BARKS from the Guild Issue 49 / July 2021
TRAINING Rebuilding Trust FELINE Evaluating Unfair Bias
TRAINING Service Dogs, ESAs, and the Law EQUINE What Are Horses Saying? CANINE What Makes a “Good” Temperament
© Can Stock Photo / castenoid
BUSINESS Fostering Client Commitment CANINE What to Look for in a Boarding Facility
Understanding, Recognizing and Managing the Impacts of Stress on Canine Behavior TM
November 13 - 17, 2021
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BARKS from the Guild Published by the Pet Professional Guild 2609 N Forest Ridge Blvd #179 Hernando, FL 34442, USA Tel: +1-844-462-6473 Pet Professional Guild BARKS from the Guild BARKS on Facebook Editor-in-Chief Susan Nilson Images © Can Stock Photo (unless otherwise credited; uncredited images belong to Pet Professional Guild) Pet Professional Guild Steering Committee Daniel Antolec, Kelly Fahey, Paula Garber, Don Hanson, Kelly Lee, Judy Luther, Debra Millikan, Susan Nilson, Mary Richards, Dr. Pam Shultz, Louise Stapleton-Frappell, 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 see Submission Policy Procedures for detailed guidelines prior to sending manuscripts. Please submit all contributions to the Editor. 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 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 available to all subscribers free of charge. Print-on-demand copies are available to subscribers by special order. Subscribers can access all current and back issues, PDF downloads and the option to order print-on-demand copies in the Members’ Area. Subscribe here. Please contact PPG membership manager Rebekah King for all subscription and distribution-related inquiries. Advertising Please contact Kelly Fahey to obtain a copy of rates, ad speciﬁcations, format requirements and deadlines. These are also available here. Pet Professional Guild 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. Pet Professional Guild reserves the right to reject, at its discretion, any advertising. To be in any way aﬃliated with the Pet Professional Guild, all members must adhere to a strict code of conduct. Pet Professional Guild members understand force-free to mean that no pain, force or fear and no shock, choke or prong are ever employed to train or care for a pet. © 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 the Editor.
’ve lived with my fair share of stressed dogs. Having, over the years, adopted several shelter long stayers, as well as gathered up an emaci ated dog covered in burns from the street, and integrated them all into our home with several rescue cats, canine stress is something I have be come more and more familiar with with the addition of each dog. While each new resident had their own unique story, one specifi cally comes to mind, simply because I underestimated how long it would take her to decompress. Enter Maggie May, the dog in a million, born on a Texan ranch, transported to California, adopted by a Holly wood actress, then, sadly, relinquished to rescue because she did not get along with the actress’s son’s dog. One day I turned up to work with my usual set of dogs at the shelter where I did some volunteer clicker training, and there she was. The shel ter manager wanted me to meet her and see what I thought. I was im mediately captivated by her. A large pit/Lab mix, she was engaged and energetic and super friendly. “What a fabulous dog,” I told the shelter manager. I added her to my long list of dogs that I would work with as often as I could get round to them. Fast forward a few months and Maggie was not doing well in the shel ter. She was no longer such a willing participant in her training sessions and so sometimes we would go for a walk instead, or just sit and hang out. The shelter staff did not like to leave her outside in the run for long because she would bark. It distressed her to be left alone. They didn’t want to intro duce her to another dog at this stage, given her history. And so, more often than not, she would be brought back inside to the main building quickly, and that’s where she would spend the majority of her time. One day as I walked past her pen, she met my gaze in desperation, begging me to get her out of there. Yes okay, I may have embellished a lit tle there. Maybe. But the message was clear. Maggie was lonely, unhappy, and extremely stressed. At home, we already had our three adopted res cue dogs plus our adopted street dog, and were not planning to add an other. But, after deliberating for a week or two, I took her home anyway. I did slow introductions with each of our dogs individually. All went well. I arranged a lovely quiet, cozy room for Maggie where she could decompress on her own. She had her bed, her toys, her treats, her chewy, her water, her peace and quiet. What could be better? She didn’t want to be in there. She cried, she barked, she paced, she whined. She practically broke down the door. Plan B then. Use a dog gate instead of closing the door. She burst straight through it. On to Plan C. Allow her to be out, on a leash, in the main living area with the oth ers, with one of us sleeping on the sofa to make sure things stayed calm. We went on like this for a while, during which time Maggie would do anything to stop you leaving the house. She’d grab your bag, your shoes, your arm… She’d jump on you. Sit on your feet. Anything to try to make you stay. Whereas I had initially thought she was getting along well with the other dogs, fractures started to appear which we had to quickly nip in the bud. We got there in the end and were blessed with several wonderful years with her. As I said, she was a dog in a million. Looking back on it now, I realize I expected too much of her too soon. In the photos I took of her on that first day and those first few weeks, I can see signs of stress that I hadn’t been as cognizant of as I should have. The shelter environment had really taken a toll on her and it is to her eternal credit that she coped as well as she did. As she started to relax, and after working with her for a while, Maggie was more than happy to be left home alone with the other dogs and a big old stuffed Kong, but usually we took her with us anyway as it was just so much fun to have her around. And so that’s my little tale of canine stress. Don Hanson has a lot more on the topic in our cover feature this month, in which he examines how guardians can manage and address stress in their dogs, as well as how they can recognize and understand the physiological and emotional responses to stress, and their ensuing impact on the dog’s behavior. Enjoy the read, enjoy the issue, and see you next time round!
n Susan Nilso
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
N EWS Early Bird registration for Geek Week 2021, BIPOC scholarships, Shock-Free Coalition tagline competition winners, new PPG corporate partners, Project Trade, workshops, webinars, and podcasts
U NDERSTANDING , I DENTIFYING , S TRESS
Don Hanson examines how dog guardians can manage and address stress, as well as how they can recognize and understand the physiological and emotional responses to stress and their ensuing impact on the dog’s behavior
T HE B EST L AID P LANS Dr. Sheryl L. Walker reviews a study that investigates whether the quality of a guardian’s relationship with their dog is related to decisions they make before the dog is actually acquired
W HAT M AKES
G OOD T EMPERAMENT ?
Susan Claire investigates what guardians can – and cannot – do to influence their dogs’ temperaments and set them up for success in their home environments
G REAT E XPECTATIONS Rachel Brix highlights the most important factors to consider when looking for a boarding facility, as well as potential red flags to watch out for
T HE E VER -C HANGING W ORLD
S ERVICE D OG T RAINING
Veronica Sanchez explains why recent changes in the law regarding service dogs and emotional support animals is creating a growing need for trainers to support people with disabilities who are training their own dogs
Mel Ritterman discusses the essentials that professionals must know when working to help families with kids and dogs
I S L OVE E NOUGH ? June Pennell details the case of her fearful rescue dog Robbie, a dog so shut down he would not make eye contact, and how she worked to build his trust
B EYOND B EHAVIOR C HANGE Anna Bradley investigates how to help clients whose dogs need a little extra assistance to make progress with their behavior change programs
Kathie Gregory examines the nuances of the different equine vocalizations to decipher what horses are saying, and compares them with their canine equivalents
T HE P ROBLEM
“F URRY L ITTLE H UMANS ”
Andrea Carne discusses a new study that highlights unfair bias in evaluating cat behavior
E XPERTS : J UST S AY N O
Veronica Boutelle discusses how to take the guilt out of saying no
E XPECTATIONS , C OMMITMENT D EVICES , I NCENTIVES R EINFORCEMENT
Niki Tudge drills down on how to ensure commitment and cooperation between clients and pet professionals
P ROFILE : A DVOCATING
BARKS features Rain Jordan of Expert Canine and The Fearful Dogs Project in Warrenton, Oregon
C OMMENT : L ESSONS
Kathy Wolff gives a brutally honest account of how and why the stress she, as a naturally anxious person, has experienced during the pandemic has helped her gain a more profound understanding of anxious dogs
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
n e w s Geek Week Early Bird Registration Available till July 31
PG’s virtual event Geek Week, taking place on November 1317, 2021, is now open for registration. Sign up now for your special Early Bird Rate of $200 for members of the hosting organizations (PPG, Asso ciation of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) Australia, INTODogs UK, Pet Profes sional Guild Australia, and Pet Professional Guild British Isles) and $250 for public admission. Early Bird is available till July 31, 2021.
Get Your Early Bird Discount Sign Up for Geek Week Today! Special Features at Geek Week 2021 • • •
• • • • • • • •
24 hours of presentations each day. Two general sessions, chaired by an academic keynote speaker or skill expert, at 8 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. ET each day. On days 2, 3, and 4, the general sessions will be supported by three educational tracks, the Academic Track (The A Track), the Behavior Track (The B Track) and the Consult ing Track (The C Track). The tracks will run simultaneously, a minimum of three hours apart. On days 1 and 5, the general sessions will be supported by several of the A, B and C tracks, a virtual cocktail party, panel discussions, and other fun activities. The schedule has been struc tured so it will be accessible to all time zones. CEUs available: All sessions will be recorded and available for six months after the event. Live Q&A sessions with each presenter. Fabulous prize opportunities and fun competitions. Brand new platform with enhanced attendee networking, and chat functions. Sponsor Spotlight sessions to get up close and personal with your event sponsors. Daily chances to win raffle prizes. 7day fun warm up with daily raffles and presenter interviews, starting November 6, 2021. Meet the Author sessions where you can chat with your fa vorite authors and purchase a signed copy of their featured book. Geek Week 2021 will be rescuefocused and support the on going education of shelter and rescue staff. Hosted by four collaborating, aligned industry associations.
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
A Track The A Track will feature national and international academics introduc ing and discussing their research or reviewing the current literature in their field of endeavor. Each session will be scholarly in nature, breaking down a research subject, its data, findings, and recommendations.
B Track The B Track is a behavior ‘howto’ track featuring highly proficient, handson, mechanically skilled dog trainers who will, throughout their presentations give attendees a takeaway ‘howto’ of their subject. The scope of the howto sessions will be narrow, and the knowledge avail able will be rich. Attendees will leave a ‘howto’ session with a compre hensive understanding of how the presented skill is trained and performed. Each presentation will include the title, a breakdown of the task skills, the required criteria, the goals of the task, the training steps to teach/train the skill and will also include explanatory videos.
C Track The C Track will cover consulting, market ing, and personal growth topics. This track is designed to support personal develop ment and business growth skills. Topics may be academic in nature or may be op erationally focused. They may also in clude human resource subjects. Subjects will be relative to both personal and business growth for everyone, from private consultants to volunteer organizations and rescues/shelters.
Presenters The presenter lineup for Geek Week 2021 has now been announced.
See Your Geek Week Presenters for the full list.
Sponsorship Programs PPG is offering a wide array of sponsorship opportunities for Geek Week 2021. Option One: Sponsor Partner Option Two: Sponsor Spotlight Option Three: Meet the Author Option Four: Swag Bag Pricing options are available to provide the best value to suit each individual sponsor’s needs. Early Bird pricing extends till August 31, 2021.
Sign up to be a Geek Week sponsor.
n e w s PPG Announces Geek Week Scholarships for the BIPOC Community
ach month, starting in June and running till October, the PPG Inclu sivity Committee is awarding FOUR Scholarships to Geek Week, PPG’s virtual summit taking place on November 1317, 2021.
Apply for Your Geek Week Scholarship
Application Submission Dates
Scholarship Notification Dates
(submit your application between these date ranges) June 1225, 2021 July 1225, 2021 August 1225, 2021 September 1225, 2021 October 1225, 2021
(successful applicants will be notified by these dates) June 30, 2021 July 30, 2021 August 30, 2021 September 30, 2021 October 30, 2021
STOP PRESS: INTRODUCING THE PPG DOG LOUNGE! Following the success of the PPG Feline Committee’s Cat Lounge, the PPG Canine Com‐ mittee has started hosting a Dog Lounge for PPG members only. The Dog Lounge is a virtual get together to discuss and share ideas. Each session will feature a diﬀerent topic. There is a new Facebook group especially for the Dog Lounge, where you can get updates about upcoming topics, dates and times. Join the PPG Dog Lounge Facebook group. You will be asked for a passcode when you ﬁrst join. You can ﬁnd the passcode here in the PPG members’ Facebook group. The next Dog Lounge will take place on July 27, 2021.
Shock-Free Coalition ‘Tag It’ Competition Update
Join PPG on Twitter, Instagram; All about Cats & Horses Facebook Groups
s PPG received so many great entries for the ShockFree Coalition tagline competition, we are going to need to take a little longer to go through them and pick a winner. Results will be announced as soon as possible. Watch this space! Meanwhile, have you Signed the Pledge? The key purpose of the Shock Free Coalition is to build a strong and broad movement committed to eliminating shock devices from the supply and demand chain. This goal will be reached when shock tools and equipment are universally un available and not permitted for the training, management and care of pets. Sign the ShockFree Pledge today and help spread the word!
PG members are invited to join the PPG All about Cats and PPG All about Horses Facebook groups to learn more about feline and equine behavior and ask questions on anything related to cats or horses. PPG also has an active Twitter account and often tweets about new scientiﬁc research studies, plus blogs and videos that are of interest to pet professionals, in addition to its own news, blog posts, educational hand outs and articles. Join us there @PetGuild. And last but not least, head over to Instagram and connect with us there © Can Stock Photo / verdateo @PetProfessionalGuild too. © Can Stock Photo / websubstance
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
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n e w s PPG Welcomes Pet Pro Marketing and PocketSuite as Corporate Partners
PG is delighted to welcome PocketSuite and Pet Pro Marketing as new corporate partners and thanks them both for their support.
Pet Pro Marketing, a division of Firelink Digital Marketing, is a boutique digital marketing service tailored specifically to the needs of pet care professionals. Led by an experienced digital marketing consultant with extensive experience in the companion animal care industry, Pet Pro Marketing can help you create an effective online presence through website design, search engine optimization, content marketing and so cial media strategy with a friendly, supportive approach.
For more details on special member vendor discounts, please check your PPG Members’ Area (Note: you must be logged in)
PocketSuite is an allinone business app for dog trainers to book and message clients, and to get paid for their services. PocketSuite makes it simpler for you to run your own business: stay organized, look profes sional, and manage it — all in one app.
Special Offer for PPG Members! As a PPG member, you are invited to download the Dog Trainer Edition of PocketSuite and try if for FREE for the first two months. The Dog Trainer Edition provides simple automations that go a long way – fill up your classes with a few taps and let PocketSuite handle your Open Enrollment needs while you focus on what you love. You can find the discount code in the members' area of the PPG website.
PPG Names Project Trade Ambassadors for April, May
ongratulations to Trista Miller of Polite Paws in Indiana, USA for ex changing one shock collar (below left) and who has been named Project Trade Ambassador for April 2021. Congratulations, too, to Tabitha Davies of All Big Canines in California, USA for exchanging six shock collars and one prong collar (below second left), and who has been named Project Trade Ambassador for May 2021. Finally, congratulations again to Trista Miller for exchanging a fur ther three prong collars and two shock collars in May (below second right), and to Margie Wiesman of Island Dog Training in Alabama, USA for exchanging one shock collar (below right).
Project Trade is an international opt‐in advocacy program for PPG members that promotes the use of force‐free training equipment by asking pet guardians to trade choke, prong and shock collars (and any other aversive devices). Sign up today! Find out more about how Project Trade can help your business in Helping Dogs, Helping Families, BARKS from the Guild, March 2017, pp.20‐25).
- Listen on the Anchor Platform
ARKS Podcasts are available on the Anchor platform, from where you can select your preferred app to listen any time or download. Make sure you follow BARKS Podcasts on whichever app you choose so you can stay updated with new releases. In the most recent podcasts, join PPG president Niki Tudge as she chats to: Ken MacLeod of My Positive Pup about the incredible results he got with his reactive puppy Scooter via positive reinforcement training and how they inspired him teach others (June 4, 2021). Listen here. Rain Jordan from The Fearful Dogs Project about how she helps dogs and the humans who care for them move beyond fear and enjoy their lives together, with as little distress –and as much joy – as possible (May 29, 2021). Listen here. Dr. Kristina Spaulding of Smart Dog Training and Behavior about canine stress (May 7, 2021). Listen here. BARKS News – May 2021 edition / June 2021 edition
he Chat & Chuckle format for PPG’s BARKS Podcasts and PPG Face book Live sessions is purposely casual to create a freeflowing con versation between the host and the guest. There are no staged questions! This ensures we have a fun and nat ural dialogue to support the concept of Chatting & Chuckling. Host Niki Tudge simply guides the discussions around the guest, their areas of specialty, and their business interests. You too can share your knowledge and experience with PPG mem bers and supporters!
Join Niki Tudge as a guest on one of our BARKS Podcasts! You can find older podcasts in the BARKS Podcasts Library and on PPG’s YouTube and Vimeo channels.
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
n e w s Earn Your CEUs via PPG’s Webinars, Workshops and Educational Summits! Webinars
PPG Webinars On Demand
Behavior Differences in Deaf and/or Visually Impaired Dogs Presented by Dr. Morag Heirs Thursday, July 1, 2021 / 10 a.m. (EDT)
Listen or watch any time!
EvidenceBased Practice for Animal Professions (Where’s the Evi dence?): Part One Presented by Dr. Morag Heirs Tuesday, July 6, 2021 / 11 a.m. (EDT)
Workshops Your PORTL to Shaping Presented by Mary Hunter Saturday, April 9, 2022 Sunday, April 10, 2022
Can Being a Little More Human Make a Difference? Presented by Dr. Robert Hewings Monday, July 12, 2021 / 2 p.m. (EDT) Stress, Recuperation Rates and Elizabethan Collars Let's Smash the 'Cone of Shame' and Replace it with the 'Sunflower Shield' Presented by Louise StapletonFrappell Wednesday, July 28, 2021 / 11 a.m. (EDT) It Takes a Village: The Team Approach to Treating Emotional Dis order in Dogs Presented by Dr. Lisa Radosta Monday, August 9, 2021 / 4 p.m. EvidenceBased Practice for Animal Professions (Critical Appraisal or How to Read a Paper): Part Two Presented by Dr. Morag Heirs Tuesday, August 10, 2021 / 12 p.m. (EDT) Scentwork Solutions for Common Behavioral Problems Presented by Dr. Morag Heirs Tuesday, August 17, 2021 / 12 p.m. (EDT) “No! That’s MY Owner!” Helping Dogs That Fight Over Their Owner Presented by Michael Shikashio Wednesday, August 18, 2021 / 12 p.m. (EDT) It Takes a Village: Cases Presented by Dr. Lisa Radosta Monday, August 30, 2021 / 4 p.m. (EDT) Imagination and Creativity Presented by Dr. Robert Hewings Monday, September 13, 2021 / 2 p.m. (EDT) Who Controls the Training Session You or the Animal? Presented by Dr. Karolina Westlund Wednesday, October 6, 2021 / 2 p.m. (EDT) Inside the Matrix Presented by Dr. Lisa Radosta Monday, October 11, 2021 / 4 p.m. (EDT) How Cognitive Biases Interfere with How We Acquire Knowledge Presented by Dr. Karolina Westlund Wednesday, October 20, 2021 / 2 p.m. (EDT)
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
PPG Geek Week 2021 (Virtual) Saturday, November 13 Wednesday, November 17, 2021 Note: All dates and times are correct at time of going to press but are subject to change. Please check PPG website for an updated list of all events, workshops and webinars, as well as discounted and on‐demand webinars.
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Two of the calming signals seen frequently in dogs are licking the nose (right) and yawning (above)
Understanding, Identifying, and Coping with Canine Stress Don Hanson examines how dog guardians can manage and address stress, as well as how they can recognize and understand the physiological and emotional responses to stress and their ensuing impact on the dog’s behavior
ust like us, our dogs can and do experience stress. And just as stress can make us feel afraid, hyper, edgy, or irritable, it can do the same to our dogs. As a pet behavior consultant, I have observed that most behavior problems with pets, especially the more serious, such as ag gression and separation anxiety, are related to one or more stressors in the animal’s life. It is a wellestablished fact that chronic stress can have a detrimental effect on our behavior, health, and overall wellbeing. If we want our dogs to have long and healthy lives, in my opinion, we also have an obligation to understand stress and its impact so we can do whatever is necessary to minimize stress in the lives of our canine friends.
Stress Defined: “A physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation.” – MerriamWebster (n.d.)
