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BARKS from the Guild

Issue No. 16 / January 2016

PPG Summit The Future Is Now

CANINE The Language of Barking

FELINE Caring for the Aging Cat

AVIAN Common Behavior Problems

BEHAVIOR Abnormal Repetitive Behaviors TRAINING Cats In Class

INTERVIEW Leslie McDevitt

Consent Testing: Yes or No? Empowering Dogs to Make Choices TM

A Force-Free Publication from the Pet Professional Guild: By the Members for the Members

Every great partnership starts with a handshake.

We offer professional discounts, wholesale rates, custom branded items, and more.


from the Guild Published by the Pet Professional Guild 9122 Kenton Road, Wesley Chapel, FL 33545 Tel: 41 Dog-Train (413-648-7246) Editor-in-Chief Susan Nilson

Images © Can Stock Photo: (unless otherwise credited; uncredited images belong to PPG) The Guild Steering Committee Kelly Fahey, Rebekah King, Debra Millikan, Susan Nilson, Angelica Steinker, Niki Tudge

BARKS from the Guild Published bi-monthly, BARKS from the Guild presents a collection of valuable business and technical articles as well as reviews and news stories pertinent to our industry. BARKS is the official publication of the Pet Professional Guild.

Submissions BARKS encourages the submission of original written materials. Please contact the Editor-in-Chief for contributor guidelines prior to sending manuscripts or see: Please submit all contributions via our submission form at:

Letters to the Editor To comment on an author’s work, or to let PPG know what topics you would like to see more of, contact the Editor-in-Chief via email putting BARKS in the subject line of your email. BARKS reserves the right to edit for length, grammar and clarity.

Subscriptions and Distribution Please contact Rebekah King at for all subscription and distribution-related enquiries. Advertising Please contact Niki Tudge at to obtain a copy of rates, ad specifications, format requirements and deadlines. Advertising information is also available at:

PPG does not endorse or guarantee any products, services or vendors mentioned in BARKS, nor can it be responsible for problems with vendors or their products and services. PPG reserves the right to reject, at its discretion, any advertising. The Pet Professional Guild is a membership business league representing pet industry professionals who are committed to force-free training and pet care philosophies, practices and methods. Pet Professional Guild members understand force-free to mean: No Shock, No Pain, No Choke, No Prong, No Fear, No Physical Force, No Physical Molding and No Compulsion-Based Methods.


From the Editor

he dust has barely settled after the phenomenal success that was the PPG Summit 2015 in November but the Summit planning committee is already back at the drawing board working diligently on this year’s event. Thanks to everyone who participated in making PPG’s inaugural convention such a hit. We will be introducing a number of changes this year based on member feedback and aim to make Summit 2016 just as good, if not better (see pages 12-20 for report and more details). In the meantime, another new year is upon us and we have an intriguing cover story to kick off 2016. How many times have we all seen a dog forced into a situation he is not comfortable with, sometimes with terrible consequences? Understanding canine body language is crucial to knowing what dogs are saying but there is still much work to be done in terms of education. Learning how to interpret whether a dog is saying yes or no and then respecting that decision is an excellent starting point. By ensuring consent and preference testing play an active role in professional interactions with clients, trainers and behavior consultants can help improve an animal’s quality of life, make behavior modification more effective, improve training plans and create better communication all round. Read all about how to empower dogs to make choices in this way on pages 26-31. As always, PPG members have submitted some stellar articles which we are proud to feature in this issue. In our canine section we cover training a rescue dog to become a service dog, using cats in dog training classes, barking dogs, biting dogs and deaf dogs, while our feline section looks into life with a senior cat and also wonders how domesticated cats really are. Elsewhere, our avian section examines common behavior problems found in pet birds and, in a new behavior section, we investigate abnormal repetitive behaviors exhibited by animals in managed care. Both articles offer some handy options for addressing specific issues. In our business section we investigate how professional trainers and behavior consultants can better engage their clients to work towards improved compliance and outcome. Meanwhile, our comment section returns and wonders why aversive training methods are still being used on dogs (and other animals for that matter) when progressive zoos are using scientifically sound, force-free techniques on potentially dangerous animals such as cheetahs and jaguars. It’s a good question to which perhaps there is really no good answer. We also feature another insightful interview this month, this time with renowned trainer Leslie McDevitt. McDevitt comes back to the essential issues of compassion and empathy and asks how anyone can be a really good trainer if they cannot put themselves in the animal’s position. It is another good question and a message the force-free movement continues to work tirelessly towards sharing amongst pet owners and the animal training community at large. Enjoy the read and please get in touch to let us know what you think or if you would like to contribute.

n Susan Nilso

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NEWS PPGBI, PPGA, companion dog assessment program, new PPG vendors and more ADVOCACY Spotlight on PPGBI’s force-free photo campaign PPG SUMMIT Susan Nilson reports on PPG president Niki Tudge’s opening address, Dr. Karen Overall’s keynote presentation, the final day panel discussion at Summit 2015, and what’s new for Summit 2016 EDUCATION Upcoming PPG webinars and workshops plus a report by Emily Conde on the October 2015 Pet Care Certification workshop THE VALUE OF NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION Angelica Steinker examines the role of consent and preference testing in canine behavior consulting A REAL CONNECTION Annie Phenix speaks to renowned dog trainer, Leslie McDevitt FROM SHELTER DOG TO SERVICE DOG L. A. Bykowsky and Chere McCoy tell the tale of Stella, a rescue Chihuahua training as an assistance dog for her owner’s PTSD CATS IN CLASS Yvette Van Veen explores the possibilities of using cats in a dog training class A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING Mary Jean Alsina examines the reasons behind the proliferation of dog bites in the US DOG SPEAK - THE LANGUAGE OF BARKING Diane Garrod examines canine communication and presents tips on how to manage and prevent over-barking WORKING WITH A DEAF DOG Terrie Hayward presents the case of Jax, the 70 pound rescue crossbreed, who also happened to be deaf FELINE BEHAVIOR UNMASKED Jane Ehrlich responds to commonly asked questions about cats CARING FOR THE SENIOR CAT Jane Ehrlich discusses some common signs of aging in older cats HOW DOMESTICATED ARE CATS? Patience Fisher wonders whether asking how domesticated cats really are is even the right question SOLVING COMMON BEHAVIOR ISSUES Vicki Ronchette highlights some of the common behavior problems found in pet birds THE FREEDOM OF CHOICE Lara Joseph looks into some of the abnormal repetitive behaviors exhibited by animals in managed care DOGS DONÊT WRITE CHECKS Mary Jean Alsina explains how trainers and behavior consultants can better connect with their clients PROGRESSIVE ZOOS AND THE AVOIDANCE OF AVERSIVES IN TRAINING Linda Michaels wonders why aversive methods are still used in dog training when large and potentially dangerous animals can be trained using positive reinforcement PROFILE: A PROCESS OF SELF-REINFORCEMENT Featuring Angelica Steinker of Courteous Canine, Inc. DogSmith of Tampa BARKS from the Guild/January 2016

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PPG Focuses on April Launch for New Member Licensed Product


PG is set to launch the new Pet Dog Ambassador Program (PDA) for members worldwide in April 2016. Announced at the PPG Summit in Tampa last November and by means of a member webinar in December, the program aims to provide an assessment process that tests real life dogs' and guardians' skills, both in a class situation and in the real world via a progressive assessment. “This is a very exciting project and has been designed to help people drive business to their practices while providing real life skills to pet dogs and their owners at three different levels,” said Deb Millikan of PPG Australia, and a key player in the development of the program. More details on the program, as well as how professionals and dog guardians can apply, to follow shortly.

NEWS The Pet Dog Ambassador program will be launched worldwide in April

Photo: Janet Coelho, Adelaide Pet Photos


president Niki Tudge has announced that PPG Summit 2016 will take place on November 8-11 in Tampa, Florida. “We have some amazing speakers lined up, massive names in the industry,” said Tudge. For more details see page 20.

PPG Announces New Member Vendor Partner: SitStay


itStay, a proud sponsor of PPG Summit 2015 in Tampa, Florida last November, is now offering members a 15 percent discount on all products purchased from their website, SitStay generously sponsored the Splash Dinner at the Summit and were on hand for the three days to talk to members about their products. SitStay has been selling quality pet products since 1995 and their training supplies mirror PPG’s guiding principles, SitStay offers professional discounts, wholesale rates, custom branded items and much more.

For more details, see the member area of the PPG website,

lue-9 Pet Products,, another proud sponsor of PPG's 2015 Summit, is now offering all members $20 off each KLIMB product. Whether you call them platforms, places or pedestals, a small, elevated surface provides an easy way to train animals of all kinds. The KLIMB™ dog training platform is deliberately crafted to be just large enough for the animal to comfortably occupy the space. You can access the checkout code required for this discount in the member area of the PPG website, www Many attendees bought these products at the Summit and are very happy with them. Be sure to register for the webinar being presented by Michele Pouliot of Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) on platform training for dogs on Friday, January 15, 2016 from 4 - 5:30 p.m.

(EST), Pouliot is recognized internationally for her innovation and creative development in guide dog training and service to blind clients. GDB actively assists other guide dog schools around the world in their efforts to adopt positive training methods. Since 2006, Pouliot has directly assisted more than 30 guide dog schools (internationally and in the USA) in changing their programs to encompass positive reinforcement and clicker training methods.

PPG Announces New Member Vendor Partner: Blue-9 Pet Products


BARKS from the Guild/January 2016



Update from PPG British Isles


he Pet Professional Guild British Isles (PPGBI) was launched in April 2015. How quickly time passes! The year saw a steady increase in membership numbers of both pet professionals and the pet owning public. Many new members have cited the fact that PPGBI’s guiding principles,, were one of the main reasons they applied to join the organization. As a local chapter of PPG, PPGBI is setting the same standards for humane, effective, science-based, reward-based, force-free training. Many other members have cited the amazing resources that are made available to both pet enthusiasts and professionals, such as educational handouts, articles, videos and webinars; advocacy videos and handouts; information about everything from training to pet first aid and canine communication; the Guild archives,; access to BARKS from the Guild, /BARKSfromtheGuild… the list goes on. Professional members are also listed in PPGBI’s directory, which means they can be more easily located. In September 2015, special counsel members Prof. Paul McGreevy, veterinarian and ethologist, Debbie Matthews, of Vets Get Scanning and Craig MacLellan, CEO and founder of Veterans with Dogs, were joined by renowned clicker gundog trainer, Helen Phillips. Phillips teaches a variety of clicker training and gundog courses around the world as well as at her own training

Update from PPG Australia


PG Australia (PPGA) has had a busy time over the past couple of months. First, we were very excited and proud to announce four appointments to PPGA’s special counsel: • Prof. Paul McGreevy, an RCVS recognized specialist in veterinary behavioral medicine, and sub dean of animal welfare at the University of Sydney. Prof. McGreevy’s research interests include, amongst others, animal welfare science, and learning theory as applied to animal training and behavior modification. • Dr. Katrina Ward, an Australian veterinarian and president of the Australian Veterinary Behaviour Interest Group. Dr. Ward’s passion is about helping to keep pets and their people together harmoniously and kindly, and to ensure the welfare of all species is respected. • Dr. Gabrielle Carter, an Australian veterinarian with a masters degree in veterinary behaviour from Purdue University in Indiana, USA, and qualified as a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists—one of only two specialists in Australia with this qualification. 6

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016

center in the UK. Meanwhile, PPGBI’s steering committee has been very busy behind the scenes working on its goals for 2016. It looks like being another great year during which we look forward to welcoming many new members. If you are already a member of PPG but would like to transfer to your local chapter, please visit PPGBI’s website, - Louise Stapleton-Frappell CTDI PCT-A Membership Manager, PPG British Isles

• Dr. Kersti Seksel, a registered veterinary specialist in animal behaviour, a fellow of the Australian College of Veterinary scientists in animal behaviour, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists and a diplomate of the European College of Animal Welfare and Behavioural Medicine. She is an adjunct senior lecturer at Charles Sturt University and honorary associate at University of Sydney. She currently sits on the board of the Delta Society and is chair of the NSW Animal Welfare Advisory Council. PPGA has also begun rolling out its full member benefits program, with the undertaking of vendor partnerships with Black Dog Wear and Foobler. More partnerships are in the pipeline, both for full members and other member levels. All of us at PPGA are immensely proud that our own Debra Millikan has been appointed to the board of PPG. Our heartfelt congratulations to her, and to PPG, who obviously recognize the best when they see it. Our big news to start the new year is that PPG Australia has partnered with the Dog Lovers Show Melbourne to present the “Ask A Trainer” stand for the three days of the show in 2016. We have some exciting plans under way to get the PPG name and brand out to the southern part of Australia and to provide around 20,000 Australian dog owners and lovers with a hands-on experience of positive reinforcement training. This will be huge! - Steph McColl PCT-A President - PPG Australia

NEWS Cat Committee Updates Webinar Schedule


PG’s Cat Committee has announced an updated list of webinars focusing on all things feline. The program kicks off on Wednesday, January 20, 2016 at 4 p.m. (EST) with Feline Destructive Scratching and How To Solve It. For more details see page 8.

Two Exciting New Products Coming Soon!


PG is set to launch an indepth dog training program in the very near future featuring trick team titles and a DogNostics webinar program (to be shared through PPG). The focus will be on increasing training skills and knowledge while placing a big emphasis on fun and teamwork. More information to follow soon.

Fahey Joins PPG Steering Committee


elly Fahey has joined the PPG steering committee as of December 2015. Fahey is a Level 2, Pat Miller certified trainer and a Dog*tec certified dog walker and pet sitter. She owns and operates The DogSmith of Hunterdon in New Jersey, www She believes that training a dog does not have to be stressful and should be fun for both owners and their dogs. She strives to help people teach their dogs to be well-mannered family members, thereby keeping dogs in their homes and out of shelters. In her youth, Fahey’s love of animals was manifested through her active membership in local 4-H Clubs, where she raised a wide variety of farm and domestic animals. “People would come up to me while I was out with my dogs and comment about how well behaved they were, and say how they wished they could get their dog to do ‘insert a behavior here,’ and ask for advice,” said Fahey. “It just seemed like it a natural progression for me to help the human-dog relationship. “I am honored to have been invited to be part of PPG’s steering committee,” Fahey continued. “Of course I only use forcefree training and pet care methods and am committed to advocating that people build a relationship with their dog based on trust and not pain, fear or intimidation. I look forward to providing insight and guidance to help PPG further the cause of force-free training and animal care and am confident that a unified team will have a substantial impact of the pet care industry.”

Kelly Fahey (above left) with her dogs Brynn (center) and Cooper

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016




f you haven’t already tuned in, make a note to listen to the PPG Radio Show,, on the first Sunday of every month at 12 noon (EST). There is an incredible line-up of guests and the show is always educational and fun. Here is the current line-up (subject to change): Sunday, January 3, 2016 - 12 Noon (EST) Teresa McKeon: TAGteach Diana Nichols Pappert: Do Animals Think?; how genetics and the environment influence behavior Yvette Van Veen: Decoy dogs Register at: Sunday, February 7, 2016 - 12 noon (EST) Helen Phillips: Clicker training gundogs Niki Tudge: Engaging, educating and empowering human clients Eileen Anderson: Canine cognitive dysfunction Register at:


You can submit a question for any of the guests here:

PPG Workshops and Webinars

A Force-Free Pet Care Certification Workshop (Tampa, FL) with Niki Tudge, Angelica Steinker, Rebekah King and Melody Michael Thursday, May 19, 2016 - 9 a.m. (EDT) Sunday, May 22, 2016 - 5:30 p.m. (EDT) The Gift of a Gray Muzzle: Active Care for Senior Dogs (Tampa, FL) with Kathy Sdao and Lori Stevens Saturday, September 24, 2016 - 9:30 a.m. (EDT) Sunday, September 25, 2016 - 4:30 p.m. (EDT) Details of all upcoming workshops can be found at:

Live Webinars

"Get a Cue": Creating Stimulus Control with Discrimination with Yvette Van Veen Sunday, January 10, 2016 - 12 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. (EST) Learn about Platform Training for Dogs with Michele Pouliot Friday, January 15, 2016 - 4 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. (EST) Learn All The Ways "Lunch & Learn" Sessions Can Help Grow Your Business! with Niki Tudge Friday, January 22, 2016 - 2 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. (EST) Purebreds are Like Unicorns: Understanding the Breed Ancestry of Shelter Dogs and the Influence of Breed Labels with Lisa Gunter Thursday, January 28, 2016 - 12 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. (EST) Building Empathy - How to Teach Children to Interact Safely with Dogs with by Janis Bradley Friday, January 29, 2016 - 1p.m. - 2:30 p.m. (EST) An Introduction to Dog Bite Safety Education For Children;The "Be a Tree" Program with Gabrielle Dunne Tuesday, February 2, 2016 - 2 p.m. - 3 p.m. (EST) 8

Sunday, March 6, 2016 - 12 noon (EST) Dr. Michelle Duda: Stop barking up the wrong tree: how to implement best practices for coaching Amy Martin: Compassionate training for clients Gabrielle Dunne: Doggone Safe/Be a Tree Register at:

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PPG World Service Radio Show Schedule

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016

The Use and Application of Training Mechanics to Help Develop Impulse Control with Jolein van Weperen Saturday, March 12, 2016 - 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. (EST) Does Canine Hypothyroidism Really Affect Behavior? with Lisa Radosta Thursday, September 1, 2016 - 10 a.m. - 11 a.m. (EDT)

Cat Webinars

Feline Destructive Scratching with Francine Miller Wednesday, January 20, 2016 - 12 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. (EST) Introducing Cats to Cats: Bringing Home a Shelter Cat with Patience Fisher Thursday, February 18, 2016 - 7 p.m. - 8 p.m. (EST) Force-Free Nail Trims and Medicating with Janna Light March 2016 (date/time TBC) Organizing a Kittengarten with Paula Garber April 2016 (date/time TBC) Aggression – Cat to Human with Jane Ehrlich May 2016 (date/time TBC) Environmental Enrichment with Francine Miller and Jane Ehrlich June 2016 (date/time TBC) Low Stress Cat Handling (for Vets, Shelter Staff and Owners) with Paula Garber July 2016 (date/time TBC) Introductions: Dogs to Resident Cats/Cats to Resident Dogs with Leanna Bower August 2016 (date/time TBC) Kongs for Cats with Amy Martin September 2016 (date/time TBC)

Details of all upcoming webinars can be found at: A recording is made available within 48 hours of all PPG webinars.


PPGBI Launches Online Force-Free Campaign O

Louise Stapleton-Frappell explains the #PPGBIForceFree initiative and shares some of the photos that have been submitted so far

ctober 2015 saw the start of Pet Professional Guild British Isles’ (PPGBI) force-free hashtag campaign. PPGBI asked everyone to post photos of their dogs with the hashtag #PPGBIForceFree, www.facebook .com/search/top/?q=%23PPGBIForceFree and help spread the word regarding the power of force-free training. Many gorgeous pictures have already been shared on Facebook, all helping to bring about a greater awareness of science-based, reward-based, force-free training, as well as promoting membership of PPGBI. If you would like to join the campaign simply share a photo on your own timeline on Facebook, making sure you include #PPGBIForceFree in the post title. All the photos that are shared can be viewed by clicking on the hashtag.The following three pages feature a selection of some of the wonderful #PPGBIForceFree photos already submitted.


