BARKS from the Guild January 2018

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© Can Stock Photo Inc./Garosha

BARKS from the Guild Issue 28 / January 2018

TRAINING Why Use a Harness?

BUSINESS Conditioning at Work CANINE Adopting a “Difficult” Dog

FELINE Overcoming Fear of People CANINE Alleviating Anxiety

CONSULTING A Lesson in Compassion

CANINE The World of Wolfdogs EQUINE Life after Racing


Stopping Behavior Problems before They Start 10 Steps for Puppies, Newly-Adopted Dogs and Resident Dogs

A Force-Free Publication from the Pet Professional Guild

BARKS from the Guild

Published by the Pet Professional Guild 9122 Kenton Road, Wesley Chapel, Florida 33545, USA Tel: +1-844-462-6473 Editor-in-Chief Susan Nilson

Images © Can Stock Photo: (unless otherwise credited; uncredited images belong to PPG)

Pet Professional Guild Steering Committee Kelly Fahey, Paula Garber, Carole Husein, Kelly Lee, Michelle Martiya, Debra Millikan, Susan Nilson, Claire Staines, Louise Stapleton-Frappell, Angelica Steinker, Niki Tudge

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

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

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

Subscriptions and Distribution BARKS is a digital publication. Print copies are available by monthly subscription. Register at Please contact Rebekah King at for all subscription and distribution-related enquiries. Advertising Please contact Niki Tudge at to obtain a copy of rates, ad specifications, format requirements and deadlines. Advertising information is also available at

PPG does not endorse or guarantee any products, services or vendors mentioned in BARKS, nor can it be responsible for problems with vendors or their products and services. PPG reserves the right to reject, at its discretion, any advertising.

The Pet Professional Guild is a membership business league representing pet industry professionals who are committed to force-free training and pet care philosophies, practices and methods. Pet Professional Guild members understand force-free to mean: No Shock, No Pain, No Choke, No Prong, No Fear, No Physical Force, No Physical Molding and No Compulsion-Based Methods.

© All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the Pet Professional Guild, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, please email:


from the editor

ou realize that the PPG summit might be having something of a wider impact when the TSA officers at Orlando International Airport give you knowing looks as you go through security with your bags crammed with dog toys and accessories post-event. “Oh yes, we’ve seen a lot like this this week,” trilled the friendly officer who had pulled my bag off the conveyer belt to check those odd shaped objects (a.k.a. Kongs, small bags of dog treats and various other canine-related paraphernalia), admitting that she and her colleagues had received quite the education in the past few days, not only in food and puzzle toys, but in a veritable cornucopia of dog-related accessories – all courtesy of those helpful PPG summit attendees. Retail therapy aside, the event, now in its third year, once again knocked it out of the park in terms of the level of education on offer, as well as the networking opportunities afforded to attendees, and the requisite element of fun. Read all about it in our special summit report on pages 10-17. Our cover story this month focuses on a very important aspect of owning a pet that may inadvertently be overlooked – preventing behavior problems before they arise. This applies to puppies, newly adopted dogs and even long-term resident dogs who may need a fresh start in terms of an established behavior problem. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, there are currently 6.5 million animals entering U.S. animal shelters yearly, of which 3.3 million are dogs, and 1.5 million of those are euthanized. Only about 710,000 animals who enter shelters as strays are returned to their owners. Of those, 620,000 are dogs and just 90,000 are cats. The numbers are both sobering and staggering, and the stress to shelters is, understandably, enormous. In a nutshell, then, the more animals that stay in homes, the better. On the subject of dogs, our canine section this month covers a wide range of topics, including the benefits of using a harness and how to choose one (as well as some of the common misconceptions surrounding their use), canine perceptual abilities and the effects these might have on behavior, canine anxiety, the rise of the wolfdog, and, in view of our cover story and aforementioned shelter statistics, the pertinent tale of Dustin, the “difficult” dog who was two days from euthanasia at a New York shelter. Luckily for Dustin, he was adopted by PPG member, Rachel Lane, who is now the proud owner of a trick dog and Rally champion. Our feline section this month features a poignant case study of two brothers who were left to fend for themselves when their owner passed away, their subsequent fear of humans, and the plan to change this -CER. For the horse people, meanwhile, we look at the various behavioral issues that may come up when transitioning a Thoroughbred from the racing environment, and the implementation of +R training, so common in the world of dog training, with horses. Our consulting section features a very honest account by one of our regular feature writers, Angelica Steinker, who is not afraid to admit that she went ahead and conducted a behavior consult – even though she had left the client’s behavior questionnaire at home. What transpired is a lesson for us all, a reminder to try to be less judgmental, and an awareness that a mistake can sometimes lead to the greatest learning opportunity of all. Finally, as always, we have more educational articles for small business owners, while, in our comment section, we asked a host of training and behavior experts how they would go about persuading pet owners that shock needs to be off the table once and for all. A Happy New Year to you all!

n Susan Nilso

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018


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contents N EWS

Shock-Free Coalition, PPG Australia, PPG Archive, Project Trade, podcasts, webinars and workshops


A full report from PPG’s 2017 Orlando Summit


PPG’s 2018 Training and Behavior Workshop in Kanab, Utah


Claire Staines reports from the Weekend of Learning with Kathy Sdao in Manchester, England




Kathy Wolff relates the initiatives she has undertaken to promote the Shock-Free Coalition in her community




Diane Garrod lists 10 starting points to help prevent behavior problems in a puppy, newly adopted, or resident dog


Stephanie Rose Chamings talks all things harness, and addresses some common misconceptions



© Can Stock Photo/Garosha

Anna Francesca Bradley discusses canine perceptual abilities and the impact these might have on behavior




Rachel Lane relates the tale of “difficult” dog Dustin, two days from euthanasia, now a Rally and trick dog champion




Julie Naismith wonders whether we are witnessing an anxiety epidemic in our pet dogs and what we can do about it







Sam Redmond outlines the rise of the wolfdog in popularity


© Can Stock Photo/Colecanstock


Breanna Norris reviews her experience at Wolf Park


Lauri Bowen-Vaccare focuses on caring for senior dogs and puppies at boarding and day care facilities




Paula Garber presents a case study about two fearful cats who learned to trust again




Kathie Gregory explains why transitioning from the racing environment can be challenging for Thoroughbreds








37 40


Max Easey discusses the application of force-free training to horse training


Angelica Steinker explains how she learned not to make snap judgements about a client who uses a shock collar




Photo © Monty Sloan/Wolf Park

Niki Tudge discusses how to address employee skill deficits versus attitude problems in your pet business






Veronica Boutelle responds to business and marketing questions




Featuring Angel Rowe of Rowes K9 Academy in Leduc, Alberta




Susan Nilson and Louise Stapleton-Frappell ask canine training and behavior experts how to convince pet owners that electric shock must be off the table

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018





PPG Survey for Shelters and Rescues

PG’s Shelter and Rescue Division is developing free behavior resources specifically for shelter and rescue organizations. In order to best meet their needs, the committee is asking shelter and rescue organizations to participate in this short survey ( /PPG-Shelter-&-Rescue-Survey) and would be grateful for any members who are able to forward the survey to their contacts in the shelter and rescue world. For more details, contact the Shelter and Rescue Division:

PPG Members Promote Shock-Free Coalition


PG member Phyllis Beasley, owner and lead trainer at Praise Your Dog! Training, LLC ( in Columbia, South Carolina has taken the initiative and come up with her own way to promote PPG’s Shock-Free Coalition using these wristbands alongside her fellow reward-based trainers.

PPG Residential Workshops for Fearful Dogs and Show Dogs in 2018


.A.N.E. Solutions for Shy and Fearful Dogs® (, presented by Kathy Cascade, will take place in Tampa, Florida on Saturday, January 27 and Sunday January 28, 2018. The seminar will be helpful for owners of dogs who exhibit shy, fearful, or anxious behaviors, and dog trainers, rescue and animal welfare professionals, or other pet care professionals who work with dogs with these behavior issues. Cascade will present an effective and positive approach to working with dogs who exhibit difficult behavior issues such as extreme fearfulness, anxiety, reactivity to new environments, noise phobias, and hyper-arousal. “S.A.N.E. Solutions” is simply a collection of tools and creative exercises designed to help dogs reduce tension and arousal while building confidence and coping skills. The goal is to give the dog a new experience of feeling safe, calm, and in control while in a challenging environment or in the presence of other dogs or people, which previously would have elicited a fearful response. Based on the principles of Tellington TTouchTM Training and sensory integration, this approach employs the use of novel Cascade will host a sensory experiences to enhance learn- Kathy workshop on shy and fearful dogs this month ing. See also ad on page 5. Later in the year, Vicki Ronchette, supported by Niki Tudge, will host Successfully Train and Compete in the Show Ring - Learn the knowledge and skills you need to compete or teach a professional curriculum (, also in Tampa, Florida, on Saturday, September 22, and Sunday, September 23, 2018. This workshop is aimed at pet owners interested in learning about show dogs so they can begin competing (dogs are welcome, of course!), current competitors – to help them up their game, and dog trainers – to help them develop the skills and knowledge to launch their own show dog classes and support their clients in Vicki Ronchette is known PPG president Niki Tudge achieving their for her expertise in the will host both workshops show ring goals. at PPG headquarters 6

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018

PPG member Phyllis Beasley is spreading the word about the Shock-Free Coalition in Columbia, South Carolina

Meanwhile, the newly-established Shock-Free Coalition of Maine (, spearheaded by PPG member Don Hanson, took out an ad in a local newspaper to promote the initiative with the aim of building awareness amongst the general public and encouraging fellow pet professionals to Sign the Pledge ( to eliminate shock training devices from the supply chain once and for all.

The Shock-Free Coalition Maine is committed to educating the market about the detrimental use of shock in dog training



PPG Australia Update

PG Australia (PPGA) took part in the Australian Pet Dog Trainer (APDT) Association conference in Glenelg, South Australia at the end of October, where we were proud to announce the inaugural PPG Educational Summit in Australia, which will take place in Sydney, New South Wales on July 27-29, 2018. We also gave out a couple of free registrations to the event, with Sonia Gregson and Trish Wissell the two lucky winners. We were very pleased that our equine subcommittee provided two flyers on force-free horse training to distribute to interested parties at the conference, which was a first for Australia. PPGA is currently working closely with APDT Australia and looking into where we can improve services for the members of both associations. As such, a meeting with the two management teams is planned in the near future. I firmly believe that cooperation between dog training associations with similar goals is more beneficial than a competitive approach, and we were very happy to receive positive feedback on the current and future cooperation efforts from members of both associations. One of the many take away messages from the APDT conference was when Dr. Susan Friedman pointed out that positive reinforcement training does have side effects, i.e. discretionary effort, or supersized response or, if you want, enthusiasm. How amazing is that – training with a method that creates these types of side effects! Another statement she made that I really liked is that control is a primary reinforcer. Giving animals (including humans) control over the outcome of their actions is a major benefit of a nonconfrontational training approach and reinforcing in itself. Lack of control, on the other hand, can cause angst, anxiety or minimal response. While the pet training industry is still developing, we have come a long way in using science and a humane approach to our training and behavior modification interventions. Again, as Friedman pointed out, effectiveness is not enough; it needs to be a humane approach, too. Meanwhile, our constitution subcommittee has finished the task of updating our constitution as an incorporated not for

PPG Summit 2017 Audio Recordings Available


PG has released a full 66 hours of recorded audio sessions from its 2017 summit which took place in Orlando, Florida in November. The recordings are available for purchase along with the corresponding presentation pdfs. Download them and listen any time! Buy individual presentations or the entire collection. See for a full list of sessions available and details of how to make your purchase. See also pages 10-17 for full coverage of the event and some presentation highlights from the general sessions.

or ng f g ? i k o Lo ethin Som

Inaugural PPG summit registration winners Sonia Gregson (left) and Trish Wissell (right) are pictured with PPG steering committee member, Debra Millikan at October’s Australian Pet Dog Trainer (APDT) Association conference

profit association, and it went to members for approval at the November annual general meeting. We have also applied to become an approved dog training provider in the state of Victoria. The continuing education system has been put in place and was well received by our members. The system requires members to accrue continuing education points to maintain professional membership. Last, but not least, PPGA presented two webinars on first aid for dogs that provided valuable insight into what to do in an emergency. These are now available as recorded webinars. You can find more details on the PPG Australia website ( For more details on the PPG Australia Summit 2018, see and our ad on page 63.

- Barbara Hodel MA MBA DipCBST Cert IV CAS President, PPG Australia

Bonhomme Releases Documentary from PPG Summit 2016


rench dog trainer Benjamin Bonhomme has released his new documentary, Empowered Life, which includes interviews with Chirag Patel, Dr. Susan Friedman, Irith Bloom, Malena DeMartini, Ken McCort, Dr. Karen Overall, Ken Ramirez, Dr. Clive Wynne, Steve Martin and PPG president, Niki Tudge. Several segments were filmed at PPG’s 2016 summit, which took place in Tampa, Florida in November of that year. PPG members receive a 20 percent discount! See to place your order. For more details on the documentary, see

The PPG Archive currently holds over 1,700 articles, studies, podcasts, blogs and videos and is growing daily!

Categories include: canine / feline / equine / piscine / pocket pets / murine / avian / behavior / training / business / trends / PPG news / book reviews / member profiles / opinion BARKS from the Guild/January 2018




Project Trade Update

ongratulations to Jessica Hudson of Mobile Dog Training ( in Alabama, USA, who traded three shock collars, one choke collar and four prong collars, and is the Project Trade Ambassador for September, 2017. Congratulations too to Daniel Antolec of Happy Buddha Dog Training ( in Wisconsin, USA who traded one shock collar, Breanna Norris of Canine Insights ( in Maine, USA, who traded one choke collar, Janis Crary of All About The Dog ( in Indiana, USA who traded two prong collars and three choke collars, Heather Luedecke of Delighted Dog Training Academy ( in Ohio, USA, who traded two choke collars, one prong collar, and two shock collars, and to Erika Gonzalez of From Dusk Till Dog ( in New Jersey, USA, who traded four prong collars.

Jessica Hudson was Project Trade’s Ambassador fo September 2017. Photos show the gear she collected (left) and the gear collected by fellow Project Trade participants (clockwise from top left) Heather Luedecke, Breanna Norris, Janis Crary, Erika Gonzalez and Daniel Antolec

PPG World Service Radio Show Schedule



he PPG Radio Show,, usually takes place on the first Sunday of every month at noon (ET) and there are often extra shows too. There is always an incredible line-up of guests and the show is educational and fun. Here is the current schedule (note: schedule is correct at time of going to press but is subject to change):

Wednesday, January 10, 2018 - 3 p.m. EDT Guest: Jacqueline Munera Topic: Nitty gritty of cat training and working with fearful or feral cats. Register to listen live:

Wednesday, January 24, 2018 - 3.30 p.m. EDT Guest: Emily Cassell Topic: Bunny basics, relationship building with bunnies and helping rabbits adjust to their new home. Register to listen live:

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 - 3 p.m. Guest: Sherry Woodard Topic: What adopters are looking for at shelters and what attendees can expect at PPG’s Behavior and Training Workshop in Kanab, Utah on 22-26 April, 2018 (see also ad on back page). Register to listen live:

Previous Podcasts Ken McCort - Ensuring our pets get along, plus wolves and other animals from October 18, 2017: Helen Phillips - Going for a “bumble” and force-free training for gundogs from November 5, 2017: Drayton Michaels - Let’s Opinionate! from December 12, 2017:

Special #ShockFreeCoalition Podcasts Project Trade - a strategic way to apply a discounted service policy in exchange for aversive training equipment from September 26, 2017:

Drayton Michaels and Niki Tudge - An uncensored chat about training with shock! from September 28, 2017:

Dr. Marc Bekoff - Do pet parents understand when their dog is feeling stressed or feeling happy? from October 1, 2017: www./

Earn Your CEUs via PPG’s Webinars, Workshops and Educational Summits! Webinars

Litter Box Basics with Beth Adelman Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 1 p.m. (EST)

Day Care or Nightmare? The Ins and Outs of Training in or for a Doggy Day Care Facility with Tabitha Davies Monday, January 29, 2018 - 5 p.m. (EST)

Grief, Loss, and Coping: How to Care for Yourself and Others When A Pet Dies with Dr. Vanessa Rohlf Wednesday, January 31, 2018 - 6 p.m.(EST)

How Should I Say This? Handle Sticky Situations with Clients in Writing with Nancy Tucker Wednesday, February 7, 2018 - 1 p.m (EST)

Residential Workshops and Educational Summits

S.A.N.E. Solutions for Shy and Fearful Dogs® with Kathy Cascade (Tampa, Florida) (see also ad on page 5 and news story on page 6) Saturday, January 27, 2018 - 9 a.m. (EST) Sunday, January 28, 2018 - 4 p.m. (EST)

Successfully Train and Compete in The Show Ring - Learn The Knowledge and Skills You Need to Compete or Teach a Professional Curriculum with Vicki Ronchette, supported by Niki Tudge (Tampa, Florida) (see also news story on page 6) Saturday, September 22, 2018 - 9 a.m. (EDT) Sunday, September 23, 2018 - 4 p.m. (EDT)

Step in Time with Siân Ryan Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - 2 p.m (EST)

PPG Training and Behavior Analysis Workshop 2018 (Kanab, Utah) (see also ad on back page) Sunday, April 22, 2018 - Noon (MDT) Wednesday, April 26, 2018 - 5 p.m. (MDT)

• All dates and times are correct at time of going to press but are subject to change.

• Details of all upcoming summits:

• Details of all upcoming webinars: • Details of all upcoming workshops:

PPG Australia Summit 2018 (Sydney, New South Wales) (see also ad on inside back cover) Friday, July 27, 2018 - Time TBC Sunday, July 29, 2018 - Time TBC

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018



A Time to Revitalize, Re-energize and Rejuvenate Susan Nilson reports from PPG’s third annual summit which took place in

Orlando, Florida last November, highlighting PPG president Niki Tudge’s

opening address and Dr. Karen Overall’s keynote presentation


PPG president Niki Tudge (left) introduces keynote speaker, Dr. Karen Overall

n what has now become a well-oiled machine, PPG launched its third annual summit with trademark panache at the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Hotel in Orlando, Florida at the end of November 2017. Hundreds of members and supporters, many accompanied by their dogs, arrived for an extended weekend of education, networking, fun – and shopping, courtesy of the expansive sponsor and vendor area which showcased a wealth of products ranging from books, educational and insurance products to leashes and harnesses, toys and accessories, clothing, essential oils, dog treats, smart feeding toys, and training gear. As is tradition, PPG president Niki Tudge kicked off proceedings, starting with a quick-fire round of questions for prizes to set the event’s customary friendly tone and encourage audience participation. In her official opening address, Tudge emphasized the importance of everyone in attendance getting a return on their investment, whether it be simply to revitalize and re-energize, be inspired with new ideas on how to implement new products and services into their businesses – to the benefit of both the business and its clients, increase their individual body of knowledge, get to know their peers and build their support networks, and go back to work “rejuvenated.” Tudge also briefly summarized PPG’s year, including the launch of the new PPG Scholarship Program, which handed out full scholarships for the first time, Project Trade, which “helps you start the conversation with a client that you might not be able to start the conversation with,” and the Pet Professional Accreditation Board (PPAB). Starting this month, Tudge said, PPG is to initiate a program where anyone holding a credential from another organization, that 10

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018

Overall delivered her trademark data-driven, science-based, informational address

has had the requisite knowledge and skills psychometrically tested and “hit the litmus test” in terms of credibility and ethics, can be grandfathered into the PPAB system. “This way you can say that ‘I have a credential that not only tests for knowledge, skills and ethics, but also stands up for what I believe in,’ because anyone carrying this credential is never going to use shock, prong or choke,” Tudge said. She also focused heavily on PPG’s recently launched advocacy program, the Shock-Free Coalition. “Part one [of the Shock-Free Coalition] was about creating tools and resources that you can use to help educate your clients that there is no place for shock in the training, management and care of our pets,” Tudge said. “That consists of a website, fabulous quotations from Dr. Karen Overall, Pat Miller, Jean Donaldson and all the superstars of our industry. We have developed lots of open letters to other associations asking them to take a stand and get shock off the mandate. There are open letters to county commissioners, to pet owners, and there are position statements. These are all tools you can use in your businesses. They will give you credibility. It’s that ‘white coat syndrome.’ “There’s also verbiage you can put on your website, there are logos, and a 45-slide PowerPoint presentation you can use to take into veterinary offices and schools to present academic information about shock, how does it work, what are the alternatives, how you can use the alternatives, and what the experts say, so it gives you some really nice blueprint documents to use. If you need additional tools, let us know and we will create them for you. We can create all these tools but now it’s up to you to pick up [the Shock-Free Coalition program] and run with it.”

