BARKS from the Guild May 2016

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© Can Stock Photo Inc./thesupe87

BARKS from the Guild

Issue No. 18 / May 2016

CANINE Littermate Syndrome

TRAINING Reactive Dogs: The Ethics

THERAPY DOGS Inspiring Children to Learn BEHAVIOR Exotics, Dolphins and Pocket Pets FELINE Common Behavior Issues EQUINE Through a Horse’s Eyes

CONSULTING Walking the Force-Free Path

Home Alone: The Painful Puzzle of Separation Anxiety 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 Mary Jean Alsina, Kelly Fahey, Rebekah King, Debra Millikan, Susan Nilson, Louise Stapleton-Frappell, 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 question is, why would the horse not go through one particular puddle when he had no issue with any other puddles? You can find the answer in our much missed Equine section which, I am happy to report, makes a return this issue with not one, but two features. One makes a compelling case for freewill training and explains the benefits thereof; the other helps us visualize, with the aid of technology, the world the way a horse sees it, giving us another tool when treating a behavior issue. But back to our Cover Story, which delves deeply into the issue of separation anxiety and highlights both the possible causes and the options for treatment, and features two case studies where consistency, commitment and patience proved absolutely key. Canine separation anxiety is a common enough issue seen by behavior consultants, but may not always well understood by dog owners, who think perhaps that their dog is “misbehaving” on purpose or being “stubborn.” For the dog though, the fear of being left alone is very real. Separation anxiety in dogs has been described as the equivalent of a panic attack in humans and may present in a variety of manifestations. It requires a clinical diagnosis. It is also, with time and patience, often responsive to behavior modification therapy. From there we move into our Canine section which features the hot topic of raising littermates (or not), therapy dogs in schools, the ethical side of training reactive dogs, and preparing a rescue dog for a new life as a service dog. We also look at the benefits of conformation training and why this can be helpful for both dogs and their owners, whether they plan to show their dogs or not. In an exciting (slight) departure this month, we take a more in-depth look at training and behavior in a variety of other species, including exotics, ranging from macaques to alpacas to alligators - and many more in between. We also feature the fascinating world of so-called pocket pets, who are often deemed to be “untrainable.” However, once you take into consideration the fact that small prey animals are not as inclined to explore or be open to new things (essentially in case they end up as someone else’s lunch), it is quite remarkable what they can learn once a reinforcement history has been established. On the topic of other species, have you ever considered that dolphin and feline behavior might have something in common? We explore this as we delve into the enchanting underwater world of a dolphin pod, with its rich social life, sophisticated communication and vast repertoire of behavior amongst individual members. Our Feline section this month has expanded somewhat and we look at typical cat behavior questions as well as examine that oft-reported behavior issue, inappropriate elimination. We also feature an interview with an all-species animal chiropractor who explains why the treatment he offers can be a valuable addition to a behavior change program. We round the issue out with a selection of entertaining, educational features on all aspects of business, sales and consulting. Enjoy the read! Feedback is welcome, as always.

n Susan Nilso

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BARKS from the Guild/May 2016

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Photo: Deleine Perrie



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NEWS #PPGSummit 2016, PPGBI, PPG Singapore, feline and advocacy committee updates, member webinars EDUCATION Upcoming PPG workshops HOME ALONE:THE PAINFUL PUZZLE Terrie Hayward examines separation related disorders, possible causes and options for behavior modification THE UNBREAKABLE BOND? Amy Szabo details her personal experiences with littermate syndrome THERAPY DOGS HELPING STUDENTS Gail Radtke explains how therapy dogs are inspiring youngsters to learn THE RIGHT CHOICE Kama Brown explains the importance of ethical training PARTNERS FOR LIFE L.A. Bykowsky and Chere McCoy present the final part of Stella the Chihuahua mix’s journey from shelter to service dog POSITIVE TRAINING FOR SHOW DOGS Vicki Ronchette discusses why she wishes more dog trainers featured conformation as part of their training repertoire TARGET TRAINING IN A ZOO ENVIRONMENT Lara Joseph shares her experiences training exotics and the power of targeting MAKING ROOM FOR THE LITTLE GUYS Emily Cassell explains why training pocket pets can be such a challenge but says they are definitely “trainable” DOLPHINS BEHAVING LIKE CATS? Delecia Maynard opens a window into the world of a dolphin pod and sees similarities to feline behavior CATS BEING CATS Jane Ehrlich addresses common questions about feline behavior, including grieving and body language CATS AND CHIROPRACTIC THERAPY Patience Fisher speaks to Dr. Michael Savko, who explains how chiropractic therapy can act as a tool for behavior consultants UNDERSTANDING ELIMINATION BEHAVIORS Carolyn Kocman examines the commonly reported problem of inappropriate elimination in cats AN ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVE Sara Richter explains how modern technology can offer a new insight into equine behavior FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION Kathie Gregory makes the case for allowing animals freedom of expression via “freewill” training WALKING THE FORCE-FREE PATH Daniel Antolec explains why he has chosen to commit to a force-free philosophy in his dealings with animals CONSIDERING THE HUMAN CLIENTÊS EMOTIONS Angelica Steinker examines how the people in a dog’s life should be addressed to effectively resolve a behavior problem MARKETING FOR SERVICE PRACTITIONERS Niki Tudge discusses planning and strategizing to optimize business growth and success SELLING IN THE 21ST CENTURY John Visconti wonders whether the internet has made the need for direct selling a thing of the past PROFILE: LIGHTBULB MOMENTS Featuring Astrid Tryon of House of Dog Training in Colorado Springs, Colorado

© Can Stock Photo Inc./Digifuture


NEWS PPG Launches Exciting New Advocacy Project


PG has launched Project Trade,, an international advocacy program that encourages pet owners to trade aversive equipment for scientifically sound, force-free training services. PPG members may opt in to the program and, in doing so, will provide incentives for their clients to switch to more appropriate training tools by giving them professional educational support at discounts of 10-15 percent.You can opt in to Project Trade by filling out this online form: A wide variety of equipment and tools are commonly used when training pets and the pet-owning public needs to be aware of the potential problems and dangers some of it may pose. Devices such as choke, prong, anti-bark and shock collars, electronic fences, and scat mats are designed to reduce a dog’s behavior through pain or fear, which cannot promote learning. In addition, there is the risk of injury to the animal and, specifically, the use of collars and leashes that are intended to apply constriction, pressure, pain or force around a dog’s neck should be avoided. Respected veterinarian and thyroid expert, Dr. Jean Dodds says choke or prong collars “can easily injure the delicate butterfly-shaped thyroid gland that sits just below the larynx and in front of the trachea [and] can also injure the salivary glands and salivary lymph nodes on the side of the face underneath both ears,” while bestselling author and leading canine behavior expert, Jean Donaldson states: "These devices… when they work, do so to the degree that they hurt. With the advent of modern methods and tools they are irrelevant.” PPG members who par6

BARKS from the Guild/May 2016

ticipate in Project Trade will be able to display a unique badge on their business website and have access to personalized marketing collateral at cost. They will also be listed in an online directory that will be marketed to the pet owning public. Further promotion will occur with regular updates, photographs, reports, and success stories featured across PPG’s platform of publications. In addition, each month the member who has collected the most equipment will be recognized with a certificate and featured on PPG’s website. Finally, every October, PPG’s advocacy committee will determine which participant has submitted the most equipment and the winner will receive an all-expenses paid trip to PPG’s educational Summit, taking place this year in Tampa, Florida on November 7-11, plus a plaque and a $5,000 prize. "Personally I am delighted to see PPG develop this program as I know of several trainers who have posted photographs of the aversive equipment they previously collected, and I have gathered a few shock devices of my own too. Adding to my collection is a source of pride… and it may well save a dog's life. Let's see how many aversive devices we can collect in 2016!” says PPG advocacy committee chairman, Daniel Antolec. Adds PPG president, Niki Tudge: “We believe that the general pet-owning public deserves affordable access to transparent, competent and accountable pet behavior and care professionals. Pets deserve to be cared for, managed and trained in a nurturing and stable environment. We want all pets and their guardians to experience the huge advantages and long-lasting effectiveness of force-free training and pet care. Project Trade is the ideal vehicle to help achieve this.”

Book Early for PPG Summit 2016


pace is filling up for PPG’s second educational Summit, taking place at the Sheraton Tampa East hotel on November 7-11, 2016. The Sheraton is offering a special discounted rate of $126 for Summit attendees but once the rooms are full at that rate, it will increase quite substantially so we recommend booking early. You can reserve directly at /start.action?id=1512180838&key=30186160. In terms of payment, PPG is offering a choice of three packages, which include various combinations of accommodation, meals and entertainment, enabling attendees to personalize their itinerary and overall summit experience. Monthly payment options are available to both members and non-members. For more information of pricing and packages, see /Packagesand-pricing. Meanwhile, the Summit presenter schedule, www, has been finalized. An incredible line-up of presenters have confirmed their attendance and the event is sure to be as educational - and fun - as last year’s Summit, if not more so. See pages 10-11 and the back page for more details.


Calling Pet Care Professionals



PG is looking to offer an improved service for members who are pet care professionals. PPG currently has several active committees working on projects across the board and PPG president Niki Tudge, following discussions with a number of members who are pet care professionals, is now looking to supplement that with a committee that focuses primarily on pet care services and the membership needs of those professionals. The committee will comprise a maximum of seven persons. If you are a pet care professional and would like to join this initiative, then please ensure you meet the eligibility requirement below. If you do then please fill out this volunteer application form, Eligibility - Participate in a 1-hour conference call each month. - Respond to several emails each week from the committee chair and team members. - Dedicate 3 hours per month to working on a PPG project. - Commit to keeping PPG committee communication private and confidential until the project is approved by the steering committee and communicated to members strategically. - Have full internet access so you can use GoToMeeting or GoTo Webinar to attend meetings.

has added a new member discussion board to its website. If you have something you want to share or need help with something like finding a new employee for your business, check out

Special Deal Available for PPG Summit SWAG Bags!


ould you like to promote your business in the official PPG Summit SWAG Bag? Provide a flyer or leaflet and get your message to every attendee for just $300 (actual value $700)! Benefits include: • Your business logo in the Official Summit Guide. • Your logo on the Summit website. • Your logo on the Summit “Sponsor Thank You” poster. See -Opportunities for more details.

New Feline Webinars


PG’s Cat Committee, -resources, has announced a revised webinar schedule for the remainder of the year (see page 9 for further details).

PPAB Welcomes New Graduate


he Pet Professional Accreditation Board (PPAB),, is delighted to welcome new graduate Joanna Laurens, who has earned the title of professional canine behavior consultant - accredited (PCBC-A). Congratulations! BARKS from the Guild/May 2016



PPG British Isles Launches Event Video, Mini Summit Guide


PG British Isles’s (PPGBI) first-ever educational Mini Summit weekend is taking place in Leeds, England on Saturday, September 10 - Sunday, September 11, 2016. With an impressive lineup of speakers, the event is sure to be the perfect opportunity to learn new things, get new ideas, and meet PPG and PPGBI members and steering committee members. Registration is open to both members and non-members at the incredible prices of just £10 ($14) and £20 respectively. A package price is also available that includes a group lunch and refreshments.The total price for the full two days is just £55 for members and £65 for non-members. The Official Mini Summit Guide, www./ /petprofessionalguild/docs/ppgbi_mini_summit_guide_2016 is now available (see picture, left) and, to register, see: can also join the event on Facebook,

PPG Summit 2015 Videos Available


PG has announced the release of its newest educational DVDs. A selection of the presentations from PPG’s 2015 Summit are now available at just $49! Options include presentations made by Pat Miller, Diane Garrod, Emily Larlham, Ken McCort, Janis Bradley, Angelica Steinker, and Linda Michaels. To order, or watch video previews, go to:

PPG Singapore Educates Pet Owners on Force-Free Training


t the end of March, PPG Singapore steering committee member Poh Wee Boon delivered a presentation at Pet Expo, the island nation’s biggest dog show, titled Dive into the World of Force-Free Training. The main objective of the talk was to highlight the importance of force-free training, to educate attendees about the science behind animal learning, and explain the four quadrants of behavior to enable them to better understand the training process. “We presented the evidence and pitfalls of using compulsion based training and spoke objectively about how one can do it in a rewarding manner,” said Boon, who also included video evidence of how wild animals can be trained using force-free methods. The presentation ended with a shaping game to demonstrate how saying ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’ can help an animal learn faster and with minimal stress. “Attendees walked away with a better picture of how dogs learn, a greater knowledge of different training techniques, and examples of how training can be conducted rewardingly,” said Boon.


BARKS from the Guild/May 2016

PPG Singapore steering committee member Poh Wee Boon educates the local community about force-free training

Boon demonstrates the shaping game with the help of an audience member


he PPG Radio Show,, takes place on the first Sunday of every month at 12 p.m. (EDT). 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, May 1, 2016 - Noon (EDT) Jill Liliedahl: Founder and CEO of SitStay Daniel Antolec: Chairman of the PPG Advocacy Committee Register at: Sunday, June 5, 2016 - Noon (EDT) Malena DeMartini-Price: Separation Anxiety Lisa and Brad Waggoner: Prison dog program RESCUED Register at: Sunday, July 3, 2016 - Noon (EDT) Judy Luther: Bond Based Training Register at:


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

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 TrickMeister - Your Force-Free FUN Dog Training Program with Louise Stapleton-Frappell Tuesday, Mar 1, 2016 - 1 p.m. (EST) Friday, July 1, 2016 - 2:30 p.m. (EDT) The Approach and Flow of Behavior Case Management Making the Case for the Use of Functional Assessments in Behavior Change Programs with Niki Tudge Thursday, May 19, 2016 - 12 p.m. 1:30 p.m. (EDT) Does Canine Hypothyroidism Really Affect Behavior? with Lisa Radosta Thursday, September 1, 2016 - 10 a.m. - 11 a.m. (EDT)

© Can Stock Photo/damedeeso

Sunday, August 7, 2016 - Noon (EDT) Sarah Richter: The Conscientious Equestrian Tristan Flynn: Working with Reactive Dogs Lara Joseph: Training Exotics Register at:

© Can Stock Photo /damedeeso

PPG World Service Radio Show Schedule


Cat Webinars

Learn How to Identify and Manage Cat to Human Aggressive Behaviors with Jane Ehrlich Monday, June 27, 2016 - 3 p.m. - 4 p.m. (EDT) Introductions: Dogs to Resident Cats; Cats to Resident Dogs with Lennea Bower August, 2016 (date/time TBC) Food Enrichment for Adult, Senior and Geriatric cats with Amy Martin October, 2016 (date/time TBC) Low Stress Cat Handling for Veterinarians, Shelter Staff and Cat Owners with Paula Garber Wednesday, December 7, 2016 - 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. (EST) Details of all upcoming webinars can be found at: A recording is made available within 48 hours of all PPG webinars.

BARKS from the Guild/May 2016



#PPGSummit 2016

A Five-Day Interactive, Educational Event in Tampa, Florida

Monday, November 7, 2016 12 p.m. (EDT) - Friday, November 11, 2016 1 p.m. (EDT)


he Pet Professional Guild’s educational Summit is taking place at the at the Sheraton Tampa East Hotel in Tampa, Florida on November 7 - 11, 2016. Conveniently located off Interstates 4 and 75, the hotel is 10 minutes from Downtown Tampa, with Tampa International Airport just 20 minutes away.

Special Hotel Rate

PPG has negotiated a group rate of $126 at the Sheraton Tampa East Hotel. Book at: Further information on the hotel and facilities:

Packed Schedule

An exciting schedule of educational presentations and fun activities has been planned. Last year’s keynote speaker, Dr. Karen Overall, will be back by popular demand, and will be joined by guest speakers Dr. Marty Becker, Ken Ramirez, Chirag Patel, Dr. Soraya JuarbeDiaz, and Victoria Stilwell who will all present general sessions. These sessions will take place each morning so everyone can attend. The event will then break into seven sessions running concurrently with a host of amazing presenters taking part. There is an enormous variety of topics for canine behavior and training professionals, while feline and equine professionals will be represented too with an expansion of sessions covering these topics. The Summit will also feature some business-related sessions.

Keynote Presentation

Dr. Karen Overall: Cognitive Therapy For Dogs; New Approaches to Behavior Modification

Guest Presentations

Dr. Marty Becker: Creating a Fear FreeSM Environment for Pets Ken Ramirez: Evolving Challenges for the Positive Reinforcement Trainer in the Modern World Chirag Patel: Behavior Science beyond the ‘Quadrant' and ‘Learning Theory’ Dr. Soraya Juarbe-Diaz: By the Case Victoria Stilwell: Inside Your Dog’s Mind

Further Information

Presenters and Schedule: Meals and Entertainment: Packages and Pricing: Registration: Sponsor an Event/Include Your Marketing Collateral in the Summit Swag Bag:



Summit Packages



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Your 3.5-day Summit Registration. A personal invitation to the Welcome Reception (includes drinks and food). Your registration SWAG Bag full of goodies. Daily morning and afternoon refreshments. PM Sundae and Sorbet Bar on November 9. Breakfast and lunch on November 8, 9,10 & 11. Summit Gala Dinner on November 10. Quiz Night on November 8. Official Summit T-Shirt. Hotel accommodation on the nights of November 7, 8, 9 &10. All LAB fees are included for attendance with dogs.

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Your 3.5-day Summit Registration. A personal invitation to the Welcome Reception (includes drinks and food). Your registration SWAG Bag full of goodies. Daily morning and afternoon refreshments. PM Sundae and Sorbet Bar on November 9. Breakfast and lunch on November 8, 9,10 & 11. Summit Gala Dinner on November 10. Official Summit T-Shirt.

Your 3.5-day Summit Registration. A personal invitation to the Welcome Reception (includes drinks and food). Your registration SWAG Bag full of goodies. Daily morning and afternoon refreshments. PM Sundae and Sorbet Bar on November 9. Official Summit T-Shirt.

s e c i Pr BARKS from the Guild/May 2016



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. (EST)


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 program.

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. 12

BARKS from the Guild/May 2016

CEUs: PPG 3/CCPDT 3/IAABC 3 More information and online registration:


The Gift of a Gray Muzzle: Active Care for Senior Dogs

A Two-Day Workshop in Tampa, Florida (Working and Auditor Spots Available)

with Kathy Sdao and Lori Stevens

Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:30 a.m. (EDT) - Sunday, September 25, 2016 4:30 p.m. (EDT)


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.

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: BARKS from the Guild/May 2016



Separation anxiety in a dog is the equivalent of a full-blown panic attack in a human being, due to the anxiety and fear of being left alone

Home Alone: The Painful Puzzle

Terrie Hayward defines the medical diagnosis of separation anxiety


and explains why the solution is not the same as helping out a dog who is simply bored or lonely

ave you ever heard people say that your dog is „just bored‰ or „stubborn,‰ (see Why Your Dog Is Not Stubborn) or being „vindictive‰ because you have not invited him along and have left him at home? Perhaps you have also been privy to the advice that he will „just get over it,‰ or to leave a Kong, or a piece of your clothing around to comfort him.

© Can Stock Photo/herreid

What is Separation Anxiety?


Unfortunately, the above suggestions are not relevant to the diagnosis of separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is a panic disorder. Oftentimes any sort of anxiety that a dog experiences when alone is labeled with this familiar term. However, separation anxiety is a clinical diagnosis, made by a veterinarian, that is defined as a dog who has a hyperattachment to one or two people and is unable to be left alone. BARKS from the Guild/May 2016

Separation anxiety in a dog is the „equivalent of a full-blown panic attack in a human being due to the anxiety and fear of being left alone.The severity of the panic attack and the way each dog manifests and displays it may be different, but the physiological basics are the same. Fear and anxiety are best friends, and the hormonal and neuro-chemical processes that happen when these emotions are triggered are not under simple mind control, certainly not by dogs (and generally not by humans, either)." (DeMartini-Price, 2014). Dogs who experience separation anxiety exhibit distress and stress-related behavioral problems when separated from their guardian(s) and may present in a variety of ways.The issue might be categorized as mild, moderate, or severe. However, the categorization has no bearing on the timeframe to a solution or improvement. Dogs may appear anxious or depressed prior to their


Get Your Life Back

Dog guardians who are dealing with separation anxiety (see Separation Anxiety Is So Much More than a Crate and a Kong!) are generally desperate for solutions. According to DeMartini- Price (2014): "Separation anxiety is a behavior disorder that is looked at by many practitioners as a disorder that is either not workable or is too time consuming to deal with. We have to realize that it is a welfare issue wherein dogs and their guardians truly suffer. There is genuine hope if we work with this problem in a succinct and gradual fashion. We cannot pretend that it can be cured in a day or a week, but it can be addressed. Countless success stories are there to prove this, and more and more trainers are there to help." Families are reaching out in hopes of gaining some semblance of independence in their lifestyle once more. When working with separation anxiety clients, the goal is to help with the underlying anxiety so that the dog eventually feels comfortable being alone. This is done via a slow process of gradually desensitizing absences until minute spans of time are increased to the point that the dog does not feel anxious about longer periods of time alone.

