BARKS from the Guild Spring 2014

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BARKS from the Guild CANINE Making the Connection

AVIAN Mental Enrichment

TRAINING The Complete Learning Experience

Issue No. 7 / April 2014

FELINE Litter Box Fallout

EQUINE Understanding Behavior BUSINESS Strategy Is Everything

Free-Shaping: Does It Make Dogs Better Problem Solvers? An environmentally force-free online magazine from the Pet Professional Guild


BARKS from the Guild

Published by the Pet Professional Guild 9122 Kenton Road, Wesley Chapel, FL 33545 Tel: 41 Dog-Train (413-648-7246) www.PetProfessionalGuild.com Editor-in-Chief Susan Nilson barkseditor@PetProfessionalGuild.com Contributing Editors Elizabeth Traxler Kiki Zablon

The Guild Steering Committee Niki Tudge Catherine Zehner Diane Garrod Angelica Steinker Anne Springer Caryn Liles Jan Casey Heidi Steinbeck Debra Millikan

BARKS from the Guild Published quarterly, 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 (PPG) and is distributed free to all members. Submissions BARKS encourages the submission of original written materials. Please contact the Editor-in-Chief for contributor guidelines prior to sending manuscripts or see: www.PetProfessionalGuild.com/Forcefreeindustrypublication Please submit all contributions via our submission form at: www.PetProfessionalGuild.com/BFTGcontent Membership Manager Rebekah King Membership@PetProfessionalGuild.com

Letters to the Editor To comment on authors’ work, or to let us 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.

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Advertising Please contact Niki Tudge at Admin@PetProfessionalGuild.com to obtain a copy of rates, ad specifications, format requirements and deadlines. Advertising information is also available at: www.PetProfessionalGuild.com/AdvertisinginBARKS 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.

BARKS from the Guild/April 2014

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The Art of Communication

ne of the unique features of BARKS from the Guild is that it is written by the members for the members. Piecing together this issue, a recurring theme became rapidly apparent and, although I would like to take the credit, the leitmotif actually came about all on its own. What makes it all the more remarkable is that our submissions come independently from PPG members all over the globe. The result is comprehensive coverage of a diverse range of subjects, providing unparalleled insight and shared experiences with behaviorists, trainers and animal lovers worldwide. No matter what the topic, one thing that is prominent throughout is the importance of communication - whether between people and their dogs (or cats or birds or horses), or professionals and their clients or marketplace. The clicker is a tool favored by many trainers due to its timely efficiency at conveying information, and two of our features explore its importance in training for both dogs and horses. Dogs, of course, are experts at reading body language, which is invaluable for one contributor whose service dog helps her manage her autism. Another writer highlights the challenges of working with deaf dogs and shares how she opens up the lines of communication to find that connection. Meanwhile, Breed Specific Legislation presents a different kind of challenge. This eternally contentious issue has led one committed Staffie owner to embark on a mission to convey to the world that a blanket approach is both simplistic and inappropriate. Our cover story this month takes an in-depth look at the practice of luring in dog training, the criticisms thereof, and how this method measures up against free-shaping behaviors in a scientific sense. As is often the case in the inexact study of behavior, the conclusion is not terribly clear-cut. Either way, no matter whether dog trainers use luring, free-shaping or a combination of both, everything a dog does ultimately has thousands of years of evolution behind it. Returning to our leitmotif, we investigate whether raising our voices at our dogs can ever be an effective training method, and seek to promote educating children in canine body language with the aim of reducing the number of dog bites. For the cat and bird lovers our resident experts offer pearls of wisdom on some essential behavioral issues and, for the business-minded, we look into sales, marketing and the power of the television in getting the message across. Thank you all for your submissions. Keep them coming!

n Susan Nilso Editor-in-Chief

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.


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Niki Tudge pays tribute to founding PPG member Leah Roberts

NEWS, EDUCATION & AWARDS

Latest developments and upcoming events at PPG

ARE FREE-SHAPED DOGS BETTER PROBLEM SOLVERS?

Carmen LeBlanc looks into the criticisms of lure-reward based training

DOUBLE YOUR MONEY

Using food in training has a hidden advantage, says Eileen Anderson

THE POWER OF THE CLICKER

Donna D. Savoie presents a miniature dachshund with a giant bark

NOTHING CHANGES IF NOTHING CHANGES

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How do dogs cope if we yell at them during training? Barb Levenson investigates

THE INTERNATIONAL DOG BITE PREVENTION CHALLENGE

Joan Orr explains that education is key to help avoid dog bites

LIVING AND WORKING WITH DEAF DOGS

Training deaf dogs offers a fascinating insight to how they perceive their world, writes Morag Heirs

IT’S A WIDE WORLD FOR A WOLFHOUND

Bob McMillan shares his adventures with Irish wolfhound, Finn

BATTLING THE STEREOTYPE

With the help of her award-winning trick dog Jambo the Staffie, Louise StapletonFrappell explains why Breed Specific Legislation is not a blanket solution

A BOND FOR LIFE

The remarkable tale of Turbo, the dog who helps Mariëlle Wraff manage her autism and tune into her emotions

THINKING OUTSIDE THE (LITTER) BOX

Litter box avoidance is a common feline behavior problem but can often be easily solved, says Marilyn Krieger

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ONE FOR THE BIRDS

Lara Joseph explains why aviaries are important for mental enrichment

FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH

Dr. Lisel O’Dwyer offers a fascinating insight into clicker training for horses

THE POWER OF THE BOX

Television is still the most influential means of getting the message across, says Annie Phenix

A DIRTY BIG SECRET: GET WITH THE PROGRAM!

For small business owners it’s all in the marketing, says Niki Tudge

FETCH MORE DOLLARS: REACH FOR THE SKIES

John D. Visconti explains how to harness your inner salesperson

THE GOOD LIFE

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Product Review: Leslie Clifton recommends West Paws Nature Nap beds

DECODING THE CANINE BRAIN Book Review: ‘How Dogs Love Us’ by Gregory Berns offers a unique insight into the canine mind, says Pamela S. Hogle

MEMBER PROFILE

Introducing Ada Simms of Reward That Puppy Dog Training Inc. BARKS from the Guild/April 2014

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MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT

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CONTENTS

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MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT

A Time for Reflection and Looking Forward Dear PPG Members,

My President’s Message for this edition is one of great sadness and loss, coupled with a determination to continue our efforts to enhance our cause and improve the lives of our pets through effective and humane training and pet care. On March 9, 2014, our warrior and friend Leah Roberts passed away quietly in her home surrounded by friends. To many of her students she was ‘Auntie Leah,’ someone they and their dogs absolutely loved. To others, whether they wholeheartedly agreed or disagreed, she was that lady who never, ever relented in her ongoing war against the use of pain and force in dog training. She was the lady who was always all about the dog’s point of view. And she was the lady who was always asking us to view the world through the mind of a dog. “I want to teach you something,” she would explain.

“Every time you do it wrong, I gently poke you in the shoulder. Doesn't hurt, right? Poke, poke, poke, poke, poke... how long would it take before you were, firstly, so annoyed by the poke that you were ready to smack me, and secondly, you so dreaded the next poke that you no longer wanted to offer any behavior?” she used to ask. “Me? I'd probably be grabbing your finger somewhere around the sixth poke,” she would add. “Why choose this method when, instead, you can create a dog who is excited about offering behavior and invested in doing it ‘right’ to earn a valued resource? All while creating a relationship of trust [and the knowledge] that the teacher will never do anything to intimidate or upset you?” she would continue. That Sunday evening in March, the force-free movement for dog training lost a great friend and a fearless leader.

Leah Roberts (left) with Mary Philips, Owner, Treat Me Right Inc. Positive Canine Training

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BARKS from the Guild/April 2014

Founding Member

Born in Marlborough, MA, Leah lived in central Florida, where she, for almost a decade, operated Dog Willing Positive Training Solutions in Oviedo. Leah was a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College and Canine Trainers Academy, and had recently participated in continuing education as a student of the Academy for Dog Trainers. Leah specialized in family pet issues, socialization and early puppy development. Leah was an early online crusader against the use of choke, prong, and shock collars. A tireless advocate of modern science-based training eschewing coercion, her writings have appeared in the Orlando Dog Training and Behavior Examiner, Lacey’s Barkery, Ian Dunbar’s Dog Star Daily, and BARKS from the Guild, the on-


MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT

line magazine for the Pet Professional Guild (PPG), of which Leah was a founding member. When the Truly Dog Friendly website was created in 2006, many force-free dog trainers joined, and were listed on its page. Leah was right there among them. While this was initially a powerful resource for force-free trainers, it really couldn’t compete with the larger Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), which Leah felt was less dedicated to truly force-free principles. Leah saw, early on, that what force-free trainers needed was a professional organization that represented their ethical standards. Little by little, she helped form and participate in groups that had a desire to ‘find a home’ with a professional group that reflected force-free values. So it was with great enthusiasm that Leah became a founding member and joined the steering committee of the PPG, formed in 2012 by myself, in conjunction with several other trainers from around the country. Leah’s dream had been realized. Even when diagnosed with terminal cancer Leah continued to act as a mentor to new trainers. Many of Leah’s students became dear friends. One of those friends, Michele Milana, describes Leah as “one of the rare, true people in this world who practice[d] what they preach[ed]. She [was] the real deal. She would drag herself to classes, feeling sick, driving a car Niki Tudge is the founder of the PPG, The DogSmith, a national dog training and pet-care license, and DogNostics Career College. Her professional credentials include: CPDTKA, NADOI – Certified, AABP- Professional Dog Trainer, AABP- Professional Dog Behavior Consultant, Diploma Animal Behavior Technology, and Diploma Canine Behavior Science & Technology. Niki has business degrees from Oxford University in England and has also published many articles on dog training and dog behavior. Her pet dog training businesses have been featured in many publications, including The New York Times.

that might or might not make it, but when the first dog came in the door, the light would come on in her eyes and the energy would flow through her. She truly loved what she did.” Personally, I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting Leah in person for the first time in early January 2014. “I had to get this sick for you to finally visit me,” she joked – with a huge smile on her face – as I walked through the door. It was a meeting attended by many of Leah’s friends and dog training family from the Central Florida ForceFree Florida Group. Laughter, wisdom, and the promise of a better future for pet dogs rang out as the force-free community discussed the animal training industry and PPG’s role in it. Members were seated all around the front room of Leah’s home as a hospice worker milled about, and Leah, smiling every now and then, seemed to enjoy the banter and promises of better days ahead for trainers, owners, but most importantly, pet dogs. Leah hugged my shoulder, smiled, and said: “I feel dog training history being made in this room tonight.” In late February 2014, in honor of Leah’s indomitable spirit and lifelong crusade for force-free training, the PPG created a Leah Roberts Foundation and presented Leah with her certificate at her bedside in Florida. Each year on February 17, the Independent Day of Celebration for Force-Free Training and Pet Care (ICFF) will be celebrated in Leah’s honor and as a promise and renewed dedication to further our industry and its operating practices, standards and philosophies. The Leah Roberts Foundation will actively manage and implement the ICFF day and our other PPG educational advocacy events each year. We are dedicating 10 percent of all the PPG income to this foundation to help further our cause and spread our message though educational marketing campaigns, membership handouts and marketing collateral. I can’t think of a more fitting tribute to Leah Roberts than the promotion and celebration of force-free training each year for decades to come.

Niki Tudge

President - Pet Professional Guild BARKS from the Guild/April 2014

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PPG NEWS A New Look for BARKS

BARKS from the Guild has taken on a new look this month and has welcomed three new members to its editorial team. Susan Nilson, Editor-in-Chief, is a Reuters-trained journalist with over 10 years’ experience in magazines and newspapers across Europe, Asia and the Middle East. She developed an interest in animal behavior when one of her original four rescue cats started spraying copiously around the house. Susan is now a UK-qualified animal behavior consultant and trainer, having completed the COAPE Association of Pet Behaviorists and Trainers’ (CAPBT) Advanced Diploma in the Practical Aspects of Companion Animal Behavior & Training in 2005, with a particular focus on learning theory, advanced pet behavior therapy, physiology and motivation, counseling skills, individual animal assessment and neurophysiology. Currently based in Los Angeles, CA, Susan sees behavior cases on an ad hoc basis and helps out as a consulting behaviorist with START Shelter Transport Animal Rescue Team, who pull ‘no hope’ dogs from LA's high-kill shelters to rehabilitate and rehome them. She is also a volunteer clicker trainer at the Linda Blair Worldheart Foundation, a mainly pit bull rescue just outside the city. She shares her life with four challenging rescue dogs, picked up off the streets of Dubai when she and her husband were living there, an even more challenging ‘foster’ dog, and six relatively straightforward cats. Elizabeth Traxler, Contributing Editor, is a certified dog trainer with 12 years' experience in dog training. Elizabeth is a lifelong dog sibling/parent/advocate. Since 2009, she has been the President/Business Owner of Four Paws Up Dog Training Inc., based in Pineville and serves the Charlotte metro area in North and South Carolina. Elizabeth is an avid reader, so the continual education required of ‘progressive’ dog trainers has been a natural step for her. Since 2003, Elizabeth has edited documents and articles in corporate newsletters, contractors' project submissions, and various formal reports of different types. She is keen to learn from other dog trainers and pet professionals through reading and editing the submissions for BARKS from the Guild. Kiki Yablon KPA CTP, Contributing Editor, is a dog trainer in Chicago, IL. She is a former Editor of Outside and Chicago magazines and the former Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief of the Chicago Reader.

BARKS Editorial Team

Susan Nilson (top left), Editor-in-Chief; Kiki Yablon (bottom left) and Elizabeth Traxler (top right), Contributing Editors 6

BARKS from the Guild/April 2014

New Logo

The PPG rolled out its new logo in March 2014. This is and remains the property of the PPG but may be used by members in good standing in accordance with the terms and conditions outlined on the website. Download your new membership badges here.

On Song

We are some things and not everything, but what we are is fun! Did you know that PPG now has its very own Force-Free Boogie? Have a listen here.


PPG EDUCATION ‘Refining Your Training Skills’ with Emily Larlham A Two-Day Workshop in Tampa, FL September 27 - 28, 2014; 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. each day Working Spots and Auditor Spots Available Join Emily Larlham, hosted by the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and sponsored by The DogSmith, for this fabulous two-day workshop in Tampa, Florida. The event is being hosted by The Canine Behavior Center, home to the PPG and The DogSmith. The Canine Behavior Center is set on 23 acres of fully-fenced training areas against the backdrop of Kings Lake, a 500-acre inland water feature hosting some of Florida’s richest bird species, yet only minutes away from restaurants, malls and interstate facilities. The location is a paradise for both canines and humans.

Workshop Description

How can we improve our training skills? Emily created the seminar Refining Your Training Skills as her answer to this very question based on her own observations, research and insights from her experience in training dogs. The definition of ‘refine’ is to remove unwanted elements or to purify. We will dissect our training by pulling apart all the pieces and assessing each piece’s function separately. Emily will cover the importance of proactive training as well as provide solutions to training plans gone awry. This seminar will focus on how we can open our awareness and consciousness to our own actions and those of our dogs. We will investigate how drastic changes can occur from just the simple choice of marker, reinforcer, reinforcement delivery, reinforcement placement and what we do in between training. The majority of the seminar is based not on what to train, but how to train. However, Emily will use workshop exercises like teaching a ‘keep going’ signal and precision heelwork to demonstrate these concepts. Emily Larlham runs her own dog training business, Dogmantics. She is known around the world for her popular YouTube channel Kikopup, where more than 200 in-depth dog training tutorials are posted. She created the term ‘progressive reinforcement training’ to describe an ethical way of training animals that involves no form of physical or psychological intimidation. She has conducted seminars on progressive reinforcement training in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Australia, and Asia. Emily began her career as an animal caregiver at a shelter where she cared for all types of dogs and raised rooms full of puppies. She apprenticed with her mentor Kyle Rayon for five years, learning from and working with thousands of shelter dogs. Later on, Emily started Dogmantics. She combines her artistic background and training skills to invent creative, fast, and reliable ways to solve problem behaviors as well as train complex behaviors and tricks. Emily is owned by a Chihuahua, a terrier mix, a border collie, and two sight hounds.