Tudge referred to a threefold attack in terms of removing shock from the marketplace. “First is to educate pet owners, because we can’t impact supply and demand unless our clients are going into [pet] stores and saying, ‘no, I don’t want to buy that kind of equipment.’ They can’t do that if they’re not educated and informed, and we can’t educate them if we judge them, so we have to be very open minded,” she said. “The second component is that we have to have competent professionals. We have to attend events like these and get our education to make sure we can solve [behavior] problems using humane and effective methods. [Thirdly], I think the way we do this is in terms of legislation and local government is that we have to talk about consumer protection. Even if they don’t have a dog, if they buy a product, [people] understand what that product can and cannot do. Shouldn’t there be similar transparency about the equipment used in dog training? “I’m not a big believer in government oversight but we have to start somewhere. If we hold out for the absolute best we’re never going to get anything. We have to recognize we’re going to have to shape the industry and this isn’t going to happen in one attempt. We have to be better as people who shape this industry. It’s going to happen slowly and we are moving the industry forward, but it won’t happen overnight.” Phase two of the Shock-Free Coalition, Tudge said, includes developing and supporting team leaders in areas chosen by PPG members’ to provide them with the necessary tools and resources so they can start to engage other professionals in their communities. To conclude, Tudge thanked the audience for attending the summit, and, in a now-familiar scene, for the third year running introduced keynote speaker, Dr. Karen Overall.

Balanced Training: Unbalancing Dogs

Over the years, PPG Summit attendees have come to expect a slew of information, comprehensively backed up by data and current scientific research, coupled with a plethora of pithy sound bites (see box, top right) and a splash of emotion from Overall, and, once again, she did not disappoint. Fortunately, the audio recording of Overall’s session, Why Balanced Training Can Unbalance Dogs, is available for purchase, along with most other summit sessions (petprofessionalguild .com/2017-Orlando-Summit-Recording), but here is a taste: “Consider the universe told you that everything you did was wrong,” Overall said. “That’s what punishment does. Take the individual responses and then punish the dog until he gets the right answer. Consider, instead, telling dogs what’s right and when their decision is taking them away from the right answer. To change behavior you must script a detailed path to success. Telling someone what will not work or is not desired is of minimal utility in a world of a million choices... and 999,999 of them will be wrong. “Dogs work for accurate information that marks or indicates probabilistic outcomes. Their response can be a statement (Yes. Done!) or a question (This? Is this what you want?). Now you are the recipient and they are the signaler. Your response to their action (as the signaler, again) should either confirm their decision or answer their question. Remember, the process of communicating makes information available that was previously private. Does this happen in punitive, forceful types of training? In ‘balanced’ training approaches the response to a wrong answer may be punishment, with or without pain and/or social withdrawal/abandonment/ignoring the recipient. “Now – think about whether any punitive system or system based on withholding information satisfies this goal of ‘makes information available that was previously private.’ There is a difference between using a signal or a marker for ‘that’s not correct’ and not providing helpful information. Unfortunately, ‘no’ is used in both situations so we have not thought carefully about it. Tonal variations tip off dogs in situations where a good communication framework

summit Dr. Karen Overall: Sound Bites

“A large part of the problem is that vets are speaking a different language.”

“One of the things that really distresses me is that we are living in an age of labelling. We are arguing about labels.” “Dogs work for accurate information, so your opinion doesn’t matter.”

“Mental illness is devastating and we can do better than this – and you don’t do it with a shock collar.” “Most enrichment is not actually all that enriching. Most dogs would prefer to run around in a field and do what they want than work on a puzzle toy.”

“Who we are is how we behave. Everything can be changed in the brain. Whether it shows or not is another matter. Or it may be changing, but not enough.” "How many of us have never asked a question in our lives? That's what we expect dogs to do."

"Consider a universe where you are told that everything you are doing is wrong. That is what punishment does." © Pet Professional Guild Summit 2017

exists (“Nope”, “Nooo”, “Uh, uh”). When a good communication framework does not exist, such a signal acts to alienate and divide the groups, which then decreases the probability of any collaborative effort. Force is what happens when all chance of collaboration breaks down. The true test of communicating is how to redress absent or ambiguous information that contributes to deterioration of collaborations. “Remember, fear is an individual response and what’s punishing or a punisher must be considered in terms of the recipient, so while ‘fear’ is not in the definition of punishment, it may be one of the effects of punishment. How many of you have never asked a question in your life? That is what we expect dogs to do.” Overall referenced her own dog, Missy Rose, who, heartbreakingly, (prior to having the good fortune of going to live chez Overall) wore a shock collar for 18 months “because she had Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency and could not be housetrained.” “Think about what you are suppressing, Overall said. “A dog wearing a shock collar suppresses signals. Now, Missy Rose growls and snarls around food. Why do I consider this an improvement? Because she’s now giving signals. Now I know she’s aggressive around food.” To a warm reception and customary rapturous applause, Overall closed with this: “The ability to use non-coercive, non-scary, nonpainful techniques to enhance cognitive processes that facilitate beneficial changes in underlying mental and emotional states may not be simple and is not instantaneous. But it is safe, sane, based in emergent science, in the best interests of the dog... and it works. No other approach can say this.” Indeed, it cannot. n BARKS from the Guild/January 2018



What They Said: In a Nutshell Susan Nilson presents a brief selection of the many quotable

quotes from the general sessions at PPG’s 2017 Summit "The human sense of smell is actually quite good, and not so radically different from the dog's that there is no overlap... Data suggests that humans are better at detecting some odors, while dogs are better at detecting others." - Dr. Nathan Hall on the canine olfactory system. "Be aware of trigger stacking - little things can be triggers. Which ones are the worst? Eliminate those." - Dr. Sally Foote talks thresholds and low stress handling at the vet.

"Your rates are your marketing message. Raise your rates to charge what you're worth." - Veronica Boutelle and Gina Phairas of dog*tec on simple things professionals can do to make more money.

“Analyzing ethical dilemmas as an exercise helps us work through such conflicts in our own minds and prepares us to make solid ethical decisions when such conflicts arise in real life. Sharing ethical dilemma discussions with our peers helps us examine our own thought processes and gives us new perspectives on our ethical thinking.” - Pat Miller on ethical dilemmas that may be faced by pet professionals.

66 hours of recorded audio sessions from PPG’s 2017 summit are available for purchase. See /2017-Orlando-Summit-Recording for further details. 12

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018

"If you must worry about a -morphism, worry about lykomorphism. The current most popular hypothesis is that the various differences (particularly with regard to relationships with humans) are secondary to a reduction in fear responses, especially neophobia. It is the differences between dogs and wolves that make it possible for us to live with them." - Janis Bradley speaks in defense of anthropomorphism. "Biological evolution has prepared animals to learn quickly and accurately. If learning occurs imprecisely or slowly there is a reason. Be prepared to change." Bob Bailey talks behavior principles.

“Dogs obtained from pet stores as opposed to noncommercial breeders have an increased risk of behavior problems - 58% more likely to have separation related problems, 44% more likely to show overall fearfulness, 58% more likely to be touch sensitive, 96% more likely to be dog aggressive, and 213% (intact)/44% (neutered) more likely to be aggressive towards their owners.” - Dr. Franklin McMillan on behavioral differences in puppies. “The key features of stereotypic behavior are that it is repetitive, ritualistic, and has no apparent function. Canine stereotypies include light/tail chasing, blanket sucking, licking and fly biting.” - Dr. Nathan Hall on canine stereotypic behavior. © Pet Professional Guild Summit 2017


Dogs’ Day Out

The dogs were out in force at Summit 2017, socializing, networking,

attending sessions and labs, and generally having fun

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018



And the Winners Were...

As is traditional at PPG summits, an enormous variety of prizes were given out, kindly

donated by the event sponsors and vendors - congratulations to all the winners!

Melony Phillips (left) won an autographed book and a $100 gift certificate from Malena DeMartini (with PPGBI membership manager Louise Stapleton-Frappell)

Allie Tulchinskiy (left) won a Kong toy (with PPG president Niki Tudge)

Amelia Cosmas (left) won a DogNostics Walk This Way (Option I) Workshop

Jean Carew (left) won a Perfect Paw DVD and a What Is My Cat Saying CD from Jacqueline Munera

Kat Ray Martin (left) won a PPG No Pain No Force No Fear bag and a Kong toy

Andrew Murphy (left) won a DogNostics Pet Care Technician Workshop DVD

Ken McCort (left) won a Kong Wubba toy

Tara Houser (left) won a book and DVD on low stress handling from Cattle Dog Publishing

Lorena Patti (left) won a Shock-Free Coalition cap from PPG and a Kong toy

Pat McCarthy (left) won two business books and a business toolkit from dog*tec

Pam Catalano (left) won a $50 PPG webinar gift certificate

Marie-Elisabeth Gagnon (left) won a Shock-Free Coalition cap from PPG and a $50 gift card from Fit for a Pit

Andrea Melaragno (left) won a Perfect Paw DVD and a What Is My Cat Saying CD from Jacqueline Munera

Lander Bari (left) won a PPG No Pain No Force No Fear bag and a Doggone Safe Be A Tree kit

Anne Cahill (left) won a limited edition purple polka dot rapid rewards training pouch from the Doggone Good Clicker Co

Stephanie Morancie (left) won a Kong toy package

A big thank you to all our sponsors and vendors for your support!


BARKS from the Guild/January 2018


Breanna Norris (left) won a Kong Bounzer toy

Penny Watkins-Zdrogewski (left) won a Kong prize pack

Paula Garber (right) won Niki Tudge’s (left) Don Hanson won the biggest prize of all latest book, A Kid’s Comprehensive Guide a ticket to PPG’s Behavior Workshop in to Speaking Dog in the PPG Shock-Free Kanab, Utah in April Coalition Tattoo (see inset) Competition

Krista Stilger (left) won a DogNostics Career Center Dog Behavior Diploma Program

Dawn Hanna (right) won a set of dog*tec business books

Cathy Nolan (left) won a copy of Ken Ramirez’s book, Better Together: The Collected Wisdom of Modern Dog Trainers from the Karen Pryor Clicker Academy (with PPG board member Debra Millikan)

Tracy Allard (left) won a DogNostics Training Meister online class

Bess Walmsley (left) won a Brilliant K9 harness

Jennifer Penner (left) won a book and a Be A Tree kit from Doggone Safe

Joyce Kesling (left) won a Perfect Puppy book and DVD from Cattle Dog Publishing

Katie Obringer won a Kong Wubba toy

Leanne Hugg (and Emma the dog) won a selection of business books from dog*tec

Lauren Tsao won a gift pack from Black Wing Farms

Abigail Knue won a $50 PPG webinar gift certificate

Natalie Bridger Watson (and Bright the dog) won a Kong Bounzer toy

Mimi Champagne won a DogNostics Pet Care Technician Workshop DVD

Sally Saxton won a set of Kong toys

Tiffany Aytes Lovell won a snuffle mat from Best Dog on the Block

Rachel Manderosian won a set of Kong toys

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018


PPG Summit 2017: In Pictures summit


BARKS from the Guild/January 2018



Join Us for PPG’s 2018 Training and Behavior Workshop!

Workshop 2018 - Kanab, UT When?

Sunday, 22 April - Thursday, 26 April, 2018


Four days of lectures and hands-on clinics with industry experts across multiple species. The event will focus on how to help pets develop skills that will support their successful adoption and integration into their new home. Applicable for all professional trainers and behavior consultants



Best Friends Animal Society, Kanab, Utah

Janis Bradley, Chirag Patel, Emily Larlham, Jacqueline Munera, Emily Cassell, Lara Joseph, Louise Stapleton-Frappell, and Vicki Ronchette, supported by Best Friends experts Dr. Franklin McMillan, Sherry Woodard and Glenn Pierce, plus special presentations by Best Friends CEO, Gregory Castle and Best Friends Co-Founder, Faith Maloney

* Registration now open! * Payment plans available for PPG Members. * Speak to us about spreading the cost over several months! * Each person gets a minimum of two workshops, on a first come, first served basis. * Limited spaces available - sign up today! * Continued Education Units - PPAB 34, IAABC 34, CPDT 17.5 for Trainers and 16.5 for Behavior Consultants

Photo: Kane County OďŹƒce of Tourism

When you register for the event you will receive a confirmation email full of useful information, including details about these three hotels — we have visited them personally and are comfortable referring you to them: Hampton Inn Kanab (

Holiday Inn Express & Suites (

Comfort Inn & Suites (

These are all within walking distance to the Best Friends Visitor center where we will host the welcome reception, and where transportation to the sanctuary will depart from and arrive back at daily.


Science: Making Us Sensible Claire Staines reports from the ‘Weekend of Learning


with Kathy Sdao’ in Manchester, England

ast September, Pet Professional Guild British Isles (PPGBI) was invited to support and host a stand at Kathy Sdao’s Weekend of Learning event held in Manchester, England. First of all, I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who visited the PPGBI booth and to all the new members, who signed up, welcome! On the education side, Sdao once again delivered a fine presentation covering learning theory and the science of training and behavior. “The science makes us more sensible,” she said, summing up exactly what the weekend was about: exploring ways to teach behavior using humane and fear-free techniques, and building strong foundations to grow from. She also spoke densely about the use of shock, both in her presentation and to me, personally, when I had the pleasure of chatting with her. “No one needs to learn to avoid shock; it is aversive by its very nature,” she said. Indeed, this is something that rings out in any positive trainer’s mind when we hear that common dismissal, “It’s only a tap.” Sdao explained eloquently how trainers avoid relying on the use of aversives: “Positive trainers Kathy Sdao (standing, front) discusses reinforcement plant densely.

Nellie (guardian Carol Washer) decided to take a break at the PPGBI stand


Jane Ardern talks mindfulness and focus

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018

PPGBI steering committee member Claire Staines (right) with Kathy Sdao at the PPGBI stand

They plant crops of desired behavior so the weedy stuff can’t get through.” I really liked this explanation. Sdao told us about a patch of plants outside her home that had a nasty crop of weeds in it. She had received lots of advice on how to get rid of these weeds, but when a keen gardener told her the best way was to plant thickly so there would be no room for the weed to grow, that is exactly what she did. It completely stood out for me, as this is the exact way I approach training. If a client is unhappy with a certain type of behavior, then I look for ways to make it impossible for the dog to repeat that behavior by reinforcing a wealth of incompatible tasks. We were also treated to a fantastic presentation from one of the United Kingdom’s brightest stars, Jane Ardern. Ardern talked about mindfulness, discussing how we can clear our minds when training and walking with our dogs by getting into the moment and blocking out all the white noise. It was a very interesting session, delivered with a huge amount of Manchester humor. Since then, I have been really trying to focus on keeping my mind on the task I am doing, and it does show how much our thoughts affect our actions at any given moment. The weekend also included demonstrations on how cues work, and an in-depth look at the Premack Principle, which happens to be one of my favorite training tools. The theory that distractions are reinforcers and should be used as such is an amazing way to use the environment around you to boost a dog’s learning. All in all this was a hugely successful and enjoyable educational event, where we were also able to spread the force-free message and promote PPGBI to a wider audience. n


The Continuing Education of a City


Kathy Wolff relates the initiatives she has undertaken in her local

community to spread awareness of the Shock-Free Coalition

have been a “teacher” here in the small city of Watertown, Wisconsin for as long as I can remember. Way back in the early 80s I was an aerobic dance instructor, then a mind body movement teacher. Now I am a certified professional dog trainer. It seems like I have been guiding the good people of Watertown in one way or another for many years. My philosophy has always been to help folks understand the “why” of what we do together. I found this created an environment of collaboration and cooperation between myself and my clients. Fast forward to present day and here I am, a certified professional dog trainer, graduate of distinction from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy. I espouse the training methodology of force-free positive reinforcement dog training techniques. And, I am a crossover trainer. Back in the day I was one of those trainers who would leash pop, yank, push and pull my dog and others’ dogs around in the name of training. Rather like the aerobic dance classes, it involved much pain, little gain. I started to think about it, there had to be a better way. And I found it. I began to research training methods that were gentler, safer, and well, just made sense. I joined Force Free Trainers of Wisconsin, a local group dedicated to education and training using science-based, force-free techniques, and I joined PPG. Through these two resource groups, I have come to learn and grow in my knowledge of force-free training, science-based methodology and techniques to bring this valuable information to the dog owners in my city. Recently, PPG rolled out the Shock-Free Coalition, a monumental undertaking to educate the dog owning public, dog professionals, and veterinarians alike about the dangers of using aversive equipment and methodology. What an amazing tool to share with our clients and to have at our disposal! Just before this initiative was presented, I was invited to have a booth at our local pet store’s grand opening and was happy to accept. As I was gathering my display boards, raffle prizes, and various giveaways, a thought struck me. Why not put up a signature board for the general public and a handout about the Shock-Free Coalition to get this party started. Let’s get the word out now! And that’s exactly what I did.

PPG member Kathy Wolff initiated a public signature board to promote the ShockFree Coalition at her local pet store

I was very pleased at the number of people who came over and shared their feelings about aversive training tools such as shock collars. Many signed the board, while some just wanted to talk and take the handouts. Others told horror stories and asked forgiveness, but we don’t know until we know. What counts is we know better now, and we can do better. Knowledge powers advocacy. All were happy to have some concrete quality information to pass to friends and family who did not yet understand why aversive training is dangerous for our dogs. The click/treat for this trainer is when I hear someone say, “That makes sense.” When I hear that phrase it means they have understood the “why” of what I am telling them. They now have a safe skill set that can be applied to achieve their goals with their dogs and with others, no matter where they find themselves. The education of my city continues. I strive to help the dog owning public understand force-free, science-based training methodology in a way that will create an environment of collaboration and cooperation between myself, the dogs, and the owners who love them. Thank you PPG for always being the quality go-to resource I can use to help my community make sense of it all. n

SUBMIT A CASE STUDY OR MEMBER PROFILE FOR BARKS FROM THE GUILD If you’d like to share your experiences and be featured in BARKS, here are our easy-to-fill-out templates... Member Profiles: Case Studies: /CaseStudyTemplate

All you have to do is fill them in, send them to us and we’ll do the rest! BARKS from the Guild/January 2018



Stopping Behavior Problems before They Start Diane Garrod lists 10 starting points to help prevent behavior problems

in a puppy or newly adopted dog, or even a resident dog who may

need a “new start” in terms of behavior change


Dogs socializing off leash at the dog park: proper socialization prepares dogs for everyday situations and more

s any pet professional knows, problems with behavior can be reason enough for an owner to relinquish a dog to a shelter, so stopping problems before they start can have a huge impact. There are currently 6.5 million animals entering animal shelters yearly, of which 3.3 million are dogs, and 1.5 million of those are euthanized. About 710,000 animals who enter shelters as strays are returned to their owners. Of those, 620,000 are dogs and only 90,000 are cats, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (2017). The stress to shelters is thus enormous. Keeping dogs and other animals out of shelters and in their forever homes is one very good reason to learn how to stop problems before they start. A systematic look at how to do that and how to keep an animal in their forever home makes life enjoyable for everyone. Is it possible? Awareness is everything. A 22

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018

dog that can go everywhere with his owners is a long-term goal. The 10 steps listed in this article are the short-term starters to get to the long-term result. In addition to early learning and environment, behavioral issues can also present due to health issues or breeding. Either way, many issues can benefit from owners simply knowing what to do on a daily basis to prevent problems, at least, as far as is possible. This article is directed mainly at those bringing a new dog into a household – a puppy, a rescue, or a rehome – but can also be helpful as a guide for dogs who already have problems and need a fresh start, or to regroup, and the opportunity to develop a systematic approach and a results-oriented, progressive plan. Although a plan for dogs, it can also be used with other pets and is a good list to share with clients, as well as to function as a reminder to those working with dogs daily. Photo: Diane Garrod


The 10 Steps to a New Start

1. Prepare. 2. Anticipate. 3. Prevent, Manage, Supervise (PMS). 4. Learn body language. 5. Teach, keep the dog successful. 6. Socialize properly. 7. Accentuate the positive. 8. Stay away from aversives, reinforce behavior you want. 9. Understand the 3Ds (Distance, Duration, Distraction). 10. Work the ABCs (Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence). These are the steadfast rules for stopping problems before they start. The first three steps involve being ready. If a dog is already a part of a household, take an inventory to make sure items are in place. Often, when something is missing from this list, it is a piece that could make all the difference to a successful, results-oriented process.

The expectation is that dogs respond to our cues, but when it comes to reading their body language and understanding what they are trying to say, we often fall short. Understanding calming and stress signals, body postures, and behavior tip-offs nose to tail will help greatly in stopping problems before they start, because knowing what you are looking for and interpreting it correctly makes working through issues easier.

