BARKS from the Guild March 2017

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© Can Stock Photo Inc./Lopolo

BARKS from the Guild

POCKET PETS Husbandry Training CANINE Rethinking Rejection EQUINE Two-Way Communication

Issue No. 23 / March 2017

TRAINING Working with a “Difficult” Dog BUSINESS The Rates Conundrum

FELINE The Effects of Declawing

PPG Gear Swap Program Project Trade:

Strategic Discounts to Generate New Business, Build Market Share and Offer Better Alternatives for Dogs and their Owners A Force-Free Publication from the Pet Professional Guild

Softouch Concepts, Inc.



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

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

The Guild Steering Committee Kelly Fahey, Paula Garber, Carole Husein, Rebekah King, Debra Millikan, Susan Nilson, Claire Staines, Louise StapletonFrappell, Angelica Steinker, Niki Tudge, Sam Wike

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

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

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

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

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


From the Editor

ccording to PPG president Niki Tudge, Project Trade is a “fabulous little program.” In case you are unaware, Project Trade is PPG’s international advocacy platform whereby members provide service discounts as an incentive for clients to swap out aversive training gear and equipment. Our cover story this month delves deeper into the program and examines how, by offering strategic discounts, it can boost members’ businesses by helping them reach new clients, build market share, promote their services, and ultimately benefit both dog owners and their pets. At the same time, it gives participants an easy starting point to have the discussion about why it is appropriate to avoid aversive training methods and equipment without exercising judgment. As a supplement to the cover story, our news section on page 10 features two of the latest Project Trade monthly ambassadors and several photos of some of the gear exchanged recently. We hope all this will motivate you to join Project Trade's efforts to change lives for pet dogs and their guardians. The beginning of the year has been busy for PPG, with the announcement of three educational summits, a new educational scholarship program, the release of a position statement on socalled pet correction devices, and an open letter to veterinarians on referrals to behavior and training professionals. Read all about it in our news section, and the position statement on startle devices is available in full on page 16-17. As always, this issue features a wide range of articles contributed by PPG members, including the tale of Courage, the rescue pit bull type dog who helped shelter staff realize the value of positive training methods, and the story of Chopper, the Rottweiler who has defied the odds to qualify as a therapy dog, and is now helping combat breed stereotypes through his work. We also look into the intriguing world of living with retired racing greyhounds and dispel some of the myths surrounding their behavior. In our pet care section, we feature an excerpt from an upcoming BARKS from the Guild e-book that sets out the minimum health and safety standards for day care and boarding facilities. Our feline section, meanwhile, examines declawing, a procedure banned in many countries but still widely carried out in the US, usually to prevent scratching. Our article looks into the physical and psychological effects caused by this controversial practice. We have plenty more on other species too. Our equine section discusses common misconceptions hindering conversation between horses and their humans, while the behavior section addresses husbandry for pocket pets and how to get them to participate in their own healthcare. We also look into the importance of training the animals in our care to be comfortable with changing environments. We are happy this month to welcome Veronica Boutelle of dog*tec to our business section. Dog*tec will be answering readers’ questions on all matters business and marketing, so if you have anything you would like to ask, email your question to and we will pass it on for dog*tec’s expertise. Feedback on the issue, as always, is welcome. If you have an article you would like to contribute, please get in touch.

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

n Susan Nilso



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BARKS from the Guild/March 2017



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Photo/Becky Harding, Hound and About Photography


NEWS Three summits, open letters, position statements, scholarships, feline professionals, PPG World Service, webinars, Project Trade SUMMIT Venue and price information for PPG’s 2017 Summit THIRD CANINE TRAINING TECHNICIAN GRADUATES Susan Nilson speaks to Steph Mitchell about gaining the CTT-A credential POSITION STATEMENT ON PET CORRECTION DEVICES PPG’s statement in full WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY ABOUT BSL Canine behavior consultants and training professionals share their opinions HELPING DOGS, HELPING FAMILIES Daniel Antolec discusses Project Trade and the benefits it can bring to both clients and small businesses FROM OUTSIDER TO STAFF FAVORITE Breanna Norris describes how involving shelter staff in the training of a “difficult” dog can make all the difference K-9 TO 5 Sharon Empson provides some tips to help busy clients fit dog training into their daily routine THE PERFECT AMBASSADOR Kym Iffert details the challenges her Rottweiler rescue, Chopper, faced to qualify as a therapy dog GREAT EXPECTATIONS Susan McKeon talks living and learning with retired racing greyhounds RETHINKING REJECTION Angelica Steinker on how trainers can turn “no” into “yes” LEARNING TO CONQUER FEAR Dr. Kang Nee relates the tale of how rescue dog Princess is overcoming her separation anxiety MEETING THE STANDARD Lauri Bowen-Vaccare outlines health and safety standards for dog boarding and day care facilities THE EFFECTS OF DECLAWING Declawing can cause behavioral and emotional changes in cats, as well as physical ones, says Bridget Lehet A TWO-WAY CONVERSATION Kathie Gregory discusses how to best communicate with horses to ensure mutual understanding and trust CONDITIONING CONFIDENCE Emily Cassell talks husbandry training for small mammals ADAPTING TO CHANGE Lara Joseph discusses the importance of training animals to get used to changing environments FACILITATING LEARNING Niki Tudge discusses the need to communicate with clients ASK THE EXPERTS:THE RATES CONUNDRUM Veronica Boutelle responds to business and marketing questions PROFILE: MAKING CHOICES Featuring Charleen Cordo of Be SMART Dog Training in Aurora, Colorado BOOK REVIEW: A GO-TO FOR CANINE AGGRESSION Niki Tudge reviews Beware of the Dog by Pat Miller

© Can Stock Photo Inc. /aksakalko



PPG Announces 2017 and 2018 Summits: Orlando, Kanab and Sydney


PG has announced the dates and location of this year’s annual summit, as well as a smaller educational event next year to incorporate a number of hands-on, multi-species workshops with internationally acclaimed animal training and behavior experts. A third summit will take place in Sydney, Australia next year. PPG’s third annual educational Force-Free Summit, www., will take place at the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort in Orlando, Florida from November 16-20, 2017 and feature three and a half days of lectures and practical workshops with a host of animal behavior and training specialists, including repeat presenters Dr. Karen Overall, Chirag Patel, Janis Bradley, Emily Larlham, Pat Miller,Veronica Boutelle, Jacqueline Munera, and Dr. Robert King. New additions Dr. Nathan Hall, Sherry Woodward, Dr. Lynn Honeckman, and Dr. Frank McMillan will join them as the event continues to draw the highest caliber of guest speakers. Interest-free payment packages, www.petprofessionalguild .com/Packages-and-pricing, are also available for the event, as are special room rates from November 13 - 22, 2017, www /events/start.action?id=1701020657&key =324B0D20, at the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista, www The second event is the PPG Training & Behavior Analysis Workshop,, which will take place at Best Friends Animal Society (BFAS) in Kanab, Utah from April 22-26, 2018. The event features a brand new concept boasting four days of hands-on clinics across multiple species hosted by industry experts around the theme of shelter pet management and rehabilitation for adoption and successful family integration. The current line-up of specialists


BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

who will be on site includes Janis Bradley, Chirag Patel, Emily Larlham, Jacqueline Munera, Emily Cassell and Lara Joseph, as well as BFAS experts Dr. Franklin McMillan, Sherry Woodard, Glenn Pierce and BFAS co-founder, Faith Maloney. The event will combine both academic sessions and practical workshops, which will take place on the premises at BFAS and vary between horses, donkeys, goats, dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, puppies, and “wild things.” Attendees will also be able to take part in special projects each day, as well as lectures and labs in the town of Kanab. Group activities will be available on two of the evenings and can be reserved nearer the date. Limited spaces are available and PPG recommends booking early to avoid disappointment. Registration for the workshop, www, is due to open shortly. “As always, we listen carefully to the feedback we receive from all parties and we look forward this year to building on the high standard set by the previous two years with an even bigger and better event in a new location - Orlando, Florida,” said PPG president, Niki Tudge. “In addition, we wanted to create a new and innovative educational concept where attendees could gain hands-on experience, guided by experts, with a variety of animals in a more intimate setting, as we are doing at BFAS in Utah.” Finally, PPG has announced its first ever summit, www -2018, in the southern hemisphere, to take place in Sydney, Australia on July 27-29, 2018. The speaker schedule will be announced in due course and registration will open July 2018.