To register go to: www.PetProfessionalGuild.com/Workshops Further event details on next page

BARKS from the Guild/April 2014

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PPG EDUCATION • •

• • • • • • •

‘Refining Your Training Skills’ Workshop Event Details

The workshop price includes morning coffee, lunch and afternoon drinks. There will be an onsite Bonfire ‘Get Together’ on Saturday Evening. A small additional fee will be charged for refreshments if you choose to attend ($20). Reservations to be made closer to the date. If you register for a working spot you may bring an additional dog and switch out the dog you are working with. PPG members can make two payments for the workshop over four months, but full payment must be made 60 days prior to September 27, 2014. Please indicate this on your registration form. All dogs attending must be dressed according to the PPG’s Guiding Principles, so no shock, choke or prong collars. Emily Larlham prefers all the dogs be in comfortable harnesses for the seminar. No human- or dog-reactive dogs please. No noisy dogs. At registration there will be additional questions regarding any dogs that you plan to attend with. Working spots are $350. Auditor spots are $200. RVs are welcome for $20 per night. There is no power or water hook up. No refunds will be given.

Please note that the facility hosting this event is currently under construction. In the event that construction is not completed, the event will be moved to Courteous Canine, The DogSmith of Tampa in Lutz FL, just 6 miles from the current planned location. We do not however anticipate or expect this to be the case.

Upcoming PPG Webinars The Seductiveness of Shock with Kathy Sdao Monday, 19 May, 2014 at 12 p.m. (PDT) : Live Member Webinar Lost Dog Recovery by Kat Albrecht Monday, 9 June, 2014 at 9 p.m. (EDT) : Live Member Webinar

Lost Cat Recovery by Kat Albrecht Monday, 16 June, 2014 at 9 p.m. (EDT) : Live Member Webinar

What’s Your Dog Telling You? Understanding Dog Body Language with Lisa Waggoner Thursday, 26 June, 2014 at 12 p.m. (EDT) : Live Member Webinar All PPG webinars are recorded and can be found in the education area on the PPG website. If you missed any of them live, you can catch them all here. We also invite our members to get involved and contribute their unique skills to our webinar program. Webinars can be submitted here.

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BARKS from the Guild/April 2014


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AWARDS

Everyone’s a Winner!

o celebrate The International Day of Celebration for Force-Free Training and Pet Care (ICFF) this year, Pet Professional Guild hosted a virtual international community event. To participate, members were required to walk, jog, run, train or spend a total of 30 minutes of force-free fun time with their pet, anywhere they chose.

A separate photo competition ran alongside for members to demonstrate participation in their chosen event. The photos were judged on originality and creativity, with a special emphasis on how much force-free fun the human and pet were having. The winners were eventually chosen from a very high-caliber selection of entries. Our congratulations to all!

Each ICFF Participant will receive a $20 credit towards any PPG Webinar. Thanks to all for joining in! See these and many more great photos at www.PetProfessionalGuild.com/ICFFWinners

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AWARDS

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BARKS from the Guild/April 2014


AWARDS

BARKS from the Guild/April 2014

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COVER STORY

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Are 'free-shaped' dogs better problem solvers?

Carmen LeBlanc explores criticisms that lure-reward training may produce a passive dog, and compares this training method to free-shaping – which some believe produces a more creative dog 12

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Shaping is about developing a behavior that is not yet in the animal’s repertoire

BARKS from the Guild/April 2014

ost professional dog trainers have heard about criticisms of lure-reward training in recent years. These criticisms have been made along with enthusiastic claims about the superiority of freeshaped (unprompted, trial-and-error) clicker training. Those of us who use free-shaping understand the enthusiasm. It is challenging and exciting to communicate with dogs in such a free-form way, developing a new behavior one small increment at a time. As technicians of scientific procedures, however, it is important that we take a collective, critical look at what is being said. Are these criticisms and claims supported at all by empirical studies? Do they represent the cutting


COVER STORY edge of what is happening in dog training, or is a piece of history repeating itself ? Has some objectivity been lost as one reward-based operant technology is criticized and another is lauded? It would be a shame to allow misunderstandings to drive a wedge between our fledgling ranks, as we all work to convince our clients of the powers of positive reinforcement. Fortunately, humane, no-force trainers share much common ground. Following are some key criticisms and claims, and some explanation of the history and uses, the strengths and pitfalls of these training technologies, based on scientific texts and literature in applied behavior analysis and learning theory.

• Luring isn’t training. It implies doubt in the laws of learning A lure is one kind of orienting prompt (sticks and balls are others) that is used to guide a dog into a desired behavior (Lindsay, 2000). These prompts are antecedents, stimuli that come before behavior. Since the three-term contingency of A-B-C (antecedent-behavior-consequence) is the basic unit of analysis in learning theory, we cannot just dismiss A. Like other prompts — including verbal ones like high-pitched noises, gestural ones like clapping or crouching, environmental ones like using a wall to get a straight heel position — a lure is used to get the desired behavior during the early part of training and then is gradually eliminated after the behavior has been strengthened through reinforcement. Since fading is the technology for eliminating the prompt, prompting and fading go hand in hand. Prompting-fading and shaping have distinct purposes. Fading is about stimulus control, the A part of AB-C. It typically begins with a behavior that is already in the animal’s repertoire and gradually changes what controls (or evokes) it. So a ‘sit’ is first evoked with a lure, and over several repetitions the lure is faded out as a gestural or verbal cue is faded in. Whether we are shapers or prompters or both, we all use fading when installing verbal cues. In contrast, shaping is about developing a behavior that is not yet in the animal’s repertoire, the B part of AB-C. Shaping begins with an approximation of the final desired behavior and gradually develops it into the final one. In short, fading changes the controlling stimuli of

an existing behavior whereas shaping develops new behavior. Both techniques rely on the C part of A-B-C, reinforcement, to strengthen or maintain behavior. In the real world, though, the distinction is not drawn so neatly, since the two procedures are often used together. We use prompts during shaping (e.g. to teach rollover or spin) and some successive approximations during luring (e.g. getting a full down). And in both lurereward training and shaping, clickers can be used. Also known as ‘errorless learning,’ prompting-fading has been around since Skinner’s, Terrace’s and others’ work in the 1930s to 1960s, which showed that, with sufficient care, a discrimination could be learned with few or no errors (Skinner, 1938; Schlosberg & Solomon, 1943; Terrace, 1963, 1966). Skinner and Terrace both believed that errors resulting from ‘trial and error’ discrimination training (i.e. shaping) were aversive and harmful. With children and animals, shaping often provoked problem behaviors when subjects made mistakes and lost reinforcement. Aggression, self-injury, tantrums, frustration, apathy and escape behaviors were all cited as direct consequences of shaping (Touchette & Howard, 1984). So errorless techniques were developed to obtain behaviors more efficiently, with a steady rate of reinforcement, and less wear and tear on the learner. At the time, this caused quite a paradigm shift since it was widely assumed that errors were necessary for learning. A considerable body of evidence has since accumulated that errorless techniques are successful with human and nonhuman animals (Schroeder, 1997). The notion that ‘prompting is not training’ is somewhat understandable since we know that consequences, not antecedents, determine behavior. We all strive to focus our clients on consequences rather than antecedents. Although antecedents do not cause behavior to occur, they increase the likelihood of behavior if their presence has been associated with past reinforcement of the behavior. In short, B is a function of C in the presence of A. So a dog learns that in the presence of antecedent X (mom), sits are noticed and reinforced, but in the presence of antecedent Y (child), sits are not reinforced. Sits become much more likely in front of mom, who is the discriminative stimulus (SD) for reinforcement for sits. BARKS from the Guild/April 2014

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COVER STORY

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• Luring is coercive Interestingly, this same criticism was leveled at all operant conditioning during Skinner’s career. Whether used in fading or shaping, reinforcement was perceived as manipulative. The power that reinforcement demonstrated to change behavior — including humans’ behavior — made people uncomfortable. It ran counter to strong beliefs about human freewill and superiority over animals. Today’s critics have focused on one operant technique, using food as an orienting prompt, but perhaps a part of history is replaying today. Furthermore, it seems inconsistent for luring critics to acknowledge the truth that reinforcement is the power of operant conditioning, yet say that antecedent lures are so powerful they render animals helpless. The fact is, positive reinforcement (R+) — after the behavior not before — is so powerful that any operant technology that uses it can produce self-injurious behavior. Rasey & Iverson (1993) shaped rats, using food reinforcers, to lean so far over a ledge that they fell off (they were saved by a net). Schaefer (1970) shaped self-injurious head banging in Rhesus monkeys. Learning textbooks usually supply several examples of parents inadvertently shaping obnoxious, even self-injurious behavior in their children by ignoring (and subsequently paying attention to) increasing levels of destructive behavior like screaming or head-banging. Many of us have seen a cartoon in the Association of

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Free-shaping can produce interesting results BARKS from the Guild/April 2014

Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) Chronicle of a hapless dog appearing before a judge, protesting “But I was lured!” The dog could just as truthfully say, “But I was shaped!” In reality, neither luring nor shaping is ‘coercive,’ but both methods powerfully determine behavior through reinforcement. Murray Sidman’s (1989) definition may help alleviate confusion about what learning theorists consider ‘coercive’: “To be coerced is to be compelled under duress or threat to do something ‘against our will…’. Control by positive reinforcement is non-coercive; coercion enters the picture when our actions are controlled by negative reinforcement or punishment.” Perhaps a more accurate word to capture some trainers’ concerns about lures is ‘intrusive.’ This term is used in textbooks to describe stronger prompts like physical guidance or force. Because of a treat’s salience, we could construe it as intrusive. Of course, the intrusiveness of physical force is light-years away from the intrusiveness of a hot dog morsel. Both are quite salient to the animal, but force is aversive and food is deliriously enticing. It’s easy to make food lures less salient or intrusive by lowering their value. As Karen Overall points out (1997), dog biscuits are generally not sufficient motivation, but some foods are so desirable that the dog is too stimulated or distracted by them. Something between these two extremes is preferred. • Luring produces passive dogs. Shaping produces ‘creative’ ones To unravel these claims, we first have to ground them in precise definitions of observable behaviors. What does ‘creative’ mean? What behaviors constitute creativity? Behavioral (operational) definitions are key to the scientific process, because they recast fuzzy concepts or labels into specific behaviors that two or more people can agree on, observe and measure. A term commonly used in the literature that encompasses the concepts of creativity and problem-solving is response generalization or response variation. Variation can be measured along dimensions such as speed, topography, latency, intensity, position and duration. It means that a variety of behaviors (or variations of one behavior) occur in the presence of a stimulus or situation. One reason they occur is that they are all functionally equivalent; they achieve the same consequence. A dog with a food toy, for example, quickly learns that


COVER STORY

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pawing, nosing, licking, biting are all helpful in getting some food. So does shaping produce more response variability than prompting? This question has not been directly studied in the literature, so we have to glean our answers indirectly. First, two caveats are in order: 1) We should remember that all animals are adapted problem solvers. They are biological learning machines that interact with the environment and have their behavior shaped (selected) by its consequences (Pierce & Epling, 1999). In fact, Skinner said that evolution and operant learning operate by the same processes: trying or producing new things (variation) and discarding what does not work (selection) (Skinner, 1990). No operant technique can undo what thousands of years of evolution have produced. 2) Behavior is naturally variable. But in the absence of explicit reinforcement for variability, responding becomes more stereotyped (repetitive) and less variable with continued operant conditioning (Domjan, 2003). By definition, shaping narrows the range of behaviors as we select the behaviors we want and extinguish the ones we do not. Two key procedures that involve shaping, however, have resulted in increased response variation: 1) extinction and 2) explicitly reinforcing variation or novelty, as Pryor did with a porpoise (Pryor, Haag, & O’Reilly, 1969) and as she has taught with her well-known 101 Things to Do with a Box game (Pryor, 1999). In the first procedure, pure extinction (when a behavior that was previously reinforced is no longer reinforced), behavior can increase or become more variable in frequency, duration, topography, and intensity. In addition, extinction bursts can briefly produce novel behaviors (ones that have not occurred in that situation) (Miltenberger, 2004). For example, when a child’s parents

A toy can be used as a lure to obtain a desired behavior

no longer reinforce the child’s nighttime crying, he cries louder and longer (increased intensity and duration) and screams and hits the pillow (novel behaviors). However, the evidence of increased variability with partial extinction, when reinforcement is not reduced to zero (as is the case with shaping), is mixed. Some studies report increased variability, but others show small or no effects (Grunow & Neuringer, 2002). Another route to increased variability is when variability is made the explicit criterion for reinforcement, as in Pryor’s study and her box game. Much research since then has shown that repeating and varying behaviors are in part operant skills under the control of reinforcing consequences (e.g. Neuringer, Deiss & Olson, 2000; Stokes, Mechner, & Balsam, 1999). In other words, if stereotypy is reinforced, it will increase, and if variability is reinforced, that will increase. One study with preschoolers showed that the frequency of children’s creative play with building blocks could be increased through social reinforcement (praise) from the teacher (Goetz & Baer, 1973). Variability as an operant has considerable applied potential when attempting to train an animal or person to solve problems. A study with rats as a model (Arnesen, 2000) showed that prior reinforcements of response BARKS from the Guild/April 2014

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COVER STORY variations increased the rats’ exploration of novel objects and discovery of reinforcers (problem solving), even in a novel environment. Nevertheless, researchers who study creativity debate whether reinforcement facilitates or impedes it. There is some support for the facilitation hypotheses, but also a body of literature that indicates that reinforcement interferes with creativity (Neuringer, 2004). If the latter is true, interference would occur with both lure-reward training and shaping, since both use reinforcement. One way to look at the issue is to consider that some problems require flexibility and others require rigidity. Variability is reinforced when writing a poem. But rote repetition is reinforced when solving long division problems. Similarly, in assistance or scent work, a dog’s variability on some tasks would more likely be reinforced whereas in a pet owner’s home a more rigid obedience might be.

All animals have adapted to become problem solvers 16

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Turning back to prompting-fading techniques, what does the research say about their limitations? Again, the evidence is mixed. Terrace’s 1960s studies and many since then (e.g. Dorry & Zeaman, 1973; Fields, 1980; Robinson & Storm, 1978) have directly compared errorless techniques with trial-and-error and have shown errorless to be superior with developmentally disabled children and animals. These researchers have concluded that animals and people learn complex discriminations more readily using errorless training (prompting-fading) than trial-and-error (shaping) (Klein, 1987). But others, citing different studies, have concluded the opposite. They say that although trial-and-error has more adverse side effects compared to errorless training, it also results in greater flexibility when what is learned has to be modified later. These studies have shown that fading narrows attention to specific features of the prompt stimulus, which can impede learning in situa-


COVER STORY tions where the correct responses are changed or controlled by multiple cues (Marsh & Johnson, 1968; Gollin & Savoy, 1968; Jones & Eayrs, 1992). One study these researchers cite taught one group of pigeons an errorless discrimination and another group a trail-and-error discrimination. The errorless group had extreme difficulty changing their behavior when the discrimination was reversed compared to the trial-and-error group, which handled the reversal well (Marsh & Johnson, 1968). Another issue with fading cited in the literature is that research has not yet determined exactly how to produce a successful transfer from prompted to unprompted responding. There are six classes of prompts and three types of fading, and which of these combinations is optimal, for which participants or behaviors, is unknown. The same is true for shaping, however. Research has not determined exactly how many successive steps, what size of steps, or how many trials at each step are optimal. In fading, prompt dependence can occur if prompts are offered too long, and premature removal of prompts can lead to persistent errors. Similarly, in shaping, the learner can get stuck on one approximation if it is reinforced too long, or lose the approximation if it is reinforced too briefly. So both methods are presented in textbooks as something of an art, involving planned and impromptu judgment calls depending on the trainer, the learner and the situation (Martin & Pear, 2003). Some researchers believe that errorless procedures are best suited for the learning of basic facts — like arithmetic and spelling — things that will not change. In contrast, since trial-and-error learning may produce more flexibility in responding, it may be more appropriate in problem solving situations or in those in which the contingencies could change (Pierce & Epling, 1999). Presuming these limitations with errorless methods do exist, dog trainers should nevertheless resist casting operant techniques in categorical good-bad roles, and accept that fading and shaping each has its distinct advantages, pitfalls, and unique areas of most effective application. If shaping does produce greater flexibility, and fading does produce more fixed learning, we should not as-

Guided Learning vs. Self-Directed Learning

Graphic by DogNostics Career College

sume that one outcome is a virtue and the other a vice. Many pet owners and handlers of working dogs would likely prefer strict compliance and not an ounce of variability. On the other hand, many trainers probably prefer more variability. There does not seem to be a preponderance of evidence yet to decide the issue. That can be frustrating, because it leaves us without quick, clear-cut answers. Instead, we have to think like scientists, weigh the evidence, and keep an open yet skeptical mind. This issue challenges all trainers to continue learning and sharpening our skills in practicing and teaching all non-coercive operant techniques, and to keep our training as flexible and individualized as possible. n Carmen LeBlanc MS, is an Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) with over 15 years in the field of companion animal behavior. She earned a master’s degree in animal behavior in 2007, winning the Marion Breland-Bailey award for her thesis research in canine learning. Carmen currently works at the Humane Society for Southwest Washington.