#1. Prepare Like cooking, assemble the right equipment. While there is no recipe, the right equipment, tools and knowing how to use them can be key to taking the next step. Start house proofing, and not just for puppies. Get the dog off on the right foot too with the right nutrition, including the right treats. The right treats/rewards are important from the beginning. They should be motivating, available, and practical. Motivating a dog from the beginning gets everyone off to a good start, and

Photo: Diane Garrod

A puppy meets an older dog nicely, but dogs do not have to meet all people, or all dogs, all the time

having treats available in appropriate amounts, tastes, smells, and proportions keeps positive learning flowing. Being practical as to cost, how much to use as a meal substitute, size, consistency and taste of reward are all important. Treats should be of both high and low value, whatever the dog loves and works to get, and on hand. Their value depends on distraction, and the environment should be evaluated as a scale moving from minimum wage to corporate salary. Toys and things the dog loves to do, such as sniff, can also be used. Do the homework on the breed of dog, the size, age, health issues (i.e. allergies), best nutrition available, stainless steel bowls, safe toys, enrichment that mentally tires, safe, comfortable sleeping areas and creating a daily schedule or routine. Here is a best start checklist of items to purchase: • The right size crate for an adult dog to be comfortable and safe. The crate provides a secure space for short periods of time when the puppy or dog cannot be supervised. Add chew toys, comfortable bedding, a treat dispensing toy and feed the dog in the crate so it becomes a fun and familiar place to be. • A wire exercise pen. These can be set up indoors in any room, or outdoors to provide the dog with a safe boundary while learning. These are best used for short periods of supervised time, and you can add enrichment items. • Baby gates for use in doorways and other areas. These come in a variety of sizes and styles. • Chew toys to keep the dog’s mouth busy. Provide the dog with his own items to freely chew versus a pair of expensive shoes. Chewing also releases mouth tension. Options include bully sticks and toys in a variety of textures, shapes, and sounds. • A harness that fits, a leash (6 feet), a long line and a collar as decorative item to hold the dog’s tag(s). • Positive training tools: clicker(s), a click stick, treat bag(s). • Two bowls, one for food, one for water and/or several treat balls, slow feeders as bowl alternatives. Bowls can be used on trips, hiking and vet visits. • Nutritious food. • Urine enzyme cleaner for potty accidents.

Photo: Diane Garrod

Dogs can learn to enjoy calm, interactions with a variety of people in a variety of contexts via positive association and proper socialization

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018



• Explore classes available in your area. • Mentally tiring activity and enrichment indoors and outdoors, such as problem solving puzzles, homemade activities, and activities that make a dog think. Exercise and mentally tiring activities satisfy a dog’s needs, keep him busy and help him explore the world around him. Include find/forage activities. Most dogs love to use their noses. Keep this natural behavior satisfied by setting up easy and fun activities. These activities can also help a dog to learn a cue like find, or go, or stay/wait and help build excitement with working together. Here are some ideas: 1. Where is the treat? Start with a handful of smelly treats. Toss to the left and say “Find it!” or “Search!” Then toss to the right and say “Find it!” or “Search!” Repeat tossing left and right at least 10 times. 2. Start line “Go!” Put the dog in a sit/stay. If you have help, the helper can hold the leash. Walk a few feet away, show the dog the treat, and place it on the floor in front of you. Walk back, turn to face the treat, pause, and send the dog to get the treat saying, “Go Find!” Play this fun game for at least 10 repetitions. 3. Out of sight, but not out of mind! Put the dog in a sit/stay, or have someone hold the leash. Now you will hide the treat out of sight, but let dog see the “hide.” A sample hide might be under a piece of cloth, behind a tree, under a leaf, or indoors under a blanket, behind a piece of furniture, or on a stool. Be creative and have fun. As in #2 above, walk back to the dog, pause, and say, “Go Find!” Repeat 10 times. Advance this by hiding treats in harder and harder places, hiding treat balls, treats under cups, even hiding balls and toys in less obvious areas. This can also be done on walks or in other rooms in the house on a rainy day. It can become a great “housecersize” activity. Bringing a dog into the home is not just about fitting the dog into a family’s schedule, but about making sure the dog is comfortable in his new environment so problems stop before they start. The dog’s needs must take center stage to get off to a good start. If everything is assembled before the dog comes into the home, more focus can be spent on the next steps

Doing nothing teaches nothing. Being active, alert, and worth listening to has huge benefits early on.

#2. Anticipate Assume and anticipate the dog will do normal dog behaviors, such as jumping, barking, digging, pulling on the leash, and grabbing things you’d rather he didn’t. Avoid developing bad habits through anticipating what could occur and knowing how to teach the dog what to do instead. Don’t encourage bad behavior by inaction. #3. Prevent, Manage, Supervise (PMS) This requires being on top of where the dog is and what he is doing, as well as interactions throughout the household. This is truly where an ounce of prevention makes a huge difference. Consistency and commitment make PMS work. Habits are much easier to stop before they start, then they are to countercondition and desensitize once they begin. Slowly acclimate. One of the biggest mistakes made is allow24

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018

Photo: Diane Garrod

A common behavior issue is dogs jumping up, yet dogs can easily be taught an alternative behavior

ing a dog full access to house or yard. Once in the household, simply acclimate dog room by room, set boundaries, and allow him to slowly take in the sights, sounds and routines of family life. Outdoors, make sure the dog is on a long line and supervised so escaping, making poor choices, or being “unresponsive” is not an option. There is plenty of time for him to explore once he becomes familiar with the environment and activity. Prevention and management eliminate the practice of unwanted behavior. If you have clean counters, you won’t encourage counter surfing. If you plan and prepare for a puppy who will pick up everything with his mouth, by picking up shoes, children’s toys, keeping up baby gates to areas of no access during this challenging time, and providing pup with toys of his own, you will have errorless teaching. Once preparation, anticipation and PMS are in place, learning who the dog is as an individual is next. How does he communicate what he wants? How active is he? What personality do you see coming through? What problems can you avoid by applying the next three steps? The next three steps involve two-way communication, being a teacher, and proper socialization. #4. Learn to Read Canine Body Language The expectation is that dogs respond to our cues, but when it comes to reading their body language and understanding what they are trying to say, we often fall short. Understanding calming and stress signals, body postures, and behavior tip-offs nose to tail will help greatly in stopping problems before they start, because knowing what you are looking for and interpreting it correctly makes working through issues easier. The key is to listen with your eyes, understand how dogs learn (through association and consequence). Be aware of your own body language in context with the environment, to what you are teaching, and to what the dog’s body language reveals about his emotional state in response to your body language. There are many books, DVDs, CDs, and YouTube videos that pro-

vide solid tutorials for pet guardians. In my opinion, the hallmark is Turid Rugaas’s books On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals, Barking: The Sound of a Language, and her Stress Escalation Ladder. Understanding that dogs learn by association and consequence is one simple concept to help stop problems before they begin. Let’s say the garbage was left out, and while you were away the dog self-rewarded by getting into it. When you walk through the door and see this, you get angry, drop your car keys on the floor and a clap of thunder shakes the walls. As a consequence, the dog’s association to you coming home from then on may be fear, worry about loud voices, dropped items and possibly a fear of thunder. In his fearful state, he may also try to avoid you. The garbage consequence was self-rewarding and tasty. The dog does not pair your anger, the keys and the thunder with getting into the garbage, because that happened over an hour ago. Guilt is not what he is experiencing. To stop this problem from occurring before it starts, apply PMS. The success of PMS is preparation and anticipation. Prevent the dog getting into the garbage by putting it away, and keeping the dog supervised in a safe, comfortable area where access is not an issue. Supervision also means providing activities, safe toys, chews, and puzzles to do when you leave the house. A stuffed Kong is the perfect item to satisfy a dog’s need to self-reward and also releases mouth tension to tire the dog.

#5. Teaching, Timing, Keeping Success Easy Break progress down into easy-to-do baby steps. Every time you are with your dog, is a time for training. Use feeding times as teaching times and walks as training walks. Any time you are with your dog is a prime time learning period. Setting up structured teaching sessions is also good, but in reality, we are always training our dogs by how we interact with them, what we let slide, what we find funny, and what we expect as manners. Being set up to teach means opportunities won’t be missed. Doing nothing teaches nothing. Being active, alert, and worth listening to has huge benefits early on. A teaching mindset, versus a punishment mindset, is important for preventing undesirable behavior. This means you are focusing on teaching the right behavior, not waiting for an undesirable behavior to start. From the beginning, teach the dog which behavior you want. For example, what do you want the dog to do instead of barking excessively? What do you want the dog to do instead of urinating in the house? Decide what you want the dog to, then start teaching and breaking things into easy to accomplish pieces. The more you teach and train, communicating with your dog becomes easier and problems are less likely to habituate. In addition, the dog will better understand what is expected, and will follow instructions and cues faster and with more confidence. #6. Socialize Properly “Properly” is the key word when socializing. Socializing a dog is preparation for real life. Teaching a solid meet/greet/treat to young dogs, and a target/touch to older dogs takes the confrontation out of meeting people. Socializing means more than just meeting people. It means seeing them in groups, with baby


Any time you are with your dog is a prime time learning period. Setting up structured teaching sessions is also good, but in reality, we are always training our dogs by how we interact with them, what we let slide, what we find funny, what we expect as manners, and being set up to teach means opportunities won’t be missed.

Photo: Diane Garrod

Problem solving puzzles make a dog use his brain and help tire him out mentally

A German shepherd puppy learns to walk on a loose leash, helping to prevent leash reactivity as he grows up

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018

Photo: Diane Garrod



body language indicates comfort or discomfort. In other words, making sure he is safe, trusting and confident. Duration means being attentive to how much the dog can endure in differing environments and contexts. Stress signals appear at the point where calming signals disappear. Distractions need to be monitored because dogs see the world differently than we do. How many distractions can your dog handle? If you know that, you can add distractions effortlessly.

#10. Work the ABCs (Antecedents, Behavior, Consequences) Watch the environment and look at it the way your dog sees it. An antecedent (A) is what precedes the outwardly visible behavior. The behavior (B) is the result of the antecedent and will vary depending on the context. The consequence (C) is what the dog gets out of the behavior. Keeping consequences positive helps the behavior we want become stronger.

A teaching mindset, versus a punishment mindset, is important for preventing undesirable behavior. This means you are focusing on teaching the right behavior, not waiting for an undesirable behavior to start.

Putting the 10 Steps to Work

Photo: Diane Garrod

Learning to walk on a harness: many behavior problems can be avoided or prevented by implementing adequate preparation

strollers, talking on cell phones, behaving erratically and more. It also means familiarizing with various types of dogs from puppies to seniors, establishing doggy friends, and watching dogs run and play, while selecting those that will have a positive influence. Dogs do not have to meet all people, nor all dogs. With dogs they should learn early that just because they see a dog, it does not mean they get to meet them every time. Being able to walk in downtown areas, into stores, into coffee shops, and to start to generalize cues into other environments makes a better canine citizen. Therapy dogs go through a variety of steps toward that end, as do service dogs and American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizens and PPG Pet Dog Ambassadors. Stopping problems before they start means asking, “Have I conditioned my dog to handle this situation?” #7. Accentuate the Positive Make it all about rewarding what the dog is doing right. Don’t miss an opportunity to notice when the dog gives an automatic behavior showing he understands what he has been taught.

#8. Stay Away from Aversives This is simple as asking, “What type of relationship do I want with my dog? One where he fears me or one where he willingly and happily partners with me?” Harming a dog in the name of training is never acceptable and should never be necessary. #9. The 3D’s (Distance, Duration, Distraction) Distance means increasing or decreasing distance as a dog’s 26

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018

Combinations of the 10 steps can be used in a number of ways. One example is house training, which might mean supervision, prevention, and enrichment. This video, Advanced puzzle solving, features a male poodle, Pogo, who reacts to dogs he sees outside and marks indoors as a result. Supervision means prevention by making use of a crate and providing enrichment in the form of an advanced puzzle. This keeps his mind busy, and the area is comfortable and provides supervision, so unwanted behavior does not occur. As a result, the marking habit is not continued (prevention). House training means anticipating when a pup will need to eliminate. The rule of thumb is after drinking water, after eating, and every two hours – at least in the early stages. This requires supervision and highly rewarding pottying outside in a specific area so it becomes more rewarding to eliminate outdoors versus indoors. If, meanwhile, you have a dog who is barking excessively, it means identifying the antecedent, providing the distraction, implementing prevention, and/or teaching the dog what else you’d like him to do. You could teach a three-bark-rule (see The Three Bark Rule, BARKS from the Guild, March 2016 pp. 38-39), or redirect and prevent the behavior, block windows by closing curtains or blinds, uses window overlays, and turn on some music for background noise. In this video, a dog learns that visitors are fun, as his guardian teaches the behavior they want, ends on success, and stays positive. Another common problem, leash reactivity, can be avoided through teaching proper leash walking, being prepared with the right equipment and technique, and proper socialization. Resource guarding, also a common issue, is a natural behavior where supervision, preparation, staying away from aversives, and knowing how to read body language will keep bad habits from developing. In this video, a dog who is nervous at dog parks


learns that meeting dogs can be fun and is a good example of rewarding the behavior you want. By now, it is clear that these 10 steps may be applied to any number of problems that may commonly arise with the family dog. All videos and photos within this article are of dogs whose owners implemented the 10 steps to stop problems before they might have started. Many of the dogs viewed already had behaviors that needed modification, yet the 10 steps were still invaluable in achieving goals and results. Can problems be stopped before they begin? Yes, in many cases. However, each dog is different and there are many layers to consider. There is no recipe, but this is a helpful set of steps to consider and implement. n References American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. (2017). Pet Statistics. Available at: Garrod, D. (2013, July 25). Advanced puzzle solving [Video file]. Available at: Garrod, D. (2014, February 8).002 [Video file]. Available at: Garrod, D. (2014, February 16). 015 [Video file]. Available at:


Garrod, D. (2016, March). The Three Bark Rule. BARKS from the Guild (17) 38-39. Available at:

Diane Garrod PCT-A CA1 BSc is a certified American Treibball Association instructor, and a judge, charter member and marketing chair for the National Association of Treibball Enthusiasts. She is also the owner of Canine Transformations ( based in Langley, Washington, where she conducts Treibball workshops, classes and private consults.

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 oneyear 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’s 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!

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018



But Does It Work?

Stephanie Rose Chamings talks all things harness, and

addresses some common misconceptions surrounding


their use, as well as the most common question of all arnesses for dogs have been around for many years now, but some common misconceptions linked to their use remain. One of the most popular is: “A harness will cause a dog to pull more because he can put his entire weight into it.” Well, I am debunking this immediately! Having fitted over 12,000 dogs to date, I have not once seen one single case where a dog’s pulling has increased after a good harness such as the Perfect Fit has been fitted. And I insist on seeing every dog walk in the harness before the deal is done! There are, of course, the dogs who continue to pull just like they did before they were fitted with the harness, but they never pull more than before. Another misconception is that a harness can damage shoulder development. This depends hugely on the design. A harness which offers full free range of front leg and shoulder movement will solve this potential issue. It is worth bearing in mind the damage that can be caused or exasperated from pressure around the neck including eye problems caused by Intraocular eye pressure, collapsed trachea, Syringomyelia, thyroid disorders, lameness and negative effects on the lymph system, blood flow and neural pathways. My last myth to address is that a harness will “damage” a dog’s coat. I love this one because the answer can seem counterintuitive. If you have a harness which is too loose, then it will move around on the body and take the coat with it, resulting in a groomer’s nightmare. If your harness is padded and sits snugly to the body in all areas, then it will stay put and prevent rubbing/matting from occurring. Now we have covered the popular myths, I want to focus on the golden question which I am faced with from nearly every client: “Will it work?” When I was first asked this question four years ago, I wondered what it could possibly mean. “Will it stop him barking?” “Will it take the kids to school?” “Will it mow the lawn?” Of course, I soon discovered that what my client really wanted to know was whether it would stop the dog from pulling. The answer is, “maybe…” Here’s the thing. There are many items of dog walking equipment on the market that can stop your dog from pulling. • A head collar. These can give you control, but ultimately your dog loses the ability to move his head freely, sniff the ground and communicate with oncoming dogs, all instinctive behaviors which are very important for his well-being. • A prong collar or choke chain. It is likely that your dog is more likely to “behave” under the risk of having metal prongs jabbed into his neck, but these tools inflict discomfort. Training in this way gives a dog no choice at all; he is complying because he is avoiding discomfort. 28

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018

Photo: Stephanie Rose Chamings

A well-fitted harness ensures a dog is comfortable, has free range of movement and the opportunity to make choices

These are just a couple of examples of the alternative devices you can use to “train” your dog. Sadly, there are many more. This can be a hard concept to grasp, but what if we were to use a piece of equipment which makes our dogs comfortable, gives them free range of movement and the opportunity to make choices? I will never forget meeting a beautiful flat coated retriever and her owner who came to see me last year. The adolescent dog, clipped to a collar, dragged her owner to my trade stand choking and gasping for breath, her eyes bloodshot and popping out of her head. The owner was close to tears, after describing every family outing or dog walk as extremely stressful and unenjoyable for both species. I was so excited to get this dog in a harness!


Photo: Stephanie Rose Chamings

When choosing a harness the way it sits on a dog’s body is the most important factor to consider

After I had swapped a few pieces of the harness around in order to get the perfect snug fit the pair went for a walk. As my colleagues and I gleefully watched on we observed a dog that took a big sigh of relief and proceeded to slowly walk alongside her owner and sniff the ground, something she was unable to do before. The body language of this dog was now relaxed and her movements were loose and fluid. At this moment the owner turned around to us and cried with joy. If I am totally honest, I shed a tear for them both too. Now, this change in body language and decrease in pulling happens in about 60 percent of cases I deal with. This is due to the dog feeling more comfortable, more relaxed, and more in balance. Some dogs may even be reassured by the thick padded snug fit that the harness offers. It is almost like the dog feels like he is off leash.

Top Tips

Now, it is a minefield out there on the frontline of the walking harness market, so here are five top tips to help you choose the best option for your dog:

Photo: Stephanie Rose Chamings

Harnesses are not a magic cure for pulling on leash and dogs still need to be trained to walk “nicely”

Photo: Stephanie Rose Chamings

It is helpful to get a puppy used to wearing a harness early on

A harness is an investment for a dog’s lifetime

Photo: Stephanie Rose Chamings

#1. Design: The way in which the harness sits on the dog’s body is the most important factor to consider. Ensure the harness is sitting on the body of the dog comfortably, avoiding vulnerable soft tissues like the neck and the abdomen (yes, some harnesses clip around the abdomen) The harness must give your dog the ability to freely move his front legs, and when he pulls forward the weight should be taken evenly through his breast plate. Avoid harnesses which pull on the neck, have straps across the dog’s front legs or are made of really thin cheese wire type material. Oh, and any harness that tightens up when the dog pulls is extremely uncomfortable. Don’t get one of those either. Have a think about whether your dog will be comfortable with something going on over his head. Most dogs are not. If this is the case, then opt for a harness which clips around the neck area first. No harness should alter your dog’s gait.

#2. Material: I like padded fleece for two reasons. Firstly, it’s soft and comfortable for the dog to wear. Secondly, it’s a three-dimensional material so it actually helps to adhere to the dog’s coat, thus preventing chafing. This material is also lightweight, machine washable and quick to dry. Stiff leather can be uncomfortable, and webbing will slip and slide on the dog’s’ body no matter how good the fit is.

#3. Front D-Ring: Ideally, look out for a harness which has a front D-ring as well as a back D-ring so you can use a double ended leash, with one end of the leash connected to the front Dring, the other end to the back D-ring. The connection on the back is the correct centre of gravity and the front can be used as a steering aid or a brake for strong pullers. Front only leading harnesses can be unbalancing for the dog. #4. Don’t Scrimp!: Okay, so not everybody can afford to buy an expensive harness, I get that. However, if you are trying to get away with spending $5 at your local pet store, then here is what I want you to consider: Your dog is going to be wearing this harness BARKS from the Guild/January 2018



No harness can be a guaranteed magic cure. Dogs are not born into this world with the innate ability to walk alongside us. Their natural pace is quicker than ours and often their enthusiasm to get to their destination is just too strong, but if you can start by making your dog comfortable and safe he will be in a better position to learn.

at least once, if not twice a day. Ideally, at least one hour per day. That is 365 hours a year over a very conservative average life span of 10 years. That makes 3,650 hours worth of wear! Investing up to $50 on this necessity doesn’t seem much now, does it? The same applies to puppies. They are never too young to wear a harness. In fact, it is even more important to use a comfortable and safe harness when a puppy is physically and mentally developing. Those early days are the most important. You have a comfortable set of walking boots or trainers to wear when you and your pooch go walking because your comfort is important, so provide your buddy with the same comfort.