Separation anxiety is “simply a fear (mind you, a big one) of being left alone. Separation anxiety can develop for many reasons, but regardless of the onset, treatment can be quite successful." (DeMartini-Price, 2014).


While the official diagnosis of separation anxiety can only be made by a veterinarian, specializing in this disorder allows us to recognize the indicators. Body language that exemplifies stress in canines can manifest in a variety of ways. Some of the benchmarks of anxiety in dogs are as follows: whale eye (where the dog looks sideways showing an extreme amount of the whites of the eye); closed, pulled back mouth posture where lips are retracted at the corners; lip licking where the dog flicks the tongue in and out; yawning in an exaggerated fashion not due to exhaustion; excessive panting when the dog is not overheated; overall body posture in a stiff, hunched, or cowered position; or raised fur on the back or back of the neck, known as piloerection, or raised dander. Dogs may also salivate excessively, escape/attempt to escape, urinate/defecate indoors, and/or act depressed. As trainers specializing in separation anxiety, we would normally begin with a remote video assessment. We start our assessment while watching via Skype, FaceTime or an online camera set-up, to allow us to see what happens when the dog is left alone. With separation anxiety, the anxious behavior typically begins within 30 minutes (and often much faster) of the dog being in the house by himself. Frequently this remote view will confirm (or rule out) the supposition of separation anxiety. It is also helpful if the guardians are able to keep a journal documenting when the different behaviors occur. Recording the time, type and severity of the behavior will be helpful in determining a solution starting point.


People often ask, “What causes separation anxiety in dogs?” In fact, it does not have a definitive cause but may result from environmental changes. Examples such as a new home with the family, an alteration within the home, a change in daily routine (such as a modification in the amount of time that the primary guardian is absent), or a change in the family structure (new family member added or a family member leaves) are possible scenarios which may lead to this type of anxiety.

Separation anxiety can manifest in a variety of behaviors, but the fear of being left alone is always at the core

BARKS from the Guild/May 2016

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guardians leaving and/or when certain cues signify that a departure is imminent. Separation anxiety may appear as though a dog is severely anxious. The dog might vocalize (bark, whine, howl), self-mutilate (excessive self-licking or biting or chewing of fur or appendages), tremble or shake off (as if he were soaking wet), yawn, pace, spin, urinate or defecate, or be destructive in the home (often being self-injurious in an attempt to break out of crates, or get through doorways) and damage walls, furniture, or small items in the house. Dogs with separation anxiety may also display what is known as anorexia, whereby the dog is unable to eat while alone, even when favorite treats are presented. When dogs experience a panic disorder, they are not attempting to be badly behaved, nor do they know that they have done something wrong. They are not rationally considering the possible self-injury or potential problems with attempting an escape, etc. They are in a state of panic. In order to accurately deal with separation anxiety, the first step is assessment and an attempt to exclude any other prospective causes. For example, we would want to be sure that the dog is not eliminating inside due to alternative anxiety issues. We would also rule out barking and other behaviors while the owner is present in the home as these are most likely not related to separation anxiety.


COVER STORY Sometimes other people have provided well-intentioned but outdated and potentially harmful advice. Ideas such as using a Kong or food puzzle, crate, television, creative ways to mitigate boredom, additional exercise, flooding (when a dog is exposed to a high level of the trigger without the possibility of escape), adding another dog, insisting that the dog knows he is “bad,” and anthropomorphizing all are unlikely to offer much in the way of resolution. Using food puzzles such as Kongs runs the risk of teaching dogs to eat alone rather than how to be alone. In this instance, the behavioral problems commence when the food is finished and the person is not present. Dogs do not display the symptoms of separation anxiety due to boredom or lack of exercise but due to a panic disorder. As such, neither the use of a food puzzle nor additional exercise will help resolve the problem. Furthermore, dogs do not cognitively know that they have “misbehaved.” This often misunderstood phenomenon is generally what is attributed to the presentation of appeasement behavior. Say, for example, the owner returns home and finds the pillows torn up. The owner looks frustrated or angry and looks at the dog. The dog’s physical reply is in response to his person’s facial/body language rather than to any understanding of why the person is displaying this displeasure. Yet another typical, but incorrect suggestion is that the dog will just learn to adjust. A panic disorder is like a person’s fear of snakes. The individual will not wake up one day and feel less afraid or anxious about snakes. Similarly, using a flooding technique whereby the dog is exposed (without the ability to escape) to the scary stimulus also will not weaken the fear component. Other stress-relieving anecdotes include lavender oils, television or music when leaving, people’s worn clothing, or the addition of a second dog. While some of these will do no harm, they do not generally do much to help. In fact, the addition of a second dog may actually promote additional anxiety.

A Positive Training Approach

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A positive training approach to overcoming separation anxiety in


Tongue flicking is a sign of anxiety in dogs

BARKS from the Guild/May 2016

Dogs suffering with separation anxiety may become destructive in the home when left alone and do not simply “learn to adjust”

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What Next?

dogs is the best, most effective long-term solution. The protocol to working with separation-anxiety cases is comprised of three parts. The first phase involves assessing the starting point. This will be different for each dog and our initial assessment will enable us to determine where to begin. In order to figure out just where to commence the protocol we will watch remotely to see exactly what happens when the dog is left alone. How quickly he becomes visibly uncomfortable will determine what will constitute step one in the protocol. For some dogs, this may mean leaving just outside the door for two minutes, while for other pups it may mean standing up and sitting back down with the dog in the same room. The next part includes us making a “contract” with the dog. We figuratively shake on the deal that we will not leave the dog alone for a longer period of time than he can handle. This means suspending all absences outside of the working protocol practices. While this may sound impossible, there are a multitude of creative solutions that can allow you to accomplish this very important task. Such strategies such as emails to friends and family seeking help, doggy day cares, pet care swaps, trainers, vet offices with boarding, dog walkers, and students seeking community hours are a few creative options. Finally, the third piece involves the use of systematic desensitization to help the dog feel comfortable alone. We work in small, slow increments towards longer relaxed absences. This part of the plan means writing daily criteria steps with tiny incremental and varied increases, which allow the dog to remain below threshold, but push the length of time alone ever so slightly until the dog is relaxed at that level.

The Plan

Once we have determined where to begin, we then create the contract with the dog. In making this virtual contract with the


Case Study 1: „Cookie‰

ookie is a Immediately after double merle being adopted into his new home, deaf Australian Shepdog Cookie was herd who was panicking whenever he adopted from a was left alone rescue and displayed the symptoms of separation anxiety immediately upon arriving at his new home. His guardians found out, as is often the case, via a noise complaint from neighbors. At the time of writing, we had only just been working together. This video clip was made before I began working with the client as, of course, I would never put a dog into an over threshold situation to observe behavior. As Cookie is deaf, he was not reacting to any noise but rather, the video shows his typical panic behavior when left alone. He paces, vocalizes, and jumps on the counter in his frantic state. In his case, the panic began immediately so we started with a desensitization plan which, at the beginning, involved not even leaving. n

may just be possible for him to not increase his anxiety level. As mentioned above, repetitions are the key in this long-term approach to permanent behavioral change. When we refer to repetitions we mean a series of steps, which last approximately 30 minutes carried out five to six days per week without exception. The steps each have a random break between them, changing each time to avoid a pattern, and will be repeated over and over until the dog begins to feel safe (as demonstrated via body language) at this level. Incremental increases may be very small at first. In fact, we are often talking about adding a few seconds at a time before progressing, possibly after days or a week, to minutes. The initial steps may look something like, “stand up, take a step towards the door, go back, and sit BARKS from the Guild/May 2016

Separation anxiety is a clinical diagnosis, made by a veterinarian, that is defined as a dog who has a hyperattachment to one or two people and is unable to be left alone

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separation anxiety dog we are promising and committing to not leave him alone at all, ever, during our work towards a solution, for longer than he can handle. This means that we commit 100 percent to suspending absences outside of the protocol. We agree that even if situations or opportunities arise we will figure out a way to not leave the dog alone for any longer than he can deal with, according to the length of time that we have worked up to in our protocol. “Because the fear-producing event is being left alone, the trick is preventing the dogs from being in this state, or alternatively preventing the fear response if they are.” (Hetts & Estep, 2012). The reason we do this is that in addition to the desensitization process, we are building trust with the dog. Let us say, for example, that we have reached the point where we may leave the dog alone for 20 minutes but while out doing a quick errand we run into someone who wants to stop for coffee. We know that this coffee stop will keep us away from home for longer than the total 20 minutes that the dog can currently handle, but we figure that it will not be too much of a problem. Now, at 20 minutes the dog is fine. At 30 minutes the dog is beginning to pace and panic a bit. At 45 minutes the dog is barking and whining, and at one hour the dog is in full-blown panic mode. The bigger issue is that now, the previously hard-won 20 minutes of calm is also lost. The dog no longer believes that 20 minutes is a safe absence because although you had an agreement that he could be alone and relaxed for 20 minutes you did not return then. In fact, you were gone much longer (in the dog’s point of view) and can now no longer be trusted to leave at all. We have effectively reverted back to square one and to the minute, second-by-second absences that we will again need to rebuild from the start. Often one of the first questions regarding solutions for separation anxiety in dogs is related to the length of time it will take to resolve the issue (see 5 Myths About Canine Separation Anxiety). The answer is that it depends on several factors, the first of which is that each dog and each situation is distinct. Just as learning a language or to play a musical instrument will depend on each person’s individual circumstances and abilities, behavioral change in the form of overcoming a panic disorder will depend as well. Also, the severity of the symptoms (destructiveness, vocalization, etc.) will not determine the speed of resolution. Each case will be different and individual animals will react uniquely to the protocols. The key, however, is repetition over a long-term approach. The solution is not difficult, but it is slow and it may be frustrating. Thus, persistence is a key element. An example is that at the beginning, even the person rising from a seated position may make the dog anticipate an absence and therefore start to panic. In this situation it may take days or weeks of slowly desensitizing the dog to this by standing up and sitting back down with intervals of standing or moving in place for seconds. In terms of excitement levels, this approach is akin to watching grass grow or paint dry. However, from the dog’s perspective we are working on changing his response from panic to calm by repeating the same and similar low level exercises until he decides that this first step is not really so bad and that it





Case Study 2: „Moses‰

oses is a twoand-a-halfyear-old neutered Shiba Inu who presented with separation anxiety. His guardians made contact after not being able to leave him alone at any time, which was a struggle for day-today life. Moses would bark and cry the entire time that he was alone in the home. The family committed to an initial fourMoses used to week period of bark and cry entire time working together. the he was left After the initial as- home alone sessment, it was determined that Moses’s preliminary threshold was cracking the door open 2 inches. This was his starting point. Moses’s guardians worked for several months, six days per week for a minimum of 30 minutes per day. They diligently progressed through an absence routine and rehearsal scenarios. The trainer helped the client to understand criteria raising via daily interactions, and to be able to determine when to stick with the current level, push a bit, or temporarily drop back, much like what is done with other behavioral modification and training techniques. This was an important part of the process in determining how and when to raise, lower, or remain at a certain criteria level. Also included is what is known as pre-departure cues (PDQ). These are factors that hint to the dog that you are about to leave: things like picking up keys, putting on shoes or jackets, setting alarms, and any other behaviors that you would normally do prior to departing from the home. In the beginning we will often try to exclude these PDQs in order to work strictly on distance (distance from the dog) and duration (time outside) and will later incorporate them into the steps and overall protocols. Another important protocol component is that when we raise criteria in one area, for example adding in the PDQ of taking the keys with us, we often lower criteria in another area, for example, the amount of time we step out of the door. We then gradually build the criteria that we temporarily lowered back up to where it was. Throughout the process, we are teaching guardians how to eventually continue on their own. Understanding, getting familiar with, and reading the dog’s body language will also be a key 18

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aspect in his progress. Often people believe that a dog is just tired when he yawns or just bored when he paces. However, these are symptoms of stress and anxiety. Realizing what these stress symptoms are will be important when making criteriasetting decisions and when assisting the dog to remain below threshold. When we increase criteria in a protocol we do so very slowly. As mentioned previously, what one person’s definition of slowly is may not be appropriate for their dog. A five-minute or even one-minute jump in alone time may be too much. In fact, we might be talking about increases measured in seconds. Repetition is the other key piece. In order for a dog to go from feeling, “eek, time to panic, my person has left for one minute,” to “oh, well, I know this game and it’s not so bad. I’m a little bored,” we will need to continually repeat small steps with little variation, but without establishing a recognizable pattern. This exposure to low levels of the scary thing (even for a second) is what helps the dog to desensitize to being alone for longer periods. The reason for the designation of the individual steps inside the daily protocols is so that each repetition seems like a unique and separate rehearsal. Protocols may vary in the number of steps, however the overall time spent per session should be approximately 30 minutes. Protocols are practiced five or six days per week. This consistency is very important. Of equal importance are one or two days of rest per week. This allows the dog and the person to regroup and relax fully. Building a foundation requires patience and perseverance. Over time, by working through the inevitable plateaus and regressions, the dog eventually begins to feel more comfortable for longer and longer stretches of time until appreciable absences begin and real-life errands can take place during these departures. In the case of Moses, once his family was finally able to go out together to the grocery store and shop, we had hit a major milestone. It is at this point that the guardians, along with their dog finally begin to feel some Moses’s guardians worked diligently relief and the with him for several solution for months to gradually raise the criteria separation until he could be left anxiety is alone, and continue to work with him underway. n

When working with separation anxiety, the goal is to help with the underlying anxiety so that the dog eventually feels comfortable being alone

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down.” Some dogs might be able to handle you actually opening, or even leaving through the door for seconds or minutes. The individual dog will determine each starting spot. Butler, Sargisson and Elliffe (2011) noted that the “application of systematic desensitization was successful in reducing both the severity and the frequency of separation-related behaviours by the end of treatment or follow-up for all eight dogs [involved in their study].” This slow progress often comes with frustration for the owner. Also, an unfortunate component of the progress is the likelihood of regressions. Regressions are, regrettably, part of almost every separation anxiety journey towards a calmer dog.You may reach a point where you are moving forward and then need to take 10 steps backwards. This is not the end nor a failure, but part of the process. After working for weeks to reach a surmountable number of minutes, it may be the case that the dog slides back to a shorter, more comfortable amount of time, from which you will need to rebuild to the longer duration. Plateaus are another source of strain during the process as sometimes a dog will reach a certain timeframe and then seemingly be unable to move past this point. Overcoming regressions and plateaus will take patience and consistency. Backing up can be thought of as part of the dance where you move backwards in order to again go forward. We are slowly working on confidence building and helping the dog to overcome a very real fear, which will take time and most likely will mean some backwards or static movement in terms of protocol steps before being able to slowly build up time alone again. For this reason, the protocol of desensitization over time combined with zero out-of-protocol absences can be deemed to be simple, but not easy. A strong commitment to the process over weeks, and likely months, is required in order to make headway and arrive at reasonable alone timeframes. It is impossible to guess with any accuracy how long each dog may take to move forward with separation anxiety resolution. We advise a minimum start of a four-week commitment for the caregiver and dog. This allows the trainers to help guardians begin to better read the signs of stress demonstrated in canine body language, to interpret, to realize when to push criteria,


when to stay and allow further comfort at the level, and when to drop back down temporarily to rebuild confidence. Also, because many repetitions over time is the key to desensitization, owners will require at least this long to begin the journey. Trainers also need to form a partnership with the dog’s caregivers and veterinarians. Open communication about the working protocol is a key to being sure that everyone is on the same page. Additionally, there may come a time when pharmacology requires discussion and the plan has the best chance for success when trainer, guardian(s), and veterinarian (and/or veterinary behaviorist) can share in the comprehensive care plan. n Yawning is a common sign of anxiety in dogs

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Butler, R., Sargisson, R. J. & Elliffe, D. (2011). The efficacy of systematic desensitization for treating the separation-related problem behaviour of domestic dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science (129) 136–145. doi: .2010.11.001 DeMartini-Price, M. D. (2014). Treating Separation Anxiety in Dogs. Wenatchee, WA: Dogwise Publishing Hayward, T. (2014, December). 5 Myths About Canine Separation Anxiety. Retrieved March 19, 2016, from Hayward, T. (Producer). (2016). Cookie’s Separation Anxiety [Video]. Retrieved March 18, 2016, from /watch?v=g63wJ6uDKtY Hayward, T. (2015, March). Separation Anxiety Is So Much More than a Crate and a Kong! Retrieved March 19, 2016, from -much-more-than-a-crate-and-a-kong Hayward, T. (2014, October). Why Your Dog is Not Stubborn. Retrieved March 19, 2016, from www.positiveanimalwellness .com/why-your-dog-is-not-stubborn Hetts, S. & Estep, D. (2012). The Latest on Separation Anxiety [Abstract]. Integrative Veterinary Care. Retrieved March 19, 2016, from 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 and holds a Master’s in Education, is a Karen Pryor Academy certified training partner and is certified by the Council for Professional Dog Trainers.

BARKS from the Guild/May 2016



The Unbreakable Bond?

Amy Szabo explores the commonly held belief that littermates should not be adopted together and details her own personal experiences with littermate syndrome A common belief amongst pet professionals is not to adopt littermates and author Amy Szabo admits that sisters Bentley (left) and Morgan are “a challenge”


f you Google “littermate syndrome” you will find articles written by many different trainers, behaviorists, and veterinarians with one common theme: do not adopt littermates! Littermate syndrome is the term used to describe two sibling puppies raised together who become so incredibly bonded to each other that they may exhibit severe separation anxiety when apart – even for just a vet visit or a walk. This bond can be so strong that the puppies are not able to bond with the humans or other pets in the family. Simultaneously, training the puppies can be a challenge. There is also the risk that the puppies may become aggressive towards each other. Littermate syndrome is by no means a foregone conclusion, however. With the right approach it can be avoided, or its severity at least mitigated. I first learned about littermate syndrome early in my training career when I was working with a family that had male and female littermates and then adopted another female dog that was deaf. I was called in initially to review the sibling dogs’ behavior toward the deaf dog. What I witnessed was that the female littermate was the more confident dog and often bullied her brother. She would steal toys from him and then guard them if he tried to get them back. He would always yield to his sister but when they were separated, it was the female littermate who struggled the most with separation anxiety. Unfortunately, I did not get to work with that family on the littermate issues. Due to limited finances they chose to enroll the deaf dog into my group class so that they could work on learning how to communicate with her and build her confidence. So, knowing what I know about littermate syndrome, what on earth made me adopt littermates? Let me provide some background first . . . 20

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As puppies, Morgan and Bentley were hyperbonded and had little interest in playing with other dogs

For the last seven years I have primarily been teaching puppy socialization and basic obedience. About two and a half years ago I convinced my husband that I needed a puppy. I have never had a brand new, 8-week-old lump of fur that I could mold into the “perfect dog” and I thought it was time to walk the walk since I train so many new puppies. I had it all planned out. I was going to decide on a breed, find a local breeder so that I could meet the puppy as early as possible, track his or her development and then bring him or her home at 8 weeks old and start training. On August 12, 2013 though, my big plans for raising the perfect dog got put on hold, most likely indefinitely. On that fateful evening in August I was on my way home from a training class when I found two dogs at an intersection about one mile from my house. They had no collars on but appeared to be healthy, young dogs. It turns out the dogs were female littermates, likely pointers, about 6 months old at the time. They were not microchipped. I decided we would foster them until we found the owner or a permanent solution for them. As I spent more time with them, some of the littermate syndrome symptoms became apparent: they were hyper-bonded to each other with each becoming stressed when separated from the other; they had a rough play style with each other and little interest to engage in play with other dogs; one was very sound sensitive and reactive to every little noise; the other was more shy and chose to cower and hide when stressed; and house training stretched the limits of my patience because simultaneously training them was nearly impossible. My husband and I considered just keeping one of them but I was concerned about trying to find the right home for a dog that

was already exhibiting some behavioral issues. After a few months of fostering, we knew they were going to go into their first season very soon and agreed we did not want to deal with that times two. We decided that if we were going to pay for them to be spayed that we would keep both of them. Once we decided to keep them we named them. Morgan, the brown and white one, is now on 30 mg daily of Fluoxetine because she is so sound sensitive and reactive to everything. We could hardly watch television with Morgan around because she would bark at every loud sound and even sounds we could not hear, like a dog barking in the background. Morgan is very smart and willing to work with you but she is also a bit of a shark. As her arousal level increases she will snap a treat out of your hand without much care for any damage she does to your fingers in the process. She has completed a Dynamite Dogs class for reactive dogs, at which point I decided it was necessary to get her on some medication. Morgan was always on alert. Car rides became unbearable as she would bark at everything, moving or stationary. The Fluoxetine is helping but we still have a lot of work to do to be able to enjoy car rides with her, take her to the park, take her for walks during busy times in the neighborhood, and enjoy having guests. On the flip side, she is a love, at least once she knows you and can trust you. Bentley, the black and white one, was more fearful at first and took the longest to warm up to me on the day I found them. At first glance, she seems like the more shy or fearful of the two but after observation of her with Morgan and with other dogs I realized she could be a bit of a bully. When Morgan is not on guard, while eliminating for instance, Bentley will stalk her. She will sit and watch Morgan and then start to crouch down ready to pounce as soon as Morgan finishes her business. Bentley is also very smart and willing to work with you. In fact, she is a master manipulator. One night while I was out, my husband was sitting on the couch with Morgan cuddled in his lap. Bentley walked up to the front door and started barking. That of course set Morgan off, who had to go running to the front door and join in (this was prior to the Fluoxetine). Once Morgan was at the front door, Bentley went back into the family room and jumped up on my husband’s lap. Upon realizing there was actually nothing to bark at Morgan returned and pushed Bentley out of the way, resuming her position on my husband’s lap. Bentley repeated the process of barking to get Morgan to move. My husband let this go on for a few minutes as he was fascinated by Bentley’s manipulation of Morgan’s reactivity to get her out of the way.