Geoffery (right) kicks off the campaign (poster by PPGBI steering committee member, Denise O'Moore)

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016



To join the campaign simply share a photo on your Facebook timeline, making sure you include #PPGBIForceFree in the post title


BARKS from the Guild/January 2016




#PPGSummit 2015: Advocating for Change

Susan Nilson showcases highlights from PPG president Niki Tudge’s opening address and


keynote speaker Dr. Karen Overall’s presentation at PPG’s 2015 Summit in Tampa, Florida Dr. Karen Overall (left) and PPG president Niki Tudge at the opening of the 2015 PPG Summit

Photo courtesy: Becky Ascione

y all accounts the inaugural PPG educational Summit on November 11-13, 2015 was both a resounding success and a lot of fun, with presenters, sponsors, vendors, volunteers and 300 plus attendees from all over the world all playing their part in making it such an enjoyable, memorable event. In her opening address, =VjJ9xWaEtL4, PPG president Niki Tudge reflected on the sometimes rocky - but never boring - journey it has been over the last four years to get PPG to where it is today. PPG now has members in 27 plus countries and multiple committees across the globe working on new projects. “The profession of animal training, behavior and pet care is a tripod of art, science and relationships, and each is as important as the other,” said Tudge. “We have a serious responsibility and obligation to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. We do not have to convince everyone that our way is right. We must simply engage and motivate them to try. The results of force-free training stand up, and are supported by science; they work best for everyone. “As professionals we have said no to shock, choke, prong, fear and pain, which challenges us to search for better, more effective, humane ways to apply our craft. Our goal must be to engage, educate and empower other pet professionals, pet owners and anyone that steps into our individual spheres of influence. Through our actions and high standards of conduct and performance we can influence how our industry evolves. We all want to bring about change and we have a big job ahead of us. It is not a sprint but a marathon and it is important that we promote what we

love and what we inspire to teach, rather than bash and draw attention to what we hate.” PPG’s goals for 2016 are focused on continuing support of its members in their education, business development and the mutual force-free mission. Tudge encouraged anyone who wants to help shape the industry, or indeed PPG, to jump onto a committee to help make an impact. She then introduced keynote speaker, certified applied veterinary behaviorist, Dr. Karen Overall, as a strong advocate for humane techniques and a valued PPG partner from the outset. Both Tudge and Dr. Overall were visibly

From Leashes to Neurons: Humane Behavioral Care for Dogs Part I: The Brain in Evolution and Everyday Life

s Dogs are not wolves and have not been wolves for a long time. s Much learning in dogs involves systems we don’t always consider - olfaction and non-verbal and tactile signaling. s Essential to our understanding of behavior is an understanding of ‘reactivity.’ s Dogs are not domesticated wolves, and our relationship with them may be one of co-evolution. s Dogs differ from both chimps and hand reared wolves in their ability to act on signals from humans (Hare et al.). s Can dogs do observational learning? Yes, and there are data to prove it. s We need to take advantage of observational learning, and be cautious about what is inadvertently taught. s What information is contained in vocal signals? Should we just be telling the dogs to shut up? s We should reconsider how we interact with dogs and what their signals mean. s We should be cognizant of how dogs process sensory information. s By understanding regions in the brain associated with learning we can appreciate how we may prevent doing damage. s Considering temperament, a moderate to high heritability of traits is implied… but is this true? s Simple genetic associations for most behaviors or behavioral conditions are rare. s Familial patterns and those shared across breeds can inform early intervention in behavioral conditions. s Dogs and dog breeds provide superb data for understanding complex behavior. s Dogs work for information, which is their most important currency, especially in uncertain situations. - Dr. Karen Overall, PPG Summit,Tampa, Florida 2015 12

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016


From Leashes to Neurons: Humane Behavioral Care for Dogs Part II: The Neurobiology of Reactivity and Stress

sAt what age or developmental stage is arousal and reactivity important? Parental/grandparental; prenatal; infantile sensitive periods; juvenile social maturation periods; adult; old age. s During arousal and reactivity chronic cortisol elevation appears to act as a translational gene regulator. s Cortisol elevation appears to interfere with the acquisition and consolidation of task learning in regions of the hippocampus. s Chronic glucocorticoid exposure affects the structural development of the hippocampus. s Pre-natal and chronic ongoing stress in rats leads to shrinkage of the hippocampus and subsequent memory impairment and facilitation of fear conditioning in the amygdala, especially auditory fear conditioning (consider noise phobic dogs). s The amygdala is a concept or a destination as opposed to a “thing.” Everything is connected in the brain. s There are four problems with communication that may affect dogs who worry and have anxiety disorders: anxious dogs cannot read the signals others are giving, cannot use or process the information received, cannot make decisions based on the information they get, or communicate any decision in a helpful way. s In canine anxiety disorders, if we can slow down the rate of reacting and keep the patient below the threshold where she just does the same thing over and over again even though that strategy is not working, the patient should begin to respond in a way where she can learn which behaviors make her and others more comfortable. The patient can be happier… we just have to not give up. s To treat a behavior problem, first we have to teach dogs to be less reactive. s Can we teach ‘thoughtfulness’ and ‘impulse control?’ It depends on the genetic and epigenetic response surfaces. s Can we teach dogs to be calmer, more thoughtful and less reactive? Yes, we can teach relaxation. s Dogs work for information, which is their most important currency, especially in uncertain situations. - Dr. Karen Overall, PPG Summit,Tampa, Florida 2015 Dr. Karen Overall: The more humanely dogs are treated, the better

Dr. Karen Overall: Kindness can be scientifically informed

moved by their passion to make the world a safer, more enjoyable place for pets, and the impact of holding the first ever professional convention devoted solely to force-free, humane, scientifically sound training methods. Dr. Overall’s presentation was nothing short of outstanding. Educational, informative and entertaining, Overall spoke fluently and passionately about her work and generously shared some of the ups and downs of being an advocate for improving the lives of pets, both in homes and in rescue, during her four-hour keynote address. “Humans do not bother to try to learn the language of other

From Leashes to Neurons: Humane Behavioral Care for Dogs Part III: Assessing Behavior - What Do Tests Tell Us?

s There are good methodologies to assess behavior but the principles driving them are seldom applied in clinical situations, in choosing pets, in sheltering or rescue situations, or in working dog situations. s To adequately assess risk and the correlated effects of biting, we need accurate, detailed information on breed, damage and context. s Misidentification of breeds is rampant – huge amounts of resources been spent on the political, and not the biological issue. s Bite scales tell only about damage caused and may say nothing about the dog. s Bite damage is affected by a dog’s size, build, the movement of the dog and the human, plus the behaviors and the ‘emotional’ state of both. s All dogs can bite, always be careful when interacting with a dog, even a family dog (Cornelissen & Hopster). s We cannot test dogs as if they are all part of the same population – they could be normal, reactive, reactive with extensive treatment, or reactive just starting treatment. All are different and so the tests should be different. s Tests carried out in a shelter are not predictive of how a dog will behave out of the shelter. s Tests for aggression will produce many false positives yet this is a matter of life or death in shelters. s The test for killing things is not worth the paper it is written on. At least flip a coin and make it fair if you are looking for a reason to kill animals. s Consider using standardized screens to assess all animals and to examine patterns in your population. s The development and use of these kinds of tests, combined with a relinquishment history could help meet an animal’s needs. s By knowing the lifestyle issues an animal has experienced – and preferred – sheltering can become less stressful. s ‘Adoptability’ is a function of a dog’s behavior and their human’s needs, expectations, social and physical environments. s Any animal in rescue/shelter has baggage and special needs; some of these are created by the shelter. s The vast majority of shelter/rescue animals can recover from negative experiences and blossom with time. - Dr. Karen Overall, PPG Summit,Tampa, Florida 2015

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016



animals because it is too hard,” said Dr. Overall at the outset. “We just expect dogs to learn our language instead. Fast mapping is the first stage of human language acquisition and involves making groups of things. Dogs do label things, although maybe not the same as we do, and they can do observational learning. Context matters. Human and dog cognition seems similar, and humans and dogs have virtually identical social systems. Dogs’ cognition appears similar to humans’ (consider co-evolution) and they can learn by watching both other dogs and humans. “Kindness can be scientifically informed,” Overall continued. “Birth, life and death are painful and kindness brings some relief from all of that. I think to try to make the world less distressing is the best that we can hope for. Dogs will have more and more of an important role in keeping us safe so the more humanely they are treated and the conditions they live in, the better. “Any animal in a shelter or rescue should be sheltered. They have baggage and special needs, and some of these are created by the shelter. The vast majority of these animals can recover and blossom with time. By knowing who they are we can meet their needs and understand and address their risks. Creativity is required. This approach requires the will to do it and that we rely on research and data collection. It’s not simple, but it can be done.” When Overall closed her presentation, she deservedly received a standing ovation. Her drive, knowledge, compassion and commitment were an inspiration and allow us to hope that, as force-free pet professionals, we can continue to make a differ-

Dr. Karen Overall: Human and dog cognition seems similar and our social systems are virtually identical consider co-evolution

ence to the lives of the animals that come into our care, and to the future of animal training as a whole. n

For further highlights of Dr.Overall’s keynote address, see boxes on pages 12-14

From Leashes to Neurons: Humane Behavioral Care for Dogs Part IV: No Fear – Redefining Humane Behavioral Care

s Study: 18 of 135 dogs (13.3%) of the dogs in one vet practice had be dragged or carried in (Döring et al.). s Study: Fewer than half of the dogs entered the vet practice calmly (Döring et al.). s Study: Dogs < 2 years who see vets often are more fearful than older dogs who see vets less (Döring et al., Hernander). s The studies suggest that repeated exposure to veterinary practices may enhance fear at or up to certain ages. s Study: Dogs in waiting rooms that were not chaotic and had sufficient time to calm were less stressed than those who were moved quickly from the waiting room to the exam room (Hernander). s Weighing dogs on the scale is much more stressful than sitting in the waiting room (Döring et al.). s On the exam table, of 135 dogs, 106 (78.5%) were fearful (Döring et al., Hernander). s When changing behaviors, remember that humane handling involves learned trust. s The concept of ‘humane tools’ does not include shock collars, e-stimulation, prong collars and metal choke collars.

Dr. Karen Overall: Making the world less distressing is the best we can hope for


Dr. Karen Overall: The test for killing things is not worth the paper it’s written on

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016

Photo courtesy: Amber Oliver

- Dr. Karen Overall, PPG Summit,Tampa, Florida 2015

Service dog in training Oakley welcomes attendees to the Tampa Convention Center for the opening address


#PPGSummit 2015: The Future Is Now

At the close of PPG’s 2015 Summit, we invited six of the presenters to engage in a brief


panel discussion on what the future holds for the field of professional animal training and behavior. Susan Nilson reports

t times, with all the cruelty and destruction in the world, it can seem disheartening for pet professionals who are trying to make a stand for animals, to be their voice and ensure they get the best care possible and are never subjected to pain and suffering along the way. While there is still great resistance from many quarters regarding the power of training via positive reinforcement - scientific study notwithstanding - as everyone in attendance at the PPG Summit already knows, the results speak for themselves. As Ken McCort said in his presentation, The Skill of Management and Training when Dogs Are Displaying Undesired Behavior, using positive punishment when dealing with an undesirable behavior means you are reacting to what the dog has already done, which is “not a good training approach.” “An aversive device excites a part of the nervous system that you do not want to excite,” said McCort. “A good trainer negotiates with an animal, i.e. will you do this for this?” Bearing this in mind, we asked McCort, along with fellow presenters Pat Miller, Janis Bradley, Angelica Steinker, Lara Joseph and Chirag Patel (with PPG president Niki Tudge moderating) what they believe the future holds for the rapidly growing area of animal behavior and training. Here is what they had to say: Q: How do you see the pet industry developing from here?

Janis Bradley: I really do think that a huge proportion of the future of dog training is in recognizing and understanding and taking advantage of the science of relationships. It wasn’t that long ago in my life with dogs that I thought that was hocus pocus, namby pamby stuff yet now we have got the solutions. It’s really real. The really great thing is that very gradually our clients actually know what we’re talking about Panelist and presenter, Chirag Patel, meets when they talk about their relationships Zoey, owned by summit with their dogs. I am a crossover trainer attendee, Alyssa Buller so I have seen a big sea change in how we (not pictured) advise people on their relationships with their dogs and I think there is a big new [change] coming.

Ken McCort: I do think this is one of the greatest collections of experts - not just people [in the panel] but people in the audience - and dog trainers that I’ve seen for a long long time. I’m really happy to see that, for a first summit, it turned out the way it did. The science is absolutely necessary.

The more I know the more I understand what’s going on with an animal, or think I understand. We can never know it all but the science is getting better. I’m so pleased with the industry and what’s going on, especially with the science. I’m really excited about a lot of the products that are coming out that we can use to help our animals and help our clients’ animals. I think that’s a very promising future. The big thing I’d like to see in the future is the different people who work in training animals, especially in the exotic animal world, networking with others. [The latter] could use our help sometimes and we could learn a lot from them. Some are just starting out and need more education, and there are others from whose wisdom we can all benefit. Pat Miller: This has been the best dog training conference ever. It is so cool to have been in the industry for long enough to see the change.

Chirag Patel: For me, the future of dog training is the science aspect of it. Science goes beyond learning theory and I hope that we’ll look at training as part of the care package for an animal, rather than thinking, “I just want to do training.” I think there will be lots of change in that respect.

Angelica Steinker: I see so many possibilities. I challenge everyone to be creative and to share their creativity. Let people know if you come up with a great idea. Put it in BARKS from the Guild, put it on the PPG Facebook page and share what you know. All of those great ideas can create something completely awesome.

Lara Joseph: This is the best seminar I have ever attended. I come from the exotic animal world and I am bringing awareness of PPG and the future of PPG to my clientele. There’s a big need for it in the wildlife rehabilitation community. A field that is huge on aversives and punishment is pigs so I am pushing PPG in that area and trying to educate how positive reinforcement and applied behavior analysis do affect behavior. Q: How do you foresee bringing the force-free movement to the horse industry? There is still so much punishment with horses and it can be a culture of cruelty.

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016



Ken McCort: It is a process. When you’re going to change an industry and change the way people think, the first thing is that people say you are crazy and that it will never work. Then they analyze and try to find fault, and then they try it out and say they knew it would work all along.You have to stay out there and keep pushing. There is no way I’d be touching a wolf, fox or coyote using the methods I learned back in the 60s and early 70s because if I did, I’d either be dead or they wouldn’t come near me. Dogs and horses are about the only animals that you can punish who will forgive you for it so they seem to take the brunt of it and that’s a shame. Just because you can do it doesn’t make it right. By the same token I think that in some of those industries, depending on where you are, some of them are changing slowly. There’s clicker training for horses and there are more workshops on that so it’s getting there. It’s just a slow process. You guys that work with horses get out there and show what you can do and that’s how you do it. It’s all by example. We have to show people how [reward-based training] works. Pat Miller: Most people don’t know this but before there was a Whole Dog Journal there was a Whole Horse Journal and I wrote a lot of training articles [for it], but it died from lack of support and lack of readership because the horse world wasn’t really ready for it. It may be time to revisit the idea of a Whole Horse Journal. Beezie Madden on the US equestrian team uses clicker training on her showjumpers so it’s out there. It’s coming but it’s slow. There is huge pushback in the horse world about using treats for training because what do you do if you this 1,000 pound animal mugs you for treats. It’s so easy with a horse though. When I first started clicker training I tried it on my horse first. When I was charging the clicker I waited for her to look away from me before I clicked and now, 20 years later, I have a horse who consistently and deliberately doesn’t mug me in order to get a click and treat. How easy is that? So it’s coming but certainly the horse world is pretty resistant to it so it’s going to take some time. And, by the way, horse whispering is no more positive or force-free than dog whispering is. Q: What do you tell a client who tells you they have been using punitive methods?

Janis Bradley: My standard pitch is the same thing that I do with anyone when I expect to get some resistance. Rather than be confrontational I’ll affirm what they said, which just means that anyone who tells you that you cannot motivate an animal with pain and fear is just silly, of course you can. Any reasonable organism will do things to avoid scary consequences but a) is that the relationship you want with your dog and b) is that why you want him to do things for you. And often I don’t have to go any further than that. They’ll mull it over just a little bit and say they want to do it more because he likes them and they want to do something pleasant. Most people don’t hire you as a behavior consultant because they hate their dogs.

Angelica Steinker: I immediately begin training them so what I do is ignore the unwanted behavior (i.e. what they just said) and


BARKS from the Guild/January 2016

PPG Summit panelists (from top to bottom): Pat Miller, Lara Joseph, Ken McCort, Angelica Steinker, Janis Bradley

ask them what they do to have fun with their dog. That way I’m not positioning myself like I’m on this side and you’re on that side, but we’re both on the side of fun.

Chirag Patel: For me, I like to inspire change through empowerment because you won’t change their behavior by saying punishment is bad. We have to try to set clients up for success and then, when they see success with their dogs, they will want to use reinforcementbased techniques rather than punishment with their dogs.

Ken McCort: Confronting the client or arguing is not why you’re there. I always keep in the back of my mind that, if they’ve called me, they already know it didn’t work. I also try to keep in mind that it’s the same relationship problem you see in human divorce – I love my spouse but hate their behavior. A lot of the times I will agree with them that yes, this is not what you want from your animal, and while I’m doing that I’m getting a good behavior from that animal right in front of me. I’m letting them see the behavior change without me saying a word to the animal and usually after a few minutes of that they’ll say, well,, what are you doing there, and that’s my guide. I tell them that we do this with a lot of other species besides dogs and that’s usually the hook for me against these guys that still want to hang on, saying [aversive training] is fast and quick. I say that it is but it’s got a lot of baggage and is not easy to do although they think it is. The problem is they don’t see the baggage.

Lara Joseph: Usually I ask them what side effects they are seeing and don’t say a word, and then I show them the alter-

native of how they can approach it without seeing those side effects. I give them what they think is a magic tool, a target stick, and show them the contingencies of using it. This is the first tool I use to start teaching them the power behind positive reinforcement. They all grow to love the target stick.

Janis Bradley: I have seldom had to actually have that conversation with clients and I attribute that to one technique I use, which is to narrate the events that are happening in front of me from the dog’s perspective. I do this as a conversation with the dog so I have this ongoing monolog with what I see as the dog’s perceptions. That often helps people get into a more supportive frame of mind. I also think the power of play is enormously important in supporting the relationship between the human and the dog, to figure out how to facilitate play between the owners and the dog. Play is a very powerful thing. Pat Miller: I think it’s critically important that none of us ever says that old fashioned methods, positive punishment, or however you want to phrase it, do not work because as soon as we say that we completely destroy our credibility. They wouldn’t be perpetuated if they didn’t work. People use them because they work so it’s really important that we don’t come in and say they don’t. On the positive side, the vast majority of people that call me for training classes now ask what training methods we use and that never used to happen 20 years ago.

Q: What is the best advice you have for someone new starting out in the industry or something you had wished you had known when you started out?


Janis Bradley: If you board and train always have a screening question for separation anxiety!

Ken McCort: The big thing is to keep educating yourself. Study the things that excite you, you don’t have to be an expert on everything. Just focus on what you want to do.

Chirag Patel: I would say for young trainers or new trainers, and one of the things that I benefitted from, is to experience as many different people, trainers and classes as possible. Sometimes we get stuck with one person because we become comfortable with them, but the more classes we can see, the more trainers we can go and speak to or work with will make us more open minded about training. Lara Joseph: Based on my experience, if I could do it all over again, I would say understand the laws of behavior and how they apply to absolutely everything. Pat Miller: I would say get your hands on as many different dogs as you can and the best way to do that is to volunteer at a shelter.

Niki Tudge: Stay in your area of competency and don’t try and rush into doing things you really are not competent to do because that’s a really bad reflection on us and our industry. Be honest about where you are, what you are good at and stay within that. If necessary refer out to other people and/or see a veterinary behaviorist. It is not good for our industry if we are doing things we are not good at. n

#PPGSummit 2015: In Pictures

For more Summit 2015 pictures, see pages 18-19

(Clockwise from top left): PPG special counsel member Dr. Lynn Honeckman (left) was the first person to check in (with PPG president Niki Tudge);Treasure Hunt winners, the Birthday Queens; Melanie Friedman (left) and Heather Luedecke (with Thaki), winners of the hairnet skittles and treat tossing contest; members of the organizing committee at the splash dinner (left to right): Rebekah King, Debra Millikan, Niki Tudge, Louise StapletonFrappell, Susan Nilson and Kelly Fahey; volunteer coordinator Sam Wike (left) with Niki Tudge; PPG steering committee member Diane Garrod (left) makes a special presentation to Niki Tudge

#PPGSummit 2015: In Pictures #PPGSummit


Pet First Aid Certification Program A Three-Part Recorded Webinar

with Bethany Jordan

Tuesday, January 01, 2016, 1:00 p.m. (EST) - Saturday, December 31, 2016, 2:30 p.m.


he Pet First Aid Certification Program is a three-part recorded educational webinar that will teach you all the necessary skills you will need to manage a pet emergency. The program includes three webinars hosted by Bethany Jordan, certified veterinarian technician, CPDT-KA. Each webinar lasts one hour. When you register for this program you will receive:

s The links to all three recorded webinars. s Links to the 10 supplemental skill videos. s Information about the online test and video certification


Upon completion you will receive:

s Your pet first aid notebook. s A certificate of competency. Know what to do in a pet-related emergency with this online certification course

Š Can Stock Photo/Colecanstock

First Aid

The Pet First Aid program covers topics from heatstroke to snake bites, CPR and wound management, as well as how to safely transport a pet to the care of a veterinary professional. It should be remembered that first aid is literally that: aid or management that is rendered as soon as a problem is identified at the scene of an accident or injury, and as a bridge between those first to respond to a problem until the time when professional care is provided. Many people confuse first aid with specific treatment for an illness or injury. This often results in proper care never being received or care being delayed to such an extent as to compound the problem.

You will also be required to provide four short 30 second videos to demonstrate hands on competency. Full details are explained in the presentation.

Learning Objectives s Understand your role in pet first aid. s What first aid is and what it is not. s How to effectively and safely be a pet first aid responder. s Learn how to manage the most common pet emergencies until the pet is transferred to a veterinarian.

Program Contents s First aid assessment and management. s Animal handling during an emergency. s Initial assessment stages CPR and bleeding. s Shock management. Common Emergencies Covered s Heatstroke s Lacerations s Zoonoses s Wound care s Hot spots s Broken toenails s Bandaging s Burns s Corneal abrasions s Prolapsed eyes s Fractures s Luxations s Hypoglycemia s Diabetes s Choking s Gastrointestinal s Toxicities s Insect bites and stings s Dehydration s Vomiting and diarrhea s Seizures s Feline fatty liver disease s Dog breed medication sensitivity s CPR and triage s The pet first aid kit


To receive your PPG Pet First Aid Certification you will have to complete and pass an open-book online certification test comprised of 50 questions.