#5. Teach Your Dog to Walk Nicely: Please don’t buy a harness with the assumption that it will be the solution to all your dog’s pulling problems. If you want your dog to walk with a loose leash, then you need to teach him to walk next to you using reward-based training methods. Find a positive force-free dog trainer or behavior consultant to help you. Remember, if you wouldn’t like to wear it yourself, don’t put it on your dog. In many cases, a good quality harness will decrease and even stop pulling altogether, but the key to success ultimately lies in training. No harness can be a guaranteed magic cure. Dogs are not born into this world with the innate ability to walk alongside us. Their natural pace is quicker than ours and often their enthusiasm to get to their destination is just too strong, but if you can start by making your dog comfortable and safe he will be in a better position to learn. Once you have trained your dog and he reliably walks on a loose leash, it can be tempting to revert back to a collar. But why bother? Accidents, such as slipping over and unintentionally yanking on your dog’s neck, or being caught off guard by the squirrel running across the road, can happen. Investing in a good quality harness can significantly better the welfare of your dog mentally and physically, and will be the best tool you can use for your walks alongside positive training. n

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BARKS from the Guild/January 2018

Photo: Julie Morrish Photography

According to author Stephanie Rose Chamings, once a dog is wearing a correctly fitted harness, she sees a change in body language and a decrease in pulling in about 60 percent of the cases she deals with

Stephanie Rose Chamings started out working for Dog Games Ltd. ( in the UK and began studying with the International School of Canine Psychology, which is when she became a passionate harness advocate, having attended shows and observed many uncomfortable, stressed dogs wearing ill-fitting equipment. She now manages all Dog Games events and fits thousands of dogs a year, and also visits behavior consultants, vets, rescues, groomers, day care centers and shops to educate people on the health and behavioral benefits of the Perfect Fit harness. She also presents on the pros and cons of various harnesses, and attends puppy classes to talk about the benefits of harnesses for puppies. She also does one-to-one consults alongside Emma Judson at Canine Consultant (

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A Dog’s World

Anna Francesca Bradley discusses canine perceptual


abilities and the impact these might have on behavior any times I am asked, “How well can my dog see or hear?” I think most owners have a fascination with the amazing perceptual abilities of their dog, but might not always consider what impact these abilities have on the dog’s behavior, training and motivational drive. The relationship between these two aspects is something I will explore in this article.

Visual Acuity: Color or Black and White?

Many people assume that dogs are completely color blind. This is not actually the case, but in contrast to our vision, their ability to perceive color is certainly limited. In the eye, the retina contains two types of photoreceptors – rods and cones, cones being responsible for color perception. In contrast to the human eye, which has three color detecting cones (blue, green, red), dogs only have two types, meaning that color perception is more limited. Canine vision is termed bichromatic, as opposed to humans’, which is trichromatic.

What Can Dogs Actually See?

As bichromats, dogs are likely to perceive the world in variants of yellow and bluish grey, and because they lack the numbers of color receptors that we have, are likely to find it difficult to distinguish between colors such as red and green. Interestingly, it is thought that the ability to distinguish red from green was lost with evolution (Abrantes, 2014), while bichromatic vision, as a favorable ability to distinguish colors in low light, especially in nocturnal animals, remained (Abrantes, 2014).

Seeing in the Dark

Unlike us, dogs have excellent vision in subdued light due to specific adaptations (Bubna-Littitz, 2000). Dogs’ eyes have a much larger pupil to let in light and also a greater number of light sensitive cells or rods which react to dimmer light. The greatest adaptation is the tapetum lucidum. This is what gives the dog’s eye that “spooky” glow in the dark or on photos. This structure reflects light back to the retina and vastly improves vision in dim light (University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2007).


The canine eye is designed to respond to and detect movement. It lacks a fovea (small retinal indentation filled with cones) and has an abundance of rods, making it concentrate on movement rather than minute detail.

Visual Field

Due to the placement of a dog’s eyes towards the side of the head, their visual field is enhanced – 250 degrees as opposed to 190 degrees in humans (Kirsten, 2009). As breeds have evolved

© Can Stock Photo/marinini

A dog’s eyes are designed to respond to and detect movement and their visual field is wider than that of humans’, although their ability to perceive color is more limited

and artificial selection has refined those breeds, so perception has changed. Take for example shorter nosed breeds, such as pugs, which may have a smaller field of vision than longer nosed dogs, such as German shepherds or Labradors.

Implications for Dog Owners To serve our dogs better, we can internalize these perceptual facts into our training plans and use them to better understand our dogs’ behavior. Maybe we could avoid choosing toys in variants of reds and green since it is more difficult for our dogs to perceive those colors. Perhaps if you are trying to teach your dog to retrieve and you are using a dummy or toy in variants of green or red and she is not succeeding, it is actually because she cannot determine the difference between the colors, not because she is “unintelligent” or “not listening.” Think about what happens when you walk your dog at night. Does he suddenly start barking, pulling to get somewhere? You may not see something, but remember his nocturnal vision is more developed than yours. There likely is something out there. You just cannot see it. With the greater ability to detect movement, it is no wonder your dog can detect squirrels, birds or even that other dog on the television! He is super sensitive to flicker and motion so don’t be cross with him for engaging in an instinctive ability (more honed in some breeds than others). Does your dog spot things before you do? Remember, you only look forwards. Your dog has a much more enhanced visual field, meaning that he can also see a much wider aspect. Combined with his abilBARKS from the Guild/January 2018



ity to detect movement and see in subdued light, it is no wonder he is quicker than you to react!

Auditory Perception

I think most owners will recognize the fact that their dogs have a pretty good sense of hearing – especially when it comes to rattling the treat jar! Dogs’ hearing is actually remarkable. Not only can they perceive sounds across a frequency spectrum, but they can actually pinpoint the exact sound source and discriminate between auditory signals (Wells, 2009). Of course, the mobility of the dog’s ear, which in many breeds can also prick up, enables him to detect sound even better, somewhere in the spectrum of 67-45000 hertz in comparison to 64-23000 hertz compared to us. Dogs are also able to detect very low frequencies at 15 CPS and ultrasound – both imperceptible to humans (Lindsay, 2000).

Implications for Dog Owners Firstly, understand the acuity of a dog’s hearing. If a dog is aroused by something and reacts, apparently for no reason, she has definitely heard something. That stimulus may be imperceptible to you but it has been audible to your dog and enough to cause her to react, so don’t get cross. Try instead to understand the reasoning behind the behavior and act accordingly. Also, be aware of the impact sound has on your dog. Some sounds are harmful to her super sensitive ears. Some dogs, for example, don’t enjoy car travel due to the heavy bass on car radios. Be mindful of environmental noise if you have an anxious dog, and remember that although you might not consider noise levels to be especially bothersome, they may be to your dog. Try not to lose patience if your dog does not appreciate a particular household noise. He may simply be experiencing it in a very different way than you.

Perhaps if you are trying to teach your dog to retrieve and you are using a dummy or toy in variants of green or red and she is not succeeding, it is actually because she cannot determine the difference between the colors, not because she is “unintelligent” or “not listening.”

Olfactory Perception

Dinner time will probably give you clues as to how well developed this sense is! Olfactory senses are 10,000-100,000 more acute than humans’ (Wells, 2009) and there are an estimated 125 million plus sensory cells in a dog’s nasal cavity compared with 5-10 million in humans’ (Kidd, 2016). Furthermore, the canine brain has approximately one third of its area devoted to olfactory cells (Kidd, 2016). All in all, that’s a lot of work going into sniffing. Dogs also have an additional sniffing organ - the vomeronasal organ, an auxiliary olfactory organ (absent in humans) which lies close to the nasal bone, which primarily detects pheromone information regarding status and reproductive state in other dogs (Lindsay, 2000). Implications for Dog Owners Have you ever been frustrated by your dog sniffing endlessly on walks? Of course, this can become a little tedious but it is simply “nose overdrive.” Imagine all that nose info when you are walking in the park, who has been there, the age of the dog, their repro32

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018

© Can Stock Photo/Colecanstock

The canine brain has approximately one third of its area devoted to olfactory cells; no wonder, then, that sniffing is such an important activity for dogs

ductive status, their gender etc. All this information your dog will derive with one simple sniff. It is all normal and part of his walk, so let him, and try not to be frustrated by it. Dogs also derive this information from sniffing other dogs’ feces and urine and scent glands. Maybe this is not the nicest thing for us but it is totally normal. Do you have an entire dog that has problems with focus? It can be especially difficult for uncastrated individuals if there are female dogs in heat somewhere in the vicinity. In any case, when training, if your dog is very distracted, think about where you are. Remember that although there may be no visual distractions, the terrain may simply be too much for your dog to cope with, especially for certain breed groups.

Taste Perception

Nowadays there are is a huge variety of food and treats available in a seemingly infinite amount of flavors, but how good actually is a dog’s sense of taste? The ability to taste depends upon the number of taste buds. Humans have a much greater number of taste buds than dogs, around 9,000 to 1,700 (Coren, 2011). Humans also have four recognized tastes; sweet, salt, sour, bitter, yet evolution determined that dogs, being carnivores, already had enough salt present in their diet and so salt craving in dogs did not develop (Coren, 2011). Dogs have specific taste receptors for meats and for water. The latter is found right at the tip of the tongue that he curls to lap. This area becomes more sensitive to the taste of water if the dog ingests salty or sugary foods. All bitter tasting foods are strongly disliked, hence why sprays are developed for puppy chewing. The problem is that bitter detecting taste buds are located near the rear of the tongue, meaning that if the dog simply licks the coated substance, he will not detect it – only a prolonged chew will register! Implications for Dog Owners The ability to taste so many rich and vivid tastes is due to the fact humans have a superior number of taste buds. It is unlikely that dogs taste their food in the same way that we do and can determine the difference between chicken and cranberry dinners or

Try not to lose patience if your dog does not appreciate a particular household noise. He may simply be experiencing it in a very different way than you.

roast beef, venison and vegetables. Choosing such meals, therefore, may be our choice rather than theirs.

Touch Perception

Touch perception is sometimes, I think, overlooked or under appreciated. Whilst humans respond to many touch sensations, dogs respond mainly to four: pressure, temperature, pain and proprioception. The face is super sensitive. The follicles at the base of the whiskers send sensory information to the brain regarding the distance of nearby objects, vibrations in the air and even how a dog is feeling. When challenged, dogs often point whiskers forward, thought to be a subtle constituent of a defensive strategy (Palermo, 2014).

Implications for Dog Owners Be careful with feet as they are sensitive, especially in between the pads. Your dog might jump when you towel dry them simply because it is uncomfortable, not because he is “being awkward.” Remember, too, with training practices, your dog feels pressure. There is no need to “body mold” him into position. This is extremely constraining and can make him feel very uncomfortable, particularly with anxious dogs. Harsh training techniques, it goes without saying, will cause pain. The most common include slip leads or collars high up on the neck, collar jerks, aversive devices such a prong, choke and shock collars, as well as so called “alpha” and/or “dominance” type techniques. Just because your dog does not yelp in


pain does not mean it doesn’t hurt or cause the dog to become more fearful and potentially resort to aggressive behavior. As if we didn’t know already, our dogs are wonderful creatures with amazing perceptual abilities. In the next issue I will take a look at how perception is influenced by breed, and how dogs themselves perceive each other. n References

Abrantes, R. (2014). The Dog’s Color Vision and What It Means for Our Training. Available at: Bubna-Littitz, H. (2000). In: P. Jensen (Ed), The Behavioural Biology of Dogs. Wallingford, UK: CABI 91- 103. Clancy, M. (2017). Can dogs see color or in the dark? Available at: Coren, S. (2011, April 19). How Good Is Your Dog’s Sense of Taste? Available at: Kidd, R. (2016). Sniffing out the source of our dogs' remarkable ability to smell. Available at: Lindsay, S.R. (2000). Handbook of Applied Dog Training and Behavior Vol. 1. Iowa City, IA: Iowa State University Press/John Wiley & Sons Palermo, E. (2014). Why do dogs have whiskers? Available at: Service Dog Central/Kirsten. (2009). How well do dogs see? Available at: University of Wisconsin-Madison. (2007). How well do dogs see at night? Available at: Wells, D.L. (2009). Behavior of Dogs. In: P. Jensen (Ed), Ethology of Domestic Animals. Wallingford, UK: CABI 192-201 Anna Francesca Bradley MSc BSc (Hons) is a UK-based provisional clinical and Animal Behaviour and Training Council accredited animal behaviorist. She owns Perfect Pawz! Training and Behaviour Practice ( where her aim is to create and restore happy relationships between dog and owner using methods based upon sound scientific principles which are force-free and fun.


A Life Full of Learning

Rachel Lane relates the tale of Dustin, two days from euthanasia at the shelter where

he had not “done well” in his temperament test and was considered a “difficult” dog,


his rise to earning Rally and trick dog titles, and many more accolades n June 16, 2012, I walked into an Animal Care Center (ACC) of New York City determined to adopt a dog. I had three criteria the dog needed to meet: he had to be under 25 pounds (building rules), he could not require hours of exercise a day (as a broke and busy college student, I knew long strolls in the park would not happen daily), and I wanted to be able to teach him tricks (just for fun). I walked into ACC unsure of what to expect. My cousin accompanied me and we headed upstairs and began to look around. As we rounded the corner, we came across Scotty, an overgrown, dirty, little terrier mix, whom my sister had shown me online earlier. I had ruled him out, as he was not what I was looking for. At the time, Scotty was the only available small dog at the shelter and also only had a couple days left before being euthanized, so I decided to get some more information. We asked one of the volunteers to take him out of the kennel. The volunteer explained that Scotty had not done well on his temperament tests and did not like kids, dogs, or strangers. He also told us that we only had a couple minutes to make our decision as the shelter was about to close. The volunteer proceeded to take Scotty out of the kennel. There was another dog at the shelter barking at Scotty, and each time the larger dog barked, Scotty would flinch. He was avoiding me, my cousin, and the shelter volunteer. His tail was down and his eyes averted. As I stood there thinking about whether I wanted to pursue adoption, a second volunteer approached. He bent over Scotty and Scotty jumped up in delight, his tail no longer between his legs but wagging as he gave the volunteer kisses. Watching Scotty interact with this other volunteer, I became much more comfortable with the idea of adopting him. Although the first volunteer said Scotty was scared of people, his behavior showed me that he is fine with people once he gets to know them. After about 90 seconds of interaction, I decided to fill out an application and pursue adopting Scotty. I walked over to the counter to hand in my application. The lady behind the counter barely looked at me. She flipped through the paperwork with her lips pursed. “So, you’re only 20. Whom do you live with?” “I live by myself.” “You must have lots of nieces, nephews, and siblings running around all the time. He doesn’t like kids.” “I live alone, my family lives in Massachusetts. I never have any kids over.” “I hate adopting out these little dogs. People think because they’re cute, they’re easy. I like adopting out the pit bulls better.” Luckily, my cousin stepped in, assuring the lady that Scotty 34

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018

Photo: Rachel Lane

Dustin was scared of many things at first, including city streets, loud noises, men in hoodies, bikes, and prolonged eye contact

would have a great life with me and all of his needs would be taken care of. The lady behind the counter begrudgingly signed the paperwork and instructed me to come back to pick him up in a couple days, once he had been neutered. I headed home elated. The next day, I did all the typical, predog welcome home things people do. I bought a bed, toys, treats, and food. After much deliberation, I changed Scotty’s name to Dustin. I made a list of house rules, which included things like: Dustin gets a Kong every time he goes in his crate or bag; Dustin has to be in his crate when I am either asleep or not home; and Dustin does not get to eat food off of my plate or be on the furniture until he has learned to get off when asked. On June 19, 2012, then, I headed back to ACC to pick up Dustin. I agonizingly waited for hours, new leash and collar in hand. Wearing a cone and a little dazed from his surgery, he was still unsure of me. Nevertheless, we jumped in a taxi and headed home for our new life, full of learning together. The next morning, I headed off to work, leaving Dustin in my

We have had a lot of challenges to overcome and have worked incredibly hard to do so. Things have not always gone according to plan. I have been mad at him, I have been embarrassed by him and I have cried over his behavior. However, I have never resolved those feelings by yelling at him, physically correcting him, or scaring him.

bedroom with some wee-wee pads, water, and a toy. I returned home a few hours later and saw that he had urinated in my room. I expected accidents, so I didn’t mind; he, however, was terrified! When he saw me notice the accident, he ran under my bed shaking. I told him it was okay and tossed him some treats. He ended up spending a while under there until I convinced him to go for a walk. In the next few days, we learned a lot about each other. I learned that Dustin’s safe space is under my bed. I also learned that he did not like to be touched. If you touched him, he would turn around, startled, and would put his mouth on you. However, he would never apply any pressure or leave a mark. I have always marveled at his remarkable bite inhibition and it is something that I am extremely grateful for. Dustin was scared of many things (for example, the refrigerator, and any sort of extreme emotions on my part, such as being too angry, excited or upset). He was scared any time he made a mess inside my apartment, like urinating or vomiting. I learned that he was happy and content in his crate; liked squishy treats, but not biscuits; and that he was potty-trained, and not destructive. He would play with his toys for hours and he was a little cuddle bug at night on the couch. I also learned that as much as Dustin loved going out for walks, the city streets were very stressful for him. Loose leash walking was a nightmare. He practically walked on his back two legs when we were outside. He flinched whenever he heard a loud noise, and was afraid of men wearing hoodies and children playing. He also struggled with walking at night, barking at almost every moving object.

Photo: Rachel Lane

Dustin’s first night in his new home, where hiding under the bed became his safe place


In addition, I learned that he wasn’t very “into” training. He reluctantly took treats from me and avoided direct or prolonged eye contact. But I wanted a dog I could teach tricks to, so we slowly started with that. He learned “paw” before he learned his name. I looked up videos on YouTube for instructions and inspiration. He learned things like jumping onto objects, covering his eyes, crawling, and weaving through my legs.

Developing Confidence

I am grateful that the first venture into training that Dustin and I had together was trick training. We tried out new things together, learned together, and began trusting one another. We had fun and Dustin developed confidence, cooperation, and good listening habits. When I finally began teaching him all the basic cues, he already knew how to learn, and I had already learned how best to teach him. When we made training mistakes, it was on fun things during trick training, not on important things like “stay” and “come.” Through our trick training, Dustin earned his Champion Trick Dog title with Do More with Your Dog and his Trick Dog Performer title with the American Kennel Club (AKC). In December 2014, Dustin had surgery on his eyes to correct a torn retina and remove cataracts. He was in a cone for quite some time and we had to find something that he was allowed to do that did not involve any running. A fellow dog trainer and good friend of mine suggested to me that we try Rally. Dustin already knew a lot of the foundation skills needed for Rally and took to it quickly. Soon he was heeling beautifully, his tail wagging, and face smiling all the way. We took rally classes for a little less than a year before we started competing in trials. Dustin has had great success, achieving his Level 1 Award of Excellence, Level 2 Award of Excellence, Level 1 Championship, Level 2 Championship, Rally Champion (ARCH) and Rally Champion Excellent (ARCHX) with WCRL. In AKC, Dustin has earned his Novice Rally title and qualified for the national championship. Each time we step into the ring, I take a few seconds to prepare ourselves. I give Dustin his favorite rear end scratches, ask him if he’s ready and to do the best he can do. And he certainly

Photo: Rachel Lane

Dustin (left) with his best friend, Charlie, yet the shelter temperament test had shown he did not like other dogs

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018



does. He works hard and does the best he can during every run regardless of what else is going on. For example, there might be a loud distracting noise, or a scary-looking dog. To me, it is not about the ribbons nor accomplishments, but it is about spending time with my boy and having fun. We often get compliments from judges on how happy Dustin looks when he is heeling alongside my left leg and looking up smiling at me. Those types of compliments and Dustin’s smile are worth more than any ribbon or award. Outside of tricks and Rally, Dustin has had various other accomplishments, including a role in a film titled Introducing Parker Dowd, and the role of Sandy in a professional children’s theater production of Annie. He also passed his Canine Good Citizen test and will begin doing trials in nosework soon. He is also two-thirds of the way towards a title in Canine Musical Freestyle. Through all of the training we have done, Dustin has transformed into an excellent student, and, more importantly, is a happy little dog. Reflecting on the journey we have had together, I think what has allowed us to be successful is that I have always accepted him for who he is. I never have any preconceived notions for how he should behave or who he should be. It is not that everything has always gone smoothly, nor was Dustin’s behavior magically fixed with love. We have had a lot of challenges to overcome and have worked incredibly hard to do so. Things have not always gone according to plan. I have been mad at him, I have been embarrassed by him, and I have cried over his behavior. However, I have never resolved those feelings by yelling at him, physically correcting him, or scaring him. When there is an issue, I have taken the time that I need to recover, come up with a new plan, and moved on. By allowing Dustin to be who he is, I have given him the greatest gift that you can give anyone, in my opinion – the gift of being able to become the best version of himself that he could ever be. n

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Once on a New York shelter’s euthanasia list, since adoption Dustin has gone on to achieve Rally and Trick Dog Titles, passed his Canine Good Citizen and the Birch Odor Recognition Test, and is on his way to completing a title in Canine Musical Freestyle

Photo: Rachel Lane

Rachel Lane is a CPDT-KA and also has a certificate in applied animal behavior through the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. Rachel runs her own dog training company, Leash and Learn ( in New York City, servicing private clients throughout Manhattan with a variety of training needs.