Morgan and Bentley’s relationship with Rawlings, the third dog in the home (left), remains “awkward” although it is improving


Interestingly, as bold as she can be in certain comfortable settings, Bentley is more fearful than Morgan on walks. Once I started walking them separately I found that Bentley could only make it so far in my neighborhood before she would get scared by a noise and would shut down on me. She flattened herself to the ground, tucked her tail, pinned her ears to head, eyes wide, and then she turned around and start pulling hard on the leash to get back home. I have done a lot of work to try to build Bentley’s confidence on walks. When I first brought the dogs home I had only one crate and so they were crated together. I saw immediately that this was only going to exacerbate the various issues. Within the first two weeks of finding the dogs, a friend loaned me a second crate and we began crating them separately. This was key to being able to mitigate the severity of littermate syndrome. Having one dog crated helped reduce separation anxiety by building their confidence as individuals. Lots of treats in the crate created a positive association with being crated. The separate crates also allowed us to keep one dog crated while we worked on house training with the other, and allowed me to train them one at a time on basic obedience cues. The crates are still in the same room facing each other but each dog knows to go into her own crate. We can now crate one while the other is free without major meltdowns by the one still in the crate. They are walked separately and have attended group training classes separately. They have bonded well with my husband and I, often choosing to be with one of us over being with each other. There is still awkwardness in their relationship with our other dog though. Morgan and Bentley play extremely hard with each other but they both understand their play style and haven’t hurt each other, yet. My oldest dog Rawlings is usually the odd man out and just plays referee by barking at them. Once they do play with him, he quickly gets overwhelmed and runs and hides. Their relationship with him is slowly improving to the point that he will now allow them to touch him if all dogs are lying on the bed with us. Now that we have had Morgan and Bentley for about two and a half years you might ask if I agree with the common recommendation to not adopt littermates? My answer is yes, I fully agree that littermates are a challenge that the average dog owner is likely not up to. I love my dogs but they do test the limits of my patience and training skills. I have learned so much from them and I think I am a better trainer because of them, but having what are essentially three reactive dogs in the house can be quite exhausting. However, many of the challenges we now deal with are more similar to those that any multi-dog family faces such as competition for resources, timing in marking and rewarding during training if working with them all simultaneously, the expense, and the constant poop clean up to ensure Bentley does not engage in one of her favored activities, coprophagia. n Amy Szabo CPDT-KA of Pawsitive Practice Training and Behavior Consulting,, in Atlanta, Georgia specializes in puppy socialization, basic obedience, behavior modification. She is also an AKC CGC and S.T.A.R. puppy evaluator.

BARKS from the Guild/May 2016



Therapy Dogs Helping Students

Gail Radtke explains how therapy dogs are inspiring youngsters to learn and to stay in school


hen we think of therapy dogs and the work that they do, we often think of them visiting senior facilities and hospitals. Today’s therapy dogs, however, are taking on all kinds of different roles, providing comfort and stress relief to those they spend time with. The St. John Ambulance (SJA) Therapy Dog program in British Columbia, Canada (see The Miracle Mutt, BARKS from the Guild, October 2014) has branched out its therapy dog program into prison visitations (see Endless Possibilities, BARKS from the Guild, May 2015), visits to university students during exam times, and a reading program where children increase their skills by reading to therapy dogs. A new area for these dogs is working with at-risk youth at Yale Secondary School in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada in a program that is influencing these students to attend school. Deleine Perrie is a cultural support worker who teaches Aboriginal youth at Yale Secondary School and is guardian to Selyca, a 2-year-old golden retriever. When Selyca was a puppy, Perrie was able to bring her to school and saw immediately the positive impact of having a dog in the classroom. In her first year with Selyca at the school, Perrie was able share training responsibilities with her students and have a few of the students attend Selyca’s puppy class. Perrie believed that having the students involved in positive reinforcement dog training would give them the opportunity to experience how learning can occur without punishment, something the students may not all have experienced in their personal lives. Perrie was also able to take the students to veterinary appointments to learn about caring for a dog’s health, and the responsibility that comes with having a pet. Perrie feels these experiences will influence her students’ rela22

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Selyca has been an inspiration to countless students at Yale Secondary School in Abbotsford, British Columbia

All Photos Courtesy: Deleine Perrie

Selyca has worked over 3,000 hours at the school and often bridges the gap between students and teacher

Teacher Deleine Perrie and her St. John Ambulance therapy dog, Selyca

tionships with their own dogs, and indeed with all living beings. Perrie’s role at Yale as a cultural support worker is multifaceted. She provides academic education and cultural knowledge. Her classroom is a busy hub of students coming and going, sometimes working on the computer with Selyca at their feet, or maybe some quiet time in a small, private room where Selyca might cuddle by their side. When I had the opportunity to visit with Perrie and Selyca in their classroom it was wonderful to see how many children stopped by to say hello to Perrie and briefly pet Selyca. It was evident that Selyca was adored by all. Selyca currently attends school full time with Perrie, which is 35 hours a week. She has worked over 3,000 hours since she started and has impacted many of the students. Selyca is there for them when they might need a bit of extra moral support from a friend who is always warm, welcoming, never judgmental, and who is just happy to see them. One mother of a youth in Perrie’s class told the teacher that the reason her child had been coming to school, after having some difficulties with attendance, was because he liked to see Selyca. Perrie sees first-hand the positive impact Selyca makes at the school, with both the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children. Perrie spoke about a student to whom I will refer as Sue. Sue had been coming to Perrie’s class but was disengaged and not interacting with the teacher. However, she started to interact with Selyca, speaking to her, playing with her and connecting in a way that Perrie had not been able to. Over time the barriers began to come down, and Sue started to speak with Perrie. Selyca was able to develop relationships by just being herself. Another student who I will call Joe, had not been to school in

a year and a half, and had joined Perrie’s class at Yale. Selyca was still a puppy when Joe started to come and spend time with her. He eventually started to attend class more. Perrie describes Joe and Selyca as having a special relationship; Selyca seems to light up when Joe comes in the room and becomes all wiggly and wagging. When Selyca turned 2 years old, she was finally able to be evaluated for the SJA Therapy Dog Program and, of course, she passed with flying colors. She was already a seasoned veteran in providing her love and comfort to so many. With her SJA certification, Selyca was able to attend Yale Secondary at exam time and provide therapy dog support to the students. In fact, her impact is not only felt by the students but also the teachers and staff. Much like the students, the teachers take time out to stop by Perrie’s classroom to have a quick visit with Selyca before getting to their next class. Interacting with Selyca also bridges the communication gap between the students and teachers. She has become the common ground between everyone. The research and studies available on dogs in a classroom setting are positive and appear to support the idea that having a dog present enhances the emotional well-being of the students. Canine assisted therapy, whether formal or informal, helps to improve the students emotionally and socially (Anderson and Olson, 2006 cited in Griffiths, 2015). Research has also provided us with the knowledge that the presence of a dog significantly lowers behavioral, emotional, and verbal distress when participating in a stressful activity (Nagengast, Baun, Megel & Leibowitz, 1997). A study conducted in Vienna, Austria at an elementary school with 24 children, found that the dog in the classroom had become the “social catalyst,” for example, by making withdrawn children more open to communication (Kotrschal & Ortbauer, 2003). In the same study, Kotrschal and Ortbauer found that the children showed less aggressive behaviors with the dog in the classroom. Studies focusing on youth are still in need of research. Data needs to be “analytical rather than anecdotal in order to achieve maximum external validity.” (Barker & Dawson, 1998; Buttleman & Rompke, 2015 cited in Griffiths, 2015). Dr. Susan Schultz of St. John Fisher College near Rochester, New York, supports the idea that more research needs to be done. “The importance of the data is that it shows the use of therapy dogs has positive benefits and effects on students in education, and that aligns with the research,” says Schultz (Schultz, n.d. cited in Beck, 2015). Many of us with dogs do not need convincing about how good our dogs make us feel, but science needs statistics. Why then are not all schools bringing dogs into the classroom? There are still concerns regarding sanitation, people who may have fears regarding dogs, safety concerns, allergy concerns and even cultural differences—in some cultures dogs are regarded as unclean (Jango, Astorino & Bomboy, 2004). Teachers like Deleine Perrie are breaking down these barriers by taking on this kind of project with responsibility, commitment and, most importantly, dedication and heart. I think of how many children may have stayed in school if they had had a Selyca in their class. It is evident that she is making a huge difference to so many children who obviously need her companionship. This poem was written by one of the students at Yale Secondary School, who was a student in Perrie and Selyca’s class:


Selyca can connect with the students in a way not always possible for teachers, and has been instrumental in encouraging some students to keep up their attendance

BARKS from the Guild/May 2016

Studies have found that dogs in the classroom act as a “social catalyst”



There once was a dog at Yale/Who helped kids so they wouldn’t fail She senses when they have a bad day/And will lay by your side and stay Staff and students think Ms. Perrie rules/Because she brings her cute dog Selyca to school/No matter what student she meets She will do a trick for her treat/With a treat on her nose Ms. Perrie says go/I knew her since she was small In a few months she grew pretty tall/We took her to puppy school The student who wrote this poem was involved in the puppy school training with Perrie and Selyca. She was one of the students whose parents attributed her attendance at school to her relationship with Selyca and, of course, also to her teacher. If having a dog in the classroom can change the life of one student, then all one can really say is, job well done Selyca, well done. n Selyca takes a break from her school duties

Gail Radtke CPDT is a retired correctional supervisor and former instructor to the Justice Institute of British Columbia, Canada. Gail has combined her passion for dogs and teaching and is a Family Paws Parent Education presenter and has recently completed her DipCBST. She is the owner and operator of Cedar Valley K9,, in Mission, British Columbia.


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Beck, K. (2015).The impact of canine-assisted therapy and activities on children in an educational setting. St. John Fisher College, Fisher Digital Publications. Retrieved March 17, 2016, from Griffiths, J. (2015). The Effects of a Therapy Dog on At-risk Youth in High-School. International Research Conference: Learning At Intercultural Intersections. Retrieved March 17, 2016, from _Affects_of_a_Therapy_Dog_on_At_Risk_Youth34815.pdf Jalongo, M., Astorino, T., & Bomboy, N. (2004). Canine Visitors: The Influence of Therapy Dogs on Young Children’s Learning and Well-Being in Classrooms and Hospitals. Early Childhood Education Journal. Retrieved March 17, 2016, from -visitors-the-influence-of-therapy-dog%20Aug2004.pdf Kotrschal, K. & Ortbauer, B. (2003). Behavioral effects of the presence of a dog in a classroom. Anthrozoos, 16 (2) 147-159. doi: 10.2752/089279303786992170 Nagengast, S. L., Baun, M., Megel, M. M., & Leibowitz, J. M. (1997). The effects of the presence of a companion animal on physiological arousal and behavioral distress in children during a physical examination. Journal of Pediatric Nursing (12) 6, 323–330. doi: 10.1016/S0882-5963(97)80058-9 Radtke, G. (2015, May). Endless Possibilities. BARKS from the Guild (12) 43-45: /docs/bftg_may_2015_online_version_opt/43?e=0 Radtke, G. (2014, October). The Miracle Mutt. BARKS from the Guild (9) 36-39: /barks_october_2014_pet_professional/37?e=4452575 /9892405

The Right Choice


Kama Brown explains the importance of ethical training and making sure the dog gets the


most possible out of the learning experience

Relevance to the DogÊs Life Ethical training should strive as much as possible to consist of situations that are relevant to the dog and his owner’s lives. To me, this means training in environments the dog needs to be in as part of his functioning life. It should also purposely avoid putting the dog in stressful situations for the purpose of training the dog through them. Give the Dog a Cue that Training Is about to End Much like us, dogs are more tolerant of stress when they expect it to end. Use Resurgence to Your Advantage Purposely train a “plateau” point so you can identify when the training is breaking down, going backwards, or about to go through extinction. Another way to think of this is to purposely not put a behavior under stimulus control. It is to allow the dog to put this pre-chosen behavior into the chain when he wants the session to end or needs the next behavior explained in a different way. Progress Matters If, after so many weeks of thoughtful and mindful training, the dog has shown no progress, examine the environment, the cues, and the reinforcements and see what can be changed to help the dog find success. Asking him to confront his fears each week without also alleviating said fears should be avoided. Training for Tolerance Some dogs may never be able to enjoy other dogs or people. Keeping this in mind creates an important perspective for the owner when training. If the dog were learning to enjoy something, practicing quite often would be fun for the dog and the owner should be encouraged to train frequently. Training for tolerance creates the dynamic that training should happen frequently enough to show progress but should not be a daily occurrence. Many times, it is easy for owners to want to overdo the training in the hope that the situation will be resolved more

It is important for dog owners and trainers to realize there may be experiences or scenarios that a dog may never enjoy

quickly. Oftentimes, this can have the opposite effect if the dog requires a cortisol vacation between sessions.

© Can Stock Photo/laengauer

ll dog training should rest on an ethical platform so that it does not cause unnecessary stress for the dog. This is particularly true for the “over-reactive” dog and, over time, I have created a list of platforms (achievement of which is varied) that I feel are important when training the overly reactive dog. Note: For the purpose of this article, an overly reactive dog is a dog that lunges, barks, cowers, and/or pulls towards or away from the sight of other dogs, people, or both.

Before Tolerance,Train for Neutrality I like to visualize a dog’s fear, anxiety or aggression on a timeline. Zero (where the dog remains neutral) is in the middle then, on the right side of the timeline, the numbers go from 1-10 representing how much a dog enjoys something. On the left side of the timeline there are also the numbers 1-10, where they measure how likely the dog is to want to avoid something, or make something go away. For example: 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 ZERO 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Actively avoids Remains neutral Seeks to enjoy

Before a dog can go from the “actively avoids” side of the timeline to the “seeks to enjoy” side, he must first come to rest at neutrality. Feeling neutral about something is the only way an animal can learn to enjoy something. Dogs are not capable of going from avoidance to enjoyment without first feeling neutral about the person, dog, or situation. This means that before tolerance or enjoyment can be trained, neutrality must be achieved. Simply stated, when beginning a reactive dog training plan, neutrality should be the first training goal. Listening to the Choices the Dog Makes This involves allowing the dog to get up or walk away if he wants BARKS from the Guild/May 2016



to, as well as allowing the dog to choose reinforcement, and when and where to get it. It also involves listening to the dog when he chooses not to follow a cue.

Controlling the environment and using the opportunities it presents can help a reactive dog succeed

© Can Stock Photo/halfpoint

Avoid Creating Conflict between Yourself and the Environment To achieve the best results, avoid asking a dog to choose between what you are offering (treats, toy, etc.) and what he is afraid of. Making yourself the most relevant part of any environment goes hand-in-hand with creating a neutral environment. When a dog is asked to choose between focusing on what scares him and the treat you are offering, this can devalue the treat.You can build yourself as the most relevant piece of any environment and also keep the environment neutral by providing excellent reinforcement for you dog, waiting for him to engage with you, and by not calling him away from things that interest him. Avoid Accidently Cuing Arousal and Chaining the „Freak Out‰ Moment In whatever order behaviors are trained (by you purposely, accidently, or by external factors) they will break down under stress in a backwards, chronological order. For example, if your dog lunges and then you say, “look at me” and then you say, “sit” and then you reward him, watch out because if he then stands up and looks back, the next behavior is most likely going to be the lunge. This can very easily become a cycle, a repetition of unwanted behavior followed by wanted behavior followed by unwanted behavior again. When this chain happens more than a few times, the dog will automatically add a cue to it, without telling us what that cue is. Cues are never simple and are never just one thing, but for simplicity purposes, we will Learning is much more likely say that the cue is usually going to occur if the training environment is stress-free to be “look at me” because it and the dog is enjoying himself tells the dog that “sit” will be next and then something to lunge about will be after that. This sequence is where most of the clients I work with have reached a plateau in their training. They are able to get wanted behaviors but the unwanted behaviors also remain. The good thing about this is that we know the behaviors do not break down randomly, but that they break down in a predictable pattern. Cues also hold emotions depending on how they were trained. Since the 26

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© Can Stock Photo:cynoclub

dog was in an aroused emotional state when he learned “look at me,” that cue will be arousing as well. When you see another dog and you say “look at me,” you may actually be revving the dog up with your cue to expect a perceived threat to be in the environment. Remember to watch your dog and assess his body language. If you jump in to add the “look at me” cue whenever you (not your dog) sees a dog, you are not giving your dog the chance to succeed by choosing to not react and look at you on his own. Choosing Cues It is very important to choose cues that are environmental and add duration to behaviors that are already natural displacement behaviors in dogs. Making long duration eye contact is not natural for the dog, nor is it physically comfortable. The ideal cue is always going to be whatever sets the dog off to react; i.e. the sight or sound of another person or dog. The other dog or person should be the cue, whereby the owner or trainer should cue the dog to sniff the ground, paw the ground, walk away, or pick something up. I chose these four behaviors as diffusion behaviors because they diffuse tension and arousal as the dog engages in them. It is easy to add duration to these behaviors because dogs find them naturally reinforcing and they are physically comfortable to maintain for very long periods. Training these behaviors is the core of the reactive dog training program I teach. The Play to Train Scale Should Be 5 to 1 The dog should be offered five play sessions for every one stressful training session. These can be simple play moments like chasing treats, fetch, belly rubs and cuddling. They can also be more complex such as swimming or dog sports. The Environment Will Train Your Dog Probably the most important part of training is realizing that if

you are not proactive in controlling the environment, the environment will train your dog for you. The environment and everything in it will tell your dog that there is potential for punishment, or there is an opportunity for reinforcement. As your dog’s handler and trainer, it is important that you control these opportunities to your advantage. Use a leash to your advantage. Do not be afraid to ask people to ignore your puppy when he is barking, lunging and pulling for a stranger’s attention. It is important to control the environment so the dog succeeds. It is not ethical to allow a dog to be trained at random and then punished later for the behaviors that resulted in poor management.


What Do Dogs Enjoy Doing? Life cannot be only about training. Always make sure that you think about enjoyment from the dog’s perspective. I find this to be a great stress relief for us humans as well. Allowing dogs to be dogs can provide an excellent learning opportunity in itself. n Kama Brown CPDT-KA lives and works in St. Louis, Missouri and has been training dogs since 2008. She currently owns a boarding/training/grooming business with her husband and spends her weekends promoting the use of scent work and enrichment in training. She also teaches classes for competitive dog sports and overly-reactive dogs. She is a failed foster mom to three big, black dogs and an active member of her local SAR group.



Partners for Life

L.A. Bykowsky and Chere McCoy present the final part of Stella the Chihuahua mix’s


journey from the shelter to qualifying as a service dog who will assist with McCoy’s PTSD

here are many different kinds of service dogs, including those that help people with vision, hearing or mobility impairments, those trained in seizure alert, and those who assist children with autism.You name it and I bet a dog can help. Stella has been in training to assist with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is a disability that has been around for a long time, but only recently have organizations like Dogs for Life (DFL) started training dogs to help alleviate it. PTSD shows up in different ways at different times for different people. Luckily, service dog trainers have found different tasks that dogs can do to help with this disabling psychological impairment. The law says a service dog has to be trained to do work or perform tasks that mitigate a person’s disability. Says Stella: “In my mom’s case, she has severe nightmares from the traumatic incidents in her life. Sometimes she experiences emotional overload or can even get stressed out just being too close to other people or in a crowd. These are the types of situations I’m now trained to help her with.”