CEUs: PPG 3/CCPDT 3/IAABC 3 More information and online registration: BARKS from the Guild/January 2016



Force-Free Pet Care Certification Workshop A Four-Day Workshop in Tampa, Florida

with Niki Tudge, Angelica Steinker, Rebekah King and Melody McMichael


Thursday, May 19, 2016 9 a.m. (EDT) - Sunday, May 22, 2016 5:30 p.m. (EDT) Working and Auditor Spots Available

rofessional pet care requires knowledge, skills, individual competency and a high level of responsibility, and this four-day workshop has been designed to provide attendees with just that. The workshop will cover all the necessary skills they will need to become a Certified Pet Care Technician (CPCT) and more.

the key and critical skills required for growth with an overview of how to create a simple but effective marketing plan.

Certification Process

Working Registrants: To achieve your CPCT designation you will need to successfully complete all the hands-on components of the program over the four days, culminating with a final open book multiple choice test on day four. Auditors:You will be required to complete the hands-on compoKey Topics Covered nents of the workshop, submit s How Pets Learn - invideo evidence within 30 days of cludes a detailed overview the workshop, and successof operant and respondent fully pass the open book onconditioning with hands-on line multiple choice test. examples and video analysis. * See report from the October s Canine Behavior and So- © Can Stock Photo/gurinaleksandr 2015 Pet Care Certification Become a Certified Pet Care Technician in this cial Communication - learnWorkshop on pages 24-25 four-day workshop ing the language of dogs and understanding the canine social CEUs: PPAB 12/CCPDT/IAABC behavior and communication systems; learning about affiliative and More information and online registration: agonistic communication and passive and active appeasement haviors; understanding dog bite inhibition and bite thresholds. s Canine and Feline Anatomy and Physiology - a study of dog and cat anatomy and important components of their physiology. s Canine and Feline Health and Handling - includes common canine and feline health issues, vaccination protocols and important he PPG archive currently holds over 500 articles. All catdaily and emergency handling skills. egories are represented, including behavior, training, busis Pet First Aid and Emergency Protocols - a very detailed modness, PPG news, book reviews, product reviews, member ule that covers in depth the many potential emergency situations profiles and comments. If you want to search on a particular you may, through first aid, need to manage prior to a pet in your species, categories currently covered are canine, feline, care being attended to by a veterinarian. piscine, porcine, avian, equine, murine and leporine. s Pet Care Tools, Equipment, Toys and Supplies - learning how to Within each category, every article has been assigned a identify appropriate equipment and use it safely, as well as more broad range of keywords, so you can research just about practical applications, e.g. desensitization protocols. anything, e.g. counterconditioning, enrichs Consent and Preference Testing - Anyone can talk to dogs and ment, empathy, cat litter box problems, the you will learn to read canine body language to effectively comcanine brain, dog harnesses, barrier frustramunicate with them. Using consent and preference testing you tion, vocal parrots, stationing pigs, puppy can create an effective non-verbal communication system which mills or clicker training, to name empowers dogs to say yes or no to simple questions. Using just a few. If you are looking for these methods you can positively engage with the pets you are a specific author, then you can caring for in a fun and interactive manner. find articles that way too. Every s Pet Care Policies and Protocols – Learn about pet care service entry has a direct link to the standards, operating protocols and procedures to support a high original source. quality and ethical pet care business. /Guild-Archives s Bonus Module: Bump Start Your Business – This module covers

© Can Stock Photo/damedeeso


Looking for Something? Check PPG’s Online Archive First!


BARKS from the Guild/January 2016


The Gift of a Gray Muzzle: Active Care for Senior Dogs A Two-Day Workshop in Tampa, Florida

with Kathy Sdao and Lori Stevens

Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:30 a.m. (EDT) - Sunday, September 25, 2016 4:30 p.m. (EDT) Working and Auditor Spots Available


Who Should Attend? s People who live with aging dogs, including both senior and "peri-senior" dogs.

s Professionals who have an interest in helping their clients with aging dogs.

s Anyone interested in dogs and how to support them during the aging process.

© Can Stock Photo/damedeeso

Workshop Agenda s Defining and observing seniorhood. s Kindle the spark of life. s Everyday life with seniors. s Maximize emotional resilience. s Touching and wrapping. s Expect changes in compliance. s Movement and conditioning. s Keep them eating. s Let us play. s Thoughts on life’s final transition. s Discussion/Q & A.

The workshop will cover making life easier for senior pet dogs

© Can Stock Photo/Hannamariah

athy Sdao, associate certified applied animal behaviorist, and Lori Stevens, CPDT-KA, SAMP and senior Tellington TTouch® training practitioner, share a deep love for senior dogs and have combined their decades of animal care and training expertise to teach this heartfelt and practical workshop. Their goal is to empower you to joyfully and actively engage with and support your aging dog. They will share several methods to keep your dog’s mind and body agile and strong and will also discuss many ideas for making everyday life easier for your senior dog. The result is a dog who is more competent and confident in the face of physical and cognitive challenges, and who has additional opportunities for staying healthy and active.

What You Will Learn s Effects of aging and what you can expect. s Various healthcare options that complement mainstream vet-

erinary care. s TTouch® bodywork and wrapping techniques, including leg and body wraps. s Strategies for minimizing age-related anxiety and maximizing emotional resilience. s Methods for modifying cues to accommodate sensory limitations. s Movement and conditioning exercises that benefit aging dogs. s Games to keep mind and body active. s Help for senior dogs who have difficulty standing up or climbing stairs. s Tips for dealing with loss of appetite. s Considerations regarding end-of-life decisions. CEUs: PPAB 12/CCPDT 12 More information and online registration:

PPG World Service Radio Show

f the best o Bringing stry to chat, u d the pet in and share! chuckle

PPG World Service is the official international e-radio web-casting arm of PPG, showcasing global news and views on force-free pet care. Join hosts Niki Tudge and Louise Stapleton-Frappell and their special guests at 12 noon EST on the first Sunday of every month! BARKS from the Guild/January 2016




Hands-On Skill Building

Emily Conde reports on PPG’s October Pet Care Certification workshop

PG held a three-day Pet Care Certification Program last October, designed to offer pet enthusiasts and professionals the opportunity to enhance the quality of care provided to family pets (see page 22 for details of the next event). Led by industry experts at PPG headquarters in Wesley Chapel, Florida, the workshop covered topics such as: what it means to care for pets; how pets learn; canine behavior and social communication; canine and feline anatomy and physiology; health and handling; and tools of the pet care trade. In addition, attendees also had the opportunity to advance their skill set by earning a Certified Pet Care Technician designation (DN-CPCT) through DogNostics’ career program. Business coach and PPG president Niki Tudge started the workshop by outlining what it takes to be professionally competent in the pet care industry. She also highlighted the crucial components involved in establishing a credible reputation, from the importance of one’s professional appearance to instituting non negotiable standards of care and operational protocol. This comprehensive overview provided students the essential knowhow needed to build and support an ethical and successful pet care business. The pet care tool kit was just the beginning. Switching gears, Tudge then provided an overview of the science behind respondent and operant conditioning. By understanding how animals learn, care givers are empowered to promote a pet’s mental, physical and emotional well-being. Students also reviewed and practiced the techniques involved in luring, shaping, targeting and capturing behavior. Knowing how to execute these force-free training tools enables the technician to maneuver pets in their care without coercion or fear. Because it is imperative to have two-way communication with any dog in one’s care, Angelica Steinker, owner of Tampa’s Courteous Canine, explained the significance of knowing how to decode a dog’s body language. Steinker stressed the importance of being an educated observer. By being able to analyze a dog’s body language from head to tail, a potentially tense situation for both human and pet can be avoided. For example, if a pet care technician is able to identify that a dog is offering distance increasing behaviors, she has been alerted to the fact that dog’s current environment needs to change or be managed differently. In addition to the study of canine body language, Steinker discussed communication systems such as the ways dogs deal with situational conflict, from appeasement to flight or aggression. She explained that, just like humans, dogs can be conflicted in their motivation to interact with humans and other dogs. This conflict can show itself in many situations including greeting rituals and play when a canine is trying to determine whether to approach or avoid a stimulus. Participants were able to engage in the art of positively interacting with a classroom of pets, from eliciting the emotional contagion of joy to practicing consent testing, and selecting toy preference. While all elements of the workshop were valuable, the hands-on tutorial for first aid procedures allowed participants to practice emergency scenarios. DogNostics faculty member Rebekah King provided a basic overview of canine and feline anatomy and physiology, as well as how to handle common 24

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016

Angelica Steinker discusses toys, play drive (inset) and preference testing

Chris Lauer learns to check for capillary refill

Josie prepares to be bandaged

health dilemmas pet care providers encounter, such as heat stroke or ingestion of foreign objects. As a step towards becoming a DN-CPCT, King led students through the stages of emergency assessment, from making initial observations to the steps for checking vital signs and, lastly, administering CPR. Along with professional groomer and certified pet care technician, Melody McMichael, the instructors covered a wide range of topics, including grooming techniques and tools; vaccination protocols and common parasites; zoonotic diseases and effective contagion control; proper handling procedures to use at the vet or in a crisis; and emergency muzzling and wound dressing procedures. The essential contents of a first aid kit were also outlined and explained. The workshop finished where it started. For business-owning participants, Tudge offered a bonus module where she shared her business acumen. In what she named the ‘balanced scorecard,’ Tudge defined the elements of a successful business to include four key components: stakeholders, product and service packages, financials, and brand marketing and sales. While she explained that many pet professionals go into business because they love working with animals, she warned that those who ignore the fundamentals of business will not keep their doors open for long. She also stressed the importance of not only having indicators that show when business strategies are working, but also having an effective means for measuring the level of success achieved. In addition to the hours spent on hands-on professional skill building over the three days, the newly Certified Pet Care Technicians all listened intently to Tudge’s strategies for boosting business, making it clear they were eager to position themselves as business leaders in the pet care community. n


Rocket and Charlie have some downtime

Practicing bandaging

Zephyr is all ears


If you are an applicant in the system and on the road to accreditation, PPAB is here to help you be successful!

Charlie enjoys taking a break

Emily Conde DN-CPCT is the owner of The DogSmith of Greater Orlando, After 14 years as a high school English teacher, she decided to open her own pet care and dog training business as a result of her experiences volunteering at a local animal shelter. She is currently continuing her studies to become a canine behavior consultant.

THERE ARE A NUMBER OF TOOLS AT YOUR DISPOSAL: s A Process Road Map with Check Boxes: s The Examination Study Guide: s The Case Study Template: s The Video Review Form: s The Facebook Applicant Support Group - To join, email: s ABA Dictionary:

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016



The Value of Non-Verbal Communication

Angelica Steinker examines the role of consent and preference testing in canine behavior consulting and how testing can help customize a dog’s home life by minimizing stress and maximizing behavior training improvements

After giving the cue “reach,” the trainer reaches. Mo responds with “yes” by moving into the hand and making contact. Consent could also be given by the dog using her paw to pull the hand closer, or she could communicate a “no” by pushing the hand away using her paw.


onsent testing is an informal experiment which allows a dog to offer consent regarding a specific situation.Via her body language the dog communicates a yes or no response. This information is used to: • Improve the quality of life of the dog. • Improve a training plan. • Make behavior modification more effective. • Generally improve communication. The yes or no is determined by assessing the dog’s body language and observing for distance increasing or distance decreasing behaviors. Distance increasing behaviors are considered a “no” and distance decreasing behaviors are considered a “yes.” Conflicted behaviors are also a “no.” Consent tests are single choice tests as a dog can respond with a yes or no in any given 26

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016

After giving the cue “reach,” the trainer reaches. Mo responds with “no” by not moving toward the hand or moving away.

situation. If consistently applied, consent testing creates a partnership with the dog, which is critically important, especially for dogs with behavior issues. Consent testing is not something that should be taken personally and any feelings of rejection on the part of the owner or trainer have no place. After all, all yes results eventually lead to no and any no results may eventually lead to a yes. When a dog’s needs are met, it is called satiation. For example, a dog that is full will say no to food. This is not something to be taken personally, it is just information.

Benefits of Consent Testing

Consent testing is empowering because it allows a dog to communicate choice. If the communication gained is consistently

COVER STORY honored it will increase one’s reinforcement history with the dog. Reinforcement history is science-talk for bond.Your bond will deepen because the dog gets a vote about what is happening. By checking in with the dog regarding her preferences you are positively reinforcing clear communication. This empowers the dog which is, in turn, associated with you. That process increases your bond.

Consent testing creates a cycle which becomes self-reinforcing, and the process ultimately becomes fun for both you and your dog. By definition, consent testing improves communication but it also vastly improves behavior modification and training results. The trainer gets much clearer information about what will be effective and what will not. A huge benefit to consent testing is that a dog has the chance to communicate proactively. This means she can tell you before something happens if she is okay with it or not. This is in stark contrast to most training advice, which focuses on manipulating what happens after something unwanted has happened. This is a poor approach because it includes the unwanted behavior in the process. It can also lead to tragic results. For example, many dogs do not survive after they have bitten a human and most homes do not have the skills to handle a dog that has bitten.

Consent tests offer us information before a problem ever occurs. This is empowering to trainers, enabling them to make an educated decision about what situations a dog can be exposed to.

In the traditional model of how we interact with dogs, we often expose them to an event with no idea if it will be unpleasant or pleasant for them. Then, when the dog growls, lunges and/or bites, hurt feelings, and possibly injuries, ensue. This approach is a failure for all parties.

Conducting a Consent Test

Think of a consent test as asking a dog a question, to which the dog can respond “yes” or “no.” If the dog says “yes,” she will move toward the person, dog or item you are asking about. If she says “no,” she will move away. A simple example is petting. Pet the dog and then withdraw your hand. Observe what the dog does. If she moves toward you and leans in, puts her head under your hand, or nuzzles you, that is a yes. If she moves away, that is a no. This information is about the dog and understanding what it is that she prefers in certain situations, settings and her life in general. If a dog says no to petting, you can associate petting with meals and food to help her learn to enjoy it. Many rescue dogs or dogs that have an abuse history need to learn to enjoy physical touch. As trainers, it is critical for us to see the big picture. By respecting the body language communication that our dogs offer, we make that body language more likely to occur. Being listened to reinforces a dog who is displaying body language that is congruent with her emotional state. The alternative can range from minimally to extremely dangerous. Some dogs are punished for indicating no, and usually these dogs will go quiet or silent in their body language. This can create a dangerous dog, a dog that goes straight to biting, giving minimal warning signals – or none at all.

Human Language Board

If your dog understands consent testing, you can use yourself as a language board. A language board is a board that lists images, shapes or words that are associated with food, water, activities and items. The animal that is communicating points at the image or symbol in order to ask for what is associated with that image or symbol. Primates use fingers to point, dogs use noses or paws. Dog language boards contain images for water, food, treat, walks, etc. In a language board for dogs some of the images can be used for the dog to communicate what she wants, while some images represent trained behaviors. However, using yourself as a language board is much simpler than training your dog to use one. All it means is that you consistently name activities that you engage in with the dog and then ask her if she wants to do that at the moment, e.g. do you want to go for a car ride? If the dog moves closer: yes, if the dog moves away: no.

Preference Testing

A preference test is another form of non-verbal communication that you can use to “talk” to dogs. In a preference test you provide access to two or more variables and then take note of what the dog appears to prefer. It may seem tempting to set up a preference test between two owners to see whom the dog prefers, but I suggest avoiding this to prevent hurt feelings. Most dogs will go to the person that they have the most reinforcement history with, and this is something that can be changed. Play some more games and start hand feeding and the dog that just said she preferred your roommate is now all over you. What can you use preference testing for? It is limited only by BARKS from the Guild/January 2016



your imagination.You can preference test food, toys, location of bedding, location of walks and types of play. Have fun doing preference experiments because regardless if this is a new dog or one you have known for years, there is always more to learn.

Cues as Consent Test

An interesting concept is to view every cue you give a dog as a consent test. For example, you ask a dog to sit in a highly distracting environment but she does not do it.You can view this as valuable information. Scan the area and see if the dog is looking at something. This can provide valuable clues as to what she may find distracting or stress provoking. The no in this situation is valuable because of the data that it yields. Cues are ideally viewed as requests, a request can be complied with or not. I teach my dogs a cue for going to say “hi” to people or other dogs. However, the deal my dogs and I make is that, if I say, “go say hi,” and they do not want to, then they do not have to. I will honor their decision. My dogs have clear preferences about which dogs they would like to socialize with so the request of “go say hi” also applies to other dogs. My dogs are always empowered to decline a meeting another dog. Ideally all dogs would be enabled to communicate which dogs they want to say hi to. You can take cues as a consent test to an even higher level by giving everything a name. For example, dogs that are sensitive about being touched or near moving people can There are clues that indicate Power (above) is being forced to comply using food. Despite the food being placed on the bed he is not reaching for it or eating it (first clue), his ear is moved back (second clue), and he was tongue flicking (third clue, not pictured). In this case the social pressure of my reaching up over Power’s head and actually touching him is so overwhelming that he does not reach for the food. As soon as I moved my hand away he grabbed the treat (fourth clue).


BARKS from the Guild/January 2016

hugely benefit from having each human movement labeled with a cue prior to the movement occurring. Eye contact, reach, touch, pick up, human stand up, human sitting on couch, human walking, can all be named, thus giving the dog a heads up of what is about to happen and allowing her time to give consent (see pictures of Mo on page 26).

Forcing with Food

It is a common misconception that training with food is always positive, but it is possible to force with food by offering it in a way that the dog is no longer feeling safe. This can be determined by evaluating the dog’s body language (see picture of Power, left). One can also observe that a dog is feeling forced when she hesitates to take the food lure or moves to another area considered safer after consuming the food. For example, a trainer places food on the ground to encourage a dog to approach. The dog darts forward to eat the food and then moves three feet away from the trainer to an area that she considers “safe.” Ideally, the trainer will shift to the area of reinforcement the dog has selected to be effective. Pay attention to the details of what the dog’s body does. A desensitization and counterconditioning protocol for example can fail if a dog does not feel safe, but using a poor skill set does not mean DS/CC does not work. Even if one dog compensates for poor training, do not assume all dogs will. As trainers, it is our task to train and coach to the highest skill level, not to take risky short cuts.

Forced Choice

Another concept to avoid is forced choice. This is similar to forcing with food but makes use of over-controlling the environment to the point where the dog is disempowered. For example, a dog that strongly dislikes her crate is only fed in her crate, forcing her to make a choice: tolerate your crate or starve. But there are creative alternatives, such as taking the crate apart or gradually shaping the dog. Another example is dogs that are not given access to any toys unless they are playing with their trainer. Scientifically this is called a closed economy and it is a form of force. Otto Fad, manager of the elephants at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, says that one of the first things he implemented when taking over this position was to give the elephants free access to food at all times. If one of Fad’s elephants comes over to a trainer to work it is not because she is hungry, it is because she is freely choosing to play and/or train. Open economy is, obviously, the opposite of a closed economy and while this does not mean we need to free feed our dogs, it is a good idea to be aware of and avoid over-restricting access to food, toys or any other desired stimuli. A forced choice is no choice.

Types of Preference Tests

Preference tests can be used to assess: • Taste • Touch – level of pressure, type of touch, duration of touch • Bedding • Toys

• Space • Training • Location of food • Location of bedding • Length of walks • Location of walks • Types of activities • Type of play • With whom to interact Preference tests can be single choice such as, do you like your bed here? Or they can be concurrent choice such as, do you like this bed over here or this other bed in the other room? Something interesting researchers found is that when a preference test is between two things the results are consistently reliable, but when you test preference between three or more things the results are not necessarily consistent. This is fascinating and may be because animals enjoy variety or because they may like different things about different items. Researchers also found that when more than five things were presented at the same time results became less reliable, so it seems best if preference tests are kept to four items or less (Raffa, et al.).

Consent Tests and Fear

Conflicted body language, which indicates behaviors consistent with both yes and no, must be considered a no. Using conflicted body language as an indication of yes is risky and can completely undermine a behavior modification and training plan. Most importantly, in such instances trainers are working with both behavior and emotions. If the emotional state is not ideal, trainers are chaining that into the outcome and, as canine behavior consultants, we owe it to our canine clients to improve their emotional states.

Consent Tests and Training Sessions

A dog to needs to be empowered to disengage and leave any training session. This does not mean we do not use leashes for safety but it does mean we avoid forcing participation. Dogs choosing to train with us is a compliment and an indication that we are keeping training fun and interesting. If the dog does disengage the trainer needs to consider: • • • • •

The length of session Environmental stressors Toy choice Food choice Overall fun factor, etc.

Pattern Training

Pattern training refers to a respondent conditioning process by which the dog is “patterned” to perform a specific behavior. Scientists have found that when an animal has already learned a choice it can be hard for them to go against that choice even when it appears to be clear that conditions have changed. It is thus important to be aware that training can interfere with consent and preference testing (Grandin, et al.). Can a well-trained dog still choose? This is an important ethi-

cal question. If you have done a good job training a dog to jump into the back of a car, does the dog jumping in really mean consent to a car ride? Do not confuse pattern training with consent.