PPG Publishes Open Letter to Veterinarians on Referrals to Training, Behavior Pros


PG has published an Open Letter to Veterinarians on Referrals to Training and Behavior Professionals, -training-and-behavior-professionals, regarding the practice of referring clients to pet training and behavior consultants. In the letter, PPG expresses its concern that, because the animal training and behavior industry is currently unregulated, pet owners may find themselves being referred to individuals still using outdated training methods that are reliant on the use of aversives, while eschewing modern, humane protocols that are scientifically proven and sound. In the letter, PPG highlights the fact that, at present, anyone can call him- or herself a dog trainer, credentialed or not, and that very few industry associations do not currently hold their members to a strict code of conduct. Of primary concern to PPG is the fact that, under the guise of dog training, there are still many who use punitive methods, including startle devices, such as disc throwing, loud correctional “no’s,” and even more extreme tools, like shock collars, choke chains and prong collars. Due to the “slick, magical way they are marketed to unsuspecting pet owners,” PPG states that pet owners, and indeed those making referrals, may not immediately be aware that such individuals rely on “subtle, or even invisible,” fear-based methods for training and behavior change. PPG is the one US-based, international member association for pet professionals who use force-free training methods only. In its Guiding Principles, -Guiding-Principles, PPG deems the use of certain equipment for training and pet care as non-negotiable. This includes any devices that are designed to reduce or stop behavior through the infliction of pain and fear, such as choke, prong, startle, and/or shock. Use of such devices constitutes an infringement of PPG’s Guiding Principles and the organization considers any individual using them as ineligible for membership. Thus, by referring clients to professionals under the PPG banner, veterinarians and animal care professionals can be sure that pets and their families are benefitting from the most up-to-date, humane, and scientifically

sound training methods and behavior modification protocols. Aversive training tools and methods “by design, have one purpose: to reduce or stop behavior through pain and fear,” the letter states. “This, as opposed to a constructional approach where operant behaviors are built, and problematic emotional reactions are changed via positive reinforcement and counterconditioning protocols.” PPG goes on to point out that humane, modern animal training “relies on science-based protocols” and yet there are still trainers who “elect not to move into this arena, and/or gain informed consent from clients regarding methods and equipment used. They may still be members of professional institutes, associations and councils because many organizations do not hold their members accountable for the training methods they use.” PPG concludes that it is, consequently, “easy to be fooled when searching for a training or behavior professional.” “As PPG states in this open letter, dog trainers who are ‘still steeped in using punitive training methods are often known to use outdated terms such as ‘dominance,’ ‘pack leader,’ and ‘alpha dog,’ all of which have been proven by countless canine behavior scientists and specialists to be inappropriate and inaccurate in their application to pet dogs’,” said PPG president, Niki Tudge. “At PPG’s 2016 educational summit held in Tampa, Florida last November, keynote speaker and renowned veterinarian, author and veterinary behaviorist, Dr. Karen Overall, said that dominance theory has crept into everything we do with dogs and has gotten in the way of modern science and she is absolutely right. In this open letter, PPG highlights the fact that dogs are cognitive, intelligent creatures that experience emotions such as fear, anxiety, and joy, and that forcing them to comply through fear or pain does not create an environment where healthy learning can take place. “Unfortunately, pet owners may not always understand the various training methods available to them, and the fallout and unintended consequences of making the wrong choice. This is why it is so important that veterinarians and other animal care professionals are aware of the differences and know where to refer their clients to ensure the best possible outcomes for their pets.”

PG has released a new position statement, the Pet Professional Guild Position Statement on Pet Correction Devices -Management-Training-and-Care-of-Pets, on so-called “pet correction devices” that are used for the management, training and care of pets. The newly-released document defines pet correction devices as “aversive stimuli intended for pet care, management, or training by eliciting a ‘startle response,’ and/or an alarm reaction to prevent, barking, jumping up, growling, or any other problematic behavior.” PPG maintains that the use of the startle response is a “management technique that uses fear as the motivation,” and the statement goes on to say that “both PPG and its members actively recommend against the use of any training tools and equipment whose purpose and/or intent is to interrupt or redirect

behavior using fear, force or pain.” The document also lists some of the potential consequences of using pet correction devices. “PPG believes all training should be conducted via the use of positive operant and respondent training methods,” said PPG founder and president, Niki Tudge. “By ensuring that pets enjoy the training process, trainers and pet owners using positive techniques will see more confident and well-adjusted pets. Optimizing the use of applied behavior analysis to systematically identify and resolve problem behaviors using the least aversive and intrusive methods, tools and equipment, rather than resorting to ‘quick fix’ aversive devices that risk causing long-term physical and/or psychological damage, is undoubtedly the way forward as the science of animal behavior marches into the 21st century.” Read the full position statement on page 16-17.

PPG Releases Position Statement on Pet Correction Devices


BARKS from the Guild/March 2017



PPG Launches Scholarship Program


PG is to provide a limited number of scholarships for members to further their education in force-free training and/or pet care. Under the PPG Education Scholarship Program, www, members will be able to apply for suitable educational programs offered by organizations that support PPG’s Guiding Principles and goals, with a focus on modern, humane and scientifically sound training methods that forgo the use of outdated, aversive training methods or equipment. Full, associate, and provisional PPG members across all training and pet care specialties are deemed eligible scholarship applicants, provided they are a current member and in good standing for a minimum of 12 months. PPG must receive scholarship applications between March 15 and April 15 any given year via an online form. All applications will be reviewed by the scholarship selection committee, which includes members of the PPG education committee, the PPG steering committee and a PPG board member. Final scholarship recommendations will be forwarded to the PPG board of directors by May 15 of any given year, and the board of directors will notify all applicants of the outcome of their applications no later than June 15 of the year in question. Scholarship funds will be remitted directly to the educational provider and not the candidate. In addition, educational organizations that are current PPG members, educational providers, or corporate partners are eligible to apply for the inclusion of their educational facility in the Scholarship Program. Educational offerings can be online, in person, or a hybrid. Opportunities are also available for organizations to in part or fully sponsor a scholarship program and thereby benefit from a range of marketing opportunities with PPG, including a variety of advertising and marketing opportunities across PPG’s wide range of media platforms, and vendor discounts at PPG educational events. “Education is one of the cornerstones of any industry, and no less in the pet industry which remains unregulated, meaning anyone can call themselves a dog trainer or behavior consultant regardless of skills, knowledge, education and practical experience,” said PPG president, Niki Tudge. “By offering the PPG Education Scholarship Program to our members, we can be sure we are doing everything possible to ensure those who support our Guiding Principles get the backing they need to become qualified and get out into the public domain to help more pets and their families via the use of force-free, non-aversive training methods and equipment.” See also advertisement on opposite page.

Facebook Group for Crossover Trainers


PG has started a new group, Force Free +R Help - Bridging The Gap,, specifically to help individual training professionals who are looking for ways to access tools and resources for force-free training without judgment. It is not a forum for discussing the merits of any training method and is not to be used to justify or promote aversive training. The group is managed by PPG members.


BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

BARKS Offers Member Ad Discounts


ARKS from the Guild is now offering PPG members a 15 percent discount on advertising rates. If you would like your product, service or message to reach thousands of pet professionals worldwide, this is your chance. See BARKS Advertising Rates,, for details.

Live Facebook Chats for Members


PG is now hosting live chats in the PPG members' Facebook group.The first four chats were a great success and featured the Pet Dog Ambassador program, Project Trade, steering committee member Kelly Fahey's Walk Away protocol for resource guarders, and platform training. If you'd like to participate in the live chats or just simply observe - they are announced in the PPG members' Facebook group and on social media.You will need to request to join the The Pet Professional Guild Members group on Facebook if you are not already in the group. All PPG members may join this group regardless of location. Email membership manager Rebekah King,, if you need further assistance.You can read all the past chats on the PPG members' group Facebook page.

Feline Behavior Professionals Join PPG


PG's feline professional membership is growing rapidly and a special page under Feline Resources, Find Your Feline Professional, -Professional, is now available to help cat owners find someone to help them with their cat behavior problem. ln the meantime, the PPG Cat Committee has welcomed Catherine McMillan, assistant manager at Winnipeg Humane Society,, Canada, to its ranks. If you would like to chat with the experts or share a feline behavior problem, all PPG members are welcome to join PPG All About Cats, www, on Facebook. You can also email the Cat Committee, catcommittee, for more information on all things feline. © Can Stock Photo Inc./ESIGHT


Clinical Animal Behavior Conference Brings Together Veterinary, Training Communities

ast December, veterinary The conference offered plenty of professionals and animal opportunities training professionals gathfor hands-on learning ered at the Oquendo Center in Las Vegas, Nevada for the second Clinical Animal Behavior Conference. Brought about from a collaboration between the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, the Association of Veterinary Behavior Technicians and the Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians, it was an educational experience that brought like-minded people together to learn, share and grow in their passion for animal behavior and training. The days were full of excellent speakers, lectures, and live handling labs and, although it was a smaller event - with just over 100 attendees - networking opportunities were abundant with the entire US, Canada, and several other countries represented. The conference’s mission is to bring together the veterinary and training communities to network and share ideas. This year’s theme was Behavioral Vaccination: A Life Saving Preventive, and focused on starting off puppies and kittens early with proper socialization classes. Conference attendees had hands-on learning experience with puppy classes led by trainer Mikkel Becker, and kitten kindergarten classes by Australia’s veterinary nurse and kitten expert, Jenny Head. It was a toss-up as to who had more fun learning- the participants or the puppies and kittens! In addition, veterinary behaviorist Kersti Seksel focused on kittens, their development and elimination, scratching and biting issues, as well as puppy and kitten breed specific concerns. Parrots were a new addition this year, with talented avian trainer Barbara Heidenreich presenting on the low stress handling of parrots, accompanied by a wet lab. Amongst many things, attendees learned that parrots are very fast learners when reinforcers are present. Dr. Alicia McLaughlin then presented on the handling of parrots in a clinical setting, and shared solutions for common parrot behavior problems. Rounding out the lectures

were veterinary practice manager Kelly Searles, who presented on the financial benefits of behavior services, and veterinary behaviorist Wailani Sung, who spoke about kitten behavioral emergencies and puppy development. Kitten development, as well as elimination, A memorial dinner, biting, and scratching The Power of Friendship, were all discussed at was held for the late Dr. the conference Sophia Yin, who was instrumental in helping forge the bond between veterinary professionals and trainers. Dr.Yin’s Cattle Dog Publishing and the Veterinary Information Network’s Vets 4 Vets Program sponsored the dinner and encouraged everyone to reach out for help and assistance whenever needed. The welcome mat is out for PPG members to join at the next conference, to be held on December 1-3, 2017 in Las Vegas. The Clinical Animal Behavior Conference website, www, will be updated later this year. Meanwhile, you can see updates and photos from the 2016 event on Facebook, /AnimalBehaviorConference/?fref=ts. - Liz Geisen KPA-CTP