Training Task Work

Task work is a specialized kind of training that distinguishes service dogs from pets. It is similar to obedience training in that there is something a person wants or needs the dog to do; there is a cue for the dog to do it; and the dog performs the task. The difference between service dogs and an obedient pet is that the end result of the task directly affects the owner’s way of life. One task, called ‘nightmare interruption’ is rather self-explanatory. Some dogs learn this one on their own. Says Stella: “When mom is asleep, sometimes she starts to moan or maybe even scream. I can tell that she’s upset and in a bad way. When I think she’s having a nightmare, I jump on the bed and lick and

Stella shows off her official graduation vest


BARKS from the Guild/May 2016

Now a fully qualified service dog, Stella is also learning how to alert to spikes in her owner’s blood pressure

nudge her until she wakes up. Once she opens her eyes and takes a look at me, she immediately gets to a better place and isn’t afraid any more.” Other tasks Stella has been trained to do involve creating a safe space around her owner. With a simple word like ‘six’ or ‘block,’ she moves into position, maintaining a stand or sit and stay until she gets the cue that it is okay to resume a relaxed heel position. Stella is “ambidextrous” at this work, doing it on either side, in front of or behind her owner, sometimes facing forward, sometimes looking backwards (watching her ‘six’). This task comes in especially handy in places like a restaurant or even a check-out line in a store, where Stella can watch what is going on behind her owner so she relax and focus on the business at hand, knowing the dog has her back. Says Stella: “Sometimes mom experiences emotional overload or panic attacks, kind of like nightmares when you’re awake. Before she had me, whenever that happened, she would have to leave wherever she was because it was just too hard and scary to get through alone. In fact, just a few weeks ago, mom had a panicked blackout in the middle of a grocery store. She sort of just froze, right there in the aisle, not moving, not aware of the people around her. Because of my special training, I knew mom needed help, so I moved into position right in front of her, hold-

ing a stand/stay, until mom ‘woke up.’ “I was also taught another task to help when mom gets overwhelmed: she can put me in her lap (the command for this is easy: ‘lap’) and I’ll stay there, with my head down, using all my weight for pressure, so mom knows that I’m there. This task is easier for bigger dogs, because they can put their front paws or even just their head in their partner’s lap, but the result is the same. Mom calms down and my staying ‘on task’ lets her stay where she is and go back to enjoying what she was doing. “Let me tell you, I got a lot of ‘lap time’ when I had my service dog graduation ceremony earlier this year. There were probably 100 people there, a really big crowd, all eyes on mom and I (and the three other graduating teams). There were several times mom felt a panic attack coming on, so she had me do ‘lap.’ That simple and smooth move was all she needed to be able to stay for the whole ceremony and appreciate all those people who came to acknowledge our hard work. “If for some reason ‘lap’ doesn’t work and mom decides she needs to leave a place quickly, I’m being trained to help her with that, too. The trainers are teaching me ‘exit’ and I’m learning that means I have to find the nearest door and get mom to it without making a fuss.”

Team Effort

One more thing Stella is helping with is her owner’s blood pressure. Sometimes it goes sky high, which is, obviously, potentially dangerous. Says Stella: “I can’t really describe how I know when mom’s blood pressure changes, but when I sense it’s going too high I’ve been nipping at her ankles and yipping to let her know. That’s not really an acceptable behavior for service dogs but was something I started doing on my own before I knew any better. Mom and the DFL trainers are now working with me to modify my response, like just nudging mom at her feet. Service dogs are, after all, supposed to be invisible. Training for this task is a team effort, with mom and I working really hard to ‘capture’ the moment when her blood pressure soars. I need to let her know with a gentle nudge. She then has to take a blood pressure reading to see if I’m right and if I am, then I get rewarded. The hope is that


doing this enough times, I’ll be able to replace nipping at mom to nudging her and her recognizing that I’m not just seeking attention but really trying to tell her something important.” That is probably one of the most important aspects of service dog work. The dogs are not on their own but are in it with their human partners for life. Says Stella: “My mom and I would like to express our sincere gratitude to all the wonderful people at DFL who made our partnership possible. Their mission statement, ‘a non-profit organization devoted to improving the quality of life for people and dogs,’ may be simple, but the results are not. Mission accomplished and thank you.” n Part I of this article, From Shelter Dog to Service Dog, was published in BARKS from the Guild, January 2016, pages 34-35. Read it at /barks_from_the_guild_january_2016/34. Part II, A Chihuahua’s Success Story, was published in BARKS from the Guild, March 2016, pages 28-29.. Read it at /barks_from_the_guild_march_2016/28


Dogs for Life, Inc.:

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.

Stella has been trained to perform a sit/stay and create a safe space around her owner when needed

BARKS from the Guild/May 2016



Positive Training for Show Dogs

Vicki Ronchette explains why she wishes more dog trainers featured conformation as part


of their training repertoire

or over 27 years now I have been competing with my dogs in a variety of sports including obedience, rally, nosework, earthdog, field trials, barn hunt, agility and conformation. There are exciting new dog sports sprouting up all the time, but conformation is a constant. It is one of the oldest dog sports and surely the most popular as is evident by the number of entries at dog shows worldwide every single weekend. While I watch the trend of training styles change across the various dog sports, I see less change in the world of conformation. I believe the reason for this is that there is still much traditional training and thinking in the dog show world that has been taught or passed on by breeders, many who have been doing what they do - often quite successfully - for many years. As a result, they may not see any need for change. Change can be hard and I too had to work hard to relearn everything when I decided that I wanted to train differently. One of the issues here is that not all that many positive reinforcement trainers do conformation, therefore they do not offer conformation training to their clients. They do not know exactly what a show dog needs to know, how a dog show works, or even how to support clients with show dogs in their basic training classes. I am working hard to spread the word and try to help instructors understand how to help their clients by learning more about conformation as well as coaching and training my own clients how to use these methods. A show dog needs to be trained to perform the necessary behaviors for the show ring. While these behaviors are not particularly challenging in general, they still need to be trained to a level of reliability in order to be able to be performed in the ring. The behaviors a show dog needs to know all fall into three basic categories, gaiting – moving at the correct speed and correct gait for that dog’s breed; stacking – standing in the correct position for that breed on his own and with the owner placing him in position; and judge’s examination – being touched all over his body, including mouth (and testicles for a male) by a stranger. Of course, I work with dogs who have issues such as being shy and unsure of strangers, moving inappropriately such as pacing or with the head down, being worried about other dogs, not being comfortable with certain types of flooring and so on, all which are 30

BARKS from the Guild/May 2016

issues that are better worked out with a qualified behavior consultant rather than a dropin handling class.


Gaiting is simply moving the dog so that the judge can observe his movement. Depending on the breed the judge will be looking for different things and the handler needs to be able to show the dog off best, Author Vicki Ronchette moving him in a way that encourages professional positive trainers to learn shows his attributes and more about dog shows movement well. I use a clicker and consider offering conformation classes for gaiting training a lot. The small, specific behaviors that I want the dog to do are best trained with very clear information. Using a clicker allows me to mark when the dog’s head is just right, when the speed is just right and so on. I also use other tools such as cavalettis and renowned dog trainer Kay Laurence’s target trotting to achieve the best movement I can. When gaiting, the dog needs to move out without pulling or lagging behind. One thing that happens a lot is that a dog has been trained to watch his owner and walk beside him, but now he is required to look straight ahead and move out. This can all be trained with positive reinforcement.


Stacking is when the dog is standing correctly for his breed. We use free stacking where the dog basically positions himself on his own as well as hand stacking where the handler physically repositions the dog’s legs into position. Some dogs are shown on a table or ramp, so for those dogs we also have to train them to be up there. For free stacking, I use clicker training to shape the behavior and teach the dog to move his feet into position when cued. I do not use a clicker for hand stacking, but I do shape it by reinforcing each piece of behavior as I get the dog used to being positioned.

JudgeÊs Examination

A show dog will be physically examined by the judge who is, as far as the dog is concerned, a stranger. Show dogs MUST be able to cheerfully accept someone unfamiliar touching them all over, including the head, mouth, back legs and testicles. Some judges ask the handler to “show the bite” while others touch the muz-

zle and pull up the lips themselves. Obviously, a show dog needs to be absolutely comfortable with a stranger approaching and touching him. When I have a dog who is not, I have to help the owner teach him through desensitization and counterconditioning to enjoy and feel comfortable with it. Sadly, many dogs are forced into enduring the situation. Part of the reason for this is that people simply do not know what to do. This is why I wish more trainers would offer conformation training. There are some things that as an instructor or exhibitor you simply have to learn as you go along. For instance, bulldog handlers must train their dogs to stand still with their hand just under the chin and must be able to pivot from the side to the front of the dog. Pekingese are generally picked up by judges to determine their proportions. Some terriers are still sparred in the ring whereby the judge has two dogs face each other to see how they react. Some dogs’ mouths need to be open so the judge can count their teeth. I work with many different breeds and am constantly learning the specifics of the individual breeds.


Conformation can be a fun, exciting and relationship building sport and I would love to see more people participate. 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.

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A Need for Change

When I published my book Positive Training for Show Dogs in 2007, I knew change was needed. Things are indeed changing, but we still have a ways to go. I coach people all over the world through my Facebook page, online courses, Yahoo group and phone consults so I know that people want to learn how to train show dogs using positive methods. We just need more people doing it. I encourage professional trainers to learn more about dog shows and consider offering conformation classes. Go to some dog shows, observe what a show dog needs to know, and train your own dog to perform the show ring behaviors even if you will never show the dog.

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Target Training in a Zoo Environment

Lara Joseph shares her experiences training exotics with an emphasis on the power of targeting, no matter what the species

recently accepted a position as director of animal training at one of my local zoos. The position consists of forming an animal training team and training plans for each animal and exhibit, as well as training animals for educational shows. This is a large project for me. With over 300 animals and growing, the position is causing me to be very focused, organized, and prepared—after all, I still have my own animal behavior business. Having a history of training ambassadors for wildlife rehabilitation centers, I am in tune with reading subtle signs of body language before interacting with a variety of different species of animals. Most of the animals at the zoo are not native, so I have to spend many hours with keepers who know a particular species very well, and then develop training and behavior modification plans. Where to begin? I have spent time with each zookeeper observing and training each animal. I asked the zookeepers numerous questions about every animal and exhibit. Some of my first questions included: “What is the animal’s daily diet? Which part of that diet do they readily eat first? What behavior issues are you having with this animal? What behaviors do you wish you could get from this animal and why?” After a few days of training, learning and observing, a meeting was scheduled for me with the zoo’s veterinarian who explained specific husbandry and medical prep behaviors I needed to train the animals to do on cue. This included voluntary blood draws, accepting restraint, hoof or nail trimming, temperature taking, and orifice inspections. On my growing list of animals to train are alligators, marmosets, African-crowned cranes, zebras, macaques, camels, parrots, pigs, crows, tayras, lemurs, emus, wolves, coatimundis, and kinkajous. Regardless of which animal I am working with, I begin These American alligators learned to target with all four feet on the ground after a few repetitions


BARKS from the Guild/May 2016

with observing motivation (or the lack thereof). I then gather lists of reinforcers and design behavior and training sheets for each animal, which list immediate goals, positive reinforcers and observable punishers. After the initial stage of identifying and delivering reinforcers, each animal is trained to target and to station. In many instances, I train two or more animals at a time. As the complexity is greater, I begin by loosening my criteria. I look at the group as one big picture. I ask myself what I want to see as a whole in this enclosure, and then I begin training that. My movements, bridging and delivery of positive reinforcers are all fast to keep the animals in their positions to begin training them to station. I want to see calm behavior and preliminary stationing so I can begin interacting with one animal while reinforcing the others for stationing. I then move on to the next animal in that enclosure until all of them know the same behavior.After less than two weeks of consecutive days of training, I had already begun to see behavior changes. Peanut Butter and Jelly are a pair of marmosets. Before I began training, I was told the male hung on the edge of the enclosure and urinated on people that stood too close. Thus, when I first started training, I bridged and reinforced before he could hang on the side of the enclosure. After a few short repetitions, I began seeing what I thought looked like anticipation. I began hearing different vocalizations and a change in body language on my approach. On the third day of training them, something happened that pleased me but did not surprise me. I cut up tiny pieces of apples, stuck them in a cup and placed them on top of the marmosets’ enclosure as I prepared to start training. Jelly ran to the top of the enclosure and knocked over the cup of apples, which went all over the floor of their enclosure. Since I had not yet trained them to accept me inside their enclosure, I knew training might be over for the day. Nonetheless, I walked back to cut more apples and when I came back out, they were both eating the apple bits on the bottom of their enclosure. I cued them to station to see what they would do and they immediately went to their stations. They abandoned the free food at the bottom of their enclosure and began working via training for the bits I now had in my treat pouch. This is a behavior called contrafreeloading, defined as an animal choosing to work for food instead of taking free, identical Author Lara Joseph trains a variety of exotic animals (pictured here with an alpaca)


Joseph investigates what is - and what is not - reinforcing for this lemur

food. The marmosets were choosing to train for their reinforcers. This is a behavior I am very familiar with but never tire of seeing. It is the proof behind the training most of us do. I sporadically trained a pair of American alligators for four days. Through several repetitions I taught them to station. I began noticing differences in how each would take their food from my tongs. The female would snap at the air and stand on her hind legs with her front legs on the gate. This was not a behavior I wanted to reinforce, because other trainers and I will eventually be training them on exhibit. I began training her to target with all four feet on the ground. Once I was predictably getting all four feet targeted to the ground, I then began predictably introducing the new food treats to her. Each time I would feed her it would consistently be presented at the right side of her mouth. Each time I requested a behavior she quickly began understanding that the food would be presented to her right, requiring less observable effort for her to get than standing on her back feet. After training this, I was able to better train other behaviors and she learned the contingency


of the behaviors and the bridging of those behaviors. I am in the process of training several macaques. The 7-yearold male macaque, Makaya, intimidated me the first few times I met him. Teaching an animal to target a body part to the end of a stick is always one of the first things I do. It teaches me to better read the animal’s body language and teaches them to better read mine. If I make a mistake, I prefer to reshape the presence of the stick instead of an accidental target of teeth on my hand. There are several things that I need to teach Makaya, such as going into a catch cage so we can enter his enclosure. Thinking ahead, I began teaching him to touch his nose to the end of a stick so I can ask him to move from point A to point B. In this video, Makaya's Second Target Training Session, I am asking him to target from further distances. I am beginning to observe and accurately read what his body language looks like when he does not want to do something. He turns his head away from me and the object.You will also see how he quickly understands the contingency of those choices. Those choices are his. I have a feeling Makaya and I are going to train and learn well together. n


Joseph, L. (Producer). (2016). Makaya's Second Target Training Session [Video]. Retrieved March 18, 2016, from

Lara Joseph is the owner of The Animal Behavior Center LLC,, in Ohio. She is also the director of animal training & enrichment for Nature’s Nursery, a wildlife rehabilitation center where she focuses on taking stress out of animal environments. She is the founder of the Parrot Society of NW Ohio and The Parrot Society of New Orleans, as well as 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. She is also the director of animal training for the Indian Creek Zoo.

We are always on the lookout for interesting features, member profiles, case studies and training tips to feature in BARKS from the Guild and BLOGS from the Guild. If you’d like to join the growing band of member contributors, please get in touch.

Email: BARKS from the Guild/May 2016



Making Room for the Little Guys

Emily Cassell explains why training pocket pets can be such a challenge while solidly


refuting the myth that they are “untrainable”

ish, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, rab- Prey animals view bits, and the like are not known for the world differently cats and dogs their high intelligence, and bear the than and are not inclined to explore or be undeserved reputation of “untrainable.” open to new things It is ironic that in a world of coercive training, the tiniest, fluffiest, and most relatively defenseless animals we work with are the most resistant to aversive training techniques. With force-free training having risen in popularity only recently, it is likely that small animals received their labels before anyone attempted to pull out a clicker or a few carrots to see what they can really do. While the force-free training community realizes that the end does not necessarily justify the means, we cannot deny that punishment and the use of aversives is effective, albeit not ethical. Thus, while aversive techniques have worked in the past for our closest animal partners such as dogs, cats, and horses – not to mention wild, fierce, and powerful animals such as big cats and elephants - we remain relatively powerless in our ability to coerce a fish or a guinea pig into doing anything! Prey animals view the world in a completely different way than dogs and cats do. Small prey animals are not as inclined to explore or be open to new things. The simple reason is that, in the wild, venturing from what you know (i.e. following the group and eating seeds and grass) may very well earn you an unpopular spot in a predator’s mouth. A perfect in-home example of this might be a reaction to a new toy. Dogs and cats will usually happily greet and play with (or sniff and ignore) a new object in the home. Guinea pigs, on the other hand, may avoid the object entirely. If the object is close to a food or water source, they may refuse to eat or drink as opposed to risking it. Anyone who has experience with feral dogs or cats, who are extremely fearful, may notice the same types of behaviors. In addition, dogs have evolved alongside humans for over 30,000 years (Dell’Amore, 2011). While rabbits, mice, and guinea pigs have notoriously short generation intervals, they still have not been domesticated for nearly as long as dogs have. More notably, dogs have been bred to work with people, and so have a level of dependence upon and understanding of us. A perfect example of this are the studies performed that indicate dogs recognize and read our facial expressions (Parry, 2011). Pocket pets have largely been bred to either become coats, science experi34

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ments, or lunch. No dependence on humans required. In fact, their dependence on you once you have lovingly brought them into your new home may not even be desired. This is typically when I receive the most questions. Dog trainers are familiar with being instantly welcomed into the circle of unconditional love and trust that most dogs typically bestow upon us as soon as we meet them. When your new bunny sits in the corner, darts off when you try to pet him, and refuses to take food from your hand, it is not only puzzling, some people would consider it to be hurtful too! The first thing I try to reassure new pocket pet owners with is 1) aloofness is normal, and 2) relationships come with time. When I began working with fearful prey animals, I found it incredibly frustrating, time-consuming, and barely rewarding. I am glad I began with smaller pets before really delving into dog (and eventually cat, otter, bigger cat and orangutan) training. It was a great lesson in empathy, and my “little guys” required me to be hyper-observant of their behavior. One wrong move landed me right back at square one. I spent an awful lot of time at square one. Before beginning training, it is crucially important to research the animal you are working with. The majority of pet stores (in fact, I have not found even one) do not know nearly enough about the animals they are selling or the products they are supplying. Animals with inadequate space and the wrong diet cannot be expected to be ready to learn. In addition, the knowledge that hamsters and gerbils are nocturnal is definitely going to be helpful when planning a training session. Your research will be especially important when deciding what reinforcers to use. Perform some preference assessments by offering a variety of veggies, grasses, or seeds, depending on the species and its diet. Try dropping treats into the animals’ cage as you walk by. This is not only a great way to teach them that you bring treats, but also an easy way to observe their reactions to the different offerings.You can take note of what they gobble up immediately, eat slowly, leave behind, and even argue over, then use that information when you are conducting sessions. On the next two pages, I have outlined some of the main things my pets have taught me when it comes to small animal training.


You Are Scary!

Remember, in a guinea pig’s mind, being afraid is the equivalent of not getting eaten. Negative reinforcement, or the removal of an aversive stimulus to increase a behavior, is really important to keep in the forefront of your awareness while working with small animals, because it will be occurring more often than you might think (Klappenback et al., 2004). If bunny thrashes and scampers out of your hands while you are trying to pick him up, he feels that he has avoided a predatory encounter. The negative reinforcement here is the equivalent of escape, and it is important to note that it is much more powerfully reinforcing for a small animal than a dog who avoids bath time by leaping out of the tub. What this means is that when an animal escapes a situation by scampering, thrashing, biting, etc., he is more likely to do all of these things in the future. Small animals have no real desire to be your friend so you have to work hard to show them that you are a friend worth having. Spend a lot of time hanging near their home, talking to them, moving slowly, and, basically, not eating them. Of course, it is of paramount importance that you supply treats. Hand feeding is a skill that your small pet will gradually acquire, but it does require some desensitization and counterconditioning. Desensitization, “the process of using time or experience to change an animal’s perception of a stimulus from a value, either reinforcing or punishing, to neutral or no value,” will be useful for teaching your pet that new things are not scary. Counterconditioning, “the process where normal defense reactions elicited by an aversive stimulus are modified by association with a positive reinforcer,” will be useful when helping your pet learn that something new can be fun (Klappenback, et al., 2004). By taking it nice and slow, you will build trust and reinforcement history. When working with a small animal, be extremely careful to avoid flooding, or exposing the animal to what they are afraid of until they no longer respond to it (Ferrier, 2015). The best way to avoid flooding is by being well-versed in your pet’s distance increasing and decreasing signals. Universal distance increasing signals among all species include freezing, runAloofness is normal in a small animal such as a guinea pig because “being afraid is the equivalent of not being eaten”

ning away, and wide eyes. In small pets, distance decreasing signals might be any form of movement (animals that feel that they are being preyed upon do not move), sniffing towards you, and vocalizations (again, prey do not want to announce their presence to a predator). From there, research your species as differences in body language vary quite a bit. Guinea pigs dart and scatter to confuse predators and will do so if they are afraid. Bunnies thump their feet to warn group members of danger. Chinchillas make a unique barking noise if they are afraid. There is not a lot of literature on this, unfortunately, so being ultra-observant is key. If you are regularly hitting a wall in training, you might be flooding accidentally.