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COVER STORY RESOURCES

Arnesen, E. M. (2000) Reinforcement of Object Manipulation Increases Discovery; Unpublished Bachelor’s Thesis, Reed College Domjan, M. (2003) The Principles of Learning and Behavior Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning Dorry, G. W. & Zeaman, D. (1973) The Use of a Fading Technique in Paired-Associate Teaching of a Reading Vocabulary with Retardates Mental Retardation, 11, 3–6 Fields, L. (1980) Enhanced Learning of New Discriminations after Stimulus Fading Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 15, 327–330 Goetz, E. & Baer, D. (1973) Social Control of Form Diversity and the Emergence of New Forms in Children’s Blockbuilding Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 6, 209–217 Gollin, E. S. & Savoy, P. (1969) Fading Procedures and Conditional Discrimination in Children Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 11, 443–451 Grunow, A. & Neuringer, A. (2002) Learning to Vary and Varying to Learn Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 9, 250–258 Jones, R. & Eayrs, C. B. (1992) The Use of Errorless Learning Procedures in Teaching People with a Learning Disability: A Critical Review Mental Handicap Research, 5, 204–210 Klein, S. B. (1987) Learning: Principles and Applications New York: McGraw Hill Book Company Lindsay, S. R. (2000) Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training: Adaptation and learning, Vol. 1 Ames, IO: Iowa State Press Marsh, G. & Johnson, R. (1968) Discrimination Reversal Following Learning without ‘Errors’ Psychonomic Science, 10, 261–262 Martin, G. & Pear, J. (2003) Behavior Modification: What It Is and How To Do It Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall Inc Miltenberger, R. G. (2004) Behavior Modification: Principles and Procedures Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thompson Learning Neuringer, A. (2004) Reinforced Variability in Animals and People American Psychologist, 59, 891–906 Neuringer, A., Deiss, C. & Olson, G. (2000) Reinforced Variability and Operant Learning Journal of Experimental Psychology, 26, 98–111 18

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Overall, K. (1997) Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Animals St. Louis, MO: Mosby, Inc Pierce, W. D. & Epling, W. F. (1999) Behavior Analysis and Learning Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc Pryor, K. (1999) Don’t Shoot The Dog! The New Art of Teaching and Training New York: Bantam Books Pryor, K., Haag, R. & O’Reilly, J. (1969) The Creative Porpoise: Training for Novel Behavior Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 12, 653–661 Rasey, H. W. (1993) An Experimental Acquisition of Maladaptive Behavior by Shaping Journal of Behavior Therapy & Experimental Psychiatry, 24, 34–43 Robinson, P. W. & Storm, R. H. (1978) Effects of Error and Errorless Discrimination Acquisition on Reversal Learning Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 29, 517–525 Schaefer, H. H. (1970) Self-Injurious Behavior: Shaping ‘Head Banging’ in Monkeys Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 3, 111–116 Schlosberg, H. & Solomon, R. L. (1943) Latency of Response in a Choice Discrimination Journal of the Experimental Psychology, 33, 22–39 Schroeder, S. (1997) Selective Eye Fixations During Transfer of Discriminative Stimulus Control In D. M. Baer & E. M. Pinkston (Eds.) Environment and Behavior Boulder, CO: Westview Press Sidman, M. (1989) Coercion and Its Fallout Boston, MA; Authors Cooperative Skinner, B. F. (1990) Can Psychology Be a Science of Mind? American Psychologist, 45, 1206–1210 Stokes, P. D., Mechner, F. & Balsam, P. D. (1999) Effects of Different Acquisition Procedures on Response Variability Animal Learning & Behavior, 27, 28–41 Terrace, H. S. (1963) Errorless Transfer of a Discrimination across Two Continua Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 6, pp. 223–232 Terrace, H.S. (1966) Stimulus Control In W. K. Honig (Ed.), Operant Behavior: Areas of Research and Application New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts Touchette, P. E. & Howard, J. S. (1984) Errorless Learning: Reinforcement Contingencies and Stimulus Control Transfer in Delayed Prompting Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 17, 175–188


TRAINING

Double Your Money: The Hidden Advantage of Using Food to Train

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Eileen Anderson explains why using food as a reinforcer in training presents a golden opportunity

e’ve all heard the com“No one goes to hell ments: ‘You’re bribfor using food treats, ing your dog!’ but to hear people’s ‘Training with treats reactions, you’d be makes dogs fat!’ certain this was ‘What do you do if the case.” your dog runs into Karen Overall, traffic? Throw cookies Manual of Clinical at it?’ Behavioral Medicine BARKS from the for Dogs and Cats Guild is one publication whose audience knows better. I do not believe I need to convince anyone here of the benefits and ethics of using food, a potent primary reinforcer, to train our animals. But I would like to talk about one of the advantages of using food that is rarely discussed: the way classical conditioning and operant learning mesh to create a learning experience that is far more than the sum of its parts. When we are using food and other pleasant, fun things for our teaching, the learning processes can extend their brightness into every corner of our animals’ lives. © Can Stock Photo

be a good choice. When we examine operant behavior, the smallest unit we can analyze has three parts: antecedents, behavior, and consequences, or the ABCs. Operant learning is driven by consequences: the animal’s behavior leads to an outcome. The antecedent in operant learning sets the stage for a certain behavior to be performed. Our training cues are antecedents, but it is good to keep in mind that plenty of other things are also, including things we do not intend as such or have no control over. The TV turning on, the onset of a snow storm, the UPS truck driving by—just about any event you can think of can become a cue for operant behavior. Most of us are also familiar with and use respondent learning. Respondent behaviors are reflexive responses to antecedents. Sneezing after inhaling pepper, salivation upon tasting food, pupil dilation from fear or changing light, and even the release of hormones connected with a particular emotion are all respondent behaviors. But respondent learning is not about teaching new respondent behaviors, nor is it typically about altering the existing ones, although some can be influenced a bit. In respondent learning, it is the stimulus, not the behavior, that is learned. The pairing of a new stimulus with the original (unconditioned) stimulus that elicited the response is referred to as classical conditioning if the new stimulus is Operant and Respondent Learning neutral and counterconditioning if the new stimulus was Most of us are familiar with behavior modification formerly scary or unpleasant. The presence of food in through operant learning. If the dog sits, then I give the mouth is an unconditioned stimulus that elicits a casher some food she likes. She will probably sit more in cade of gastrointestinal responses, including salivation. the future. If so, her behavior has changed through opBut if the sound of a can opener is followed consiserant learning, specifically the process of positive reintently by food, a cat may start to salivate at the mechaniforcement. And if I cal sound, responding physiologically before associate a signal with LIKELIHOOD smelling or tasting the the fact that I’ll give her OF BEHAVIOR CONSEQUENCES BEHAVIOR INCREASES OR food. If the sound of food if she sits, I can DECREASES the doorbell is foluse that signal to tell lowed consistently by her when sitting would Graphic by DogNostics Career College BARKS from the Guild/April 2014

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TRAINING the proximity or entrance of a stranger, the nervous system of the fearful dog starts to charge into the fight-or-flight response at the sound of the doorbell, before the appearance of the scary human. Pavlov and the dogs drooling at the sound of the bell are such a part of our cultural history that we are perhaps a little blasé about the whole thing. It was Kathy Sdao, in her DVD Does the Name Pavlov Ring a Bell?, who conveyed to me just how cool this is. A formerly meaningless mechanical sound came to trigger an innate physiological response in the dog. How amazing is that, really? So we have two learning processes. Can we use them at the same time? You bet!

Classical Conditioning

Before Conditioning

During Conditioning Neutral Stimulus

Unconditioned Stimulus

Unconditioned Response

After Conditioning

The Gordian Knot “Like a Gordian knot, respondent and operant behaviors are inextricably intertwined.” Dr. Susan Friedman, www.behaviorworks.org

Like it or not, operant and respondent learning are going on simultaneously most of the time. But to a thoughtful trainer it is a feature, not a bug. It means, among other things, that if you use good things when training your dog, like food and play, you become a good thing. Or assuming you started out as a good thing, you become an even better thing. And the converse: if you use pain and force to train your dog and those things are clearly associated with Dogs respond well to food as a reinforcer during training but it also has secondary benefits

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No Response

Neutral Stimulus

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Conditioned Stimulus

Conditioned Response

Graphic by DogNostics Career College

you, you can become a scary thing. If you use aversives, either under your control or those existing in the environment and arrange it so they are not associated with you, there is still potential fallout from their use and the same ethical concerns exist. So there’s no free pass in that regard. But that’s another article. It also means that if you play your cards right, your dog does good things to get to the good thing. I used a lot of classical conditioning with my puppy Clara. One of the first things she learned was that her favorite food, spray cheese, magically arrived at her mouth whenever my dog Summer barked. I wanted to decrease the likelihood of her picking up Summer’s reactivity. Although I presented the cheese without any requirements on Clara’s behavior, she soon started to ‘help.’ She started to come to me from wherever she was to collect her cheese, rather than my having to find her. In other words, Summer’s barking became a cue for Clara to come to me under her own steam. This did not diminish the Pavlovian response. Any inclination Clara had to join in the barking, for fun or from sympathetic alarm, was buried under the gustatory response to spray cheese. I have seen her drool in response to the conditioned stimulus of Summer barking. Barking, to her gastrointestinal system, means great things coming! But in addition, the operant behaviors, which included turning or running to me, were positively reinforced by the cheese. I got two for one. This effect is so common that when we talk about classical conditioning or counter conditioning, the behaviors we often mention when we say that the condi-


TRAINING tioning is starting to take effect are actually operant behaviors. We do not see the stomach juices start to flow and may not see the saliva start to collect. But we will see the tail wag, the happy body language, and the eager approach. Those are operant behaviors, but they can give us a clue about the internal responses. Clara’s first stimulus pairing was Summer’s barking with spray cheese. Then the association generalized to other dogs’ barking. I had not anticipated this and it was fantastic. She had been at least partially inoculated against things like fence fighting and you can bet I followed this up with plenty of operant practice. The next thing was that she started to learn what triggered Summer’s barking, since those triggers predicted barking, which in turn predicted cheese. This higher order conditioning caused her to start coming to me when truck engines roared or people shouted outside— whether or not Summer reacted. This was also fine with me. Clara also thinks thunderstorms and sudden booms—and, frankly, almost anything startling —are all great. If you consistently follow particular environmental events with the appearance of good food, you will likely get, as I did, a dog who treats most changes in the environment as if they were cues to run to you. You actually might want to train a strong ‘drop’ at a distance in case you ever need to interrupt the recall. I condition and use many other reinforcers. I’m far from a ‘food only’ person. My dogs are wonderfully responsive to me even when I have no food in my pockets or nearby. But the science tells me that food is part of what has built that strong relationship and I am fine with that. The use of food has also helped my dogs be much more comfortable in the world through counter conditioning. That’s priceless. Unless one has to prepare for long periods of performance where food and other reinforcers are not permitted, such as competition or some service work, why not have food available whenever possible? Because life happens. You never know when your dog will do something absolutely phenomenal. Why not be ready to tell her that? And you also never know when you’ll have a chance to tell her, with food, “Hey, that brand-new sound or object predicts good stuff, just like all the others we’ve met up with.” I hate to miss those opportunities.

The ‘double your money’ effect with food is a gift. The food builds positive emotional responses and reinforces desirable behaviors. For our dogs and ourselves, surely that’s the path to heaven, not hell. n Eileen Anderson BM, MM, MS is a passionate amateur dog trainer who writes about learning theory, her life with three dogs, and force-free training in her blog and other publications. Find her blog at Eileen anddogs.com.

Training: Golden Nuggets from PPG Members #1 Just Name It!

Using a clicker to capture behaviors is a wonderful way of teaching new behaviors. At home, I found that by allocating a name to behaviors the dogs did every day, the name soon became the cue to perform that very behavior. ‘Pick It Up’ - Any time your dog picks up a toy, a piece of paper, a chewie etc., say "pick it." Sometimes I might have a treat and other times I just lavish praise and affection. Before long, and it depends on the dog, I can point to an object on the floor and say "pick it." Both of my dogs will pick up keys, pens, socks etc. ‘Hand’ - When your dog gives you a ball, stick or toy and places it near or in your hand, say "hand." Again, reward in some way with praise, play, or affection. Now put these cues together and your dog will pick up and item and put it in your hand. ‘Stairs’ - I named the behavior of going up the stairs. At about 10 p.m., I tell my four-year-old Golden to “go up the stairs." Wherever she is, she will go to the stairway and go up to her bed. If I am leaving and their Dad is working on the second floor, I say "stairs" and they both happily go up. There is no work involved on your part because these are behaviors they perform every day. I just put a name (i.e. cue) to the behavior and acknowledge to the dogs that is a wonderful thing to do. - Ada Lana Simms CPDT-KA, OSCT, Reward That Puppy Dog Training Inc. BARKS from the Guild/April 2014

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TRAINING Training: Golden Nuggets from PPG Members #2 It’s in His Look

Even independent breeds can have a good recall. I try to use this strategy during the training stages: condition the dog to look at you when you say his name. Teach recalls on training leads. Use very powerful reinforcements the dog loves. Do not call a dog unless you know he’s looking at you and already on his way toward you. Do not call dogs toward things they do not like. Reinforce every time the dog gets to you – use conditioning! Once the recall is generalized, use Premack recalls to really cement the response. Use removal of reinforcement to tell the dog his response was inadequate but never scold or chase a dog. Make getting to you the best thing that ever happens to your dog, every single time. - Anne Springer BA, Dipl, CAPCT, CTDI, VA, Owner, Paws for Praise, Danvers, MA

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BARKS from the Guild/April 2014

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CASE STUDY

The Power of the Clicker © Can Stock Photo

In this captivating case study, Donna D. Savoie presents Dickens, a five-month-old miniature dachshund with a very persistent bark

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ickens’ family purchased him from a breeder when he was five months old. The breeder did not allow the family to see the entire litter nor the dam and sire before they took him, but brought him up a flight of stairs and simply told the family, “I pick this pup for you.” The family was slightly upset by the interaction and the inability to view the entire litter or meet the dam and sire, but Dickens ran right over to them and snuggled and won them over immediately. He seemed happy and playful, so they took him home. Over the next several days, the family had visitors to the home to see their new pup. To their dismay, Dickens would charge toward their visitors, back up and bark hysterically without stopping. Dickens was not the cute, sweet and friendly puppy they thought he had been when they saw him at the breeder’s house. So they called the breeder to ask if Dickens had ever met other people, to which she replied that she had been sick, so the pups had really not met anyone other than herself for five months. The most tender and most important socialization period for any pup of any breed is the first 16 weeks of its life, and this puppy only knew his littermates and the one female breeder. This family had had a miniature dachshund for 14 years but who had passed away in 2011. Apparently this dachshund had been aggressive towards other people and other dogs for its entire life. They had tried training but disagreed with the techniques recommended. The trainers they hired had all used corrective methods, which only made the dog worse. They stopped all training and put the dog in a separate area when company came over. The family were adamant that they did not want to endure another 14 years of a dog who could not be part of their family when guests were in the home, because they liked to invite people over as well as socialize regularly outside and take their dog with them. They were heartbroken and unsure as to how to

Dickens soon learned to be calm when visitors arrived at the house

proceed with Dickens. When the family contacted me for assistance, I told them there were no guarantees but that the pup was young and, if they were committed, the prognosis was probably good. I assured them that all training would be positive, force-free and fun. The family was initially skeptical but set up an appointment with me.