To Be a Little “More Dog” Julie Naismith wonders whether we are witnessing


an anxiety epidemic in our pet dogs and what

we can do to alleviate this common problem hile it may seem that our species becomes more anxious with every decade, levels of self-reported anxiety have not, in fact, gone up. Statistically, we are no more likely to say we are anxious now than we were in the past. However, we are reporting more symptoms of anxiety (Twenge, 2017), so it is not a matter of increasing awareness. Rather, anxiety itself is more prevalent. Some trainers say the same about dogs, and believe that canine anxiety is on the rise. While in theory the argument seems plausible, in reality, no one knows. We do not have enough historical data on canine anxiety to tease out a trend. We do know, however, that pet dog anxiety is a problem. Large numbers of dogs suffer from it. A study by Bamberger and Houpt (2006) looked at 1,644 case files from 1991-2001. They revealed that 14.4 percent of the dogs studied had separation anxiety and 5.7 percent had generalized anxiety. Luckily, we have many options for helping our anxious dogs and will explore these in this article. First, though, we need to unpack what we mean by anxiety, starting by looking at anxiety’s accomplice, fear.

The Relationship between Fear and Anxiety

If anxiety is a modern malaise, fear has always been with us. Organisms that are good at spotting threats stay alive longer than those that are not. Threat-scanning organisms get to pass on their genes, while organisms which are not alert to threats, don’t survive. Fear, then, wins out in the genes war, and mammals evolve with a propensity to a fearful brain. Where, though, does fear stop and anxiety begin? Some neuroscientists argue fear is a response to a known threat, and position anxiety as a more generalized reaction to an unclear, unknown threat, adding that there is a sense of lack of control which accompanies anxiety. An anxious subject focuses on hazy future dangers and does not have a clear response. The fearful subject, on the other hand, is face-to-face with the threat, and can determine an immediate action. With people, it is easier to distinguish fear from anxiety. Humans can tell us whether they fear an immediate danger, or whether they are anxious about something in the future they cannot quite put their finger on. But we cannot do this with dogs. Take separation anxiety. Does the dog see an immediate threat when his owners leave? Or does the dog have a sense of foreboding of unknown dangers? We could surmise the latter. Alternatively, it could be that the dog does see a threat to his survival as soon as the door closes. No one knows. In the end, the way we train fearful dogs does not differ from

how we train anxious dogs. We use gradual exposure and pair the stimulus with positive associations. We also use the same medications. Vets prescribe fluoxetine for separation anxiety, as well as for dogs who are fearful of strangers or other dogs. Whether it is fear or anxiety, we need to help dogs feel © Can Stock Photo/IvonneWierink better about their world. While some experts believe canine anxiety Why might modern life be is on the rise, there is insufficient data to raising our dogs anxiety levels? indicate a trend; nevertheless anxiety in Numerous studies highlight the dogs is a common issue danger of suppressing normal behaviors in captive animals. Dogs, too, have natural behaviors which need an outlet. Unfortunately, many of the behaviors that are normal for dogs are things we don’t necessarily want them to do. As Donaldson (1996) states: “Virtually all natural dog behaviors…are considered by humans to be behavior problems. The rules that seem so obvious to us make absolutely no sense to dogs.” What’s more, not only may we try to stop them from conducting their natural dog behaviors, we may also control every other detail of their lives. This can include telling them what and when they can eat, when and where they can eliminate, what time they go to the park, what they play when they get there, and how long they are there for. Then, when they get home, we dictate where they sleep, how many cuddles we give them, and when they get nail trims. We make the decisions. We call the shots. If there was ever any question about who is in charge, the dog is in no doubt. Dogs do not need to be brutalized with an alpha roll to get that. As Bekoff (2017) explains, dogs are “always trying to adapt to a human-oriented/dominated world in which their wants and needs are secondary to those of their owner and other humans.” Our pet dogs may be well fed, warm, and safe from predators and disease. But, according to Donaldson (1996), this is not enough: “Many dogs are pretty much warehoused. They are fed, sheltered, loved and given veterinary care but get way too little exercise and way too little mental stimulation.” Veterinary beBARKS from the Guild/January 2018



Photo: Susan Nilson

Food toys and puzzles are a simple and common way to provide greater environmental enrichment for our dogs, but there are many other options for increasing mental stimulation

haviorist Debra Horwitz (2014) adds: “The inability to express most normal dog behaviors and have their mental and physical needs met can cause anxiety in our companion.” Simply put, we are not always allowing our dogs to relieve anxiety and stress in their own way. If modern life unhinges dogs, one of the reasons may well be that they are not always given outlets for their “doggishness.”

Are “Street Dogs” Happier?

If our “killing them with kindness” approach risks failing our canine companions, do street dogs have it better? Some would say this is the case, and that these dogs do not have the psychological problems some of our pet dogs do. Let’s get real for a moment. Being a warehoused dog is tough, but so is fighting for your survival on a daily basis. I discussed this with Linda Green, who runs Unidos Para Los Animales rescue in Antigua, Guatemala. She and her team take many dogs off the street. Says Green: “Most dogs come to us in pretty poor shape. Many have been roaming on their own for a good while; some are recent dumpees. Watching them in areas they congregate, like the market, is so interesting. Their body language is exquisite. They get much more mental stimulation than most pet dogs, but Lord, they face so many dangers and challenges.” Life on the streets would not appear to be any better then, but we can learn something from the mental stimulation aspect Green mentions.

Tackling Anxiety in Our Pet Dogs

As dog owners, we owe it to our dogs, who may be bored or stressed, to give them outlets so they can engage in normal dog behavior the same way street dogs do. If they can do this, then they have the best of both worlds. Here’s how. 1. Enhance their enrichment. Many dog owners make a lot of effort with their dogs, but just assume for a moment he is not getting enough mental stimulation. Look for ways to build more enrichment into his day. Exer38

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018

Photo: Susan Nilson

Typical dog behaviors, such as digging, are often the ones pet owners would prefer to discourage, yet not having an outlet for these behaviors can be a source of stress

cise, games, dog sports, and puzzle feeders are the obvious ones many of us can tick off the list, but conjure up other opportunities too. If the dog enjoys it, you can include trips to the store, having people round, having friends taking them out, brain games – the list is endless. Take training, too. Training is an excellent way to engage with your dog and provide mental stimulation. If you train with an incremental plan, adhere to clear push/drop/stick rules, and use tasty rewards, training becomes a fun, enriching activity. It is all tricks to dogs. Choice also adds to enrichment. Give dogs choice over who they want to play with, which strangers they are happy to have pet them, which toy they want to play with, and even which treat they want to train with today – and let them say “no.”

2. Don’t worry about how much is too much. Worry instead about how much is enough. I often hear the charge that enrichment activities make things worse for dogs, for example, that “fetch-heads” are more stressed by a game of ball than by not playing ball. But there is no evidence to back this up and the limited research on the topic is inconclusive. We do know that zoo animals have more behavioral and health issues when they don’t get to do the things they were born to do. Few, if any, pet dogs are going to suffer from too much enrichment, especially if they have the choice to engage or not. 3. Accept that Animal Planet plays out in your living room. Is our need to have well-behaved dogs impacting their welfare? Is it possible to mold them without trampling on their needs? Yes, it is. We can have a well-behaved dog who also gets to be a dog. This may mean a bit more accepting and a bit less suppressing. Remember, many of the things people want dogs to stop (e.g. digging, chewing, barking) are the normal behaviors of dogs being dogs. 4. Understand what makes them fearful and anxious. Help your dog get over his fears by identifying the triggers and

agreeing to not expose him to them, wherever possible. For example, don’t let strangers approach shy dogs, or don’t let tiny dogs get bowled over by big dogs. See what you can do to make vet visits less worrisome. Teach your dog how to love nail clipping (see When Slowly Is Faster, BARKS from the Guild, May 2017, pp. 27-29), and don’t leave him for longer than he can cope with. Have a pact that you will do what you can to keep the dog away from whatever frightens him, then use gradual exposure and counterconditioning to help him overcome his fears.

5. If a behavior stresses us, don’t assume it is stressing the dog. There seems to be much chatter about overexcited dogs. Dogs who jump, run, “zoomie,” chase or engage in whatever dog-like activity causes concern for some. Somehow, the idea has evolved that doing nothing may be a way for dogs to avoid anxiety, but is the anxiety ours? Maybe these high-octane “dogs just being dogs” are just stressing us out. Zoomies, or Frenetic Random Activity Periods (FRAPs), top the list of contentious behaviors. As with fetch, there is no evidence FRAPs are causing anxious dogs. And dogs love to zoom. Says Bekoff (2017): “If they didn’t [love zoomies], it's highly likely they wouldn't engage in them. Zoomies are surely part of what it’s like to be a dog.”

6. Focus on what we do know about the causes of anxiety and don’t let speculation spellbind you. If we addressed but a fraction of the factors that we know cause anxiety in dogs, we’d transform their lives. But in dog training, as in life, shiny new ideas love to distract us. Take “thwarting” as a cause of anxiety. It is captivating and sparkly, and worries many trainers. Some question the ethics of training in which the dog can get it wrong and are concerned about timeouts. Puzzle feeders bother them too because they might be too challenging. However, thwarting is inevitable. We thwart dogs all day, every day. We put leashes on, close cookie cupboards, stop rubs and scratches, end training sessions, close doors and fence yards. When we go to work we thwart the dog’s significant need for human company. If we go back to the life of the street dog, we see thwarting at every turn. Prey that runs away, locks on dumpsters, or doors to inviting places slammed shut. In my opinion, we should not obsess about thwarting our pet dogs. Instead, let’s give them fun, varied and enriching activities. Some of those might themselves be thwarting. After all, where’s the thrill of the chase if the squirrel doesn’t thwart the dog by running up the tree?


Is our need to have well-behaved dogs impacting their welfare? Is it possible to mold them without trampling on their needs? Yes, it is. We can have a well-behaved dog who also gets to be a dog. This may mean a bit more accepting and a bit less suppressing. Remember, many of the things people want dogs to stop (e.g. digging, chewing, barking) are the normal behaviors of dogs being dogs. References

Bamberger, M, & Houpt, K. A. (2006, November). Signalment factors, comorbidity, and trends in behavior diagnoses in dogs: 1,644 cases (1991-2001). Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (229) 10 1591-1601. Available at: Bekoff, M. (2017, August). Companion Animals Need Much More Than We Give Them. Psychology Today. Available at: Bekoff, M. (2017, September). It's OK For Dogs to Engage in Zoomies and Enjoy FRAPs. Psychology Today. Available at: Donaldson, J. (1996). The Culture Clash. Wenatchee, WA: The Academy for Dog Trainers Horwitz, D. (2014). Anxiety in Dogs: The Silent Epidemic. Available at: Twenge, J. (2017). iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood – and What That Means for the Rest of Us. New York, NY: Atria Paperback


Walker, A. (2017, May). When Slowly Is Faster. BARKS from the Guild (24) 27-29. Available at:

Julie Naismith is CEO and Founder of SubThreshold™ ( and a self-confessed separation anxiety geek. When her dog, Percy, developed separation anxiety she was determined to cut through the swathes of incorrect advice to find how to fix it. Having successfully resolved his separation anxiety, she founded SubThreshold Training™ with the vision of pioneering treatment for separation anxiety. Prior to SubThreshold, she apprenticed with Jean Donaldson, graduated with honors from Donaldson’s Academy for Dog Trainers (CTC) and is a Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer (CSAT), having studied with Malena DeMartini’s separation anxiety program. Naismith works solely with separation anxiety cases, and is a member of PPG’s Shelter and Rescue Division.

Which Way Would Our Dogs Vote?

I would argue that modern domestication is failing our dogs and that being fed and sheltered is not always enough. However, we can remedy this. Most of the things listed in this article are easy and cheap to do, with a little extra effort. If our dogs could talk, they might tell us how grateful they are for what we do give them. But they might also add, could we sometimes let them be a little more dog? n BARKS from the Guild/January 2018



The World of Wolfdogs In the first of a two-part article, Sam Redmond outlines the rise of the

wolfdog in popularity, and explains the differences between wolfdogs,

hybrids, and high-, medium- and low-content animals


Within the wolfdog community, animals are generally separated into high-, medium- and low-content

olfdogs have only been legal as pets in the United Kingdom for about a decade, and, during those years, a number of misconceptions and myths have arisen about them. As a result, many of us involved with them have noticed confusion in the wider dog community. The media would virtually have us believe that they are out to eat us for dinner. However, like many large and/or strong breeds, the media representation is far from the truth. By and large, a wolfdog is more likely to give you a friendly lick, or, if worried, run away from you. Wolfdogs are not as unpredictable or “dangerous” as people are led to believe, nor are they actually wolves, but are recognized as being dogs. Like many breeds, there are issues with some breeders and breeding lines, and there are specific crosses that can be a problem, but I will talk more about that in the second part of this article. The increasing popularity of wolfdogs is largely due to the popular television series, Game of Thrones, which used northern Inuit dogs in the first season and then moved to wolfdogs. Sometimes people have a desire to go back to a dog that more resembles its wild relatives and ancestors. Wolfdog owners are drawn to the animals’ majestic qualities and their smooth floaty gait. And of course, there is no denying their incredible looks, with eyes that penetrate deep into your soul. Many owners find them addictive, and once they have 40

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018

Photo: DZImages

one, cannot stop. It is not unusual for wolfdog owners to have groups of up to seven, eight or even more dogs. As wolfdogs increase in popularity, then, there is a high chance that sooner or later we will start seeing them in our professional practices, so it is important to understand the definitions as they exist, and what types of wolfdog there are. First of all, there are distinctions to be made between the terminology in the United States and the U.K. Wolfdogs are a lot more common in the U.S., largely because people often have much more space. As such, the Americans and the British may perceive wolfdogs quite differently. In Britain we may be more inclined to regard them somewhat suspiciously with an element of worry, whereas in the U.S. they are more likely to be seen as “just another dog.” I am asked all the time, “What is the difference between a wolf hybrid and a wolfdog?” Before answering this, it is important to understand that the definitions vary according to who you are talking to and where they come from. I remember sitting round a table with a number of wolf experts and getting confused as they all talked about wolfdogs. I asked them all to define what they meant by the term “hybrid” and each one had a different interpretation of it. The generally held view is that a hybrid is the first cross between a wolf and a dog. There are those who will refer to any wolfdog as a

hybrid and there are those that will refer to first, second and third generations only as a hybrid. For the majority, and for the purposes of this article, when I use the word hybrid, I mean the first crossing. The last known first generation crossings between wolves and dogs was in Europe between the 1930s-1960s, forming the foundation of the Saarloos wolfhound, now recognized as a breed of dog by the Federation Cynologique Internationale, and the Czechoslovakian wolfdog (CSV). There have been no recorded or verified first-generation crosses since then. The legal situation in Britain is that first, second and third crosses must be licensed as potentially dangerous wild animals and accommodated in zoos and sanctuaries. Of course, there is a dark side to this and a black market does exist. In the U.K., we are open to animals being smuggled in from Europe although, to date, those have been few and far between. The wolfdog community in the U.K. is small and tight; everyone knows which dog is where, and as far as we know, there are none on the pet market at present. What we do have in the U.K. is certain unscrupulous breeders selling northern breeds (e.g. huskies, malamutes, and northern Inuits) crossed with CSVs or the Saarloos with CSVs and telling prospective buyers they are buying a wolf hybrid. Unfortunately, this is commonplace and they command large sums of money. Therefore, you may have a pet owner telling you they have a wolf hybrid – because that is what the breeder has told them. In reality, the likelihood is that they have some kind of wolfdog cross. If they did indeed have a first generation wolf crossed with a dog and it was in the public domain and unlicensed, they would be breaking the law! A number of these dogs have ended up in so called sanctuaries and are used for “predator” experiences or “wolf walks.” Some people may tell you their animal is licensed under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act, whereby licenses are issued by a local authority and are quite easy to come by. It is not uncommon for people, through licensing, to claim that their animals are wolves to attract people and charge huge amounts of money to come and walk their “dog.”

The generally held view is that a hybrid is the first cross between a wolf and a dog. There are those who will refer to any wolfdog as a hybrid and there are those that will refer to first, second and third generations only as a hybrid.

Now we know that the first-generation wolf-dog crosses are not in the public domain, we can look at what we do have, which is wolfdogs. Simply put, these are dogs with some wolf content in them. They will be several or many generations on from their first cross ancestor and are the products of wolfdog-wolfdog or wolfdog-dog pairings. Depending on which genes they inherit, some wolfdogs will be very wolflike in their looks while others will be more doglike, according to my observations. Within the wolfdog community, animals are generally separated into high-, medium- and low-content. How this is determined is quite confusing and I will save you from the complexities. In terms of our practices and what we might see, it is helpful to know that high-content animals will not be seen. These are specialist animals and tend to fall into the hands of very experienced owners who know what they are doing, and generally they will stay under the radar. What we may see, however, are medium- and low-content animals, such as the cross breeds and the officially recognized Saarloos wolfdogs and CSVs. All these animals contain wolf content to some extent that is not new content, but genetically inherited and passed through the lines.


Expert opinions vary as to what constitutes a wolfdog versus a wolf hybrid

Wolfdogs are still quite new and there are emerging breed types within the group that are still in infancy and therefore unstable, but recognized breeds such as the aforementioned CSV and the Saarloos wolfhound are often the foundation stock for matings with northern Inuits, German shepherds and some of the sled dogs. One of the newest emerging types is the British Lupine, which currently is a northern Inuit and Saarloos mix. The CSV crossbreeds are by far the largest group in the U.K. and are the ones most likely to be seen in practice. They are often the ones who carry the misleading label of “hybrid.” We also have the “Lookalikes” or the “Wolfalikes.” These dogs are generally of northern breed origins so will have traces of husky, malamute or other sled and snow-type dogs, having started with the northern Inuit (alleged to be of husky, malamute and German shepherd descent). These combinations have led to animals that look wolflike. Many offshoots have evolved from the northern Inuit, including the Tamaskan, Utonagan, British timber dog, and New Caledonian. In the second part of this article, I will at the different wolfdog types in more detail, and getting to grips with how they tick, as well as how to handle them if one comes onto your radar. n Sam Redmond DipCAPBT NOCN studied with the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology in the United Kingdom and has been in practice over 10 years. After a number of years in dog clubs and building puppy programs, she moved into private work. After getting a northern Inuit dog, she began to work with breeders on puppy rearing programs where it became clear that the gene pool for the breed was small and problems were emerging. She and her associates thus moved into the wolfdog realm. She now works closely with some wolfdog breeders and runs regular training days for new puppy owners providing behavior and training support. She is also an approved trainer for Dog Assistance in Disability, and runs a busy practice, Sam Redmond Dog Training and Animal Behaviour (, providing animal behavior consultations and one-to-one training.