ItÊs All Your Fault

Many first adventures into the world of small pet training will be frustrating, slow, and generally backwards-moving. Once you have taken the time to acclimate your pet to your presence, touch, hands, treats, bridge, and training area (if you have a separate one), you are probably feeling pretty good about your relationship, because odds are, you have come really far.You have decided on an easy first behavior to continue to move full steam ahead with your relationship with your cute new friend.You are a couple of repetitions into your shaping plan and are impressed with how quickly your pet is learning when out of nowhere… the air conditioning clicks on.Your pet suddenly stops taking treats, is frozen solid, and has eyes the size of a quarter.You may have no idea what is going on because if you are new to this, then you have not developed acute sensitivity to things that frighten a rodent such as a light switch flick from three rooms away. Little do you know that your new friend blames you for this terrifying encounter. In Karen Pryor’s Don’t Shoot the Dog!, the author recommends “going back to kindergarten” if a behavior breaks down. Working with small animals means working through these hurdles and spending a lot of time in kindergarten. Often, environmental changes trigger fear responses in pocket pets and, unfortunately, they will often blame it on you and disengage from Gradually building trust and establishing a reinforcement history is key in training small animals

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the session. It is not uncommon for your relationship to take a slight hit, often manifesting in flightiness during or reluctance to engage in the next session. The best response, in my experience, is to do your best to work through it, get the animal to a “happy” place, and end with them wanting more. Sometimes, you just cannot get them “back” though, and that’s okay. The great thing about force-free training is you can fix almost anything. If you have to end on a bad note, don’t lose sleep over it. Be prepared to spend lots of time in kindergarten! I have had countless sessions ruined by things like a hair dryer, a suddenly loud television commercial, a suddenly quiet television commercial, a lawn mower, and the neighbor’s dog. Oftentimes, it can be impossible to perceive what is going on in the environment, but keep in mind that these little guys have an incredibly sensitive sense of hearing and smell, so if they panic, something is definitely up.You just may not know what it is. Just as each new environment (carpet, tile, backyard, vet’s office, dog park, etc.) is a new challenge for a dog, each new environmental change is a challenge for a small pet, so the more you work through, the better.You will also learn how to better set your sessions up for success. As you practice working through these changes, less and less will affect your sessions as your reinforcement history and relationship grows.

Keep It Super Short

Whether I am working with a flighty bunny or a patient orangutan, I find the most success when I utilize short sessions. Bunnies and guinea pigs are not known for particularly lengthy attention spans, and I would generally say that they have earned this reputation. However, like any animal, they can learn to engage for longer and longer sessions. When I began training Hemingway, my rabbit, my sessions were, no exaggeration, less than 10 seconds! Of course, you gradually build this up as your relationship grows. I tend to film many of my sessions, and was shocked one day when I realized I had conducted a session with Hemingway that was over seven minutes. Keep your sessions short, sweet, and to the point. If I am shaping a behavior, I typically try to get roughly two to three repetitions of that behavior and then end it. My goal is, in reality, much more subjective than that, but that is usually how it ends. The absolute number one rule I hold myself to is to never, EVER listen to myself if I begin to think, “okay, just one more, then I’ll be done.” It might be superstitious on my part, but I have consistently had tremendous failure on that “last one,” and could barely get back to half of where I was before ending. When I feel myself thinking this, though, I usually like what I have seen and want it to continue, making it the perfect high note to end on. Working with pocket pets is difficult, but highly rewarding. As previously mentioned, they are not naturally inclined to look to you for attention and love. Anyone who has worked with fearful animals, no matter what the species, can understand and appreciate the challenges and frustrations of working with such sensitive cases. The same people will also attest that finally achieving the trust of an animal that has so carefully guarded his heart is one of the most incredible, amazing feelings one could experience as a trainer. n 36

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Pocket pets have a highly sensitive sense of smell and hearing and are prone to panic if there is any change in the environment, easily disrupting a training session


Dell'Amore, C. (2011). Ancient Dog Skull Shows Early Pet Domestication. National Geographic. Retrieved February 14, 2016, from /110819-dogs-wolves-russia-domestication-animals-science -evolution Parry, W. (2011). When You're Smiling,Your Dog Probably Knows It. LiveScience. Retrieved February 14, 2016, from -communication.html Pryor, K. (1999). Don't Shoot the Dog!: The New Art of Teaching and Training. New York, NY: Bantam Klappenback, S., Davis, C., Todd, M., Goldblatt, A., Hurley, J., Kordowski, A., & Stafford, G. (2004, January). IMATA Training Terms and Behavioral Glossary: 7-8. International Marine Animal Trainers' Association. Retrieved February 14, 2016, from /uploads/pdfs/training_terms.pdf Ferrier, J. (2015). 5 Treatment Methods to Avoid in Dog Training. K9 Retrieved February 14, 2016, from Emily Cassell is a zookeeper and professional pet trainer located in Tampa, Florida. She began her career in 2010 with fish and guinea pigs before graduating to dogs, cats, and rabbits. She operated her own training business, Phins with Fur Animal Training, /phinswithfurtraining, and worked with Class Act for Dogs in Gainesville while pursuing a degree in Animal Science at the University of Florida before returning to Tampa to work at Courteous Canine, Inc. After completing internships with manatees, otters, and dolphins, she currently works as a fulltime keeper and trainer with orangutans, tigers, gibbons, and various other species.


Dolphins Behaving Like Cats?

Delecia Maynard opens a window into the world of a dolphin pod and highlights the similarities between dolphin and feline behavior Author Delecia Maynard (pictured left) believes there are a number of similarities between dolphins and cats in terms of their behavior


Dolphins have their own unique signature whistle which acts like an individual name

he sun was just peeking over the horizon, and the sand was soft but cool as I strode along the beach towards the still sea. The breeze was already warm this early morning and from a distance I could hear the exhale and intake of breath across the water. My stomach churned with excitement to meet my majestic friends yet again. As I drew nearer to the water’s edge I spotted, Mika, a young 2-year-old bottlenose dolphin of the suborder tursiops truncatus. We had been friends from the moment she had acted on her curiosity to interact with me, which had been allowed by her mom at a very early age. Her mother already trusted her with me since we had a great relationship. One day she had swum up to me and left Mika with me for a glorious moment. This was very special and I felt enormously honored because mother dolphins will generally only leave their newborns with trusted female adults in the family. On this day, Mika was waiting for me as I entered the water, floating on her side watching me with one eye as I donned mask, snorkel and flippers. She waited at a short distance until I lowered my head into the water. As soon as I made eye contact with her she emitted a few bubbles from her blowhole under the water along with a ‘meow,’ (you cat lovers will know what I mean – just like when a cat says ‘hello’ with a greeting meow) and approached my outstretched hand. Dolphins are fascinating creatures with a rich social life and a vast repertoire of behavior. They are wild mammals of the Cetacea order so cannot really be compared to other animals of different orders. Sometimes though I am asked to describe what they are like and, if I could compare them to any other animal, I would definitely choose cats.

Dolphins are born all floppy and wrinkly, and to my utmost surprise at the time, have whiskers just like cats! Baby dolphin whiskers are long and wispy and each animal has his own coloring which can be blond, brown, black or even ginger. These whiskers fall out rather quickly as the dolphins grow and by the time they are about a week old they are non-existent, leaving small but noticeable pores along the top sides of their mouths. I will never forget the first dolphin birth I saw. It happened right in front of my eyes in the clear blue of the sea. What a sight it was. Mom (dolphin pregnancies last 12 months) swam around in wide circles while the family stayed nearby, watching and waiting for the moment. She had been swimming at a relatively slow pace and then suddenly picked up speed, dove quickly to the bottom and raced up to the surface a few times. Eventually she slowed down on the surface and suddenly it was happening. Her body convulsed a few times and I saw a tail protrude, then the body and shortly thereafter the calf was pushed out with his head last in a cloud of milky blood. Immediately mom swam under the calf and guided him to the surface for his first breath of air. Mom and calf were immediately joined by the adult females and they all swam off together side-by-side at a fast pace with the little one safely tucked under mom in her slipstream1. What a fascinating time it is when a new calf is born into the family. Each family member seems to have some kind of role to play in the upbringing of the newborn. The adult females take turns to give mom a break by swimming with the calf until he grows strong enough to maneuver himself properly. As he grows stronger and stronger the younger females in the pod are allowed short moments to babysit and play while the adult females observe, but mostly his time is spent with his BARKS from the Guild/May 2016


BEHAVIOR mother, suckling, ‘sleeping’2, learning how to use his body and, eventually, how to hunt. It is quite an amusing and adorable sight watching the newborn try out his floppy tail and pectoral fins, rolling on himself while trying to dive or raise himself to the surface but it does not take long at all until he is able to figure it out. He will be able to control his movements relatively well by the time he is a few weeks old as his muscles form and the wrinkles in his body smooth out. The first time I heard a newborn emit sound it was like hearing a newborn kitten mewing. Dolphins though have their own unique signature whistle which acts like an individual name. It begins to develop from the moment of birth and starts off being very similar to the mother’s but gradually develops into the dolphin’s own unique sound with differences in pitch and tone. After spending a lot of time with this pod I could identify each dolphin by his signature whistle prior to seeing whoever it was. As such, I could always tell who would be approaching me from a distance or in poor visibility. I had observed this pod for many days prior to any interaction with them. My very first greeting occurred with an adult female who had chosen to come meet me. One of the first behaviors I noticed was how she moved her body gently but firmly into and along my offered hand to be stroked. During her enjoyment of the petting she purred, literally, like a cat. I had also noticed this previously from my observations in how the dolphins would interact with each other. This too was reminiscent of cats who enjoy each other’s company. The dolphins would caress each other with their bodies, pectoral fins and tails while purring, amongst other sounds of contentment they emit, like chirping and squeaking. There are so many examples of how dolphins are cat-like. These occur not only in the way they maneuver themselves while engaging in affection, or engaging in mischievous play by chasing each other’s tails, hiding to pounce, or the curiosity they display in anything novel. One behavior they demonstrate that really stands out in my mind is how they play with their prey. A cat will stalk its prey, chase it, catch it, maybe let it go and then start all over again, finally consuming it (or not). Dolphins also stalk and chase their prey to precision accuracy whereby they can separate one fish from an entire school and use their sonar3 to ‘stun’ them while chasing them.You can literally see the fish stopping momentarily in its tracks, gathering itself and swimming away, only to be chased again. Mika got really good at catching fish from testing her abilities by ‘playing’ with the fish. She would chase them very closely with the tip of her mouth while putting her sonar into action and emitting vibrating sounds onto the fish to confuse it. She would pin the fish on the ocean floor and then allow it to swim off for a moment, only to be chased again. I often felt really sorry for the poor fish but there was the odd one that got away. The fish would try and hide amongst the coral but for the dolphins that just meant game on! They absolutely loved the hide and seek game. Many times they would come away with nothing but it was still one of their favorite games. Another dolphin,Yampa, a 4-year-old female was still rather close to her mother but was also much more independent of 38

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Dolphins have a rich social life and a vast repertoire of behavior

Dolphins are similar to cats in the way that they play with their prey

Newborn dolphins emit a sound like a cat’s meow

her, would spend time alone practising her skills hunting fish. One day I observed her taking it a step further. She had dug up a small crustacean from under the sand, crushed it in her mouth, spat out the fleshy remains towards a small opening in one of the coral reefs and waited. Suddenly a little fish swam out to take the bait and Yampa promptly snatched him up. How clever is that?! That reminded me of one of the local cats who would carry bread to the sea, drop it in the shallow water and wait on a rock. When a fish came to bite he would snatch it up with his claws and toss it onto the beach. This was a breakfast event that we would witness nearly every day. Dolphins are also very adept at hunting in groups with the use of synchronization, which is a phenomenal sight. The synchronization displayed in their sexual activity (which they love to engage, and is practised between both the same and opposite sexes) is no less amazing, but I would need to write another article to elaborate on that. Having a relationship with each dolphin in the pod which was very personal and individual, I felt was very similar to having a relationship with a cat. I had grown up with cats from a very young age and had many relationships with different cats over the years. The fact that cats are so independent and yet so loyal and loving once you have formed a friendship felt very similar for me with the dolphins. My relationship with the dolphins allowed me to train many behaviors based on their freewill and they would come to have fun with me, learning new behaviors both simple and complex. These included husbandry behaviors all trained all via positive reinforcement with primary and secondary reinforcers over a period of 13 years. Today I visit them nearly every year and they are always happy to see me and I to see them. n Maynard’s relationships with the dolphins allowed her to train many behaviors based on their freewill


1 Slipstream: The area of reduced pressure or forward suction produced by and immediately behind a fast moving object (or in this case the dolphin) as it moves through water. 2 Sleeping: Dolphins are voluntary breathers unlike humans. They must consciously swim to the surface to take a breath. This means they can never fully sleep. One side of their brain must always be active so that they remember to breathe. (Every day I would observe the dolphins in their ‘sleeping pattern,’ slowly swimming as a pod with one eye closed in ‘sleep’ while the opposite half of the brain rests, and then switching to the other.) 3 Sonar: Dolphins produce high-frequency clicks in a sonar system called echolocation. The clicking is emitted in a directional beam by the melon4. The sound reaches an object and then bounces back to the dolphin as an echo received at the “acoustic window” area in the lower jaw. This is transmitted to the middle ear and then to the brain for interpretation. Dolphins can process this information to determine the shape, size, speed, distance and location of an object. 4 Melon: A dolphin’s giant forehead is known as the melon. It acts like an acoustic lens and aids in sound recognition.

Delecia Maynard CPDT-KA was head trainer and behavior consultant at Dolphin Reef in Eilat, Israel on the Red Sea from 1997-2009. At Dolphin Reef, the dolphins live as a natural pod in their natural environment and interaction is based on their freewill. Born in South Africa, she has studied animal behavior intensively both in the field and in theory, and tracking, observing and assisting wild animals has always been a part of her life. Now based in Ottawa, Canada, she has become more involved in the canine world over the past decade and now works as a professional dog trainer and behavior analyst at Rainbow Paw,

Maynard found the relationships she developed with pod members were very personal and individual, rather like those many people develop with their cats

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Cats Being Cats

Jane Ehrlich addresses a selection of questions posed by students and professionals


of feline behavior, including grieving and body language

t present, I am an “instructor” on the Humane Society of the United States’ online retention course. I put instructor in quotes because I am not lecturing but just putting in my two cents’ worth to students’ questions. The students, who work in shelters across the country or are otherwise involved with cats, have been sending in questions that any of us could relate to so I have decided to share some of them.

Cats have individual, preferred styles of play


Q1: How do you know when cats are done playing? Sometimes they walk away only to turn around and chase the toy again. Q2: How do cats pick their prey (birds vs. snakes/mice)? My cat, for example, © Can Stock Photo Inc./ancientimages that he is ready for a new friend? Would following cat-cat inloves snakes/mice. She hardly ever jumps for toys. She troduction protocols correctly help mitigate any issues? watches them until they land and then waits for them to move again before she pounces. Should we tell people to just stick to what their cat likes (either/or - or both) or is it A: There is no specific amount of time. It depends both on you better for them to encourage the cat to hunt both types of and the cat when each of you is ready. It can be weeks, months, prey? Should I keep the toy flying until my cat jumps to get or even years. Answer these: who was in the home first, the it? grieving cat or the one who has died? I ask because if the grieving cat was there first, you have had experience of the cat on his A: Cats have their own individual styles. It is assumed this is beown. He knows what it was like to be the only cat. What was his cause of what they have seen their mothers/siblings/other cats personality like before second cat came on the scene? And after? do. (I like to include the possibility that while the kitten is going Many cats can adjust to a new cat on the scene and there can to mimic mom’s wisdom in order to survive, there may be some be some repression or liberation of personality, with accompanyindividuality there too.) One of my cats, for example, could not ing traits, as a result.You have to consider, what was the relationcare less about flying toys like Da Bird, but goes happily crazed if ship between the two? Tolerance? Bonded? Real dislike? Some she sees snakes slithering or mice scrabbling. Another watches cats come into their own when another cat dies. Others do not. skittering bugs on the floor but only for a few seconds. However, The remaining cat may need time to become himself before you a fly gets her going. Cats tell you what they like. Also, cats can consider another friend for him. What is his relationship with have a second wind so after a wind-down, let the 'prey' rest and you and how has it changed since the other cat's death? Closer? see if Noodles gets excited after his pause. He may be up for an- More removed? Answering these questions can help inform you other few minutes of dash-and-grab. When cats walk way away, as to whether or not remaining cat wants another or not. (You, or look at you as if you have turned into a turnip, you know the of course, are another matter—but I would put the cat’s emoonly one who wants to keep playing is you. tional needs over your own!) And when is a good time? When the cat's appetite, manner, sleeping habits, etc. return to normal, Grieving Period then grieving has found its resolution but it takes time to see if Noodles even wants, or would truly blossom, with another cat in Q: How long should someone wait until they adopt another the home. If you think it is worth a try, then a slow introduction cat to replace one that recently passed away? They say pets would be the way to start. If it does not work out, usually it is go through a grieving period too so what would be the signs 40

BARKS from the Guild/May 2016

because the process has been rushed. However, sometimes it is because the two cats simply do not get along.

FELINE Cats are often fond of bathrooms - but why?

Litter Box Issues

Q:The problem with Chloe is that she does not cover her stool. It has a very strong odor and the owner has a very sensitive nose. Most of the time Chloe covers her urine. Chloe uses a clumping litter in an uncovered box. She does not have any other litter box issues. Her foster mom really wants to keep her but we would like to help with the stool problem. Is there a way to teach or convince Chloe to cover her waste? A: Has her stool always been strong smelling? If not then is there a way to ascertain what caused the change: diet or medication? Sometimes grain-free diets can cause the stool to smell more strongly, and unless a cat has allergies to grain—which few of them really do—it is worth looking into. Think about it: what do cats eat in the so-called wild? Rodents. Birds. Insects. Graineaters. A lot of this grain-free stuff is for the consumer not for the cat. Certainly some of the cheap cat foods have too much grain filler in them but the cat does metabolize a certain amount quite naturally. If it has always been that way, and medically things have been sorted, then increased scooping is the answer. And after scooping before bedtime, the owner can move the box further from her bedroom! Has she always kept her stool uncovered? If so I have found that many cats, especially if they were born or have spent time outside (and/or their mothers did) do not cover because it is such an important messaging tool. If this was not the case, then I have to wonder about the box hygiene. Many cats will not cover (who formerly did so) if it means they have to put their paws in dirty litter to cover.

© Can Stock Photo Inc./Digifuture

A cat’s tail is indicative of his current emotional state; this cat is alert and paying close attention to his environment while the hooked tail suggests caution

© Can Stock Photo Inc./okssi68

Cat Tail Language

Q: A cat's tail straight up with a hook at the end is "friendly but unsure,” and if the tail is straight up it’s "friendly." What does it mean if the cat never has his tail straight up? My kitten always greets us with a hooked tail. What is she unsure of? A: Reading cat body language is about context: the environment plus other signals she shows at the same time. For example, a cat can swish her tail or dilate her pupils when she is excited and happy zipping about in play. Or she can have that same tail and those black eyes when she is afraid. If your cat approaches you for affection and all signs are that she is content, she is most likely content. It is also possible that she is unsure of something because she is genetically feral, because of early life experience, or trauma at some point in her life so is naturally cautious (and hence the hooked tail). But she is still just fine. The moment my calico (who is feral, found ill at 3 weeks old) padded into my home she ruled the roost and yet her tail was hooked. Seven years later it still is and she has grown into an affectionate and even more confident, happy soul. Diagrams are useful but experience also counts. I have seen many, many confident cats with perennially hooked tails. I think it simply means they are extremely alert, as many cats with a less secure background can be.Yet they are still quite content and confident.

Cats and Bathrooms

Q: Why do cats like bathrooms? My 9-month-old kitten is social and we give her lots of attention and play. But she can be asleep on the couch and if one of us goes into the bathroom, she will follow and start purring like crazy. She has to be on the counter, rub against your legs, or even lay in your lap! Or she will sit outside the closed door and cry (her 'I want attention NOW’ meow). Last night she was crying at the shower curtain when I was in the shower. Once we leave the bathroom she is back relaxing on the couch and does not want any more attention. BARKS from the Guild/May 2016



A: A lot of cats love bathrooms. Think about it: different smells. Water - to look at, even if they do not want to play in it. Or perhaps they do. Toilet paper. Shiny stuff on the counter to knock off. Small spaces where interesting things happen. I have one cat who loves to sit in my lap when I'm... sitting. And there’s nothing like being let in when the door is usually closed against you.