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
"Good" Stress vs. "Bad" Stress Certain levels of stress are normal and even necessary for survival and the development of gray matter in the brain. Often, when people hear the word "stress," they immediately start thinking about "distress" and the harm it can do. Distress is associated with negative emotions such as anger, fear, and sadness. Negative emotions are those that most of us will avoid if given the opportunity. They are undesirable because they make us feel bad. The brain remembers these bad things in one trial, thereby learning to avoid suffering in the future. However, while limited amounts of distress can be good for us, the susceptibility to distress varies with each individual organism. How an individual responds to dis tress is often affected by a combination of inherited genes and events within the organism's environment. Distress can start as an acute inci dent and rapidly become chronic until an organism collapses in exhaus tion or selfdestructs. Yet people do not always consider the positive aspects of stress. They may, therefore, not be familiar with the term eustress. Eustress al lows an organism to utilize energy positively and assists in the develop
© Don Hanson
© Can Stock Photo / sponner
c o v e r
c o v e r ment of new capabilities. A positive emotion associated with eustress is happiness. Positive emotions are those that most of us enjoy experienc ing because they are pleasant. Eustress, in appropriate quantities, is es sential to normal growth. However, as with most things in life, too much of anything can be detrimental. Whether stress is "distress" or "eustress," physiologically, the mani festation of stress in dogs is similar to that in humans, with the same negative and positive effects. Stress can make an individual ill, suppress the immune system, cause behaviors that damage relationships with others, and increase arousal. This increase in arousal dramatically in creases the probability of inappropriate and even aggressive behavior. Both eustress and distress occur over a continuum, as illustrated in Fig. 1 (right). Eustress can range from contentment to excitement to hy perexcitement. Distress can begin with worry, transform to fear, and end in terror. Likewise, frustration can lead to anger and then rage. As the intensity of the emotion increases, an organism reaches a tipping point where it goes into a classic "fight or flight" response.
distress is usually a futile effort. Likewise, the parts of the brain responsi ble for learning something new are shut down at this time. Conversely, when the cerebral cortex is highly active, the limbic system is suppressed. During a stressful situation, the release of various neurotransmitters and stress hormones triggers a plethora of reactions within the body that shuts down all the systems not necessary for survival. Levels of adrenaline, a neurotransmitter, become elevated, increasing pulse rate, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and dilation of bronchial tubes and pupils, preparing the body for the surge of energy necessary for the fight or flight response. Cortisol production also increases, suppressing the immune system and other systems not essential for our shortterm survival. (See Resources for further reading.)
Physiological Effects of Stress When something stressful happens, we (or animals) are frightened or startled, experience physical pain, or are in a state of high emotional arousal due to distress or eustress, our bodies fall under the control of the sympathetic autonomic nervous system (SANS), which is responsible for controlling the fight or flight response. This occurs when our bodies go on autopilot to protect us from the perceived threat. The SANS is closely associated with the limbic system, the section of the brain that deals with the expression and experience of emotions, storage of memories, and expression of aggression. It is the most primi tive part of the brain and is very involved with instinctual survival mech anisms. It is separate from the cerebral cortex, which is thought to be the "thinking" part of the brain and the site of conscious thought and in telligence. Remember, the brain is hardwired to always remember nega tive emotional responses to help ensure our future safety. When the limbic system (emotional autopilot) is activated, the cere bral cortex is suppressed. This is why one does not typically behave ra tionally when in a highly charged emotional state. It is also why expecting our dogs to respond to a welltrained cue when they are in
• • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Any change in environment (schedule, people, animals, increased noise, new scents) Arguments among family members Combination training (rewards and punishment) Excessive play that becomes borderline "obsessive/ compulsive." Excessive stimulation (too much play, doggie daycare, dog sports, etc.) Frustration Grief due to the loss of a companion (human or animal) Humans ignorant of needs and ways of communicating Inappropriate play partners, human or animal Insuﬃcient stimulation Not being taught how to be alone Punitive training (shock, choke, and prong collars) Scary events Too many dogs per available space Unreasonable expectations (expected to like all people and all other animals in all situations, expected to be 100% “on” all the time) Insuﬃcient social time/family time Uncertainty
Graphic © Don Hanson
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
© Can Stock Photo / rjccartoons / HanaSchwarz / sararoom / izakowski
Common Causes of Stress in Dogs •
c o v e r Typical Stress Vocalizations in Dogs • • • • • •
Barking (low pitch = threatening, high pitch = fear/stress) Growling Howling Screaming Whining Whimpering
turns into the negative emotion of frustration. In turn, this may cause the dog to start demand barking and to become aggressive when the person no longer plays the game. That can also lead to chronic stress and its debilitating effects on the body. Sometimes when an individual is subjected to chronic stress, the mechanisms that are supposed to turn off cease to function, so “within a few days, four times as much cortisol as normal is present,” (Scholz & von Reinhardt, 2007) potentially creat ing a mental and physical health crisis.
What Does Stress Feel Like? Stress affects us both physiologically and emotionally, and the two are always interconnected. Whether experiencing eustress or distress, the physiology and the effects on the body are essentially the same. There fore, the most significant difference between the two types of stress is our perception of how we feel:
© Can Stock Photo / sponner
Dogs express themselves and communicate with body language, vocalizations, and behavior
After the stressful situation has passed, the body's stress response is supposed to “turn off,” and neurotransmitters and stress hormones should return to normal levels. However, these changes do not turn off instantly but can take 24 to 72 hours to return to their normal (non stress) levels. As a result, if an organism is exposed to frequent stress events (daily or multiple times per day), those levels may never return to normal. This can place the individual in a chronic state of stress. Think of the dog that aggressively reacts to the mail carrier Monday through Saturday of every week. That dog's stress levels may never get a chance to return to normal. The same can happen with the dog that demands to play fetch every day. While fetching the ball is a positive emotional event for most dogs, for some, it can cause such a state of euphoria that they can become obsessive about it. This positive emotional response
We have all experienced both eustress and distress at some point in our lives. Fortunately, not all of us have experienced extreme eustress or distress.
Brambell's Five Freedoms An animal typically experiences distress when their most basic needs are not met. One of the first and most comprehensive efforts to define an animal's most basic welfare needs started in Great Britain in 1965 with the establishment of the Brambell Commission. This commission,
ATTENTION WRITERS! Get Published in BARKS from the Guild or on the BARKS Blog! Got something to share? We are always on the lookout for interesting features, member profiles, case studies and training tips to feature in BARKS from the Guild and on the BARKS Blog. If you’d like to join the growing band of member contributors, please get in touch!
BARKS BARKS blog from the Guild 14
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
Email: barkseditor @petprofessionalguild.com
c o v e r created by Parliament, was charged with reviewing the treatment of farm animals and developing a minimum standard for meeting their needs. They wrote a document known as The Five Freedoms, which is an excellent starting point for evaluating the welfare of any animal, includ ing companion dogs. The five freedoms are:
1. Ensure Your Pet Is Free from Hunger, Thirst, and Malnutri‐ tion: This sounds relatively simple — provide your dog with food and water, and you have complied with this first freedom. However, I en courage you to give this more thought. Is the food you feed your dog wholesome and a type that would be in their natural diet? Are they al lowed to consume this food in a manner that is natural for their species? We also must consider that too much food is equally bad, as evidenced by the significant number of obese pets we see today.
2. Ensure Your Pet Is Free from Discomfort: Again, this freedom seems relatively straightforward — make sure your pet always has ade quate shelter from temperature and weather extremes. However, there is much more to comfort than hot vs. cold and dry vs. damp. Your dog also needs a quiet, comfortable resting place where they can be undisturbed and where they will feel safe. You need to make sure that their environment is free from things that may cause them harm. Your dog's breed also affects what they need to be comfortable. If they have long hair, they may be unable to groom themselves ade quately. If that is the case, they must be groomed regularly so that their hair does not become tangled and matted, causing them discomfort. Obesity puts a strain on the joints and may cause pain and discom fort, so it is essential to monitor how much we feed our dogs, so they do not become overweight. Lastly, like humans, dogs are social animals. They may depend on in teractions with others, particularly of their species, to be comfortable. However, if they do not feel safe around other dogs, being compelled to live with another dog may cause discomfort. Knowing and responding correctly to your dog's social needs is critical, as is putting their needs above our own where necessary.
3. Ensure Your Pet Is Free from Pain, Injury, and Disease: You can easily meet the requirements of this freedom by ensuring that your pet
When the limbic system (emotional autopilot) is activated, the cerebral cortex is suppressed. This is why one does not typically behave rationally when in a highly charged emotional state. It is also why expecting our dogs to respond to a well-trained cue when they are in distress is usually a futile effort.
receives routine veterinary care. A weekly body check by you can alert you to any changes in your pet's physical condition. Being free from pain is very similar to being free from discomfort, so the dog's grooming needs must again be considered. Remember, dogs are designed by nature not to show pain and thus weakness, so often they will attempt to hide their pain. Obesity and matted coats may both cause pain. Since the use of aversives in training are specifically designed to cause an animal emotional or physical discomfort, we must ensure such methods and tools are never used with our dogs.
4. Ensure Your Pet Is Free to Express Normal Behaviors: To meet this requirement, you first need to know and understand what consti tutes normal and abnormal canine behavior. This can be difficult be cause there is so much incorrect information about canine behavior circulating as myths and perpetuated in outdated books and inaccurate websites. What we know about canine behavior today has changed dramati cally since the 1970s. Many of the old "truths" are false. Statements such as “Dogs are like wolves,” “Dogs are pack animals,” “You must be ‘dominant’ or ‘alpha’ over your dog,” and “Dogs need to be trained with choke collars, shock collars, and alpha wolf rollovers, and other types of intimidation” are both false and harmful. While some might maintain that such statements are supported by scientific research, this is not the case. Managing and training a dog like this is highly likely to cause un necessary and extreme distress for both parties. Indeed, based on what we know about distress, if either the dog or the handler is in a negative emotional state, they are more likely to be irritable, irrational, poten
Key Indications of Stress in Dogs Mouth • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Body Barking Biting Cheek puﬃng Growling Lip Curling Lip/Nose licking Mouth closed tightly, or lips pulled back Excessive salivation or drooling Mouthing Nipping Panting Showing teeth Smiling Snapping Teeth chattering Wrinkled muzzle Whimpering Yawning
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Cowering Defecation Dribbling or submissive urination Excessive shedding Freezing – little or no movement High body posture, rigid forward stance Groveling posture Low body posture, weight shifted back Penis crowning Piloerection (hackles) Shake oﬀ Stretching Sweaty paws Tail up and ﬂagging Tail Tucked Tense all over Tight brow
Trembling/shaking Urogenital "checkout"
Ears • • •
Flattened or lowered Pinned back Upright and alert
Eyes • • • • • • • •
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Avoiding eye contact Blinking or squinting Dilated pupils Furrowed brow Hardened eyes (direct stare with dilated pupils) Staring Tightness around eyes Whale eye/Halfmoon eye © Can Stock Photo / sonjachnuj
c o v e r can stop play before any mouthing occurs. While our dogs, hopefully, enjoy our companionship, many of them also need adequate opportunities to interrelate with others of their own kind in a positive situation. That does not mean you need to have more than one dog, but it does mean your dog may enjoy having some suitable doggie friends in the neighborhood or at doggie daycare. However, ideally these friends should be of a similar temperament, age, size, and play style as far as is possible. The interactions must be enjoyable for all parties. Lastly, not all dogs enjoy the company of other dogs, just as many people do not particularly appreciate interacting with other people. In this case, it is essential to understand that you cannot make a dog like another dog or a person.
© Can Stock Photo / izakowski / cthoman / insima / Tigatelu
5. Ensure Your Pet Is Free from Fear and Distress: I gen
Graphic © Don Hanson
uinely believe that no psychologically healthy human would ever intentionally cause their dog fear or distress. However, lack of knowledge, or incorrect perceptions and beliefs about canine be havior can certainly cause a great deal of fear and distress in our canine companions. As a behavior consultant, I see many dogs for "aggression" that is almost always based on stressrelated fear.
Socialization Socialization tially aggressive, and less likely to be able to learn. This is no way to build or maintain a relationship. PPG and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) have been instrumental in refuting the many myths about canine behavior and training. (See PPG's many position statements and the AAHA's 2015 Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines.) In my 26plus years of experience, the freedom to express normal behaviors is the freedom that pet parents most often overlook. Many are unaware of the vast repertoire of normal dog behaviors. Because they find some of these behaviors undesirable from a human perspec tive, such as "butt sniffing," they categorize them as" abnormal." It is imperative that a pet parent takes the time to learn what constitutes normal behavior for a dog. The best way for them to do so is to enroll in a dog training class taught by an individual who has been certified by ei ther the Pet Professional Accreditation Board (PPAB) or the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT). Minimally, they want to make sure their trainer is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG). Your dog needs adequate space to explore and an enriched environ ment to stimulate their minds and bodies to express normal behaviors. The ability to sniff and explore the world is key to a dog's life. Dog walks are more important for opportunities to sniff than they are for physical exercise. If you are a power walker who likes to walk the same route as fast as you can, your dog will probably be happier at home. Toys enrich your pet's environment by giving them something to play with; however, your dog needs appropriate interaction with living things as well. That can come from other dogs and us, and perhaps even other companion animals, depending on the dog. Playing with your dog is good for establishing and maintaining a life long bond. It is also an excellent outlet for mental and physical activity and can be just plain fun! However, it is essential to understand that play, especially very active play, is stressful in itself and increases your dog's arousal level. Play should be frequently interrupted, and as soon as the dog has calmly settled, they can be rewarded with more play. If they do not or cannot settle, then play stops. Overly rough play between a person and a dog, especially play where the dog exhibits mouthing, and nipping behavior is inappropri ate. For the safety of others, as well as yourself, nipping must always be discouraged. The best way to prevent such play is to immediately stop playing when it occurs. It would help if you also learned to recognize the signs that tell you that your dog's level of arousal is increasing so you
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
In my opinion, too many people are still unaware of how critical a well thoughtout socialization plan is for a puppy when they are between 8 and 16 weeks of age. During this time, most puppies accept new envi ronments, people, and situations. However, it is essential to plan those interactions so they are positive experiences. A socialization event that a puppy finds distressing can be a significant setback. This is where working with a properly credentialed professional trainer (see Find a Professional in Resources) can be helpful. Socialization does not end after the critical socialization period; in stead, it should continue throughout a pet's life. A dog can be socialized after 16 weeks of age, but I recommend that guardians work with a cer tified dog behavior consultant to help them develop a remedial social ization program that will be beneficial and not risk causing harm. A lack of adequate physical and mental stimulation can also cause a dog to become anxious and fearful. A dog needs a moderate amount of both physical and mental exercise regularly. A dog that does not get ad equate physical and mental enrichment may become bored and frus trated and start exhibiting behaviors guardians may find undesirable. On the other hand, too much stimulation and exercise can also be detri mental, causing a state of chronic stress. Throwing the ball 20 to 50 times daily and daily visits to the dog park or a doggie daycare may be counterproductive and unhealthy as they can also lead to chronic stress. Activities need to be well balanced with ample opportunities for rest. Remember, a dog typically sleeps 17 hours per day. When we add a dog to our family, we bring them into a very foreign environment and culture with very different rules. On top of that, we expect them to understand a foreign language while we often make no effort to learn their language. We need to educate our dogs to live in our world and educate ourselves about the dog world to keep them free from fear and distress. We also need to actively protect our dogs by avoiding stressful situ ations until they have had adequate socialization and training. As
Think of the dog that aggressively reacts to the mail carrier Monday through Saturday of every week. That dog's stress levels may never get a chance to return to normal. The same can happen with the dog that demands to play fetch every day.
c o v e r guardians, we must take responsibility for managing their interactions with the environment and other living things. Lastly, understand that dogs are exceptionally good at reading human emotional states, including the people they live with. They do it by observing our body language and facial expression, our behavior, the tone of our voice, and even our scent. Unfortunately, they are not as good at knowing why we are emotionally upset. If we are angry with our spouse or kids, frightened because a car almost hit us, grieving at the loss of a family member, or ecstatic because we just won the lottery, our dogs do not know why. Because they do not understand why we are upset, they may change their behavior towards us.
Fear Responses What does an animal do when they are afraid? Animals, humans in cluded, have four typical responses when they are afraid; Flee, Fight, Freeze, and Fidget About (see Fig. 2, top left, opposite page).
Flee: This is selfexplanatory and is all about the fight or flight response. It is essential to understand that when a dog is on a leash, they know they cannot run away from what is scaring them. This is one reason a dog may be more reactive when they are on a leash – since they can’t flee, instead they desperately try to scare away whatever it is they are afraid of, such as another dog, a person, a cyclist etc. This is not, how ever, an excuse to have a reactive dog off leash. A known reactive dog should always be on a regular 6ft. leash or inside a securely fenced area when they are outside of their home. It is essential to keep them out of situations where they react like this. Every time such a reaction occurs, it becomes more likely to happen again. In the meantime, a protocol can be worked on to help reduce their stress levels (e.g. playing “Find It” – see Tip Tuesday: Tips for dealing with dog reactivity in Resources).
Fight: Becoming aggressive is also part of the fight or flight response. To allow a dog to react in this manner can be a liability risk as well as a safety risk for the dog’s handler and others. Dogs can do an incredible amount of severe damage in a very short amount of time. It is a dog's guardian’s responsibility to prevent this type of behavior. As with flee ing, a dog on a leash comprehends that the leash will restrain them from fighting effectively. It can also make the situation worse if two dogs on leash are actually fighting and the leashes become entangled. Separating dogs in this scenario is complex and risky. Again, none of this is an excuse to have a reactive dog off leash. A known reactive dog should always be on a regular 6ft. leash or in side a securely fenced area when they are outside of their home.. It is essential to keep dogs who may behave aggressively out of situations and environments where they could attack another person or animal because there is always a risk of severe injury or even death. Every time such a reaction occurs, it becomes more likely to happen again. Dogs that have attacked other dogs should never be taken to a dog park or a doggie daycare.
Freeze: This involves becoming totally rigid and immobile. It is essen tially the absence of any behavior that the dog feels could be provoca tive. Freezing often occurs when the dog's emotional state has moved from afraid to terrified. Dog guardians often misunderstand freezing be cause they see that their dog is nonreactive and assume they are "fine." While the dog is not barking, lunging, or running away in this situation, they are not doing so because they are afraid for their life. A terrifying incident of this nature is unlikely to be forgotten. The critical thing to remember with any of the four F's is that we want to minimize putting our dogs in these situations once we know any of these behaviors is a likely possibility. The brain is designed to remem ber scary things after the very first event. Subsequent exposures will just reduce the probability of ever being able to move beyond this fear.
© Can Stock Photo / ksuksa
This dog is indicating discomfort by leaning away from the outstretched hand, averting his gaze, turning away, and raising his paw
Common StressInduced Behaviors • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Clinging to or hiding behind the guardian Cowering Destructive behaviors, chewing, ripping, shredding, clawing Excessive selfgrooming Excessive sleeping, often due to exhaustion Freezing or walking slowly Hiding Hyperactivity Hypervigilance Inability to focus Inappropriate urination and defecation Increased urination and defecation Irritability Jumping up on guardian Jumpy/easy to startle/twitchy Loss of appetite Obsessivecompulsive behaviors (e.g., shadow or tailchasing) Pacing Poor sleeping habits, less than 17 hours sleep per day Refusing food or treats Restless, inability to relax Running oﬀ Sniﬃng, out of context Unable to settle Vomiting and diarrhea
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c o v e r Fidget About: This is essentially a dog exhibiting a normal behavior in an abnormal context, aka displacement behavior. This may be as simple as looking away, sniffing, or playing with a toy. It is the dog's way of ig noring what they perceive as being threatening with the hope that the threat will ignore them and go away.
Identifying Stress Dogs express themselves and communicate with vocalizations, body language, and behavior (see boxes on pp.14, 15 and 17 respectively). By getting familiar with our dogs' bodies, we can tell when they start to feel stressed. It is imperative to look at the entire body and not just iso
Like humans, dogs are social animals. They may depend on interactions with others, particularly of their species, to be comfortable. However, if they do not feel safe around other dogs, being compelled to live with another dog may cause discomfort. lated parts to get the best understanding of what our dogs are feeling. As described by Norwegian ethologist and dog behaviorist Turid Ru gaas (2013), calming signals are very subtle changes in a dog's body that suggest building stress. These signals are used in an attempt to diffuse conflict before it happens. A calming signal is a polite request to another dog to change their behavior and, therefore, prevent any dispute from occurring. Dogs use calming signals to communicate with us as well. Two of the calming signals we see frequently are yawning and lick ing of the nose (see p.12, left and right respectively). Other signs that can be calming signals are the turn away, a softening of the eyes (squint ing), averting the eyes (again, see page 12, right) freezing, play bow, sit ting down, lying down, sniffing, scratching, and splitting. I recommend that every pet parent and every pet care professional read at least one book on canine body language (see Resources for suggestions).
The Stress Escalation Ladder Stress and canine arousal happen on a continuum. Some of the signs of stress start appearing at very low levels of arousal. As the arousal level continues to rise, it may result in growling, showing of teeth, lunging, and biting at the most extreme levels. It is important to remember that arousal levels increase with positive stress (eustress) and negative stress (distress). Remember, it can take 24 to 72 hours for those levels to re turn to normal. A dog that is ramped up and highly aroused in play is also more likely to bite and lose its bite inhibition. Fig. 3 (left) reflects my interpretation of the Stress Escalation Ladder as described by Rugaas. It illustrates the signs seen at various levels of arousal. It should always be our goal to keep the dog out of the yellow and red zones. I encourage every pet parent to recognize the signals that occur in the green zone, so they help their dog by getting them out of a stressful situation before it gets out of control.