Photos/Clinical Animal Behavior Conference


The conference included a presentation on low stress handling of parrots in a clinical setting

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017



Project Trade Update: More Aversive Gear Swapped for Service Discounts


reanna Norris of Canine Insights in Pittsfield, Maine took top honors as Ambassador of the Month in November, 2016 by trading one choke collar, one shock collar and a Pet Corrector spray canister for service discounts. Meanwhile, Pam Francis-Tuss of Obedient Pups Professional Dog Training in Sacramento, California secured a shock collar. Daniel Antolec of Happy Buddha Dog Training in Brooklyn, Wisconsin represented the Midwest and swapped a choke collar. “A shock collar slipped through my hands as the owner chose to return it to the retailer for a refund rather than swap it,” said Antolec. “Even though I missed the chance to add to my collection, I am happy that her dog will never know the sting of electric shock." December 2016's Project Trade Ambassador was, for the third time, Anastasia Tsoulia of Hug 4 Pets in Thessaloniki, Greece who swapped four prong collars for service discounts. Congratulations also to Agnes Kavalecz of Let's Get Pawsitive in Cameron, North Carolina, who collected three prong collars.

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BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

Gear collected by Project Trade participants (clockwise from top): Breanna Norris, Anastasia Tsoulia, Daniel Antolec, Pam Francis-Tuss, and Agnes Kavalecz

Project Trade is an opt-in program for PPG members that has been designed to create incentives for pet owners to seek professionals who will exchange aversive training and pet care equipment for alternative, more appropriate tools, training, and educational support. For more details, see and the Cover Story on page 20.


PPG World Service Radio Show Schedule


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

Sunday, April 2, 2017 - Noon (EDT) Debbie Revell: The Emotional Roller Coaster of Dog-Dog Reactivity. Register to listen live:

Sunday, May 7, 2017 - Noon (EDT) Emily Cassell: Pocket Pets in the Home: housing, nutrition, and myths about pets such as rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs. Register to listen live:

© Can Stock Photo /damedeeso

Sunday, March 5, 2017 - Noon (EST) Tristan Flynn: Assessing and working with reactive dogs and Breed Specific Legislation with reference to pet day care. Glenn Pierce: Presenting Dogtown at Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah, site of PPG’s training and behavior analysis workshop, April 22-25, 2018. Register to listen live:

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

Earn Your CEUs via PPG’s Workshop and Webinar Program! Webinars Contract Management with Niki Tudge* Tuesday, March 7, 2017 - 1 p.m. (EST) *Free member webinar Incredible Tricks Through Shaping Part 3/6:Teach Your Dog to Heel and Pivot with You! with Mariah Hinds Friday, March 10, 2017 - 12 p.m. (EST) Training Meister Master - The Comprehensive Dog Training Course Part 1/5 with Louise Stapleton-Frappell Saturday, April 1, 2017 - 2 p.m. (EDT) Current Spay and Neuter Research: New Insights Regarding Behavior and Health with Dr. Nancy Kay Thursday, April 6, 2017 - 2 p.m. (EDT) Incredible Tricks Through Shaping Part 4/6:Teach Your Dog to Cross Their Paws with Mariah Hinds Friday, April 21, 2017 - 12 p.m. (EDT) Training Meister Master - The Comprehensive Dog Training Course Part 2/5 with Louise Stapleton-Frappell Monday, May 1, 2017 - 2 p.m. (EDT) Four Key Guidelines for Caring for a Companion Bird with Sheila Blanchette* Thursday, May 4, 2017 - 7 p.m. (EDT) *Free member webinar Incredible Tricks Through Shaping Part 5/6:Teach Your Dog to Sit Pretty and Beg with Mariah Hinds Friday, May 12, 2017 - 12 p.m. (EDT)

Training Meister Master - The Comprehensive Dog Training Course Part 3/5 with Louise StapletonFrappell Thursday, June 1, 2017 - 2 p.m. (EDT) Incredible Tricks Through Shaping Part 6/6:Teach Your Dog to Stand Tall and Hop Forward with Mariah Hinds Friday, June 9, 2017 - 12 p.m. (EDT)

Workshops Foundation Skills for Dog Sports and Heel Work 101 with Kamal Fernandez (Tampa, Florida) Saturday, March 18, 2017 - 9 a.m. (EDT) Sunday, March 19, 2017 - 4:30 p.m. (EDT) Clicker Training for Advanced Competition Obedience, Proofing, Ring Prep and Competition with Kamal Fernandez (Tampa, Florida) Saturday, March 25, 2017 - 9 a.m. (EDT) Sunday, March 26, 2017 - 4:30 p.m. (EDT) Details of all upcoming workshops can be found at:

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

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017



Summit 2017: PPG Announces Package Deals PPG’s Third Annual Educational Event: Orlando, Florida

Thursday, November 16, 2017 - Monday, November 20, 2017


PG’s third annual summit will take place at the at the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort in Orlando, Florida from Thursday, November 16 to Monday, November 20, 2017. The event will feature three and a half days of lectures and practical workshops with a host of animal behavior and training specialists, including: • Dr. Karen Overall • Bob Bailey • Dr. Deborah Jones • Dr. Nathan Hall • Dr. Frank McMillan • Dr. Robert King • Dr. Sally Foote • Dr. Soraya Juarbe-Diaz • Dr. Ilana Reisner • Dr. Lynn Honeckman


• Ken McCort • Chirag Patel • Janis Bradley • Emily Larlham • Pat Miller • Veronica Boutelle • Jacqueline Munera • Sherry Woodard • Helen Phillips • Angelica Steinker

he event event offers three value package options (with payment plans available), enhanced menu options and food choices, and a variety of entertaining evening activities, enabling attendees to personalize their itinerary and overall summit experience. PPG has also negotiated competitive rates at the resort during the event, as well as three days before and after, so attendees can enjoy the hotel and its amazing facilities with family or friends.


or those planning on registering for the Great Dane packages and taking advantage of PPG’s 10-month financing plan, PPG can also co-ordinate room reservations, room mates, and meals.

he Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort is located approximately 17 miles from Orlando International Airport, just a few blocks from the entrance to Walt Disney World® Resort, and close to dining, shopping and entertainment options. The resort is pet friendly and allows dogs up to 40lbs. There is no additional fee for dogs but a “dog waiver” must be completed at check-in.


PPG has negotiated group rates Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort in Orlando, available for booking till Monday, October 16, 2017. Book at: Further information on the hotel and facilities:


If you would like to sponsor an activity, an official convention item, or include your marketing collateral in the summit swag bag:



BARKS from the Guild/March 2017




• 3.5-day summit registration • Official T-shirt • Arrival drinks and fun lei • SWAG bag full of goodies • Morning and afternoon refreshments • Sundae bar • Breakfast and lunch on November 17, 18 and 19 • Breakfast on November 20 • Summit gala dinner on November 18 • Unlimited labs • Hotel accommodation on November 16, 17, 18 and 19* *Available at single room occupancy rates and shared room rates.We find your room mate, making it easier for you. • • • • • • • • • •



3.5-day summit registration Official T-shirt Arrival drinks and fun lei SWAG bag full of goodies Morning and afternoon refreshments Sundae bar Breakfast and lunch on November 17, 18 and 19 Breakfast on November 20 Summit gala dinner on November 18 Two labs

• 3.5-day summit registration* • Official T-shirt • Arrival drinks and fun lei • SWAG bag full of goodies • Morning and afternoon refreshments • Sundae bar • Two labs *Single day pricing can be selected at registration



BARKS from the Guild/March 2017



Third Canine Training Technician Graduates

Susan Nilson speaks to Steph Mitchell, the second PPG Australia member - and third person overall - to successfully earn the Pet Professional Accreditation Board’s CTT-A credential


aving spent most of her working life in the hospitality industry, Steph Mitchell decided it was time for a change in direction when a rescue dog named Buddy entered her life. Buddy was energetic and excitable from the start, and it became obvious he was going to need some training. Mitchell embarked on an animal studies course and then, encouraged by her lecturer and the good results she was starting to achieve with Buddy, she decided to further her knowledge and pursue force-free dog training full-time. Her studies included work experience, which led to assisting at Canine Behavioural School, www.caninebehaviouralschool, in Trinity Gardens, South Australia, and the opportunity to attain the Canine Training Technician – Accredited (CTT-A) credential. Mitchell is also a registered dog walker and pet sitter with a well-known agency, and has successfully built up her own regular customer base. BARKS: Why did you do the CTT-A credential?