Q: Is there something about cats or cat litter that is dangerous to women during a pregnancy? What about toxoplasmosis that doctors warn about?

Š Can Stock Photo Inc.KathyGold

A: Toxoplasmosis is a parasite found in about a third of cats. It does not typically affect them, or humans, for that matter. In the United States, most people who have toxoplasmosis get it from touching raw meat (and then putting their fingers in their mouth at some point before washing them) or eating raw meat. Toxoplasmosis does not affect humans who have a healthy immune system. It can, however, in rare cases, affect fetuses. To get toxoplasmosis from your cat you would have to touch his feces with your bare fingers and then lick said fingers! In other words, the chance of a woman's fetus being affected by the toxoplasmosis from a cat is incredibly small, and with the most basic of precautions (using latex gloves and/or just washing hands after cleaning the litter box), there is no danger to the fetus. (Even if you didn’t wash your hands after scooping litter, it would still be extremely unlikely you would actually ingest anything.) I just had this conversation with a client last week; she refused to 'do' her three cats' boxes as she was pregnant, and depending on the 'man of the house' did not help. Result: the cats were boycotting the full boxes. Ugh. Unless you were a born vegetarian from vegetarian parents, the chances are you already have toxoplasmosis in your system where it lies benign and harmless. I have never known of a case, and neither have the behaviorists I have spoken to, although doctors continue to warn their female patients, based on old “wisdom.� I advise my clients to be realistic,1) As to the chances of getting ill and 2) Who is really going to scoop the boxes, have pity on the cats, and grab a box of disposable latex gloves. Alternatively, simply wash the hands afterwards, just using hottish water and soap. n Jane Ehrlich is an accredited 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.


BARKS from the Guild/May 2016


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Cats and Chiropractic Therapy


Patience Fisher speaks to chiropractor Dr. Michael Savko, who explains how

chiropractic/VOM therapy for cats can act as an additional tool for behavior consultants

r. Michael Savko is an all-species animal chiropractor who works in a number of locations in western Pennsylvania. Although I was familiar with chiropractic services for mobility problems in horses, I was surprised to hear that Dr. Savko treats many dogs and cats too. I was even more surprised to learn that not only does he treat them for physical ailments, but also for behavioral issues. Much the same way that veterinary medicine can sometimes be used to aid behavior consultants, so too can chiropractic services. As a feline behavior consultant and writer, the focus during my interview with him was on how chiropractic therapy can assist cats with problem behaviors. BARKS: How many cats have you treated?

Dr. Michael Savko: Well, I’ve been doing this for 17 years, so it’s hard to say exactly. But I’d say around 1,000 cats.

BARKS: I wouldn’t have guessed that many. So many cats don’t even get taken to the veterinarian regularly. How do people find you?

MS: I work with five local veterinary practices so sometimes one of those practices refers clients to me. I also get referrals from clients. But a lot of people find me on the internet by doing a web search. I have both a website, Animal Healing Now, and a Facebook page. BARKS: What are some problems that you have treated in cats?

MS: It would be easier to explain what I can’t treat: tumors, blunt force trauma, broken bones, and infections. The instruments I use to diagnose and treat are very gentle, so there is no harm in pursuing chiropractic care for any other issue. I have had a lot of success with just about every other type of problem. But even for the problems I listed that I can’t treat, I can still help by promoting healing after the animal has received veterinary care. For example, I can’t treat cancer but I have provided palliative care to cats with cancer. That was actually one of my most satisfying cat cases. Of course I could not cure the cat but I gave her and her owner many months of quality life, which was the goal of the treatment. The owner was so very grateful, she called me several times to thank me and to tell me how well her cat was feeling. It was very satisfying to have helped them through such a difficult time.

BARKS: Can you explain your technique?

MS: I use two different instruments that quickly tap key points

Dr. Michael Savko with one of his patients: “Veterinary, chiropractic, and behavior consultants are all tools available to address behavior problems.”

on the animal’s body. The first phase is finding out where the nervous system is not working right – where the static interference is. There’s a pathological reflex in animals that people do not have. When there is a problem area they involuntarily respond to the instruments. So, phase one is to find and reduce neurological static and phase two to find and reduce muscular spasm and imbalance. First I scan for the reflexes, which we call a diagnostic pass, and then if problems are found, I will go back and work on these areas several more times with therapeutic passes. I work on the area with the goal of having these reflexes reduce or resolve completely. Sometimes we get changes during the visit and sometimes it can take several visits to get results. First I do this for the nerves and then I use a different instrument for the muscles.

BARKS: How do you get the cat to accept that sort of treatment?

MS: Normally they’re good! The instruments don’t hurt them. Now, they do make a clicking noise; I get the cat used to that noise first, and then I use the instrument on the middle of the BARKS from the Guild/May 2016



back, which is a place I have found that they are most comfortable with. I then proceed to scan the neck and head. If I need to have someone hold the head, I do that. But the cats usually don’t mind the treatment. It does not hurt them, and may even feel good. Now, with cats that are in extreme pain from an injury as well as for cats that do not react well to handling in general, I will wrap them in a towel. BARKS: But don’t you need them to be relaxed for a chiropractic adjustment to work? Or for it to at least to be comfortable? MS: For manual, hands-on adjustments, yes. But that is one reason I use the instruments. They are faster than human hands. If I am on the right spot, it will work with the Cats that feel cat in any position or even if the cat is physically well are better able tense. They are that fast. to cope with Even if the cat is relaxed, with manual stressors in their lives adjustments there is a greater chance of not getting it done. I get more done with less force by using the instruments.

cat feel better physically, the cat is more able to adjust to the stress in his life and benefit from any improvement to the environment that we make to deal with the crux of the problem. Say, by separating two cats that aren’t getting along and reintroducing them. This will have a better chance of success if both cats feel well physically and mentally. BARKS: Is that how it works when dealing with aggression issues?

MS: Yes. By making sure the cat is calm both physically and mentally, the cat is more apt to be helped by the behavior modification program. BARKS: Have you worked in conjunction with a behavior consultant?

MS: For dogs I have. I had a case of a dog that liked people, but tended to snap unpredictably when being petted. I found neurologic static on the cranium and the brain stem. It’s an ongoing case, but after a few treatments he is 80 percent better.

BARKS: What qualifications should someone look for in an animal chiropractitioner? MS: Look for someone who is VOM certified: that is certified for veterinary orthopedic manipulation. There are a lot of people out there that have just taken a course or two. I would not use someone like that.

BARKS: There are cats that bite after a short amount of petting. Could that be due to neurologic static?

MS: Yes, it could well be.

BARKS: You mentioned compulsive behaviors in cats. Tell me about a case you successfully treated.

BARKS: What cat behavior problems have you treated?

MS: I’ve treated cats that were not reliably using their litter box. I’ve dealt with aggression issues, and I’ve treated compulsive behaviors.

BARKS: How can chiropractic adjustments help solve litter box issues?

MS: When pain is making it hard for the cat to get into his litter box, relieving that returns the cat to good litter box habits. Older cats that may be arthritic, as well as cats that have had a previous injury, also benefit from chiropractic treatment.

BARKS: How about cats that are marking with urine?

MS: Cats that are marking are often stressed. Maybe there is a new baby or a new pet in the house. Of course, the underlying problem causing the stress must be addressed, but chiropractic treatment is helpful in getting that problem resolved. Just like when you are stressed by, say, a difficult co-worker and you end up with tension headaches or something like that—that just makes it harder for you to cope with the problem. By making the


MS: I had a case where the cat was cleaning himself incessantly; it was almost like a seizure – he even licked the air. Sometimes when they experience an abnormal sensation, they are stimulated to do something, and cleaning themselves is something they know how to do— that they often do—so that is how they deal with it. It could be a nerve impingement. Every case is different, but the client usually will see improvement and a decrease in such aberrant behavior after just three to four visits. I often start with once a week, and then spread the treatments out to every-other week, then monthly. This is just an example. Every case is different.

© Can Stock Photo Inc./Thilien

BARKS from the Guild/May 2016

BARKS: How can someone decide when to call a veterinary chiropractitioner?

MS: Well, in this day and age more people are looking for natural solutions first, or in conjunction with medical so they can be as non-invasive as possible, and use as little medication as possible. So anybody that is thinking like that will be looking for natural solutions right away. Sometimes clients have already seen the vet


first and will find me or get referred to me because they are not seeing results, or not getting as good of results as they want with the current care plan. Sometimes people come to me, because they can’t have the cat on medications: maybe the cat is elderly, and suffering from kidney problems. Or maybe the person prefers to try a holistic approach first. There is no reason not to see a qualified chiropractor first or in conjunction with the vet for a strange behavior: strange behaviors often trace back to the nerves, which is what I treat.

Dr. Savko works in conjunction with veterinarians and behavior professionals and says if a cat is “calm both physically and mentally, [he] is more apt to be helped by [a] behavior modification program.”

BARKS: Behavior consultants often don’t get called until after a cat owner has spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars at the veterinary clinic, and at that point they aren’t willing to spend the time and money required to address the problem. Do you face this problem as well? MS: Yes, certainly. Why not try all three? Veterinary, chiropractic, and behavior consultants are all tools available to address behavior problems. If you have done test after test at the veterinary clinic and don’t have a diagnosis or results, why not see if a behavior consultant or a veterinary chiropractitioner can help? Or you might even want to start with one of these holistic approaches if it is behavioral. For instance, once infection and crystals in the bladder have been ruled out, you might want to have a chiropractitioner treat the cat for possible mobility issues. Or you might want a behavior consultant to examine the relationships in the household or any other potential stressors.

BARKS: How do you integrate your services with an animal behavior consultant?

MS: If a behavior consultant is dealing with cat-cat aggression, or urine marking due to a stressor in the cat’s life, a chiropractitioner can help with that plan by alleviating physical and mental tension. As I said before, if you are stressed at work due to bad relationships there, you are likely to develop physical problems, such as back tension or stomach problems.You could also become grumpy due to your pain and stressed mentally due to your pain and your problems, and that will change your daily behaviors. Cats are no different. And just like you, when a cat feels well physically and mentally he is able to deal with life’s challenges better, and so is more receptive to a behavior modification plan.

BARKS: How do you integrate your services with a veterinarian? MS: I work right in the office with them. I travel to several veterinary hospitals each week. I am a specialist that comes in and does VOM and other holistic modalities in their practice. I also get referrals from many veterinarians across the region. If I see a red flag with a case I will refer back to the veterinarian. I see our roles as complementary. n


Animal Healing Now: Dr. Michael Savko on Facebook: /AnimalHealingNow/?fref=ts

Patience Fisher BS DipFBST is a certified veterinary assistant and the owner of Patience,, a feline behavior consulting service located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She has fostered many cats and assisted with adoptions for Pittsburgh-area shelters. She has also worked with private clients.

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BARKS from the Guild/May 2016




Understanding Elimination Behaviors

Carolyn Kocman examines the commonly reported problem of inappropriate elimination


in cats and breaks it down into the relevant categories

© Can Stock Photo Inc./kefca

ne of the most prevalent complaints among cat owners revolves around their feline friends’ elimination behaviors. While house cats can be litter box trained and most are complete naturals in any case, there are times when these behaviors may get “lost” and owners become frazzled and frustrated. Inappropriate elimination often occurs when a cat attempts to communicate using scent from urine and/or feces. Other times cats have clinical conditions that are at the root of the behavior. It is estimated that 40-75 percent of cats in North America who present with behavior problems have an elimination disorder (Scherk, 2011). Unfortunately, this same source reports that “tens of thousands of [North American] cats are euthanized or surrendered” yearly and often this is Spraying involves depositing a small amount of urine against a vertical a result of behavioral issues. surface and is usually associated Thus, it is of extreme imporwith marking behavior tance that owners and professionals alike understand the source of inappropriate elimination behaviors and how to address them. Though elimination disorders manifest in a variety of ways, they are easily divided into two main categories, each with its own behavioral characteristics and each with its own motivations. The first elimination disorder category is spraying. Spraying is mainly performed by intact male cats and is largely related to marking territory. However, spraying has also been seen in both neutered males and in females. This behavior involves the cat standing in an upright position to spray urine onto vertical surfaces. Not only is this behavior performed from a standing position, it also involves only a small amount of urine which is deposited in an obvious location – such as under a window or by a door. Spraying can be done over the scent of another cat and is the result of provocation of the need to establish territory markings. But reasons for this behavior are not limited to the presence of another feline. There can be other reasons, including recent moves, furniture displacement, lack of attention, in fact, anything the cat experiences as a stressful situation. When a cat sprays, he finds a naturally occurring reinforcement in the behavior because spraying generates a sense of reassurance with regard to his own territory. Consider the example of a


BARKS from the Guild/May 2016

woman who is unable to locate her car keys in her purse. She is relieved to put her hand into her pocket and find the keys. Holding them provides a sense of security as she proceeds to her car. Consider a man who drops a $10 bill on a windy day. As he steps on the bill to prevent it from blowing away he senses reassurance in knowing that the money remains safely in his possession. In much the same way the inappropriate elimination behavior is linked to anxiety in an animal. When a cat senses the presence of visiting feral cats outside his home (an open window carrying their scent on the breeze, a glimpse through a cracked door), he may experience anxiety. This may create a response that includes the marking of his territory. Sometimes, assuming the cat is physically healthy, these behaviors may involve the prescription of anxiolytics by the veterinarian (Hart, Eckstein, Powell, & Dodan, 1993). Such pharmaceuticals may be necessary but whether the cat needs medical intervention or not, behavior professionals can be a great source of help in the treatment of anxiety related behaviors. The professional will consult with both owner and veterinarian to help identify the sources of the anxiety and stress. By altering the cat’s environment, helping the cat develop better coping skills, and improving his emotional state and overall mood state, the professional can help anxious cats to better handle anxiety producing stimuli. Spraying contrasts greatly with inappropriate toileting behaviors. This is the second category of the disorder. Inappropriate toileting behavior is often done in more discrete locations such as behind furniture, on carpets or kitchen counters. It also involves a much greater volume of urine than that of spraying. In fact, inappropriate toileting is performed from a crouched position on horizontal surfaces and is simply normal elimination that is performed outside the litter box. This often occurs when the cat’s preferred substrate is not provided, the litter is not provided in sufficient quantity, when the litter box is unclean (although some cats prefer that the box retains some of their scent by not being too clean), when the litter box itself is not liked (e.g. a lot of cats dislike covered litter boxes as they offer no escape route), when the litter box is in an unfavorable location (e.g. next to a noisy washing machine), or when another resident cat is lying in wait ready to harass the user. Inappropriate toileting can often occur when there has been a negative experience tied to the litter box experience, such as an agonistic encounter in that location (perhaps with another animal) or pain from an infection. Additionally, a cat may not be able to enter the litter box when mobility is limited. In the case where the litter box conditions seem appropriate and there is not a substrate, box, or uncleanliness issue, it is important to have the cat seen by a veterinarian to rule out any clinical condi-

tions that may be causing the behavior. In fact, it is extremely important that a cat with an elimination disorder of any kind be seen first by a veterinarian because treating pain in the animal is an extremely important step in the behavioral process. Moreover, it is prudent to take care of the animal’s health and wellbeing. Physical reasons for an inability to use the litter box properly can include urinary tract disorders (including stones or crystals in the urinary tract – a condition that can be life threatening), spinal injury, cognitive disorders, disorders that cause excessive drinking, intestinal disorders, parasites, metabolic disorders, arthritis, and more. Yet while the cat may receive treatment and be medically cleared of these and other issues, the inappropriate elimination behaviors may still continue. It is thus imperative to enlist the aid of a trained behavior professional who will work in tandem with your veterinarian to help resolve the issues. An example of this a cat who is experiencing pain from a urinary tract infection and needs veterinary treatment for the medical condition. However, once that treatment is successful, the behavior may not change because the cat now associates the litter box experience with the sensation of pain. Neilson (2004) stated that the most important factor in making a behavioral diagnosis is to be able to identify whether it is spraying or a toileting issue. Neilson emphasizes the motivating factor in marking/spraying as territorial and/or anxiety and stress related, in contrast with toileting issues, which are related to medical issues, preferences or aversions, or anxiety. Clearly, once medical issues have been ruled out, spraying behaviors can be treated with environmental modification (Landsberg, Hunthausen, & Ackerman, 2008) while toileting issues may be treated with a different approach. Inappropriate toileting must be treated with removal of the behavioral trigger, reestablishment of litter box use, and prevention of return to inappropriate areas (Landsberg, et al., 2008). As such, behavioral modification methods will include reestablishing the use of the litter box by confining the cat to the litter box area, monitoring the use of the litter box, and subsequently rewarding the cat for the appropriate use of the litter box (Landsberg, et al., 2008). n

* See also A Lesson in Tolerance, published in BARKS from the Guild, July 2014, p.46-47, for a case study in inappropriate feline elimination, available at /barks_complete/46?e=4452575/8734257.


Litter box issues are common in cats and may develop for medical reasons, as well as substrate or location preferences

© Can Stock Photo Inc./okssi68

Carolyn Kocman decided to pursue her passion of working with animals after many years in the business world. She is currently a graduate student pursuing an MS in companion animal behavior analysis and counseling at the American College of Applied Science, which she has been attending since 2012. With only some lab work, thesis, and externships remaining before obtaining her final degree, she is actively working to open her practice which will focus largely on canine behavioral issues. She also serves on the PPG advocacy committee.


Hart, B. L., Eckstein, R. A., Powell, K. L., & Dodman, N. H. (1993). Effectiveness of buspirone on urine spraying and inappropriate urination in cats. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 203(2), 254-258 Landsberg, G., Hunthausen, W., & Ackerman, L. (2008). Handbook of Behavior Problems of the Dog and Cat (2nd edn.). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Neilson, J. (2004). Thinking outside the box: feline elimination. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, 6(1), 5-11. Retrieved March 1, 2016, from /S1098612X03001220 Scherk, M. (2011). Eliminating Inappropriate Elimination (Proceedings). online. Retrieved March 1, 2016, from: -inappropriate-elimination-proceedings


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

THERE ARE A NUMBER OF TOOLS AT YOUR DISPOSAL: 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/May 2016



An Alternative Perspective

Sara Richter explains how modern technology can offer a new insight into equine behavior


and help horse trainers see the world in the same way their charges do

n an unseasonably warm winter day in Chicago, Cherokee and I were preparing for a training session in the sunshine. The great outdoors was not something this 18-year-old American paint horse mare was unaccustomed to, as she spent every day turned out in a large and lovely pasture. However, as we approached the open door that leads out from the barn, she froze in her tracks. I scanned the environment but nothing had changed, nothing was out of place, nothing was novel, and nothing was moving. Cherokee, however, stared dead ahead at a puddle. This was particularly strange as she typically plays in puddles. She had even had to walk through a few to arrive at this puddle. I offered her the ball that we use as a target, to which she responded with a furrowed glance before staring down the aisle once again. We shaped our way to the puddle, until she would touch the edge with her muzzle, yet she still would not travel through it. Instead she would stand at the edge, lift her foreleg and promptly take a large step backwards. It was at that moment that I realized this mare was seeing something that I simply could not. The problem was not puddles in general, it was this particular puddle. It is no surprise that horses perceive the world differently than humans do. The filters on an iPhone can be As forceused to help us understand the world from a horse’s perspective free train-