© Can Stock Photo / HanaSchwarz / sararoom / cthoman / izakowski
Reducing Stress in Dogs To reduce our dogs' stress, we first need to understand it. Once we have identified the cause, there are many approaches to eliminating the stress. The easiest way to deal with a dog under stress is usually manage ment — removing the dog from the situation/context where the stress occurs. While this does not solve the problem, it is a temporary fix that will make the dog feel better. If this is a context/situation the dog will need to be exposed to in the future, it is advisable to work with a quali fied behavior consultant or veterinary behaviorist to help the dog live in this context without experiencing stress. Behavioral medications may be necessary. Few people successfully resolve serious behavior issues on their own and, in my professional opinion, often make the problem worse. A dog chronically experiencing high levels of eustress or distress is not healthy and may be suffering. My recommendation is that such dogs need to be seen by a veterinary behaviorist. A nonveterinary professional behavior consultant will always rec ommend that guardians discuss their dog's behavior issues with their veterinarian. Pain and other medical conditions can cause behavior problems, and they need to be addressed first. In many parts of the world, tickborne diseases are becoming more prevalent. These can cause behavioral/mental health symptoms in people (altered mental states, anorexia, anxiety, confusion, depression, fatigue, malaise, etc.). Dogs with behavior issues related to tickborne diseases may require treatment for those diseases as the initial step.
Graphic © Don Hanson
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
c o v e r A behavior consultant will then consider several methods to help a dog deal with their stress, which will almost always include a behavior modification protocol (i.e., a specialized program for the dog's specific sit uation), including management strategies. For many reasons, a training class is seldom recommended for a dog with stressbased issues such as anxiety or aggression. Behavior issues are often the result of an extreme emotional response. During such a re sponse, the dog's brain is not open to learning, and training does not change their emotions. Teaching a dog to sit, down, stay, etc., will not change the way they feel. Asking a dog to sit in the presence of something that causes them to react may make them more fearful. Lastly, if a dog is reactive towards other dogs or people, putting them in a class where they will encounter those triggers would be highly counterproductive. A behavior modifica tion program is all about changing a dog's emotional response to what makes them fearful or angry. (Note: A veterinary behaviorist may also de‐ termine whether drug therapy is necessary.) Stress can make us feel miserable, and it can have the same effect on our dogs. For guardians who have a dog living under stress, I recom mend they take steps to help them as soon as possible. n Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop in Bangor, Maine. He is a Bach Foundation registered animal practitioner (BFRAP), certiﬁed dog behavior consultant (CDBC), associate certiﬁed cat behavior consultant (ACCBC) and a certiﬁed professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA) and also produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show on The Pulse AM620 WZON. He writes about pets on his blog and is co-chairman of PPG’s Advocacy Committee.
References Brambell, R. (1965). Report of the technical committee to enquire into the welfare of animals kept under intensive livestock husbandry systems. London, UK: Her Majesty’s Stationery Oﬃce Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Stress. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary Rugaas, T. (2013). Calming Signals - The Art of Survival Scholz, M., & von Reinhardt, C. (2007). Stress In Dogs - Learn How Dogs Show Stress and What You Can Do To Help. Wenatchee, WA: Dogwise
Resources American Animal Hospital Association (2015.) AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines BCSPCA. (2016, June 28). Tip Tuesday: Tips for dealing with dog reactivity Chin, L. (2020). Doggie Language: A Dog Lover's Guide to Understanding Your Best Friend. Chichester, UK: Summersdale Publishers Garrod, D. (2019, November). Stress Matters. BARKS from the Guild (39) 36-39 O'Heare, J. (2005). Canine Neuropsychology, 3rd edn. Ottawa, ON: DogPsych Pet Professional Guild. (2012). Guiding Principles Pet Professional Guild. (2020). Find a Professional Pet Professional Guild. (2012-2019). Position Statements Rugaas, T. (2005). On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals, 2nd edn. Wenatchee, WA: Dogwise Strong, V. (1999). The Dog's Brain — A Simple Guide. Windsor, UK: Alpha Publishing Tudge, N. (2017). A Kids' Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog! n.p.: Doggone Safe
There Is No Excuse
It’s time to ban shock collars I would say that, as with any helping professional, your first and primary obligation is to do no harm, and we have compelling evidence that applying shock, either systematically or randomly, to domestic dogs increases their general level of stress and discomfort. So given that knowledge, there simply is no ethical rationale for using it. Janis Bradley,
Director of Communications and Publications, National Canine Research Council
If there’s a tool which causes pain or discomfort, it has the potential of creating other problems. As animal care professionals, I feel that if we...can’t find kinder, gentler ways of doing something, then maybe we are in the wrong profession. Ken Ramirez, Executive VP and CTO, Karen Pryor Clicker Training
“Until these devices are illegal, consumers must protect themselves and their dogs by looking beyond the marketing messages of those who profit from their sale and use. It is not necessary to use electric shock to change behavior. It is not necessary in humans, in zoo species, in marine mammals or in dogs.” Jean Donaldson, Author, Train Your Dog Like a Pro
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The Best Laid Plans Dr. Sheryl L. Walker reviews a study that investigates whether the quality of a guardian’s relationship with their dog is related to decisions they make before the dog is actually acquired
hen I saw the study Social‐Cognitive Processes Before Dog Ac‐ quisition Associated with Future Relationship Satisfaction of Dog Owners and Canine Behavior Problems (Bouma, Vink & Dijkstra, 2020) published in Anthrozoös, it piqued my interest because I had looked at dog personality, human personality, and satisfaction/at tachment of adopted shelter dogs for my Ph.D. dissertation. The article fits right in, almost as an extension of where I wanted to take my re search, so I was super excited to read it. The first sentence in the abstract certainly packs a punch, especially if you have spent any time looking for a dog yourself, or if you have been in a more matchmaking role such as a breeder or animal shelter staff. It reads: “Making the right decision before acquiring a dog may help pre vent the development of canine behavior problems and increase the like lihood of a satisfactory relationship.” (Bouma, Vink & Dijkstra, 2020). Having spent over 15 years working professionally with animals, in cluding at least six of those years working with animal shelters, I can say with confidence that I consider this to be completely accurate. Conflict ing research exists in the literature regarding how people make deci sions on acquiring dogs, how those decisions influence relationship satisfaction, and how behavior problems factor in, as well. As men tioned in the article, “not all humandog relationships are healthy and pleasant. [Many behavior problems] cause inconvenience and suffering for humans…These undesired situations are at least partly related to a mismatch between characteristics of the dog (e.g., size, age, breed, health, and behavior), the owner’s knowledge and capabilities concern ing the dog’s needs, and the owner’s expectations of the relationship with the dog.” (Bouma, Vink & Dijkstra, 2020). In my opinion, various stakeholders (e.g., people looking to acquire a dog, animal shelter per sonnel, veterinarians, dog trainers, and breeders) could benefit from the knowledge outlined in this article.
Study Methods In the study, which was based in the Netherlands, 183 respondents partic ipated in answering questionnaires before acquiring a dog (the motiva tional phase), and six and 18 months after acquiring a dog (the experience phase). The authors looked at components of decisionmaking (e.g., im pulse buying, weighing the pros and cons of each decision, and level of knowledge about dogs) and desired vs. undesired consequences. Decisionmaking can fall on a spectrum: on one end, people make de cisions by engaging in frequent preparation behavior (e.g., reading, re searching, learning, discussing, and weighing options), and on the other
Sure, acquiring a puppy from a photo *probably* wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but in 11.5 years, Luigi gave us a lifetime full of wonderful memories, laughter, and he taught me so much about behavior. While he was with us, I earned my Ph.D. in animal behavior, and I’m glad he taught me what he did.
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
© Dr. Sheryl L. Walker
The photo of puppy Luigi (pictured here on his first day in his new home) on Petfinder jumped out at author Dr. Sheryl Walker
end, a person’s strong desire for a dog may lead to impulsive decisions. Consequences in this study were “operationalized as satisfaction with the dog, perceived costs of the dog, canine behavior problems, and satisfac tion with the decision to acquire the dog.” (Bouma, Vink & Dijkstra, 2020). Questionnaires were administered to participants via Qualtrics, and several items on the questionnaire served as predictive variables, such as “gender, age, educational level, household composition, previous dog ownership, experience working with dogs, whether they had considered a puppy or an adult dog, where they wanted to acquire the dog (e.g., shelter, breeder), and which breed they wanted.” (Bouma, Vink & Dijk stra, 2020). The questionnaire also contained items about preparation activities (e.g., searching and contemplating), advantages and expected positive outcomes of dog ownership, disadvantages (e.g., time con sumption, cost), selfefficacy (e.g., ability to raise/train a dog), and social norms (e.g., what other people think the prospective owner should do). The CBARQ (Hsu & Serpell, 2003) served as a foundation for assess ing behavior problems, such as frequency of each behavior and if the owner considered the behavior problematic. Satisfaction was assessed by four items from Curb et al., (2015); perceived costs were assessed with the Monash Dog Owner Relationship Scale (Dwyer at al., 2006); and satisfaction with the decision to acquire a dog was measured with the Decision Satisfaction Inventory (Brehaut et al., 2003).
Study Results The authors report as follows: “Results indicate that the confidence of dog owners in their ability to train and care for a dog – assessed before
c a n i n e “Results indicate that the confidence of dog owners in their ability to train and care for a dog – assessed before acquisition – was associated with fewer canine behavior problems, more satisfaction with the dog, and lower perceived costs in the experience phase.” (Bouma, Vink & Dijkstra, 2020).
acquisition – was associated with fewer canine behavior problems, more satisfaction with the dog, and lower perceived costs in the Experi ence phase.” (Bouma, Vink & Dijkstra, 2020). The study reported that 76% of people (n=183) adhered to their plans when it came to acquiring their dog from where they said they were going to. A total of 106 participants completed the questionnaire components regarding breed, source, and age, and 87% of those participants adhered to their plans of acquiring a certain dog. State the authors regarding study participants who didn't adhere to their initial plan: “Inconsistent people were more likely to visit websites offering dogs and to doubt their decision to acquire a dog. Inconsistent people spent less time reading books about dogs and dog acquisition and talked less to others about the investments related to dog ownership.” (Bouma, Vink & Dijkstra, 2020). Logistic regression was used to assess if variables were predictive of satisfaction and canine behavior problems. The respondents’ confi dence in their ability to raise and care for a dog was negatively corre lated to how many problems they reported after living with their dogs at the sixmonth and 18month followup timepoints (i.e., higher confi dence correlated with lower problematic behavior). This is probably be cause those who have higher confidence will put forth more effort in solving any potential behavior problems they face. Selfefficacy was pos itively correlated with satisfaction (i.e., higher levels of selfefficacy cor related with higher levels of satisfaction), and age and education levels were also positively correlated with satisfaction of decisions. If a person has too high of expectations when acquiring a dog, that may set every one up for failure, and thus decrease the levels of satisfaction.
Study Limitations There are limitations of questionnairebased research results, just as there are limitations of the generalizability of research in general. Ques tionnairebased research is not observational research, so the results are purely based on people interpreting their own dog’s behavior with no operational definitions of what each behavior is. Also, there are limi tations with using validated questionnaires in different contexts than what they were validated for.
RealWorld Applications The authors mention a little bit about how decisions are different from behaviors, and the psychology geek in me would love to know more about that process. How do we really make decisions? How does the brain process all of our options? How does our brain switch between choosing a decision and acting upon that decision (behavior)? Who are the stakeholders? Obviously, people who are looking to bring a dog into their family would benefit from reading this research article. Although, anecdotally, in my years of working professionally with animals, the average person looking to acquire a dog won’t read a re search article about making decisions. However, I believe that animal shelter personnel, veterinarians, dog trainers, and breeders could all benefit from the knowledge outlined in this article, as they act as the source of providing dogs to families, and they often make recommenda tions on matching certain dogs with certain people.
The Power of a Photo I’ll end with a funny story. The Discussion section of the article mentions BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
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© Dr. Sheryl L. Walker
Luigi maintained his habit of curling his tongue throughout his life (above and right)
that “people who visit these [sources’] websites frequently might be more prone to impulse buying owing to a tendency to ‘fall in love’ with a picture or a story of a dog, even though the dog does not resemble their initial plan (as shaped through a thorough consideration of the advantages and disadvantages of dog ownership).” (Bouma, Vink & Dijkstra, 2020). When I was studying for my master’s degree, my husband Bobby and I were newlyweds and had talked extensively about getting a puppy for my graduation present. Graduation was 11 months away when we had that discussion. One weekend Bobby went to visit his family, and I stayed in Kalamazoo, Michigan by myself. Over that weekend, I *may* have been perusing Petfinder, and a photo of a puppy *may* have jumped out at me….almost literally jumped out at me like in 3D fashion. I called Bobby and asked him to take a look at the puppy’s photo. I asked him if he would be a good addition to our family. He said, “Yes” and I screamed with joy, as I was now going to get a puppy way earlier than anticipated. I called my mom, told her to go to the website and asked her which puppy she thought was a good fit for us. She looked at the photos, and with excitement, said: “Luigi!” I got goosebumps. It was a done deal at that point! Sure, acquiring a puppy from a photo *proba bly* wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but in 11.5 years, Luigi gave us a lifetime full of wonderful memories, laughter, and he taught me so much about behavior. While he was with us, I earned my Ph.D. in animal behavior, and I’m glad he taught me what he did. I also wouldn’t have earned my Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist credential without him. The day we brought Luigi home, I caught a photo of him doing this super cute thing curling his tongue (see photo, above left). As fate would have it, that sad, final day when we recently had to lay Luigi to rest, I caught a photo of him doing the exact same thing (see photo, above right). That very instant I knew, as I always had, that this puppy was meant to be mine, and that I was meant to be his human. n
Study Article Reference Bouma, E.M.C., Vink, L.M., & Dijkstra, A. (2020). SocialCognitive Processes Before Dog Acquisition Associated with Future Relationship Satisfaction of Dog Owners and Canine Behavior Problems. Anthro‐ zoös 33(5): 659672
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© Dr. Sheryl L. Walker
References Brehaut, J.C., O’Connor, A.M., Wood, T.J., Hack, T.F., Siminoff, L., Gorden, E., & Feldman-Stewart, D. (2003). Validation of a Decision Regret Scale. Medical Decision Making 23(4) 281-292 Curb, L.A., Abramson, C.I., Grice, J.W., & Kennison, S.M. (2003). The relationship between personality match and pet satisfaction among dog owners. Anthrozoös 26(3) 395-404 Dwyer, F., Bennett, P.C., & Coleman, G.J. (2006). Development of the Monash Dog Owner Relationship Scale (MDORS). Anthrozoös 19(3) 243-256 Hsu, Y., & Serpell, J.A. (2003). Development and validation of a questionnaire for measuring behavior and temperament traits in pet dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 223(9) 1293-1300 Dr. Sheryl L. Walker Ph.D CAAB holds a master’s degree in behavior analysis and a Ph.D. in animal behavior and sheltering. She also operates WAGS: Wonderful Animal Guidance Services in Lafayette, Indiana, specializing in puppies. She recently was awarded her Certiﬁed Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB) certiﬁcation, and her current research interests are puppy socialization and training.
What Makes a Good Temperament? Susan Claire investigates what guardians can – and cannot – do to influence their dogs’ temperaments and set them up for success in their home environments
t is a common misconception that “All a dog needs is love” or “It’s how you raise them” to increase the chances – or even “guarantee” – a dog will have a good temperament. And al though these things are very important, there are a lot more factors that affect how a dog will behave at maturity. A “good” temperament can mean different things for different people. For example, someone competing in dog sports is looking for one set of characteristics, while service dog train ers or working dog handlers may have an entirely different set of characteris tics in mind. For the purpose of this article, I’ll define a good temperament in terms of a pet dog, i.e. what the average person or family may be looking for in a dog © Can Stock Photo / Farinosa they can share their life with. Com The level of maternal care received by a puppy, as well as genetics, socialization during the critical period of development, training methods, and lifestyle all have an impact on his temperament monly, this would probably be a dog who is friendly, sociable to people and other pets, playful, affectionate, attentive, and generally cooperative. But how Prenatal/Neonatal Conditions: If a mother dog is in an unfortunate sit do we get a pet dog with these characteristics? Is it all predestined or uation while carrying a litter in utero, such as being homeless, in a puppy can we create it? While guardians do have control over some of the mill, malnourished, infested with parasites, or in extreme conditions that things that affect a dog’s temperament, there are others where they cause her to be in fight or flight mode with stress hormones surging have little to no control at all. Let’s take a closer look. through her body, these conditions risk being passed on to the puppies when they are born and may affect their development and temperament. Genetics and Breeding: If someone is looking for a specific breed and Socialization during the Critical Period: According to the American wants a puppy, it’s wise to choose a breed that inherently has traits compatible with their lifestyle and to find a “reputable” breeder. There Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (2018), [t]he primary and most im is a lot of confusion over this term, and the internet makes it super easy portant time for puppy socialization is the first three months of life.” This to be duped here. A good place to start is the American Kennel Club is when curiosity outweighs fear and puppies should be introduced to (AKC), where information about every recognized breed is available and the things that are likely to be in their lives in a safe and controlled way. one can learn about the “breed standard.” Research what characteris The window for social learning remains open until around 16 weeks of tics make dogs of certain breeds structurally and temperamentally age. The effect of socialization to other dogs, people, objects, noises, sound, and which do not. Temperament traits such as aggression and places, surfaces, etc. or lack thereof, is pretty much determined by then. fearfulness are proven heritable traits, as are many physical ailments. However, the final result (temperament) will not usually be apparent Both are important, as physical health affects temperamental health. A until maturity, at around 1218 months of age. Exposing the puppy in an reputable breeder will belong to a regional or national breed club and overwhelming or scary way to environmental stimuli is NOT socialization, be transparent about their breeding practices. but rather flooding, and is counterproductive. A substrate preference for Many breeds have certain health conditions they are prone to and elimination is also developed during this critical socialization period. reputable breeders are knowledgeable about these and test for them in Lifestyle and Treatment by People, including Training: Before be any dogs they intend to breed. This helps them decide which dogs are more likely to pass on a hereditary issue and which dogs should and haviors that make a good temperament can be expected, it is imperative should not be bred together. A reputable breeder breeds with the inten that a guardian meet the dog’s basic needs. These would include nutri tion of breeding out these health concerns from their line to the great tion, veterinary care, shelter, enrichment, exercise, social interactions est extent possible. They may also participate in AKC conformation and freedom from pain and anxiety. (See also Is Love Enough on p.38 shows, as their hobby and passion is the breed, the improvement and and, specifically, the Hierarchy of Dog Needs on p.39.) This means the future of the breed, and producing excellent examples of the breed. lifestyle of the humans must be adjusted to fit the dog into the family.
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If a mother dog is in an unfortunate situation while carrying a litter in utero, such as being homeless, in a puppy mill, malnourished, infested with parasites, or in extreme conditions that cause her to be in fight or flight mode with stress hormones surging through her body, these conditions risk being passed on to the puppies when they are born and may affect their development and temperament. But the good news is that three things — lifestyle, treatment and train ing — are most in the control of pet guardians. They offer us opportuni ties to shape our dog’s temperament. When raising a child, parents often envision the good person they want their offspring to become and make every endeavor to guide their child in that direction. Yet with puppies, guardians may rely on unrealis tic expectations without being mindful of the effect of their daily inter actions. States Rugaas (2005): “… it is the new guardian’s job to teach the puppy that the world is a safe place, to protect them, allow them choices and teach them with kindness and patience.” Another important aspect is how the family touches, plays with and shows affection to the dog. Rough handling, especially around the head and face, can be scary and create overarousal and avoidance behaviors in the dog. It’s much better for temperament development to play more “cerebral” games like puzzles, hide and seek, and other activities that allow dogs to use their natural sniffing and problemsolving abilities. Lastly, there’s training. A mountain of evidence exists that shows that aversive training techniques based on fear, intimidation and pain are contrary to the development of a good temperament. This seems like a nobrainer, doesn’t it? But people still look for “quick fixes,” and buttons they can push to force their dogs into submission or obedience. Yet they would never resort to such things when raising a child. Puppies, like chil dren, go through different stages of development, some of which can be quite challenging. Good parents inform themselves, seek help if neces sary, and employ love and patience to create a happy, healthy adult. This, in my opinion, is also the best strategy for raising a dog. I’d like to add that there is absolutely nothing wrong with adopting a dog who does not have the benefit of good breeding or favorable prena tal and/or neonatal conditions. In fact, guardians often have no control over the first two, and often not the third one either. In these cases, the aspects of a dog’s life that pet guardians do have most control over, such as their home environment, how family members and other hu mans interact with them, and positive reinforcement training, can help get them closer to the goal of a good temperament. Adopting a dog and giving them a second chance at a good life is indeed a beautiful and honorable thing to do. n
References American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. (2018). AVSAB Position Statement on Puppy Socialization Rugaas, T. (2005). On Talking Terms with Dogs Calming Signals. Wenatchee, WA: DogWise Susan Claire CPDT-KA is the owner of PlayTrain Positive Dog Training, Inc., in Broward County Florida. She is a certiﬁed puppy behavior consultant and holds a popular puppy kindergarten class. She is also a Fear-Free certiﬁed animal trainer, specializing in fear cases and puppy development and has over 20 years’ experience as a professional trainer including shelter work and continuing education. As assistant director of SPOTS, a behavior initiative of the Miami Veterinary Foundation, she teaches and mentors the next generation of animal guardians and professionals at Felix Varela High School.