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018



A Weekend at Wolf Park Breanna Norris attended a seminar at Wolf Park, Indiana last summer;

here, she reviews her experience interacting with and learning


alongside the wolves, coyotes, bison and guinea pigs

Photo © Monty Sloan/Wolf Park

Animals at Wolf Park are trained to have no flight distance from humans

Photo © Monty Sloan/Wolf Park

Staff monitor body language carefully to ensure stress is kept to a minimum

Photo © Monty Sloan/Wolf Park

At the time of author Breanna Norris’s visit, Wolf Park was raising a litter of wolf pups


f trainers were to have a mecca, I think it would be Wolf Park. For decades, trainers and scientists alike have been traveling from around the world to Wolf Park to learn about wolves, care of captive animals, socialization, management, ethology and behavior. Wolf Park is located in Battle Ground, Indiana, a 20-minute drive from Purdue University in West Lafayette. In 1972, founder Dr. Erich Klinghammer brought the first two wolves from the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois and began what soon became known as Wolf Park. Over the years. the staff have written and lectured extensively on the topics of behavior, ethology, wolves and animal care. Dr. Klinghammer passed away in 2011 but his legacy is kept alive through his work and staff. Each year, Wolf Park hosts one- and three-day seminars from spring to fall. Popular guest speakers include Beth Duman and Nicole Wilde, while past speakers include Ray Coppinger, Roger Abrantes and Suzanne Clothier. Topics cover a range of issues related to behavior, animal care, wolves, training and, yes, even dogs. My first visit to Wolf Park was in 2015 when I attended the Wolf Intensive Weekend, which included talks by staff, primarily Pat Goodmann, as well as time spent with the wolves and foxes. Last summer, I returned for a three-day Canine Behavior and Neurology seminar with popular PPG summit speaker and renowned animal trainer, Ken McCort. The seminar comprised a good mix of talks by McCort and Wolf Park staff, as well as a lot of time spent with the animals. Wolf Park is currently raising a litter of wolf pups, so getting there was a must for me while the pups were still young. At the time of my visit, one of the three pups born at the facility was 16 weeks old and the other two, from a litter born in New York, were 14 weeks of age. McCort’s seminar is like a backstage pass to the park. While we got to meet and greet with staff, wolves, wolf pups, red and grey foxes, I was beyond excited to get to do some target training with the bison and one of the coyotes (from behind a fence). We even worked with some guinea pigs. McCort always had time for questions and discussion within the workshop. While it was a busy three days, it did not feel rushed. McCort does a fantastic job of incorporating neurobiology discussion into work with the animals and making the science of training come alive. Just talking to him you will quickly learn about his enthusiasm for the science – it is infectious, and he is quick to share and engage with fellow trainers and students. Over the course of the seminar we had over seven hours of animal time. On the Saturday and Sunday mornings of both seminars I attended, there was the option to attend a wolf observation with Goodmann. I would highly recommend this. Goodmann is a wealth of knowledge, funny, and far too humble. Indeed, reading some of her written work is what first made me interested in Wolf Park. She has a keen eye for observation, something any animal professional can learn from. Meanwhile, several nights a week Wolf Park opens to the public for Howl Night. Guests sit on bleachers in front of a 7-acre wolf enclosure to hear a staff member discuss wolves and answer questions. Hopefully the wolves will also

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018

Raising puppies at Wolf Park is a 24/7 job, which at points even includes dedicated staff sleeping outside with pups.

howl a bit with the audience. I have attended four Howl Nights and they are all very different. Another treat for the public is the feeding demos. Staff only feed the wolves a few times a week and sometimes guests are allowed to watch. Food puzzles are created for the wolves. An example may be a deer leg stuffed in a box, and just like dogs or kids, sometimes the box is better than the food. If you attend a seminar at Wolf Park I would suggest sticking around for the Howl Night, feeding demos and any open house events in the evening. There is a lot of learning that can be gleaned from these events. Wolf Park is not a rescue center or sanctuary, but a research facility, and probably one of the best in the world for their care, research, consideration and knowledge of the animals. While some animals like Timber the wolf or Twister and Willow the coyotes were not born at the facility, many, especially the wolves, are born there and are hand raised. Animals receive round the clock care from staff. Raising puppies at Wolf Park is a 24/7 job, which at points even includes dedicated staff sleeping outside with pups. Staff film and document the lives of the animals and spend years writing new protocols to improve their quality of care. Guest trainers come in as well as many interns and volunteers from around the world to assist. While Wolf Park animals are not domestic, they are tame and are trained to have no flight distance from humans. It is a true gift to be able to work so closely with these animals. Staff carefully monitor body language and work to keep animals from becoming too stressed. They know each of these animals as individuals and set each animal up for success. Punishment or force have no place in animal care at Wolf Park. No animal is forced to do anything, and that includes not having to greet strangers if they choose not to. The animals are asked if they would like to greet and “no� is always an ac-


Photo Š Monty Sloan/Wolf Park

Food puzzles provide a source of mental and environmental enrichment

ceptable answer. The bar for animal care at Wolf Park has been set incredibly high, and the staff are always aiming for even better care. To get to Wolf Park you will need a car. I flew in to Indianapolis and rented a car at the airport. It is about 70 miles from the airport to Battle Ground. There are no hotels in Battle Ground so you will want to stay in Lafayette, just 10-15 minutes away where there are lots of hotel choices. When you plan a trip to Wolf Park, and I hope you do, plan for long days. Staff kindly fit in a lot during a weekend for seminar attendees and you will not want to miss any of it. n Breanna Norris owns and operates Canine Insights, LLC ( based in central Maine, which offers both private and group lessons. She began her animal care career in 2001 as a farrier and horse trainer, initially as an apprentice, then made the switch to dog training in 2011.

pet care

Age-Specific Care

In her ongoing series highlighting preferred standards for

canine day care and boarding centers, Lauri Bowen-

Vaccare focuses on caring for senior dogs and puppies


© Can Stock Photo/Renamarie

Boarding and day care staff should be able to adapt to the special requirements of senior dogs

n a boarding or day care environment, special allowances should be made for senior dogs and puppies wherever possible. These involve taking the following into account:

Senior Dogs

• Senior dogs need more rest than the average adult dog, and should be granted ample opportunity to rest without being disturbed by other dogs and/or humans. • Older dogs often need more human companionship than the average adolescent or adult dog, and the facility should employee enough staff so that this can be accomplished. • Many older dogs suffer from arthritis or other ailments which will affect their behavior around other dogs, and as such, may not be suitable for group activities. o These dogs should be allowed bedding that offers support and comfort, except in extreme cases where they are destructive. In those cases, facilities should try heavy duty rubber pads and/or Kuranda beds. Staff should also keep in mind that some dogs like having the option of lying on cool or cold floors, and should be allowed enough floor space to do so. • Staff are strongly encouraged to create small, low-energy, senior dog groups. These dogs must still be assessed and grouped appropriately (see The Low-Down on Group Play, BARKS from the Guild, September 2017, pp. 45-47). • Senior dogs may be “grumpier” than other dogs, and staff should have the ability to cater to their special needs to prevent causing them any undue distress which may elicit aggressive displays like growling or snapping. Should staff observe the dog exhibiting these behaviors, they are to take note of what caused it, and make 44

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018

© Can Stock Photo/Zuzule

Puppies require more active supervision and may need more human companionship than the average adolescent or adult dog

sure the dog is not put in that situation again. o Staff are to keep in mind that “grumpiness” and aggressive displays may be indicators that a dog is in pain and/or has other medical issues with which s/he is dealing like sight or hearing problems or cognitive disabilities. • Many senior dogs are not suitable for boarding or day care environments, either because of physical ailments, behavioral issues or because they are no longer as social as they once were, and therefore, do not enjoy that environment. Staff and owners should discuss other possibilities for the dog should staff become aware that the dog appears to be in pain or “grumpy” more often than not when in boarding.


• For physical and safety purposes, puppies under 16 weeks of age are generally not allowed to board or attend day care at most facilities. If the facility in question allows dogs younger than 16 weeks of age, there should be a properly educated and trained staff member present to ensure the puppy’s safety and health, and that he has a good experience. o Each of the dogs with whom the puppy will have contact should receive a clean bill of health from their veterinarian within the last two to six months. • If puppy owners are making use of the facility for “socialization,” visits to the facility should be very short and under the supervision of a qualified positive reinforcement based behavior professional. o Preferably, the puppy’s age-appropriate socialization needs are met by the owner. Some facilities offer puppy classes

so that owners can learn how to properly expose their puppies to other puppies and adult dogs, people, sounds and textures, in the real world, and this is often preferable to leaving a young puppy at a boarding or day care facility without the owner being present. • Puppies require more active supervision than the average adult dog, and may need more human companionship than the average adolescent or adult dog. The facility should employ enough staff so that this can be accomplished. • Puppy groups should consist of no more than four puppies, based on a group play assessment protocol, as well as the size of the space being utilized for the group. • Puppies need much more rest and sleep time than adults, and play sessions should be very short. • One-on-one regular human interaction with puppies is necessary, although each interaction should not consist of play. Activities that handlers and puppies can enjoy together are providing the puppy with a chew or food puzzle while the handler reads, washes dishes or works on the computer, sitting quietly together while the puppy rests or sleeps beside or near the human, or hanging out in a play yard and allowing the puppy to investigate his or her surroundings without interruption from the handler or other dogs. o Staff are encouraged to make sure puppies spend as much, if not more, time with humans than other puppies while boarding/attending day care. • Puppy play groups should not be a free-for-all, and play should be stopped often to give the dogs a break, to prevent overarousal and/or injury, and to work on impulse control in the presence of other dogs. o All-day day care or play is inappropriate for young puppies, as it does not allow the puppy adequate rest and increases the chance of physical injury. • Puppies who are pushy, or ignore other puppies’ requests

pet care

...“grumpiness” and aggressive displays may be indicators that a dog is in pain and/or has other medical issues.

to leave them alone are to be immediately and possibly permanently removed from the group. o If the puppy consistently exhibits such behaviors, the owners should be notified of the behavior and should consider meeting with a professional positive reinforcement-based dog behavior consultant. • Puppies who bite (aggressively, not in play) are to be immediately and permanently removed from the group. o Owners should be notified of the behavior and should consider meeting with a professional positive reinforcementbased dog behavior consultant. • Puppies under 16 weeks of age should not be put in adult group play. • Some facilities who provide services to puppies under 16 weeks of age, avoid exposing puppies to areas where older dogs congregate, even when there are no adult dogs present, for health concerns. n Resources

Bowen-Vaccare, L. (2017, September). The Low-Down on Group Play. BARKS from the Guild (26) 45-47. Available at: Lauri Bowen-Vaccare ABCDT is the owner of Warren, Kentuckybased Believe In Dog, LLC ( and is an honors graduate of Animal Behavior College, with a specialty in training shelter dogs. Her focus is on the dog-human team, and she specializes in reactivity, resource guarding, fearful and timid dogs, bringing outside dogs in, and outside pet dogs. She also advises and assists trainers who want to cross over to force-free training.


Lost and Found

Paula Garber presents a case study about two cats who,

left to fend for themselves, had become extremely fearful,

and how they gradually learned to trust again


Photo: Laureen Bedell

Sabi (pictured) and his brother, Wabi were left to fend for themselves for several months when their owner died, making them fearful of people; Sabi would watch his foster guardian from the safety of the top of the stairs

abi and Wabi are 7-year-old long-haired Russian blue neutered male siblings. When their previous owner, an elderly man, died suddenly, they were left alone in their home for several months “fending for themselves.” Family members stopped by once a week only to put out food and water. Although the family described them as affectionate, the cats had become extremely fearful. When a local shelter was called in to remove them from the home, they “went wild” and had to be captured.


Both Sabi’s and Wabi’s fur was badly matted, so they were sedated and shaved. They were housed in a room with other cats, and during their two months at the shelter, they hid in a doubledecker cat condo—each cat in one of the hiding holes—and shelter staff was unable to handle them. In March 2017, “Susan” acquired Sabi and Wabi through a foster-to-adopt program. (The shelter would not allow the cats to be adopted outright.) Susan is retired and lives alone in a large twostory Victorian home on 20 acres of fields and woods. She has few visitors, and there are no other pets in the home. When Susan initially contacted me in May 2017, Sabi and Wabi had been in her home for two months. The cats had been confined in a guest room on the second floor during the first week where they hid together in a closet. Susan gave them free run of 46

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018

Photo: Laureen Bedell

After approximately two months, both cats were getting over their fear of humans, allowing their foster guardian to groom them, and had expanded their territory within the home

the home during the second week because they were well-behaved, eating and using the litter box, though they were unwilling to interact with her. Since then, both cats have been hiding most of the time and are unapproachable. Sabi is wary of Susan and walks away if she gets too close. Although Wabi is the “leader” when it comes to exploring the house, he is more fearful of Susan and hisses if she gets too close. Both cats perch on the landing at the top of the stairs and when Susan sits on the stairs, Wabi retreats to the guest room, but Sabi stays and exchanges slow blinks with her. Susan described the upstairs of the home as “theirs” and the downstairs as “hers” during the day. However, at night when Susan is in the master bedroom on the second floor, she hears the cats roaming the entire house. The cats are free-fed dry food in the guest room on the second floor and in the study at the bottom of the stairs on the first floor. In the morning and evening, the cats are fed canned food (their favorite) on the landing at the top of the stairs. There are two litter boxes on the second floor and one on the first floor, which is used only during the overnight hours.

The Behavior Plan

The full behavior plan included recommendations related to expansion of territory, access to resources, cat-human interactions,


and play, as well as understanding cat communication. For brevity, I will focus on the elements of the plan that played the most significant role in the cats’ transformation. • Hiding spots were created in the dining room, living room, and study on the first floor by draping existing furniture and cardboard boxes tipped on their side with quilts and blankets. • Feeding of all canned food meals was gradually moved to the study on the first floor. • Susan gave the cats control of all interactions with her and began leaving a treat for them every time she was in their presence. • Susan learned to appear less threatening by getting on the cats’ level (on the floor) and positioning her body sideways to the cats, and by blinking slowly and looking away. • Susan also learned to use a soft, happy voice to alert the cats to her approach, to greet a cat who enters a room she is in, and any time she gives the cats food, treats, or anything else they like.


The following are snippets of progress reports from Susan as she executed the behavior plan. Day 2: Wabi, asleep on his chaise, looked up as I walked in to refresh his dry food. I turned sideways, and instead of jumping down and hiding behind the quilt as usual, he put his head back down to snooze. I then went downstairs thinking Sabi was upstairs hiding and found him instead peeking out from under the “tent” I had made with quilts covering the Japanese table in the dining room.

...both cats have been hiding most of the time and are unapproachable. Sabi is wary of Susan and walks away if she gets too close. Although Wabi is the “leader” when it comes to exploring the house, he is more fearful of Susan and hisses if she gets too close.

Day 3: Sabi came downstairs mid-morning and spent the day in the study in his new hiding box. This is the first time he has done that. Day 4: Sabi spent the whole day downstairs going from hideyhole to hidey-hole but also watched a squirrel out the window in the study. Wabi sat on the staircase halfway down and watched Sabi for a while and then fall asleep on the stair—a first! Day 7: Sabi took a tour of the living room, sat at the back door, and then came into the kitchen, where I was working at my laptop, gazed at me for a while as I talked to him, and then turned and walked back to the study to nap in his hiding box. Wow. Day 19 (returning from a week-long trip): When I got home, Sabi was sitting at the top of the stairs. I took some canned food up to him and a brush. He did not move as I came up the stairs— just sat with his paws tucked under. I put the food right in front of him, and he sniffed it and looked at me, but did not eat. I showed him the brush and gently brushed the carpet next to him. He didn’t move away, so I started to brush his cheeks and the top of his head. He hissed a bit, but did not move away, so I kept brushing him. He allowed me to brush his side and his back and started to purr. And then he started to rub with his cheek, not only the brush, but my hand.

When they first arrived at their new foster home, Sabi and Wabi remained in hiding upstairs, but now happily spend much of their time downstairs watching outside

Photo: Laureen Bedell

Day 21: This morning I found Sabi in the study and offered him the brush and some canned food. There followed over an hour of brushing and rubbing and eating breakfast. He was totally relaxed, allowing me to brush his tail and his tummy, purring like crazy and rubbing hard with his cheek on my hand and my arm. He could not have been happier, and neither could I! Day 23: I was sitting on the rug in the study petting and brushing Sabi while he ate breakfast when I noticed that Wabi had come downstairs and was eating his breakfast at the entry to the study. He finished eating and then sauntered over to within a foot of Sabi and me and sat down, so I offered him the brush. He looked at the brush and then me twice, then turned and leisurely walked away. I kept brushing Sabi, and Wabi sat at the entry and watched. Day 48: Sabi and Wabi now spend most of their time downstairs during the day looking out the windows and sitting at the back door. When I call them to eat, they both come. If Wabi is upstairs when I call, he trots downstairs and eats right near me. He also sits nearby and watches as I brush Sabi, and he even helps me groom Sabi. I have managed to swipe the brush gently across Wabi’s back as he walks away, and he just continues to walk (no running or hissing). Now that Wabi is sitting and eating near me, within touching distance, what should I do? Paula Garber’s response: When Wabi is eating, try placing your

Photo: Laureen Bedell

Wabi was initially fearful of his foster guardian and would hiss at her if she got too close; here he retreats to his favorite spot

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018



relaxed hand on the floor where he can see it. Place it close to you at first, and then gradually, over time, move it a little closer to him, always in a place where he can see it. The goal will be to stroke him while he eats. Day 62: Over the last week, I have been stroking Wabi on his back while he eats his food, and he is accepting it without too much fuss. Saturday morning, I tried continuing to stroke his back after he finished eating, which led to him rubbing against my hand with his chin. Saturday evening, after eating his dinner, he came over and rolled against me sideways and allowed me to stroke his tummy. I was so surprised—it was as if he had suddenly remembered how much he liked being petted. P.M. update: I just spent half an hour brushing Wabi, head to toe, including his tummy, as he purred away. When he stopped purring I thought he was through with brushing, but he had just fallen asleep! Sabi and Wabi had lost a lot—their owner, their familiar routines, contact with and trust of humans, their home, and control in their lives. Susan not forcing Sabi and Wabi to interact with her played a major part in building their confidence and ability to trust her—the more control they had over interactions with her, the more they chose to interact with her. Giving the cats choices and allowing things to progress at their pace allowed for latent learning to occur that ultimately emerged as sudden behavior changes and seeking contact with their new owner. Happily, Sabi and Wabi found their second chance, but things could have easily not turned out so well for them. If there’s a lesson to be learned in this case, it is to make arrangements for someone to care for your pets in the event that you can no longer do it. n Paula Garber is the owner of LIFELINE Cat Behavior Solutions ( in Westchester County, New York. She is a certified animal training and enrichment professional and certified feline training and behavior specialist through the Animal Behavior Institute. She is also certified in low-stress handling for dogs and cats (Silver2015) and holds a Master’s in education. She is currently earning a diploma in feline behavior science and technology from the Companion Animal Sciences Institute. She currently serves as chair of PPG’s Cat Committee and is an advisor to the board of directors for FurBridge, a local animal rescue and community outreach organization.


Share your knowledge and expertise! Submit your idea for a webinar to: /PresentaPPGmemberWebinar.

Topics may include a particular aspect of training, ethology, learning theory, behavior specifics...anything at all your fellow pet professionals would find educational. We’ll even do some practice runs with you to help you along (if you need them!) 48

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018

Life after Racing


Kathie Gregory explains why transitioning from the racing


environment can be challenging for Thoroughbreds and

details how to help ex-racehorses adapt to a new life he Thoroughbred is extensively used in horse racing, and inevitably there is a large turnover of horses coming out of the industry in need of a home. The British Horseracing Authority's statistics recorded 8,760 mares reported at stud in Great Britain, and 13,502 in Ireland, a combined total of 22,262 in 2015. Live Thoroughbred foals were recorded at 4,569 in Great Britain and 8,780 in Ireland, a combined total of 13,349 foals born in 2015. Not all are destined for racing, and some youngsters are exported to other countries, but still there is a significant number of Thoroughbreds that will be in need of a home after being in the racing environment. British Horseracing Authority statistics for 2016 show the monthly average of 14,033 Thoroughbreds in training in Great Britain, and this covers flat, jump, and dual racers.

Breeding a Racehorse

Thoroughbreds are bred to be as fast as they can possibly be. There is an emphasis on selecting horses for breeding that have the competence and ability to excel in the sport, increasing the chance that these attributes will be passed on to the foal. Genetic testing can identify markers linked to stamina, energy use, respiratory, strength, and determine whether a horse is best suited to distance, sprint or something else. Success of stallion and mare, size, previous matings, and other aspects are also part of the selection process. At the 2016 Thoroughbred Breeders' Association Breeding the Racehorse: New Technologies and Old Adversaries seminar, one of the speakers, Dr. H. Peter Webbon, BvetMEd Ph.D MRCVS, presented on the topic Genetics Fact and Fiction. Several facts discussed by Dr. Webbon are pertinent to this article. For example, breeders may neglect to select for temperament, health, and durability when embarking on a breeding program. Selecting for specific desirable characteristics inevitably results in less desirable characteristics also being selected. Genes are complex and there are many links between them, meaning that selecting for one gene will have the consequence of also selecting those that are linked to it. The prognosis for the current focus on traits to select for breeding is more likely to result in horses that are not fit for racing. However, shifting focus to select with a view to reducing disease and improving durability, thus reducing injury, will see major benefits in the racing world.

The Racing Environment

Race yards work to strict routines to ensure consistent, efficient, and effective training of racehorses. Every aspect of the horse's life is managed: when to exercise, what type of exercise to do, when

Photo: Kathie Gregory

Working force-free means taking the time to develop the beginnings of trust and bonding before engaging more actively with ex-racing horses, who are used to living in a tightly controlled environment

to rest, when and what to eat. A racing environment is a busy one, with many horses experiencing much more than the average horse. Racehorses are also exposed to many more horses than the average horse, a combination of living on a yard and attending races. Whatever method of training is used, the horses are in a system where they are obliged to respond and perform in order to progress and hopefully win races. This inevitably results in having to endure or do something that they do not always want to. Of course, welfare is an important part of any respectable yard, and horses that are unable to cope with the environment may be withdrawn from the training program and become available for rehoming.

Implications for the Horse

It is clear from Dr. Webbon's assessment of breeding practices that without a focus on temperament and health, selective breeding BARKS from the Guild/January 2018



may result in horses that have a variety of personality traits along with different levels of soundness. As Thoroughbreds are a generally sensitive breed, future generations may be more likely to have a fair proportion of heightened sensitivity unless the focus shifts to only considering well-balanced horses for breeding programs.

Many horses will behave in a very different manner when they find themselves in a new environment.