Preference Testing Systems

The first preference test systems were designed by H.J.M. Blom who was the first person to create a simple Yshaped structure that would allow an animal to choose I am using my left hand to massage Mo’s chest one area over anarea (above) and I am using my right hand to other. Researchers massage the rump area. While I am doing this I can feel Mo push into my right hand. Notice the painstakingly conslight up curvature in his spine and the weight trolled for other shift toward his back end which is causing him to factors like temper- lean into my right hand, and he was intermittently mouthing my left hand at the same time (not ature, elevation and pictured).This clearly indicates a preference for the right handed rump massage. so on to ensure that both parts of the structure were exactly the same. They then measured duration to determine preference. If all things are exactly the same but the animal spends more time in the area that has the softer bedding, then it is safe to assume that the softer bedding is preferred (Blom, et al.). There is an actual study on dog preference by researchers Erica Feuerbacher and Clive Wynne using a concurrent choice preference test to evaluate if dogs preferred petting or vocal praise. The results were overwhelming. The dogs voted for petting, so the researchers titled the study, Shut up and pet me! There is also something called free choice profiling. This type of scientific process is intriguing because it allows observers to make use of an experimental methodology that gives observers complete freedom in choosing their own descriptive terms. The researchers then analyze the descriptive terms via a scientific process to standardize the descriptive terms. Results show that the observer’s terms have strong internal validity, meaning that observation of behavior used to assess an animal’s emotional state is likely to be accurate (F. Wemelsfelder, et al.).

Touch Preference Test

Using both of your hands you can touch two different body parts on a dog. Observe the dog’s body language to see which location she prefers. Distance decreasing behaviors such as leaning in are indications that that location is preferred (see picture of Mo, above right). BARKS from the Guild/January 2016


COVER STORY Turbo will almost cross his eyes if he is handed a high value food treat. Look for the individual clues that let you know what your dog prefers.

Power prefers the food in the right hand over the food in the left hand

You can use preference testing for physical touch for a variety of variables, some ideas include: • Light pressure versus deep pressure. • Duration of length of time of touch. • Technique of touch stroking versus scratching. • Moving with the grain of the hair or against. • Moving your hand in a predictable pattern versus varying patterns.

Food Preference Test

Food preference tests are straightforward. Using two types of a food at a time you can present both simultaneously, then visually and tactically monitor the dog’s behavior. Which piece of food is snatched versus more politely taken? The snatched food is what the dog considers more highly valued (see picture of Power, above left). If you notice that the preference test is not consistent, for example, when the dog picks food A one time and food B the next time, the preference being communicated may be variety or novelty. Observe the dog for eye popping behavior. Food that is considered more desirable often causes dogs to open their eyes more widely so look for this clue (see picture of Turbo, above right).

Toy Preference Test

As with the food preference testing, you can gauge preference by how hard the dog bites and holds onto the toy. The intensity of the grab and the duration of the holding on to the toy are all important clues. How quickly the dog grabs the toy after it is first presented can also be an important clue. Using the front feet while mouthing the toy to pull it closer can be another strong indication of preference. 30

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016

Location or Bedding Preference Test

Conducting a location preference test is again straightforward. Simply place the same type of bedding in two locations and see which one the dog prefers. Common patterns are for dogs to want to stay cool or seek warmth. Try a location under the air conditioning vent and another location in the sun to see which bed your dog is more likely to pick. Some dogs are cool seeking to the point where they prefer to lay on tile rather than on soft bedding. Another fun preference test is to experiment with different types of dog beds (see photos of Turbo and Bella on page 31). All dogs, and especially those with issues, require excellent self-care to minimize stress and maximize behavior training improvements. Use preference testing to help ideally customize a dog’s home life.

Preference Testing for Dog Sport Activities

If you play backyard games with your dog you can set up your area for different games and then allow the dog to choose which activity she wants to engage in by moving toward that area.You can set up a small obstacle course and boxes for a food searching game and let your dog choose which activity she wants to engage in at that time.

Preference Testing During Walks

During walks you can let your dog choose which path to take, to move to shaded areas or stay in the sun, and which type of substrate to walk on.You can also consent test time of day or type of weather for walks.

Not a Consent or Preference Test

Many dogs with issues will bark and lunge at other dogs, people

or objects. It is important to understand this is not a consent or preference test. A dog that is barking and lunging is stressed and is likely using this behavior to attempt to increase distance between herself and the feared stimulus. When a dog is highly stressed or agitated there is no time for consent or preference testing. It is critical to remove the emotionally aroused dog from the situation and then analyze what led to this failure. It is critical to avoid exposures that stress a dog when engaging in a behavior training protocol.

Behavior Patterns of Needy Dogs

Dogs that experience anxiety often exhibit behavior that is consistent with frequent physical attention seeking. Anxious dogs can be considered clingy and needy by their owners, who can many times be drained by the dogâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s constant need for comfort seeking. It is important to not confuse behavior patterns consistent with anxiety with consent or preference testing. A dog that is giving consent is mentally and physically healthy. Prior to using consent and preference testing all medical issues, whether mental or physical, must be addressed. Cube beds are similar to cat beds.They come in a variety of shapes, in this case a strawberry. Dogs that like to sleep in small or warm spaces frequently prefer these types of beds.

Some dogs prefer beds with edges (known as bumpers) versus a simple mat type bed. You do not know what a dog prefers until you ask.

COVER STORY Choices are Empowering and Fun

Almost all beings find it positively reinforcing to have choices. In particular, dogs with behavior issues can benefit tremendously from consent and preference testing. Use the non-verbal communication systems of consent and preference testing in your interactions with dogs and, most importantly, teach your clients to use them. It can literally be life-saving when what is learned prevents a dog bite. Ultimately, where does one draw the line in implementing consent testing? What is too much and what is not enough? In dogs with behavior issues consent testing is imperative but, even in every day pet situations, it seems the use of as much consent testing as possible would be ideal because there are so many things, such as vet visits, nail trims, etc., that many dogs already experience as aversive. Consent testing offers the opportunity for everyone to form partnerships with their dogs and to be able to listen to what they are saying. n


Raffa, K. F., Havill, N.P., & Nordheim, E.V. (2002, November). How many choices can your test animal compare effectively? Oecologia,133, 3, 422-429. Retrieved December 7, 2015 from /5-HowManyChoices.pdf Grandin, T., Odde, K.G., Schultz, D.N., & Behrns, L.M. (1994). The reluctance of cattle to change a learned choice may confound preference tests. Applied Animal Behavior Science, 39, 2128. Retrieved December 7, 2015 from Blom, H.J.M.,Van Tintelen, G., Baumans,V.,Van Den Broek, J., & Beynen, A.C. (1995). Development and application of a preference test system to evaluate housing conditions for laboratory rats. Applied Animal Behavior Science, 43, 279-290. Retrieved December 7, 2015 from /248333998_Development_and_application_of_a _preference_test_system_to_evaluate_housing_conditions _for_laboratory_rats Feuerbacher, E., & Wynne, C. (2015). Shut up and pet me! Domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) prefer petting to vocal praise in concurrent and single-alternative choice procedures. Behavioral Processes, 110, 47-59. Retrieved December 7, 2015 from /S0376635714001879 Wemelsfelder, F., Hunter, T.E.A., Mendl, M.T., & Lawrence, A.B. (2001). Assessing the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;whole animalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;: a free choice profiling approach. Animal Behaviour, 62, 209-220. Retrieved December 7, 2015 from /S0003347201917415

Angelica Steinker PCBC-A owns and operates Courteous Canine, Inc. DogSmith of Tampa, www.courteouscanine .com/Florida, a full service pet service business and dog school specializing in aggression and dog sports. She is the national director of training for DogSmith Services,, and co-founder of DogNostics Career College, www

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016



A Real Connection

Annie Phenix speaks to dog trainer Leslie McDevitt, well-known for her book and DVD series,


Control Unleashed®, and who also developed the Look at That! game for reactive dogs

ne of my all-time favorite training tools is the Look at That! (LAT) game, developed by trainer Leslie McDevitt, MLA, CDBC, CPDT. It is an important skill that I wish every dog knew – not just our aggressive or reactive dog clients. Imagine a world where owners walked down the street asking their dog to point out other dogs, new people, joggers – whatever might once have been a potential trigger – and the dog is able to look calmly at the trigger and then peacefully return his gaze to the handler. It is a big dream, I understand. Since I did not believe that all dogs would learn LAT in the near future, I embarked on a second dream, which was to interview the trainer who came up with LAT and the remarkable book and DVDs series, Control Unleashed®. BARKS: How did you come up with the LAT game?

Leslie McDevitt: Like everyone else, I was using eye contact for reactive dogs – they needed to look at me and not the environment. That was working fine but my goal is always to get a dog to the most normative dog behavior. It would be more natural if a dog could look around and process the environment rather than to be only looking at me. I had recently attended a seminar that talked about changing motivation in unwanted behavior by turning the behavior into a trick. It takes the “oomph” and the intensity out of the behavior because when a dog is doing a trick, he is using the thinking part of his brain – he is not in his instinctive, reactive brain. Dogs see things and so rather than tell them not to look, let’s create a chain of behaviors where they look at things and point them out to me so I’m making myself part of the environment. I wanted to make it so it’s not me versus the environment. I wanted to be able to discuss the environment with the dog. When a dog is being reactive, he is asking the environment for information. In other Leslie McDevitt: words, reactive behaviors It is important for dog trainers are information-seeking beto step out of their egos haviors: Are you a threat? What is this? Rather than him barking at another dog to ask him these questions, I wanted the dog to show me the other dog, and then turn back to me so I could respond with, “Oh, yeah. I see it too. Why don’t you focus and take a breath for me?” That normalizes the situation for these dogs and 32

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016

Leslie McDevitt: Dog training is about the relationship, the empathy, the compassion

then we can walk away. So rather than the reactive dog asking the environment, he can ask the handler, and one way to do that is to play the Look at That! game. You can also use it to warn the dog that something is coming so you take the element of surprise out of your walk. My cue is now “where,” so you can say: “Hey, where’s that dog?” and he knows that means certain things. He knows the word “dog” and he knows the word “where” so he knows he is about to start a fun game. He knows to look at the dog and back to me and that he won’t be interacting with that dog. So just by my saying “where’s the dog?” he knows all of those things. He can be loose on a hiking trail and I will ask where the dog is, and he will come back to me to play the game. This isn’t something for a totally green dog to start with. First you have to develop a relationship with the dog, where he learns to relax, take a breath, give eye contact, give a default behavior and focus on the handler. Those are the foundations before you teach something like this. It’s also important that you begin LAT before a dog goes over threshold. A threshold is the point beyond which the dog will react. If the dog is over threshold, then you just have to get the dog out of the situation. If you try to use LAT before you have these foundations in place, you are going to put the dog over threshold. It works great but you have to do it correctly.You have to have the foundation first.

BARKS: I trained one of my client’s dogs LAT in order to stop him from chasing wildlife (a dog can legally be shot for doing that in Colorado). This saved his owner from a momma brown bear and her two cubs. He used to literally drag his owner down mountains chasing wildlife. We did the foundation work and taught him LAT. One day she was out jogging with her dog on a leash. He suddenly stopped, bristled and began growling at some-

thing she could not see. He then began a rapid game of LAT and used his nose and eyes to point out the momma bear behind some bushes. LAT can actually be a life-saving game.

LM: That is awesome! That just might replace my favorite LAT story. A lady emailed me and said she had a border collie therapy dog. He was a bit of a food thief. One day he kept looking under a hospital bed and making eye contact with his handler over and over again. She finally walked over and looked under the bed and there were pills under it. She said if it wasn’t for that game, he would have eaten them. BARKS: For those who do not know, please tell us the path you took to becoming a dog trainer?

LM: I was in graduate school in creative writing and folklore, so I was on my way to becoming a barista in Portland. I had a rescue dog named Maggie. We ended up co-teaching 15 years of dog training classes with her by my side. I adopted a second rescue dog, a pit bull/German shepherd mix who had it all: anxiety disorder, fear aggression, severely noise phobic, just everything. That was my rude awakening. That path took me to a variety of trainers and I realized through my research that positive reinforcement training was the only way to do this. I found Dr. Karen Overall here [in Pennsylvania, where McDevitt and her family currently live – Ed.] and behavior became my whole life. BARKS:You wrote in Control Unleashed® that you believe dogs should be able to make choices in their lives. Did you receive initial criticism for that? It is ironic that so many popular behaviorists are now preaching this very thing.

LM: No, I didn’t. People liked it right away. People were ready to hear it. The performance sports dog people had very competitive teachers who were putting a lot of pressure on them and I felt like people were being pushed away from their instincts about their animals. I think people were relieved about what I said. BARKS: I love this line from your book: “To me, a real connection with animals is a spiritual thing not quantifiable by science.” Could you elaborate on that idea?

LM:Your question reminds me that my 3-year-old daughter has been watching Pocahontas. Pocahontas is singing that song to John Smith and she says: “You think the earth is just a dead thing that you can claim but I know every rock, tree and creature has life, has a spirit, has a name.” My daughter’s been singing that and I love that song – that’s what it’s about. There are a lot of John Smiths out there in dog training in the competitive world where the dog is the means to an end.You have to work with the dog that is front of you instead of your personal goals for the dog. Connection is the point of everything. I am a “connector” by nature. It has to do with how you see your place in the world. It has to do with your attitude about life – not just dog training. It is a spiritual thing. When we separate and see ourselves as other, we suffer. It’s called war. It’s also


called really bad dog training. It is about the relationship, which is the same thing as a connection. It’s about empathy, compassion – about the ability to put yourself in someone else’s place. How can you be a really good trainer if you can’t put yourself in the dog’s paws? Any species can frustrate you and not behave the way you think they should, and you need to take a breath and step out of your ego – that’s a really important thing for dog trainers to learn how to do. BARKS: Are you working on any future books?

LM: I owe everybody a workbook that goes with the Control Unleashed® material. I’m also very interested in taking the material in Control Unleashed® and applying it to other animals. I do know of a trainer playing LAT with an aggressive, male sea lion in the Bronx Zoo. People are using it with horses and cats as well. Eventually I’d love to write a book using Control Unleashed® for kids. n Annie Phenix CPDT-KA is a force-free trainer based in Durango, Colorado. She is the trainer in residence for, and writes a weekly training column for Dogster Magazine. She is currently writing a book for dog owners about living with troubled dogs, titled The Midnight Dog Walkers. For more information, visit her website,


We invite our members to get involved and contribute their unique skills to our webinar program! If you would like to host a webinar for your fellow companion animal trainers and behavior professionals, submit your ideas to: /PresentaPPGmemberWebinar.

Topics may include training, ethology, learning theory, behavior specifics... or anything else you can think of. We’ll even do some practice runs with you to help you along (if you need them!) BARKS from the Guild/January 2016



From Shelter Dog to Service Dog

In Part One of a three-part article, L. A. Bykowsky and Chere McCoy tell the tale of Stella, one very special Chihuahua who was left to languish in the shelter but now works as


an assistance dog for her owner’s PTSD

very year in May, the Humane Society in Vero Beach, Florida (HSVB) holds an adoption event that includes a Blessing of the Animals, where people cement and celebrate the bonds they have with creatures of all shapes, sizes and species. It is a time to give thanks for the companions some already have and a chance at a new beginning for others. I rescued Stella, a rat terrier/Chihuahua mix, during the 2015 ceremony. I am a disabled veteran and together we have embarked on a journey that has led to Stella rescuing me. This first article in the series follows us from adoption to graduation as an Assistance Dog Team, certified by Dogs for Life, Inc. (DFL). Six months ago Stella was at the HSVB waiting for that special someone to take her home and love her forever. It so happened that I went in one day looking for a super special dog to be my service dog. Stella and I took one look at each other and knew right away that we were meant to be a team – but there would be hurdles to cross first. Backtracking for a moment, I should explain that I am a United States Air Force veteran and my disability is not physical; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is not something you can see, but it can 'cripple' a person just the same. Since I live in Vero Beach, Florida, I went to DFL for help. DFL trains service dogs (also called 'assistance' dogs) for people with hearing and mobility issues and veterans with PTSD. Stella’s job will be to help me get through stressful situations. Some of you might be chuckling now, picturing a Chihuahua doing such important work, but Stella is training really hard and I know that she can do it. DFL is accredited by Assistance Dogs International and goes above and beyond what the law requires to produce a good assistance dog team. According to federal law, a service animal is any dog trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a diagnosed disability and the work or task must be related to the person's disability. Remember the hurdles I mentioned? Before the training can begin, there are reams of paperwork to fill out, starting with an application to make sure a person is qualified to use a service dog. I also had to provide documentation from my doctor and letters of reference from friends, and DFL did a home inspection to make sure it was a safe environment for Stella. While all that was going on behind the scenes, I was going to the shelter looking for the right dog. On my fifth visit, I found Stella. A few days later I came to take her home but, before I could do that, Stella had to pass a test. Before DFL starts training for service dog work, they conduct a temperament test as a way of gauging whether or not a dog will be suitable for the upcoming job. Of course, lots of dogs know obedience commands, but the temperament test looks at other qualities that could indicate whether or not a dog will be good at task work. 34

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016

Stella the Chihuahua is in training to be her owner’s service dog and help with her PTSD Crate training Stella on her first day in her new home

Stella relaxes on her second day at home

Stella is a socia- Stella’s first official work ble dog so she day - riding in passed on that part the Veterans of the temperament Day parade test. She liked following the DFL tester around the room, allowed him to roll her over on her back and scratch her belly, and stroke her all over. Check, check and check. The tester also threw a piece of paper which Stella went over to investigate, another part of the test that she passed. She then had to endure a thorough check of her paws and tail and allow them to be squeezed a little. The tester said there was some sensitivity there but still she passed. Stella did not like loud noises so much but did not run away either, so she passed that part of the test. Her personality was also taken into account, as was her alert countenance and her willingness to learn (that might have been the rat terrier in her), making her all round a perfect candidate to become a PTSD service dog. There were many other things that went into the temperament test, such as when the Stella gets ready for a tester walked past chilly day Stella’s pen and she at work ran over to see him and wagged her tail. Being a service dog is a canine career and the possibilities are different for each individual. For instance, hearing dogs need to be high energy because they are going to be the ears for their human partner. They need the extra drive to be able to react (but stay calm) when they hear all types of sounds. They cannot be scared by loud noises and they have to be persistent in gaining the attention of


their humans. If their human partner is sleeping and the smoke alarm goes off, the dog has to keep bothering him until he gets up and gets out of the house. Someone with PTSD will be better off when paired with a calm or low energy dog. This type of dog needs to be very people oriented, and in tune with their moods, body language and body odors. Some dogs are natural born “retrievers” and they could be good at working for a person with mobility issues, picking up items and bringing them to the person. In Stella’s case, on the day of the Blessing of the Animals one of the trainers from DFL tested her and she passed with flying colors as I have already mentioned. It was a blessed day for both of us to be sure. Stella came home with me and then came a three week period of adjustment. The trainers at DFL knew how stressful things could be at a shelter, with all the other dogs barking and cats meowing and the many other reasons, so they told me to just spend quality time with Stella and let her get to know her new surroundings. In fact, it did not take long for her to fit right in. It did not hurt that I was a retired dog trainer and animal disaster responder and knew from day one how to shape Stella’s behavior into exactly what I needed. So far Stella has passed the temperament test and the “housewarming” test and now the real training begins. A new jacket with a “Service Dog in Training – Do Not Touch” patch is about to have a rat terrier/Chihuahua wearing it. The certification process can take anywhere from six months to a year and a half. In my next article I will talk about Stella’s journey through the Canine Good Citizen test (CGC) and the beginnings of task work. n


U.S. Department of Justice. (2011). Americans with Disabilities Act Requirements (Service Animals). Retrieved October 28, 2015 from


American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen: /dog-owners/training/canine-good-citizen Assistance Dogs International: www.assistancedogsinternational .org Dogs for Life, Inc.: Humane Society,Vero Beach, Florida:

L. A. Bykowsky is a veteran and former federal agent (retired) who spent the last 10 years of her career working as an explosives specialist and canine handler in south Florida, deploying as needed for assignments worldwide. She retired in 2011, ending her federal experience by training military working dogs, and began volunteering with her retired bomb dog as a pet-assisted therapy dog team for Dogs For Life (DFL). She now trains assistance dogs for DFL and works in project development, coordinating the service dog program for veterans. Chere McCoy is retired from the U.S. Air Force and was a founder/director (retired) of Ferret Friends Disaster Response International, covering everything from the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew to the North Dakota floods. She has also been a horse and dog trainer for over 35 years and is currently a Service Dog in Training team member. BARKS from the Guild/January 2016