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Great Expectations Rachel Brix highlights the most important factors to consider when looking for a boarding facility, as well as potential red flags to watch out for
© Ryan Brix
© Ryan Brix
In a boarding facility, it is important for dogs to have other types of enrichment besides social groups
Caretakers at boarding facilities should be versed in canine body language so they understand the guest dogs’ play preferences
board together, but that’s sometimes not the case. For example, if you’ve got an incredibly young and exuberant dog and a senior mostly chill dog, then it could be stressful to combine them in the same space, especially if those spaces are small: the older dog has no way to escape the boisterousness of the puppy and stress can result. At our facility, we have many housemates who don’t board together for various reasons: sometimes it’s resource guarding, some involve incompatible energy levels, and sometimes it’s arousal levels. For example, we board two young Great Dane males who cohabi tate well together at home but who are not used to wide open spaces to run, romp and play. When seeing the younger one engaged in run ning or playing, the older becomes so aroused he tends to want to sub due the younger one, thus preventing him from exploring and playing. Since we’ve been boarding them separately (although they have adja cent patio space) they have both flourished. We’ve been able to work with the younger dog on boosting confidence and discovering new ac tivities he likes to do, and the older dog has become much less wary of people in general because of our consistent oneonone time and work with him as well. And we’ve discovered a myriad of toys they like, all much to their human’s delight.
epending on the area you are looking in, there may be a variety of boarding facilities to choose from, so it can be a daunting task to try to figure out which one is the best place for your dog to stay. Budget is, of course, always a consideration, but beyond that how do you choose? In my experience, there are a number of factors to think about, and also some red flags to look out for.
Personality: Selecting a boarding facility should be as much about your dog as possible: after all, she’s the one who must spend the time there, so what would she want? A good place to start is by taking inventory of your dog’s personality. What does she like to do for fun? And just as im portant, what doesn’t she like to do? For example, does your dog like to play fetch until she drops? Does she really like playing with the dogs at the dog park, or would she rather be off on her own sniffing everything instead? Does she delight in time spent with humans, or does she prefer the company of other dogs?
Boarding Together: If you have more than one dog to board, should they board together? It would seem dogs who live together should
Selecting a boarding facility should be as much about your dog as possible: after all, she’s the one who must spend the time there, so what would she want? A good place to start is by taking inventory of your dog’s personality. What does she like to do for fun? And just as important, what doesn’t she like to do?
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
Individual Needs: It’s a good idea to take note of your dog’s needs for feeding, medication, and comfortable sleep. Make sure they allow for you to bring your dog’s food, as an abrupt switch to a dog’s diet can make for terribly upset tummies. Will the facility refrigerate your home cooked food and feed two meals a day at the times your pooch is used to eating? Give her morning and bedtime snacks on schedule? Does the facility have staff trained to give your dog’s insulin injections? Does the facility provide beds/bedding, or do you need to bring it?
c a n i n e If you’re searching online, check out potential business’s websites. The site should have much more than pricing information and a few pictures. Who runs the business? Are they experienced? Knowledgeable? Credentialed? What types of amenities and options are available? What do the dogs do all day?
The Right Place Once you’ve got an idea of what your dog’s needs are, then it’s time to get serious about choosing the right place for him to stay.
Recommendations: Check with people you know who have boarded their dogs. Arguably the best and most trusted recommendation you can get is from friends and family. If you’re searching online, check out potential business’s websites. The site should have much more than pricing information and a few pictures. Who runs the business? Are they experienced? Knowledgeable? Credentialed? What types of amenities and options are available? What do the dogs do all day? Are there add on options to customize your dog’s stay? What are their requirements? Steer clear of a facility that doesn’t have vaccine requirements.
Reviews: Once you’ve decided it’s possibly a good fit for your dog, check out its Facebook page posts and online reviews. Most businesses have a few lessthanstellar reviews, but overall, the ratings should be high. So, it looks like a good place and the reviews are great. Now what?
Take a Tour: Is the place clean? It should be clean and have no smell; cleaning smells and perfumy smells can be unpleasant or even over whelming for dogs and may be trying to mask odors. Make mental notes while you’re there. Are the dogs having fun and engaged in play or an activity or are they simply laying around (or worse, cowering in the corner)? Are they all clamoring for the attention of one person or are they interacting positively with several staff? Speaking of staff, are they friendly with humans, too? Taking a tour is a prime time to ask questions.
ANIMAL COURSES DIRECT
Playgroups: If the facility offers playgroups, there are several consider ations. First, does your dog like to play with other dogs? We often as sume the answer is yes, but for many dogs the answer is maybe, sometimes, or even no. It’s important to know your pet and what they prefer. As with caretakers at boarding facilities, guardians should be versed in canine body language, so we understand our pet’s play prefer ences.
Staff: Ask about the staff’s training. An overwhelming number of boarding facility staff may have experience, but no formal education. While experience is valuable, if it’s not the right kind of experience, or bad habits or information are passed on and adopted as policy, it’s even worse. For example, I knew a daycare worker who’d been working for the same facility for 10 years. She insisted humping was a normal part of play and said she sees it day in and day out and her facility’s staff does not intervene. But this isn’t necessarily the case: humping is often an inappropriate attempt at play by an undersocialized dog, an expres sion of discomfort by an anxious dog, or a stress signal (among other things). Not to mention its effect on the dog who’s being humped! In my experience in touring boarding facilities, staff members (espe cially in franchises or chains) may have only had a few hours of video training, or no formal training or education at all. Of course, this may not be true in all cases, so it’s best to ask. Two women near me recently
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c a n i n e sold a boarding business they built from the ground up, and it had been successful for many years. They offered to stay on for a few weeks to help the new owners, who had no background, education, or experi ence with dogs (other than their own pets), transition into operating the business. The new owners declined and within the first week there was a small dog fatality at the paws of a larger dog in a playgroup. The busi ness closed permanently less than a year later. It’s critical playgroups are a manageable size (10 or less per staff member is recommended) and safely monitored by someone well versed in dog body language and what appropriate play looks like.
Training Methods: Many boarding facility staff members I’ve talked to are not trained in positive reinforcement or the humane hierarchy, so when it comes time for intervention, interruptions in play might be harsh (yelling, loud noises, shaker cans, air horns). So ask what happens to dogs who behave in ways staff find inappropriate. This single ques tion is a great gauge for whether their approach gels with your expecta tions. Ideally, staff is temperament testing playgroup dogs, trained in how to diffuse potentially escalating situations and overall versed in re wardsbased humane and effective handling.
Resting: The facility should also have a plan for downtime, meaning time to rest the dogs individually throughout the day to keep them calm and balanced. Where do the dogs spend downtime and sleep time? You’ll want to check out the digs for yourself. Will your dog be comfort able there? Look at it through your dog’s eyes.
Enrichment: It’s important for dogs to have other types of enrichment © Ryan Brix
It is important for dog guardians to ask if daycare and boarding staff members are trained in the use positive reinforcement and are aware of the humane hierarchy
It would seem dogs who live together should board together, but that’s sometimes not the case. For example, if you’ve got an incredibly young and exuberant dog and a senior mostly chill dog, then it could be stressful to combine them in the same space, especially if those spaces are small.
besides social groups. Like us, they don’t necessarily like to do the same thing day after day – especially if your dog isn’t ubersocial and will need other stimulation during her stay besides playgroups. I recom mend you ask what else is available for the dogs to do besides play with other dogs, as this can be stressful day in and day out for a week straight, even for dogsocial dogs.
Protocols: Be sure to ask what protocols are in place if your dog gets nervous or becomes distressed. Again, this comes down to staff training in behavior. Can the facility try a different accommodation? Add or sub tract something from the space to make her more comfortable? Spend some oneonone time? We regularly board a Dutch shepherd whose human really wanted her to stay in our private penthouse suite with the big bed and TV her first visit. We obliged, but after a short time we could tell she was in creasingly agitated, almost to the point of distress. So, we moved her to our bunk house where there were other dogs around, more action and a big personal patio. Not long afterward, her demeanor had changed; she was eating treats, engaging in play and her stress was almost nonex istent. She’s stayed in our bunk house ever since and loves it!
Emergency: What if an emergency happens while your dog is in the
Showcasing the best of the pet industry to chat, chuckle and share Join host Niki Tudge and her special guests discussing news and views on force-free training, behavior, and pet care!
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
boarding facility? Do they have a vet on duty or on call? What if there’s a natural disaster, or power outage happens? Does the facility have an Emergency Preparedness Plan? An alarm system? Backup power? Is the facility staffed 24 hours? If not, how is the building monitored overnight? And while we’re on the topic of emergencies, we should all have someone our dog’s caregivers can call to care for them in the unfortu nate circumstance we’re unable to come get them. Planes and cars crash. Accidents happen. Who can your pet count on to care for him if you never come home from your trip? My blog post Planning for your Pet’s Future (without you in it) goes into more detail about why this is a critical component of all pet guardian’s travel plans (and really, life in general).
c a n i n e Test Visit: Perhaps the most important test once you’ve found “the” place is to arrange to have your dog visit for the day ahead of boarding. Note her body language upon visiting and at pick up but remember that it’s normal for her to feel a little uneasy at first. After all, it’s a new place with new people and new smells, and for many dogs that can be a bit overwhelming. How the staff acclimates your dog to their routine is im portant to note. Overall, there are many great facilities out there that have incredi ble amenities and superior staff. But there are also a lot of facilities that don’t. Where you leave your dog and with whom is a big decision; not only for his wellbeing, but also for your peace of mind so you can enjoy your vacation! While our instincts may not be as good as our dogs’, trusting your gut is always a good benchmark too. n
Resources Brix, R. (2020). Planning for your Pet’s Future (without you in it)
© Ryan Brix
Not all dogs enjoy playing with other dogs, but all dogs need other forms of mental stimulation, even dogsocial dogs
Rachel Brix BSEd CPDT-KA is Fear Free certified and has been working with dogs and teaching people for over 20 years. Also a writer and speaker, she has spoken twice at the annual APDT Conference and has been nominated for several Dog Writers Association of America Awards. She and her husband own and operate Percy’s Playground Canine Enrichment Center a boarding and training facility in Eagle Rock, Missouri.
The A-Z of Training and Behavior Brought to you by P is for... Punishment Fallout: Punishment creates many problems, particularly when the punishment is physical. Escape, aggression, apathy, abuse and imitation of the punisher are all fallouts of using punishment. Pets escape (try to avoid) the source of the punishment. Humans resort to “tuning out”, lying and cheating as avoidance tactics. An alternative to escaping the source of the punishment is to attack the source. In some situations, the aggression is redirected at another pet or innate object. Punishment can create a conditioned emotional response to the stimuli that surrounds the punishment, strengthening escape, avoidance and aggressive behaviors. Of the two types of punishment available negative punishment, removing a privilege as a consequence to an unwanted behavior, is less damaging than the application of physical, positive punishment. Punishment can work in the short term and therefore the application of punishment is reinforcing to the person
administering the punishment. To be effective punishment has to be delivered immediately, be contingent on the behavior and delivered at the correct intensity
with no conflicting reinforcement. These criteria are very difficult to meet and there is a high likelihood of errors in the application of the punishment. More often than not, the use of punishment does not meet the necessary criteria and does not eliminate behavior, it just suppresses it. In the absence of aggression or escape (they are not available to the pet) the punishment can create apathetic behavior. The punishment not only suppresses the unwanted behavior but all behavior. Punishment tends to produce a global suppression of operant behavior. If the application of punishment itself is reinforcing to the person applying the punishment, then the punishing behavior will increase in strength or frequency. When punishment is applied at an introductory level and the consequences become stronger and stronger the end result can be abuse. Pets and people that are punished adopt punishment as a vehicle to deal with difficult situations perpetuating unwanted behavior.
From: A Lexicon of Practical Terms for Pet Trainers & Behavior Consultants: The language you need to know! by DogNostics Career Center. Available from: dognosticseducation.com/p/store
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The Ever-Changing World of Service Dog Training Veronica Sanchez explains why recent changes in the law regarding service dogs and emotional support animals is creating a growing need for trainers to support people with disabilities who are training their own dogs
he service dog industry is ever growing and changing. With the ex panding use of service dogs there has, unfortunately, also been abuse of laws pertaining to service animals and emotional support animals (ESA) in particular. Lawmakers have taken notice of this and, consequently, passed changes in legislation, which have impacted guardians of ESAs as well as service dogs. This has led to an even greater need for qualified serv ice dog trainers. To best understand the changes in the law and their impact on service dog and ESA handlers, we need to begin by examining the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA defines service animals as “dogs that are in dividually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.” (U.S. Department of Justice: Civil Rights Division, 2010). Tasks are essentially behaviors the dog is trained to do to assist the person. For example, a serv ice dog may be trained to alert a person who is deaf to a door knock, or to pick up dropped objects for a person using a wheelchair. The law also pro tects the right of people with disabilities to take their service dogs to loca tions where dogs are not typically permitted, like restaurants or supermarkets. In the service dog world, the term for this is “public access.” It’s impor tant to remember that public access is not considered a “perk” but rather something the person needs. The same way a person with a disability may need to use a cane or wheelchair in a supermarket or restaurant, a person with a disability may need their service dog’s help in those locations. Unlike service animals who are trained to perform specific tasks to help a person with a disability, ESAs are not task trained. Their presence provides comfort. People often confuse ESAs with service dogs trained to help peo ple with PTSD or another mental illness. However, unlike ESAs, service dogs trained to help people with PTSD or other mental illnesses perform tasks. For instance, a service dog may be trained to remind their handler to take medication, to alert to increasing anxiety, or to retrieve an emergency phone. There are many different possible tasks a service dog may perform to help a person with mental illness. Because ESAs are not service animals under the ADA, people with disabilities cannot take ESAs to places where pets are not permitted.
Author Veronica Sanchez with her service dog, Mr. Sulu: Service dogs are trained to do specific tasks to assist their person, e.g. to alert a deaf person to a door knock, or to pick up dropped objects
© Veronica Sanchez
headlines as some people started traveling with unusual species as ESAs. In one case a person tried to travel with a peacock. There were bite incidents as well; in 2019 a passenger was severely injured by an emotional support dog and sued the airline. Beginning in early 2021, the Department of Trans portation (DOT) revised the ACAA and discontinued permitting ESAs in the cabin of an airplane. Additionally, the DOT made some changes regarding service animal access. The DOT now allows airlines to require some forms from service animal handlers attesting to their service dog’s health, behav ior, and training. Although ESAs are no longer covered under the ACAA, they are still cov ered by the Fair Housing Act and Rehabilitation Act. These laws pertain to access to most nopetsallowed housing. Because of concerns regarding abuse of the law, there have been a few changes here as well, with addi tional guidelines for landlords regarding documentation they can request.
Air Travel and Housing The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) used to allow people to bring ESAs in the cabin of an airplane when they traveled. However, abuse of this law made
Therapy Dogs Are Not Service Animals Therapy dogs are pets and their guardians do not have the legally protected right to take their dogs to places of public accommodation. Therapy dog guardians are typically volunteers taking their dogs to places they have been invited to help other people. For instance, a guardian may take their therapy dog to visit patients in a hospital. Therapy dogs are trained to meet standards set by a therapy dog organization.
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Growing Demand Since ESAs are no longer permitted in the cabin of an airplane, individuals used to flying with their ESA in the cabin are now unable to. Many have been reaching out to pet dog trainers, requesting help with training their ESAs as service dogs. In addition, more and more people with disabilities are turning to trainers to help them acquire and train their own service dog, or to train their current dog to perform service tasks.
The Training Process Although the law does not set specific parameters for the training of service dogs, there have long been industry standards. There are no shortcuts;
training Public access is not considered a “perk” but rather something the person needs. The same way a person with a disability may need to use a cane or wheelchair in a supermarket or restaurant, a person with a disability may need their service dog’s help in those locations. guardians who want to train their own service dogs should be prepared to complete the same process expected of all service dogs, even if their dog is an ESA and has already previously traveled by plane. The first step in training a service dog involves carefully assessing and selecting a dog for this type of work. Then, ageappropriate socialization and basic training are needed. The dog is trained to complete tasks to assist the guardian and prepared to work in a variety of public access environ ments. Ongoing assessments are conducted throughout the training process to ensure the dog is the right fit for this rigorous work. Both the dog and handler are assessed together in various public situations to ensure they can work safely and appropriately as a team. Service dog programs that select, train and place service dogs with peo ple with disabilities usually complete this process in about a year and a half to two years when beginning with puppies. Trainers who work with people with disabilities to train their own dogs for service work often find it takes even longer, as most guardians do not train dogs as quickly as professionals do. Training must be maintained, so even after the initial intensive process, reputable programs provide ongoing support and periodically reassess the team’s work in public access to ensure training is maintained over time. Service dog trainers provide similar ongoing support to their guardian trainer clients. One aspect of the law that often surprises people is that certification and registration of service dogs is not required in the United States. The law is flexible in order to allow people with disabilities various ways to acquire a service dog.
Is Service Dog Training Right for You? People with disabilities who choose to select and train a service dog themselves should always seek qualified professional help. There is a growing need for trainers to support people with disabilities training their own dogs for service work. This is a specialty area that is both rewarding and complex. Trainers interested in training service dogs need to be knowledgeable about the service dog training process in general, and task training specifically. They also must have their business set up properly, with appropriate paperwork and insurance needed for this work. Trainers also need to know how to adapt their training strategies and work effec tively with people with disabilities, as well as how to collaborate with healthcare providers to ensure they are selecting, training, and imple menting tasks in ways that are appropriate and safe for their clients. There are increasing opportunities to learn about service dog training in greater depth, including courses, webinars and even some trainers who offer mentorship. It is exciting for trainers to be involved in the expanding world of service dogs now, training dogs to make a big difference in their guardians’ lives. n
Reference U.S. Department of Justice: Civil Rights Division. (2010). Americans with Disabilities Act Requirements: Service Animals
Resources U.S. Department of Transportation. (2021). Service Animals U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (n.d.). Assistance Animals Veronica Sanchez M.Ed CABC CPDT-KA is the founder of Cooperative Paws Service Dog Coach™, a certiﬁcation program for professional trainers, and she oﬀers a variety of courses in service dog training. She is also the author of the book Service Dog Coaching: A Guide for Pet Dog Trainers. As a dog trainer with a disability, her passion for service dogs is personal as well as professional.
Turning Chaos into Calm Mel Ritterman discusses the essentials that professionals need to know about
© Mel Ritterman
when working to help families with kids and dogs
When parents and dog guardians understand canine body language, they become more aware of how their dogs are communicating and can become their dog’s best advocate in times when he is feeling uneasy, stressed, anxious or scared
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
ForceFree Training I always find it amazing that some people still think you need to use force or punishment to stop a dog’s unwanted behaviors. I am not ashamed to admit that I used to be one of them. But when we know better, we can do better. Positive reinforcement training allows busy parents to foster a relationship with their dogs based on mutual trust and respect instead of fear and intimidation. I mean, why do we get dogs? … To love them, Fig.1 nurture them and make them part of the family. Not to hurt them and mis treat them. In basic terms, this is what we can tell our parent clients to get them started: 1. Reward behav‐ iors you like. That will make them happen more often. 2. Ignore behav‐ iors you don’t like. That will make them happen less often. By increasing the amount of positive ac knowledgment we give our dogs on a daily basis, we can transform our rela tionships with them. Frequent feedback
It is also essential for [parents] to be made aware that, even if a dog will sit there and accept something – like being hugged for example – it doesn’t mean he is enjoying it, so parents shouldn’t allow it to happen.
helps our dogs get life right more often and will encourage them to con tinue to try to do the right thing. With methods like these, everyone wins. You get a happy, wellbehaved dog and your dog gets all the affec tion they want. They get to chase balls, sniff other dogs, and eat lots of yummy treats, all of which are things dogs love. Positive reinforcement is so empowering when you see how it works and the results that come from it. This absolutely goes with children too, so when working with kids and dogs together, make sure to also reinforce the children heavily along the way when they are doing a good job!