Lesson #1 When I arrived at the home, the family had put Dickens in the bathroom with the door closed so I could enter safely. After talking for a few minutes, Dickens was released from the bathroom and came rushing out, barking hysterically. He would charge forward, back up, move forward toward me and then back up. He repeated the behavior but never came close enough to bite me

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CASE STUDY

© Can Stock Photo

and did not look at me. He was not actually looking at anything. It was like frantic hysteria. I watched this for about a minute, then I tossed several treats toward him and away from me which he immediately scurried around to collect. I thought, “The dog takes food, so he can be easily trained to give alternative behaviors to barking and hysteria.” And I was right! This was a smart little pup. I charged the clicker and began rewarding quiet behavior. I tossed him a few freebie treats, always tossing them away from me, clicking and tossing him a few freebies, tossing them all over the kitchen to keep him scurrying around and quiet. I explained to the family that practice makes perfect and that at that moment Dickens was practicing being quiet while having a great time. He was also having a great time with a guest. After three or four tosses, I waited before tossing again. I wanted three seconds of quiet behavior, so I counted to three, then clicked and tossed treats. After several times of that, I counted to six and clicked and tossed treats. Dickens was having so much fun and learning that just being quiet feels better than hysterical barking. In that one lesson we had 30 minutes of working with Dickens and no barking. I moved about the home while the family counted seconds of quiet and clicked and treated. We also worked on initial ‘name game’ training and a good recall. The family did an excellent job of saying Dickens’ name and clicking and treating when he looked at the person who Rewarding called Dickens for him. This calm behavior paid dividends was also quite fun for Dickens. Recall training was very successful. Dickens ran from room to room in the home to the person who called him. Each time, running right past me 24

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while giving cursory looks but not being stressed. The first homework lesson was click for quiet behavior, which meant being proactive and counting the seconds between clicks and not waiting too long, as well as the name game and recall. I hoped that when I returned for the second lesson, Dickens would have an immediate response to his owner when he heard his name called and a fantastic recall. Lesson #2 I entered the home and Dickens barked for only a second. The family recalled Dickens and tossed a handful of treats across the room from where I stood, which Dickens scurried all over to find and collect. His recall was immediate and successful and I was so thrilled! He noticed me and did not bark and he also seemed happy. The family reported that name game and recall were going very well but that Dickens was also doing some demand barking during the recall games. I suggested that they pre-stuff several puppy Kongs, and when Dickens recalled, reward him with the stuffed puppy Kong to keep him busy and help him relax in between recalls. With this exercise, Dickens would practice being relaxed and quiet, rather than being demanding in between recalls. This technique could also be used for visitors by giving him a stuffed Kong on his bed to focus on when they arrived. Practice makes perfect and practicing relaxing and being quiet with a Kong is good training. As we were talking about their week of training and about Dickens' behavior in general, they said, “Wow, Donna! We didn’t really think that something so simple would work. We are so impressed.” They were able to have visitors over a couple of times during the week and Dickens would lay on his bed with a Kong, or would hang out quietly and wait for the next treat. The family deserves a lot of acknowledgement here because they worked so well together as a team. If one family member was talking to guests, another family member was counting to 30 to click and treat Dickens' quiet behavior before any barking ensued. It was a choreographed team effort between family members that led to wonderful success. I was actually able to work on ‘sit’ and ‘down’ with Dickens during this lesson. He was not ready for me to pet him yet but he was a hard working dog. I could lure him and this little guy certainly


CASE STUDY learned fast. Dickens learned ‘sit’ and ‘down’ on hand and voice cues in approximately five minutes. In between working on ‘sit’ and ‘down’, the family and I were talking and I noticed Dickens did a spin with a hop while looking at me and that he was quiet. I was very quick to click and treat Dickens, and he did it again almost immediately. I could not stop laughing at Dickens' cuteness. All family members worked on ‘sit’ and ‘down’ and clicked and treated Dickens for the ‘spin and hop.’ Dickens appeared to enjoy the laughter as much as he enjoyed the treats.

Lesson #3 When I arrived, Dickens alerted the family with a bark for about two seconds and then went right over to his bed upon being recalled and was given a stuffed Kong. He lay calmly on his bed while we talked and moved around the home. The family reported they had many people in their home over the Thanksgiving holiday and that Dickens had been amazing. He had not barked at visitors, had done his spin and hop for people, had sat and laid down, and relaxed on his bed. The family reported that they could not have asked for a better dog on Thanksgiving and their visitors complimented them on how wonderfully behaved Dickens was. As they told me their Thanksgiving story, they were

all beaming with pride. During this lesson we worked on hand targeting, which taught Dickens to touch my hand. Dickens loved this game and he let me pet him by the end of the lesson. After three lessons, Dickens was no longer barking uncontrollably, was no longer charging towards guests then retreating and his obedience was becoming more reliable all the time. The family has no intention of giving up Dickens because he is fun and sweet, and has learned to enjoy visitors. This family worked nicely together as a team and never once asked, “How many treats?” They used the dog’s food for training and eliminated the use of a food bowl. They were very generous in the beginning, which meant they successfully trained longer and longer durations of quiet behavior which translated to fewer and fewer treats. With just a clicker, some treats, and a sense of humor, this formerly hysterical puppy is now calm and fun-loving, and he shows off his tricks for visitors. This case study is an example of using simple and fun training to resolve big and small problems and keep families together. n Donna D. Savoie CDBC, CPDT-KA, CBATI, ABCDT, is the owner & president of Pack of Paws Dog Training, LLC in Southbridge, MA.

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© Can Stock Photo

CANINE

nothing Changes if nothing Changes

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Barb Levenson weighs up the difference between a soft tone of voice and a shouted cue and the impact of each on dogs during training

re you shouting cues or asking your dog for behaviors with a soft tone of voice? In a beginner rally class one night, I had an opportunity to show the difference between using a soft tone of voice to some of my students. One of the dogs, an adolescent lab, was somewhat anxious during class. I noticed that the owner, who was a very receptive student, was ‘barking’ cues to the pup. When I inquired about his behavior, he told me his son also barked and used an even louder tone than he used. I immediately took all the dogs out on the floor and ask the owners to whisper their signals to the dogs. The effect was noticeable. All the dogs were calmer, quieter, and paying better attention to their handlers. The young lab was noticeably focused on her owner.

How do people feel when their boss gives instructions in a loud, commanding voice? I have had a boss who raised his voice to me, and I lived from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in a state of high stress and anxiety. But assume the same boss speaks in a calm, low, non-threatening voice and asks you to do something. You are going to have a better response to the soft tone of voice. Dogs respond better to calm, soft cues. Loud, threatening voices make them anxious. It is harder for them to work with that anxiety, which is the same reaction of humans. There was a study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh that concluded the use of harsh verbal discipline in humans may actually encourage problematic behavior such as aggressive behavior in adolescents. In this study, the researchers also found that AlternAtives to Yelling the effects of verbal discipline were Dog owners and handlers can use alternatives to raising their voice at comparable to the effects of physical their dogs. Suggestions to correct a dog’s behavior include: discipline. Prevent: This includes management with crates, exercise pens, and The authors also showed that harsh leashes. verbal discipline occurred more freKnow Your Criteria: What do you want the dog to do? Break the bequently when the child exhibited the havior down into small bite-size pieces and train using operant condiproblem behaviors, and these same tioning. Karen Pryor’s first ‘Law of Shaping’ is to raise criteria in increments problem behaviors were actually more small enough so that the subject always has a realistic chance of reinforcement. This likely to continue when the children reis good advice. ceived verbal discipline. Verbal disciTeach One Piece of the Behavior at a Time: Another suggestion by pline either failed to change the Overall is to train one aspect of any particular behavior at a time. Don't try to behavior or worsened it. I have obshape for two criteria simultaneously. I watch people try to train several criteria served the same effect with my stuat one time. Susan Garrett calls this “lumping” and suggests we become dents who raise their voices to their “splitters.” dogs. Use a Soft Gentle Voice with Your Dog: It has a calming effect on the In a study conducted at the Univerdog and will enhance learning. sity of Pennsylvania and published in Become a Dog Expert: I believe the most important thing Applied Animal Behaviour Science, the reI can do for my dog is become a better searchers concluded: “If you are aghandler/teacher. Many people are training the exact gressive to your dog, your dog will be same way they did in the '80s and '90s although knowl- aggressive too.” According to Meghan edge and understanding of dog training has grown by Herron DVM, the study demonstrated leaps and bounds. The only detriment to becoming a that many confrontational training better trainer is a dog trainer's energy and creativity. methods do little to correct the ob-

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CANINE served improper or inappropriate behavior, and these confrontational methods can actually elicit aggressive behaviors. Dog owners' use of the word ‘no’ caused aggression in 15 percent of the dogs studied. Karen Overall MA, PhD, DVM, referred to dog aggression in her recently published Manual of Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Dogs and Cats. According to the author, operant conditioning is the basis for most positive reinforcement training and has demonstrated that rewarded behaviors are more likely to be repeated. Overall believes “the most valuable reward for our dogs is good information.” Below, Overall details various types of rewards, and yelling is not included as either information or a reward: • • • • • • • • •

Information, especially about risk Food Touch Praise Play Attention Social access Chewing or access to special chew toy Avoidance of discomfort

It is vitally important for handlers and dogs competing in obedience, agility, and rally to understand learning theory and the best way to deliver the information. Learning is defined as the acquisition of information or behavior through exposure and repetition, and reinforcement is the catalyst to effective learning. Positive reinforcement “encourages desirable behaviors because it marks and identifies the preferred behavior…coupling it with a reward.” Negative reinforcement is not punishment and will be discussed in future articles. Positive reinforcement is effective for dogs because “the repeated reinforcement insures better, more numerous and more efficient connections between the neurons in the brain.” Rewards that are of particularly high value for the survival of the species, such as food, will have a much higher value to our dogs. Food is a higher value reward than praise or play because food is necessary for survival. As long as one reinforces will not everything be fine? No, it will not be fine because aversive stimuli interfere with learning at the cellular level. Dogs trying to learn skills for agility, obedience or

rally become stressed, anxious, and fearful when handlers yell at them. As the Penn study showed, even ‘no’ can evoke enough fear that the dog may become defensive, aggressive and even fight back. According to a 2009 study by De Quervain, fear and anxiety will adversely affect the training program. Learning tasks such as heeling, retrieving, or rally exercises are enhanced when stress, fear and distress are mitigated. I believe that statement is particularly relevant to dogs still being trained in obedience with aversive methods such as choke and prong collars. The data from the 2009 study suggests that the training programs should not rely on aversive methods or raised voices to the dog. A therapist friend of mine’s favorite saying is: “Nothing changes if nothing changes,” which sums it all up. The research shows that raising voices and aversive methods are not beneficial. It’s up to dog trainers as teachers to change thinking and behavior to enhance the relationship and training of our dog. If we don’t change, nothing changes. It is our responsibility as dog trainers to become advocates for change and the betterment of our dogs. n Barb Levenson has been competing in dog sports since 1981 and teaching obedience and agility private lessons and classes since 1985. She has competed with eight dogs and has titles in Obedience (American & Canadian), Agility and Herding. Barb’s first book Flatwork for Agility was released in early 2007.

resoUrCes Wang, Ming-Te & Kenny Sarah (2014) Longitudinal Links Between Father’s and Mother’s Harsh Verbal Discipline and Adolescents’ Conduct Problems and Depressive Symptoms Child Development Herron, Meghan E., Shofer, Frances S., Reisner & Ilana R. (2009) Survey of the Use and Outcome of Confrontational and Non-Confrontational Training Methods in Client-Owned Dogs Showing Undesired Behaviors Applied Animal Behaviour Science Overall, Karen L (2013) Manual of Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Dogs and Cats De Quervain, DJF, Aerni A Schelling G, Roozendaal B. (2009) Glucocorticoids and the Regulation of Memory in Health and Disease Front Neuroendocrinol BARKS from the Guild/April 2014

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D

The International Dog Bite Prevention Challenge

A dog bite can be a memorable and distressing experience. Joan Orr explains how education can go a long way to help avoid these potentially traumatic encounters

id you know that half of all children are bitten by a dog, and most often by their own dog or another dog known to them? This information is reported in published studies and is easily backed up by asking around. Most likely you will find that about half the people you talk to will have been bitten by a dog as a child. Even many years after the fact people often recall the details. This is because it is memorable and often traumatic to be bitten by a dog, even if the injury is relatively minor. Dog bites can leave children frightened of dogs and sometimes scarred physically and emotionally. The dog may lose his home, his family or even his life. Experts agree that dog bites are preventable and that education is a key component. Non-profit Doggone Safe is one organization that provides educational programs and materials to help children and families learn to act safely around dogs. To back up its efforts, Doggone Safe has launched the International Dog Bite Prevention Challenge, which has a goal of educating 50,000

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children between March and May. Public education will have a special emphasis during Dog Bite Prevention Week from May 18-24, 2014.

Need to Know

Firstly, dog owners and children need to know that happy dogs are much less likely to bite than anxious dogs. Parents need to teach children to recognize the difference between a happy dog and an anxious dog, to avoid anxious dogs and interact only with happy dogs. Understanding canine body language should go a long way to reducing bite risk from familiar dogs, or from dogs it would be preferable to ask the owner if they can pet. Children need to learn observational skills (known as ‘looking for clues’) and become ‘dog detectives’ so they can tell when a dog is happy and wants to meet them or is anxious and wants to be left alone. A happy dog will wag his tail loosely and pant and will show interest in interacting with the child. An anxious dog may lick his lips, yawn, turn his head away or show a half-moon of white in his eye. These are signs to a child that dog does not want to meet or play with them at that moment. By learning to read canine body language and understanding that dogs also have feelings, children will develop empathy for dogs. Children must also know what to do in case they meet an unfamiliar dog, or even if a dog they know is bothering them. We need to empower them with the knowledge they need to keep themselves safe. Doggone Safe and many other bite prevention programs and canine behavior experts teach children to stand still if a strange dog approaches. Doggone Safe calls this ‘being a tree.’ Being a tree teaches children to stand still, fold their branches (hands folded in front), watch their roots grow (look at their feet) and count in their heads over


CANINE and over to the biggest number they know until help comes or the dog goes away. This is the skill that could save a life or prevent a serious mauling if a child ever meets that rare truly aggressive or predatory dog. We recently received an e-mail from a mother who said: “[My three-year-old daughter] was standing in the tree pose as well as she could, shivering while being surrounded by two of the dogs barking and growling at her. We would like to thank you for your campaign and online information. We are convinced that it saved our daughter’s life.” Children realize that they can control the situation with their own behavior after participating in a Be a Tree session. Doggone Safe has had many reports that, after learning from the Be a Tree program, children have lost their fear of dogs. We have also heard from parents and teachers that children actually remembered to ‘be a tree’ in a real life situation. Anyone can help spread the word by becoming a Be a Tree presenter, by sponsoring a Be a Tree session through their business, by donating a Be a Tree teaching kit to a school or an animal shelter with an outreach program, by inviting a Be a Tree presenter to their school and spreading the word about the International Dog Bite Prevention Challenge. Visit Doggone Safe to learn more about canine body language, how to act safely around dogs and how to teach your children to be safer around dogs. Watch your own dog for signs that he is not enjoying attention from

the children. Supervise and intervene before the dog gets to the point of growling or biting because all his other stress signals have been ignored. n

Joan Orr MSc is a scientist and internationally recognized clicker trainer. Joan is a co-founder and president of Doggone Safe, a non-profit organization dedicated to dog bite prevention through education. In association with animal behavior specialist Teresa Lewin, Joan has co-created the dog bite prevention board game Doggone Crazy!, the Be a Tree bite prevention education program and the Clicker Puppy training DVD.