Cats in Class

Yvette Van Veen explores the possibilities of using cats in a dog training class to help owners with cat/dog dynamics

lients face a variety of challenges when training their dogs. Not only do they have the extraordinary task of learning how to train, they need to execute those instructions with a “green,” or untrained dog. Daily life often disIcarus the cat participates in a tracts clients despite dog training class; it is essential that the cat remains safe and their best intentions under threshold and, in general, their non-pet fancier lifestyle offers fewer opportunities for training. For this reason, I am a great fan of using setups with decoy dogs. Successful setups can be challenging but, when executed correctly, overcome many of the challenges clients face. Human clients can develop training mechanics in a safe and controlled environment under the tutelage of an experienced instructor. Using decoy dogs successfully is a topic that I have recently covered in the PPG webinar series on reactive dogs and decoy use (see also The Art, Science and Ethics of Using Decoy Dogs, BARKS from the Guild, September 2015, p. 22-23). Not all training problems involve dogs. Many families struggle with the dynamics between dogs and cats. Some dogs need to learn how to ignore outdoor cats on walks; others need to learn how to live with cats in the home. To better assist with these scenarios, I have a class cat named Icarus. Icarus has always had a natural flare for the job because he has always loved both dogs and people. That naturally social temperament is helpful. It is not unlike choosing the social puppy as a candidate for a life filled with public appearances. The temperament suits the environment the puppy will live in. Choosing a social cat goes a long way in developing a class cat. It is also the right thing to do. Cats are trainable. After all, Bob Bailey trained cats for military operations. Species-specific differences aside, classical and operant conditioning applies to cats in the same manner in which it applies to dogs. The difficulty lies in the level of potential harm to the cat. Working with cats in an environment filled with new and unknown dogs is like working with children and dogs. There is a non-negotiable welfare issue when working with both children and cats around dogs. In the back of one’s mind, there is always the concern that something might happen. We want the Disney ideal but simultaneously worry that something will go wrong 36

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along the way. Some dogs kill cats. Always protect the decoy. Make sure that cats have the means to defend themselves. Claws are one of the primary defense systems that a cat has. Declawing takes away the cat’s ability to fight off danger in an emergency. No one plans for an accident to happen. We orchestrate training to aim for success. It would be short-sighted to assume that an accident will never happen. On the other hand, cats can do tremendous damage with their claws. Scratches easily become infected. A cat's sharp claws can do a devastating amount of damage to a dog’s face and eyes. Keep your cat’s claws trimmed. Only use cats with what I call “good claw inhibition.” This term refers to a cat’s ability to control or mitigate the amount of damage inflicted during a conflict. During minor squabbles or disagreements, cats with good claw inhibition deliver a dull swat, which serves as a warning that play among friends has become too heated. Cats with good claw inhibition reserve delivering razor sharp slashes for serious altercations. No one wants a client’s dog having emergency eye surgery because a play session went bad. Cats in particular need to stay under threshold. Stressed cats often reduce food consumption or stop eating altogether. This leads to rapid weight loss and that in turn can lead to hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease. Even with treatment, severe cases can be fatal. While we should always strive to keep our training programs under threshold, for cats, this is a critical consideration because their health depends on it. It is not enough that they have the choice to leave. The cat(s) need(s) to want to participate. I am reasonably confident that Icarus wants to be present. I have to actively prevent him from darting into class. There is no place that he would rather be. Also, consider the welfare of the people. While rare, some dog owners are afraid of cats. It is more common that some dog owners will be allergic to cats. Not all classes are suited to have a cat present. Always ask permission from clients. If a cat makes someone in class uncomfortable, nix the cat. They are paying for a dog training class. A cat in class is no bonus if owners are coughing, sneezing and wheezing due to their allergies.

There are primarily three ways in which Icarus participates in class. These are decoy work, puppy socialization and class demonstrations. During decoy work, trained cats can offer owners a way to practice loose leash walking in close proximity to difficult distractions. Unlike outdoor cats, a trained cat can learn to stay on a mat while dogs practice walking by. In order to be successful at this, families first must teach their friendly dog to walk politely through a variety of less stimulating distractions. Higher end focus exercises also benefit from a cat presence. Class cats also give clients an opportunity to socialize their puppies with a cat. This is especially important to families who might later be considering adding a cat, or those who do not have access to one. Families who currently have a cat can practice introductions in the controlled class environment and later at their homes. Do introductions one on one. Puppies are exposed to more unique aspects of cat behavior. For example, cats rub their bodies across the dog’s chest or legs or rub their faces across the dog. These actions are very different from natural dog interactions. During play, puppies can learn the subtle signs that a cat is communicating that they no longer wish to play. Quite possibly one of my favorite ways of incorporating a cat into class is for nail trim demonstrations. Cats have a reputation for being difficult when it comes to nail trims. Icarus has learned that trimming predicts food. In sharp contrast to the stereotype, Icarus lies belly up with his legs spayed, fully relaxed. Clients who see Icarus in class often say, “If you can train a cat [to do that], then I can train my dog.” One of the best things to come of it is to show owners that cats are trainable too. Owners who struggle with dog and cat interactions see the cat as a participant in the training process. Training is not only about the dog; it becomes about all the ani-

When clients see how Icarus has learned to willingly have his nails trimmed it gives them confidence that they can train their dogs


mals in the home. The dog can learn to leave the cat alone. The cat can also learn to associate positive experiences with the dog. It bears mentioning that class cats do not behave like untrained cats. It may not be possible to assess a dog's reaction toward all cats based on their reaction toward a decoy. Stray, roaming and fearful cats hiss and run. Running triggers predatory behavior in many dogs. Many dogs successfully live with house cats only to kill outdoor strays. Exposure to a class cat does not necessarily mean the dog will behave similarly in different environments. Cats in class can add an interesting dynamic to classes if the access to the cat and interactions between the cat and dog are done sensibly and safely. The biggest benefit is that including cats in a training class can inspire families to see just what can be accomplished with a few treats. n


Van Veen,Y. (2015, September). The Art, Science and Ethics of Using Decoy Dogs. BARKS from the Guild, pp. 22-23. Retrieved November 21, 2015 from /docs/bftg_september_2015_online_version/22

Yvette Van Veen PCT-A is a dog behavior consultant and owner of Awesome Dogs, She is also a long-time columnist and multiple Dog Writers Association of America award nominee, and currently writes a regular column for The Toronto Star. She has worked with rescue dogs for more than 14 years, focusing mainly on rural, roaming and feral rescue dogs from communities throughout Ontario and Quebec, Canada. She is also the creator of Awesome Dogs Shareables,, an educational meme site providing resources and training tips in small, shareable formats.

DOG & BABY SUPPORT HOTLINE 1-877-247-3407 BARKS from the Guild/January 2016



A Deeper Understanding

Mary Jean Alsina examines the reasons behind the proliferation of dog bites in the US and


outlines what can be done to try to reduce the number

pproximately 4.5 million people a year are bitten by a dog in the United States and 885,000 of those bitten require medical attention (Gilchrist, et al., 2008). There are a multitude of reasons why dogs feel the need to bite and although biting dogs are commonly looked upon as “fresh,” “aggressive,” and/or “dangerous,” a large percentage of dog bites are actually fear-based. This can be fear of the unknown, fear of people or dogs invading their space, fear of being yelled at, hit, or handled inappropriately, and the list continues. Another reason which is often overlooked as a cause for dog bites is medical issues. When a dog starts showing signs of aggression, a vet check is in order as pain, inflammation and other symptoms can cause even the most well-adjusted dog to lash out. Think of something as simple and harmless as a doorbell. That sound can immediately create a highly negative response in many dog owners because of the extreme uncertainty (or exact knowing) of what may transpire after the door opens. Countless owners live in fear that their dog is on the verge of biting a guest, a child or another animal. Having visitors can wind up decreasing in frequency as can going to public places for enjoyment. As their social life starts to diminish, owners may then resort to other measures. Locking a dog up in a room or crate when they do attempt to have company is one strategy that is utilized, often in desperation, although this can cause more stress for all as the overly frustrated dog can bark, whine and experience great distress because of the inability to keep the house, family and self safe.

The Importance of Socialization

Dogs need to know from a young age that people are not a threat. They can either learn this well, or be deprived of it during the first 12 weeks of their lives. Equally important is puppies learning acquired bite inhibition (ABI). This is an essential part of puppy development as puppies are learning how much pressure they can inflict with their teeth without causing damage. Dogs who have not learned good bite inhibition can potentially deliver fatal bites as adults. When deprived of adequate socialization, dogs, unfortunately, can come to view humans as “invaders” and do not appreciate their being in close proximity to them, their home, or families. These scared dogs learn quite rapidly that barking, lunging and using their teeth will create the distance they need to achieve safety. Once a bite has landed, the dog has found the solution to his problem. Bite and “they” go away – it is that simple. As we know though, simplicity is certainly not the case when it comes to dog bites, or any other type of behavior issue for that matter. Many owners will punish a dog for biting not knowing that this can, without a doubt, make the situation much worse. A dog 38

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Learning bite inhibition from siblings is an essential part of puppy development, but not all dogs get this opportunity

© Can Stock Photo/Colecanstock

may bite someone because he is scared and by getting admonished for it, he may begin to create further negative associations between the person and the situation.

Train without Pain

Along with good socialization, dogs fare well when they are guided by a hand that is not heavy in training. This is the critical piece of nature/nurture that is so often overlooked. Genetics are a large part of a dog's temperament, but a dog that is trained in a non-invasive manner will benefit so much more from the nurture part of the equation. The number of dogs that develop aggression and land bites out of fear and self-defense is alarming. In a veterinary study published in the Journal of Applied Animal Behavior (2009), if you are aggressive to your dog, your dog will be aggressive too. Says Meghan Herron, DVM, lead author of the study, "Nationwide, the number-one reason why dog owners take their dog to a veterinary behaviorist is to manage aggressive behavior. Our study demonstrated that many confrontational training methods, whether staring down dogs, striking them, or intimidating them with physical manipulation, do little to correct improper behavior and can elicit aggressive responses." The number of clients that come through my door who have attempted training techniques that require them to be the “pack leader,” “alpha,” “dominant,” and a whole other host of terms that have been completely disproven is astounding. These dogs are fighting back. They are terrified because they are not being shown what to do but simply being punished for what they should not be doing. Owners are not mother dogs and should not be treating or grabbing their dogs the way a mother dog might. Positive, force-free, clear and consistent training is what is necessary to teach a dog to understand what is expected and will also help keep his personality intact, as he will then be less likely to feel the urge to protect himself.


Not a Stuffed Animal

Proper handling of dogs, especially by children, is an overlooked topic that deserves more attention. Dog bite injuries are the second most frequent cause of visits to the emergency room from activities common among children (Weiss, Friedman & Coben, 1998). Children should never be unsupervised around dogs. The number of disturbing pictures seen on the internet clearly shows why the number of dog bites to children is as elevated as it is. Children, and adults for that matter, should never be allowed to lie on dogs, hug dogs, poke dogs, pull a dog's tail, etc. Dogs are not toys. They are sentient beings that will put up with this type of abuse for so long before they snap and then you hear the following words spoken by a parent, “It came out of nowhere.” Usually, the signs were there all along but were not acknowledged and a dog that is “fine” with having a child ride him like a horse is, in fact, not “fine.” Many dogs will tolerate this kind of behavior for the time being, but the moment he has reached his limit and bites, it is he who is put down or taken away, unfortunately, because he was not respected, his communication was not understood, and he was expected to put up with a ridiculous amount of mistreatment. Doggone Safe is a wonderful organization that helps to educate owners about safe dog and human interactions to avoid dog bites, especially with children. They offer programs to encourage parents and children to grow a deeper understanding of dog body language, causes of bites, and so on. Many dog bites to children could be easily avoided with a more


thorough understanding of how dogs communicate their displeasure with a situation and of course, not leaving children unsupervised with a dog.

It Hurts

Dogs, unlike most humans, do an amazing job of covering up when they are in pain. They may act a bit sluggish, eat less, or not be as playful, but many times the thrill of eating and playing trump the pain that they are experiencing so owners may not be aware of a medical issue. I have worked with quite a number of dogs that were growling, nipping, or biting and after some medical tests were conducted, the dogs were shown to be ill or experiencing some type of pain or inflammation. If a body part is touched that is painful to the dog, an ordinarily happy-go-lucky dog may snap or bite to avoid further pain being inflicted by the human touch. A trip to the vet should be immediately scheduled to rule out medical issues any time a bite seems to be unwarranted, or when a rather seemingly well-adjusted dog acts out aggressively, before immediately assuming the problem is behavioral.


Many owners feel lost, frightened and helpless when they have experienced their sweet dog showing this different side. It can be very scary for owners, but depending on the circumstances, there can be a good future for dogs that have bitten, depending

Case Study: Ryder

received a call from a lady who was almost in tears on the phone because her dog had bitten all the family members at least once. Their next step, if they could not find help, was to have him put down, but they were desperate for one more chance to help him. After a number of attempts with various trainers, Ryder was still biting family members at a rate that was too high for the family to deal with. Ryder was found on the streets when he was 3 weeks old and came to the family at 5 weeks old. The time when a dog should be learning critical lessons from his mother and littermates was stripped from him and this would certainly take its toll. At approximately 10 months old, Ryder began to show signs of his lack of socialization and his premature removal from his litter. On Christmas Day in 2011, Ryder bit numerous members of the family and after that the behavior escalated. By the age of 2 years old, Ryder's biting grew in frequency and drew blood on many different occaRyder had been found on the street, prematurely sions. In my removed from his litter, and had bitten his new owners many times. A combination of medication and presence, behavior modification have helped Ryder overcome Ryder had a his biting issues, with his family making sure they very hard never push him past his threshold.

stare and I could see there was a lot going on in his head as he was working things out. Much care and caution had to be taken with a dog like Ryder and we did just that. The owners absorbed all the information I gave them, such as not using corrections or yelling in their interactions with him, using calming tools, and greatly increasing his mental stimulation. We clicker trained him to hand target and used shaping to use a treat dispensing ball which he did not have a clue how to use. Once he grasped the idea, it became one of his favorite activities. We also got to work increasing his level of obedience to put his obviously troubled mind to work and keep him focused on tasks. In accordance with the training, a consult with the vet led Ryder to be placed on Fluoxetine to aid him in his journey and the changes in his behavior have been phenomenal. Owner Darlene says he is like a new dog and there have been no bites since the training and medication began. Darlene and her family have been the largest contributor to Ryder's success because they have never pushed Ryder past his threshold. They watch his body language very carefully and listen to him when he tells them that he is feeling uncomfortable. This is one of the most key aspects of a biting dog's successful prognosis. The owners must be in tune with the dog's emotions and actions at all times. Ryder's future outlook is bright, but with any dog that has a bite history like Ryder's, careful attention must always be paid and positive methods should be consistently employed to keep the dog feeling safe at all times to help him on his journey.

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on the severity and level of the bites. Owners must realize that it will take understanding, patience and dedication to help a dog through this. Biting is unlikely to dissipate on its own - it takes work and consistency on the part of everyone involved with the dog, including family, guests, dog walkers and friends. The first step is to enlist the help of a force-free, positive reinforcement trainer who has extensive knowledge of behavior modification. Desensitization and counterconditioning are imperative here, as well as a comprehensive understanding of body language signs of fear, anxiety and stress in dogs so owners can detect when a dog is getting uncomfortable and approaching his threshold. Impeccable management is extremely critical for owners of biting dogs as a mistake in this area could lead to further bites. If a dog charges the front door to protect the family when the bell rings, a crate in another room or baby gates should be utilized so the dog does not have the opportunity to continue to practice the behavior. If the bell ringing or door knocking sets the dog off and puts the dog over threshold thus leading to bites, have guests text or call upon arrival and place a note on the door for delivery men to not knock but simply leave packages outside. The goal is to keep the dog calm at times when he would normally have adrenaline and cortisol skyrocketing through his body. When guests arrive, the dog should be in a safe place with something fabulous, such as a stuffed Kong or treats being delivered through a remote controlled treat dispenser, such as the Treat and Train. The dog should never be forced to interact if uncomfortable. Through training using desensitization and counterconditioning, a dog can learn to see that whatever or whoever frightens him is safe. Some dogs may take months to improve and should never be rushed. While the work is being done, again, management and meticulous action should be taken to make sure the dog always feels safe and is not placed in a position to have to protect himself and lash out. n


Herron, M.E., Shofer, F.S., & Reisner, I.R. (2009). Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs showing undesired behaviors. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 117 (2009) 47â&#x20AC;&#x201C;54. Retrieved October 28, 2015 from /hospital/behavior/trainingArticle.pdf Weiss, H.B., Friedman, D.I., Coben, J.H. (1998). Incidence of Dog Bite Injuries Treated in Emergency Departments. Journal of the American Medical Association 279:53. Retrieved October 28, 2015 from ?articleid=185836#Abstract


Doggone Safe:

Mary Jean Alsina PCT-A CPDT-KA MA owns and operates The Canine Cure, LLC,, in Northern New Jersey. She has a masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s +30 in education and is a certified pet dog trainer. She studied at The Academy for Dog Trainers and is a regular dog training columnist for She is also a member of Doggone Safe and is a certified CGC evaluator for the AKC.


BARKS from the Guild/January 2016


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Dog Speak - The Language of Barking

Diane Garrod examines canine communication and presents some tips on how to

t a recent public event I attended, the question asked most by companion dog owners was, "How do I get my dog to stop barking?" As professionals, of course, the first thing we want to do is ask more questions. "When does the dog bark?", "What time of day?", "What are they barking at?", "What are they getting out of it?", "What do you do when they bark?", "What do you want them to do instead?" and so on. We can all think of people who talk too much yet no one asks, "How can I get my friend to stop talking?" The question would not even enter our minds and nor would any of the other questions stated above. We may find our talkative friends entertaining, informative and filled with life and if we don't like it, then we can simply walk away, “unfriend” them or decide simply to tolerate them. Dogs, on the other hand, do not speak our language. Sometimes it can be hard to understand what they are saying, which may make their behavior become annoying. Imagine, however, how frustrating it must be to the dog not to be heard, or worse, ignored.

Barking Facts

Fact: Barking communication has a very clear progression and purpose. It starts abruptly between two and four weeks of age, with most puppies showing a response as if they are startled by their first bark. Initially, barking occurs in a play-soliciting context and is not associated with serious aggression until after eight weeks of age, when puppies will respond to their dam's growl. Aggressive barks by puppies generally do not occur before 12 weeks. By the fourth month, the aggressive bark is more marked in defense of food and toward strange dogs, probably more as an announcement of presence rather than a warning. This announcement of presence continues and can become stronger and more persistent, especially in areas where many strange dogs and people pass by. Defense of food is also natural, referred to as resource guarding by humans. These two communication pieces are quite ingrained and natural early in life and needed for survival. Since dogs are domesticated they need to figure out how to exist in a human world that does not always welcome barking. Coppinger, Lord & Feinstein state that barking is a universally recognized hallmark of the domestic dog, Canis lupus familiaris. From the casual human listener’s standpoint, barking seems read-

ily distinguishable from other vocalizations. But the terms “bark” and “barking” are often used in the scientific literature without a precise definition of a bark’s structure. The function of this vocalization is variously analyzed as an alarm call (Cohen & Fox, 1976; Tembrock, 1976; Lehner, 1978; Schassburger, 1987, 1993; Harrington & Asa, 2003); a territory-marking signal (Lehner, 1978; Cohen & Fox, 1976); a rally call (Schassburger, 1987; Cohen & Fox, 1976); or an indicator of motivational state (Morton, 1977; Bleicher, 1963; Tembrock, 1976). Coppinger & Feinstein (1991) argue that dog barking is a developmental artifact with no intrinsic function;Yin & McCowan (2004), and Yin (2002) & Feddersen-Petersen (2000) speculate that barks may have referential content. There is a lot of speculation and ongoing study on the communication of dogs. Barking is a foreign language for which we have no interpreter, like trying to understand a code only known by its originator. The tone of continuous, incessant barking can be irritating for the people those dogs live with. It can be established then that excessive barking is a communication problem.

Excessive barking is one of the most commonly reported behavior problems amongst dog owners

© Can Stock Photo/membio


manage and prevent over-barking

Fact: Excessive barking is one of the top five reported behavior problems, comprising between 6 - 35 percent of all complaints to canine behavior consultants. Over-barking can cause over-excitement, which can cause high level stress and other behavior issues (Campbell, 1973; 1986). Some breeds are known for being barkers, i.e. dachshunds - but client complaints also come from owners of beagles, collies, dachshunds, Dalmatians, miniature schnauzers, Shetland sheepdogs, silky terriers and Yorkshire terriers (Campbell, 1974).

13 Reasons Barking Is Reinforced

1) Early experience. 2) Owner gives attention to barking dog, reinforcing it. 3) Dog is fearful. 4) Dog is distressed, i.e. separation anxiety. 5) Current environment can trigger excessive barking. 6) Dogs overly-excited with physical or mental stress. 7) Lack of mental stimulation or boredom. 8) Infection, hormonal or metabolic disease. 9) Too little or too much environmental stimuli. 10) Attention seeking.

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11) Hyperactivity or hyperkinesis (inability to concentrate). 12) Anxiety. 13) Obsessive compulsive disorder.