Supervision When we talk about kids and dogs, one of the things we often hear peo ple say is “never leave the dog and children alone together,” or “super vise, supervise, supervise”. But what does this actually look like? According to Family Paws Parent Education (2018) there are five differ ent types of supervision (see Fig. 1: The 5 Types of Supervision, below). It is up to us as trainers, dog guardians and parents/guardians to really become aware of the impacts of each of them:
#1. Absent Supervision: Child and dog together without any adult eyes watching them. This includes if an adult has fallen asleep. This should never happen. If the adult is sleepy, use proactive supervision.
Reprinted with permission
ringing up children with a dog is truly magical. But it can also come with lots of challenges, chaos, hard work, training, and planning ahead of time. As a mum of three young kids, an IAABC accredited dog trainer, a Family Paws Parent Educator and a crazy dog lover, I absolutely get it. Even though I am now a professional in the dog industry specializing in kids and dogs, I am also a mom. I’ve dealt with the raging hormones, the crazy sleep deprivation that comes from rais ing babies, the chaos in my house as the kids are growing up, and the guilt that comes with trying to find time for my beloved dog and to en sure he is happy and able to relax. Even though I know what I know now, at times the juggle and struggle is still there for me too. My goal in the work I do is to make things as easy and stressfree as possible for families bringing up kids and dogs together, as well as to make our kids and dogs both happier and safer. In this article, I am going to share some of the basic, yet key, elements to making this happen. I realize that some trainers are not kid people, so I hope this article helps you to understand a little bit more about what parenting can look like when trying to raise dogs and children together. My aim is to help you modify how you relate to your clients who are parents of young children and tailor your training and behavior change plans specifically for them. And, for the dog guardians who are parents, grandparents, childminders, etc., I hope this will also give you some wonderful tools to help turn the chaos into calm.
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
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training #2. Passive Supervision: Everyone multitasks these days. Are you re ally watching your child and dog when chatting away on the phone, or when on your computer sending that email? This is such an easy one for parents to do. However, they must be made aware of how dangerous it can be.
I am certain that, once parents have a better idea of what to look for, the chances are that the resident dog is already showing some subtle signs of discomfort that they hadn’t noticed before.
#3. Reactive Supervision: This is when a parent reacts to the child or dog approaching one another. You don’t want it to get to this point, but it does happen. Crawling babies are fast! Rather, we want to redirect the child or dog in a happy positive way rather than reacting in an angry or negative way. We do this as we don’t want the dog to associate the child in a negative way and to start to feel anxious when they see a child ap proaching or vice versa.
#4. Proactive Supervision: When you know you cannot actively su pervise, using management is being proactive. This includes things like baby gates, crates, playpens, closing doors, etc. This will be explained more under the Management section (right column, this page).
#5. Active Supervision: This is the best type of supervision and is when two adult eyes are focused on both dog and child; the parent is present in the moment and they know what to look for. It’s also incredibly important to know that children are always watching, and they copy just about everything they see adults do. So, modelling the right behaviors with your dog is extremely important. This includes the way you interact with him, the way you give him affection, the way you play with him, the way you talk to him, the way you greet him and so on. If it’s not safe for a child to do, then don’t do it. This ap plies from a very young age. So make sure to teach/show them how to get it right from the start.
whatever it was that made that growl happen (e.g., a child pulling on the dog’s tail, a child hugging the dog, a child getting too close to the dog’s food or toys etc.), doesn’t happen again. Tolerance is not enough. We want dogs to actually enjoy their inter actions with the whole family. So it is the job of the parents, grandpar ents, and/or childminders, to teach the children in their care how to interact safely with the family dog(s). It is also essential for them to be made aware that, even if a dog will sit there and accept something – like being hugged for example – it doesn’t mean he is enjoying it, so parents shouldn’t allow it to happen. I am certain that, once parents have a bet ter idea of what to look for, the chances are that the resident dog is al ready showing some subtle signs of discomfort that they hadn’t noticed before.
Management Supervising 24/7 is impossible and exhausting for everyone, including the dog! This means that implementing management tools is essential. Every house that has children and a dog must have a safe place the dog can escape to if he feels the need, or where the adults in the house can put him when they can’t be actively supervising. In other words, be
Understanding Body Language
Reprinted with permission
What does supervision mean if we don’t know what to look for in our dogs? If we don’t understand when a dog is stressed out, supervision is useless, isn’t it? One of my biggest goals in the work I do is to make dog guardians and parents aware of how their dogs are communicating so they can become their dog’s best advocate in those times when he is feeling uneasy, stressed, anxious or scared. Dog bites don’t come from nowhere. There is almost always a warn ing. But we need to learn what these are (see Fig 2: The Canine Ladder of Aggression, right). When we see the behaviors happening in the green section, we need to help our dogs so they don’t need to climb higher up the ladder. It’s important to look at the whole body as well as the context. A yawn when a dog is tired is different to a yawn when a dog is being hugged by a child. If we don’t listen to what they are telling us, our dogs may feel the need to climb the ladder to protect them selves and to be heard. See photos on p.32 for some examples of the more subtle signs of communication in dogs. No, these don’t mean a dog is about to bite, but they do mean he is trying to tell you some thing. So, look out for these and listen. Through being able to read a dog’s body language, we can learn to understand when he is feeling happy in a situation and when he is not. When he is not, don’t push it. Listen, and give him some space. Dogs love and need their own space at times and should always have the op tion to retreat when they want to. If something is stressing them out, giving them distance from that stressor can really help. I recommend that pet professionals guide parents to examine the Canine Ladder of Aggression and learn what their dogs are communicat ing in each of the behaviors listed. For example, there’s no need to get upset about a growl. A growl is a dog’s way of communicating some kind of discomfort, annoyance or frustration. If you take that away from him by punishing him for it, he might skip that step next time. So in stead, I advise parents to reflect on what happened and ensure that
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
Reprinted with permission
proactive. This safe place can be a crate, a laundry room, a spot on the guardian’s bed, any other closed room, outside in the fenced yard, and can involve the use of a harness and leash, baby gates or play pens. Whatever it may be, this safe place is essential. Play pens can be a good choice as they can be used either for the dog or child. Now all this might sound easier said than done because some dogs can get emotionally conflicted. For example, they want to be close to their trusted adults, but they also need a break from the kids. It is im portant, then, to implement management tools slowly and in a positive way, gradually building up duration. Using a Kong, snuffle mat, a chew toy or a LickiMat is a lovely way to make this separation a positive expe rience (see also Fig. 3: Success Stations, above). A Success Station, a term coined by Family Paws Parent Education, is any designated spot that a dog is limited to so that he has no option but to succeed. This
A yawn when a dog is tired is different to a yawn when a dog is being hugged by a child. If we don’t listen to what they are telling us, our dogs may feel the need to climb the ladder [of aggression] to protect themselves and to be heard.
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
spot must be introduced in a positive manner and should be used only for limited periods of time. It is important to remind our clients to be mindful not to abuse the use of management. Obviously they should not be locking their dogs away or putting them outside all the time. Dogs are a part of the family, after all, and still need to feel included. And the more manners and skills they know, the easier this will be – as long as they are also being ac tively supervised at the time.
Role of the Pet Professional Understanding and Empathy: Having empathy is incredibly impor tant when working with families with young kids. In my experience, par ents often call on us because they are exhausted and fed up. There are a few management practices professional trainers can keep in mind when working with families with young children to help alleviate the stress (see Fig. 3 for information on Tethering, Crates and Gates). As a pet professional, it is essential to remain understanding and empathetic. You never know how many times a parent’s child got them up during the night or how many tantrums have happened that morn ing. Parents of young kids or parents who have just become parents may be tired and rundown. So my advice is to be mindful and sensitive of this.
training Keep it Simple: As positive trainers, we know all too well that there are no quick fixes. But when we are working with a family who are try ing to juggle chaos, we need to try and keep our training plans as simple as possible. This means breaking it down for them and showing them what we mean as well as explaining, and then getting them to show us so we can be sure they have the hang of it. Even though it might look like they are listening and concentrating, they might not be. So, of course, we also send them a simple summary after our sessions and fol low up with them as needed.
Be Supportive: Sometimes, mom or dad might have called us in be cause they are on the brink of a meltdown, or even want to rehome the dog. To them, we may be the last hope. This can mean being that shoul der to cry on or just being there to listen and help them through it. It also pays to think about what else we can offer to help take a load off, for example, dog walking, grooming, day care, or a walkandtrain ses sion? We may have other services that might help the family and per haps get a little more business for ourselves too. By showing our clients to implement the steps outlined in this arti cle, we can help them set up their dogs and children for a safe, happy life together. Plus, we are helping parents to turn chaos into calm. The more families we educate to do this, the more we can help make dogs and children coexist more safely and happily. And as a result, reduce the risk of dog bites occurring to children in the family home. n
References Family Paws Parent Education. (2018). 5 Types of Supervision Family Paws Parent Education. (2018). What Is a “Success Station?”
Resources Be a Tree Doggone Safe Family Paws Parent Education Good Dog in a Box I Speak Dog Living with Kids and Dogs: Parenting Secrets for a Safe and Happy Home The Family Dog Mel Ritterman is an IAABC accredited dog trainer, a Family Paws® Parent Educator and a busy mom to three young children and her golden retriever, Cooper. Her business, Cooper and Kids, specializes in creating safe, happy and positive relationships between babies, kids and dogs. She is passionate about helping expecting families prepare their dogs for life with a baby or toddler. She also helps families who want to introduce a new puppy or dog into the home and supports families who are struggling with the child and dog dynamic.
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Is Love Enough? June Pennell details the case of her fearful rescue dog Robbie, a dog so shut down he would not make eye contact, and how she worked to build his trust and confidence to help him overcome his reactivity
© June Pennell
© June Pennell
Olfaction is extremely important in the way dogs experience the world and having opportunities to use this skill is crucial to their wellbeing
Author June Pennell focused on desensitization and counterconditioning to work with rescue dog Robbie’s fear issues
If love means we are providing our dogs with shelter, a place to call home, a quiet, soft and warm place to rest, and access to good nutrition and water, which they may have been deprived of in the past, then yes, love is absolutely going to help. They will certainly appreciate having their biological needs satisfied. If love means we are making sure our dogs have sufficient exercise, are groomed gently without stress, and promptly get any veterinary care they need, love is now really starting to make a difference to their lives. If love means we are giving our dogs space to learn how to trust us, we are guiding them with consistency and compassion, becoming their protectors and advocates, well, we are now starting to really rock, and love will be having a hugely positive impact on our relationships.
would love to be able to say that love is enough to help a troubled dog. Indeed, perhaps it is enough for a dog without any behavior is sues or a troubled background. Perhaps. But although the idea that you can help a dog (in this case, one who is reactive towards other dogs or strangers) purely by showing him that he is loved may be an attrac tive one, is it actually possible? I would say, “probably not.” So many of us (me included) would like our adopted rescue dogs to be happygolucky, waggytailed, confident extroverts, who are de lighted to interact with every dog or human they meet and play with all the children in the park. But is it possible to achieve this just by showing them love alone? Is it a realistic goal, or even fair to our dogs to have such high expectations of them? Dogs are sentient beings with their own characters and personalities, so should we be trying to change them into something they are not? I really don’t think so. If, however, we are trying to help them feel more comfortable in our world, well, then I am all for it.
Choice for a dog is a huge thing in a world where we control so much of their lives. We often decide when and where they eat, poop, sleep, and go out, so giving them the opportunity to make just a few decisions is incredibly liberating and refreshing, as well as empowering and confidence building.
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
Emotional Needs Dogs have emotional needs and, just like humans, they need security, love, trust and to be cared for by someone who exhibits consistency and benevolence. No one likes not knowing where they stand in a relation ship or having someone who says yes one minute and no, the next. The Hierarchy of Dog Needs (see Fig. 1 on opposite page) sums it all up perfectly. The bottom tier of the pyramid represents biological needs (food, water, shelter) and the second tier covers emotional needs (secu rity, love and benevolent leadership), but above that are social needs (bonding and play), forcefree training needs, with cognitive needs (choice and problemsolving) right at the top. Based on this hierarchy, we learn that we need to be satisfying our
training dogs needs at the lowest level (biological) before we can move up to the next level (emotional) and so on. Yes, love is right there in the second tier – but there is so much more that we need to provide for further up the pyramid. If love means we are both enjoying shared experiences, having fun together, and the dogs are having some fun with another dog – even if it is just one dog that they are familiar with – then love is working, and we are starting to fulfill their social needs. If our love extends to training our dogs with kindness and rewarding them for getting it right, we will be really working as a team. Giving our dogs some choice on a walk (which should be just that, the dog’s walk; a time he can call the shots for just a while and have some choice in his life), that’s even better. Choice for a dog is a huge thing in a world where we control our so much of their lives. We often decide when and where they eat, poop, sleep, and go out, so giving them the opportunity to make just a few decisions is incredibly liberat ing and refreshing, as well as empowering and confidence building. I hate seeing a dog being route marched by his guardian on a tight leash without a thought for what the dog actually wants to do. If your dog is getting the freedom to choose, then your love for your dog is definitely making a difference to him.
Sniffing releases natural endorphins which help anxious, fearful and overaroused dogs calm themselves, and if this makes their walk more enjoyable, then it is worth waiting for them to investigate that flower or lamp post for a while, is it not?
Olfaction Talking of walks, the canine olfactory system is extremely important in the way dogs experience the world, so having opportunities to use this amazing skill when out on a walk is crucial to their wellbeing. Sniffing releases natural endorphins which help anxious, fearful and over aroused dogs calm themselves, and if this makes their walk more enjoy able, then it is worth waiting for them to investigate that flower or lamp post for a while, is it not? It really is important we let them collect the ‘peemail,’ as knowing the gender, life stage and health of the dog who passed by an hour ago – or even a day ago – is going to help our dogs learn more about their world and assess how safe they are in the envi ronment. If the scary dog passed by recently, they are going to know
Reprinted with permission
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
training that too, and we need to watch their body language to know how they might feel about that. At times, we may need to just turn around and avoid the scary thing, even if we can't see or sense it. When my rescue boy Robbie joined us, he feared strangers and would bark and lunge at them, and we were worried that he might bite if he was stressed enough or put in a position where he felt he had no choice. So even though we were very sociable people, having fallen in love with him during our first meeting and feeling strongly that all dogs deserve a second chance, we looked at how we could change our lifestyle to accommodate him. We stopped inviting people to our home for a time, so Robbie had the time he needed to get to know us, and only us. This was quite a commitment, but for us, he was a dog that showed us love from the moment he met us and we felt there was no alternative. How could we not rise to the challenge of taking this trou bled dog home with us? But if we had thought love would be enough to ‘fix’ all his issues, we would have been completely wrong.
© June Pennell
When author June Pennell and her husband first adopted Robbie, he would sit with his head bowed and rarely offer eye contact
At first, Robbie’s habit was to sit with his head bowed. He rarely offered eye contact – which was heartbreaking. You have to wonder what has happened to a dog to make him so fearful. But over the first few weeks, his head came up and he would start to look at us briefly. When he real ized he could come to us and ask to go out or for us to play with him and that we understood what he wanted, his body language was amaz ing. Happy dances don’t cover it! Of course, Robbie also had a friend and role model in our other dog and very soon they adored each other. Seeing them playing together and sleeping in the same bed made me realize that it’s not just our love that can make a difference. Previously, in the kennels, Robbie’s only real longerterm companion had died, leaving him pretty much alone for a sig nificant period. Having a companion has made a huge difference to him. Meanwhile, realizing that Robbie disliked eye contact (unless he knows someone well) was an important discovery, as now we knew we had to make sure anyone he met didn’t try to look at him directly and also didn’t talk to him, at least at first. If ignored, he would begin to gather some data about the new person and usually feel a bit more comfortable about them being there. It was still important he was on leash, of course, just in case his fear became overwhelming for him. It is difficult to surf that line between exposing him to his trigger at a safe level and ‘flooding’ him. Sometimes we got it wrong. We had always been careful to not put Robbie in a position where he was faced with lots of scary strangers (as much as was possible), so we walked in remote places and avoided places where we were likely to meet groups of people. He was walked on a 30 ft. leash, which gave him some freedom to sniff and experience the world as much as possible while we worked on his recall. All this helped lower his stress levels and the more his stress levels dropped, the more we saw the real dog at home. He was a funloving, affectionate boy who loved nothing more than to sit on our laps in the evening.
© June Pennell
Robbie’s guardians stopped inviting people to their home for a time, so Robbie had the time he needed to get to know and trust them, without the additional stressor (for him) of visitors
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
We slowly muzzle trained Robbie, rewarding him for seeing the muzzle, touching the muzzle, and hearing the buckle do up well before we actu ally put the muzzle on him. When he finally went out of the house wear ing the muzzle, he was already well used to it, so it did not add to any stress he might suffer if people were around. Although we were careful to protect him, there were times when we saw him react to the sight of someone in the distance, or a bicycle or dirt bike coming down the lane. If this happened, we usually skipped his walk the next day and substituted it for some environmental enrich ment at home, such as a snuffle mat, a LickiMat, or some scent games. All of these options would give him an opportunity to dissipate cortisol, the stress hormone that would have built up in his system during the
training scary episode. Our dogs definitely have a way of surprising us though, don’t they? Robbie’s first additional new friend was unplanned; we didn’t really have time to worry about it and had to get straight on with it. This is be cause my nephew, who is confident with dogs, arrived unexpectedly one day. Straight away we put Robbie on a leash and armed ourselves with some treats to do some desensitization and counterconditioning. Our hope was that we could help him understand that good things can happen when there’s a stranger in the house. Well, within 10 minutes of my nephew’s arrival, Robbie was outside on the sun lounger with him, upside down with his legs in the air!
Confidence I believe Robbie gained some additional confidence that day and learned that he was able to handle a potentially stressful situation after all. This was an incredibly positive outcome for him which should help build his optimism in similar situations in the future. No doubt, the fact that we had spent a long time working on his wellbeing, building up the level of trust he had in us, and convincing him we would keep him safe, combined with my nephew’s confidence, helped make this an easy introduction. It seemed Robbie was attracted to my nephew’s positivity (much like the day he first met us and chose us, rather than the other way around!). Whatever it was on that day, he proved he had it in him to make friends with strangers. It appeared that once he knew a person was not a threat, they became a member of his trusted inner circle. It is getting into that inner circle that is the chal lenge with some people! We went on to introduce Robbie to other friends over the following 12 months and he now has a small circle of trusted people who can come into our home whether we are there or not. These are friends who can let out the dogs for us, something we feared we would never be able to do with our shut down rescue boy.
Realizing that Robbie disliked eye contact (unless he knows someone well) was an important discovery, as now we knew we had to make sure anyone he met didn’t try to look at him directly and also didn’t talk to him, at least at first. If ignored, he would begin to gather some data about the new person and usually feel a bit more comfortable about them being there. I am eternally grateful that some of our friends were happy to en dure their first meeting with him. Although we did everything to help him remain calm, it would sound pretty aggressive if he did bark at them. Although they knew that they were always safe, I still thank them for loving dogs enough to want to help our boy. It was meeting one of our friends and her dogs one day while out on walk that brought about one of Robbie’s biggest positive changes. He was certainly alert to someone coming towards us, had his weight for ward and was watching them intently – but that was about it. No bark ing and no lunging. As the friend and their dogs got closer, the realization it was a friend made such a huge impact on Robbie. I am con vinced that now, when he sees people on the horizon, he looks to see if it is a friend rather than a stranger. That’s a major change in thinking: from being scared of everyone on the horizon to being open to the pos sibility it is someone he knows and wants to see. The great thing is, he is not overly disappointed if it isn’t a friend, and his positive emotional state allows him to shrug off the fact that it is a stranger. On the flip side, there are a few people it is clear he is never going to accept. I can only wonder why that might be? I must respect it though. For these people, it will be a matter of always having to manage our boy around them. Thankfully, it is only a couple of people so far.
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training Robbie is even getting to like his scent work instructor after a shaky start. I suspect this is because he loves the work so much and is good at it, so he gets lots of praise and rewards for finding the scent. As we build this reinforcement history and trust account, Robbie becomes less and less bothered about who is standing 10 ft. away.