Steph Mitchell: Firstly, I saw it as a great way to keep up my training skills. I am also passionate about force-free training, so I was keen from the outset. I was also quite excited at the chance to take part in force-free training being promoted as an industryapproved method for pet dog training. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to demonstrate just how significant this type of training is to me, and to do my part in helping to bring about regulation to a non-regulated industry. BARKS: What did getting the credential entail?

SM: Firstly, I had to pass eligibility criteria which was set out by the PPAB. I then had to sit a knowledge-based examination. After that, I had to show video evidence of me teaching five different behaviors that were randomly selected for me by PPAB. I also had to create a video explaining and demonstrating how I conditioned an emotional response (CER) to something my dog found neutral or unpleasant. Lastly, I had to submit two unedited 15minute videos of me teaching group training classes. One thing I made sure to do was plan ahead and know what I was going to say before I started filming. I also wrote out little prompt notes. I filmed my training sessions for a whole month without editing, and then went over the videos and found which parts worked. I edited those together and refilmed anything I 14

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

Steph Mitchell with Buddy, who inspired her to work towards earning her CTT-A

was not happy with. I think the most important thing is to carefully read through the Study Guide, www.credentialingboard .com/resources/Documents/CTT/Final%20 Canine%20Training%20Technician%20 Study%20Guide.pdf, and thoroughly understand what is expected in order to meet all the criteria. BARKS: What was the easiest and/or most enjoyable part about doing the credential, and what did you find challenging, if anything?

SM: The easiest and, of course, best bit was spending time with Buddy and constantly improving my training skills. By watching the video playback I learned so much about myself as a trainer in relation to my bridging and timing techniques. Watching our training sessions also made me more aware of both my and Buddy's body language, and gave me a better understanding of what early signals to look for to indicate Buddy had had enough. It was not all smooth sailing though, as I will admit that I did find the three-minute time frame for the positive CER something of a challenge. I felt that an extra minute or two would have given me time to show my progression just that bit more. BARKS: How do you believe the CTT-A will help your business, and you as a professional?

SM: It has certainly improved my training skills and will definitely be an asset to add a professionally recognized credential to my trainer’s profile. I also feel proud to be able to promote myself in a way that complies both with industry standards and my own ethics. BARKS: What does it mean personally to have earned this credential?

SM: It means a lot to me, and it feels good to be recognized for one’s efforts. I am really grateful to have been given the opportunity to go out and achieve something like this. It has given me extra confidence in my knowledge and my training abilities. As a definite bonus, I am now much more at ease in front of the video camera. n For more details on CTT-A and other credentials offered by PPAB, see


PPG Releases Position Statement on Pet Correction Devices

PPG recently released a position statement on equipment used for the management,


training and care of pets that implements a “startle response” to interrupt or prevent a behavior by using fear as a motivator; here is the full statement

he Pet Professional Guild (PPG) believes pets have an intrinsic right to be treated humanely, to have each of their individual needs met, and to live in safe, enriched environments free from force, pain and fear. PPG holds that effective training and care procedures form the foundation for a pet's healthy socialization, and help prevent behavior problems. As such, the general pet-owning public needs to be educated by competent and qualified specialist organizations and associations to ensure their pets live in nurturing and stable environments, and that only non-aversive training and pet care equipment is used. In this cyber-driven world, where information may not always be accurate or scientifically sound, PPG provides a platform for promoting said education, resources, equipment, ideas, methods and techniques that owners and pet professionals can trust to reflect its force-free philosophy.

Definition of Force-Free

PPG understands force-free to mean that methods involving shock, pain, choking, fear, and/or physical compulsion are never used to manage, care for or train pets.

Non-Negotiable Equipment

© Can Stock Photo/Hannamariah

PPG deems certain equipment non-negotiable and this is detailed in its Guiding Principles (2012). Devices used to choke, prong, and/or shock pets constitutes an infringement of these principles and PPG considers any individual using them as ineligible for membership.


PPG considers the use of the startle response to be a management technique that uses fear as the motivation and thus does not recommend so-called pet correction devices

Other Equipment Marketed Specifically for Pet Training, Daily Management and Care

PPG does not recommend any “pet correction devices” or aversive stimuli intended for pet care, management, or training by eliciting a “startle response,” and/or an alarm reaction to prevent, barking, jumping up, growling or any other problematic behavior. Ramirez-Moreno and Sejnowski (2012) define the startle response as a “largely unconscious defensive response to sudden or threatening stimuli, such as sudden noise or sharp movement” that is “associated with negative affect.” According to Lang, Bradley, and Cuthbert (1990), the startle response (or aversive reflex) is “enhanced during a fear state and is diminished in a pleasant emotional context.” As such, PPG considers the use of the startle response to be a management technique that uses fear as the motivation. Direct consequences can include: 1. Infliction of Stress and Pain Any stimulus not paired with a positive stimulus is, at best, neutral and, at worst, frightening and/or painful to the pet. Pets who learn to exhibit behaviors to escape or avoid fear or pain are by definition being subjected to an aversive stimulus. (Aversive means something unpleasant or frightening that the pet seeks to avoid or escape, as opposed to a pleasant stimulus that a pet seeks out voluntarily.) 2. Escalation If a change in behavior is not seen immediately, users of aversive tools may opt to increase the frequency, duration or intensity of the application. Unfortunately, this can only result in the pet attempting to escape or avoid the stimulus with even greater intensity. This creates a counterproductive paradigm whereby the pet simply learns to fear the stimulus, the context, and/or the person delivering it. In addition, some pets tend to be “stoic” and may fail to show any kind of fear response, irrespective of increased levels of anxiety or frustration. There is also the risk that pets may become habituated to the sense of fear or anxiety, once again causing the trainer or owner to increase the level and/or frequency of the aversive stimulus. It has been scientifically proven that fear and stress caused in such situations can have a significant effect on a pet's well-being due to increasing cortisol levels and heart rate, not to mention the psychological impact. (O’Heare, 2005). 3. Global Suppression, or „Shut-Down‰ A pet repeatedly subjected to aversive stimulation may go into a state of “shut down,” or a global suppression of behavior. This is

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

frequently mistaken for a “trained” pet, as the pets remains subdued and offers few or no behaviors. In extreme cases, pets may refuse to perform any behavior at all, known as “learned helplessness.” In such cases, pets may try to isolate themselves to avoid incurring the aversive stimulation. This is evidently counterproductive to training new, more acceptable behaviors. (O’Heare, 2011). 4. Suppressed Aggression The use of aversive stimuli is counter-indicated in pets with aggression. This is because the behavior may only be suppressed rather than extinguished, and may thus resurface at any time without warning, generally in a more severe display. Using aversive stimuli to reduce behaviors such as barking, lunging and growling may suppress signals that warn of a more serious, and potentially imminent behavior, such as biting. Without ritualized aggression behaviors, people and other pets will receive no warning before the pet subjected to punishment feels forced to resort to biting. Rather, PPG holds that desensitization and counterconditioning are the only ethical and effective paradigms in which to treat aggression in pets. Protocols such as these help positively impact the pet’s emotional state from one of fear and/or anxiety to one that is more happy and relaxed, and thus able to learn new behaviors. 5. Redirected Aggression Pets subjected to repeated aversive stimulation may be respondently conditioned to associate the fear and/or pain with certain contextual cues in their environment. As an example, using an aversive sound such as an air horn to interrupt barking risks pairing the owner or trainer with the unpleasant stimulus and, in particular, the hand or arm that is reaching out while using the tool. Repeated instances may generalize to the pet attempting to flee. If the pet feels, however, that flight is not possible or a safe or reliable course of action, he may instead start acting aggressively toward any arm or hand movement, or approach behavior whatsoever. 6. Generalization For new, more appropriate behaviors to become reliable in random environments, they must be accessed, reinforced and then practiced so a pet is able to transfer them to any context or situation (known as “generalization”). When using so-called pet correction devices or aversive stimuli to train or manage a pet, the pet must be repeatedly subjected to the aversive stimulus for the behavior to appear resolved, when it is in fact only suppressed. In such cases, the pet still has not learned a more appropriate alternative behavior. In addition, as the pet is most likely still experiencing a negative emotional state, such as fear or anxiety, he is susceptible to even more problematic behavior fallout.

The Force-Free Method

PPG promotes the use of positive operant and respondent training methods, both personally and professionally, and holds that all


training should be conducted in a manner that encourages pets to enjoy the process, which will, in turn, lead them to become more confident and well-adjusted pets. PPG members optimize the use of applied behavior analysis to systematically identify and resolve problem behaviors using the least aversive and intrusive methods, tools and equipment. Further, both PPG and its members actively recommend against the use of any training tools and equipment whose purpose and/or intent is to interrupt or redirect behavior using fear, force or pain. One of PPG’s key missions is to build an international coalition of competent and ethical pet professional service providers that can create widespread industry transparency regarding the use and purpose of commercially available pet training and care tools and equipment. Note: PPG recognizes that no definition can be so expansive and explicit that every possible situation is addressed.This applies universally, perhaps most obviously in the US legal system, where very often courts cannot agree on a single interpretation of what terms and definitions mean, including physical force. Recognizing this, PPG considers, both in the context of its Guiding Principles and as a general framework, physical force to mean any intentional physical act against a pet that causes psychological or physical pain, harm or damage. While PPG encourages its members to employ professional autonomy in their businesses, this is nevertheless conducted in line with a professional code of practice, i.e. the aforementioned Guiding Principles. As a governing body, PPG endeavors to promote scientifically researched methods of training and behavior modification that are the least intrusive and most effective, both to its members and the pet-owning community at large.