BARKS from the Guild/May 2016

Looking at the world through a horse’s eyes can be a revelation when dealing with behavior issues

ers we tend to think outside of the box, to find new ways to empathize with and understand the animals that we work with. However, there are situations in which our ability to empathize and understand may be inhibited by our physical differences. Dr. Temple Grandin describes the vision of horses in her 1989 piece, Behavioral Principles of Livestock Handling: “The latest research on color vision in farm animals shows that they are dichromats with cones (color sensitive retina cells) most sensitive to yellowish-green (552-555 nm) and blue purple light (444445 nm)2. Humans are trichromats and see the full color spectrum. Dichromatic vision may make the animal more sensitive to seeing sudden movement. It may explain why grazing animals such as cattle balk at drain gates, shadows, and anything that has high contrast of light and dark.” (Grandin, 1989). Schemas are the mental framework through which we view the world, which are acquired from past experience and perception. They help us to interpret new information and develop inferences based on the knowledge that we have acquired over time. However, our human perceptual schema can stand in the way of our ability to understand the unique perspective of the animals that we are trying to understand. That day, I discovered that my iPhone is an incredible tool for pushing past my human perceptual schema to better appreciate the horses that I work with. Due to recent software updates, Apple has provided iPhone users with a set of photography filters that can be used to view the world as we would with a new set of eyes. To access the photo filters on an IPhone, tap the icon of three circles in the bottom right corner located inside of the camera app, then simply select the filter that you would like to apply (see image, bottom left). There are two filters that I primarily utilize while working with horses; Noir and Process. The Process

filter helps me to approximate the way that some colored objects may protrude more noticeably than objects of a different color through a horse's eyes. The Noir filter meanwhile, illustrates the effects of high contrast vision. Of course it is important to remember that these filters were not designed with the intention of imitating equine vision precisely. Viewing the puddle through the Noir filter, I could finally see what the problem was; the puddle resembled a hole in the earth (see image bottom left)! The way the light reflected off of this particular patch of water gave the impression that the door was twice as big as it had ever been. It seemed to have a sharp downward slope like a cliff leading to the blindingly bright new doorway. To expect any amount of training to teach a horse to jump off of a cliff would be unreasonable. Instead, we found another exit route. Not only did we not waste time counterconditioning a puddle that this mare would likely never encounter in the exact same way again, but it was a moment of empowerment for Cherokee. She was able to communicate her anxiety and discomfort with the situation, while feeling safe and understood. I will never forget what Dr. Karen Overall said at the 2015 Pet Professional Guild Summit. She stated that it is “possible to use positive techniques and stress the animal.” I could have spent my time and energy attempting to change Cherokee's emotional response to her perception of that particular puddle, and perhaps someday she would have had the confidence to step into it. However, the puddle was bound to disappear before I could truly make a difference. In fact, when approaching from the opposite direction she was able to walk directly through the same puddle without hesitation. The Noir filter helped me greatly to move past my perceptual schema and comprehend the way that light can reflect to form a unique perspective that is non-perceptible to the human eye. However, this particular filter does not account for the way

Cherokee would not go through this particular puddle as the way it reflected the light made it look like a hole in the ground. The iPhone’s Noir filter helped explain the horse’s reluctance


horses view colors, which can be equally startling. The Process filter assists the user in visualizing how some colors can fade into the background of dichromatic vision, while others seem to jut out prominently. The image below (see bottom right) shows the view of a barn aisle, first from full spectrum human vision, then with the Process filter, and finally with the Noir filter. Looking at the Noir filter no part of the picture immediately draws the attention of the viewer. However, when we look at the Process photo, the yellow bucket seems to stand out from the picture far more noticeably than it does in the first frame which is rich with brown tones. If we were to add in more contrast, that bucket would become a startling yellow beacon which could easily capture the attention of a horse. Understanding how colors can pop up from the scenery in an alarming fashion can help us to equip ourselves and our training to be more efficient to those with dichromatic vision. It is challenging to see, but in the same image (bottom right) there is a green bucket hanging on the back left hand side by the door. Because the green bucket blends so well with the background, it is far more likely to go unnoticed by a horse. The object is the same, though the color is different. This knowledge also equips the horseman or horsewoman to decorate their working and care areas with colors that may be more aesthetically pleasing to the horse and therefore prevent dangerous situations. Taking an iPhone on a trail can assist an equestrian in identifying certain routes that may appear more secure than others to the horse, therefore reducing the risk of losing control in an otherwise uncontrolled environment. The image on the following page (see image center left, page 50) pictures a commonly used entrance to a large field. The Process filter accentuates a yellow plastic bag that has been left on the side of the road. Not only is the plastic shopping bag bright in color, but the flapping movement and noise could easily startle a horse. An equestrian who is

The Noir filter can also view colors in different ways, just as animals do: note the differences in prominence of the green and yellow buckets

BARKS from the Guild/May 2016



consciously aware of these triggers can not only avoid frightening their horse, they can help manage the situation for other less-intuitive equestrians by retrieving the bag. On the other hand, the stark contrast between the snow blanketed field and the shadows of the trees makes the small clearing appear much more confining than it truly is. A horse that is sensitive to small spaces may have a more difficult time passing through with confidence. Being aware of the horse’s perception in these situations enables us to create appropriate and achievable goals.

iPhone filters can help equestrians identify certain routes that may appear more secure to the horse than others. Here the Process filter accentuates a yellow plastic bag that may appear startling to a horse

The image below (see bottom left) depicts a gate one could encounter around the barn. Between the sleek ice and snow, are some patches of mud where the Chicago tundra has begun to melt away. When we have access to the full color spectrum of vision, we can see the grass poking through, a lighter shade of brown than the mud. As we look through the Process filter, the colors begin to blend together, and the grass and mud becoming one and the same in terms of tones. Finally the Noir picture accentuates the stark differences once again between horse and human vision. To the horse, these patches of mud look like deep holes. It is easy to make assumptions about why an animal will not do something. I so often hear about how “stubborn” or “naughty” horses are from frustrated clients and peers when they will not step through the mud. It is far easier to make snap judgements than it is to accept a foreign perspective. When we can look at the image with an open mind, we can understand the uncertainty the horse must be feeling. We can adjust our expectations and gain cooperation through compromise. We can actively countercondition, we can shape, or we can bring a tarp with us that we can use to cover the apparent “hole” and help the horse to get past the obstacle safely and calmly. While science has provided force-free trainers with a number of critical advantages, we need to move past our perceptual schemas to further expand our reach and success in creating achievable training goals. When shaping or counterconditioning it is easy to ask for too much for too little in return. Personally, I cannot imagine a reinforcer valuable enough to motivate Cherokee to step into that puddle. However, when I can adjust my perception and understand that it looks like a cliff from her point of view, I am better equipped to adjust my criteria and to raise goals in smaller increments that sympathize with her perceptions. Empowerment has been a common theme in modern dog training. We frequently discuss consent testing and providing animals with a way to communicate their feelings about a situation. Through modern technology we have a new tool for further empathizing, through which we can train, understand and empower the animals we work with on a new level. The iPhone is an incredibly common and simple tool for promoting mutual understanding and empathy, and just one more way that we can open the door to the force-free mentality through empathy, in an industry filled to the brim with force. n


Grandin,T. (1989, December). Behavioral Principles of Livestock Handling. Professional Animal Scientist 1-11. Retrieved March 2, 2016, from .corral.html

It is easy to make assumptions about the motivations for an animal’s behavior but the patches of mud revealed here through various filters may look like deep holes to a horse and explain why he will not want to cross them


BARKS from the Guild/May 2016

Sara L. Richter CPDT-KA is the owner/operator of Simply Animal Training LLC,, in Highland Park, Illinois. She has 18 years of equestrian experience from showing, lessons, and apprenticeships and has spent the last seven years professionally teaching both horses and humans.


Freedom of Expression


Kathie Gregory presents an introduction to freewill teaching in horses and explains why allowing animals freedom of expression is so important

have always embraced forceGiving animals autonomy free training in my work with allows them to make decisions of their animals. Over the years I have own freewill - within the boundaries of developed and refined my apwhat is appropriate proach, resulting in what I now term freewill teaching. Within the framework of my life, any animal I work or live with has the freedom to behave autonomously, choosing what he does and expressing himself as he wishes. However, this does not mean that he behaves as if he was living in the wild. Companion animals live with humans, in our human environment, and both humans and animals need to learn how to communicate with, and understand each other, if we are to live in harmony. Freewill teaching is a state of mind and helps an animal function at a higher cognitive ability. I teach understanding, awareness, and comprehension, using an ethically sound and compassionate approach. The foundation of this is raising cognitive awareness so that the thinking brain is in control, and the animal is not driven by the emotional mind. In the wild, the emotional mind plays a large part in keeping animals alive and safe, whereas the harsh reality of staying alive is somewhat negated in a domestic setting. My teaching gives the animal confidence to express himself without risk of reprisal. It allows him to develop his personality, confidence, preferences, and cognitive awareness. It allows me, as a teacher, to view every action and response he gives me, not as right or wrong, but as a valid response at that moment in time. I use this as the baseline to teach and guide his actions, his thinking brain, and his emotional mind. This way he has a comprehensive awareness of the world he lives in and how to respond to it. Giving him autonomy allows him to make decisions and choices of his own freewill. He is thus better able to assess and respond to any situation or context whilst remaining within the boundaries of safety, reliability and what is appropriate. It teaches him how to apply learning to different situations and know what strategies to employ should he feel out of his depth or faced with an unexpected experience. In terms of his relationship with his human or trainer, it is a partnership based on knowing and

trusting each other. As such, both parties learn and use freewill teaching. Freewill teaching comprises an organic approach, taking the animal's whole life into consideration rather than focusing on specific things. From second to second I adjust and shape my behavior and response to match what the animal needs to develop his abilities. What I do depends on what he does. It is not based on movements or training exercises. It is rather an in-depth exchange of subtle signals that are extremely effective and have profound results. The amount of time spent working like this depends on how quickly the animal responds and changes his perceptions. He does not learn a conditioned response, or have to ask what he should do. He assesses the situation and responds accordingly. Then we can move on to the next stage, which is more hands-on actual teaching, presenting problems, teaching how to solve them, how to make choices, and to communicate. Where possible I take a step back from being hands-on and solely work on the mind as a first step, along with the things that are worked on in conjunction with daily life and what we have to do to keep our animals healthy, safe, and active. The result is that I can relax in the confidence that the animal can handle just about any situation, and will not get himself into trouble causing injury or damage to himself or others – human or animal. I work like this with all species but here is an example of what I do with my horses, Charlie and Star. Our day starts with going into the barn to say good morning and give them breakfast. Either of us will offer a greeting first. I muck out and serve breakfast, whilst analysing their body language and conversation, both with each other and with me. Everything I do is in response to their interaction. Sometimes Star nods her head in anticipation of breakfast so I ask her if she can wait till I have raked any manure away from where I place the hay. She may carry on nodding her head, which means she really would like some breakfast now. Alternatively, she may stand and wait so I can get on with raking up, or put her head down for a cuddle. I respond to what

BARKS from the Guild/May 2016


EQUINE Even in a group activity, each member sees it from their own unique perspective

Toys are an excellent tool for raising cognitive awareness so the thinking brain is in control, and an animal is not driven by his emotional mind

© Can Stock Photo/mariait

© Can Stock Photo/TNCPhotography

When the emotional brain is engaged, it is highly unikely that any learning will take place

© Can Stock Photo/sdankof


BARKS from the Guild/May 2016

she wants. If she really is very hungry and needs her breakfast now, I put a small amount in a clear space on the floor, rake up and then put the rest out in the right place. Charlie will paw the ground if he is desperate and cannot wait. As humans we tend to like to do things in a set order, but freewill teaching is about adjusting and responding to what is happening, not carrying on regardless. This does not, however, make either of them a spoiled horse who expects to get whatever they want whenever they want it. By the time I defer to Star's assertion that she cannot wait for breakfast without the need to assess and adjust her motivation, I am 100 percent sure it is because this is how she feels this particular day. It will not be repeated at the next feed time or the next day for breakfast. It is the same for people. There are times when we are hungry and cannot wait for dinner, and so have to indulge in a snack to keep us going. It does not mean that we are now conditioned to be unable to wait for our meals. In this scenario we are actually reaching a higher level of cognitive awareness and understanding with the animal we are working with. Star would wait if I asked her to. If the weather is really bad and neither of them have been outside all night, there is more to clear up in the barn and sometimes nowhere to put any hay until I have raked it out of the way. On these occasions I tell Star to wait a minute, and she does. The result of this example is that I do not reinforce a conditioned response to breakfast, which is likely to happen if I simply ignored Star's head nodding. It is also likely that her anticipation and subsequent frustration would increase, as she is unable to wait patiently. The result is her associating this state of mind with breakfast, which she is likely to apply in other contexts. This is where behavioral issues can start. Working with a living being is not black and white. The mind is not a computer; it does not always give the same answer to the same question. It is always changing. Every second something is happening so working within the constraints of set rules and limited options only works with a very small, limited part of consciousness and perception. The mind can respond logically, emotionally, reliably, and unreliably. The same input will result in a different response from every single mind. This is due to each individual's own personality, experiences, reinforcements and perception. A group may engage in the same activity but each member sees it from their own unique perspective. If that perspective is also coupled with a negative emotional response, it is much more likely to result in the emotional mind taking over and making decisions. Unfortunately, the emotional mind is just that, emotional, and decisions are based on instincts, emotions, and motivations. It can be chaotic, very quick to respond and act, and might not always be reliable, safe or fathomable. In this state of mind, learning is impaired, impulse control can be non-existent and getting through to an animal is nigh impossible. If the thinking brain controls decision making though, with the emotional brain purely giving context and feeling, the animal is reliable and safe, and makes sensible, predictable decisions. Instincts and impulsiveness do not take over and animals do not go over threshold. When we talk about behavior modification, what we are aiming to do is change an animal’s perception of whatever is causing

Kathie Gregory is a UK-based animal behavior consultant who trained under Prof. Peter Neville at the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology, and is a practitioner member of the COAPE Association of Pet Behaviourists and Trainers. She has worked with animals for over 15 years, mainly with horses and dogs, although she also works with cats, sheep, pigs, cows and other species. She developed freewill teaching, an expertise focusing on raising cognitive awareness and understanding, in order to give animals the ability to reach their full potential. For further information, see her blog,

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the problem. With freewill teaching I expand the animal’s awareness so he has a more developed perception overall, which applies to every aspect of his life. Behavioral blips do, of course, occur but these can be addressed with further training to help the animal change his emotional response. Working with freewill, I am an animal’s teacher, helping him understand how to interpret this human world he lives in. As he learns, I become his guide. As he becomes more aware, he becomes my guide. I go along with his choice as long as it is safe, or not completely wrong for the situation we are in. As our relationship of trust, understanding, and awareness develops, we each contribute to what we do that day, and how we solve any difficulties along the way. n


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BARKS from the Guild/May 2016



Daniel Antolec explains why he has chosen to commit to a force-free philosophy in his dealings with animals in the light of his background in law enforcement

recently enjoyed a thought-provoking conversation with a respected colleague on the subject of force-free professional dog training and my former career as a police officer. I think her expectation was that, given my background in law enforcement, I might be inclined to use forceful methods, such as those commonly associated with so-called “dominance theory.” In fact, when my colleague asked why I became a force-free trainer I did not truly comprehend the question until later. Then it dawned on me. We are all exposed to popular media such as television and movies in which police are almost always represented as tough and violent. I grew up watching programs like Starsky and Hutch in which extended violent shootouts were a weekly event, and the leading characters never showed any consequence of having killed a few more of the bad guys. I was introduced to Dirty Harry on the big screen. He was an anti-hero, a tough cop who broke the rules and even tortured a suspect to elicit information, all in order to kill a few more of the bad guys. The reality of growing up during the 1960s and 1970s exposed me to news reports of police abusing and beating labor union leaders, American Indian Movement members and civil rights marchers. The turmoil of the Vietnam War era brought urban violence into our living rooms and police were directly involved. Recent graphic video reports of police shootings across the United States have prompted protests and federal probes into police violence and abuse of civil rights. In light of As a former police all that, I now officer, Antolec finds that people understand often expect him why someto use forceful methods in dog one would training ask me why I became a force-free professional dog trainer. The answer lies in my early education and a code of ethics taught to me by my mentor, Eldon Mueller. Mueller was


BARKS from the Guild/May 2016

Author Daniel Antolec does not use fear, intimidation or inflict pain on dogs during the training process “because it is neither reasonable nor necessary to do so.”

© Can Stock Photo Inc./ksuksa


Walking the Force-Free Path

my instructor in constitutional and criminal law. He was a grandfatherly figure who always wore a three-piece suit and a friendly smile, beginning each class with a joke or two. To look at him one would not have known that he was a retired FBI agent and author of the federal legislation that is still used today to dismantle organized crime syndicates. The first thing Mueller taught me was the role of police in a free society: To protect lives and property, enforce state laws and local ordinances, and to defend and uphold the Bill of Rights and Constitution. I still hear his voice. It has always been with me. Mueller asked us to memorize and recite the Bill of Rights, but he did not require it. I think he was delighted that I did so, but he may have been saddened that I was the only one of his students to follow that path. He spoke extensively about ethics and that became my moral compass. Whenever I faced a tough decision, I always asked myself what Mueller would approve of. When teaching about use of force, Mueller admonished us to follow the Supreme Court standard of only using the level of force that was both reasonable and necessary, due to an imminent threat. Police were never justified in punishing anyone, under any circumstance. That was the role of the judicial system alone. During my police career I filled many roles including patrol sergeant and a certified instructor. I taught tactical subjects including Defensive and Arrest Tactics, the use of force system mandated by law in Wisconsin. Within my own department I wrote the policies and procedures regulating use of force with

and without weapons, and created a system in which I reviewed each event involving force of any kind. During my long period of martial arts training I was influenced by instructors who were utterly lethal in their skill set, and among the kindest and most gentle human beings I have ever known. Helio Gracie, leader of the clan who developed Gracie (Brazilian) Jiu-Jitsu instructed his students to “do no unnecessary harm.” I never met Gracie, but his son Royce was among my teachers, all of whom were themselves taught by Gracie instructors. They each walked the path of humanity and justice. In my 30-year police career I saved several lives, and spared a few more. Those I spared were armed men who attacked me. I took them into custody without harming any of them because I only did what was reasonable and necessary in the face of an imminent threat. One event on a frigid winter night in the middle of an industrial park crystalized my philosophy when I chanced upon a drug deal that had gone bad and encountered three men chasing a fourth. They were all career criminals and when they saw me, I became the focus of their intent. An illicit drug “customer” had ripped off three dealers at a crack house; in return they beat him, stabbed him and chased him one mile into the darkness where I stumbled upon them. I have no doubt they meant to kill him. The man with the knife then stalked and tried to attack me while the others created a distraction. Ultimately the man with the knife surrendered and it was not necessary to shoot him, though it would have been reasonable. The man whose life I saved struggled with me as I took him into custody in spite of his stabbing injury. Once secured in the police car he coldly stated “If I had a gun, I would have shot you.” It did not matter. I did what I did because my duty and my oath required it of me. Sometimes I put my life on the line for those who hated and wanted to kill me, but I did it because of who I am, not who they were. Being a humane police officer did not make me an exceptional person and I deserved no applause or recognition for simply doing what was ethical. I swore an oath to do so, and so I kept my word. I behaved as I should have and held myself accountable. Another influence upon my life was my acquaintance with several Native Americans who generously shared with me something of their tradition and culture. I learned a life-changing lesson from George Kammerer, a pipe-holder of the Menomonie Nation. Kammerer described the medicine wheel as a symbol of creation and how every point around the circle represented some individual thing, whether a person, animal, rock or a tree. All things were created equally, and all were sacred. In order to survive we sometimes had to take, and therefore we had an obligation to give in return. We were about to enter his sweat lodge for a healing ceremony when Kammerer explained the purpose in life was to become a human being. It was a humbling perspective and I realized I had spent most of my life as a human doing, with too much ego and too much judgment of others. The path to becoming a human being required compassion and caring, performing duties for others and


recognizing the inter-connectedness of all things. When I chose to become a dog trainer I discovered the force-free philosophy I now formally embrace. It was a natural transition. I do not use fear, intimidation or inflict pain on dogs during the training process… because it is neither reasonable nor necessary to do so. I do not use shock, prong or choke collars, do not hit, hang or kick dogs… because I seek to cause no unnecessary harm. Being a humane professional dog trainer does not make me an exceptional person and I deserve no applause or recognition for simply doing what is ethical. I agreed to the Pet Professional Guild code of ethics and guiding principles, and so I keep my word. I behave as I should and hold myself accountable. You may ask me why I use force-free methods; it is the path my teachers laid out for me decades ago and the only one that helps me become a human being. Mueller would be proud. n


Pet Professional Guild Guiding Principles:

Daniel H. Antolec CPT-A CPDT-KA is the owner of Happy Buddha Dog Training, www.happybuddhadogtraining .com. He also sits on the board of directors for Dogs on Call, Inc.,, and is chairman of Pet Professional Guild advocacy committee, www

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Considering the Human Client’s Emotions

Angelica Steinker examines how the people in a dog’s life feel should be addressed in

It is useful to assess how a person he problem with really feels in relation to their dog’s emotion begins in behavior problem just attempting to define it. Emotions involve a conscious state that results in the experiencing of what we call joy, sadness or many other feelings. When researchers struggle to even define their topic of inquiry, it is an indication that it will be a difficult issue to research because in order to research something, you need it to be measurable. Unlike with dogs, humans can measure emotions in verbal communication. Think of a time you reached an important goal and you felt joy. On a scale of 1-10, 1 being a small amount of joy and 10 being the most joyful you ever felt, how much joy did you feel? This type of assessment, while not perfect, can help track and measure emotions. Using this as a verbal tool with your human clients can be helpful in assessing where they are emotionally in relation to their dog and the dog’s behavior problem. A client who rates his joy as an 8 when playing with his dog, and his frustration with that same dog’s behavior problem as a 2, is most likely going to be ready to take action and do what it takes to help the dog. Conversely, if the client is globally frustrated with his dog, giving that feeling of frustration an 8, he could be asked how he could get more support, and what has worked for him in the past when he felt that frustration. Despite the numbers not being the ideal tool for measuring the emotions, they can still be useful in generating support and solutions. The problem with emotions is that they are complex, and this can lead us to ignore them completely. Dog behavior consultants may be tempted to just pretend they do not see the client’s tight body language, especially as they generally tend to be focused on the dog and educating the client on what the dog needs. But if the human client is in a bad place emotionally, he will not be able to hear even the most brilliant advice. We cannot afford the luxury of ignoring a client’s emotions. However, this is what science did for many years prior to the birth of affective neuroscience. Because emotions were not clearly definable, and were not clearly measureable, they were ignored. Emotions are also very complex: they can overlap, in that