DS/CC In the past, we have focused very much on desensitization and counter conditioning to work with Robbie’s fear issues, and it was these tech niques that provided the amazing improvements we had seen up to about six months ago at the time of writing. However, it seemed that by the end of last summer we had reached a plateau. Yes, he could Look at That (LAT) and Look at Me (LAM), he could remain calm while people walked past us at a much closer range than ever before, and he had human friends. But I still didn’t feel sure that he would make the right choice and ignore someone if off leash. So, as the pandemic kicked in, we decided to rent a secure field where we could work with Robbie in a different way. Enter Behavior Ad justment Training (BAT). The field we used was totally secure and even had a double fence along one side where there is a public footpath. This means it is perfectly okay to have Robbie off leash even when someone walks past. Ideally, in terms of BAT, Robbie should be on a long leash and should choose for himself not to advance towards the trigger (in this case, the person), but the greatest of his successes are now when he is off leash. He can ignore the person completely, he can be called away as he is on his way over to investigate them, he can go see them and remain calm, or he can walk alongside them and their dog and dis engage on his own, and do all of that with a lovely wiggly, soft body that shows only happiness. I am not sure he could have done this before we started practicing the BAT techniques and they were a very helpful addi tion to our tool kit. Of course, I still won’t trust Robbie off leash with strangers where he can actually reach them and gain access to them, but the longer he can display this level of restraint, the more this be comes his ‘goto behavior.’ If you were to ask me what changed Robbie’s emotional state the most, I might respond that it is the building up of his trust account with us. He knows we are his secure base and that we will protect him no mat ter what. But is that love? I think it is more than that. It is also us knowing how to help him and the commitment to do whatever is necessary. Waters (2021) cites Rowena Packer, a lecturer in companion animal behavior and welfare science at the Royal Veterinary College in the U.K. who says: “I think we love [animals], but I don’t think we understand them, nor do we respect them in many cases.” In Robbie’s case, I don’t think love alone would have helped our boy. Respect and understanding have certainly played their parts too. But love was a great start and something he absolutely couldn’t have done without. n
© June Pennell
Having a canine companion has made a huge difference to Robbie’s confidence and been a great boost to his overall emotional state
Reference Waters, A. (2021). Love is not enough to provide good welfare. Vet Record (188) 5 165-165
Mariti, C., Ricci, E., Zilocchi, M., & Gazzano, A. (2013). Owners as a secure base for their dogs. Behaviour 150(11): 1275 Michaels, L. (2021). Hierarchy of Dog Needs Stewart, G. (2021). BAT 2.0 Overview June Pennell ISCP Dip. Canine Prac. MCMA is a principal of the U.K.based International Canine School for Canine Psychology & Behaviour Ltd. (ISCP), an ISCP tutor, and the ISCP committee member for the International Companion Animal Network (ICAN). She is an INTO Dogs certiﬁed canine behaviorist and trainer, an ICAN certiﬁed animal behaviorist and trainer, and an approved trainer with Veterans with Dogs.
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Beyond Behavior Change Anna Bradley investigates how to help clients whose dogs need a little extra assistance to make progress with their behavior change programs
hen a client comes to see me with a dog who has a behavior issue, they are often upset. Sometimes, they are distraught. They may also be concerned, frustrated, pessimistic, without hope, desperate, and/or clinging onto every little ray of optimism that there is something – anything – that will help their beloved pet. It’s such a complex array of emotions and we professionals have to be our best empathetic selves to ensure we understand each individual situation. At the outset of every consult, I always ask guardians what their goals and expectations are for a behavior change program. What do they hope they can achieve from their session and the aftermath? Because, as we all know, behavior issues are not “fixed” in two hours or so! Following an initial period of careful case history taking, we will re analyze their expectations. There is absolutely no point being unrealistic about what is genuinely probable; this is unfair to both guardian and dog. So, we may need to adjust client expectations to a different prog nosis than what they were originally hoping for. This might include a more involved partnership between different paraprofessionals, an en larged timeframe in terms of reaching behavioral stability, the possibility of rehoming, or, sadly, even euthanasia in some cases.
Differing Perspectives In providing my clients with a written report based on our initial consul tation, I will carefully include relevant examples of background learning (client education if you like) such as body language and signals, as well as my recommendations for where to start first, what to do next, and how to progress from there. I try to make it all as easy as possible to follow. I will follow up with most clients four weeks after the initial consul tation. After that, checkins are clientdependent, or rather, dogdepen dent. With each client there is an expectation as to what may be achievable and what is hoped to be achievable within a certain time frame, based upon our agreed strategy. For example, I may expect that background learning or environmental management will be in place at the time of the first checkin. I keep a checklist based upon each client’s behavior change plan and if, at their scheduled checkin, any issues have arisen, these must be analyzed. Clientprofessional liaison is essential and any failure in communication can lead to problems, with issues just getting bigger if they are not addressed. It is most important for clients, especially those who have dogs pre senting with aggression, to maintain regular contact. At our first check in then, we might first discuss whether the initial plan is being followed. If not, why is this? Do we need to make changes so that following the plan is more practical or easier for the client? Is more clarity needed? Has something changed in the guardian’s life or household? We also need to analyze precisely what is going on with the dog; effectively we’re conducting another ‘miniconsult’ to work out the kinks. Dogs are dogs and people are people. Changes and tweaks usually need to be made regularly and we, as professionals, need to be flexible and adapt to a guardian’s circumstances, something that is not always easy.
Triangular Approach At what point do things change? I keep a record at each checkin. Per haps progress is not on an upward trend, or maybe the guardian is struggling despite implementing all the techniques and suggestions in
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
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Pet professionals need to be their best empathetic selves to ensure they understand each individual situation when dealing with behavior issues
the original plan. Maybe, at best, there is no improvement, or, at worst, the dog is regressing, or the behavioral symptoms are escalating. In case of the latter, my first recommendation would always be for the client to recheck with their vet. Of course, all of my referrals have been thoroughly health checked prior to coming to see me, but if there is a continued downward trend, I would refer them back for a more thorough investigation. Sometimes clients have not initially requested more invasive investigative procedures such as Xrays, blood tests, or al lergy testing, but now these may be warranted. On a second visit we may find evidence of hip dysplasia, for example, which obviously causes much pain and could be a likely implicative factor in aggression. Looking beyond behavior modification can involve a triangular ap proach that may include other paraprofessionals. In the example of the hip dysplasia diagnosis, a nutritionist, physical therapist, and hydrother apist could all be involved. Using a more holistic approach with qualified individuals who can work together and understand the needs of an indi vidual dog can be a great asset. The drawback is that in many areas, in the U.K. at least, multivaried professionals dedicated to an animal’s be havioral needs are not always commonplace. If they are to be found, they often tend to be geographically scattered.
Pharmaceutical Intervention What about if additional resources are still required? Pharmaceutical in tervention under the careful direction of the client’s vet, for example? I find that my clients are usually 50/50 on the introduction of drug ther apy; some are absolutely set against the idea while others just want a "quick fix.’ To some people, the concept of adding in behavioral medica
consulting tion can be quite scary, but it need not be – and it can be extremely use ful. As for a ‘quick fix,’ there is no such thing in terms of addressing be havior issues and medication should not be seen as a ‘cureall’ by any means. Sometimes, however, a behavior change program reaches a plateau where further progress cannot be made without the addition of something else, i.e., pharmaceutical intervention. Sometimes dogs that are in this category are so physiologically aroused, or perhaps display such an exaggerated anxious response to multiple triggers, that a behav ior change plan cannot successfully be implemented because of the ani mal’s inherent neurological response. Personally, I also seek to incorporate alternative practices. Many of these are based on anecdotal evidence only and, as such, there is a ‘suck it and see’ approach to whether they help or not. But you never know unless you try. Used in conjunction with behavioral therapy, I often find that things like music therapy, pheramonatherapy, compres sion wraps, touch therapy, herbal treatments and nutraceuticals have a positive effect.
Rehoming In rare cases, we might have tried all of the above and there is still no improvement in the dog’s behavior, or perhaps even a worsening of the behavior. What now? A change of home might be a good option. This is difficult but always we must think of the dog first. Sometimes the envi ronment a dog lives in is simply too stressful. His guardians may not even realize, but the dog may be experiencing continued stress. If we take him out of that space and place him elsewhere, he may be able to relax. Sometimes it’s simply a case of the wrong combination of dog and guardian, dog and other resident dog, or dog and environment. In all the cases I have had where the dog has been rehomed, it has been in credibly sad for the guardian. However, I can honestly say that all the dogs have acted like they took a deep sigh of relief when the weight of stress was lifted and, in most cases, their behavior symptoms resolved very quickly. The final resolution is, of course, euthanasia. Fortunately, this is an exceedingly rare outcome for me, but it does happen. Every one of ‘my’
Sometimes the environment a dog lives in is simply too stressful. His guardians may not even realize, but the dog may be experiencing continued stress. If we take him out of that space and place him elsewhere, he may be able to relax. dogs I lose, it affects me. Behavioral euthanasia occurs most commonly because the dog’s behavior (usually aggression) has become very unpre dictable, there is a strong risk of the behavior escalating, and the risk factor of that behavior occurring is extremely high. We have to consider the family occupants, whether they have the ability to implement be havioral techniques, and to manage the risk and the environment, as well as the potential risk to the community at large. In many cases, wel fare also plays a critical role. Sometimes the dog is very unwell, and this is why his behavior symptoms are presenting. Or perhaps he poses a strong risk to other animals, and/or to himself, and that risk cannot be passed onto another person via rehoming. No matter what the outlook for my clients, I will always attempt to look for solutions, positives, and hope. There’s nothing like being posi tive! There is almost always somewhere to go with behavior modifica tion. We just have to be extremely flexible and skilled at knowing what works best for each individual dog that comes our way, as well as ready to adapt at the slightest notice. Behavior change isn’t easy. It’s a little like building a puzzle – but when eventually we get all the pieces fit, it’s incredibly rewarding. n Anna Francesca Bradley MSc BSc (Hons) is a United Kingdomebased provisional clinical, certiﬁed IAABC animal behavior consultant and ABTC accredited behavior consultant. She owns Perfect Pawz! Training and Behavior Practice in Hexham, Northumberland, where the aim is always to create and restore happy relationships between dog and guardian in a relaxed way, using methods based on sound scientiﬁc principles, which are both force-free and fun.
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Found in Translation In the third part of this series on body language, Kathie Gregory examines the nuances of the different equine vocalizations to decipher what horses are saying, and compares them with their canine equivalents
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The neigh is used as a location technique to find out where the rest of the group is if one has become separated, or to see if there is another horse in the area — but it can also indicate anxiety or stress
Snorting indicates that arousal level is high, the emotional state can be negative or positive and indicate alarm, stress, pain, or excitement — depending on the context
ocalizations are part of communication, and we have a pretty good idea of what it means when we hear a horse squeal, or a dog growl. But these are generalizations. Even vocalizations that seem to have one specific meaning (because they are often associated with one context), may actually have several. It gets even more compli cated when we look at vocalizations that are used frequently. There are different ways that a horse can neigh, and a dog can bark, just as there are different ways in which someone might say hello. And when we say things in different ways, they have different meanings. Just as there is context and nuance with body language, there is also context and nuance with vocalizations. We should not be generalizing when we try to understand what an animal is saying or the emotions he is feeling. We need to actually understand the nuances of his language. This is more complicated, of course, because animals don’t speak. While a per son may say hello in several different ways to convey how they feel, they can also use other words to communicate their emotional state. But that one neigh of the horse and that one bark of the dog have to cover a whole range of meanings and convey an array of different messages.
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
Let’s now examine the common vocalizations horses make.
Nickering: This is a welcoming, affectionate vocalization, and the horse is saying hello. But there are other reasons a horse will nicker. It can also be a sign of anticipation, which can be either positive or negative. When it is positive anticipation, the nicker is likely to be a little higher pitched than when he is saying hello. It may also be a touch louder, and some times more frequent. It will have a more excitable tone compared to the relaxed nicker. A horse may do this when he is anticipating some tasty treats, or a favorite activity. On the negative side, he may also nicker when anticipating something he doesn’t like. This will be more quietly expressed, of a lesser frequency than when anticipating something nice, and the tone will be subdued.
Snorting: This is a sign of high excitement in the horse and shows that his arousal level is high. You can hear this when horses are running and playing, as well as when they are anticipating something particularly
e q u i n e There are different ways that a horse can neigh, and a dog can bark, just as there are different ways in which a person may say hello. And when we say things in different ways, they have different meanings. Just as there is context and nuance with body language, there is also context and nuance with vocalizations.
the horse is just expressing the effort needed to do this. Like all animals, some horses are more vocal than others, so you may or may not hear this. Groaning on impact, however, may well indicate some sort of pain issue or discomfort. Groaning can also mean happiness. Dogs also groan, and this can mean that the dog is either happy or in pain. My dog Remy will groan contentedly when he has done something he really en joys and is settling down to relax.
Canine Vocalizations exciting. It is often heard when they are expecting to take off at great speed. But it can also mean their arousal levels are high in a negative way, such as when they are alarmed, get stressed, or are in pain.
Blowing: This is the snort without the noise, and happens when a horse is curious, anticipating something good, or saying hello. And once again, it may instead indicate stress or pain.
Whinny/Neigh: This can mean several things. Again, the tone of it de termines whether it is positive or negative. It is generally saying ‘pay at tention to me!’ Horses will neigh when they see someone they like. They will also neigh to each other if they are in neighboring fields or sta bles, whether they can see each other or not. If they know another horse is nearby, they will often neigh an inquiry, and usually someone will reply. The neigh is used as a location technique to find out where the rest of the group is if one has become separated, or to see if there is another horse in the area. Females may also neigh when they are in season. My horse Anna always let the horses at the yard next door know when she was receptive to their company! Horses may neigh to each other just to say hello, if they are friends and are kept separately. These types of neighs are usually robust and have an open tone to them, and they can either be lower in pitch and more resonant, or higher pitched, depend ing on the intensity of the emotion. The neigh may also be an alert that something different is going on, and this sound is more strident. The other type of neigh is when the horse is not happy. This can happen if he is turned out on his own, if a friend he lives with is taken away, or even if one horse is taken out for a ride, leaving another behind. You will also hear it when foals are sepa rated from their mums. Typically, the horse is anxious or stressed. The tones to these neighs are more sharply pitched, and you can tell there is stress as the voice sounds more pinched, rather than open.
Squealing: This is an intense sound, and often there is a threat. Horses may squeal when they first meet each other. Essentially, they are saying keep away, I don’t know you yet. Females will squeal when they are in season, and it may mean that they are receptive to company or they are repelling company. A squeal may mean irritation, but it is also heard in times of high excitement.
Dogs and Horses Now let’s look at dogs and horses. There are two vocalizations that the two species have in common.
Sighing: Horses and dogs sigh when they are content as a sign of relax ation and happiness. But sighing can also mean they are bored. You may see this if you do a lot of repetitive exercises with them. Just like us, ani mals do get tired of doing the same thing, so this is something to look out for as an indication that he has had enough. They can also sigh when they are tired.
Groaning: Horses sometimes groan when they do something that re quires a particular effort, such as jumping a fence. This can mean that
Finally, let’s take a look at the common vocalizations dogs make.
Barking: There are many reasons dogs bark. It may be to get attention when they need something. It can be an alert that something is going on, that someone is nearby, or that there is something wrong. It can say’ stay away from me.’ It may indicate anxiety at being left alone or it may indicate distress and pain. A dog may also be saying hello to a dog, another animal, or a person. Or, the dog may be talking to another dog he can hear but not see. He may bark because he is asking a person or dog to play. He may be bored. He may just like the sound of his own voice!
Growling: Dogs growl for both positive and negative reasons. Many people misinterpret a play growl as the dog saying ‘go away,’ but a play growl could really be inviting another dog to play. Dogs will also happily growl when they are playing with toys. But a growl may also mean a dog is anxious or uncomfortable and doesn’t like the situation he is in. He may be conveying that he is in pain or telling someone he does not like what they are doing or are going to do. He may be scared. He may also growl to tell another dog to keep away from him or his resources.
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Dogs growl for both positive and negative reasons, including in play, when they are in pain, fearful, or anxious, or when they are guarding their resources
Dogs bark for many reasons, including as an alert, a sign that something is wrong, to indicate anxiety, distress, pain, or as an invitation to play
Howling: This is a high pitched and often long sound. Dogs may howl
Whimpering/Yelping: Once again, we have two sides to this. Dogs do
when they hear certain highpitched noises such as sirens. Wolfie, our Irish wolfhound, used to sing along when my husband played the saxo phone. It is often a pleasurable activity for the dog, and the sound will be open and resonant. But dogs also howl when they are scared or anx ious, often when they are left alone. The sound in such cases is similar to that of the distressed horse who is whinnying. It is more sharply pitched, and you can tell there is stress as the voice sounds more pinched, rather than open.
this when they are happy for their people to return home, when they are playing with another dog, or with their toys. But they may also do it when play has stopped being fun and something is wrong. They may whimper or yelp when they are distressed when left on their own, or for other reasons. It may also indicate that the dog is in pain. And a single yelp may mean the dog was startled.
Whining: This can be good and bad too. The dog who is anticipating something good is going to happen may whine to show his excitement. The sound is usually medium pitched, and often in short bursts. The dog that is whining because he is scared usually has a higher pitch and makes a longer sound. But it may be the other way around. The main difference is in the tone. You can hear the desperation in a whine that is made when the dog is distressed. It doesn’t sound quite right to our ears somehow. Dogs may also whine if in pain. This is usually very highly pitched and can sound alarming.
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
Rumble/Grumble: This is not a growl, although it is the same type of sound. It can be a sign of contentment or pleasure. You may hear it when the animal is in a more excitable state and has been doing some thing rewarding. It can also be a sign of unease and a gentle warning that he is feeling uncomfortable or insecure.
Positive vs. Negative As we can see, vocalizations can be just as confusing as body language, with the same sound being used for both a positive emotion and a neg ative one. But there are differences to spot once you know what you are looking for. Body language is softer when the animal is happy and en
e q u i n e Snorting...is a sign of high excitement in the horse and shows that his arousal level is high. You can hear this when horses are running and playing, as well as when they are anticipating something particularly exciting. But it can also mean their arousal levels are high in a negative way, such as when they are alarmed, get stressed, or are in pain.
gaged but can become sharper and quicker during high arousal and ex citement. When an animal is unhappy, body language is still often soft. When there is a strong negative emotion, it becomes sharper and quicker. Vocalizations are softer when the animal is happy and engaged, but they can become sharper, quicker, and louder during high arousal and excitement. When the animal is unhappy, vocalizations are still often soft. When there is a strong negative emotion, they become sharper, quicker, and louder. However, some types of negative emotions, such as being separated from others, will cause the vocalizations to become longer and drawn out. You may notice I’ve said the same things for both positive and nega tive emotional states, in spite of the fact I’ve also stated there are differ ences! So, what are they? If we look at the intricacies of both body language and vocalizations, we can see that there are different qualities to them when a dog or horse is happy and confident, compared to when they are anxious, stressed or in pain. And this is the aspect of reading the animal that takes the most time. If you don’t understand the nuances of body language and vocalization you will not accurately interpret what the animal is saying. n
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Dogs and horses have at least two vocalizations in common: groaning and sighing
Resources Gregory, K. (2021, March). Understanding Animals. BARKS from the Guild (47) 50-51 Gregory, K. (2021, May). The Complete Picture. BARKS from the Guild (48) 48-51 Kathie Gregory is a qualified animal behavior consultant, presenter and author, specializing in advanced cognition and emotional intelligence. Passionate about raising standards and awareness in how we teach and work with animals, she has developed Free Will TeachingTM, a concept that provides the framework for animals to enjoy life without compromising their own free will. She has authored two books, A tale of two horses: a passion for free will teaching, and A Puppy Called Wolfie: a passion for free will teaching, and her work is currently divided between working with clients, mentoring, and writing.
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
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The Problem with “Furry Little Humans” Andrea Carne discusses a new study that highlights unfair bias in evaluating cat behavior
et’s open this discussion with the whole cats vs. dogs “thing.” Honestly, why do we continue to debate this ongoing battle of the species? Social media is filled with cartoons and memes depicting the supposedly obvious differences and, while I can enjoy the funny side as much as anyone else, there is a serious side to the argument when it comes to ac tual research. Case in point: A new study by Chijiiwa et al. (2021) on cat behavior has already gained a lot of press this year, not because it’s an interesting study (even though it is), but rather because many have jumped on its apparent support of the ageold stereotype of cats: i.e. unlike dogs, they are “indiffer ent” to the needs and affections of their guardians. When researching this latest study, I was immedi ately met with headlines like Double‐Crossing Cats Will Not Choose Owners over Their Enemies, study finds and Cats are Too Socially Inept to Be Loyal.