Barking is a dog’s communication system and is reinforcing for many reasons

1) Inside a vehicle - can be serious face plastering type. 2) Places where there are a lot of dogs barking, such as flyball, dog shows, agility. 3) Barking at dogs on television. A simple solution would be to stop reinforcing excessive barking. There is much more involved in teaching the dog what you want instead and rewarding the right behavior, while still keeping communication alive. Understand that excessive barking can cause both physical and mental stress. It is not in the best interest of the dog, in most cases. Keeping barking manageable would be a better option. The bottom line is dogs bark, it their communication system. Excessive barking goes beyond normal alerting, greeting or protecting resources. It is then it becomes annoying and urgent. No one is listening and it can even become the only activity the dog has in his world. We all know the dog that has a persistent alarm bark. It is released with people he knows, family members, any and all outside noises. We all know the dog that charges and barks at strangers or strange dogs. We all know the dog that is punished for his communication and as a result it gets worse. These behaviors can have many reasons for being reinforced including anxiety, social deficits, over-arousal, being intermittently rewarded with attention, separation distress and more. These learned habits need to be re-associated with incompatible behaviors, while retaining barking as communication.

How to Work with Problem Barkers

Develop a communication system to teach what else to do or an off cue (the ‘Three Bark Rule,’ which I use with my dogs and client dogs on home base, will be explained in detail in Part II of this article in the March 2016 issue of BARKS). Anything we do not understand can be an annoyance, but once we know what to do and how to do it, we open the bridge to communication. Meanwhile, here are five tips on managing and preventing excessive barking: 1) Provide Environmental Enrichment Why? Enrichment takes the focus off the outer environment and places it on the inner environment while keeping the dog busy with what they love to do from foraging, to toy play, to mentally tiring activity. What? Treat dispensing toys, intelligence or puzzle games, a variety of toys that make sounds, toys that have differing textures, chews to release mouth tension, active games such as flirt poles, balls, toys that jump, move automatically and more. The key is in providing variety and rotating what is offered daily. 2) Create a Reward System Using an Automatic System to Stop Excessive Barking Dr. Ian Dunbar and Dr. John Watson have developed a clever system of rewarding quiet, the Auto Trainer. The unit uses tones to train dogs to be calm using positive techniques (no shock, spray 42

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016

© Can Stock Photo/cynoclub

Unique Situations that Reinforce Barking

or loud sounds). A collar detects dog barking and when the dog is quiet, the reward system goes into effect. The device then rewards increasingly longer periods of quiet so it becomes more rewarding not to bark than to bark excessively. It can be used at home, in the car or while traveling.

3) Put Barking on Cue, Stimulus Control Putting a Dog's Unwanted Behavior on Stimulus Control, a video by positive trainer Donna Hill, demonstrates this concept. Putting unwanted behavior on cue means eventually the dog will not engage in it unless he is cued to do so. It becomes a cued trick versus an annoying behavior. A clicker is a wonderful tool to use to accomplish precision in teaching.You can learn the basics in this video, Clicker Training Basics, with Pamela Johnson. Another way to put barking on cue is to teach “speak.” Here are four how-to steps using a clicker and rewards the dog loves: 1) First, enthusiastically make a noise or bark yourself to engage the dog and reward any noise with a click and treat. As the dog is eating the treat add a quiet cue, such as the word “quiet” said softly, or “shhhh,” or “all done” said with a smile. Click again as he remains quiet and reward to teach the cue. 2) Repeat.You should get a pretty loud bark for speak. 3) Add the cue “speak” once the dog understands what you are doing through repetition. So now you will have a cue for barking - speak - and quiet. 4) Repeat the pattern many times a day. It literally becomes an on and off switch. 4) Management of Over-Barking in a Car or Other Vehicle • Crate the dog in a car and set the stage for safety and comfort with a soft mat, pad or blanket and familiar smells from home, such as an unwashed t-shirt. • Cover the crate if needed with a blanket to keep out visual movement and keep the dog safe. • A Calming Cap limits peripheral vision (the makers of Thundershirt also make a Thundercap). • Park farther away so the dog has a reduced sound safety zone. • Window covering/shade. • Auto Trainer to reinforce quiet, looking down and away, and being rewarded for it.

CANINE References

Anderson, E. (Producer). (2012). Conditioning a Positive Response to Another Dog Barking and to Other Distractions [Video]. Retrieved November 7, 2015 from =Dd7DagsIUvE Beaver, B.V. (2009). Canine Behavior Insights and Answers (2nd edn). Retrieved from ?isbn=9781416054191&sgCountry=US&isbn=9781416054191 Bleicher, N. (1963). Physical and behavioral analysis of dog vocalizations. American Journal of Veterinary Research, 24 (100), 415-426 Campbell W. (1973). Excessive barking. Modern Veterinary Practice, 54, 73 Campbell W. (1973). Effects of training, feeding regimens, isolation and physical environment on canine behavior. Modern Veterinary Practice, 67, 239 Campbell, W. (1974).Which dog breeds develop what behavior problems? Modern Veterinary Practice, 55(3), 229 DeGhett,V. J., Stewart, J. M., & Scott, J. P. (1970, January). Habituation of distress vocalization response of puppies of different dog breeds in constant and varying environments. American Zoologist,

• Capture quiet, not barking, using desensitization and counterconditioning techniques, such as a “look at that” (LAT) technique watching people walk by at an appropriate distance, and using a clicker to mark calm, quiet looking and rewarding the position of turning full body to look at the handler or turning the head, then increasing distance the handler is from the vehicle until the dog is quiet and knows the owner will return. • Take along a filled treat dispenser or bone used only for alone time in vehicle - something safe a dog can chew on to release mouth tension. 5) Condition a Positive Response to Other Dogs Barking or Environmental Sounds A dog barking means something good is going to happen. This can be initiated to the visual of a dog also, and can start with using barking sounds found on sound DVDs or sound tracks on the internet. Trainer Eileen Anderson features a useful video, Conditioning a Positive Response to Another Dog Barking and to Other Distractions, on how to condition a positive response to other dogs barking on her YouTube channel. Separation anxiety needs a systematic behavior change program by a qualified veterinarian behaviorist, behavior consultant or trainer. Publications recommended are Home Alone by Roger

10, 294 Fox, M. (1969). Canine Behavior, 35:242. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas Fox M. (1978).The Dog: Its Domestication and Behavior. New York: Garland STPM Press Hill, D. (Producer). (2011). Putting a Dog's Unwanted Behavior on Stimulus Control [Video]. Retrieved November 7, 2015 from Johnson, P. (Producer). (2012). Clicker Training Basics [Video]. Retrieved November 7, 2015 from =omZt5Eu8nfE Lord, K., Feinstein, M. & Coppinger, R. (2009, July). Barking and mobbing. Behavioral Processes, 81, 358-368. Retrieved November 7, 2015 from /Behavioural%20Processes%20paper_0.pdf Peters G., & Wozencraft W. (1989). Acoustic communication by fissiped carnivores. In Gittleman, J. (Ed): Carnivore Behavior, Ecology and Evolution. Ithaca, NY; Comstock Publishing Associates

Abrantes and Treating Separation Anxiety in Dogs by Malena DeMartini to get started. Identifying why barking is occurring, applying the correct technique to address the underlying reason and developing a mutual communication through listening and proper responsiveness are key to making sure barking does not become over-excessive and simply remains as manageable dog speak, the language of the dog that dogs can count on their pet guardian to understand, thereby creating confidence, improved relationships and bonding in a positive way. n Diane Garrod BSc PCT-A is a certified Tellington Touch® Practitioner (CA1), ATA Certified Treibball Instructor and holds certificates in theriogenology, science in writing and animal behavior. She is behavior consultant/trainer and owner at the Canine Transformations Learning Center,, in Washington State. WITH

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Working with a Deaf Dog

Terrie Hayward presents the case of Jax, the 70 pound mix breed rescued in Puerto Rico,


who also happened to be deaf

Š Can Stock Photo/Pitroviz

deaf dog can make a wonderful addition to any family. Training dogs with a hearing impairment is similar to working with any other dog; they just require some special adaptations. Since dogs rely heavily on body language, deaf dogs learn quickly and make you a better dog caregiver in the process. As a guardian of a deaf dog and as a professional trainer, I am active on several deaf dog forums. In my efforts to assist owners of deaf dogs, I try to provide some general training tips referencing positive reinforcement without giving out specific information regarding behavioral issues. Recently, I noticed that on one forum a woman had enquired about exactly where and how to begin teaching a deaf dog that she had rescued from a bullying situation at a park near her home. In reading through the comments I was surprised to see that she was from my area of Puerto Rico; in fact she was just a town away. We were soon in contact. We talked about her predicament regarding an impending off-island trip: she was concerned about what to do with this very large, newly rescued deaf dog. Through continued conversations we decided on a boardand-train arrangement over a three-week period with specific guardian-skills transfer sessions. This is a key part to any training, as a large portion of the education is for the humans as well. A week later Jax arrived, reminding me a bit of the dog in the Tom Hanks movie, Turner & Hooch, due to his exuberant, sloppy, and larger-than-life style. What he lacked in communication skills he made up for in loving enthusiasm. Jax was a large dog weighing in at approximately 70 pounds. He was unaware of his size and considered human laps and, for that matter, table tops to be superb resting spots. His new mom and I reviewed our contract and discussed which primary behaviors would be the focus of our three weeks together. I explained that my first step would be conditioning a marker for Jax. Rather than utilizing an auditory marker such as a word or a clicker, his marker would be a visual sign. This marker would communicate to Jax that he had performed a behavior that would earn him access to something that he found reinforcing. Once we had established this means of communication we would begin working on the behaviors that his owner and I had prioritized.

The Plan

We would begin training a hand targeting behavior, a default sitting behavior, and an automatic check-in behavior. We chose these as the first three behaviors to put on cue because Jax was a large, unruly, if lovable, boy and we wanted to be able to chan44

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016

Training a deaf dog to hand target is an invaluable aid to communication

nel that energy appropriately. First, we wanted to be able to communicate to him where we would like him to go. In other words, we wanted to be able to move Jax around without physically needing to touch or manipulate him. The hand target would enable us to accomplish this and would also serve as a foundation for other cued behaviors. The hand target would also be a great focusing behavior, which would be incompatible with other less desirable behaviors. Jax was seemingly pleased with his new-found situation and soaked up the attention. However, one means of seeking attention that Jax displayed was jumping up on people. We decided to train a default, bomb-proof sitting behavior: an incompatible behavior to jumping. This solved our issue and reinforced a nice, alternative, desirable behavior. In addition, a sitting behavior is a polite behavior that we wanted to build a reinforcement history for as soon as possible. Last, as a deaf dog, we needed Jax to be focused on us in order for us to be able to provide visual cues for him. In order to accomplish this, and as a means of guaranteeing that Jax looked to us frequently for direction, we determined that a "check-in" behavior would be our third behavior. We made it reinforcing for Jax to look to us for direction and instruction so that he would regularly do so, enabling us to increase our opportunities to communicate with him.

Jax Arrives

Jax arrived a few days later, his caregiverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s shoulder covered in slobber from the car ride. He immediately strode forward,


jumped on me, then preceded to leap up and roll around on his back on top of the patio table. I dropped a piece of chicken on the floor and Jax gleefully galloped down to scoop it up. He then came towards me; I was prepared for my next move. The plan was that I was going to establish a hand flick (closed fist-opened fist-closed fist) as his visual marker. A marker would, again, be our first step in learning to communicate effectively. It would allow me to indicate to Jax when his behavior was something that would earn him access to something he found reinforcing and therefore should be repeated. I waited for the split second when Jax glanced at me, and then used my hand flash marker and immediately produced a piece of chicken, which I dropped at my feet. Simultaneously, I was also beginning to lay the groundwork for communicating that the ground was a good place to be (as opposed to jumping up on me or other objects). Over the next 10 minutes or so I repeated this "game" about five times in quick succession, took a short break, and then moved a bit and played it again. In addition to considering the hand flash marker as a good thing, I was also marking Jax's eye contact because I required it in order to show him my hand flash marker and then reinforce it. Thus, he was learning that to look at me meant good things happened.


Establishing the lines of communication is essential when working with a deaf dog. Jaxâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s response was immediate once he had learned the signs.

Next, I wanted to teach Jax that voluntarily touching his nose to my hand was also going to be a worthwhile endeavor. I began with a small piece of chicken in my hand and placed my hand about a half an inch in front of his nose. When he naturally touched his nose to my fist to smell it I used my other hand to communicate via our hand flash marker and then opened my palm so Jax could have the chicken. We repeated this activity a couple of times before I moved to the next level: asking him to touch my closed, empty hand with his nose, marking with my other hand in his line of vision, and then delivering a piece of chicken from my treat pouch with my previously closed hand. Last, we moved to an opened palm hand target: placing my opened palm directly in front of Jax's nose and marking with my opposite hand, then reinforcing from my treat pouch with my previously opened palm hand. It did not hurt that my palm had the odor and flavor of chicken from the previous training exercises. However, to set Jax up to succeed I still was careful to place it directly in front of and about an inch from his nose. I wanted to build drive for the target and to let Jax know that this "hand target opportunity" had an expiration of about two seconds so if he did not target right away I removed my hand. However, I offered it again immediately to provide Jax with another opportunity to succeed. If after two tries Jax chose not to touch the opened palm target, I dropped my criteria back a step or two to a closed fist or a BARKS from the Guild/January 2016



closed fist with a piece of chicken inside. This was to alleviate any frustration on Jax's part as well as to, again, set him up for success. As dogs do not always generalize behavior well, we were sure to practice our hand targeting behavior in a variety of spots. At first we practiced around the house. As we ventured into more distracting environs such as the street or beyond (beach, neighborhood, park) we occasionally needed to temporarily drop back our criteria to the easier versions of the hand target before building it back up to the opened palm.

Default Sit

With the targeting behavior well underway we could now utilize it for Jax’s sit. In addition to capturing, meaning I would mark and reinforce any time Jax’s bottom hit the floor voluntarily and he was watching me, I also began using the target to get him to sit. Since Jax was getting quite good at targeting, I used a closedfist target, drawing an invisible line from his nose back and up over his head. As his nose went up to follow the target, his backside dropped down. As soon as his bottom touched the floor I would quickly mark and reinforce this behavior. Next, I began to label the sit behaviors as he offered them by using the sign, which in our case was close to the American Sign Language sign for sit, consisting of two fingers crossing over the opposite two fingers. That is, as he was moving into the “crouching” part heading towards a sit, I would sign for sit and then mark and reinforce his bottom touching the ground. Jax quickly learned that sitting meant good things happened, and began responding to the visual cue for his sit as well as offering default sit behaviors. Because Jax was so responsive we actually trained a “down” cue along with a few other polite behaviors during his three weeks with me. We kept sessions short, working in one to three minute bursts, and reinforced all behavior that we liked.

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Skills Transfer

The last piece was to begin working with his mom upon her return. As previously mentioned, at least half of the training is for the people, so we explained the steps and coached his mom as she worked on her timing and rate of responsiveness as well as the visual signs. While not difficult, it can take some time to get accustomed to using visual rather than verbal cues. People are generally more comfortable using auditory interactions as a primary means to communicate. As such, chatting with your deaf dog is still encouraged because he will pick up on your facial gestures, but visual cues and markers will be the primary way that you interact with him. Jax returned home and had great success integrating into his family. He, along with other deaf dogs, are often wonderful ambassadors for positive reinforcement training and communication as they demonstrate the lack of need to shout instructions or yell “no” to communicate or to achieve responsiveness. In fact, as dogs generally are very focused on body language and gestures, training a deaf dog and welcoming him into your home can be fun and rewarding. n Terrie Hayward is the owner of PAW-Positive Animal Wellness, LLC,, in Rincon, Puerto Rico. She is the author of the pocket guide to working with deaf dogs titled, A Deaf Dog Joins the Family,Training, Education, and Communication for a Smooth Transition. She presents workshops, travels, and consultations focusing on positive reinforcement interactions and modifying behavior through applications in behavior analysis. She also holds a master’s degree in education, is a Karen Pryor Academy certified training partner, and is certified by the Council for Professional Dog Trainers.Visit her on Facebook, www.facebook .com/PositiveAnimalWellness.


Feline Behavior Unmasked

Jane Ehrlich responds to commonly asked questions about feline behavior problems and feline behavior in general

Q: What do you think about crating cats? My vet suggested we put our new cat in a large crate in the middle of the living room so our other cats can get used to her, and vice versa.

Please don't! I can't stress this often enough. I still see this advice offered and it makes me crazed. Cats hate being vulnerable and being out of control. And it is not necessary, ever. Crating does no favors! The cat in the crate becomes a victim while the other cats are enjoying a good look and having a field-day, wandering around, hissing, and whatnot, and are in… control. Instead, do the proper slow-introductions, sense by sense, (first just smelling, then just smelling and sight, then a bit more interaction), never moving until the previous step means both new and resident cats start to show benign body language. Cat owners need to take it slowly when introducing a new cat to their home

Q: I have been feeding two outdoor cats on my back patio. They started hanging around the property a few years ago. I do not know if they would be considered feral because I am pretty sure they belonged to someone in the neighborhood who may have moved away, and I think they have been neutered. I do not want indoor cats, but being adult long-haired cats it might be hard to get them adopted. One is a friendly female and the other is skittish of people and I cannot tell the sex. I have seen that both are good hunters. Between my neighbor and I they get fed and have access to water and shade and cover. Here is my problem and question: Very often, three or more times a week, there are the messy remains of a dead bird on my back doorstep, with or without the doormat. This usually includes feathers and/or blood and guts. It takes time cleaning it up plus I use that door a lot and hate being surprised or having to avoid stepping in bird innards. I do not know which cat is doing it, or maybe both, and I understand how maybe they are

'gifting' us with their present. (I am surprised the birds don't learn to steer clear of them or that there are any left. You can hear them squawking at the cats after they've lost one of their own.) But is there a way to get the cats to keep it out in the grass, maybe under a tree, away from our living space on the patio? Suggestions are appreciated.

A: I have adopted a rictus grin when presented with a half-gutted avian specimen by my loved macho stray Benny. He sits expectantly and I swear I can hear him saying, ‘Eat here, or take out?’ I thank him and fuss and gently, with half-closed eyes, toss the poor dead creature onto the grass behind a fence where he can finish it off and where I cannot see it. Yes, it is a gift, and you cannot, alas, make him deposit his gifts in another area unless you exit your home by another door. Then the cat will most likely simply ’gift’ you there instead. It is, after all, for you, so why would he put it anywhere else? Grit your teeth, thank him and keep a supply of scouring sponges and baby wipes by the door.

Q: My very loved cat, Gizmo, has a habit of biting me at night when I try to pet her. I love having her in bed with me but why the biting if she’s happy to sleep next to me?

A: When Gizmo sleeps alongside you, your attempts to reach out and pet her in the dark are understandably met with growls and bites. Why? Cats don't see as well at night as we might believe, and a hand coming out of nowhere (which, remember, is the size of her head) and inadvertently, if lightly, grabbing at a cat's body parts could well release a fear response: swipe and bite. Solution: night lights in the bedroom, play with pole-toys during the day, and try to respect the cat's space at night. n Cats disturbed at night when sleeping may lash out with a fear response

© Can Stock Photo Inc./tpfeller

© Can Stock Photo/BENGUHAN

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016



Caring for the Senior Cat

Jane Ehrlich discusses some common signs of aging in older cats and provides tips to make


life a little more comfortable and enjoyable for them

ette Davis said, ”Getting old isn’t for wimps.” Obviously, that includes cats as well as those humans who love them. Senior cats have their needs and their changes. (I am distinguishing this from cognitive dysfunction— more on that next time.) It also means a special commitment: to remember why we have them and care for them. They are not a convenience to be ignored when the years finally catch up. A client recently told me someone turned in Owners must ensure their aging cats get an 18-year old cat at a shelter plenty of water where she volunteers. Why? ”She’s just too old. “Did that mean she laid around the house instead of being fun and entertaining? Or that she cried in the night? Or perhaps missed her box? What does that say about the humans? (By the way, that human client scooped Sprinkles up and this cat is now absolutely adored.) What do you call “senior” or “geriatric?” Because our cats are living longer than they used to— they are staying inside (whew!), their diets are better, and more of them (also whew!) are getting good vet care and better care at home, so there has been a rejigging of definitions. A cat is considered “elderly” from ages 11 years (approximate human equivalent: 60) to 14 years (approximate human equivalent: 72). ”Geriatric” is after the age of 15 years (approximate human equivalent: 76), according to the American Association of Feline Practitioners. What does this mean in terms of changes?


Noodles can be more susceptible to illnesses. I say “can” because one “60” is not the same as another’s. My “63”—being one of the Woodstock generation—is not the same as my mom’s or grandmother’s. Or my neighbor’s, come to think of it. I have seen huge differences between one 15 year old cat and another. HUGE. Hypertension, renal issues, cardiac problems, digestive issues, hyperthyroidism, cancers (or benign masses), and more. When changes come, they can show markedly. There can be a reduced ability to smell and taste food so the cat can get fussier (or else just eat and drink less), and/or there may be a decreased ability for her system to digest proteins and fats and phosphorus. Her sense of hearing can diminish, as can her tolerance to stress and anxiety. As her skin loses thickness and elasticity, scratches, cuts and bites may not heal as quickly. She is less “bendy”, so she may groom herself less when it comes to anything below the 48

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016

shoulders. She needs more sleep and is generally less energetic. It is not as easy for her to retract/extend her claws, so she may not bother to tend to them—and they may, therefore, be more likely to get caught in clothing, bedding and the sofa.