BARKS from the Guild/May 2016

an owner can deeply love his dog and at the same time be frustrated to a point that is almost intolerable. Just as the solution to many dogs’ behavior problems is the creation of a new conditioned emotional response, which changes fear or anger to joy, we also need to assess and address the emotional states of our human clients. All of us struggle with emotions. In the United States it is customary to greet people and ask, “How are you?” to which most reply “fine.” This generic response frequently does not actually correlate with reality. People are conditioned to feel one way but say something else. Of course, the alternative to telling a stranger how we really feel is less than ideal in social terms. The stage is thus set for superficiality, which may be appropriate in casual social circles but is problematic in forming true connection with others and close relationships. It is also problematic for the dog behavior consulting process. Even with people we feel close to, it can be difficult to disclose how we feel. Experiment with a dog owner you know well by asking him, “How do you feel about your dog?” and he may well reply with an answer that does not reveal what he really thinks. We struggle to reveal our emotions, because they are personal. Some of us are even conditioned to guard them, as if they should be kept secret. Maybe we fear that disclosing our emotions will empower someone to manipulate us. We sense the tremendous power emotions hold. This sense is based in reality—ultimately almost everything we do is guided by our emotions. Consumer behavior is the lucrative niche of advertising and marketing that yields nearly 2.5 million hits on Google Scholar in a cursory search. Consumer behavior is often ruled by emotions. If you ‘have to have’ a product, that is because of a feeling. If you impulsively buy a product, that is because of a feeling. This is why big companies spend millions to trigger specific feelings in consumers. Consumer behavior marketers have figured out that feelings and profit are closely linked. We live in a world of emotions. Our clients also live in this world so, as behavior consultants, we need to connect with them emotionally. When they explain their dog’s behavior problem, we © Can Stock Photo Inc./semenovp


order to effectively resolve a behavior problem

© Can Stock Photo/damedeeso

can ask, “How do you feel about that?” When they appear physically gnarled with frustration we can check in, saying, “You seem frustrated. Tell me about it.” This helps create a connection with our clients, which is what we need to have to be effective. Ideally, dog behavior consultants do not see a client’s frustration or anger as being in the way of the dog behavior consulting process, but rather learn to leverage them so they are used to create a genuine dialogue, which is then used to create reinforcement history and facilitate trust. Consider not just the non-verbal communication of the dog you are working with, but the non-verbal communication of your human client too. Avoid seeing a client who is angry with his dog as a problem, but rather deal directly with that anger. Shining a light on his anger and offering compassion can facilitate the melting away of that emotion. When we avoid judging clients for their negative emotions toward their dogs, we open the door to solving this problem. Pretending we do not notice a client’s frustration or anger toward his dog is not only a problem for the


human client who cannot help but feel disconnected from the dog behavior consultant. It also hobbles consultants and keeps them from addressing one of the most critical parts of the behavior consultation process— improving the dog and owner’s reinforcement history. Yes, this is more work for the dog behavior consultant, but it is ultimately very rewarding to help repair a damaged relationship. Even in the cases where this is not possible, being able to facilitate the rehoming of a dog that was a mismatch can also be extremely rewarding. Either way your human client’s emotions are the key to success. n 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

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Marketing for Service Practitioners

In the first of a two-part feature, Niki Tudge discusses planning and strategizing to optimize


business growth and success

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n the pet industry, most of your dog trainer, as well as the actual pet sitting or clients will come from referrals, usudog training service. As service providers, we ally from professional pet-related orhave to perform the pet sitting, training, groomganizations like humane societies, rescue ing, and/or dog walking in the most professional networks, veterinarians, and consumers and exceptional manner. What we actually maras well as by word-of-mouth from past ket is what all this represents to the client – and present clients. Because of this, a peace of mind, and the safety, good portion of your marketing dollars happiness and well-being of will be spent on promotional materials their pet. and items to encourage these referral Now that you understand sources. what marketing is, let’s talk To start though, exactly what is marabout marketing strategy keting? There are many definitions availand its process so you able. These are some of my personal can develop a workable favorites: and effective marketing Marketing is the social process by plan. which individuals and groups obtain what The Marketing they need and want through creating and exchanging products and value with others Strategy Process Pet professionals must market - Kotler. their products and services to the Marketing plans do not people that want and need them Marketing is the management need to be complicated process that identifies, anticipates and satisfies client requirements and convoluted. They can be simple outlines that identify what profitably - The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) you plan to do, when and how. All of your marketing activities The right product, in the right place, at the right time, at the should revolve around the four points you need to focus on to right price - Adcock. increase your business and profitability: Marketing is essentially about marshaling the resources of 1. Find new clients: This can be through advertising, coman organization so that they meet the changing needs of the client on munity involvement, referrals, events, and networking. Most of whom the organization depends - Palmer. your marketing will be education-based, where you give away Regardless of which definition you prefer, you need to under- samples (e.g. demonstrations, guides, introductory courses) to stand that marketing is: encourage prospects to become lifetime clients. • A continuous process through which we plan, research, 2. Increase the average spend/sales per client: Upimplement, control, and evaluate our efforts, which are designed sell your clients with higher quality services. If they choose the to satisfy both clients’ requirements and our own objectives. minimum pet sitting service, show them the value in purchasing • Everything we do to make our service attractive and the more inclusive packages. available to potential clients and to satisfy their needs and wants. 3. Increase the frequency or quantity of your It includes EVERY discipline - sales, public relations, pricing, packclientÊs purchases: Sell your clients additional products and aging, operations and distribution. services (cross-selling) such as dog food, pet sitting, dog walking • Part art and part science and integrates all aspects of and doggy parties. Follow up on services, measure your clients' our business together. activities (e.g. why haven’t they used you over Christmas, did they stay home or are they using the competition?) What Are You Marketing? 4. Hold on to your clients for life: By being the most You are in the business of solving problems.You help your clients reliable, fair, ethical, professional, effective business person on the with what matters to them.You are marketing all your products planet, you will keep your clients for life. Measure your operaand services to people who need and desire them. In the service tion’s effectiveness and satisfaction through surveys and testimonials. Talk to your clients and LISTEN. Maintain the relationship industry, however, recognize that this is based on the trust and confidence your clients have granted you.You are marketing both even when you are not in an active buying-selling transaction. It is far more expensive to earn a new client than it is to keep an exthe “sizzle” and the “steak,” or the “peace of mind” that comes isting client. Once you have a marketing plan it is important to from having a qualified, insured, bonded, certified pet sitter or 58

The Marketing Equation: Interrupt + Engage + Educate + Offer = RESULTS

BARKS from the Guild/May 2016

constantly review, revise and update it so the process is ongoing. All parts of your plan must work together, support each other and complement one another. To develop a marketing plan, you should follow these simple steps: 1. Determine who and what your clients are: What are your clients' needs and desires? Who is buying and using your services? How are they buying and using your services? Can they be segmented into groups by age, type of service used, type of dog or dog activity? Can they be segmented geographically? You need to know who your clients are if you are to meet the goals of the marketing definition. 2. Determine what your market is like: What is the market? How many consumers are there, where do they live, what is their buying power? 3. Analyze your competition: Who are they, what do they do better, what do you do better? How are they advertising? Who do they know, how are they networked? 4. Determine how you will deliver your services: What are the available venues or facilities where you can deliver your services, what will they cost, and will clients come to them? What is the availability of contractors to deliver your services in your area? 5. Develop a mix of marketing methods: What is the optimum mix of marketing methods to keep your mix as small as you can without sacrificing effectiveness? What free marketing is available, how creative can you be, do you have more time than money or less time and a financial budget to invest? 6. Evaluate if what you are doing makes financial sense: What is the real cost of each effort and does it pay, is it profitable? You should not endeavor to participate in any paid marketing if you do not have the ability to track and manage its effectiveness. 7. Revise, Review and then go back to step 1: Measure, calculate, analyze and consider what works and what does not work as well. Then you can make educated decisions and tweak, update your marketing plan.

The Marketing Equation

Once you have a plan in place I can guarantee it will include activities like social media posts, newsletters or simple sales tools such as rack cards, business cards or home printed flyers for community notice boards. These can be very effective marketing tools if used correctly. Remember that nice graphics do not always convert to good advertisement or sales copy. Graphics are an important part of developing sales tools because they support the marketing equation, but they do not replace it. The marketing equation is a very effective equation. If you take the time to use this when you work on social media posts, newsletter campaigns and the design and development of flyers, you will find your response rate, click through ratios and sales conversions will yield a better return-on-investment. The Marketing Equation: Interrupt + Engage + Educate + Offer = Results

The Interrupt: To get qualified prospects to pay attention you


need to identify and emphasize your key selling points, which you should have determined when you worked on your marketing strategy. Who are your clients and what are their hot buttons, needs and desires? A key selling point (KSP) or hot button is anything your prospect deems to be important and relevant. Good KSPs encourage target prospects to begin searching for more information. Engage: If the Interrupt is based on good hot buttons, prospects will want more information. Make it clear that the information is coming. Ensure that once they are focused on your message that they are engaged to continue on reading. Educate: Identify the important and relevant issues of concern to your prospects. Feel their pain and listen to their concerns then provide them with the information they need to make their buying decision. The information has to be easily and quickly read and understood. The more educated a potential client is, the more services you will sell. Most marketing campaigns are aimed at making the sell now. These so called “now” buyers comprise the smallest percentage of consumers. We are looking to build long-term client relationships which represent the vast majority of consumers. Offer: Always minimize your potential clients' fear by providing them with a low risk way to sign up for your services. Give them all the information they need so they feel they are in control of their decision and are not being talked into anything. Your goal is to solve their problem, not sell them something they don’t need or want. Result: Establish leads that will convert to long-term clients who will become an active part of your business growth. n

In the second part of this article we will look at some of the tools you can use across your sales plan and how effectively you can use them to develop your business and grow your brand.


Adcock, D., Halborg, A.L., & Ross, C. (2001). Marketing Principles and Practice. Essex, England: Pearson Education Kotler, P. (2010). Principles of Marketing. Essex, England: Pearson Education Palmer, A. (2000). Principles of Marketing. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM). (2001). Niki Tudge PCBC-A AABP-CDBT AAPB – CDT is founder and president of the Pet Professional Guild,, The DogSmith,, a national dog training and pet-care license, and DogNostics Career College,, and president of Doggone Safe, She has business degrees from Oxford University, UK and has achieved her DipABT and DipCBST. She is also a certified Six Sigma Black Belt, a certified people trainer - International Training Board, Training Skills 1, 2 and 3, and a certified project facilitator - Acuity Institute. Recently, she has published People Training Skills for Pet Professionals – Your essential guide to engaging, educating and empowering your human clients.

BARKS from the Guild/May 2016




Selling in the 21st Century

John Visconti wonders whether the internet has made the need for direct selling a thing of the past

here is no doubt that advances in technology have imvances to supplement, not replace, their direct sales efforts. The pacted different professions in a variety of ways. Sales is reality is that information alone will rarely persuade a person to one such profession. The subject was covered in a New act. There has been much research in the field of behavioral sciYork Times article questioning the necessity for salespeople. The ence demonstrating that the persuasiveness of a sales presentaarticle asserts that technology has made the world smaller, altion is increased when it is done through direct communication lowing information to travel faster, and that new channels for ad- and relationship building. In other words, salespeople are necesvertising render the salesperson obsolete. sary because they develop connections through interpersonal reThe article was titled, Are Salesmen Necessary? It was written lationships that motivate potential clients to build trust and in 1916. At which juncture I am reminded of Mark Twain’s comconsequently, make positive purchase decisions. ment, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Please keep in mind that there is a distinction between salesThe need for direct selling, particularly in a professional services people and order takers. The internet is great for ease of placing field such as dog training, is alive and well, in spite of orders when information about features and 100 years of predictions to the contrary. price are all that is required for a consumer to The notion that, because of technology, direct personmake a purchase decision. For example, I expect to-person selling is no longer necessary may sound cutting that the website for my dog training business edge to those who espouse this belief today, but it is an idea management software is a that has been recycled sufficient sales tool, countless times over the since the establast century. It is ironic that lishment of a those who feel that webrelationship sites and social media renwith me is der salespeople as relevant not an In spite of advances in technology, there as an eight-track tape player important is still a need for are barking sentiments that driver in direct sales are even older than, and the about as relevant as, well, an buyer’s eight-track tape player. decisionIn the 1930s, the widemaking spread use of a new technology process. Simicalled the telephone was predicted larly, countless companies to be the death knell for sales people. have made it easier for customers to place © Can Stock Photo/Karidesign In 1962, E.B. Weiss wrote a book titled, an order but even those experts who are curThe Vanishing Salesman. Heck, I remember being informed that the rently predicting the demise of salespeople make fax machine would have a negative impact on my future as a exceptions with regard to those selling professional services salesperson. Historically, with each introduction of a new techsuch as dog training. On such expert is Geoffrey James, connology, the diminishment of the need for salespeople has been tributing editor to who recently wrote an article entiforetold. Given that today sales is the second largest occupation tled, Why Many Sales Jobs Will Become Obsolete (2014). But James in the U.S., it is clear those predictions have been consistently in- cites exceptions such as sales transactions when a customer cancorrect (Lockard & Wolf, 2012). Today, one in nine people living in not diagnose his own problem (the dog owner who knows there is an issue with the family pooch but cannot identify the source the U.S. earn their living by selling something. Twenty years ago, one in nine people in the U.S. earned their living by selling some- of the problem). And when the customer cannot define a solution (the dog owner who knows there is an issue with the family thing. My math skills might need some honing but I am finding it pooch, or wants to prevent issues from developing but does not hard to see a declining trend in the field of sales since the mass know how to do so). introduction of the internet. In other words, if you are selling professional services such as As vital as technology is, what is apparent in both our present dog training, you will need to continue to embrace your inner time and throughout history, is that it does not negate or lessen salesperson rather than rely solely on your website/social media the need for salespeople. The true cutting edge individuals are those who creatively devise ways to utilize new technological ad- to do the selling for you. Assuming otherwise comes from a fun60

BARKS from the Guild/May 2016

damental misunderstanding of the complexity of selling professional services. When it comes to intangible products such as professional services, the internet alone is rarely an effective conduit for building the necessary trust for someone to make a purchase decision. Within our field, dogs are often seen as family members not appliances, and owners need to feel comfortable with a trainer before hiring that person. Buying a professional service such as dog training, is less about rational, linear, decision making, than it is about trust building. Simply put, for the purchase of intangible, professional services, trust is the most powerful motivator in a buyer’s decision making process. When trust is present, it overshadows other considerations (such as price). When making a purchase decision of professional services, buyers are much less objective than you think, and much more driven by emotions and assessing the trustworthiness of the seller than they think. Unless the product is a low priced, low risk, tangible item, the prospective customer will rarely make purchase decisions based exclusively upon objective information, such as information provided by a website. The decision making process is even more complicated in the field of dog training where potential clients cruise the internet, only to become increasingly confused as they encounter contradictory statements by anyone who calls themselves a trainer, some of them incompetent and others who are unethical. We may be living in the age of information, but information alone does not equate to enlightenment. It is our job as trainers to provide that enlightenment through direct contact, during which time we can help potential clients navigate the sea of contradictory information they encounter when researching dog training services via the internet. They need help, help that your website, or social media alone cannot provide. And most importantly, as you help someone, you build trust. This was clearly demonstrated in the results of a survey performed by the Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing (DeeterSchmelz & Kennedy, 2004). The survey was structured to determine how customers’ buying behaviors have been changed by the internet. In spite of the undeniable value provided by the internet, the survey demonstrated that prospects still consider salespeople the most significant information source. More germane to our field, when relationships are characterized by high levels of information exchange, trust, and cooperation, the internet appears to play an even less important role. According to David Hoffeld, CEO of the Hoffeld Group, a research based sales training, coaching and consulting firm that is a leader in the integration of proven science and sales, “the danger with any new technology is that salespeople will either blindly ignore it or recklessly embrace it to such an extreme that they neglect the human element in selling. Both options, though widespread, are ultimately unproductive.” In other words, don’t be a relic and think like the New York Times did 100 years ago by assuming that the need to sell has been replaced by technology, in this case your website and/or social media. On the flip side, ignoring new technology and not adapting to the changes in the sales landscape is equally counterproductive. Balance is the key. By embracing the scientifically


proven, new age thinking that direct selling is best accomplished when technology is used as a support tool for selling your services, your business will flourish. Until the next column, remember, you cannot help owners and their dogs until you gain them as clients so happy, new age selling! n


Deeter-Schmelz, D. & Kennedy, K.N. (2004). Buyer-Seller Relationships and Information Source in E-Commerce World. Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, 19, 3. Retrieved March 13, 2016, from /08858620410531324 James, G. (2014, July). Why Many Sales Jobs Will Become Obsolete. Retrieved December 23, 2015 from Lockard, C.B. & Wolf, M. (2012, January). Occupational Employment Projections to 2020. Monthly Labor Review, 135, 1, 89 John D.Visconti CPDT-KA is the owner of Fetch More Dollars,, sales consulting for dog trainers, Dog Trainer ConneXion, www.dogtrainerconnexion .com, business management software and Rising Star Dog Training, He has recently published his first book: Fetch More Dollars for Your Dog Training Business, a coaching guide to force free selling.

BARKS from the Guild/May 2016




Lightbulb Moments

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

features Astrid Tryon of House of Dog Training in Colorado Springs, Colorado

strid Tryon first got involved in the dog world as a volunteer with a backyard breeder/hoarder rescue case involving 400 dogs. The case dragged out for two years and Tryon eventually became a paid employee/ shift manager. She then attended a workshop at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary on how to start your own sanctuary, helped found a dog rescue and at the same time attended a dog trainer apprenticeship. She became certified through the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers and now has her own facility.

Astrid Tryon with her shepherd/ chow mix, Sierra

Q:Tell us a little bit about your own pets:

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

A: There was a 7-month-old German shepherd that we put a muzzle on because we were not sure how she would react. Thankfully we did because when the owners brought her in the room she jumped over two people, onto the couch and muzzle punched me all up my back. Those would have been bad bites, possibly to my neck and face. Q: What reward do you get out of a day's training?

A: I currently have two dogs, a shepherd/chow Š Photo: Zachpak Photography mix and a Tibetan mastiff mix, and two cats - littermates, who are A: The reward I get is a happy dog, a happy owner, having saved actually "remnants" of the hoarder case. A feral cat decided to yet another dog from the hands of a force based trainer, and the come to our building and have her kittens there. best reward of all, when those owners refer us to somebody else.

Q: Why did you become a dog trainer or pet care provider?

A: I love animals and am deeply passionate about rescue and helping people to keep their dogs, rather than give them up to a shelter. At the same time I want to rehabilitate and/or help people find the right match and help them with problems that may arise. Q: Are you a crossover trainer or have you always been a force-free trainer?

A: My mentor is a crossover trainer, I have always been force-free. Q:What do you consider to be your area of expertise?

A: Puppy socialization.

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

A: The access to low-cost and free webinars is awesome. I also plan on achieving the accreditation.

Q: What are some of your favorite positive reinforcement techniques for the most commonly encountered client-dog problems?

A: I am beginning to get to the point where I love to give the dog his/her own choice. I think we talk way too much when we train, and confuse our dogs! 62

BARKS from the Guild/May 2016

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

A: I just know that it is the right thing to do. Force does not solve anything. Animals are sentient beings and we need to treat them as such. Q: What is your favorite part of the job?

A: I love the "lightbulb" moments in the dog AND the people. Q: Who has most influenced your career and how?

A: Every speaker I see at conferences/workshops influences me. I think Dr. Sophia Yin has so far influenced me the most. I met her at a seminar in Denver and her appearance in Tough Love moved me to tears. Her books and DVDs are scientific, but well broken down for everybody to understand.

Q: What advice would you give to a new trainer starting out?

A: Online courses and book knowledge etc. are great. But nothing beats getting your hands on the dogs.Volunteer at shelters and rescues that have training/behavior programs and work with as many different dogs as you can. Each dog will teach you something new. n House of Dog Training is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado To be featured in the BARKS Profile section, complete this form:

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