PPG holds that the use of pain, force or fear to modify behavior, train, manage or care for pets is completely unnecessary. Nor is it in the best interest of pets and their families for the reasons detailed above. Rather, a constructional approach where more appropriate and acceptable behaviors are encouraged and reinforced via positive training protocols is highly recommended. n


Lang, P.J., Bradley, M. M., & Cuthbert, B.N. (1990, July). Emotion, attention, and the startle reflex. Psychological Review 97(3) 377395. Retrieved January 5, 2017, from /0033-295X.97.3.377 O’Heare, J. (2005). Canine Neuropsychology. Ottawa, ON: DogPsych Publishing O’Heare, J. (2011). Empowerment Training. Ottawa, ON: BehaveTech Publishing Pet Professional Guild. (2012). Guiding Principles. Retrieved January 5, 2017, from /PPGs-Guiding-Principles Ramirez-Moreno, D.F., & Sejnowski, T.J. (2012, March). A computational model for the modulation of the prepulse inhibition of the acoustic startle reflex. Biological Cybernetics 106(3) 169-176. Retrieved January 5, 2017, from /10.1007/s00422-012-0485-7

To read PPG’s full Position Statement on the Use of Pet Correction Devices, see BARKS from the Guild/March 2017



What the Experts Say about BSL

PPG’s Position Statement on Breed Specific Legislation reflects alarm at the number of dogs being seized or banned purely because of how they look with no regard for individual


behavior, living environment, or owner suitability. BARKS takes a look at what canine behavior consultants and training professionals have to say on the subject

cientists, canine behavior and training professionals, animal welfare associations and veterinary behavior bodies worldwide have all contributed to the debate surrounding Breed Specific Legislation (BSL), and much literature is available detailing the reasons why it has been shown to be ineffective in dog bite prevention and improving the safety of the public at large. In its Position Statement on BSL, PPG announces its opposition of any law or regulation that discriminates against dogs purely because of their breed or appearance, stating that a neutral approach should be taken to evaluate dogs on an individual basis, focusing on behavior and environment rather than appear-

ance. PPG also states that "[s]ingling out specific breeds as dangerous provides the public with an unfair perception of those dogs while potentially creating a false sense of safety as far as other dogs are concerned." In fact, studies have shown that a lack of appropriate care, supervision and mistreatment of a dog are key components in many dog bite occurrences, regardless of breed. The Position Statement also includes a host of opinions on the matter from canine behavior and training experts, veterinary behavior associations, canine research scientists and international animal welfare bodies. Here is what they have to say:

Janis Bradley Director of communications and publications, National Canine Research Council: “There is a growing awareness that BSL does not improve community safety and penalizes responsible dog owners and their family companions… If communities wish to implement effective dog bite prevention programs, recommendations continue to shift in favor of multifactorial approaches focusing on improved ownership and husbandry practices, better understanding of dog behavior, education of parents and children regarding safety around dogs, and consistent enforcement of dangerous dog/reckless owner ordinances in communities. Effective laws hold all dog owners responsible for the humane care, custody, and control of all dogs regardless of breed or type.”

Victoria Stilwell President of the Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training and Behavior, and CEO of Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training: “Without exception, I stand firmly against BSL. The research has shown time and time again that BSL does not reduce dog bites in the areas where it is enacted, and has caused many innocent dogs to be taken from their families simply because of the way they look. Reducing dog bites starts instead by teaching the public to better understand their dog’s body and vocal language, promoting responsible guardianship and educating children, in particular, how to be safe around dogs.”

should not be targeted.”


Jean Donaldson Founder and principal instructor of The Academy for Dog Trainers: “PPG’s position is to follow the evidence, which to date strongly suggests that BSL does not achieve the objective of decreasing dog bites or serious dog attacks. Instead, dog guardians should be held responsible for their pets’ conduct, regardless of breed, and dogs who have not offended

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

Dr. Lynn Honeckman Veterinarian and PPG special counsel: “Any dog is capable of biting, regardless of breed, sex, or size… BSL has not been shown to effectively decrease the incidence of dog bites. Dog Bite Prevention should instead focus on an individual dog’s behavior, as well as educating people on the best ways to avoid bites from occurring. With BSL, the veterinary community is put into a challenging position of being asked to identify dog breeds based on appearance, and to report dogs who seem to fit a specified description. Most studies have shown that the visual identification of a breed rarely accurately identified the proper breed when compared to genetic testing.”

© Can Stock Photo/susannec

American Veterinary Medical Association: "Frequently breed-specific legislation focuses on dogs with a certain appearance or physical characteristics instead of an actual breed. “Pit bulls” are the most frequent victims of breed-specific legislation despite being a general type rather than a breed, but specific breeds are also sometimes banned including Rottweilers, Dobermans and boxers. Breed-specific laws can be tough to enforce, especially when a dog’s breed can’t easily be determined or it is of mixed breed. A recent study showed that even people very familiar with dog breeds cannot reliably determine the primary breed of a mutt, and dogs are often incorrectly classified as “pit bulls.” By generalizing the behaviors of dogs that look a certain way, innocent dogs suffer and may even be euthanized without evidence that they pose a threat. Responsible dog owners are forced to give up their dogs or move. Cities and states spend money enforcing restrictions and bans instead of putting that money to better use by establishing and strictly enforcing licensing and leash laws, and responding proactively to target owners of any dog that poses a risk to the community." (2016).

Best Friends Animal Society: "Besides the fact that [breed-discriminatory legislation] wastes tax dollars and fails to protect people from dog bites, it can result in the Breed Specific Legislation relies deaths of thousands of wonderful family on identifying a dogs who have never bothered anyone. If a dog by appearance, breed ban is instituted in your community, yet studies show visual identification law enforcement officials may be forced to to be largely inaccurate take dogs away from their loving families and place them in already crowded animal shelters, where they will most likely be killed. Families can file lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the ordinances, but that can be expensive." (2016). British Veterinary Association: “Responsible ownership is key to preventing dog bites or strikes. We believe that dog behaviour results primarily from the rearing and training provided by the owner and only in part from inherited characteristics. In principle, we are opposed to any proposal or legislation that singles out par-


ticular breeds of dogs rather than targeting individual aggressive dogs. The problems caused by dangerous dogs will never be solved until dog owners appreciate that they are responsible for the actions of their animals - the "deed not breed" principle.” (2014).

National Animal Care and Control Association: “Any animal may exhibit aggressive behavior regardless of breed. Accurately identifying a specific animal's lineage for prosecution purposes may be extremely difficult. Additionally, breed specific legislation may create an undue burden to owners who otherwise have demonstrated proper pet management and responsibility.” (2013). American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior: "The AVSAB’s position is that such legislation— often called breed-specific legislation (BSL)−is ineffective, and can lead to a false sense of community safety as well as welfare concerns for dogs identified (often incorrectly) as belonging to specific breeds.The importance of the reduction of dog bites is critical; however, the AVSAB’s view is that matching pet dogs to appropriate households, adequate early socialization and appropriate training, and owner and community education are most effective in preventing dog bites. Therefore, the AVSAB does support appropriate legislation regarding dangerous dogs, provided that it is education based and not breed specific." (2014).

National Canine Research Council: “Mistaken beliefs about dog-specific characteristics have often diverted us from a consideration of critical factors pertinent to the discussion of community safety and dog ownership... Responsible pet ownership practices are the foundation: the community institution of basic standards for owner responsibility has been shown to dramatically decrease dog bite incidence. These standards include humane care (providing proper diet, veterinary care, socialization and training), humane custody (licensing and providing permanent ID), and humane control (following leash laws and not allowing pets to become threats or nuisances to the community).” (2013). n


American Veterinary Medical Association. (n.d.). Why Breed-specific Legislation Is not the Answer. Retrieved January 3, 2017, from American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. (2014). Position Statement on Breed-Specific Legislation. Retrieved January 3, 2017, from /Breed-Specific_Legislation-download-_8-18-14.pdf Best Friends Animal Society. (n.d.). Dog Breed Discrimination: How to Prevent It in Your Community. Retrieved January 3, 2017, from British Veterinary Association. (n.d.). Dangerous dogs. Retrieved January 3, 2017, from /Policy/Companion-animals/Dangerous-dogs/ National Animal Care and Control Association. (n.d.). NACA Guidelines. Retrieved January 3, 2017, from / National Canine Research Council. (2013-2016). Injurious Dog Bites: Causes and Prevention. Retrieved January 3, 2017, from To read PPG’s full Position Statement on Breed Specific Legislation, and What the Experts Say, see and BARKS from the Guild/March 2017



© Can Stock Photo/chalabala

Through educational marketing and strategic discounts, Project Trade can help pet professionals reach clients they may otherwise not have access to

Helping Dogs, Helping Families

Daniel Antolec discusses the many facets of Project Trade, PPG’s advocacy program

that encourages pet owners to swap aversive gear for service discounts, and the benefits


it can bring to both your clients and your business

n spring of 2016, the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) rolled out Project Trade, an “international educational advocacy program promoting the use of force-free pet equipment asking pet guardians to swap choke, prong and shock collars.” (Pet Professional Guild, 2016). In return for swapping aversive gear, pet guardians are given a discount of up to 15 percent on products or services provided by participating Project Trade members.