Help Your Business By volunteering in your community you get great exposure and access to potential new clients. The Be a Tree Program is an excellent way to help keep children and dogs safe, and gives you the opportunity reinforce the concept to owners that dogs need training. The Doggone Safe store has various handouts available for free and for purchase, to which you can add your contact information so that children have something to take home to show their parents. The Be a Tree kit is on sale for $25 off until the end of May, 2014. PPG members are eligible for 50 percent off when becoming a member of Doggone Safe. Go to the PPG members area to pick up your special discount code. BARKS from the Guild/April 2014

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Living and Working with Deaf Dogs In a series of articles, Morag Heirs shares her experiences of living and working with dogs who are deaf, blind or partially sighted, as well as those of the wider community of people who share their lives with these dogs. The aim is to offer insights into the way such dogs may perceive their world, and how we can create avenues of communication together

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ur canine companions are remarkably adaptable and, based on current thinking, this ability has allowed them to take advantage of the rubbish dumps created by primitive humans and shaped the transformation from wolf-like ancestor through to domesticated dog. I often feel that their talent at interpreting our sometimes hurried and chaotic verbal language is nothing short of miraculous! In some ways then, the deaf or partially-deafened dog has an advantage over the hearing dog. Born with restricted senses, these dogs not only are largely oblivious to our verbal cues, their owners or guardians are well aware of the futility of chattering cues to their dog. While most dog trainers are comfortable

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with the idea that dogs find body language easier than verbal instructions, owners can struggle to take this information on board. This makes sense. We are after all a species that communicates volubly with the spoken and the written word. Of course humans use and read body language too, but we are often less conscious of its contribution. New deaf dog owners can clearly see how easily their dog learns to respond to them despite having little or no access to the verbal cues. This was certainly the case for Farah and I. Farah was a seven-month-old bundle of deaf blue merle collie excitement when she joined my family as a companion for Finn, my older border collie. Farah was (and is) completely deaf and appears to have been so since birth. Having devoured what little literature there is on deaf dogs (see Resources on Page 32), I was keen to learn how to communicate with this little bundle of trouble. Being entirely deaf, Farah is not startled by loud noises or particular vibrations as some partially-deaf dogs are, which has been an advantage. Like most profoundly deaf dogs she sleeps very soundly and we have agreed on a simple hand on the shoulder as her


CANINE 'time to wake up' signal. Although much of the literature and common advice given to deaf dog handlers includes the suggestion that you should continue to talk to your deaf dog and clearly mouth your cues to them, I have never found this particularly helpful. Both in working with my own deaf dogs and with those of clients I find that the dogs are naturally focused on your hands, and the face merely provides back-up through the expression of encouragement or happiness. I suspect the idea of mouthing cues comes from the human practice of lip-reading, which makes more sense when not directed at dogs. I propose that with dogs who were born deaf, while they may learn to distinguish between facial positions, they are unlikely to learn to lip-read a language they have never heard. This advice also means the handler having to think about yet another thing (treats, leash, signs, lip-movements, making sure dog can see your face....) rather than paring right back to the essentials - your hands. The converse of this might be handlers who become wooden in their movements when they try to stop talking to their dog! Where a dog has gone deaf through old age, continuing to speak to them and mouthing cues may be more useful. Having your dogs learn some basic sign language/hand signals when they can still hear you can ease the transition into deafness in later life and reduce any associated anxiety. One of the first tasks in any new partnership is to establish some lines of communication. While I have suggested that deaf dogs have a certain advantage when it comes to ignoring the human tendency to nag and chatter cues, the hearing impaired can suffer from a lack of connection - particularly where no sign language has been taught. A large part of my work is with rescue organizations and I have noticed that the deaf dogs in our kennels are somewhat protected from the daily noise,

but are also unable to hear the kennel staff chatting as Being hearingimpaired has they pass their kennels, or not stopped talking gently to them when Farah from cleaning or feeding. Most completing her dogs without information on KC Good what is expected of them Citizen award can struggle with frustration but the deaf dogs I work with seem to find it particularly hard. Excessive barking and vocalizing is common and difficult to interrupt or stop in that setting. Whether working with a new dog of my own, a client's dog in a private lesson or a dog in an animal shelter, one of my first considerations is to help the handler create a clear signal to let the dog know when they have got something right! My personal preference is to use the following signals (see pictures below): • thumbs up = good dog, a generic signal that may or may not be followed by food, petting or a toy. This is good to teach to everyone who comes into contact with the dog • hand flash/flicker = this is my sign for a ‘click’ so is always followed by a reward. I only show this to people who will actually be training the dog • small LED torch flash = another useful way of 'clicking' the deaf dog during an activity and, if done

The hand flash can be used as a sign of reward BARKS from the Guild/April 2014

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CANINE skillfully, means you don't have to be beside the dog! Again only used by those who are training the dog and beware of shining the light in their eyes! Assuming the dog is not reactive to humans or the handler in particular, I would also teach a simple attention cue such as a tap on the shoulder. Most dogs turn when tapped (gently!) so it is easy to pair the tap with a tasty treat. This gives us a valuable method of redirecting the dog's attention and can be helpful with frustrated barkers when we need to move on to another activity. I really enjoy using clicker training with deaf dogs and find that it works more easily than lure/reward (my hand is free to give the signal rather than being full of cheese) while allowing me to signal a reward from a distance. The next stage would often be to work on a hand target, essential for positions, recall and direction signals later on. These simple exercises begin to build a bridge of communication between handler and dog. Both should have a sense of accomplishment and, more importantly, the dog starts to develop a sense of control and confidence. When Farah was about two-years-old, we attended a charity fundraising dog show for Hearing Dogs for Deaf

RESOURCES

* The Deaf Dog Education Action Fund (DDEAF) is very accessible and sells bandanas to alert people to a dog’s deafness. * Deaf Dog Network (DDN) and its Facebook page both include a collection of videos of teaching signs. * Barry Eaton Hear Hear (2005) is one of the best available books on living with and training a deaf dog, most easily available direct here. * An online sign language dictionary is good for getting ideas for signs and seeing the visual of how to move your hands. The writer’s favorite can be found at ALSpro.com. * Basic Sign Language, a leaflet written for the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) by Morag Heirs, available via the APBC in the UK. * The Deaf Dogs Manifesto is a comprehensive and frequently updated collection of information and discussion about all things relating to deaf dogs. 32

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People. We took part in the classes, and did a short demonstration in the main ring. Afterwards, many of the visitors wanted to meet Farah and were delighted by her friendly nature and desire to stare up at Farah demonstrates how to focus them with her intense blue eyes. Sitting to one side as Farah met her fans, I was struck by her intense focus on their hands. Some of the visitors were deaf themselves and so were signing at her and each other. Farah sat in the middle of a ring of admirers and, although she couldn't understand their language, she looked positively delighted at being included in the conversation. The people were eager to learn Farah's own sign language and patiently tried it out, understanding the importance of communicating with her in her own 'words.' Farah is an excellent stooge dog for rehabilitation work, happily works as a demo dog at shows and fundraising events, takes part in Rally and has completed all three levels of her KC Good Citizen award. She is also a certified Pets As Therapy dog. n Morag Heirs PhD, MSc, MA(SocSci)(Hons), PGCAP, Human and Canine Remedial Massage Therapist, is a Companion Animal Behavior Counselor who runs Well Connected Canine in York, UK. She works with deaf and blind dogs professionally, provides training and support for the Deaf Dog Network and is the behaviorist for Sheffield Animal Centre (RSPCA) and York & District RSPCA branches in the UK.


MUSINGS

It’s a Wide World for a Wolfhound

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Most people who live with an Irish wolfhound never want to be without one again says Bob McMillan, as he prepares for the latest addition to the household

y dog Finn is a gentle, loving soul. He is my best friend. He also has an independent streak that some might mistake for ... stubbornness? Finn is entirely his own dog, 140 lb. of self-possession. He is an Irish wolfhound. Until he decides he is ready to do something, you have before you the Great Sphinx, unblinking, inscrutable, and solid as a stack of rocks. Thank goodness I knew about positive training and had him in a puppy class the night after I brought him home at nine-weeksold. Sure, I could have turned to snap and jerk training, I could have gone to extremes with prong collars or even shocking to motivate him. I could have, if our relationship meant nothing to me. If mindless obedience was my only goal. If I was prepared to completely ignore the motto of the Irish wolfhound: “Gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked.” But I knew I did not want a fearful, neurotic companion. Finn was my dream dog. It was an adventurous first year. Wolfhound puppies can top 100 lb. in six months. Yes, that is right, 100 lb. of puppy. I often flew off porches, plowed through bushes or wrapped an arm around a tree or light pole to discourage forward motion. I gained a lot of upper body strength and knees of steel. And slowly, I gained his attention. Young Finn learned that those sounds coming out of my mouth, especially when they were attached to the word “Finn,” had meaning. Moreover, if he did cer-

Bob McMillan checks in with Irish wolfhound Finn

tain things when I made those sounds, he got treats. Every blooming time. It was quite a racket. Affection, trust, mutual respect, these soon followed. But for now, Finn would work for cheese. One day at a state park when he was a year old, I knew we had a solid relationship when we rounded a corner on the trail and were several steps out onto a swinging bridge before it hit us that we were 10 ft. above a roaring torrent on a narrow platform that bowed and swayed. At first, Finn balked. But he was in front blocking the way and walking backward was not a good option. We had to go forward. In a low, calm voice I asked him to walk. He trusted me enough to take a few steps. He was not crazy about how this weird surface moved, but he kept going and gained confidence. We made it and on the way back he strutted jauntily across the bridge. Positive training gave me a dog who listens to me. It established a bond. And now Finn is seven. Because of their size and BARKS from the Guild/April 2014

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MUSINGS

Finn will show new pup on the block, Oona, how things are done

their predisposition for osteosarcoma and heart maladies, few wolfhounds live longer than eight years. Every day with my giant friend is precious. I hope he is able to meet and spend time with Oona. Oona is the wolfhound puppy I am bringing home in October. Most people who live with a wolfhound never want to be without one again. I know I would not. And I think Finn will be a tender, patient and loving mentor. Technically, except in my heart and imagination, Oona does not actually exist yet. I started searching for her last summer after we lost Gracie, our Scottish deerhound. Bringing home any new puppy is a major investment of time, money, sweat and antacids. Some people get and get rid of pets like changing socks. I believe when you bring a dog into your life, you’re committing to being provider and guardian for life. So, you had better choose wisely, whether it is a rescue, a mixed breed or a purebred. And if it is a wolfhound you want, there are several breed-specific issues.

Meet the Parents

Finding a knowledgeable, reputable breeder is crucial. The kennel that gave me Finn was no longer breeding. Plus, he has survived two bouts with cancerous tumors and lost most of a rib. I want to avoid a repeat of that expense and trauma, so I searched far and wide. There are thousands of breeder sites on the internet, but immediately I saw red flags. Some emphasized only the size of their dogs. Not a word about longevity or temperament. Others cheerfully declared that you can get your puppy as early as six-weeks-old. No thanks. Earlier than eight weeks and the puppy loses important lessons on how to be a properly sociable dog from its littermates. Luckily, AKC-recognized breeds have national associations to steer you to solid breeders. Checking out breeders recommended by the Irish Wolfhound Club of America, one website especially caught my eye. The breeder had raised multiple generations of hounds and they were all living far longer than the breed average. She is also a talented photographer and I could see from her galleries that her dogs were excitingly vigorous hounds. I read on. Longevity and health were the keystones of her breeding program. She was in fact breeding with the original wolfhound of old in mind, lithe, dark hounds of legend who could course all day with the horses but were human-oriented and had 34

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the wolfhound's sense of humor and intelligence. I was hooked. It turns out I had met the breeder once before with Finn in Florida at a wolfhound meet. She remembered us, but asked if we could get together again to get better acquainted. So I drove 10 hours to Florida and shared a couch with four wolfhounds who loomed over me, lolled across my lap and licked me raw while I talked with their mom. As interviews go, it was warm and wonderful. And we were in sync on how wolfhounds should be raised. In a nutshell, let your entire life revolve around them and you will do just fine…. I met the parents of the next litter. The mother was bright-eyed with mischief and affection. The dad, who comes from a kennel in Scotland, was quite possibly the most robust hound I have ever seen, and full of easy charm. Temperament comes from the parents and you had better meet them. A good breeder will not tell you the parents are “having a bad day” and simply are not taking visitors the day you come. A good breeder is proud of their dogs. If you make their waiting list, you will be raising their granddogs. This is not a financial transaction. You are joining an extended family. The breeder is not asking nosy questions. It is an adoption process. Good breeders are passionate about their dogs and the breed they represent. They will be available at all hours with advice and concern for the entire life of your dog. They have high standards, just like you do. Many want to visit your home to be sure you have a situation suited for their dogs’ needs. For wolfhounds, this means space to run safely. Plenty of couches is a plus, too. Be sure you and your breeder are a match before you commit. I believed I made it on my breeder’s list, but there will be only one litter this year and the number of puppies is not guaranteed. Stay in touch, she told me. I have. I wanted to demonstrate that I have given Finn a full and active life full of stimulation, love and care. I have never been very active on Facebook before, but I knew she belonged to one of the social medium’s larger wolfhound lovers’ groups. I joined, mingled and learned. Ultimately, I ended up doing something I could have never previously imagined: I created a Facebook page for Finn. Which told me two things. One, I am in this deep and, two, Finn is a popular guy. I have posted several galleries

MUSINGS

of photos of Finn at festivals, state parks, strolling in downtown Tampa, getting a bath, running on a cattle farm and romping with his pals at his weekly play date. And... Finn has followers all over the world. My breeder tells me now that I am high on her list. Little Oona will be joining us this fall. And things have kicked into high gear. Because through Facebook, I have watched her older sister grow from wiggly ball of fur to a long-legged giantess in just months. Sis is a stunner, 100 lb. of energy, wide-eyed curiosity and daredevil verve. I am in for it. And I am bracing. For months I have talked with Facebook wolfhound owners, thrilled with them over their dogs’ accomplishments, laughed at wolfhound antics, sweated with them over medical problems, grieved with them when their dogs have gone to

Positive training gives you a dog who listens BARKS from the Guild/April 2014

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the Rainbow Bridge. And I have studied their puppies. Because the first year is a nerve-wracking one. For all their size and power, a young wolfhound is a fragile proposition. Until their growth plates close around 12-months of age, their joints and bones are heavily stressed by rapid growth. Diets are strictly formulated and controlled to slow the rate. They can’t run with the big dogs. Or, much at all. Bumps and sudden turns can cause injuries that in some cases plague them the rest of their lives. Stairs are a no-no. Until he was eight-months-old, I lifted Finn in and out of vehicles to avoid jars to his knees. At the expense of my back and knees. This time around I’ve wised up and got a ramp for my SUV. So, how will I restrain my newest high-energy ball of verve? Positive training, and plenty of it. I have been getting back up to speed again on my timing and technique, using Finn and our two rescues as my lovely assistants. And I have pored back through my training books and cast about for new ones. I have been particularly impressed by Leslie McDevitt’s Control Unleashed: The Puppy Program because her reward-based regimen seeks to produce focused, confident young dogs with a toolbox full of self-control skills. Bonding with Oona, keeping her mentally stimulated and engaged, will be critical those first few months when she wants to skitter up the wall and I prefer that she ...not. We have loved to travel with Finn and hope to with Oona, as well. This means an extensive socialization program beginning the moment we bring her home. Because the clock will be ticking. The social animal your dog becomes — if she likes being petted, whether he’s afraid of people with funny glasses or donkeys, how she reacts to other dogs, if he goes bonkers riding in a car — are learned, not directly passed on in his genes. And

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the foundation is laid in the first 16 weeks, the period the puppy’s brain is open to imprinting. A puppy is born with all the brain cells he will ever have. Yet his brain is 80 percent of its adult size by his fourth month. What has changed? Hardwiring. The cells have formed connections, physically changing the size of the brain. Every sight, sound, smell and experience it has beginning at birth — good and bad — determines how its brain is hardwired. The imprinting occurs at a furious pace until the puppy is four months old. After that, imprinting falls off sharply, and if your dog has not learned to feel at ease with people or cars or cows or other dogs, he likely never will. His brain is not wired that way. Afterwards, you are either building on the foundation or working to desensitize your dog. Guiding the imprinting process makes for a much happier puppy. And owner. So, little Oona will spend a lot of time here on our college campus where she will be safely and gradually exposed to people of all ages, ethnic types and peculiarities. Irish At her own pace and wolfhound with support and upbeat enpuppies couragement, she will walk on sand, grass, concrete and wood. She will hear an array of sounds, smell scents and see sights she never could in just her own backyard. Mostly, I want her to have fun. And I want her to learn that the world is wide and packed with a lifetime of fascination for a discerning wolfhound. Finn can help show her how it is done, with wolfhound style, grace and good humor. The fun is about to begin. n © Can Stock Photo

MUSINGS

Bob McMillan is a newspaper editor and columnist who lives in the foothills of Middle Tennessee with his Irish wolfhound, several rescues and a remarkably tolerant cat. Finn the wolfhound has his very own Facebook page.