Living such a strictly managed life has consequences. Common issues arising are: • Learned helplessness because of the horse's inability to have a say in what he does and what happens to him. He learns that he is not listened to and the only way to live is to opt out and go along with what is asked of him. • Suppression of emotions is, in part, a consequence of learned helplessness. This is not a healthy state to be in, and can lead to many psychological problems that are often expressed as physical issues or responses. • Suppression of natural behaviors is, in part, a consequence of not having freedom, and the suppression of emotions. This can result in box-walking, wind-sucking, and weaving amongst other things. These are displacement activities when there is an inability to perform natural behaviors. • Lack of social relationships is unavoidable in a managed, stabled environment. Horses are a social species and denying them the ability to develop social relationships has a profound impact on their well-being. All of the above things cause chronic stress. This may or may not be obvious. Visible signs are displacement activities (stereotypies) and poor condition. The horse may either display lethargy and disinterest or reactivity. The body is less able to repair itself when subjected to stress. Aches and pains seem worse, chronic conditions can become more symptomatic, lethargy or reactivity can be increased. This has an impact on emotional well-being, making a horse more likely to respond with behaviors such as irritability, apathy, anger, or stubbornness. Stress also has an impact on learning ability. Genetic make-up, weaning practice, training, racing environment, demands of racing, management, and personality all shape how each horse views the world and learns. It also affects how he responds to situations, people, and other horses. All these things influence every aspect of life, including frustration, self-restraint, responses, and emotional state, which may only become apparent when the horse leaves the racing environment and is faced with a different way of living.

Life after Racing

Some horses go on to a similarly competitive environment and compete in different disciplines, often at a high level. Others may not have the temperament and disposition to cope with the demands of such an environment. They may be too reactive, their instincts too readily able to kick in, or they may not have the drive to race. Some horses find homes that match well with their abilities and personality, and some do not. 50

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018

Photo: Kathie Gregory

Some ex-Thorougbreds struggle with the transition from a racing environment, so starting at a distance is a good way to start building trust when working with them

Change in Routine

Coming out of racing means a big change for a horse, and the impact of this is not always appreciated. If the horse's routine is strictly managed, reliable and accurate to the nearest minute, the change can be very distressing. There is some security and safety in knowing what happens and when, particularly when the horse has no say in what he does. A change to this can lead to insecurity and anxiety. The horse may become shut down, frustrated, scared, irritated, over aroused, or panicked. Self-restraint comes naturally to some extent. However, a highly managed life can engender a lack of self-restraint as those that have been in a strictly controlled environment have not necessarily had the opportunity to develop it to a competent level.

Change in Response

Many horses will behave in a very different manner when they find themselves in a new environment. Some may be calm, some reactive. Each individual horse has a unique perspective and personality. This informs how he views his life's experiences and gives rise to the many expressions of behavior we see. Understanding the world from the horse's perspective gives us the ability to understand why he does what he does. For those horses that struggle with the transition from a racing environment, some of the things we might observe are: • He cannot stand still, leaves when approached or touched, and doesn't stay in the same area as the person. • He cannot cope with any handling such as grooming, water, touch, or head collars. • He has no awareness of what the body is doing or where it is placed. This can come across as clumsiness or not being aware

of being in someone's personal space and knocking them with feet, legs, body or head. • Standing with his head down, his body sagging, eyes dull, opting out, no reaction to most things. • Reactivity, aggression, “stubbornness.â€? All these are the symptoms of an underlying emotional state, such as lack of confidence, anxiety, fear, apathy, or depression. Thoroughbreds are a sensitive breed and are often misunderstood. The above examples are often considered a normal temperament, rather than the result of their life experiences. When Thoroughbreds are moved from the racing environment and the only life they have known to a completely unfamiliar one, where everything from handling, to routine, to riding, is different, there will be difficulties along the way whilst they adjust to this new life.

Coming out of racing means a big change for a horse, and the impact of this is not always appreciated. If the horse's routine is strictly managed, reliable and accurate to the nearest minute, the change can be very distressing.

Transitioning to a New Life

The first thing to do is to give the horse time to get used to what is likely to be the biggest change in his life. This takes more than a few days or a couple of weeks. Each horse will adjust in a different timescale, but understanding how he fits into his new life and getting used to new people, horses, routines, exercise, feeds, etc. is not a quick process. It takes time for perceptions and subsequently responses to change. Working force-free means taking the time to develop the beginnings of trust and bonding before engaging more actively with the horse. Start by working behind the scenes, i.e. subtle behavioral work that puts the horse at ease without him registering on a conscious level that you are doing anything specific. What mood you are in, how you breathe, where you stand, how you move, what you do, all provide information for the horse to interpret. Understanding the world from the horse's perspective tells you how to go about this. This stage is all about being there but not there, so the horse does not need to adjust for or be mindful of your presence. Depending on the horse you may be working at quite a distance, or you may be able to be at a closer proximity. To an observer, nothing really happens, but there is a huge amount going on to allow the horse's mind to relax and feel safe. This is the beginning of creating trust and developing a horse human bond. The next step is to remain subtle, but increase awareness so the horse knows something tangible is happening that he can respond to with his side of the conversation. Your role is to be a silent partner, not actively contributing to the horse’s side of the conversation. Rather, you adjust for what he is communicating so he remains at ease, nothing more. This reinforces the beginnings of trust and bond. The start of active involvement in the conversation happens when the horse is ready. This is determined by his mood, how he breathes, where he stands, how he moves, and what he does. When all these things come together, he will be calm, open and receptive to engaging in a conversation. Now is the time to re-


spond and have an input in the conversation. Depending on his response, you may need to go back to one of the previous steps as part of the ongoing conversation. You are now in a position to learn more about each other, develop your understanding of each other’s language, likes, dislikes, personality, abilities, and trust. By using these principles you can start to teach your horse using whatever positive, reward-based method you prefer. There is always an ebb and flow to any conversation and relationship, which ensures it develops equally, with understanding and trust for both horse and human. The end result is a true partnership. n References

British Horseracing Authority. (2015). British Racing Statistics 2015. Available at: British Horseracing Authority. (2016). BHA Racing Datapack 2016. Available at: Webbon, H. P. (2016). Genetics: Fact and Fiction. Available at:

Kathie Gregory is a qualified animal behavior consultant, presenter and author who specializes in advanced cognition and emotional intelligence. Passionate about raising standards and awareness in how we teach and work with animals, she has developed Freewill TeachingTM (, a concept that provides the framework for animals to enjoy life without compromising their own free will. Her time is divided between working with clients, mentoring, and writing. Her first book, A Tale of Two Horses: a passion for free-will teaching, was published in 2015, and she is currently writing her second book about bringing up a puppy using freewill teaching.

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Teaching the Cue In Part Two of this three-part article, Max Easey discusses the application of force-free


training to horses

he dog training world is way ahead of the horse training world when it comes to adopting the use of modern techniques such as clicker training but it is, of course, totally possible, as with all animals, to teach horses and ponies and donkeys to do everything we want them to learn to do (or to like) using food and scratches as reinforcement. This includes all the things we need to be able to do to handle, look after, and ride or drive our horses and ponies. Just as we can train horses to do the wrong thing if we put them under pressure (or use something unpleasant to try to make them do what we want), however, we can also train them incorrectly with food, so it is important to teach the horse the rules of the game at the start. With any training – whatever method we use, it is always important to have regular lessons with a professional trainer who knows how to do these things correctly. In many ways, I wish that the behavior scientists who identified positive reinforcement as a way of learning had called it addition reinforcement and the other kind, i.e. negative reinforcement, subtraction reinforcement! It would have saved a lot of confusion with the word negative meaning bad and positive meaning good – which they don’t in this instance. In any case, there are a few simple steps to teaching a horse a behavior with positive reinforcement: 1) We need a way to cause the horse to do something we want – and that would be a way that does not involve any unpleasant prompt. I will explain some ways of doing that later. 2) We need to wait until the horse makes a “try” to do that behavior. 3) We mark the precise moment the behavior “try” occurs with a clicker or verbal marker signal that means “yes!” 4) Immediately after clicking (but not before, or the horse will watch what our hand is doing) we put our hand in our food bag and give him some food. This motivates him to repeat the behavior he was doing when we clicked. 5) Once the horse is repeating the behavior we want, we can introduce a cue – which can be a visual signal, a seat cue, a verbal sound cue, or a physical touch cue (which must be something that is not felt to be unpleasant by the horse) so that we can prompt him to do that behavior by using that cue. 6) We can use shaping to train the horse to do the behavior for longer or to improve the quality of the behavior and to make sure the horse can do it in many different situations, and with other distractions happening. It can be useful to use a clicker as the marker signal to begin with because it is consistent, and that sound stands out from all the other noises we might be making when we are with our horses and ponies. But when it comes to riding, I prefer to make either a tongue click with my mouth or use 52

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018

© Can Stock Photo/photography33

Although the horse world is somewhat behind the dog world in terms of training techniques, just like any animal, horses can be trained via the use of positive reinforcement only

a simple, short, sharp marker word like “yes!” The key is that it has to be loud and short and unique. It’s no use saying “good girl/boy” or “clever pony” because they are too long to be precise and we probably use them in many other situations already – sometimes when the horse is not exactly doing what we want him to.

Positive Reinforcement at Work

The key difference between positive and negative reinforcement is that with the former we do not use our legs, reins, halter and lead rope, a whip, or a stick and string to make the horse do what we want so we can reinforce that behavior. How, then, do we get the horse to actually do something so we can reinforce that behavior with the marker signal and the food? There are two easy solutions to this – set the horse up to do something and wait, and target training. The first option involves waiting until the horse does something we like. For example, if we want the horse to help push open a gate when we are out riding, we can just position her in front of the gate and simply wait until she touches the gate with her nose on her own (without using our legs to push her forward). We can make the click sound or say “yes!” the instant she touches the gate and then give her some food. Then we wait. Because the horse just got marked and rein-

forced with food for touching the gate with her nose, she is going to do it again. Next time we wait for her to push it a little bit rather than just touching it with her nose, then we click the instant she gives it a little push, and give her the food.

The need to have behaviors happening on cue is an essential part of training. The cue is what gives us a means to produce the behavior when we ask, and not to have the horse do it unless we cue. You don’t get to be an Olympic dressage rider unless your horse is doing every single movement perfectly on cue.

The reason for using the marker signal is because it is much easier than giving her food the instant she touches the gate – which is what needs to happen so she knows she did the right thing. We use the marker because it can be a very convenient and precise way to tell the horse she did something we like and want to see repeated. Once she is pushing the gate on her own and we have clicked and rewarded her a few times for pushing it harder so it swings open, we can put it on cue so she only pushes when we ask. To do this, we simply wait until she is about to push the gate of her own accord and then introduce a cue word like “push.” We need to practice that a few times, clicking just as the horse pushes the gate and then giving her a treat. There is no point saying the cue word until she shows she knows that pushing the gate will be reinforced. Once she is doing that behavior when we give the cue, then we only mark and reinforce the behavior with food


when she does it if we give the cue, and not at any other time. That part is extremely important – because we always want to get behavior happening on cue – and not being offered unless we give the cue. The need to have behaviors happening on cue is an essential part of training. The cue is what gives us a means to produce the behavior when we ask, and not to have the horse do it unless we cue. You don’t get to be an Olympic dressage rider unless your horse is doing every single movement perfectly on cue. The same is true with positive reinforcement. We have to get behavior on cue, otherwise the horse will go around looking for gates to push open everywhere to get us to click and treat, and be disappointed when we don’t. A horse trained with food is not being “naughty” or “demanding” or “pushy” if he offers behavior to get a treat without a specific cue. He has just not yet been trained to know when to do that behavior and when not to. In the third and final part of this article, I will continue the discussion by explaining the application of targeting, and the importance of choice. n Maxine Easey is an equine behavior consultant, horse trainer and people coach, based in Ashkirk, Scotland. She is the founder of Horse Charming (, where she helps horse and pony owners and learners of all ages to understand and train their equine partners in ways that are enjoyable for them both. She has studied the science behind how all animals learn and is often asked to comment on different methods of training horses and ponies and what they involve from the perspective of the horse.


A Lesson in Compassion Angelica Steinker relates the tale of the best behavior consult

of her life, and how it taught her not to make snap judgements


about a client who has been using a shock collar udge me all you want, but this is what happened: I left my client’s behavior questionnaire at home but went ahead and did the consult anyway! In fact though, my error ended up teaching me more than years of consults combined. Let me start at the beginning. My school, while the largest group class training school in the Tampa Bay, Florida, area, is a small business run by two full-time staff. Prior to this consult, both my manager and I fell sick. This yielded the following data: If two full-time personnel are running a business and both fall sick simultaneously, it will result in problems. When I forgot my client’s behavior questionnaire, my manager was extremely ill and I was trying to cover two full-time jobs (for reference, this is not possible). As a result, I was in reactive ‘fix problem’ mode and not in proactive ‘normal’ mode, which lead to my forgetting several things – including the questionnaire. The questionnaire contains extensive information about the dog and the client. It usually takes a client 20-30 minutes to fill out and we use the info to prepare for the session. In this case, I did not just forget the behavior sheet, I had not even read the form. In addition, the client in question appeared at a time that was not the arranged time. She turned up an hour early, and the veterinary behaviorist that sees clients at my facility still happened to be at the canine counseling center. My staff alerted me and I rushed over to see what the problem was, not imagining for a moment that my client was a full hour early. At the same time, the veterinary behaviorist popped out and announced that she was ready for us. It would have been awkward for me to leave at that moment to go and fetch paperwork, so I opted to do what I have never previously done: conduct a consult without the 10-page behavior sheet. Imagine then, I am in the Canine Counseling Center with my client and her dog and I have absolutely no idea what the antecedents are. I have no idea what she has already tried. I don’t even know what the presenting behavior problem is. Honestly, I am sweating. Yes, I have been doing this for 18 years full-time but my behavior questionnaire functions as a security blanket for me (or does it?). I can see the dog, a large, powerful Malinois, is human reactive as his eyes are glazed. He appears to be in a global suppression of behavior which, of course, is typical for dogs that are being flooded, and he is displaying signs of stress if I make even split-second eye contact. I visualize my behavior form and start with the first question: “Please tell me about the main behavior problem.” Yes, as I thought, he is aggressive with people and has barked and lunged and nearly bitten a few times. This is very frightening to his owner who goes on to explain that she herself has been bitten. As we are talking, I can sense the deep love she 54

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018

© Can Stock Photo/DragoNika

When author Angelica Steinker was presented with a Malinois who had started behaving aggressively, removing the shock collar and replacing his fear with joy changed his motivation to bite

has for her dog. He has bitten her hard and she still is committed and motivated to help him change his behavior. We continue through the usual questions and I find out that this well-intentioned client has been trying to “socialize” her dog by taking him to restaurants. On one such occasion, the dog nearly bit another restaurant guest. It becomes clear to me that this client has no idea about canine body language, so we start talking about distance increasing, distance decreasing and conflicted behaviors. I role play with her and have her reach for me and then demonstrate each of the three types of body language. We do a little pop quiz. She is picking this up fast. She is smart, intense and hungry for the information. She is leaning toward me and asking lots of excellent questions. I feel a strong connection with her and repeatedly acknowledge her passion for this information. She was primed and ready for the information I was providing and it felt like we were dancing.

In the Zone

In sport, when a person is performing at their peak the term “zoning” is used. That is exactly how I felt. I sensed that this client and I were a very good fit, that we were not just hitting it off but that we were making a great team. I could tell she was experiencing something similar with every few minutes that passed our connec-

I am going to confess that I find it exceedingly difficult not to judge people for using shock. I truly think that if I had read on [the client’s] behavior questionnaire that she was using shock that I would have unintentionally sabotaged the consult. I would have judged and closed my heart to her and not allowed myself to connect. This would have destroyed my efficacy. How much have I been doing this? How often do any of us do this?

tion was strengthening. As the consult progressed, I made a casual remark about the importance of avoiding aversive stimulation. I was specific about what this means, given that such stimulation functions to suppress body language and can create a more dangerous dog that no longer gives any warning signals. The client hesitates and then says, “So I can’t use the shock collar anymore?” For a split second I held my breath, then responded, “Exactly! Let’s plan for what you will do instead.” We went on to discuss how the shock collar was functioning as a security blanket for her, that she felt like she was keeping other people safe by using it and that it gave her the illusion of control. We discussed emotional learning and how the plan was to replace her dog’s fear with joy, and how this would change his motivation for biting in the first place. We discussed rapid fire treat delivery and respondent conditioning, and came up with a plan she felt comfortable with. After the consult, the client texted me a few times and I continued to note that she had bonded with me and that we had formed a good connection. I am going to confess that I find it exceedingly difficult not to judge people for using shock on their


dogs. I truly think that if I had read on her behavior questionnaire that she was using shock that I would have unintentionally sabotaged the consult. I would have judged and closed my heart to her and not allowed myself to connect. This would have destroyed my efficacy. How much have I been doing this? How often do any of us do this? I cannot be the only one. Could it be that many of us are sabotaging our efficacy with clients that use severe forms of aversive stimulation? What I learned from this consult is that sometimes people hide the shame of using a shock collar. They do not want to be judged for having used it and if they feel this from you, the door of learning closes. Just as this client’s dog was in global suppression, so was this owner. She was trying to push through the problem, and was trying to be brave. Just like our canine clients, our human clients need to establish a reinforcement history with us, so we can have credibility and be effective. I already knew this, but deep down I thought this was rarely possible with a person who has been using shock. I mistakenly thought that our values were so intrinsically different I could not form a connection. I also learned that people who are afraid of their dogs, but also love them deeply, are desperate. They will try anything to make the situation work. Ultimately, this behavior consult was a lesson in compassion for me, not just for the dogs that I work with but for the human clients too. And ultimately, it is that compassion that gives us the power to help the dogs. n Angelica Steinker PCBC-A owns and operates Courteous Canine, Inc. DogSmith of Tampa (courteouscanine .com/Florida), a full service pet business and dog school specializing in aggression and dog sports. She is the national director of training for DogSmith Services (, and co-founder of DogNostics Career College (

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Classical and Operant Conditioning at Work Niki Tudge discusses how to address


employee skill deficits versus attitude

problems in your pet business

s business owners, we often have teams of employees working for us. We are responsible for how they perform their jobs and this is either through the delivery of skills or interactive client services. If we are to effectively supervise and coach our employees, then we need to understand the science of learning and behavior so, when necessary, we have the correct tools and approach to either support them in learning new job skills or to support the change of attitude and emotional behaviors. We need to know: • What is learning? • What is behavior? • How do either of these relate to our role as a manager and coach?

Overt or Covert?

Graphic © Niki Tudge

An employee’s behavior can be overt or covert. Overt behavior is anything someone does that can be observed and meas- job training. In a pet business, this may be the way the person handles a ured. In other words, any visible behavior we can see in the pet or delivers medications. Covert behaviors, on the other hand, are workplace that we can then directly impact through on-the- hidden and unobservable by anyone on the outside. They include actions like thinking and imagining. Employee behaviors are also voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary behaviors are called operants and are strengthened or weakened by their consequences. This takes place through a process known as operant conditioning whereby both the type of reinforcement (i.e. the consequence) and its delivery schedule are hugely important as these are the factors that impact the actual preceding behavior (see Figure i). Involuntary behaviors, also known as respondent behaviors, are elicited due to a person’s emotional reaction to a situation. In a process known as respondent conditioning (or classical conditioning), the presence of one stimulus begins to reliably predict the presence of a second stimulus. As a result, the association, through conditioning, starts to affect how a person responds emotionally to the first eliciting stimulus. If the conditioning process is aversive, an initial pleasant or happy emotional response can change into a negative conditioned emotional response, such as fear or anxiety. This can be seen sometimes when we Key: employ a very happy and motivated staff member and we then see a NS = Neutral Stimulus – Does not elicit a response, is neutral. downward spiral in their demeanor or attitude. It can work the other UCS = Unconditioned Stimulus – is naturally relevant and elicits way around too, in that a negative emotional response can be changed a response to one of happiness and joy, i.e. a positive conditioned emotional reUCR = Unconditioned Response – happens automatically sponse. In some cases, when we approach employees to learn new skills CS = Conditioned Stimulus – through the conditioning process or take on new responsibility, this onset of change can provoke a probhas now developed an eliciting value lematic emotional response due to fear and anxiety; but if we manage CR = Conditioned Response – the response to a conditioned this process correctly, we can condition a more appropriate and objecstimulus Graphic © Niki Tudge tive approach. Figure ii: A Neutral Stimulus Becomes a Conditioned Stimulus 56

Figure i: The Process of Operant Conditioning

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018


The Respondent Conditioning Process

Figure ii shows how a neutral stimulus, through conditioning, becomes a conditioned stimulus that elicits a conditioned response. In this situation, we are going to look at a neutral stimulus which is a bell. Through the pairing of the bell with chocolate, which is an unconditioned stimulus, the bell can then become conditioned to elicit salivation. Now here is the important part:. Respondent conditioning takes place when an unconditioned stimulus that elicits an unconditioned response is repeatedly paired with a neutral stimulus. As a result of conditioning, the neutral stimulus becomes a conditioned stimulus that reliably elicits a conditioned response. Each single pairing is considered a trial. In respondent conditioning, the presentation of the two stimuli (neutral and unconditioned) occurs regardless of the behavior the individual is exhibiting. The behavior elicited is a reflex response (Chance, 2008, p.64). Another aspect of respondent conditioning is called high order conditioning. High order conditioning takes place when a well-established conditioned stimulus is paired with a neutral stimulus to elicit a conditioned response. It takes place in the absence of an unconditioned stimulus, and many more stimuli can come to elicit conditional responses, not just those paired with an unconditioned stimulus. This enhances our adaptation and survival ability. But high order conditioning also affects and influences many emotional reactions, such as fear. We should thus be aware of it in the workplace. (Chance, 2008). The wonderful thing about respondent conditioning is that when we grasp the scientific principles behind it, we can then use it in the workplace and our training lessons to modify a trainee’s behavior. Figure iii shows how conditioning can be used to create a pleasant or enjoyable response to a stimulus, a conditioning process known as counterconditioning. Let’s now look at an example of operant conditioning and respondent conditioning in the workplace and how they can work together. Figure iv shows them side by side in terms of timeline and how the stimulus affects behavior.