She may be fussier. Sometimes more cantankerous.You might find she is more vocal in the night with crying or plaintive yowling. She may display more separation anxiety or become needy. She may be more cautious about eating when there are noises or other cats around. My Grace, who is 16, now needs my presence while she eats as if to reassure her that the other cats will not try to take away her food.


She may be less interested in grooming herself, which means more hairballs. Although less hair gets ingested, her digestive system does not work as actively as it once did.Yes, there can be uncertainty when it comes to the litterbox.You know your cat’s habits—or should, because the more you know about her the better you can see when something is awry. It is as if her mental acuity just is not as sharp as it once was. It isn’t. I have known cats who walk to the litterbox, then hesitate for a few moments, as if trying to remember what it is for or why they are there. For several reasons she may miss the box or even go to another room. The first call is to the vet to see if anything is physically wrong, such as a less elastic sphincter. Or perhaps the message is not getting to her brain until it is too late that her bladder is full and she needs to eliminate. This may mean more boxes in different areas as well as, perhaps, medication. What do you do, as a loving owner? Keep an eye on her, on claws and grooming. And check more frequently and thoroughly for lumps, sores, skin and fur changes. IF she is developing mats around her anus, gently trim the area with snub-nosed grooming scissors – do not even think of trying it with regular manicure or big scissors. Is she losing weight and muscle mass? Talk with your vet. Get a baby scale and weigh her every week. Also—and this should be done in general but is even more important when Noodles gets older—watch for changes in her feces (consistency, amount, color, smell) and urine, if possible

© Can Stock Photo Inc./Irinavk

(stronger or weaker in smell? color changes?) If she is missing the box, look again at the kind of boxes you have. Perhaps the sides are too high, and she is having a harder time getting into it. Lower the sides, or get a box with a scooped-out entrance, so she can go in and out with ease. Examine her teeth, breath and gums every few weeks. Dental care is not a vanity exercise, nor a method for extracting a client’s money. The bacteria in the mouth can result in oral pain, tooth loss and periodontal disease, and it can affect the heart, kidneys, intestinal tract and joints. Pawing at the mouth, drooling? Check the state of the teeth. Cats are less likely to eat because of pain. Red, white or swollen gums? Get to the vet. Ensuring Noodles gets enough water, for the sake of her aging kidneys, has never been more important. Cats do not have thirst-receptors, unlike dogs. Scatter more water bowls. Get a cat fountain. It might be easier for an arthritic neck if the food and water bowls are raised a few inches off the ground. There are bowl stands for this. If she suffers from joint difficulties, she may not feel as secure around stairs or even tile as she used to. Cut pile carpets are more comfy for her rather than slippery tile or looped carpet which could catch her claws. Buy or make pet steps so she can scramble onto the bed or sofa or a favorite lookout more easily. Is she avoiding going upstairs? Or coming down? Try a ramp. You might find she is not scratching as much on the vertical posts. It could be too much effort and be causing discomfort on her shoulders, spine and legs. Try getting horizontal scratchers for her instead. Grace has no problem, yet, with her boxes but I make it easier for her to find them by putting a few nightlights near them. If you have covered ones, Noodles may well find open ones and ones with lower sides and open entry easier to navigate instead. And when she cries in the middle of the night, I call out a few words of loving reassurance and she comes into the bed or near it and quietens down.


Have you still been letting your aging furchild go outside? This is more threatening for her and she cannot defend herself as well. Some elderly cats prefer to lounge near the home because they are not comfy about straying farther these days. Please keep her indoors—and build her a safe and secure catio instead. Keep up the play—it is crucial for her physical condition and general mental/emotional alertness. Vet visits need to be increased to twice a year now as it is crucial to keep abreast of your cat’s body condition, inside and out. Make sure blood pressure, a complete blood count, and a CHEM screen (for liver and kidney function) and a T4 (an important thyroid test) are taken. Getting older is a natural process for sure and there is nothing to slow it for anyone. Cats age much more quickly than people do and we know they tend not to show signs. However, studies regarding diet changes and even supplements continue, and results look promising with regard to easing how that process goes. This is a vet’s territory. There are even specialists on the aging Cats are considered “elderly” at the age of process in cats. Your local veterinary associa11 years tion may well be able to recommend one, if you live in a large city. Bottom line? Lots of love, attention and yes, expert care. It is all about watching over your cat—in as many ways as humanly possible, anyway. n Jane Ehrlich is a professionally trained Feline Behaviorist with over 27 years experience. She spent 18 years volunteering with the RSPCA in both clinical and behavior work and has her own consulting business Cattitude Feline Behavior,, in Phoenix, Arizona, although her clients are located worldwide.


American Association of Feline Practitioners (n.d.). Senior Care - Caring for Older Cats. Retrieved November 7, 2015 from

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BARKS from the Guild/January 2016

YES! 49



How Domesticated are Cats?

Patience Fisher wonders whether asking how domesticated cats really are is even the right question

© Can Stock Photo Inc. /ESIGHT

any people have weighed in on the question of how dotion of the cat is how tame they are as a species and, in the mesticated our domestic cats actually are. It is a popular words of Galton, how much of an inborn liking of humans they topic, and opinions stating that cats are semi-domestic have. To determine this, we must account for socialization. For inor part wild abound. But what does that actually mean? Are we stance, it would be unscientific to compare a dog that was socialall thinking along the same lines when we talk about domesticatized as a puppy to a cat that was not socialized as a kitten. A ing an animal? For this or any scientific discussion to have meankitten’s sensitive period for socialization is 2-7 weeks. How many ing we must define our terms. How do people define the word of us even knew our cat at that age, or knew a person who did domestic? Do scientists define it the same way? know her? Do you know if your cat (or your client’s cat) was Many people use the word domestic and tame interchangehandled correctly by people during this critical period in her life? ably. But a feral dog born of tame parIn contrast, many dog owners know how their dog was (or was ents may not be approachable if he was not) socialized as a puppy. Another point to consider is that a never socialized. Consider the plight of dog’s socialization period is longer: 3-12 weeks of age. This also dogs in present-day Detroit where, acmakes it more likely that owners may know some of their dog’s cording to an August 2013 CNN rehistory during the sensitive period for socialization. Of course, port, Detroit grapples with stray dog we could also consider the Pedigreed show relative tameness of cats to epidemic, tens of thousands of feral and cats are bred for looks and ferrets, rabbits, or other comstray dogs live. The dogs are apparently tractability panion animals. Likewise, we so dangerous that the postal service would have to control for soconsidered stopping delivery to some cialization to get an accurate Detroit neighborhoods (Mott, 2003). idea of the current state of each This situation is not novel; comspecies’ inborn liking of humans. munities around the world deal This would be a laborious study rewith the potentially dangerous quiring many individual animals to have issue of unsocialized feral dogs. any statistical significance. Is there a betAnother example of an untamed ter way to answer our question? domesticated animal is dairy We have come a long way breed bulls. According to Mcsince Galton did his research Curnin’s Clinical Textbook for Veteriin the 19th century: we now nary Technicians (2010, p. 143), have genetics as a powerful even when hand-raised a dairy tool to hunt for genetic markers of domestication. bull is the most dangerous animal A landmark 2014 study by The Genome Institute, veterinary staff will handle. Clearly tame Washington University School of Medicine, used the complete and domestic are not synonymous. Galton (as cited by Overall, 2013, p. 313) states that domesti- domestic cat genome as a reference in mapping raw sequences, both from a pool of six wild cats (both F. s. lybica and F. s. silcation required animals that were hardy, easy to tend, comfortvestris), as well as from a pool of 22 purebred domestic cats loving, useful to people, and able to breed freely, as well as to have an inborn liking of humans. Overall states, “These conditions (Felis silvestris catus). They found 13 genes underlying five chromosomal regions that, based on studies on mice, play important ensured that artificial selection would allow humans to alter roles in neural processes. These regions influence the nervous physique, behaviors, and physiology in ways that helped or were system’s response to fear conditioning, as well as its response to desired by humans...” (2013, p. 313). Since each of these six characteristics is subjective, there is obviously a continuum from wild learning based on reinforcement with food. The researchers to domesticated, and not a sharp point of departure. A difference found that these specific regions of the domestic cat genome differed significantly from the wild cat genome (Montague et al., in the extent of change for each of the six characteristics varies 2014). The results suggest that reduced fear coupled with a drive between domesticated species: domestication focused on physifor food lead to the domestication of the cat. cal differences in certain species, such as food animals, and on Behavior is not the primary genetic marker that researchers more on behavior in others, such as companion animals. hunt for to indicate domestication. Physical genetic markers are Getting back to our original question, I propose that what more straight-forward to map, and these differences abound bemost people are interested in when they discuss the domestica50

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016

tween domesticated and wild breeds of a species. Bear in mind that behavior is more dependent on genetics interacting with the environment than are physical traits such as coat color or head shape. However, coat color, markings, hair length, head shape, and size have genomic regions showing signatures of selection. The fact that dogs have more genetic markers of domestication in general indicates that their breeding has been influenced by humans for a longer time. Evolutionary changes in a species’ behavior are the result of selection, natural or otherwise. Selection depends on an excess of individuals to drive the change: individuals that are not successful are part of the equation of natural selection. How fast this selection is seen is not so much a matter of time, as it is a matter of the number of generations subjected to the selection, and the number of excess offspring to select for and against. With human-influenced selection, the selection pressure can be focused and precise, leading to behavioral changes in short order. House cats reproduce frequently and easily – look at the wide variety of breeds we have created in the last 50 years: the active Ocicat and the very calm Ragdoll, to name two. Pedigreed show cats are bred for looks and tractability – there are many unneutered cats at cat shows and they are very relaxed. The offspring of a show cat that are not relaxed when confronted with novel situations are not shown, and are not as valuable. Will the show cat population of house cat become tamer? Due to their


high reproductive rate, cat behavior could change markedly if breeding goals for cats became more focused on behavior. If so, health and mental well-being should be the primary goals. n Patience Fisher BS DipFBST CVA BSBIO is the owner of Walk, Play, Learn,, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her focus is feline behavior consulting. She fostered cats and assisted with adoptions at two Pittsburgh-area shelters from 2006-2010. She is also a certified veterinary assistant.


CNN. (2013). Detroit grapples with stray dog epidemic. Retrieved October 16, 2015 from /us/michigan-detroit-stray-dogs/index.html McCurnin, D., & Bassert, J. (2010). McCurnin’s Clinical Textbook for Veterinary Technicians (7th edn). St. Louis, MO: Saunders Elsevier Montague, M.J., Li, G., Gandolfi, B., Khan, R., Aken, B.L., Searle, S.M.J., … Warren, W.C. (2010, November). Comparative analysis of the domestic cat genome reveals genetic signatures underlying feline biology and domestication. PNAS, 111 (48), 1723017235. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1410083111


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BARKS from the Guild/January 2016



Solving Common Behavior Issues

Vicki Ronchette highlights some of the common behavior problems found in pet birds and


suggests options for modification

here are a number of behavior issues that are common with pet birds. Actually, a more accurate way to say that would be that there are a number of behaviors birds perform that their owners consider problematic. This is important to point out because many of the behaviors I hear people complain about regarding their birds are actually normal behaviors. Things like vocalizing, being messy or exhibiting some behavior changes during certain seasons is normal for birds. As caretakers of birds we need to be aware that we are not going to be able to, nor should we want to, eliminate normal behavior altogether. Whenever I am looking at a behavior problem in an animal, the first thing I do is scope out the environment and see if there is something obvious that can be adjusted. Next, I do a functional behavior assessment by identifying the specific observable behavior the animal is performing. Labels like aggressive, jealous, dominant or angry are not helpful because they do not describe what the animal is doing. What the animal is doing, i.e. the actual behavior, is what we are aiming to change. The “behavior” is sandwiched between two things, the antecedent (what happens just before the behavior) and the consequence (what happens just after the behavior). In order to modify behavior, we need to change the antecedent and/or the consequence that are fueling the behavior. These are sometimes called the ABCs of behavior. It is worth mentioning that many behavior issues can be eliminated by simply changing the antecedent arrangement or set up so that the behavior simply does not happen. Let’s look at some common issues and how I would begin to modify them.

First Things First

Before we start looking to train or modify a behavior, we need to make sure that the bird’s needs are being met. Does he feel safe? Is he on a good diet? Is he healthy? Does he get adequate attention, exercise and mental stimulation? Does he get plenty of sleep? All those things need to be examined as well.


Vocalizing is normal for birds. Depending on the species the 52

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016

noise level can be fairly quiet to extremely loud. Most of the time when a bird is screaming constantly it is because the behavior has been reinforced by the owner in some way. Reinforcement is the “consequence” in the description above. It is what happens after the behavior to maintain or increase the behavior. Many times people will say that they have tried ignoring the bird but it got worse or that it is simply “not working.” I recommend that in place of wanting the screaming to stop, they concentrate on what they want the bird to do and reinforce that behavior instead. In the case of screaming you might reinforce the bird for talking, making more quiet vocalizations or ringing a bell. This requires the owner to really be observant and aware so that they can catch the moments of appropriate, quiet vocalizations and reinforce those behaviors.You can use food treats, attention or whatever you feel is the most valuable reinforcer to your bird. When the bird is vocalizing appropriately you can go to him and reinforce that behavior while ignoring any screaming. If you can predict when he will vocalize, such as every night at dinner, plan for him to have something to do at that time, such as offering a foraging toy or a nut. Be sure to allow and expect some normal, louder vocalizations if that is what your bird does, such as in the evening or morning time.


Meyer's parrot Nemo is given wood pieces to discourage him from chewing other wood items

Biting, just like any other behavior, serves some purpose for an animal and that is why they do it. This can be a challenging thing for people to wrap their minds around. They love their birds and cannot imagine why they would bite them, but if you observe carefully, you can solve the mystery and see why it happens. First, let’s look at what is happening just before the bite. Frequently, it is that a person has moved their hand towards the bird. If the hand moving towards the bird is what happens just before the bite, then that is the antecedent. I also look at when the bird has bitten. Maybe he will sometimes step up but when inside his cage, on his play stand, or while on his favorite person he bites instead of stepping up. One solution would be to simply change the antecedent and not ask him to step up from those things. In-

stead of putting your hand inside his cage, invite him out and then train him to step up from there. Instead of asking him to step up from his favorite person, have that person place him on a stand where he can be picked up by someone else. Additionally, I would recommend training step up as a behavior and reinforcing every step up from every location with food. This will not only reinforce the behavior of stepping up, but will help to build a cooperative relationship with the bird and owner. I am careful to always watch the body language of a bird. If you ask a bird to step up and he eyes your hand suspiciously, remove your hand. Better to teach him that you will remove your hand when he expresses his concern, rather than having to escalate to a bite if his initial request is ignored. What if the biting happens when you have not even moved toward the bird, such as when you feed him or clean his cage? I have adopted several parrots as adults who would bite if you put your hands in the cage or around the cage. What I recommend for this is teaching the bird to â&#x20AC;&#x153;stationâ&#x20AC;? on a specific perch. I start by finding the birdâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s favorite food and then luring him to the perch and then reinforce him for going there. I try to use a reinforcer that lasts a while like a piece of fruit or a nut in the shell so that it takes him a while to eat it. This can be helpful in teaching the bird to stay on the perch for a duration of time so that you can feed him, for instance. Of course, there are many reasons why a bird may bite. The key is looking into what happens just before the bite and just after, because we can change the things we do in order to change the behavior. I do not advise ignoring bites from a bird and just taking them. While it could be that a reaction is reinforcing, we Having spaces for birds to explore, fly and play helps with exercise which is an essential part of their daily routine


still do not want them practicing the behavior of biting or find ourselves ignoring it.

Destructive Behavior

Birds can be destructive. Even my little budgies can chew through wood like you would not believe. It is important to make sure that birds have plenty of things that they are allowed to chew on. Chewing is something that birds do and we need to understand that it is a natural behavior for them. As such, we cannot eliminate it altogether. However, we can make sure that they are chewing on appropriate things. If your bird loves wood, you can buy or make toys that comprise different types of wood.You can even just offer pieces of wood or cleaned, natural bird safe tree branches. If your bird loves paper you can hang phone books or small books in the cage for him to chew on. Keep in mind that sometimes wood chewing and paper chewing can encourage nesting and/or mating, which you may need to monitor to some extent. If your bird chews on furniture or cabinets, you will need to look at the antecedent arrangement and see how you can modify that. For instance, if your bird can reach a cabinet from the top of his cage, move his cage or put up a barrier so he cannot reach it. If he flies to it, a barrier such as a curtain may help to shield the area where you do not want him to go.

Not Stepping Up

With all behavior issues we should not be looking at what we want to stop, but what we want the animal to do instead. In the case of not stepping up we simply need to teach the bird how to

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016



perform the behavior. If the bird is not comfortable with hands I may start by training him to step up onto a stick. Stick training does not mean that you chase the bird with a stick until he finally steps up, but that you systematically teach him how to step up and reinforce approximations toward that end behavior. In other words, he may initially be reinforced for just looking at the stick, then moving towards the stick, then putting one foot on it, etc. Some birds have never actually been taught how to step up and just because they happened to do it a few times when someone pushed a hand or finger into their chest it does not mean the behavior has been reliably trained. Train stepping up like any behavior and reinforce it mercilessly. I recommend reinforcing all step ups and teaching the bird to step off onto another surface as well. It is important that, whether your bird is stepping onto your hand or onto a stick, you keep it stable and do not move it once he steps on. Allow him to step on and wait for him to step back off if he chooses. This is critical because if you quickly move him away from safety after he steps up, he may not be willing to do it again. Joey, the white capped Pionus, would bite when you reached in to feed him. He was taught to station so he could not bite at hands coming into his cage

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Peeling the Onion

Sometimes working through a behavior problem is like peeling an onion, where there are layers to work through as you begin to get to the root of what is going on. Animals do things for outcomes, to get what they want or need, so in order to change behavior you need to figure out what is driving it, why it continues to happen and change what you can control which is the antecedent and the consequence. n Vicki Ronchette CPDT CAP2 is the owner of Braveheart Dog Training,, and the author of Positive Training for Show Dogs – Building a Relationship for Success. She is a raptor handler with Native Bird Connections and lives in Northern California.