Economics 101

In my own business, my most important goals include educating pet owners on the use of positive training methods, and working towards eliminating aversive gear from the marketplace. Bearing all this in mind, I immediately charged out of the gate like a terrier chasing a squirrel and joined Project Trade when it was first rolled out. As the PPG Summit 2016 approached last November, 20

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

I stopped in my pseudo-terrier squirrel chasing tracks to look around and saw that, at that time, there were 45 individuals participating in Project Trade out of several thousand PPG members worldwide. Knowing how beneficial the program has been for me, I scratched the remaining graying hair on my head wondering if there might be obstacles that were keeping others from joining the chase. Perhaps people were wondering whether joining Project Trade represented a net gain, or a net loss for their businesses, so I would like to clarify: It cost me absolutely nothing to become a Project Trade member. Not only that, the application process was simple. First, I filled out an online opt-in form and, thanks to super-efficient PPG membership manager, Rebekah King, it was quickly approved. I received a link to the Project Trade copy for my website and, just a few minutes later, I had added the required text and graphics to my own website. Net Cost: 0

COVER STORY Marketing Collateral

Admittedly, some folks may encounter additional expense to pay a webmaster to do the work, but that would be true of any changes to their website. Project Trade allows participants to select the discount level they personally prefer for each of the selected aversive gear. I chose to offer a 10 percent discount across the board. “The more people who Doing so made the math simparticipate in Project ple, and I like simple math. Trade and promote it, Besides, I still have the flexithe more hits we will see bility to offer a greater discount if warranted, which I in internet searches and have done in some comthe fewer pet owners will pelling situations. be drawn by desperation The first thing I did after to methods they would signing up was explore the marketing collateral available not choose if they knew to me as a Project Trade terthere were better rier, er…I mean participant. It alternatives.” was as simple as urinating on a fire hydrant, so to speak. I went to the PPG website and clicked on the Project Trade graphic. Then I hovered my mouse over Project Trade on the toolbar along the top of the page and selected “Marketing Support.” There I found my squirrel, er…marketing collateral. I discovered that PPG had already taken the time and invested resources into developing appealing professional materials for my benefit, which I then downloaded at no cost. Said materials include a Project Trade badge, a promotional tri-fold, a discount card, a bookmark, a rack card, a fridge magnet, a bumper sticker and a Let’s Trade Poster. If I had hired a graphic artist to create them, it would have cost me hundreds of dollars (and most likely a lot more). Net Cost: 0

without it, that person can become a powerful salesperson for my services. They may tell friends and family of their success, who will likely be impressed by the change they witnessed in the dog and tell others. The bottom line for my business is I gained several Project Trade clients in 2016 who would not otherwise have seen me as an inviting alternative to the choices they previously made.

No Judgment

I immediately downloaded the promotional tri-fold and printed about 200 copies, which I gave to several veterinary clinics and each of my clients. Prior to Project Trade, I already printed and distributed marketing material so this was no additional cost and gave me a way to invite dog owners already using aversive equipment to join me in partnership. As to the 10 percent discount, my profit is clear. Let’s say I charge a client $100 for an hour of service and offer a 10 percent discount for trading aversive gear. If I only invest $10 in business marketing for a new client and gain $90, I will do that any day of the week, thank you. As pet professionals, Project Trade can help us reach new market share we may not otherwise have access to, as I have experienced. That new client represents hundreds of dollars of income I would not otherwise have enjoyed. Since 50 percent of my new clients come from referrals, each new Project Trade client increases the number of referrals I will enjoy in the future. If a pet owner previously felt it necessary to use aversive equipment and, as a result of my efforts, learns how to live well

Project Trade participants have access to a huge range of marketing collateral at no extra cost

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017



© Can Stock Photo/halfpoint

Through Project Trade, pet owners have the opportunity to learn about more positive training methods without judgment

Sometimes passion about force-free methods may be perceived as judgmental of those who use aversive equipment and methods. Nobody likes shaming, scolding and nagging. That perception is a barrier to reaching pet owners we want to help and limits our expansion into new market share. If we truly want to “swap gear to make a kinder world for pets,” then the kinder approach of Project Trade helps us appeal to pet owners already using the very equipment we wish to see out of use. For me, the decision to join Project Trade was a no-brainer. One dog owner who had been using a choke collar recently explained to me: “We wanted a solution to our problem and went to YouTube for an answer. The first thing we saw was a bunch of videos promoting the use of choke collars. That is what we chose.” Project Trade gives those well-meaning folks another choice, and they can see it on my website and business Facebook page, rather than seek expertise (or lack thereof) on YouTube. The more people who participate in Project Trade and promote it, the more hits we will see in internet searches and the fewer pet owners will be drawn by desperation to methods they would not choose if they knew there were better alternatives. Net Gain: Give Pet Owners Clear Alternatives

Strategic Discount © Can Stock Photo/kellyrichardsonfl

If you don’t want to rely on my business savvy, then listen to the


Project Trade is designed to help pet business owners attract new clients and generate more business

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

founder and president of PPG, DogNostics eLearning, The DogSmith and president of Doggone Safe, Niki Tudge. Tudge has addressed the business advantages of Project Trade on several occasions. In a PPG Word Service Special Edition podcast aired on August 24, 2016, the conversation turned to Project Trade. “It’s a fabulous little marketing program,” Tudge said. “Obviously the win-win is that you will attract new clients, different types of clients, and it will give you a starting point to speak to clients about why we can help. Honestly, I urge all of you [to sign up]…There is no downside to being involved in Project Trade.” Agreed. One of the things I appreciate about Project Trade marketing collateral is it gently invites pet owners to approach us. As Tudge reminded us: “You are simply not going to be able to engage, educate and compel people to alternatives if you are judgmental. [The Project Trade “There is no downside to marketing collateral] does help being involved in Project to attract and bring in clients Trade.” - PPG president, who may not have approached the business.” Niki Tudge In another PPG World Service podcast, transmitted on October 2, 2016, host Louise Stapleton-Frappell asked Tudge to explain to listeners what Project Trade is all about. “First of all, we are incentivizing pet owners to relinquish the pet’s aversive equipment, Tudge replied. “Secondly, potentially attracting or being a magnet for pet owners who are coming to you with this equipment because you are offering discounts, and are not being judgmental. Basically you are saying, ‘We’ll give you discounts and we will show you how you can train your pet in the absence of this’.” Some PPG members have expressed concern that offering discounts may dilute profits. To that point, Tudge explained: “It’s a strategic discount.You are creating a new area on your website which has a great video explaining what the program is all about. You are saying exchange your old gear, come and learn about pain-free pet training and services.You are attracting clients that possibly have already done some training with someone who has recommended the equipment, or they bought it because they don’t know the difference. “If you calculate the lifetime value of clients, it’s significantly more than the 15 percent discount, or 5 percent discount, or 10 percent discount.You have freedom to set your own discounts. “The whole program is designed to help members attract new clients to their business, incentivizing them to trade their old, aversive equipment and make it a kinder world for pets. And if it’s done properly you should see a growth in your business. Because you’re not diluting existing business; you are generating a new type of business. All client acquisition has a marketing cost to it. If it only costs the expense incurred to give a discount, then I would consider it to be of great value that will yield a great return on investment.” In the same podcast, Gina Phairas, business consultant for canine professionals and one of the leading forces behind business consultancy, dog*tec, discussed her [at the time, upcoming – Ed.] PPG Summit 2016 presentation, Am I Charging Too Much?, and

joined the Project Trade conversation. Said Phairas: “Any time you can spend $15 for a new client you are definitely winning at marketing, and what I love about it…it’s educational marketing. It’s really doing something for the community and you can’t put a price on that.” Net Gain: New Clients

Monthly Ambassadors

Each month, Project Trade participants submit a Client Swap Form online identifying each client and the gear they have swapped. Data is tallied and the “Ambassador” title is awarded to the member with the largest number of gear. Perks include a certificate signed by Niki Tudge, recognition by PPG in its monthly newsletter, NEWS from the Guild, social media and BARKS from the Guild, and a $100 credit toward purchases from PPG. I use my credit to pay for webinars that further strengthen my knowledge base and therefore my business. At the end of the year, PPG tallies the total number of gear collected by each Project Trade participant and awards a phenomenal grand prize: a Project Trade plaque and an all-expensespaid trip to the next PPG summit. There are Project Trade ambassadors around the world, including two-time ambassador Anastasia Tsoulia of Hug4Pets & Hug4Dogs - Pet Care Services & Positive Dog Training in Thessaloniki, Greece. “Most of my clients come from the internet, throw a quick glance at my website, see the discount we give for swapping the old gear and this is a motivation to pick up the phone and make an appointment with me,” said Tsoulia. Net Gain: More Business


and commit to Project Trade. I parked on the road and began a 100-yard walk to the house. The dog barked and lunged at a distance, held fast by a choke collar. As I moved closer I saw his teeth on display, heard growling…and observed signs of fear. The sadness of the situation was striking. That poor dog had been punished since he was adopted at two years of age, creating a terrible association with practically every living thing he experienced. He went over threshold if a neighbor walked to his mailbox, or their cat strolled across the field, or when a vehicle passed by. Each event was a harbinger of pain, force and fear. And the little girl learned that was how to handle a dog. The wife was very receptive to using new equipment and methods and needed my support in persuading her husband, who chose not to attend. I needed to provide evidence of the efficacy of force-free methods and equipment and reinforce their decision to trade with me. By the end of the consultation the dog was wearing a no-pull harness and playing training games with me. He responded quickly to desensitizing and counterconditioning exercises in the yard. Upon departure, the wife was elated, the daughter was learning a new way to relate to her pet, and the once growling