TRENDS

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Battling the Stereotype

Jambo the Staffie has won countless awards and accolades, yet is officially classified as a ‘potentially dangerous’ dog. Louise Stapleton-Frappell explains why Breed Specific Legislation completely misses the point

ambo is our second Staffordshire bull terrier. Our first beautiful Staffie, Samson, was the most loveable boy ever. Calm, good natured and playful, Samson died at the age of 11 having lived a life of freedom and without the restrictions of Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). His best friend was our Doberman/German shepherd, Bess, who was a couple of years older than him. We would go for long walks in the countryside and on the beach where they were able to run around, Jambo’s owner has have fun and enjoy their trained him to perform tricks as a freedom. means of channeling After Bess passed his energy away, we added Tessa, our wonderful German shepherd, to our family. She and Sam became best buddies but sadly she only had his company for a couple of years as he was already nine-years-old when Tessa joined us. Tessa was nearly five-years-old when Jambo came into our lives. We had already decided we would like another Staffordshire bull terrier but, unlike the situation elsewhere, there are not many Staffies in Spain. Luckily we heard of a family who had had a litter so we went to meet them and the rest is history! Jambo was born in 2012. His pedigree name is Warrior For Life but I wanted a name that would reflect his personality and not be too ‘hard’. I also wanted to name him something similar to our first Staffie boy, Sam.

Jambo is the Swahili (think ‘warrior’) word for ‘hello’ and Jambo loves to say greet everyone he meets. Jambo proved to be extremely loving, very mischievous, inquisitive, energetic and quite a handful! I started teaching him the basics straight away but as he got a little bit older I wanted to do something more to use up some of his boundless energy. And so began our journey into performing tricks, which we eventually introduced at a Trick Dog Seminar given by Nando Brown. By then, BSL was present in Spain, having come into force in 1999, and I wanted Jambo to be an absolute example of how amazing the bully breeds are. We found ourselves on a mission to smash the stereotype! Jambo received his first Trick Dog title at just sevenmonths-old. By 14-months old he had already won seven Trick Dog titles, including ‘Expert.’ We also worked on general obedience and agility. We train everything using positive reinforcement and love to point out to people that it is a total myth that you need to have a ‘stronger’ hand with this ‘type’ of dog! I am not Jambo’s leader and I do not ‘command’ him to do anything. We work together as a team and he gets rewarded with food, play, cuddles and fun. I firmly believe that we would BARKS from the Guild/April 2014

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TRENDS never have achieved what we have if I had tried to train him in any other way. At only 16 months old Jambo achieved something no Staffordshire bull terrier had done before – he became a Trick Dog Champion! We immediately launched his Facebook page to celebrate his Trick Dog Champion title and to promote doing dog tricks and positive reinforcement training. We hoped to inspire others to do more with their dogs. We also wanted to try to help break the stereotype attached to the so-called bully breeds and highlight the injustice of BSL! In 2013 Jambo was featured as Dog Of The Week for Your Pit Bull & You. He has also won rosettes and trophies for Obedience, Agility, Tricks, Best Dog, Best of Breed. He loves people and playing with other dogs. His photos and videos have been shared by Dangerous

Jambo has won seven Trick Dog titles 38

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Dogs Act (DDA) Watch UK who work tirelessly to help dogs and families affected by BSL, as well as by many other groups fighting against breed stereotypes and BSL. Jambo was honored to be named Dog Of The Year 2013 by In The Doghouse DTC in recognition of all we had achieved in our work as bully breed ambassadors. Despite Jambo’s many accomplishments, all his training and his good character, he is classified by the authorities as a ‘potentially dangerous dog.’ Jambo was born into BSL and, although there is no outright ban on his breed in Spain, BSL affects everything we can and cannot do. Jambo had to be registered as a potentially dangerous dog. He has to be kept on a 3 ft. leash and muzzled when in public. We have to get an annual veterinary health report stating the inexistence of illnesses that could make him ‘especially dangerous.’ He has a microchip - the number of which is registered as that of a potentially dangerous dog. He has to be enclosed by walls at least 6 ft. high (or kept on a chain – which we would never do) and placed in a secure location should visitors come to our home. He also has to be registered with the local town hall. He cannot go near any area designated for children. I have to have a potentially dangerous dog handler’s license; a psychiatric report; no criminal record; a physical report stating I am able to ‘handle’ him; public liability insurance for at least $244,000. I cannot walk or transport more than one ‘dangerous dog’ at a time…. Fines for infractions are up to $160,000 and the authorities have the right to seize and destroy him if they see fit. “The general concept underpinning BSL is that the most effective way to determine whether or not a certain dog could potentially pose a threat to humans is by classifying and generalizing entire breeds of dogs as ‘dangerous,’ regardless of the individual dog’s temperament, behavioral history or owner’s actions. It continues to confound me that there are still proponents of BSL given both the behavioral science which is now available and the abysmal track record of municipalities that have attempted to curb dog attacks by instituting BSL.” Victoria Stilwell: Why BSL Doesn’t Work April 6, 2011


TRENDS

Jambo has countless accolades to his name, yet is still branded ‘potentially dangerous’

The following breeds are classified under BSL in Spain: American pit bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Rottweiler, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro, Tosa Inu and Akita Inu. Different regions include various other breeds in the list, such as the Doberman, all Mastiff types or the German shepherd. Legislation also includes any crosses of the above breeds and any dogs with the ‘right measurements,’ i.e. width of chest, head, mouth, length of leg, weight, short

Jambo has to wear a muzzle in public because of his breed

Louise StapletonFrappell is a CTDI (through Do More With Your Dog) and holds Force-free Instructor Certification from In The Doghouse DTC (Nando Brown). She is also currently doing the Clicker Trainer Super Trainer Course with Kay Laurence. Her blog can be found here and Jambo has his very own Facebook page.

hair and so on. So there is to be no running free in the countryside or on the beach for Jambo. By sharing Jambo’s photos and videos we hope to show everyone how awesome the bullies are. To show how positive reinforcement is the only way to train. To show that you don’t need to be a ‘pack leader’ or bully your dog just because he happens to be a ‘bully.’ To show the fun you can have doing dog tricks and, finally, to spread the word about the injustice of BSL. n

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BLOG

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A Bond for Life Mariëlle Wraff shares her experiences of living with autism and the invaluable role her assistance dog Turbo plays in supporting her

received Turbo, a young Labrador cross, about three years ago from a Dutch organization that trains assistance dogs and therapy dogs for people with autism. It soon became clear that Turbo required further training and, after a year of searching, we found Jennifer de Jongh from Assistance Dogs for Autism. Jennifer was able to help me with training Turbo the right way for me and, through TeamTraining, Turbo is now a certified assistance dog. I cannot imagine ever going out without my dog! Because of my autism there are smells, sounds and movements that have such an impact on me they can actually cause pain. As a result, I become overwhelmed and tire very easily. In the early days without Turbo I would shut myself off from my environment just to get through the day. But now, with Turbo’s help, I focus on him and this prevents the stimulating environment from taking over. Turbo is always aware of any tensions in my body when I am feeling scared or stressed and he helps by

Turbo is quick to pick up on Mariëlle Wraff’s emotions 40

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warning me if he senses them building up inside me. He looks up to me intensely and, if I don’t react, he pokes my leg with his nose. He literally ‘wakes me up’ by doing this and makes me aware of my feelings. He then guards me and helps me to get out of situations (such as a large department store) by finding doors and exits when asked. He keeps me safe this way and, because of this, I can shop on my own now. When I feel really good, I even take the bus! Being aware of my emotions is very difficult and sometimes impossible for me, but by watching Turbo’s body language and understanding his feelings I am able to better tune in to my own emotions and well-being. Through TeamTraining I learned to read Turbo's body language, so by recognizing his emotions I learned to recognize my own. Turbo taught me to listen to myself. More than that, learning about Turbo’s body language made me more aware of people and their language. Before I had Turbo I did not understand anything about human beings and their ways of communication. Human behavior is, however, a lot like dog behavior and by learning about dog behavior I learned to understand human behavior and communication much better. When people look away or fidget with a pen for instance, I now know that they are showing displacement behavior (like dogs will scratch their


BLOG ear, shake their body or look away). I recognize these kinds of behaviors now and that keeps me in control of situations I was afraid of in the past. Thanks to the training and coaching of Jennifer de Jongh at TeamTraining, Turbo and I have become a very strong team with an unbreakable bond - a bond that never would have existed without her guidance. n

Translated from the Dutch by Jennifer de Jongh

Turbo has helped Mariëlle to a better understanding of human behavior

Note from Jennifer de Jongh of Assistance Dogs for Autism:

TeamTraining specializes in raising and training a dog to become an assistance dog in tandem with the client. The trainer simply teaches the client to train his dog. TeamTraining has many advantages, which include clients being able to learn a lot of new skills that are useful in everyday life. For the dog, there is the advantage of not being shunted around in his early, vulnerable years; some traditional training methods still move dogs from their foster home to a larger facility with many different trainers, before being placed with a client. Many dogs in TeamTraining programs grow up in their life-long homes, while others stay with foster parents before being placed directly with the client. The dog also learns specific skills that are necessary for his individual client, instead of a standard ‘package’ of skills that are not always appropriate to the dog’s working life. Another big advantage is that the bond between the client and their dog develops during the early stages of training. And, as the story of Mariëlle and Turbo illustrates, these bonds can become quite remarkable!

Dogs like Turbo often learn specific skills enabling them to work with their owner’s needs BARKS from the Guild/April 2014

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FELINE

Thinking Outside the (Litter) Box While litter box issues are one of the main reasons owners give up on their cats, they can also be one of the easiest problems to solve, says Marilyn Krieger

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Cats usually prefer a clean litter box

itter box avoidance is one of the most common reason cats are surrendered to shelters and euthanized. It is so sad and so unnecessary. Although the problem is hard to live with, it is also one of the easiest to solve. Some of the solutions are simple — others are more involved. Male and female cats of all ages can develop litter box challenges. There is always a legitimate reason for cats to avoid using their litter boxes. They are not bad cats, nor are they misbehaving. They are responding instinctually to stressful situations or something in the environment. If that’s not the case, then there could be medical problems causing the behavior. Cats who eliminate outside their litter boxes need to be examined immediately by a veterinarian. Painful and 42

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often serious medical problems can cause litter box avoidance challenges. Only after veterinarians give cats a clean bill of health can the problem be approached as behavioral. The next step is determining the causes of the behavior. After identifying the triggers, implement a behavior plan that includes litter box management, environmental changes and force-free behavior modification. Although there are many reasons for this unpleasant behavior, below we examine seven of the most common causes, along with actions you can take to convince cats to always favor their litter boxes. Intact cats are more prone to spraying and eliminating outside their litter boxes then those who have been spayed and neutered. This is not just an intact male issue. Whole females will also mark by spraying and eliminating outside litter boxes. The answer is to spay and neuter cats. It is easy to become lazy and forget to scoop litter boxes. Unfortunately, this oversight often results in cats finding places that are cleaner than their litter boxes to do their business. Scoop litter boxes at least once a day. Additionally, completely empty, wash and then refill litter boxes with fresh litter on a regular basis. Often cat parents do not provide enough litter boxes for their cats. If a litter box is dirty or does not feel safe,


FELINE there needs to be others that the cats can choose to use. The rule of the cat box is one box per cat and one for the house. So add more litter boxes.

Indoor cats may become frustrated if they see other cats outside

Cats in the Hood

Cats need to feel comfortable with the size and location of their litter box

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Cats do not like to use litter boxes that are in areas such as cabinets and closets where they feel they might be trapped. Nor do they want to do their business in high traffic or noisy areas. Great cat box locations have views of the room and out of the door. Place litter boxes in areas where cats can see and escape any potential threats. Also, the type of litter box matters! Often cats will avoid using litter boxes that are too small and those that are covered. Covers keep the odors and litter dust in the box and, although cat parents may prefer this, cats do not. Because there is only one way in and out of covered litter boxes, cats can feel trapped inside them. Unfortunately, most commercial boxes are just too small! Cats may eliminate over the edge or right outside of tiny litter boxes. Ideally, litter boxes are uncovered and at least 1.5 times the length of the cat. Cats will repeatedly urinate on areas that are not thoroughly cleaned with a good enzyme cleaner. Enzyme cleaners work as they dry, sometimes it takes a couple of applications to effectively eliminate the odor.

The sight and smell of neighborhood cats can upset indoor resident cats and they may respond by eliminating around the windows and doors where they see and smell the visitors. The outsiders need to be discouraged from hanging around. Deterrents may help but they need to be safe, never harming the unwelcomed visitors. In addition, restrict the resident cats’ view of the trespassers by covering windows with paper, fabric, or decorative film but be aware that some cats may find it frustrating if they can no longer see outside. If the resident cats are indifferent however, then go ahead, and just uncover the windows after the visitors no longer hang out. Do not expect immediate results. It takes time, consistency and patience to modify behaviors. If you find you are not progressing and are becoming frustrated, find help from a qualified cat behaviorist or a certified cat behavior consultant. n Marilyn Krieger, Certified Cat Behavior Consultant and owner of The Cat Coach LLC®, solves cat behavior problems nationally and internationally through on-site, phone and Skype consultations. She also writes behavior columns for Catster and Cat Fancy Magazine, and is a frequent guest on television and radio.