© Can Stock Photo / chalabala
A study by Chijiiwa et al. (2021) found that cats do not think in the same way as humans when it comes to social cues
As a catloving cat behavior consultant, such headlines disappoint me because they depict cats with an anthro pomorphic bias, as if they were small, furry versions of ourselves. And this, in my opinion, does cats a great disservice. If we truly want to un derstand cats better – and, let’s face it, we have so much more to learn – then we need to stop thinking of them as “furry little humans” and start thinking of them as CATS. We need to appreciate them as distinct, behaviorally complex animals who think about the world in quite a dif ferent way to humans…and dogs…and any other species! And this is what this latest study points to. Despite the sensational ized headlines crafted to grab the reader’s attention, and rather than it being a huge victory for the many humans who believe cats are selfish, narcissistic loners, the study instead helps us understand that our felines simply don’t think the way we do when it comes to social cues. So, with that as my preamble, what did the study in question actu ally find? Well, in a nutshell, it concluded that cats, unlike dogs, will not avoid strangers who refuse to help their guardians. Carried out by researchers from Kyoto University in Japan, the study involved 36 domestic cats (13 of which were owned house cats and 23 who lived in cat cafes), their owners and some actors. In an experiment that adapted a technique previously used on dogs, the actors were split into “helpers” and “nonhelpers.” Each cat was put in a situation where they watched their guardian try to open a transparent container and take an object out, with no success, before turning to another human for help. In the “helper” group, an actor assisted the guardian in trying to open the container, while in the “nonhelper” group, an actor refused to help the owner and instead turned away. To offer a point of comparison, a third person sat in both situations and remained completely neutral. Then – and here’s the crux of the study – after each scenario was complete, the actor and the neutral per son both tried to offer a treat to the cat and the researchers recorded who the cat took the treat from.
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
The result? After four trials, regardless of whether the person had helped the guardian, not helped the guardian, or stayed neutral, the cat happily took a treat from them. In other words, they seemingly gave no relevance to what had just happened between the humans and happily took food from any and all participants.
Cats vs. Dogs Now, in a similar experiment with dogs, the dogs would clearly avoid the actor who did not help their guardian, thus adding fuel to the fire of the ongoing debate of cats vs. dogs – that dogs are loyal and cats don’t give two hoots about their guardians. But this is certainly not what I believe, and it’s not what the re searchers believe either. As they wrote in their paper: “It is conceivable that the cats in this study did not understand the meaning or goal of the owners’ behavior…But even if they did understand the owner’s goal or intention, they might have failed to detect the negative intention of the nonhelpful actor.” (Chijiiwa et al., 2021). This is to say the cats in the study may not have understood that the nonhelper was not helping their guardians due to them not having the same social evaluation skills as humans – or dogs for that matter. So, should we be concerned that cats don’t comprehend human so cial relationships at the level dogs do? No, of course not. Again, we need to stop lumping completely different species in the same boat and re sorting to humanbased analogies like “dogs care about us and cats don’t.” As the researchers themselves stated: “We consider that cats might not possess the same social evaluation abilities as dogs, at least in this situation, because unlike the latter, they have not been selected to cooperate with humans … cats’ evolved social system and their particu lar domestication history might have resulted in a restricted capacity for third partybased social evaluation.” (Chijiiwa et al., 2021).
f e l i n e Should we be concerned that cats don’t comprehend human social relationships at the level dogs do? No, of course not. Again, we need to stop lumping completely different species in the same boat and resorting to human-based analogies like “dogs care about us and cats don’t.” Boyle (2021), in her review of the study, put it this way: “It’s more likely that cats don’t understand our social relationships as much as dogs do, because dogs were domesticated much earlier. What’s more, the ancestors of dogs lived in social packs, whereas cats were solitary hunters, which could mean dogs already had existing social skills that were hyperdeveloped when they were domesticated.” The other reason we shouldn’t write cats off in terms of their relation ships with us based solely on this study is that (a) it only centers on one specific situation in a relatively small study, and (b) there are plenty of re search studies from recent years which show cats do form bonds with us, do look to us for guidance, and can suffer from separation anxiety. Examples include a project by Galvan and Vonk (2016) which con cluded that cats are sensitive to the emotions of humans (particularly their owners) and a study led by Quaranta (2020) which revealed that cats not only recognize certain human emotions, but also respond via their own stress levels. Such studies point to a higher level of emotional understanding and reaction from our cats than we previously realized.
SpeciesSpecific As a cat behavior consultant, part of my continuing education in this fabulous field is to keep uptodate with the latest research. It is studies like this latest one from Kyoto University that not only give us greater understanding of our felines and the way they behave, but also an in
formed appreciation for their distinct, speciesspecific way of seeing the world. So, let’s look past the sensationalized headlines and the ten dency to think of our feline friends as furry little versions of ourselves, and instead look at the actual science. The more we know, the more we appreciate what a fabulous – and distinct – creature the cat is and how blessed we are to have them share our homes and our lives. n
References Boyle, A. (2021, February 19). Cats Don’t Avoid Strangers Who Behave Badly Towards their Owners, Unlike Dogs. The Conversation Chijiiwa, H., Takagi, S., Arahori, M., Anderson, J.R., Fujita, K., & Kuroshima, H. (2021). Cats (Felis catus) Show no Avoidance of People who Behave Negatively to their Owner. Animal Behaviour and Cognition 8 (1):23-35 Galvan, M., & Vonk, J. (2016). Man’s other best friend: Domestic cats (F. silvestris catus) and their discrimination of human emotion cues. Animal Cognition 19 193-205 Quaranta, A., d’Ingeo, S., Amoruso, R., & Siniscalchi, M. (2020). Emotion Recognition in Cats. Animals 10 1107
Resources Ng, K. (2021, February 28). Double-crossing cats will not choose owners over their enemies, study ﬁnds. The Independent Saplakoglu, Y. (2021). Cats are too socially inept to be loyal. Live Science Andrea Carne is a graduate of the University of Southern Queensland, Australia where she majored in journalism and drama before, later in life, following her dream to work in the ﬁeld of animal behavior. She is a qualiﬁed veterinary nurse and dog trainer and member of PPG Australia. Her special area of interest is cat behavior and her passion for it led to the establishment of her own cat behavior consultancy Cattitude, based in southern Tasmania, through which she oﬀers private in-home consultations.
Pet Training and Behavior Consulting: A Model for Raising the Bar to Protect Professionals, Pets and Their People Pet Training and Behavior Consulting: A Model for Raising the Bar to Protect Professionals, Pets and Their People is a newly published book in which the authors present their views on: • •
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The need for a level and model of oversight in the fields of pet training and behavior consulting and for those choosing to practice within them. The prevalence of individuals who hold no credentials, formal education, knowledge or skills, yet who are today working across the nation with full responsibility for the well-being and welfare of their unknowing clients’ treasured pets. The lack of consumer protection and transparency across the marketing and operations platforms of many pet-related businesses. The inherent weakness in how pets are legally classified. How the current lack of reported and enforced animal cruelty laws means there is insufficient protection when it comes to holding pet professionals accountable for their methods, approach and philosophies toward their craft and the pets they serve.
The authors advise on the pertinence of all these issues to the development of an infrastructure for oversight to support the professional evolution of the pet training and behavior industry while providing a complete recommended implementation model from which to do so.
"I would urge anyone interested in the direction of the industry to get a copy. It has been invaluable for a project I am involved in, and identifies and clarifies really important aspects of the industry that desperately need addressing. Even as an individual practitioner it provides a great resource for identifying best practice." - Andrew Hale, chair of association of INTOdogs "Check out this groundbreaking new resource for the pet training and behavior consulting industry written by the best in the business." - Paula Garber, owner of LIFELINE Cat Behavior Solutions and chairwoman of the Pet Professional Guild Feline Committee "Reliable, scientifically accurate behavioral information from experts in the field." - Gallivan Burwell, owner of Upward Dog Training & Counseling
BARKSbit.ly/PetTrainingBehavior from the Guild/July 2021 Available in print and ebook format from: Available as a PDF from: petindustryregulation.com
Ask the Experts: Just Say No Veronica Boutelle of PPG corporate partner dog*biz discusses how to take the guilt out of saying no
: I know you talk a lot about getting control of your schedule and time management. I’ve read and heard you say that it’s important to learn to say no. I want to do that, but I always end up feeling guilty. My schedule is a mess and I know I can’t fix it if I keep saying yes to everything and everyone, but how do you say no without the guilt? A: You are not alone! We R+ dog trainers are such altruists. We’re good, kind, thoughtful people. We want to please. We want to do as much for dogs and their people as we can. We tend to be noncon frontational. (Well, except maybe when it comes to advocating for dogs!) All of this makes saying no a very uncomfortable task. Our advice for achieving guiltfree (or at least guiltreduced) no’s is to turn no on its head. Think of every no as a yes. Consider this: Time is finite. So every time you say yes to some thing, you’re saying no to something else. And the opposite is also true: Saying no to one thing means protecting time for another. The trick, then, to saying no is becoming really clear about what’s most important to you. What are your goals for your business? What kind of service do you want to provide your students and clients? What kind of time do you want to dedicate to your friends and family and your own dogs and yourself? Use this clarity as a sounding board for every potential task or request that comes your way—does that task or request actively serve your primary goals? Is it the best way to do so? Does is support longterm sustainability for you?
Value Next, ask yourself this very important question: If I do this task or say yes to this request, what will I not have time to do? The item in question may have value, but is it a better use of your time than something that will get bumped if you say yes? Ultimately, saying yes to too many things, or things that have lesser value, means saying no to the things that matter most—like making the biggest possible difference in dogs’ lives, and spending time with your own, too. When you say no, you are protecting not only yourself but those you care for and serve. Keeping this in mind can help take the guilt sting out of saying no. Oh, and be sure to celebrate your no’s with some welldeserved R+. We make a big deal out of celebrating hardwon no’s in our THRIVE! group coaching program. Reinforced behavior increases, after all, and this is a behavior you want to cultivate! n
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Saying yes to too many things means saying no to the things that matter most, such as making the biggest possible difference in dogs’ lives, and spending time with your own pets, friends, and family
If you don’t already read dogbiz’s Monthly Minute e‐newsletter, we highly recommend it! Sign up for a free subscription to beneﬁt from their monthly business tips for R+ trainers. ‐ Ed. Veronica Boutelle MA Ed CTC is founder and co-president of dog*biz, and author of How to Run Your Dog Business and co-author of Minding Your Dog Business. dog*biz offers professionally designed positive reinforcement dog training class curricula, including Open-Enrollment Puppy, Open-Enrollment Basic Manners, and short Topics classes built for retention.
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Expectations, Commitment Devices, Incentives and Reinforcement In the second part of a two-part article, Niki Tudge investigates what’s missing from your client consulting tool kit and drills down on how to ensure commitment and cooperation between clients and pet professionals
n the first part of this article (see A Tale of Two Selves, BARKS from the Guild, May 2021, pp.54‐58), we discussed that, although a successful pet training program requires the pet’s guardians make changes to their own behavior and living envi ronment, changing the humans’ be havior is a topic more often than not omitted from professional curriculums, and represents a deficit skill for professionals. On an industrywide scale, we appear to be missing the mark when it comes to providing profes sional education to support pet professionals in chang ing and modifying the human behavior of their twolegged clients. Motivational Interviewing works on the principle that people experience ambivalence about change and that it is normal for there to be a disconnect between the client’s own stated goals and their actual behavior. How often have we experienced a scenario in which we conduct appointments with clients, pre pared to support them with a behavior change program, only to witness, at best, their noncommitment and a reluctance to implement our recommendations, or, at worst, objections, anger, and frustration? Whereas Part One of the article discussed solutions to compliance via a collaborative model, or partnership between the professional and the pet guardian, here in Part Two we will explore how to familiarize clients to Commitment Strategies and how best to choose the right strategy for the client.
In the business of training and consulting, we are bound by contractual language that outlines some of the key expectations from each party. This formal contract is not the end of the professionalclient contract story, however. Once you have established that your contract and li ability waiver have been understood and signed, you must then consider the psychological contract. In short, this summarizes the beliefs held by both trainer and student about what they expect from one another. It is an unwritten set of expecta tions that is constantly at play during the term of the formal contract. The interactions you have with your clients are a fundamental feature of the trainerstudent relationship. Each individual’s role has a set of behavioral expectations that are often explicit to the individ ual, yet ambiguous to other par ties and not defined in the business contract. More disappoint ment and frustrations come from this set of expectations because in many cases they have not been clearly outlined, dis cussed, understood and agreed to by both parties. You may have heard the saying that It can be difficult for clients to stay "expectations are premeditated resent committed to training programs, but pet professionals can help them match ments." This expression really sums up their behavior with their intentions potential issues with setting expecta © Can Stock Photo / adogslifephoto tions. Johnson (2018) discusses the psy chology of expectations and speaks to Expectations the wisdom of recognizing two psychological facts: Let’s start by discussing the concept of “Expectations;” after all, if we 1) Merely expecting something to happen will not make it didn’t have expectations regarding our clients and their actions, there happen. would be no ensuing discussion about these concepts of commitment 2) Human beings have a natural tendency to pin their hopes for and compliance. As professionals, we sometimes use our unstated, un happiness on fulﬁlled expectations. communicated, and possibly unfair or unreasonable expectations as a Hoping Doesn’t Drive Results benchmark for a client behavior measurement. As such, we judge our Expectations spawn problems when we think that just by expecting, we clients’ performance during the program based on these expectations. can cause something to occur. If I believe that my expectations alone We are not unusual in this: many people surreptitiously draw others, in will bring me what I want, I am doomed to be disappointed. Each day cluding their spouses, friends and family, into their expectations while we do hundreds of things that we know require action, like preparing the other parties are none the wiser.
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
business dinner. We cannot just hope or expect it into being. I first must take the necessary steps to make it happen, I have to plan, purchase and prepare the food and then allocate time to serve and eat it. Anyone thinking oth erwise would be considered delusional. For expectations to happen we must take responsible action. As adults we know this, yet many of us still fall into the trap of creating ex pectations and projecting them onto others. Other people will not be have how we want them to behave just because we hope they will! According to Johnson (2018), “research on moral psychology tells me that expectations among people are often based on an implicit so cial contract. That is, without actually verbalizing expectations about giveandtake in a relationship, people construct stories in their heads about legitimate expectations of each other.” Johnson (2018) goes on to explain that people have deals in their heads that are never discussed. It’s easy to imagine how this will lead to disappointment and regret, due to the impossibility of someone else living up to your silent, secret, or private expectations of them. If we go through life always expecting things to turn out how we prefer, we are going to be disappointed. It’s just not realistic to live like this. When our expectations involve others and they “fail” to perform as we feel they should, this leads to disappointment, and that disappoint ment can turn into resentment—especially in relationships where we have an emotional investment. If we implement commitment strategies supported by expectations everyone has agreed upon in advance, we will see more success driven by highly motivated and engaged clients. Remember that the experience of anything is a result of two things: the characteristic of the experience and what we expect from this experi ence. So, let's look at how we can set ourselves, our clients and our services up for success by setting collaborative and realistic expectations for both parties.
Will Change Not Enable Survival? What do we need our clients to commit to? Well, our programs of course, i.e., our recommendations, our homework assignments, our advice…the list goes on. What we are describing here is change. We are asking our clients to jump on board a program of change! Humans do not always em brace change with open arms. Quite the opposite in fact. There is an evo lutionary reason for this in that we tend to keep one foot squarely placed in the “old way” because is safer than running onwards and upwards into the “jaws of danger.” Our reaction to change happens at an unconscious level and our reaction takes place in less than a second. Freitas (2019) explains that we “resist change because of our evolu tionary survival instinct and as humans, we are inherently cautious about change. As soon as we encounter anything new or unexpected,
BARKS from the Guild
The interactions you have with your clients are a fundamental feature of the trainer-student relationship. Each individual’s role has a set of behavioral expectations that are often explicit to the individual, yet ambiguous to other parties and not defined in the business contract. the brain automatically assesses whether it presents a threat to our sur vival or a potential reward.” According to Mackay (2019), psychologists have long studied the in ability of humans to make changes. They have uncovered five primary reasons why change efforts fall short: 1) We’re motivated by negative emotions. 2) We get trapped in “all or nothing” thinking. 3) We start too big and too vague. 4) We forget that failure is a part of the process. 5) We don’t make a commitment. Major change needs a specific and dedicated commitment. (I consider #5 to be most relevant to our profession given that we work with pet guardians.) Here is where we must delve into some of the theories that behav ioral economists better understand. Consider the following: 1) Surely if our clients have reached out to us, then they have identified a problem and sought a professional solution. 2) They have also paid us or committed to paying us, so why wouldn't they commit and comply to our programs—to “get what they paid for?” 3) Why does their behavior elicit the need for us to push back, confront, and question their behavior? Going back to Part One of this article, we discussed how Motiva tional Interviewing unveils the ambivalence between a client’s stated goals and their observable behavior. We touched on our clients’ Two Selves and Hyperbolic Discounting. But there is more at play here. Three of the common behavior change theories may explain the why and importance of educating our clients on the need and value of Com mitment Devices (see Fig. 1, next page) and providing them the full freedom of choice to adopt and implement these devices to support them with their goals.
#1. Limited Resource Theory: Research into the Limited Resource Theory of executive function and willpower suggests that “selfcontrol seems to rely on a limited energy or strength, such that engaging in a
BARKS from the Guild is the 64-page bimonthly pet industry trade magazine published by the Pet Professional Guild, available internationally to Pet Professional Guild members, supporters and the general public via a free lifetime digital subscription. Widely read by pet industry professionals and pet guardians alike, BARKS covers a vast range of topics encompassing animal behavior, pet care, training, education, industry trends, business AND MUCH MORE! If you would like to reach your target audience, BARKS is the perfect vehicle to achieve that goal. To contribute an article, please contact the editor, Susan Nilson.
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BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
single act of selfcontrol impairs subsequent attempts at selfcontrol, as if some sort of energy has been used up during the initial act.” (Baumeister, Gailliot, DeWall & Oaten, 2006).
#2. Hyperbolic Discounting: In his book The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, Ariely (2008) set out to answer some important questions. One of these is one that many of us ask: “Why is it easier to plan than to act on those plans?” In other words, “Why is it easier to make a decision to do something in the future than to make a decision to do that same thing in the present?” This is something that behavioral economists refer to as the “run ner’s dilemma.” The runner’s dilemma is a classic example of hyperbolic discounting, a phenomenon in which, in the present, the benefits of a decision (such as going jogging in the morning or scheduling a dog train ing session) outweigh the costs, yet, over time, the benefits decrease and the costs increase, until the decision is no longer favorable to the client.
#3. Choice Set Theory: In terms of our clients’ behavior, the increas ing temptation costs relative to the number of choices they have is ex plained by what is known as the Choice Set Theory. So, while hyperbolic discounting looks at the cost benefit ratio of making choices over time (longitudinally), the choice set theory explores the cost benefit ratio of making choices across a breadth of options (vertically). Essentially, this theory states that the choices we make are a function of the benefit (utility) of those choices relative to the temptation cost of the other op tions. So, when faced with making choices, such as a specific dog trainer or training method or philosophy, there is always a benefit clients assign to each choice. Finally let’s recap the Two Selves Theory. If you have read Part One of this article, you may feel I am harping on a little here—and you would be correct. But this is incredibly important for change agents to grasp.
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
We need to be aware that our clients do not deliberately or purpose fully ignore our instructions or defy our recommendations. They are simply human, as are we. If we understand these behavioral theories, then we can better communicate to and manage our clients through change. If we really want to understand the difference between how our clients think and how they think they will respond vs. how they ac tually do respond, there is no better place to look than something we are all familiar with, such as starting an exercise or diet program. Highly motivated clients with problematic pets who have called upon us to help them through the best laid plans are utilizing their long run self. The longrun self thinks differently from the self that actually carries out plans, known as the shortrun self. Together, they comprise the Dual Self Theory, the premise is that every decisionmaker consists of two selves: a longrun self that is concerned with planning and imple menting desirable choices, and a shortrun self that is responsible for carrying out the intended actions, all the while facing other temptations and a discounting of the benefits, like the ones we covered above. According to DorotikNana (2021), the Dual Self Theory holds the two selves are at odds with one another. While the longrun self thinks about the bigger picture and weighs up the costs and benefits accu rately, the shortrun self is more myopic and holds a distorted percep tion of the benefits of a desirable choice. In our world, an example of this would be one in which the longrun self thinks about the benefits of spending time training their puppy while the shortrun self is busy wor rying about missing out on family time, or another social commitment. Over time, because of hyperbolic discounting and temptation, willpower runs out, and clients find themselves back in the old ways. It appears that our thinking and doing are wired differently.
Incentives and Reinforcement In their most literal form, incentives represent our desires. The acquisi tion of our desires helps propel us forwards toward our goals. We typi
business For expectations to happen we must take responsible action. As adults we know this, yet many of us still fall into the trap of creating expectations and projecting them onto others. Other people will not behave how we want them to behave just because we hope they will! cally consider incentives in a positive form, e.g., a pay increase, or a dessert if we have lost a few pounds. What behavioral economists know is that incentives are much more powerful when we are afraid to lose them, which is known as loss aversion. For humans, avoiding the loss of something we already possess is a more powerful motivator than being offered something we don’t have. I hear you thinking, ”What?!” But to behavioral economists this makes perfect sense. The idea is that once we own something and it is incorpo rated into our status quo, we value it and its value to us increases. This is known as the Endowment Effect and it significantly affects the way we feel about things that we consider ours (Kahneman, Knetch & Thaler, 1990). If you have ever suffered a major financial loss, you will under stand this effect well.