An Example of Operant Conditioning

Let’s say a competent and highly trained dog walking employee performs to an excellent standard and clients provide gratuities accordingly. Each time a specific client service is reinforced with a gratuity, the employee’s likelihood of repeating that same standard of client service will be strengthened. In other words, the behavior has been strengthened by its consequences. The behavior has been positively reinforced.

Figure iii: The Process of Counterconditioning

Graphic © Niki Tudge

To continue with the above example, when the supervisor appears and your employees experience anxiety due to what has become a conditioned emotional response (i.e. respondent conditioning), the supervisor may well start to feel unwelcome as the employees busy themselves or find other ways to avoid talking to or avoiding the supervisor. Because of their behavior, the supervisor may quickly leave the work area feeling very uncomfortable. The employees’ overt avoidance behavior (i.e. operant conditioning) has been successful in relieving their source of anxiety. As a result, the behavior has been reinforced, which strengthens the likelihood of the manager being slighted in future visits. It is important to be aware that all behavior is a product of its environment and can be modified either through operant or respondent conditioning protocols. If you specifically wish to build or strengthen new skills with your employees, you will need to use operant conditioning protocols to help them acquire and strengthen the behaviors related to building those new skills. For example, if you have an employee that needs some attitude adjustment or has problematic emotional responses to cer-

An Example of Respondent Conditioning

Now let’s look at how respondent conditioning can affect the workplace. Let’s say that a supervisor’s appearance in your business has been paired continually with overly critical feedback to your employees. This will more than likely condition a problematic emotional response because, whenever the supervisor appears, it elicits a feeling of anxiety – or similar – in your staff. The supervisor and the staff may both be extremely proficient in their skill delivery but their attitudes are going to negatively impact your business. The supervisor is having a problematic effect on the employees’ attitudes which will be reflected in their customer service.

Graphic © Niki Tudge

Figure iv: Respondent and Operant Conditioning

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018



tain tasks, situations or people, then you can leverage your knowledge of respondent conditioning protocols to support behavior change. Your challenge here will be to help the person reframe the emotions triggered by a certain task, situation or individual. Just recognize that you are not a behavior counselor and make sure you only work within the parameters of your expertise and the requirements of your role.

We want to be a stimulus that predicts fun, enjoyment, workplace development and a feeling of confidence and well-being. This is respondent conditioning at its best.

Most of what we will focus on modifying and changing will be unconstructive, overt, operant behaviors that do not promote a safe, productive and positive work environment. We will also use motivation and positive reinforcement to build new skills and behaviors. Through the actions and words we use to motivate and manage, we can influence what our employees think and how they feel about their jobs and their workplace, and we must remain aware of this. We do not want to become a stimulus that reliably predicts an unpleasant experience or training session. Rather, we want to be a stimulus that predicts fun, enjoyment, workplace development and a feeling of confidence and wellbeing. This is respondent conditioning at its best – one stimulus reliably predicts another and then conditioning takes place. When we supervise and train our employees, we expect them to learn. To be sure though, we need to see that learning has taken place. Learning is a measurable change in behavior due to experience. If our interpretation of learning is defined by a change in cognitive structure or a change in the nervous system, we must infer that learning has taken place, although we would not be able to define or measure it. Learning does not impact how our em-

ployees behave, it impacts their ability to modify their behavior given a different set of events (Chance, 2008). As managers, we want to create change, improve existing skills, and diminish inappropriate behavior or behavior sets (i.e. groups of similar behaviors) so we can help employees improve their own performance and thus that of the business. Evolution has an important place in learning. Influenced by natural selection and adaptive behaviors, it references the change in traits of a population over a period of time. By the same token, if employees cannot learn and adapt within their work environment, there is a good chance they may miss out on workplace advancement opportunities, promotions or performance-related pay increases. Conversely, ongoing inadequate work performance or a poor work attitude can result in a demotion or even termination. Also, be aware that there is a consensus in human resource management that most employees leave because of the employer and not the actual job they are performing. Be a positive, kind, inspiring and empathetic manager and you will develop a loyal and willing team of employees that help you and your business succeed. n References Chance, P. (2008). Learning and Behavior. Wadsworth Cengage Learning. Belmont, CA.

Niki Tudge PCBC-A AABP-CDBT AAPB – CDT is founder and president of the Pet Professional Guild (, The DogSmith (, a national dog training and pet-care license, and DogNostics Career College (, and president of Doggone Safe ( She has business degrees from Oxford Brookes University, UK and has achieved her DipABT and DipCBST. Recently, she has published People Training Skills for Pet Professionals – Your essential guide to engaging, educating and empowering your human clients, Training Big for Small Businesses, and A Kids’ Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog.


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


THERE ARE A NUMBER OF TOOLS AT YOUR DISPOSAL: s The Examination Study Guide: s The Case Study Template: s The Facebook Applicant Support Group - To join, email: s ABA Dictionary: BARKS from the Guild/January 2018


Ask the Experts: A Range of Service Choices Veronica Boutelle of dog*tec responds to

pet professionals’ questions on all things

business and marketing

Q: What ideas do you have for getting more students to stick with training after basic manners? I get so frustrated with the “one-and-done” mentality of dog people in my area! I try and try but can’t convince students that one class isn’t enough. - Elisa H.

A: The “one-and-done” approach to dog training classes is a challenge just about everywhere. For one thing, people are over-busy and it’s too tempting to check to-do items off our never-ending lists. Grocery shopping—check! Pick up school supplies for the kids—check! Get the dog trained—check! The other contributing factor is harder for us dog trainers to understand—a lack of interest in training. While your students definitely want a well-trained dog, if they’re like most dog people, they don’t actually want to do the training work. While this sounds like a travesty to our ears, it shouldn’t. Most parents want well-educated children but few make the decision to home school.

While your students definitely want a welltrained dog, if they’re like most dog people they don’t actually want to do the training work.

There are several ways to ensure clients and their dogs come back for more training © Can Stock Photo /adogslifephoto

We aren’t likely to change these factors working against us, but here are some ways to help work around them: Offer topics classes. Unless you’re a dog trainer, six more weeks of working the same behaviors at a higher level just isn’t a sexy sell no matter how you spin it. That’s why we started experimenting some years back with what we call topics classes— short classes focused on a single topic. Most dog people will be hard-pressed to agree

to an additional commitment of precious time and financial resources for “intermediate basic manners.” But ask them to come back for four weeks dedicated to a common pain point like loose leash walking or recall and you’re going to get takers. dog*tec clients using our Topics Classes Curriculum have seen sharp increases in post-basic manners program retention. Upsell early. It’s a mistake to wait until graduation week to tell students which class they should take next. Start planting the seeds early, mentioning your other classes whenever a natural opportunity arises. Give each student a personal recommendation card at their penultimate class, and offer a small discount for students who enroll during or before their graduation week. Get out of the classroom. Field trip classes—guided outings for intermediate or advanced dog-and-student teams, are a great way to further differentiate your class program, create motivation to complete prerequisite classes, keep students coming back, and get a little marketing done all at the same time. Be sure to wear logo clothing and have printed class information at hand to offer anyone who asks what you’re up to. You can also turn a fieldtrip class into a recurring course or membership program for your super keen return students. Think about giving them logo clothing too, or branded bandanas for their dogs to wear. Provide day training. This may seem like odd advice in an answer about increasing class retention, but the reality is that a certain percentage of students are never going to take more than one class. What some of them might do, though, is pay you to advance their training progress for them. It never hurts to provide service choices to help keep more dogs and people engaged with you longer. n Do you have a question for the business experts at dog*tec? Submit your question for consideration to: Learn how

can help your business:

Veronica Boutelle MA Ed CTC is founder and co-president of dog*tec (, and author of How to Run Your Dog Business and co-author of Minding Your Dog Business. dog*tec offers professionally-designed positive reinforcement dog training class curricula, including Open-Enrollment Puppy, Open-Enrollment Basic Manners, and short Topics classes built for retention.


BARKS from the Guild is a 64 page bi-monthly pet industry trade publication widely read by Pet Professional Guild members, pet industry professionals and pet owners online (and in print by subscription). BARKS covers a vast range of topics encompassing animal behavior, pet care, training, education, industry trends, business and much more. If you’d like to reach your target audience then BARKS is the perfect vehicle to achieve that goal.

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018



A Passion for Dogs In our ongoing series of PPG member profiles, this

month BARKS features Angel Rowe of Rowes K9


Academy in Leduc, Alberta

s a child, Angel Rowe always had a passion for dogs, with the dream to one day make it to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. As he got older, his passion for dogs ignited, and he started becoming obsessed with learning about dog breeds, their jobs and their history.

(Clockwise from top left) Vanilla with Angel Rowe, Zephyr and MotoMoto

Q: Can you tell us a bit more about yourself, how you first got into animal behavior and training and what you are doing now?

A: I got my first job at the age of 16 at a boarding kennel. Seeing how that kennel was set up, as well as seeing how many of the dogs there lacked even basic obedience skills, drove me to set the goal of opening a day care and boarding center, and learning how to train dogs. So began my adventure of working harder with my dogs, while finding any book I could get my hands on to teach myself how to teach. In 2013, I worked at a local day care and was shadowing classes with a local trainer. That day care and those classes taught me what kind of establishment I did not want to run, and what teaching style I was not okay with. I then started using the information I had learned from that same trainer and applying it in a friendlier, force-free manner. In 2015, I moved to Red Deer, Alberta, where I adopted a second dog, and that was the dog who started my career and personal journey in dog sports. I found an amazing dog trainer, who later pretty much became family. I took numerous classes with her, including agility, rally, and she taught me how to get into the show circuit. From there a new obsession was born. I did 15 shows with my one dog and three with my second dog in that one year. I was hooked and obsessed. I then moved back to Leduc with my new-found knowledge and passion and realized it was not available in my area. My new goal, then, was to make it available. I studied and completed course after course; anything online I could get my hands on from nutrition, to behavior, to sports training. I then turned to practical implementation and started hosting outdoor classes in basic obedience, followed by private lessons and board and trains. In early 2016, J and A Pet Services was born, offering in-home dog day care, boarding and training. My passion and dream started coming to life, but we hit one snag in that we outgrew our in-home division too quickly. In 2017, Rowes K9 Academy was born. J and A partnered with a newly opened dog day care in Leduc; from there, the new adventure of growing force-free training and teaching people the many activities and sports you can do with your dog began. 60

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018

Photo: Angel Rowe

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

A: I have three dogs. Vanilla is a Chihuahua, and has been my inspiration and best friend. He has been by my side through my best and worst times. He is what drove my passion that much more to become force-free and teach people that is the way to go. He also was my first show dog, and is my daily reminder that I need to smile. Zephyr is an adoptee who was rescued from a native reserve in Alberta, and he became my project dog. He loves to learn. In two shows he became titled in Rally Obedience Novice, and his continual growth to get past his fears makes me so proud of him daily. He has taught me a lot about myself and that it is okay to be afraid sometimes, but at the end of the day not to let the fear consume me. He has grown his sports to not only rally, but chase, barn hunting and now scent detection. MotoMoto was an “end of the driveway” dog. He competed in his first fun match for barn hunting and has proven to be an incredibly smart dog and a dog with a passion to learn. No matter what task or request I make of him, he shines at it. He is also a large goofball, who is always making me smile. From a very

young age he has proven his intelligence and he loves to mirror and mimic. His newest thing is sitting on a chair like a human. I have a bad habit of sitting on the arm of a chair and he now does that same thing. He is my constant reminder to just be goofy sometimes and make sure it’s always fun. Q: Who has most influenced your career and how?

A: Dr. Ian Dunbar. His methods are inspirational and he is very easy to listen to. Also, Sheena Melone and Stacy Gheseger, who taught me the world of dog sports and took me under their wing. They have always been there for me and the knowledge they have provided me with is beyond incredible. Q: Why did you become a dog trainer or pet care provider?

A: I saw in my area there was a need for a good facility with trained and passionate staff, and that there was a need for a passionate trainer who respects not only the dogs but their owners as well. It has become my mission in my area to prove and show that force-free is the way. Q: Are you a crossover trainer or have you always been a forcefree trainer?

A: I mentored for a very short time under a trainer who used force and aversive methods. I never agreed with them but did learn a lot about the things I never wanted to become or use myself. Q: What drives you to be a force-free professional and why is it important to you?

A: I believe it is a privilege to get to work with such amazing animals and because of that we need to respect them more. There is no reason to force a dog to listen or respond when you can get the same results with time, patience and consistency.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?


A: I love watching dogs’ progressive growth, especially fearful and timid dogs. I love to watch them start coming out of their shell and showing who they really are.

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

A: Rally Novice A with two dogs – both have achieved a high in class placement; Rally Intermediate 1 leg at my dog’s second show with a 2nd in class placement; Chase Ability 1 leg; PreNovice Obedience 1 leg. Q: What advice would you give to a new trainer starting out?

A: Be 100 percent force-free but consider studying under someone who uses aversive methods because it will remind you to constantly be better than that, and that you do not need to use those methods to achieve better results with the dogs.

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

A: It has opened my world up to another community with the common goals of force-free training. n

Rowes K9 Academy ( is located in Leduc, Alberta, Canada To be featured in the BARKS Profile section, please complete this form:

Q: What are some of your favorite positive reinforcement techniques for the most commonly encountered client-dog problems? A: Classical conditioning, followed by lure reward training, followed by variable duration and ratio reinforcement. Q: What do you consider to be your area of expertise?

A: Pet dogs.

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

A: Knowing I have been able to help owners create a stronger bond with their dog, while helping the dog become better integrated into their home and the community.


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

Email: BARKS from the Guild/January 2018



Taking Shock off the Table

Susan Nilson and Louise Stapleton-Frappell asked a group of renowned canine training and

behavior experts how they would convince pet owners that electric shock must be off the

table in the training, care and behavior modification of any pet. Here are their responses: Veronica Boutelle, founder, dog*tec:

One of the things that we always have to think about is, ‘What is the owner’s motivation?’ Our job as dog trainers is to get them the best possible results that we can. I think a lot of that is coming from that perspective, and, rather than trying to dislodge a deeply held belief, instead try to talk to clients about what you want for them, which is ‘I want to give you the very best possible chance of success. This is what we know scientifically works and what I know from my experience, so give me a chance to show you.’

Janis Bradley, director of communications and publications, National Canine Research Council:

I can tell you that it is absolutely true that you can change your dog’s behavior by using pain and then the subsequent fear of more pain. It is up to you to make the decision, and I can’t make the decision for you as to whether that’s the basis that you want to have for your relationship with your dog. I am assuming that you have called me because you love your dog, so your answer is probably ‘no.’

Malena DeMartini, canine separation anxiety disorder expert:

I think when working with what maybe one may term a resistant pet owner, relatability, empathy, and understanding are so important. [This means being] able to tap into their motivation and say: ‘I know you love your dog; I can train you and your dog to change these behaviors in a way that will not use fear or pain which could irreparably damage your relationship.’

Dr. Soraya Juarbe-Diaz, veterinary behaviorist:

As a veterinary behaviorist, unfortunately, dogs that have been shocked are the hardest patients I have to treat, and a lot of the time I cannot help them further. Going back to the humaneness of the event, if you would not allow your child to be shocked for any reason – and I know medically we are really debating the use of electrical shock in mental illness – why would you allow it on someone who is like a child, in that they cannot say how much it hurts and how much it affects their relationship with you? If you are going to solve the problem that you have because of the behavior, [try] seeing it from the patient’s point of view. How can you help the patient to understand what you want them to do if you scare them and hurt them? Next time they are supposed to make the guess, they are probably not going to try.

Ken Ramirez, executive vice president and chief training officer, Karen Pryor Clicker Training:

I always have difficulty with any kind of tool which might cause discomfort or pain to any animal, so I would like to encourage you to think about letting me show you some other techniques that are just as effective and might be much more fun, and actually increase the learning capabilities of your pet.

Sarah Richter, founder, Simply Animal Training LLC:

Shock and causing pain doesn’t solve a problem. It doesn’t teach the animal what to do, so focusing on what to do is what is important, just as we would with a child. We wouldn’t just [punish a child] and not say anything, we would say, ‘This is why, you are doing something wrong and we would like you to do this instead.’

Angelica Steinker, president and founder, Courteous Canine the DogSmith of Tampa:

I would suggest that we do an experiment and I’ll show you some fun techniques and some ways to use play to modify your dog’s behavior. If you give me a week or two to implement my suggestions I would love that, and then it will be like a science experiment. We’ll see what happens, because I think you’re going to be very happy with the results. n There’s Nothing Shocking About Why Shock Devices Can Be Harmful to Pets

Sign the Pledge! Studies show that shock devices are unnecessary and have the potential to be very dangerous. Shock Devices: Suppress behaviors instead of addressing underlying causes Can create behavioral problems Can malfunction causing serious injury Jeopardize your pet’s health, welfare, and the bond you share with your pet

Dr. Robert King, assistant professor of marketing, West Texas A&M University:

If I was ever going to tell someone how to take shock off the table, I would give them an example and say, ‘Would you be willing for me to teach you matrix algebra in Mandarin, and then every time you get the question wrong I will shock you?’ That’s what’s happening with the animal. The animal doesn’t speak our language and the animal doesn’t understand, so he does not know what to do correctly. [Rather], he is learning what hurts and how to avoid that.

Pat Miller, director, Peaceable Paws Trainer Academies and Training Programs:

It is absolutely not necessary to hurt or shock your dog in order to effectively train him, and if it is not necessary, why on earth would you? 62

BARKS from the Guild/January 2018

“The behaviors for which people wish to use shock in dogs are those that annoy humans. These behaviors are either signals or nonspecific signs of underlying distress. The question should be, are we doing harm when we use shock to extinguish behaviors, some of which may be normal? If one is considering the mechanism of cellular learning, the answer must be yes.” - Dr. Karen L. Overall MA VMD Ph.D. DACVB, editor-in-chief, Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research.

“Electric shock has no place in modern dog training and behavior management. It is never necessary, and is inhumane and side effect-laden. I know of no valid argument for the continued sale of these devices.” - Jean Donaldson, founder and principal instructor, The Academy for Dog Trainers and author of The Culture Clash.

Sign Our Pledge to Eliminate Electric Shock in the Training, Care and Management of Pets Shock devices have been shown to cause serious behavioral problems in pets, from anxiety to aggression, and can cause physical injury. Even worse, these devices are often used to stop natural behaviors that your pet may be using to try to communicate with you. Positive reinforcement is a far more effective and safe way to address behavioral issues and teach appropriate behaviors. Positive reinforcement provides you with the power to change behaviors for the better without jeopardizing your pet’s health, welfare, or your relationship.

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Pet Professional Guild’s Australia Summit July 27-29, 2018

FFeaturing eaturin turing ngg rrenowned enowned sp e kers: eak speakers: Kath Kathyy SSdao, dao o, D Dr.r. Kat Gr Gregory, egorry, Janis Br Bradley, radley adleyy, Nik Nikii Tudge TTudge, ud dgee, M Michele ichele P Pouilot, ouilot, LLouise ouise Ginman, Barbara Hodel, Louise Newman, Alexis Davison and Laura Ryder.

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The Pet Professional Guild's Training & Behavior Analysis Workshop Best Friends Animal Sanctuary April, 22 - 26, 2018, Kanab, 4 Days of Lectures, Workshops & Hands-on Clinics With Industry Experts Across Multiple Species.

Focusing on helping pets develop skills to reinforce successful adoption and integration into a family home

Essential information for all professional trainers and behavior consultants.

Featuring Janis Bradley, Chirag Patel, Emily Larlham, Jacqueline Munera, Emily Cassell and Lara Joseph With Best Friends experts Dr Franklin McMillan, Sherry Woodard, Glenn Pierce and a special presentation by Best Friends Co-Founder, Faith Maloney.