking their lips is both an appeasement gesture to other dogs, and a sensation that can release hormones which make the dog himself feel better.

Stress is also a big cause of lip licking in dogs.

You will see that some very well behaved dogs, who have been trained with physical punishment, may carry out the required behavior – like sitting still in a field of rabbits – but will be constantly licking their lips throughout.

This is because they are continuing to sit through fear of punishment, and the licking is a result of the stressful battle with their internal desires.

When a dog is positive-reinforcement trained they remain seated because the happy outcome of staying still has been trained to be even more rewarding and fun to look forward to than the distractions.

They will therefore be less likely to lick their lips or feel stressed by the activities.

Why Does My Dog Lick So Much?

Do you think that your dog licks more than most? There are several possible reasons this could be occurring.

We first need to look at how much is ‘too much’.

It’s a personal thing. One owner might find the occasional lick fine, but anything beyond hourly to be too much.

Another might only feel overwhelmed after a good twenty minutes of having their hand licked.

The amount that your dog licks will be dictated by your response to their licking, how rewarding your licking is to them and how they are feeling.

Dog Constantly Licking?

Some dogs lick an awful lot. If your dog is constantly licking, but has always done so since he was a pup, then he’s probably just doing so because it brings him enjoyment.

Our lovely Tess is one of these dogs. She’s always got her tongue out, approaching you with damp enthusiasm on a daily basis.

It’s when licking is excessive that you need to consider looking deeper into the issue.

Excessive Licking In Dogs

Excessive licking in dogs can be a sign that there is something medical which needs to be looked at by your veterinarian.

As we have seen above, excessive focus on a particular area can be a sign of injury.Likewise, obsessive licking in general can be a sign that your dog is stressed, especially if they are excessively lip licking.

If you feel that your dog’s licking is getting too much, then have a chat with your vet or ask for a referral to a local positive reinforcement behaviorist.

But rest assured that most Labs just lick because they enjoy licking, and it doesn’t usually indicate any kind of a problem, even if you’d like them to do it a little less often


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