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AVIAN

One for the Birds Aviaries not only provide mental stimulation but are an ideal opportunity to train birds while surrounded by distractions, says Lara Joseph

An aviary provides an outlet for natural behaviors 44

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viaries are large outdoor enclosures designed to give birds space to fly, walk, learn and explore in a naturally occurring environment. Providing an aviary in which to train birds is an important form of enrichment for them. Birds, like other animals learn, from their environments. Birds with behavior problems might scream, pluck, or resort to nesting behaviors. Conversely, birds in aviaries have an opportunity to interact with their environments in positive ways and can demonstrate positive behaviors to replace abnormal, repetitive, or undesired behaviors. An aviary improves a bird’s environment with its exposure to sunlight. Birds absorb sunlight, which aids in the distribution of vitamin D. The intake of vitamin D improves a bird's health and its feather quality, molting and regrowth. Aviaries also provide the ideal opportunity to train birds with distractions from neighbors, wind, other animals, noises, and shadows. Practicing recall with these distractions can increase the bird's focus during a training session. People who rent homes, live in townhomes, condo-

Aviaries are important for mental enrichment

miniums, or apartments that have to conform to association rules might not have the authorization or space to have an outdoor aviary. So a few of the options available to people with limited indoor or outdoor space are enclosed porches or patios, enclosing small outdoor areas, maximizing available indoor space, modifying cages into flights in an unused room, and using PVC pipes to create an aviary. PVC aviaries can be built for less than $100. Birds that are unfamiliar with aviaries or live primarily indoors might benefit from a slow introduction to the aviary. The bird should consider the aviary to be a positive experience. If the bird shows any signs of fear in its vocalizations or body language, immediately return to the point where it showed signs of calm body language and build up from there. It is important to remember to positively reinforce calm behavior with each step toward the aviary. During the summer, it is important to reintroduce the birds to the aviary at a pace at which they are comfortable. Any attempt to rush the


AVIAN

Lara Joseph is the owner of The Animal Behavior Center LLC in Ohio. She is also the Director of Avian Training for a wildlife rehabilitation center where she focuses on removing stress from animal environments. Lara is a professional member of The Animal Behavior Management Alliance and The International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators.

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birds into the aviary at a pace that seems appropriate and ignoring their signs of discomfort will cause them to fly away and not go to the aviary. Birds' safety and protection from predators are the primary considerations when planning and building an aviary. Birds might require a human's presence when predators are near the aviary, and they should be transported to the aviary in a carrier to prevent an accidental flight if the aviary is not adjacent to their primary residence. n

Aviaries should be a positive experience

Redstone Media Group, in partnership with the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) is delighted to announce that all PPG members are now eligible for 50% OFF ($12 for six issues) a one-year subscription to Animal Wellness or Equine Wellness magazines. “We all want our dogs to enjoy a long healthy life,” says Animal Wellness Publisher Tim Hockley, and Animal Wellness magazine is the #1 publication devoted to this cause. Learn about the vital four pillars to wellness, discover the secrets to longevity, revitalize your bond and learn from the world leading natural health experts. Your subscription code can be picked up in the member area of the PPG website. Please be sure to log in first. For people who are serious about their dogs!

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EQUINE

Dr. Lisel O’Dwyer explains why the clicker is a valuable tool in training horses

n 1998, I was a member of the training group ‘Horseman’ when Alexandra Kurland, one of the first trainers to implement clicker training with horses, joined. I was intrigued by Alexandra's description of clicker training because I studied psychology. At that time, I was successfully using well-timed negative reinforcement with a light touch, body language, Understanding and training in small increa horse’s body language is ments. paramount in The reluctance to try a new method or methods is a training characteristic of all trainers and I was one of those reluctant trainers when it came to accepting Alexandra's new clicker training methods. But that same year, I began clicker training my horse because I wanted to find an activity that was not physically demanding of him after he retired from riding.

Owner Misconceptions

Since I began clicker training, I have observed horse owners have a few misconceptions about clicker training, such as: • Hand feeding is dangerous, making the horse mouthy Clicker training is the best way to deal with a mouthy horse because it clarifies the expectations the handler has for the horse's taking food. • What happens if I don’t have a clicker with me? Or I don’t want to carry a clicker and treats with me when I am riding. Or I want my horse to do as he is told, not because he might get a treat I demonstrate treat delivery to the horse from the saddle and the horse and handler equally extend head and hand to exchange the treat. Horses gain extra lateral stretching and become more supple using treat delivery from the saddle. 46

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I

From the Horse’s Mouth

For those occasions when food is unavailable, a horse can be rewarded with scratching on the withers, or in the shoulders area. The horse can only receive the treats when he is standing motionless, so the treat delivery develops a solid stop and more opportunities to practice transitions between gaits. • Clicker training is great for groundwork or teaching tricks, but it does not apply to riding The horse can be trained regardless of where the handler is. I find demonstrating a trick that a horse learned with clicker training changes this opinion. Communication between horse and handler is based largely on touch, body language, a bridge, and positive reinforcement. Touch is usually a form of negative reinforcement, or the removal of an aversive stimulus. A handler's light finger touch or shifting weight is negative reinforcement because it stops when the horse performs the behavior. The same touch can be used as a marker in the same way as a clicker. People who are not familiar with clicker training perceive animals offering behaviors before the behaviors are on stimulus control as a potentially dangerous situa-


Equine behaviors can have different meanings to similar behaviors found in dogs

when I want them if the horse is not already doing them.

Differences with Dogs

Occasionally, an experienced positive method dog trainer who is new to horses has interpreted equine behavior and body language as if it were the same as canine behavior. Although some behaviors and body language have similar meanings in both species, other apparently similar behaviors have different meanings. If a dog trainer does not recognize and understand a behavior for the particular species it can cause trouble, simply because of the sheer size, strength, and weight of a horse. An example of this was inadvertently given by a new horse owner who had experience with a border collie and described her horse’s rearing as the horse expressing eagerness and joy. In fact, rearing is an extremely dangerous behavior from the handler’s perspective as it demonstrates extreme frustration, tension, and may also be indicative of pain in the mouth. People who are more familiar with dogs than horses might misinterpret the horse's ear position. A good trainer considers how the animal is feeling and communicating via their body language (posture, expression, movement), and it is even more important for safety purposes to be aware of these things with large animals. I have a long-term goal to work with elephants. However, I cannot yet do it safely because I am not familiar with their body language. n

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tion. Occasionally this can be true, especially when the animals are trained by an inexperienced trainer. In horse training, there are a number of behaviors I intentionally do not put on stimulus control, or only on cue, because I like the horse to perform them as much as possible: • Posing or rocking the weight back Posing is a posture the horse adopts while at a halt, where he shifts his center of gravity back on to his hind quarters, tucks his pelvis under and lifts his front end and back at the same time, which leads to an arched neck. It makes for a beautiful photo opportunity, hence the term posing. It is also the most efficient posture a horse can hold with the weight of a rider that causes the least wear and tear on the horse’s body. In motion, depending on the degree to which the horse is able to perform this behavior due to its conformation, strength, and practice, it is called ‘round’ or ‘collected.’ A clicker trained horse can be taught to find and hold this posture initially from the ground without the use of any equipment at all, and then while carrying a rider. • Head down with nose to the ground Another behavior I do not mind horses offering without prompting is putting their heads down with their nose to the ground if they feel unsettled or bothered about something. This head position has a calming effect on the horse. Of course I also want to be able to cue these behaviors

EQUINE

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Dr. Lisel O’Dwyer has a background in psychology and has shared her life with a range of species since childhood. At present she has five horses, one donkey, two cats, two dogs and five chickens, all of whom are clicker trained. Currently she is becoming involved with the new horse sport of agility training (unmounted and at liberty).

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MEDIA

The Power of the Box

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Why angry comments online (and elsewhere) do not matter but television does: Annie Phenix examines the big picture for positive reinforcement training in public relations

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grew up in a political family that also owned award-winning weekly newspapers. My father worked for a U.S. Congressman, and I ended up working on the campaign of the only female Governor to win election in Texas. In my 30s, I owned a media relations firm that promoted books and authors to the national media. I got tired of the brutal world of PR and politics, so I followed my heart more than a decade ago and became a dog trainer. Like you, I work in that benevolent, civil industry where we all love dogs and no one disagrees on how they should be trained. Are you laughing right now or crying? Positive reinforcement proponents can get so beaten up on online and elsewhere from the pro-punishment crowd that you do sometimes feel like crying. I never cry about personal attacks on myself although I can cry a river for how dogs are so often treated under the guise of ‘training.’ I don’t cry because of what I know about how public relations works. I would like to share some of that with you. I suspect it will help you keep your chin up. In politics I learned the ‘Rule of Threes’: one-third of the population agrees with your candidate or position; one-third is too busy to notice but isn’t opposed or really supportive (they are indifferent); and the last onethird hates your politician, and you can’t convince them to change their opinion no matter how glitzy your PR efforts are. The true battle is for that middle third of the 48

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audience. Let's consider this in dog training terms. One-third of the population vigorously nods their head in agreement about how we say dogs should be trained. One-third is too preoccupied to hear what we are Television remains the most influential means saying until they reof communication ally need our help. The final third hates what we are saying and probably always will. We’ve won a third and we are making huge strides into the second third and that fact sends the final third into convulsions. Our collective march into that middle third speeds up the ferocity of their attacks because they understand we are making inroads into their territory, or more accurately, literally into their livelihoods. We have already moved into a new era of dog training where the two-thirds majority are making positive reinforcement the accepted way to train. You see, we are winning the war even when it may not feel like it in day-to-day skirmishes. When our methodologies win, dogs are the main beneficiaries but the humans win as well. Growing up, I also learned the power of the media and what power it does not have. When I was a book publicist, the top show we all wanted to get our authors on was Oprah, and especially as a feature on her popular book club. As the years went by, we understood that just appearing as one of many guests did not do much for book sales; your author had to be sitting in a chair on stage with the ‘Great Oprah’, preferably for the entire hour, to reap the sales reward of that so-called Oprah bump. Again, what does this have to do with the dog


MEDIA training industry? Everything. The bully pulpit of television is all-powerful, even with the modern-day internet. The internet is an incredibly noisy and busy medium. Who has been promoting an old school style of dog training on television for years? Who have most of your clients heard of ? The guy on the TV. It matters little in the big scheme of things what nasty comments you may receive in the comments section on one of your blog posts, the guy on TV wins and dogs lose, until quite recently.

TV Matters

In the 1990 gubernatorial campaign when I worked for Ann Richards, staffers were mortified when a ‘gotcha’ story about the original deed on Richards’ house appeared in the Dallas Morning News. The opposing team discovered her house had an old deed on it that excluded black people from ever purchasing it. Of course Richards had nothing to do with that deed, but the headline was out there, and many people only read headlines. The head honchos on the media team who had been through countless statewide and national campaigns did not care much about the Dallas Morning News. They cared only about what was on the evening televised news. In the end, the deed story went out with a whimper and the media-savvy team did not waste much of their time on it. Political observers will tell you that they believe Richards won the campaign the day that her opponent refused to shake her hand (and a gentleman always shakes a lady’s hand in the south) and it happened on TV. TV matters. Here’s Training dogs using positive an example of a talreinforcement methods is ented trainer named winning out, even though it Jennifer Skiba, owner of may not always feel like it to Namastay Training LLC those in the business

in Denver, CO doing a local television show with her well-trained dog by her side. You can do this kind of show where you live. Skiba reports she received 85 hits on her website the day of the television interview. Let’s say that in turn brings her 20 new clients and they each spend a minimum $100 with her – that’s a bump of $2,000 in revenues not to mention that it puts positive reinforcement training in front of a huge audience. Here are more proactive things you can do: 1. Don’t waste your emotional or intellectual time on the other guy. It is not worth it because we are winning the overall war even if we lose some of the personal, daily battles (really!). When you feel frustrated, write and send out a press release about all of the tremendous things you are accomplishing with your clients. That is proactive. 2. There is another trainer who has a national spotlight who is a positive reinforcement trainer: Victoria Stilwell. Her show airs in more than 40 countries and runs in reruns here in the US. She has the platform – are you doing everything you can to support her? Stilwell’s Facebook page has 120,000 likes. The other guy’s Facebook page has 4.6 million likes. I urge you to go directly to Stilwell’s Facebook page, like it, and ask everyone you know to do the same.

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MEDIA © Can Stock Photo

Note: I have no affiliation with Victoria Stilwell. I hear daily complaints from trainers about the other guy. Why am I not hearing daily praise of Stilwell instead? 3. Ignore the last one-third of the population who hates our message. Completely ignore them. Train your way like there is no tomorrow and promote Stilwell while doing it. When your new client says how great the guy on that other channel is, do not go into a long diatribe. Smile and say: “Oh. I prefer Victoria Stilwell’s methods” and then off you go on why what we do works instead of why he trains in the dark ages. 4. Keep on blogging, writing newsletters and books because they do matter in this battle. They reach that all important two-thirds majority. And they need to be professional looking because less-than-professional reflects poorly on you and all of us on the same team. Keep writing but look for ways to get on your local television and radio programs while you are writing. If you are not comfortable doing this, find and support like crazy a TV-savvy trainer who is. Oh that’s right, we already have one. Her name is Victoria. But we still need a local television presence. Will it be you? Understand that hateful comments online have

everything to do with the commenter and his recognition that the world has changed, and he plays on the losing team. Do not engage the haters. Ignore them while heavily promoting our many trainers out there on the national scene. Locally train like crazy and toot your own successful horn loudly about all of your successes. We of course will welcome any of the people in the final third onto our playing field, but you cannot win over this last seriously entrenched crowd with science and fact alone. If this were true, there would be not one single punishment-based trainer left. These final one-thirders do not care about facts. They care about their livelihoods, and if they see the rest of us making a nice living while training force free, we will get more and more joining us in the majority. n Annie Phenix at Phenix Dogs is a positive reinforcement trainer, an award-winning writer and a former publicist. She writes a weekly column for Dogster.com, the world’s largest gathering place of dog lovers. She and her husband share their lives in sunny Colorado with her five dogs, six donkeys and two horses.

PPG now has a Group Plan for Business Liability Insurance. For insurance coverage of real estate or business assets contact the company directly for individual quotations and mention that you are a PPG member.

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BUSINESS

A Dirty Big Secret: Get with the Program! A basic strategic marketing plan is paramount as a small business owner, no matter how good you are at what you do, says Niki Tudge

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or many small business owners, taking the time to develop a marketing strategy can seem so overwhelming ng Strategic marketi that it never even makes it onto plan = success for their to-do list. In fact, one’s small businesses marketing strategy may never even emerge from being a thought or a remote possibility. But let me share a dirty big secret with you. take time and will require an Planning, launching and/or operating a successful pet care business may not directly result from how good you emotional investment. I am also not asking you to reach out to a business coach because I think that leaves an are as a practitioner. In fact, if you are really good at opportunity for you to convince yourself that you canwhat you do and therefore spend all your time doing it, not afford one, or that it will not yield the right results. your business may be adversely affected. Why? Because Instead I am going to suggest to you some succinct if you spend 100 percent of your time working in your management activities that will help you carve out your business you’ll have nothing left to work on your busiposition in your market place and gain new clients, while ness. further strengthening the relationship you have with Over the last 20 years I have not only studied business but have also helped many people launch successful your existing clients. pet care and training business operations. Their success can be directly attributed to several things but there is no Key Strategies one magic bullet. However, one thing I do know, I have I recommend that, at the very least, you implement not seen anyone who implements a basic strategic marsome of the activities from these key strategies: keting plan fail to launch their small business, or fail to become a full-time business owner within eight months Products and Services of operation. Create differentiation from your competition by developing your It saddens me beyond belief when I see competent, unique selling points. Consider these options: force-free pet industry business owners close shop or • Launch a new product. Be creative, if your busifail to launch a business successfully. With each failure ness is not moving forwards, it is moving backwards. we lose opportunities, and each lost opportunity may re- Nothing stands still! sult in a pet’s life being negatively impacted. • Promote a product or service you currently sell So, what I am not going to do here is try to convince but focus on a new market segment. Think about subyou to develop a structured marketing plan. This will sets of your customers who have common needs and priorities. BARKS from the Guild/April 2014

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BUSINESS

• Enhance your brand. Do you have a logo, a website, a Facebook page, an email signature? Are they clean, professional and branded consistently? If not, then make this a priority. Your brand image screams to your clients who you are. • Develop product packages for shoulder seasons so you can maintain a level of business during the normal slow periods. Think about the months in the year where certain services are not in demand. Counterbalance that with an attractive package offering. • Add value to your services rather than discounting them. Don’t be fooled into grabbing the low-hanging fruit while your competition increases its yield using premium pricing. You will work twice as hard for less profit. Do not undervalue what you do! • Make it easier for your clients to book your services by removing any barriers to the purchasing process. Develop online booking processes and systems. Think about how easy it is for your client to book and pay for one of your services. The easier it is the more you will receive. Think about ‘one click shopping,’ the Amazon model.