BARKS from the Guild/January 2016

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The Freedom of Choice


Lara Joseph looks into some of the abnormal repetitive behaviors exhibited by animals in


managed care and how to address them

ost of the training and behavior consultations I give involve exotic or wild animals. In both of these fields I have observed repetitive or rhythmic behaviors that obviously serve a purpose for these animals, but I started to wonder about the reasons behind them. I started digging a little deeper and thus began doing research on abnormal repetitive behaviors (ARBs). ARBs have also been labeled as stereotypic behaviors. I prefer to use the label abnormal repetitive behaviors because it more clearly describes the behavior. Both have been defined as functionless behaviors that serve no purpose. Both can quickly be associated with brain dysfunctions due to captivity by those not experienced in working with or identifying ARBs (Mason et al., 2007). Much research has been done on this; I see ARBs exhibited quite a bit by wild animals in captivity, and by companion parrots. ARBs are behaviors you do not generally see in animals living in the wild. A few examples of such ARBs are pacing, rocking, repetitive swimming patterns, nail biting, flipping, head swinging and rhythmic screaming. Over the years, I have done a lot of digging through research papers published by Elsevier, the academic publishing company for medical and scientific literature. Through this digging and experimentation, I have found that one common denominator for these behaviors is an unenriched environment that constricts the animalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s choice and limits his control. Other factors could be isolation, flooding (the inability to escape feared objects or environments), consistent stress, discomfort, the inability to replace natural behaviors, as well as restriction of choice. Some of these environmental factors are uncontrollable; for example, wild aniProviding natural mals coming into enrichment alone is not enough to rehabilitation redirect abnormal centers until rerepetitive behaviors leased or animals coming into veterinary hospitals until they go home. Stressful factors can be minimized though through training and selective caging. This is not easy and in most cases will not eliminate stress entirely. From what I have seen,

the longer the animalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s choices are restricted through captivity, the more likely it is that these behaviors will develop. Fear and frustra- Over-grooming and damaging tion due feather behaviors can be to the abnormal repetitive inability behaviors to hide, as well as the consistent lack of choices, can lead to ARBs. A few simple implementations can be made as we give more thought to getting creative with caging and enclosure design. In the cases I deal with, one step I introduce immediately is to give the animal a place to hide. This gives them a choice. I do this by providing a sheet or board to hide behind, not just a sheet draped over a crate. A sheet draped over a crate does protect the animal from direct visual contact, but it does not give him a place to retreat further if he desires that choice. In my opinion, a place to hide is not enough, but it is a start and one that can be taken immediately. The sounds and smells of the environment can be other additional stress factors. Another quick step could be creating multiple units or additional rooms in enclosures. Additional rooms with different substrates or enrichment can help an animal feel that he has more choices, giving him a better feel of control over his environment (Badihi, 2006). The opportunity to move to one room from another, giving the animal a choice in possible temperature differences, can also make quite an impact. This is a very simple step but it is a very simple example. When the choices are simple there is a greater need to create complexity in the enrichment. When it comes to changing ARBs there is not necessarily one specific approach to take. The approach is based on the individual animal, not the breed or species. We must always approach, plan, and implement at the animalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s pace without putting the animal BARKS from the Guild/January 2016



over threshold. Studies show that many ARBs are directly correlated with welfare: mental, physical, and medical (Snowdon & Savage, 1989: Novak & Drewsen, 1989; Faucheux et al., 1978; Turnquist, 1983, 1985; Carlstead & Shepherdson, 1994; Benefiel & Greenough, 1998). After medical is addressed I begin implementing enrichment and training with the intention of training being an integral part of the enrichment plan. Foraging is the act of searching for food so I get the animal to start doing this. It is a process that needs to be shaped, and often the caretaker has to design the enrichment and adjust to the individual animal. Once the Training chickens to redirect abnormal repetitive behaviors animal begins foraging for his food, I then see if he will also work to seek favored forms of enrichment items as well. I also begin pairing myself with the animal’s positive reinforcers, again at the animal’s pace. With ARBs, as with any other behaviors, one needs to think outside the box to obtain positive reinforcers. In working with ARBs, the opportunity to have choice and to explore can be at the top of the list of positive reinforcers. We can empower the animal through choice, control, and the complexities in the enrichment. However, making the environment too complex too fast risks actually reinforcing ARBs. Small levels of frustration can be involved in engaging with the foraging or enrichment toy; we must have the intent of keeping the levels of frustration low and the levels of solving the foraging or enrichment device high. Those small levels of frustration paired with completing the task can be highly valued reinforcers for redirecting ARBs (Meehan, Millam, & Mench, 2003). From my experience during years of working with ARBs and self-injurious behaviors, I have learned that providing natural enrichment is not nearly enough, even for animals not exhibiting ARBs. After all, we are competing with the animal’s freedom in his natural environment. That is a pretty high bar to reach. We may not be able to reach it, but we can make a difference and a significant improvement in the quality of life by changing these ARBs through individualized enrichment, training and exercise. I often address the level of the animal’s choice and control, and the complexities in his environment. All three need to be taken into consideration. A large enclosure is not nearly enough to change these behaviors. A large enclosure may even be overwhelming to the animal, and actually reinforce the ARBs. Likewise, predictability can help in keeping calm behaviors, but over time predictable items can become very boring. Change should be created in the enclosure and the environment at the animal’s pace. ARBs are not only a sign of impoverished welfare but also 56

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016

have direct links to morbidity and mortality (Mason et al., 2007). Mason et al. (2007) also show that performing ARBs is not as concerning as are animals who display very little movement or interaction with their environment. Wild, captive-born animals show higher rates of abnormal repetitive behaviors than animals that are wild-caught that reside in captivity, who instead tend to shut down and become withdrawn. ARBs can be subtle and used as a way of dealing with temporary stress. Not all are a sign of impoverished welfare. We have seen ARBs in the animals that reside at my Animal Behavior Center. For example, we have a bird that we give a toy comprised of beads knotted on a rope. It acts as a pacifier and that is exactly what we call it. It is one of the toys we make sure is in his cage at all times. He interacts with this toy to the point one could label it as obsessive. If he does not have it in his enclosure, his other ARBs are bound to increase at a moderate to high rate. I myself have an ARB that I do when I am waiting for someone. I dislike waiting for people, especially when they are late. If I have a pen in my hand, I will click it at high rates. If I do not have a pen, I usually pop a piece of gum in my mouth and you can imagine how intense that can get. These are ways for me to deal with temporary stress, and, unlike captive animals, I have the choice to leave. From my experience, I believe that the level of complexity in modifying or redirecting ARBs is comparable to the level of intensity and focus required when working with separation related disorders. Neither is simple to change, and both are usually labor intensive and take time. Also in commonality is that the longer the history of reinforcement, the more likely you will have to use a maintenance plan due to the improbability that you will be able to extinguish such well-established behaviors altogether. I have one animal that resides in my care that has been my best educator in regards to ARBs. His particular ARBs tend to resurge if other relevant redirectors of behaviors are not in place. The key in the maintenance plan is to pay close attention and be able to identify changing, distant antecedents. n Lara Joseph is the owner of The Animal Behavior Center LLC,, in Ohio. She is also the Director of Avian Training for a wildlife rehabilitation center where she focuses on removing stress from animal environments. She is a professional member of The Animal Behavior Management Alliance, The International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators, and sits on the Advisory Board for All Species Consulting and The Indonesian Parrot Project.

BEHAVIOR References

Badihi, I. (2006). The effects of complexity, choice and control on the behavior and the welfare of captive common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus). Stirling Online Research Repository. Retrieved November 23, 2013 from Benefiel, A.C., & Greenough, W.T. (1998). Effects of experience and environment on the developing and mature brain: Implications for laboratory animal housing. ILAR Journal 39. Retrieved November 24, 2015 from /content/39/1/5.extract?related-urls=yes&legid=ilarjournal;39/1/5 Carlstead K., & Shepherdson D. (1994). Effects of environmental enrichment on reproduction. Zoo Biology, 13, 447-458 Faucheux, B., Bertrand, M., & Bourliere, F. (1978). Some effects of living conditions upon the pattern of growth in the stumptail macaque (Macaca arctoides). Folia Primatologica, 30, 220-236 Mason, G., Clubb, R., Latham, N., & Vickery, S. (2007). Why and how we should use environmental enrichment to tackle stereotypic behavior. Applied Animal Behavior Science, 102, 163188. doi: 10.1016/j.applanim.2006.05.041 Meehan, C.L., Millam, J.R., & Mench, J.A. (2003). Foraging opportunity and increased physical complexity both prevent and reduce psychogenic feather picking by young Amazon parrots. Applied Animal Behavior Science, 80, 71-85. doi:10.1016/S01681591(02)00192-2 Novak, M.A., & Drewsen, K.H. (1989). Enriching the lives of captive primates: Issues and problems. In: Segal, E.F. (Ed.) Housing, care and psychological well-being of captive and laboratory primates, pp. 161-182. New Jersey: Noyes Publication Snowdon, C.T., & Savage, A. (1989). Psychological well-being of captive primates: General considerations and examples from callitrichids. In: Segal, E.F. (Ed.) Housing, Care and Psychological Well-being of Captive and Laboratory Primates, pp. 75-88. New Jersey: Noyes Publication Turnquist, J.E. (1983). Influence of age, sex, and caging on joint mobility in the patas monkey (Erythrocebus patas). American Journal of Physical Anthroplogy, 61, 211-220 Turnquist, J.E. (1985). Passive joint mobility in patas monkeys (Erythrocebus patas): Rehabilitation of cages animals after release into a free-ranging environment. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 67, 1-5

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BARKS from the Guild/January 2016




Dogs Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t Write Checks

Mary Jean Alsina gives some tips on how trainers and behavior consultants can better connect with their clients

think it would be fair to say that most trainers get into dog choose a new alarm sound until that one develops the same negtraining because they adore dogs and want to spend as much ative conditioned emotional response that the original one protime as possible with them. However, unless dogs acquire duced. credit cards, bank accounts and opposable thumbs, trainers must Bearing this in mind, I tell clients that one day (in my dreams), learn to work in tandem with humans. Forming relationships and my alarm clock rings and the bedroom door bursts open with connections with humans and being able to communicate what my husband lovingly presenting me with a wonderful buffet to do with the dog is an area in which trainers need to excel in breakfast and $1,000 to spend however I wish. This continues to order to be successful in the dog training arena. happen daily for a while and, over a period of time, I start to noAs trainers, we can possess all the knowledge from every tice that I am actually looking forward to that alarm clock going book, class and seminar, but we still need to be able to communi- off as I am now anticipating all sorts of different fun things. What cate this to the client. Being able to communicate that knowlwill the breakfast be today? Something new and delicious? Where edge to owners is a skill that should continue to be finessed.Very will I spend the $1,000? Will I spend it all in one place? My feelsimply, owners need information put into a user-friendly form. If I ings and emotions about that terrible sound are now changing to have a headache, I would not appreciate a doctor informing me I excitement, anticipation, and fun. This is exactly what is going on have encephalalgia. If a client is working with their dog on desen- with clientsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; dogs and now they can start to grasp what I am sitization and counterconditioning and is not delivering the treats doing and why.Years of teaching experience have taught me that quickly enough, I am not going to state that the law of temporal the more people can relate what they are learning to their own contiguity is in place and they are not achieving success because lives, the more they will understand and the more they will sucof that. Dazzling clients with long words and terms would do cessfully apply that information, leading to better results. nothing but make them feel more lost than when I first arrived. Time after time, I am told by clients that in past training exRather, I would explain in layman's terms that a treat used in this periences they have been made to feel stupid and actually chided type of behavior training needs to be immediate or it will not for doing things incorrectly or not achieving success fast enough. work. Most people have heard of Pavlov's experiment and can The absolute keys to training people and dogs are patience and relate to it, so summarizing that for client can also assist them in understanding of learning styles. When I am learning a new skill, understanding the process. This is one of the reasons why Apple for example, being rushed and made to feel inadehas been so successful in business: because of the ease and lack quate certainly will not encourage me to conof complexity in setting up products once the buyer returns tinue, but actually become the impetus to home to use them. frustration and possibly quitting. DeterminI find analogies serve clients very well. The more that they ing the pace to take is crucial. This not can relate training a dog to something in their own life, the more only depends on the dog, but also easily they will comprehend what I am trying to communicate. on the client. One area in which I like to do this is when helping clients to unSome owners (like their derstand desensitization and counterconditioning, and how dogs) are quick learners while the meaning of something scary needs to change for some learn at a much slower rate. Knowing when to adjust the dog before the negative behavior will criteria with a dog is a skill change. Here is an example: I hate my alarm that should be applied to clock as I am not a morning person. humans as well. In teachWhen it rings in the morning, I am ing a behavior, I always often overcome with a feeling of teach the dog first, of dread. If I happen to set that same course, as proper modelalarm clock during the day ing is the key to good for some reason to time Patience and teaching. For visual something, that same understanding of learning learners, this helps feeling comes over styles are key them to absorb the me when I hear it. in training people and process and at the This has not dogs same time, I talk changed, although them through it and sometimes I will 58

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016

Š Can Stock Photo/Colecanstock


Being able to communicate is an area in which trainers need to excel in order to be successful

© Can Stock Photo/ksuksa

explain what I am doing in order to cater to the auditory learners, as well. After modeling, when the dog has a grasp on what to do, the owner should then take the reins so that the information can be transferred and the trainer can assist the owner in working on his or her technique. This is a crucial time for the transference. Patience is so essential at this point, as some owners will “get it” right away and some will struggle, although trying their best. Trainers need to be extremely flexible and possibly stray from a training plan or change things up. Learning is never exact, nor is it a carbon-copy of what is practiced when learning to train. The human learner may need a break from being in the driver's seat and may feel better and become more confident observing for a little longer. As trainers, we must be sensitive to our human clients' feelings as well as the dogs'. When a dog becomes frustrated during training, we give the dog a break, use higher value motivation, or help the dog to win more, as he may not be getting reinforced frequently enough. The same goes for our human students. If we sense frustration, we must take a step back and allow them to taste success. For example, if they are struggling with the order of cue, prompt, behavior, click, reward, we can perhaps hold the clicker for them and take over that part so they have one less piece on which to concentrate. Sometimes this is all it may take to help that owner over whatever hurdle they had been facing. I also have clients practice the hand signal alone out of context and then say the cue, do the hand signal, etc. with the dog not participating. Making dog training doable and realistic for clients is also important. Just as with students in school, if people are overwhelmed with homework, they will be hesitant to do it

thoroughly, or even begin it at all. Showing clients how to make training a part of the dog's daily life can really assist them in time management. Is practicing with a dog in multiple short sessions every day ideal? Absolutely. Tell the single mother of three children who works full time and goes to school that she must do this and, in most cases, she will give up because of the inability to meet the trainer's requirements. Knowing, understanding, and empathizing with clients' situations is so crucial to helping them find success in their way, and not in a generic “everyone can do it this way” manner. Say, for example, a dog is learning “stay” and the busy mom can do a very small number of short practice sessions a week. This client needs to have a plan for success just like an owner who may not have a job and has ample time to spend working with the dog. I explain to the owner that the “stay” should be practiced before the dog receives any single item or activity that he likes or enjoys: no games, toys, treats, Kongs or walks, for free. I ask the owner to do short behavior chains when the dog is about to receive something reinforcing. For instance, having the dog do a sit, down, and stay while the owner walks to get the leash. If the dog breaks the stay, start over. Usually, within a few times, if done correctly, most dogs will catch on and realize having the leash put on for a walk is contingent upon their staying in a down stay. I explain to the owner that, before playing tug, she should have the dog sit and then lie down. Next, she should hold the toy with an outstretched arm and say, “leave it.” Once the dog makes eye contact with the owner and removes his attention from the toy, the game begins. Adding training to everyday activities such as these takes only minutes, but accomplishes much. Working successfully with clients involves putting ourselves in their shoes and being as understanding and empathetic as we can in every situation. Owners look to trainers for answers; they should not to be chastised for doing what we, as trainers, know was not in the best interest of their dog. The more compassion and benevolence we can demonstrate in our dealings with clients, the more successful we will help them to be, thus leading to more achievement and contentment for the dog and all he encounters. n Mary Jean Alsina MA PCT-A CPDT-KA owns and operates The Canine Cure, LLC,, in Northern New Jersey. She has a master’s +30 in education and is a certified pet dog trainer. She studied at The Academy for Dog Trainers and is a regular dog training columnist for She is also a member of Doggone Safe and is a certified CGC evaluator for the AKC. BARKS from the Guild/January 2016



Progressive Zoos and the Avoidance of Punishment

Linda Michaels wonders why aversive methods are still widely used in dog training when very


large and even potentially dangerous animals can be trained using positive reinforcement

uestion: feel guilty. What are I discussed this in some of the more detail with a benefits of using positrainer at a local zoo and tive reinforcement? safari park in California Answer: The benefits when I attended a backof using positive reinstage tour, which proforcement training vides closer access to with our companion the animals and trainers: animals are pretty Linda Michaels: Bemuch the opposite of cause this zoo and safari the drawbacks of park is more progressive using aversive punishand uses only management. ment and positive reinToday, many proforcement for its very gressive zoos and large and even potenwild animal parks use tially dangerous animals, management and poswhy do you think that itive reinforcement people are still using only, even with large © Can Stock Photo/fouroaks shock collars and soand potentially danIf even large and potentially dangerous animals can be trained using positive called dominance trainreinforcement, there is no justification whatsoever to still use gerous animals. outdated, aversive methods on dogs ing with pet dogs? Considering this, surely we can train our pet dogs without the use of aversive Animal Trainer: That I couldn’t tell you. [Positive reinforcepunishment, whatever the task. There is no excuse. There is no ment] allows us to build a really good relationship with our anirationale. There is no reason that justifies punishing our beloved mals. All of our relationships are trust-based. So we’re not dogs, any more than we would intentionally inflict harm on capintroducing anger or fear into a situation, which is where you can tive zoo animals, or a child. get a lot of aggression from. And at the end of the day, that is a One of my personal favorite benefits derived from engaging jaguar, she’s not going to do anything she doesn’t want to do. So in strictly positive reinforcement interactions is that they comif I’ve done my job and created a good relationship with her, and monly trigger both a hormonal and neurotransmitter release of developed a really good rapport… ‘feelgood’ oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin and endorphin cascades of ‘happy chemicals’ for both the dog and the handler. How won- LM: I train wolfdogs, too, strictly with positive reinforcement. derful is that! Of primary importance and not to be discounted is the value AT: Yes, the thing that I particularly appreciate about positive reof an enhanced relationship the pet parent nurtures with their inforcement is that when you bring punishment into a situation dog – which is after all, what most pet parents are seeking. Using you are also bringing in fear and anger. And when you have those positive reinforcement, instead of instilling fear and potentiating two emotions in a situation, it’s already going to be negatively aggression, we nurture and develop social skills and confidence. charged. And that is what can lead to an aggressive situation. Happy dog, happy pet parent. In addition, positive reinforcement is safer, and generally more LM: It can cause aggression. effective and more reliable, significantly so when taught with good technique. Positive reinforcement training is also easier for AT: Yes. With positive reinforcement, it allows us to remove those from the situation and work from a place of trust with the pet parents to learn. It never requires the pet parent to hurt animal. their dog psychologically or physically — so there is no cause to 60

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016


Positive reinforcement allows trainers to remove fear and anger from a situation and work from a place of trust

LM: That’s so great that this zoo and safari park is using all positive reinforcement and management.

AT: Yes, positive reinforcement is really the most successful way to address behavior. What it boils down to in training is you reward what you want and ignore what you don’t want. In training, again, it’s true for absolutely everything. Whether it is an elephant right here that has a lot more potential of causing physical harm than a wallaby, the principles are still there. n

© Can Stock Photo/JFJacobsz

This article cites dialogue from the Pet Professional Guild World Service Radio Show podcast, June 7, 2015.

Linda Michaels MA (Hons) PCT-A specializes in the psychological aspects of dog behavior, socialization, treatments and training and owns and operates Del Mar Dog Training, Linda is also a Victoria Stilwelllicensed behavior consultant, a licensed fear/aggression/reactivity consultant, a certified veterinary assistant, a behavior advisor for the Wolf Education Project,, an advisory board member of Art for Barks,, and founded the Positive Pet Professionals network in San Diego, California,


Pet Professional Guild has partnered with BarkBox to provide all members with a 20% discount.

Michaels, L. (2015, June 15). Puppy Come — Or I’ll Shock You? Retrieved October 26, 2015 from www.dogpsychologistoncall .com/puppy-comeor-ill-shock-you PPG World Services (Producer). (2015, June 7). Bringing You the Best of Our Industry [Audio podcast]. Retrieved October 26, 2015 from

* Order a monthly box of dog goodies for your canine friend! * Special rates available for gifts for dog friends * A portion of proceeds from each box will go to help dogs in need The promocode can be found in the Member Area of the PPG website: /benefitinformation BARKS from the Guild/January 2016




A Process of Self-Reinforcement

In the ongoing series of PPG member profiles, this month BARKS

features Angelica Steinker of Courteous Canine, Inc. DogSmith of Tampa in Florida

ngelica Steinker has specialized in dog training methods that create results ‘the fun way’ for over 15 years. Using empowerment training and clicker training techniques, she and her team of trainers have successfully trained thousands of puppies and adult dogs in basic manners/obedience, trick training, problem behavior modification, agility, dock jumping and other skills, all while increasing the bond of trust between dogs and their human companions. Q:Tell us a little bit about your own pets:

A: I have two border collies and two papillons who are all fantastic teachers and have taught me many important things. Q: Why did you become a dog trainer or pet care provider? A: It was and is my passion to learn about dogs, behavior and people.

Q: Are you a crossover trainer or have you always been a force-free trainer?

Q: What reward do you get out of a day's training?

A: The process is selfreinforcing to me because I am always learning something. I change one variable and see how it affects my ability to coach well.

Q: What drives you to be a force-free professional and why is it important to you?

A: It is my life’s purpose to help people and dogs improve their communication.

Steinker’s five-year-old border collie, Power

A: Crossover because there was no internet when I started. Once I learned about clicker training and science-based training I never looked back.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A: Aggression and dog sports.

Q: Who has most influenced your career and how? A: Kay Laurence - micro shaping and guided shaping and reset cookie; Silvia Trkman - differential outcome effect and always being happy and seeing the positive; Niki Tudge - business coaching that gets results.

Q:What do you consider to be your area of expertise?

Q: How has the PPG helped you to become a more complete trainer?

A: It has created a professional environment that sets high standards. Q: What are some of your favorite positive reinforcement techniques for the most commonly encountered client-dog problems?

A: Antecedent control, multiple contingencies, matching law, and building reinforcement history with both dogs and human clients.

Q: What awards or competition placements have you and your dog(s) achieved using force-free methods?

A: I have had two books published and have been published in peer review journals. I find competition enjoyable but problematic. I prefer to compete against myself. I do agility, rally-o, disc dog, trick training, dock jumping, fun scent games and lure coursing. 62

BARKS from the Guild/January 2016

A: The dogs and the outliers.

Q: What is the funniest or craziest situation you have been in with a pet and their owner?

A: Recently a client sent me a video of her extremely active dog after doing my agility group class. The dog was so zonked out she would not move. I cannot do it justice here, because it is only funny if you know how extremely active this dog is.

Q: What advice would you give to a new trainer starting out? A: Read, enroll in a trade school and never think you know it all. n

Courteous Canine Inc. DogSmith of Tampa is located in Tampa, Florida To be featured in the BARKS Profile section, complete this form:

BARKS from the Guild January 2016  

The bi-monthly trade publication from the Pet Professional Guild covering all things animal behavior and training, canine, feline, equine, p...

BARKS from the Guild January 2016  

The bi-monthly trade publication from the Pet Professional Guild covering all things animal behavior and training, canine, feline, equine, p...