Via Project Trade, owners can learn about new, kinder ways to relate to their dogs

Lives Changed

As trainers and behavior professionals, with each new client we have an opportunity to help more than just the dog and his or her owner. Project Trade enables us to reach out in ever-growing circles, like dropping a pebble onto a pond. The ripple effect expands our reach far beyond a single client. Of her Project Trade clients, Tsoulia said, “Almost all of them admit they did not know the devastating consequences of the use of an aversive device or the prohibition by [Greek] law. Almost all of them admit their dog is calmer and more cooperative. Almost all of them admit they should have met me earlier and have saved valuable time and money from unnecessary devices. Some have already informed their veterinarian, their pet shop, their friends in the park that there is a better way to deal with their dog problems rather than to use such devices.” The ripple effect can be profound. One of my first Project Trade experiences was with a family living in the countryside with their 10-year-old daughter and 5year-old dog. The wife contacted me in June last year and described her dog as “over-aroused and reactive to everything.” The husband believed in dominance “theory” and had used a prong, choke and shock collar on the dog in order to suppress unwanted behavior. When he realized those devices were making the behavior worse, he skeptically agreed to consult me. It took 30 days of negotiation for the owners to make an appointment

© Can Stock Photo/adogslifephoto

What the Experts Say:

“[Choke or prong collars]...can easily injure the delicate butterflyshaped thyroid gland that sits just below the larynx and in front of the trachea.These collars can also injure the salivary glands and salivary lymph nodes on the side of the face underneath both ears.” - Dr. Jean Dodds, respected veterinarian and thyroid expert.

"These devices [choke and prong collars], when they work, do so to the degree that they hurt.With the advent of modern methods and tools they are irrelevant.” - Jean Donaldson, bestselling author and canine behaviorist.

"Using punishment to stop behaviors is not new. Notice I say ‘stop’ rather than ‘teach’ -- I can stop any behavior, but I am more interested in teaching my students, animal or human, to choose the behavior I want them to perform because they can trust me, because I do not hurt them and they are safe with me, and because the outcome is something they enjoy.” - Dr. Soraya Juarbe-Diaz, veterinarian and veterinary behaviorist. - Pet Professional Guild, 2016 BARKS from the Guild/March 2017



The promotional tri-fold for veterinary clinics is just one of many free marketing collateral items available when PPG members sign up for Project Trade

dog was eager to continue working with me. Just a day later the wife contacted me to express how much better their dog was behaving, and how impressed her husband was. We scheduled a second appointment the next week. Once again I parked on the road and trekked my way to the house. This time the dog was happy to see me; his trained responses had grown stronger and they were well on the way to a forcefree life together. Another pet was freed from a life of fear and pain. As evidenced by the month-long negotiation process required to secure this client, they would not have engaged me without Project Trade. Sometimes the path to a force-free relationship between pet and owner comes without planning, such as I experienced in November last year. I awoke that day with planned activities and expectations, all of which changed with a phone call. The caller was a respected certified behavior consultant who had inspired me nine years ago to pursue my new career. She had a behavior consultation scheduled with a client who was traveling two hours from another state to determine the fate of their adolescent German shepherd. According to the owner, a local “trainer” had spent a few 24

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

minutes with the dog, declared him dangerous, and suggested immediate euthanasia. The dog had never put his teeth on anyone and the owner was shocked and confused. My colleague had suffered a medical emergency. She was en route to a hospital and asked me to see the client. It was not how I usually conduct business but then again, emergencies seldom occur in an orderly fashion. When the client arrived I saw a choke collar around the dog’s neck and the fearful behavior display of a dog who wanted only to keep away from me. It took about 30 minutes to earn the dog’s trust. The owner listened attentively as I pointed out canine body language and began using force-free methods to work with the dog, who relaxed quickly and responded brilliantly. I looked up at the owner expecting to see a joyful expression at the quick progress, but sadness overcame him as he explained the relationship he had with all his dogs. “I am not a very emotional person, but I am on the verge of tears,” he began. “For 20 years I have been involved with a dog training group that uses dominance…and now I understand how I have been hurting my dogs.” It was one of those moments the non-judgmental approach


Many years ago, following advice he found in a book, author Daniel Antolec used aversive techniques on his puppy Samantha, but soon abandoned them for positive methods - with their relationship flourishing as a result

of Project Trade prepared me for. I told him of the aversive methods I used with my first puppy, so many years ago and long before I understood anything about dogs, much less training a puppy. Years ago, puppy Samantha had come to me at eight weeks of age and, in a move that I thought would help both of us, I bought the best-selling dog training book of the time. The author explained many ways to punish your dog, and I tried them all. It is a choice I have regretted ever since, because even then I saw that it was damaging our relationship. I set the book aside and simply stopped using the aversive methods it expounded. Suddenly my relationship with Samantha improved and “problems” seemed to melt away. The brilliance of Project Trade is that simply removing aversives can quickly show the owner improvement…and hope. This stranger and I suddenly had a common bond and a shared understanding. We both cared for his dog and wanted the best possible outcome, and we were both fallible human beings who make mistakes. Judgment would have driven us apart, but empathy brought us together. Winter weather and a long commute blocked a continuing working relationship so I helped this owner find a PPG professional near his home. The following day he contacted me to say he had got rid of the choke collar. Project Trade has become a focal point of my business and although I strive to collect gear at every opportunity, I am content to convince pet owners to turn away from pain, force and fear even if I realize no profit in it. It’s all about helping dogs and their families, after all. Net Cost: 0 Net Gain: Lives Saved

Antidote to Burnout

Perhaps the most personal value I find in Project Trade is the great satisfaction I feel with each new piece of gear I acquire. Most have been shock devices and I joyfully celebrate the trade with the pet owner. Later on I privately engage in a ritual I fondly call “Defanging the Beast.” I hate the very concept of shocking pets with electricity so my first task is to make the device safe. First, I remove the bat-

tery, and then I use pliers to remove the wiring and components within the case. As I handle the collar I see and feel the hairs of every dog who once had to wear it, and my heart swells as I place the collar in my collection and say to myself, “You will cause no more pain.” Burnout among pet care professionals gained greater awareness after the tragic loss of veterinarian, applied animal behaviorist, and author, Dr. Sophia Yin, who passed in 2014. Although I never met Dr.Yin, I felt her loss on a personal level. If ever I feel the cold hand of frustration and burnout upon my shoulder, thinking I am not doing enough, or helping enough, all I need do is open my Project Trade box. I can sink my hand into a growing pile of devices that were designed to cause fear and pain, knowing it was my action that saved each dog and educated the family in force-free methods. There are thousands of PPG members around the world. If each of us joins Project Trade and collects just a few pieces of gear each year, we can truly make this world a kinder place for pets. We do so not just by acquiring equipment, but by changing minds and shaping the future. The little girl who learned alternatives to the choke, prong and shock collar her parents once used may raise a family of her own one day, and can teach her children how to walk the force-free path. Come join us in Project Trade. Net Gain: Change the Future n


Pet Professional Guild. (2016). What is Project Trade? Retrieved January 9, 2017, from -Trade PPG World Service (Producer). (2016, August). Special Edition Podcast [Audio Podcast]. Retrieved January 9, 2017, from PPG World Service (Producer). (2016, October). Podcast [Audio Podcast]. Retrieved January 9, 2017, from .com/watch?v=p-TH2F9NgVk&


Beckwith, E. (2017, January). The Power of Project Trade. BARKS from the Guild (22) 20. Retrieved January 9, 2016, from _online_edition_lores/20 Happy Buddha Dog Training/Project Trade: www Hug4Pets & Hug4Dogs: Pet Professional Guild/Project Trade: www Pet Professional Guild Project Trade [Video]: Project Trade Application: /Project-Trade-Application Daniel H. Antolec CPT-A CPDT-KA is the owner of Happy Buddha Dog Training,, in Brooklyn, Wisconsin. He also sits on the board of directors for Dogs on Call, Inc.,, and is a member of the Pet Professional Guild Advocacy Committee, www