Commitment Devices When we work with clients and make agreements with them about changing their behavior, we can educate them about the two selves.
Once they hear an overview of these concepts, they will get it! My rec ommendations are that when speaking to clients about their goals, you ask them directly, in a collaborative and supportive manner, if they feel they may struggle to match their behavior with their intentions. Ask them if they feel they may need help staying on course and committing on a daily basis to the plans they initiated and agreed upon. At this time, they will be keen to lock in their intentions using Commitment Devices. Clients choose their own Commitment Devices, so let’s speak to the various types now. Soft commitments are commitments that do not have direct penalties, but instead use social, psychological, and financial incentives to shape behavior. If you have ever promised to reward your kids with a trip to McDonalds after they have completed a task, then you have used a soft commitment. If you have ever promised a friend you intend to run a marathon you have made a soft commitment. But soft commitments are not the only commitment type we can make. For example, we can give our friend, the one waiting at the gym, $50 to keep if we don’t show up. We could tell our spouse that if we are late for dinner again, we will take on the job of mowing the lawn for the rest of the year. These sorts of arrangements are what economists call hard commitments. Unlike soft commitments that rely on psychological, social, and per haps moral influences to motivate us, hard commitments simply impose penalties when we don’t do what we said we would do. Hard commit ments are the reason we don’t speed, steal from the store, or cheat on our taxes – because we’d rather not pay the fine. Hard commitments do shape behavior.
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
business lives are more enriched when we contribute to their welfare. Our em ployers and employees benefit when we show up at the office on time and do our job. The lives of our personal service providers are en hanced when we keep our word because our commitments benefit others. Making commitments to others also invokes our desire for co operation and synergy, particularly if the commitment is reputation or emotionally based. After all, nobody wants to be known as the person who let someone else down or was underhanded. This is why pledge campaigns are very effective; they call on our desire to help and make a commitment to another person or cause (Chen & Komorita, 1994). As pet professionals, we can utilize this desire in people to commit to a cause or to others. If we connect their goals to commitment de vices, we may be surprised to see the impact it can have on our clients’ progress. n
© Can Stock Photo / hasalazars
In addition to assisting with pet training and behavior needs, professionals may also need to be able provide clients with ideas and strategies to help them stay the course and make them accountable
This is not us imposing punishment on our clients. We are profes sionals helping them recognize how difficult behavior change can be given the dynamics in their environment. Our purpose is to help moti vated adults, who are intent on following a program, recognize where they may fall down and to provide ideas and strategies that they are empowered to choose to help them. When clients are motivated and thinking about their longterm vs. shortterm self, they are often keen to participate in commitment strategies. If you have uncovered ambiva lence and your clients are ready to go, they are in the action part of change, and many of them will be delighted to have an accountability coach. Clients choose their commitment strategy and their referee. Clients want, need and deserve the autonomy to make their own decisions that impact their success. You are simply guiding and supporting them with alternative tools and resources.
Cooperation and Synergy It’s hard to think of a way to make a commitment involving others that does not directly benefit them. We commit to our partners, and their lives are improved when we are not unfaithful. Our family members’
We need to be aware that our clients do not deliberately or purposefully ignore our instructions or defy our recommendations. They are simply human, as are we. If we understand these behavioral theories, then we can better communicate to and manage our clients through change.
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
Ariely, D. (2008). Predictably Irrational: The hidden forces that shape our decisions. New York, NY: HarperCollins Baumeister, R.F., Gailliot, M., DeWall, C.N., & Oaten, M. (2006). Selfregulation and personality: how interventions increase regulatory success, and how depletion moderates the eﬀects of traits on behavior. Journal of Personality 74(6):1773-801 Chen, X-P., & Komorita, S.S. (1994). The eﬀects of communication and commitment in a public goods social dilemma. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 60(3), 367–386 Dorotik-Nana, C. (2021). Transformation. Phoenix, AZ: International Sports Sciences Association Freitas, G. (2019). Organizational Change and the Neuroscience Behind Why We Resist Change. People Talk Johnson, J.A. (2018). The Psychology of Expectations. Psychology Today Kahneman, D., Knetsch, J.L., & Thaler, R. (1990). Experimental Tests of the Endowment Eﬀect and the Coase Theorem. Journal of Political Economy (98) 6 1325-1348 Mackay, J. (2019). The most eﬀective way to implement a behavior change
Resource Tudge, N. (2021, May). A Tale of Two Selves. BARKS from the Guild (48) 54-58 Niki Tudge MBA PCBC-A CABC CDBC is the founder and president of the Pet Professional Guild, DogNostics Education and The DogSmith. She has substantial leadership experience in business management and administration, particularly in the nonproﬁt sector, which encompasses her role as the president of Doggone Safe, a nonproﬁt educational organization. She has published numerous articles, which have been featured in publications such as the New York Times. She has also authored ﬁve books; her most recent project, Pet Training and Behavior Consulting: A Model for Raising the bar to Protect Professionals, Pets and Their People, which she co-authored, was published in 2019. Before following her passion into small business and nonproﬁt management, she enjoyed a distinguished career in the hospitality industry, holding executive positions all over the world. Along with her business degrees from Oxford Brookes University in the U.K., her professional credentials include ISSA certiﬁed ﬁtness trainer and ISSA certiﬁed transformation specialist coach. She is also Six Sigma Black Belt certiﬁed, specializing in data analysis and process improvement and is also an International Training Board (HCITB) certiﬁed people trainer at levels TS1, TS2 & TS3, and a certiﬁed facilitator and project manager. In addition, she was recognized for her outstanding contribution to the business community and honored with a Fortune 500 Company Leadership Award for her accomplishments.
p r o f i l e
Advocating for Animals In our ongoing series of PPG member profiles, this month we feature Rain Jordan of Expert Canine and The Fearful Dogs Project in Warrenton, Oregon
ain Jordan has always been an animal advocate, even as a child. She has engaged in other pursuits and professions too, includ ing college professor (past), sculptor (present), and writer (past and present). Q: Tell us a bit more about yourself, how you first got into animal behavior and training, and what you are doing now? A: I performed behavior modification and training for dog rescue, which is in fact what motivated me to achieve my certifications, so that I could best help more dogs. I’ve also managed a dog sanctuary (a real one, not a “sanctuary” in scary quotes, which is sad to see). A large portion of the dogs with whom I’ve worked since about 2014 have been extremely fearful, traumatized, and/or feralized dogs and this is my field of specialization. Of course, I also get quite a lot of reactivity and aggression cases, as many of us do, and the usual skills training clients as well. But my overarching career goal is to ensure that fearful dogs are saved and protected, not marginalized and mis interpreted, and are provided with antiaversives lifestyles. At The Fearful Dogs Project* (TFDP), our vision is expressed more simply, as “Ensure that fear leads to learning, not loss.” This means we also seek to create more ability in fearful dog help for people from all over, whether they are private dog guardians, shelter or rescue work ers, veterinary professionals, law enforcement, animal control, or—of course—training and behavior professionals. Through the organization, I strive to develop the expertise needed in others to make sure there will be future experts who are com pletely prepared to help fearful dogs – without the use of pain, force, in timidation, fear leveraging, and without letting common misconceptions misguide their practices. At TFDP we seek to create true experts in antiaversives fearful dog recovery: professionals who do what the dog needs and feels safe with, rather than what is easiest or most commonly done. In addition to TFDP, which along with Expert Canine keeps me pretty busy, through the nonprofit animal welfare organization Protect Them All, I also have designed and developed various programs aimed at im proving companion animal welfare through training not only animals, but people as well. My view is that the best practices are those that pre pare both animals and humans to be the best they can be. For example, the Educational and Skills Building Adoptions (ESBA) program is de signed to address the revolving doors of suffering and surrender for ani mals and their humans—both suffer greatly as a result of this vicious cycle. I am also the canine behavior columnist for a local newspaper, and have authored several books, including, recently, The Dog Who Couldn’t Be Petted and Such Small Hands: An Anti‐Aversives Primer.
“Our animals are sentient beings, and personally, mine are family. They deserve respect, happiness, safety, comfort, and freedom from force, pain, fear, intimidation, degradation, harassment, and so on. They need our protection.” - Rain Jordan
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
© Rain Jordan
Rain Jordan with Starry, a borzoi surrendered to the dog rescue sanctuary she managed at the time
Q: When did you become a trainer/pet care provider? A: I began working with dogs as a volunteer in the early 2000s and em barked on more formal training and behavior modification in 2014. Q: What do you consider to be your area of expertise? A: My areas of expertise are 1) Fearful dogs including feral/feralized and traumatized dogs, and 2) Advocating for safety, wellbeing, and anti aversives lifestyles for all dogs – which means an underlying focus on a combination of young puppy socialization and training, and on coopera tive care and handling. My work for nonprofits reflects a similar theme: creating innovative programs to improve companion animal wellbeing. ESBA, for example, was originated for rescue and small private shelters, but since then I’ve been working to get the program adapted for and into the hands of shelters. Animal sheltering can be so emotionally difficult—perhaps nearly as difficult as the work of veterinarians—so I am driven to effect positive change in the sheltering system. And, in doing so, I hope that eventually the work of veterinarians will ease as a result of fewer elec tive euthanasias. Q: What is your favorite part of your job? A: Smiling faces, furry and not, and hope for a better future. Q: Tell us a little bit about your own pets. A: I have several dogs, all sighthounds, speciﬁcally, borzoi and podencos. All are rescues.
p r o f i l e Q: Are you a crossover trainer or have you always been a force‐free trainer? A: Like too many people, I think I had been lugging around the ghost of old ways for much of my life even though not acting on the whisperings of those ghosts. As a professional I’ve always been forcefree, but as a dog guardian previously, I’d been exposed to a lot of unfortunate situa tions and practices, such as when, over a decade ago, a vet tech held my large dog down to trim her nails. She was very afraid, and the memory of that and things like it will always haunt me. I no longer allow such things and instead advocate for my dogs in all contexts. I will also never forget insisting on removing the shock collar from the neck of a dog I had just met (owned by a new romantic interest at the time—before I knew about the collar), and the terrible burned holes I found underneath the collar. She never wore it again and never again suffered the use of aversives. So there’s that, on the upside. Q: What are some of your favorite positive reinforcement techniques for the most commonly encountered behavior issues? A: One of the most important things I feel that I can do for my clients is help them understand what aversives and their consequences are. Often it isn't their fault that they've used them; often they didn't even realize they were doing so. Helping my clients understand the benefits of antiaversives practices also gives them and their dogs the physical and emotional relief of letting aversives go. Q: What is the reward you get out of a day's training with people and their pets?: A: Changing feelings of hopelessness to happiness. One of my clients once told me that she was so happy just to know that her puppy had a chance to be a good boy. How sad that anyone might be without help and therefore think there their sweet pup might just not be able to be good. Q: Who has most influenced your career and how? A: As a child I was very sensitive to the plight of animals and still am. I think the deepest inﬂuence is someone whose name I don't know: that would be whoever created the PBS documentary I watched as a child, about the consequences of the tuna industry. In it was video of dolphins dying on rocky banks, and ﬁshermen...suﬃce to say the men were pur posely, for no reason, adding to the dolphins' suﬀering. I was probably around 10 then. Soon after that I became a vegetarian, the only one in my family. Every person who has ever harmed an animal has inﬂuenced my career, has inﬂuenced me to ﬁght harder to improve the plight of an imals, and probably that will always be true. As for contemporaries, other trainers, teachers, etc., I would say the ﬁrst to come to mind as inﬂuences one way or another are Dr. Susan Friedman and Jean Donaldson for their focus on nonaversive practices. The Culture Clash is one of my alltime favorite books by the way, and contains such important views about canine welfare and misconcep tions that tend to lead to mishandling of behavior concerns. I also ad mire how people like Chirag Patel design innovative training methods, such as those based on errorless learning principles.
“…my overarching career goal is to ensure that fearful dogs are saved and protected, not marginalized and misinterpreted, and are provided with anti-aversives lifestyles.” - Rain Jordan need our protection, and since they are our captives, they deserve our protection as a bare minimum. Being and advocating for forcefree is a huge part of their protection, short and longterm. Q: What awards or competition placements have you and your pet(s) achieved using force‐free methods? A: I do not believe in seeking awards for my animals because too often in such processes, the animals do not enjoy or want it, and thus suﬀer instead. I know of others who do it forcefree and I imagine there may be some dogs who enjoy it. Q: What advice would you give to a new trainer starting out? A: Don’t try to crowdsource your learning. Stick with one trusted men tor at a time, preferably by private coaching. I have found teaching my own professional courses that onetoone instruction and coaching is MUCH more effective than groups, because it is too easy for individuals within a group to misunderstand crucial elements of a program or to give up rather than seek the individual assistance needed. Those who seek out onetoone learning (and those who take the time and make more effort to keep onetoone communication lines open and dialogical) seem to be more likely to succeed. This actually is why TFDP´s Fear Abatement Mastery program for trainers is now one toone only. That kind of commitment, trust, and immersion is impor tant. Q: How has PPG helped you to become a more complete trainer? A: PPG is great for keeping R+ trainers’ heads in the game. Such mental support is important. n *See page 5 for more on The Fearful Dogs Project
Expert Canine and The Fearful Dogs Project are located in Warrenton, Oregon
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HOST A WEBINAR FOR PPG! Want to Share Your Knowledge and Expertise? Topics may include a particular aspect of training, ethology, learning theory, behavior specifics... anything at all your fellow pet professionals would find educational.
Q: What is the funniest or craziest situation you have been in with a pet and their guardian? A: I’m drawing a blank on crazy situations! It’s probably the result of tunnel vision. I can be a bit intense! Q: What drives you to be a force‐free professional and why is it impor‐ tant to you? A: Our animals are sentient beings, and personally, mine are family. They deserve respect, happiness, safety, comfort, and freedom from force, pain, fear, intimidation, degradation, harassment, and so on. They
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BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
Lessons in Empathy Kathy Wolff gives a brutally honest account of how and why the stress she, as a naturally anxious person, has experienced during the pandemic has helped her gain a more profound understanding of what anxious dogs experience throughout their daily lives em∙pa∙thy /ˈempəTHē/
spinning sequences that you see on TV; the one where the director is trying to convey confusion and disorientation (funny but not funny). My own fears about how COVID would affect me and my family complicated mat ters to the point that I was properly para lyzed by my amygdalaly dominated nervous system. My digestive tract ramped up to warp speed. Without going into unpleasant descriptives, let’s just say there was a lot more coming out than was going in. The strain of it all caused me to lose my voice – both physically and emotionally. And, speak ing of emotions…wow! Talk about wearing them on your sleeve. I am naturally more of an emotional person than I would like to admit, but now I was always on the verge of tears, ready to run away screaming. Many of my clinical colleagues, who of course had much more of a practical learn ing skill set than I did in situations like this, tried to quell my panic and lack of response. But, even then, I knew at least some of them could never really understand what I was going through. That knowledge was embarrassing and created a new self loathing as I chastised myself for not being able to just get it together! “What the hell is wrong with me?” I would constantly ask my self. The initial physical and emotional mani festation of COVID was truly devastating on so many levels.
ccording to Wikipedia (2021), empathy is the “capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another's position. Definitions of empathy encompass a broad range of emotional states.” “Hi, my name is Kathy, and I’m a Nervous Nellie.” At least, that’s the cutsie polite little name we used to call it when I was younger. I was someone who always saw the glass half empty, worried about what was going to happen next; took the “what if’s” and blew them so far out of proportion that the situation prompting the re sponse was so distorted from reality it was mindbog gling. I believe the clinical term for this is “catastrophizing.” But whatever term I use to try to tie it up in a neat bow, it is lifealtering and deeply troubling. Now that the first anniversary of the COVID birthed new world has been and gone, I feel com pelled to share my own thoughts and experiences over the last year or so with the world. I submit to you, then, the Nervous Nellie perspective. For frame of reference, I have worked in the med ical profession full time, not as a clinician but as sup port staff, for 32 years. Dog training is my parttime gig. As support staff, you are the front line of contact for many: coworkers, patients, family of.... You are the pipeline for all the information that everyone needs to know and you’re relied on to move everyone in the right direction at any given moment. To say there is a lot of pressure on that pipeline is an understatement, but when COVID hit, the pipes burst.
The COVID Effect
Everlasting Impact © Kathy Wolﬀ
Since my department’s daytoday activities “The most important skill we need to teach Fear and anxiety were at the kind of high that was reduced dramatically during the first weeks our dogs isn’t found in ‘obedience’ rhetoric, physically palpable. You could see it in faces; you after our new world disorder, some of us but rather in finding peace in the daytoday living of life” Kathy Wolff, with Cree could feel it in the air. Dare I say, in our primal ances were able to have time off to regroup. For tral way, we could even smell it. Every time the phone me, that regroup meant, breathe. Just rang, or my colleagues or patients came to me seeking information and breathe, every day. Get up after a really bad night of some sort of direction, their desperate energy hit me full on, over and over. My “gift” pseudo sleep, and breathe. That’s it. If I got through the day without as an empath was not helping me here either. The openness of access going crazy and disappearing down a jagged chasm of panic, I called to their visceral responses drove hard, directly to my soul, biting deep. that a win. If I could make myself something to eat, take minimal care of Often, I could not sit still, I just had to keep moving. Sitting still my dogs, and keep my home from falling into complete disarray, I had a made me feel like I was going to explode. At times, it was hard to good day. Don’t ask me for anything past that. My longlost agoraphobia breathe or to think. I felt as if I had no train of thought. There was no came to visit, so going out at all took herculean fortitude. But that was way to cohesively put thoughts together in a sequential state to try to okay with me: stay where I know I can be safe, and maybe, just maybe find some solid ground in all the chaos. I could not make decisions be I’ll be okay. cause I could not reason. If asked to do a simple task, it was monumen I hope I didn’t make you feel uncomfortable while you read this. But tally challenging to make any type of critical thinking process happen. In I do hope that what I was describing sounded familiar to you. It did to an ironic twist of cruel comedy, I could envision myself in one of those me. You see, as I sat in my house day after day, just breathing and trying 62
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
comment Dogs have the same complex emotional and physical responses as we do and as such, their pain is as real as ours. We have to recognize this and take steps to ensure their safety, their peace of mind, and empathetically guide them gently towards the best life they can live. This goes beyond sit, down, and stay. This is empathy, security, peace. to hold myself together, a very poignant epiphany came to me. This deep unrest and loss of life control that I felt must be the same thing that many dogs who have had traumatic experiences are feeling. My ex periences navigating my emotional journey with COVID took me deeper into the empathy for these fragile souls, forever changing how I look at dog training and guidance at both ends of the leash. To dogs who have lived through abuse, neglect, who were born into a frantic world from a mother who herself was traumatized, who are on the receiving end of a bad spin of the genetic wheel, or who for what ever reason cannot process the nuances of living, normal everyday stim uli and stressors can be too much to even consider. When living life becomes a constant internal battle to just breathe, their daily life (as they perceive it, not us) is a traumatic event. My sincere intention in putting pen to paper is to give voice to the somatic confusion, helplessness, and desperation that can be felt when we, be it human or canid, face life when presented in ways that we just don’t have the skill sets to handle. Dogs have the same complex emo tional and physical responses as we do and as such, their pain is as real as ours. We have to recognize this and take steps to ensure their safety, their peace of mind, and empathetically guide them gently towards the best life they can live. This goes beyond sit, down, and stay. This is em pathy, security, peace.
Happy Anniversary At the oneyear anniversary of the COVIDbirthed new world, I found myself feeling more centered, at peace, and more equipped to face life. Sincere thanks to my children, my spouse, and the many friends and family who understood my needs. They gave me empathy, safety and supported the skill sets I needed to develop to be able to navigate. I will be eternally grateful. Does this salutation mean I'm “cured”? Nope, not even close. I’m a very short trip from Calm to Calamity, but now I am also well versed in how to take the trip in reverse. Taking the time to empathetically guide our emotional dogs with gentle methods while we support their needs can help them unwind their mind and calm their soul. Realize that the most important skill we need to teach our dogs isn’t found in “obedience” rhetoric, but rather in finding peace in the daytoday living of life. Be prepared for those trips to Calamity. They will come, it’s part of who we/they are. And when they do, please remind us/them how to find the way home. n
Reference Empathy [Def]. (2021). Wikipedia Kathy Wolﬀ CCDT CCUI is the owner of Mosaic Dog Training in southeast Wisconsin. She is a graduate of CATCH Canine Trainers Academy, a licensed dog bite prevention educator thru Doggone Safe, and a registered handler for Alliance of Therapy Dogs, for whom, in the past, she spent ﬁve years visiting hospital patients with her retired therapy dog, Thunder. She is also a certiﬁed Control Unleashed instructor. Her goal is to help dogs and their companion humans create lifelong bonds based on mutual respect and understanding, taking into account both their emotional and training needs.
BARKS from the Guild/July 2021
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