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Price Penetrate deeper into your existing market segments by positioning your company as ‘value for money.’ Think about increasing your clients’ average spend, as well as driving more volume in terms of appointments. • Develop pricing that encourages longer service periods, more lessons, more overnight stays, and more dog walking sessions. Don’t just offer single- priced services. • Drive a premium rate on a specific premium service. You can increase your clients’ average spend by developing one premium service or product. • Develop a group and package pricing structure. Think about creative packaging. Prepaid discounts are a great way to offer value and a strategic way to increase your cash flow. • Initiate price increases annually and

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consider cost pricing, as well as competition pricing, when deciding what you will charge. Don’t just bump prices without looking at your micro market and what your competition is charging.

Promotions Create brand awareness and leverage your brand. Develop promotions that not only increase short-term demand but also increase long-term market share for you. • Develop promotional incentives for your referral network, employees, friends and family. Don’t have a referral network? Then get to work developing one! • Attend key events and promote your services using direct sales techniques. Events are one of the few opportunities you have for non-threatening direct selling. Choose wisely and here’s a hint - they do not have to be pet industry related. More than 65 percent of people have pets and they attend lots of different types of events. • Develop a couple of key pieces of professional collateral that can help you promote your business. Professional is the operative word here. If you cannot do it correctly then do not do it. Poor branding is worse than no branding. Place Enhance your relationship with other small businesses that can help highlight your business. • Build strong relationships with veterinarians, groomers and other trade partners. They do not necessarily have to be in your industry. Any in-home service partners are going to be an asset to your marketing plan. Exchange business cards and cross refer services. • Develop incentives for your referral partners. • Cross-sell and upsell your products and services. People Attract and retain valuable assets to your team. Enhance your revenue generation using the upselling skills of your key people, in particular over the telephone or in any personal interaction. As a business owner, every conversation you have can influence people to use or recommend your business. • Train administrative staff to sell and promote your business. • Develop a training culture so everyone is consistently operating at the same level and interfacing with


your clients to the same standard. • Prevent erosion of key business referrals by dedicating resources to them. • Increase your sales force by building local networking and referral partners. • Develop team sales goals for all your staff and review them each month, being sure to reinforce all actions and retrain where necessary.

Processes Drive a business culture of relationship marketing to support sales efforts and long-term growth. • Develop an internal culture of customer service and service recovery. Not making mistakes is an unrealistic expectation. What is important is how you resolve them. Be honest, be realistic and show empathy for your clients when things do not go according to plan. • Create loyal partnerships with your industry partners. Nurture all professional business relationships. • Implement feedback sessions and systems so you get realistic feedback in real-time from all your stakeholders. Employees and contractors can be a great resource for you. They hear, see and experience much more than you do. Ask questions, listen and value their feedback. • Develop key service non-negotiables for your business. Set high expectations when it comes to your core services and train and empower your staff to do the same. • Establish yourself as a prominent community contributor by partnering and supporting a local rescue or non-profit group. It

BUSINESS

only takes a couple of hours each month if you are helping to solve one of their key problems.

It has been said many times that consistency in marketing is critical to your business success. Choose a few things you enjoy doing and do them well. Marketing over the years has shifted its orientation from tricking customers, to blaming customers to satisfying customers. Put customer service first. It is a huge part of your marketing plan and will contribute greatly to your overall success. Recruiting prospects and converting them into customers for life should be your key goal. n Niki Tudge is the founder of the PPG, The DogSmith, a national dog training and pet-care license and DogNostics Career College. Her professional credentials include; CPDT-KA, NADOI – Certified, AABP- Professional Dog Trainer, AABP- Professional Dog Behavior Consultant, Diploma Animal Behavior Technology, and Diploma Canine Behavior Science & Technology.

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SALES

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Fetch More Dollars: Reach for the Skies In a new column, John D. Visconti explains that, just like in dog training, the foundation for success in business lies in the science of behavior

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s the old adage goes, if you want milk from a cow, sitting on a stool in the middle of a field waiting for a cow to back up to you is probably not a sound strategy. Similarly, hoping that your dog training website will generate tons of sales without some help from you, does not bode well for the future of your business. ‘If you build it, they will come’ might be a great concept for a movie, but in the field of dog training, it is often a precursor to saying, “I used to have a training business, but now I just do it as a hobby.” You might have heard the saying ‘Training is a mechanical skill.’ But if you are unable to perform that mechanical skill with a client’s dog, you are the proverbial tree falling in the forest: no one can hear you and no one can benefit from your talents, great as they might be. Just as you gained an education about the science of canine behavior and put that education into practice, with a commitment to learning about selling, you can become a productive salesperson. The goal of the Fetch More Dollars column is: • To help you learn how to effectively change what trainers often consider to be the most distasteful part of their job – i.e. selling – into a positive activity • To help you reduce apprehension you might have about being fairly compensated for the wonderful services you provide • To demonstrate that professional selling is not about gimmicks and being manipulative, but instead is based on the simple concept of helping people to hire the best trainer they can – i.e. you • To demonstrate that just as there is no such thing as ‘dog whisperers,’ there are no ‘sales whisperers.’ The discipline of selling finds its foundation in the science of human behavior and persuasion and is no less grounded in proven science than the practice of dog training. Given this fact, anyone can learn to be 54

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an effective salesperson • To change any negative conditioned emotional response you have toward selling. If your word association to sales is ‘cooties,’ this column will help to change that and place you on the road to greater success in your training business • To redefine the sales process. There is a difference between a salesperson and a con artist. This column will help you embrace the concept of no-sleaze selling and make you feel The sky’s the limit great about your next sales activity • To demonstrate that you already once you harness possess the same traits as the world’s your inner most successful salespeople and also salesperson prove that you are already utilizing that skill set while training • To help you learn how to channel and control anxiety. Here’s the big secret: even the most successful salespeople, myself included, experience anxiety when selling. When you learn how to channel that anxiety, your business will flourish and you will be able to help more owners and their dogs • To demonstrate that active selling is vital to the health of your business • To help you to embrace the fact that you provide a very high value service, and that your product is like no other. That is a fact about which you can be very proud • To provide methods to help you fetch more dollars for your training business, help more dogs and their owners, have more fun, and experience the training business you have been missing Once all those skills are finely honed and ready at your fingertips, the sky’s the limit! n John D. Visconti CPDT-KA is the owner of Fetch More Dollars sales consulting for dog trainers, Dog Trainer ConneXion business management software and Rising Star Dog Training.


PRODUCT REVIEW

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The Good Life Leslie Clifton checks in with West Paws Nature Nap beds and educational e-downloads for cats and dogs

ne of the chief aims at Dog Kingdom Pet Supply is to encourage pet owners to shop force-free and help promote a better way of life for pets. We know your dogs will enjoy the West Paws Nature Nap bed as much as our English lab Talley does. She looks very cozy, does she not? We can’t say too many good things about the West Paws Nature Nap top quality beds. They are: • Eco-friendly (made of recycled plastic bottles) Talley chills • Supremely cozy out on her • Attractive Nature • Highly durable Nap bed and long lasting • Easy to toss in the wash • Great for crates and easy transport • Super for ‘settle on mat’ exercises • Reasonably priced given their longevity • Great selection of attractive colors Please come and visit us at Dog Kingdom Pet Supply. We have added many new and exciting products to the site and we recommend you take a look at all of the West Paws beds while visiting the store. The Nature Nap beds are especially attractive to have on hand in the classroom for settle practice. We have incorporated larger, easier-to-read fonts and

newly organized categories, and we believe products are much easier to find now. We are really pleased with the over-all appearance and attractiveness of the site. Please do let us know if you have any feedback. While you are looking at the beds, in case you haven’t heard, the ever popular What Is My Dog Saying (Dog Park) PowerPoints are now available as e-downloads for worldwide distribution. Also hot off the presses is What Is My Cat Saying. One-stop shopping, with many added products, is becoming more of a realization. While you are in the e-download section, do peruse the books that we have added, authored by our own Pet Professional Guild members. Stay tuned as we continue to expand. At Dog Kingdom Pets, we are Force-Free Forever. As always, best regards from Leslie, Argil and the Dog Kingdom Pets lab trio, Doobie, Talley and Bridget, our number one toy testers! n

Nature Nap beds are attractive and durable

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BOOK REVIEW

Decoding the Canine Brain

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Gregory Berns goes the extra mile and scans dogs’ brains to get a better understanding of their emotional centers in How Dogs Love Us. Reviewed by Pamela S. Hogle

e’ve all wished for a way to read our dogs’ minds, to understand them better and be sure that they love us as much as we love them. Neuroeconomist Gregory Berns has come up with a way to do just that, putting creativity and solid science behind what we all know intuitively about our dogs — that they actually do love their humans. How he did this is a fabulous story that should be required reading for every dog lover, especially those of us who really care about the dog’s point of view. Berns, who has done considerable research on the pleasure centers in human brains, had the unorthodox idea of scanning the brain of a conscious dog. Previously, all scans had been of anesthetized dogs, since to get a clear MRI scan, the ‘scanee’ has to lie absolutely still for several seconds (or more). But Berns wanted to see what would light up the pleasure center in a dog’s brain and so the dog had to be alert. Committed from the get-go to using no force and making absolutely sure that his dog, Callie, was participating voluntarily, Berns contacted a positive trainer whose classes he had attended with his dogs. Berns and another researcher designed a simulator that looked and felt like the MRI. With the trainer, he spent weeks working with Callie to teach her to lie still and to enter the simulator. Berns and Callie were soon joined by a local agility trainer and her border collie, McKenzie. Training the dogs turned out to be one of the easier hurdles they faced. Berns needed permission from a variety of university and hospital authorities, including the legal team, to use the MRI and to bring the dogs onto campus. The next hurdle was an ethical question: consent. Berns was not satisfied with getting the consent 56

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only of the dog’s owner; he felt that the dog’s consent was also necessary. Unable to ask the canine subjects to read and sign a consent form, he decided to treat the dogs as researchers would treat young children, by watching their behavior. At any sign of stress or hesitation, the scan would stop. The dogs were never to be restrained around the MRI and would always be free to get up and walk away at any time. What is especially wonderful about Berns, his experiment, and his dog-friendly approach is that, when he started, he was an average pet owner and not especially knowledgeable about dogs. But he is clearly a man who loves his dog and is an extremely ethical scientist. Throughout, he shows an impressive awareness of the dogs’ point of view, designing every detail of his study with their needs and comfort in mind. I won’t spoil your reading pleasure by providing too much detail about what Berns found and how, other than to say that it confirms what every dog person knows — that dogs read us, anticipate our behavior, and act on that knowledge. Dogs, in short, have theory of mind. Berns rightly argues that this scientific evidence must change the way we think of and treat dogs. While the book is filled with fairly complex scientific concepts, it is written beautifully and clearly. It is easy to understand and, like a good adventure novel, pulls readers along with foreshadowing and suspense. How Dogs Love Us is a testament to the amazing accomplishments that become possible when humans acknowledge their dogs' abilities, treat them as partners (rather than as property or as slaves), and engage with them in a respectful, positive manner. n


MEMBER PROFILE

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Spreading the Force-Free Mantra

In the ongoing series of PPG member profiles, this month BARKS features Ada Simms of Reward That Puppy Dog Training Inc.

da Simms is a crossover trainer who now advocates the message of force-free training far and wide. Here she shares with BARKS the whys and wherefores. Training puppies with force-free methods sets them up for life

Q: Tell us a little bit about your own pets

A: I have Simon, an 11-yearold Golden Retriever who was trained with force for the first two years of his life. I then found out about clicker training and how dogs learn. Within in a year he was competing in obedience, rally and agility, bringing home blue ribbons. Then I have Lexi, a four-year-old Golden Retriever rescue who came to me at seven months because she was ‘wild’ and her owner could not handle her. I did not want a second dog but she and Simon (who would generally only tolerate another dog) played like puppies together. With Lexi being a difficult dog, and so different to Simon, I really had to venture out and try new skills then use what worked for her. We did not bond initially. It took one year before she rested her head on my lap as we sat on the couch. But she was heaven sent although I did not realize it at the time. She is now my demo dog and loves every person, child and dog she meets. She is so solid that I use her to work with fear reactive dogs, when they are ready to start behavior modification with a real dog. This year she is ready to start her competition career in obedience and agility. Q: Why did you become a dog trainer or pet care provider?

A: Realizing the effects that force training had had on my Simon for the first two years of his life. Finding clicker training and being able to change behavior without force, I didn't want anyone to go through what I had been through. Q: What do you consider to be your area of expertise? A: You can tell from my business title that getting puppies started early and with force-free methods will give them a wonderful start to being all they can be. Q: Are you a crossover trainer or have you always been a force-free trainer?

A: A crossover trainer as stated previously. From my dog becoming dog-dog reactive from 75 ft. away to winning two obedience blue ribbons and a CD title after a year of behavior modification and clicker training. People from the Dog Club asked if I had got a new dog. They couldn't believe it was Simon! Having only known him as being dog-reactive, it certainly surprised them to see him in a ‘sit/stay’ and ‘down/stay’ with dogs on either side of him just 4 ft. away. Q: What drives you to be a force-free professional and why is it important to you?

A: My love for dogs and the passion for them be treated humanely, whether it is a family pet or a competition dog. Along with my own experience, and so regretting the pain I caused my own dear dog. Puppies were my main focus. I believe that once people know the importance of force-free training in building a relationship with their puppy, they will understand that pain has no place in building the human-dog bond. Q: Who has most influenced your career and how?

A: Kathy Sdao. Reading many of her books and finally attending one of her seminars, she has been all-inspiring. She is a brilliant speaker who loves her audience. She is

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MEMBER PROFILE excited and passionate on how dogs learn and delivers her message so that any level of trainer can understand.

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

A: CGC, TDI, CD, RE, CL1-R. CL2-R. NAP, NJP, OAP, OJP

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

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

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

A: The connection and support from other force-free trainers who willingly share their expertise in all fields concerning dogs. Also, that the PPG provides the most up-to-date news on anything dog-related and shares information through educational materials we can pass on to our clients.

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

A: Rewarding the behaviors that the client wants repeated by paying attention to their dog, being observant of their body language, withdrawing attention or giving the dog an incompatible behavior to perform when doing unwanted behaviors.

A: Meeting people who did not know that force is not required to have a mannerly dog. Seeing their faces as their ‘stubborn’ dog starts offering wonderful attention and performing skills within the time I spent with them. A: When clients see the brilliance in their dog and commit to positive reinforcement training. The moment they realize they don't have to fight with their dog to get him to comply. They are so relieved that they don't have to use fear, pain or intimidation in training their best friend. Q: What is the funniest or craziest situation you have been in with a pet and their owner?

A: The quaint town where I hold my classes was having a holiday festival at the same time class was scheduled. We took some of the advanced dogs to the streets to practice their skills of greeting adults and children. One business had a man dressed up as a 6 ft. teddy bear and I must say he was very fluffy. The dogs boldly went to him. One dog sat and the other just knew he must be the biggest tug toy in the world so he gently took the teddy bear's furry paw in his mouth and began a game of tug. The crowd roared with laughter and were then amazed when the owner said ‘drop it’ and the dog let go.

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

A: Continued education by way of books, DVDs and seminars. Being mentored by a true force-free trainer and joining PPG to enhance learning and developing relationships with like minded trainers. With education and experience they will become a confident trainer. n Reward That Puppy is based in West Henrietta, NY.

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