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017




From Outsider to Staff Favorite

Breanna Norris describes how involving shelter staff in the training of a “difficult” dog can make all the difference

nce a week I work at the local animal shelter, often with a dog that has been deemed “difficult” in some fashion. These so-called difficult dogs are generally long-term residents at the shelter and not the type to be quickly adopted. They are often a source of stress for shelter staff, some of whom may be burdened with compassion fatigue and, thus, less open to dealing with less adoptable dogs, and others who are scared even to let the dogs out of their kennels to walk them. Some staff members worry about finding the right adopter; someone that will not easily return a dog or, worse, treat him poorly. Recently, I have been working with Courage, a pit bull type dog who apparently refused to get into a car, and who showed very poorly on the adoption floor. Shelter staff were concerned that these two issues were contributing to him not being looked at by potential adopters. They asked me if I could help with getting him into a car. I began with some introductory sessions, and then progressed to clicker training Courage for going near a car. By lesson three he was already jumping in the car, which was a bit earlier than I had anticipated. I included the shelter board member, Laura, in Courage’s training. She had become fond of him and wanted to help him become more adoptable. Luckily, Courage seemed to enjoy her company as well so, when he leaped into the car, Laura would be right there in the front seat to deliver the reinforcement. This became a win-win for both of them. I believe Laura’s presence was an added reinforcement for Courage as it meant he got to spend more time with her. Laura, meanwhile, really enjoyed seeing him jump into the car. Soon they started going for rides to McDonalds to get him some chicken

Author Breanna Norris (left) with Courage, whose reactive behavior improved enormously by changing a number of antecedents


BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

Courage was thought to be “difficult” at the shelter because he was reactive around other dogs and refused to get into a car

nuggets. An extra bonus for me during this process has been Laura’s new-found understanding and excitement for training. By including her in the training, she has been able to share her experiences with other board members, shelter staff and volunteers. As a result, many of the shelter staff took time out of their day to watch the training and even assist. Some of these people were the same ones that had previously been nervous about working with Courage. Since our first session together, I had included staff members and encouraged them to make observations on Courage’s behavior. Early on, we noted that he stood on his back tippy toes, stretching to sniff, had a rigid look to his muscles and overall body, tail either very high or tucked, a wide stance, tight mouth, and penis crowning. One staff member noted that he would urinate frequently (six or more times) when out of his kennel, while another noted a furrowed brow. Courage has not bitten or done anything to be deemed aggressive, but he makes staff nervous due to leash reactivity issues and also his appearance. He does not get along with other dogs in the kennels or yard. The worst issue for most staff is, when he is taken out of his kennel on leash he begins thrashing around, often getting the leash tangled around him or catching a worker’s hand in his collar. I could easily have written a list of things I thought staff should do, or change, but the chances seemed slim that they would do it just because I said so. Instead, I brainstormed antecedent arrangements with them that could help address some of the issues and make their work days better. The antecedent arrangements we came up with were many, but here are some of the main ones. First, we would put

Courage in a kennel away from other dog-reactive dogs. He is now in a quieter area of the kennel and is no longer jumping, lunging and barking. Second, while outside, he is now farther from the other outdoor kennels and closer to the parking lot. He now sits and watches people come and go rather than run the fence, which he had previously done for months. Third on our list was to feed him meals out of Kongs and food puzzles. One staff member even purchased a Kong and puzzle toy just for him. Finally, to address the rolling and thrashing each time he got out of the kennel, we decided to have two staff members take him out together. One feeds him treats while the other attaches the leash. This was a simple fix to a problem that previously caused Courage to get fewer walks. If he is standing on all four feet while eating treats, he is not very likely to begin rolling and leaping around. I see part of my job as being able to facilitate the relationship between shelter staff and the dogs. By including the staff in Courage’s training and addressing their concerns, we can, as a team, help improve and enrich the dogs’ lives while they are in the shelter. Staff must be included in the training as they are the ones to implement my recommendations. Shelter staff can suffer from compassion fatigue, and are often underpaid for such neverending work. I consider them not as my assistants in the training. Rather, I am theirs. Their keen observations of day-to-day behaviors and routines are critical to any aspect of training. A positive side effect of staff being included in the training means they get to witness Courage’s improvements, and therefore get to under-


stand more about who he is. In the beginning, many staff members did not understand why I did not just simply pick him up and force him into the car. He was deemed “willful,” a “brat,” and “scary” by some. Through involvement in his progress and keen observation, these same people became much more empathetic towards Courage, and were excited to be part of his learning rather than just “make” him do things. While Courage is still at the shelter he is now spending much more time out of the kennel. Staff even take him out to the lunchroom on their breaks. He goes on frequent walks with staff and is often referred to as a staff favorite. He is in the kennel closest to the door where the front desk staff can see him through a window, and shelter visitors will see him first. He also goes for frequent car rides with staff so he gets a little break from the shelter. Training a shelter dog in conjunction with shelter staff, instead of relative in isolation shows how making the process inclusive benefits not only the trainer and dog, but individual staff members and the shelter as a whole. With everybody being on the same page in terms of the processes, techniques and theory employed in the case, positive results are much more likely. n Breanna Norris owns and operates Canine Insights, LLC,, based in central Maine, which offers both private and group lessons. She began her animal care career in 2001 as a farrier and horse trainer, initially as an apprentice, then made the switch to dog training in 2011.

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K-9 to 5

Sharon Empson provides some tips to help busy clients fit dog training into their daily routine

Finding time to add dog training into a busy family routine can be challenging for clients

Cueing dogs to sit for their food is a simple way to train the behavior, as well as build up duration and distance


© Can Stock Photo/sonyae

usy school schedule for the kids, dishes in the sink, soccer games, doctor appointments, working outside the home... In our busy, fast-paced world, setting time aside to train our dogs sometimes seems impossible and, as a dog trainer, I understand the frustration my clients experience when I add one more thing to the lives they juggle - dog training homework. Even though my clients do their best to carve out a few minutes every day to practice their homework, when class ends, training time seems to fade off into the sunset. As a busy dog mom with my own dog training business, I understand my clients’ emotional response to the thought of adding one more thing to an already hectic day. I started to wonder what I could do as a professional dog trainer to help them develop consistency with practicing the behaviors they have learned in class. Just as you keep up with things at home by doing a little bit each day, you can apply the same practice to your dog’s training by working training homework into your daily routine. The first order of business is to figure out what your dog considers a high-value reinforcer, i.e. something the dog really loves or desires. One type of reinforcer is food. My dogs’ favorite meat treat is bacon, leftover steak, chicken and hot dogs. I cut them into pea-sized bits, store them in a baggy and keep them in the refrigerator so when I need them, they are ready to go. If you use dry treats, I recommend keeping a few treat jars around the house in the rooms you frequent, giving you easy access to a reward when you need it. I also like to mark my dog’s behaviors with a clicker. For convenience, I keep a clicker attached to a stretchy band around my wrist. If you have a sound-sensitive dog who doesnʼt like the clicker, use a voice marker like “good” or “yes” instead. My 28

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

© Can Stock Photo/kittimages

clients often ask me if they always have to use a clicker. The answer is, “no.” Once your dog learns a behavior, you no longer need to use the clicker, just your cue. Another powerful reinforcer is the Premack Principle, which is often called Grandma’s law, i.e. “When you eat all your peas you can have ice cream.” I like to use the Premack principle with my dogs whenever I can. I make it my job to find out what each of them loves to do. Collectively this is to charge out the back door and down the stairs, each trying to be the first one in the backyard, so I use this as a reward for responding to a sit cue. When training this behavior, I cue the sit before I open the door; if they get up, I close the door. They have learned if they want to go out, they must sit first. Here is a snapshot of the whole scene: My dogs ask to go out, we go to the back door, they sit, I open the back door, give the release cue, and off they go running wildly down the stairs and out into the yard. They do what I want, to get what they want, and they love it! Remember, it is your dog that decides what is reinforcing.

Practicing Sit

Here are the different reinforcers I use when practicing the sit cue in my daily routine. I cue sit before: • Feeding time: Reinforcer = the dog’s food. • Attaching the leash: Reinforcer = going for a walk. • Going outside: Reinforcer = going outside, and in my case, my dogs racing each other to the backyard. • Playing, throwing a ball, playing tug: Reinforcer = toy, playing with you. • Going into the crate: Reinforcer = high-value treats or a

feeding toy such as a stuffed Kong. Once your dog is consistently sitting on cue, you can begin to add duration. The goal of duration is to teach your dog to hold the position you have cued until released. To build duration into your daily routine, you simply add time to the behavior before the marker and reinforcer. To help your dog be successful, cut your goal behavior into small slices, making it very easy for him to achieve the behavior.

Duration at Feeding Time

Here is an example of how to work the sit with duration into your dog’s feeding time (I recommend you do not free feed your dog during training): At feeding time you: • Prepare the dog’s food. • Cue: Sit (silently count to one while dog sits). • Marker: Click, or use voice marker, as dog’s rear hits the floor. • Reinforcer: Feed the dog. (A whole bowl of food is very reinforcing.) To increase duration: • When the dog sits consistently, gradually increase the silent count. • Once the dog responds quickly and consistently, add the release cue, “okay.” • Click and feed after releasing. • When the dog quickly gets up at the release cue “okay,” you no longer need to click. Each time you practice a sit with duration, gradually increase the time your dog sits before clicking. If, at any time, the dog cannot remain sitting through your count, take a step back and spend more time at the previous level. To keep things fresh for him, I also vary the silent count.You can practice a duration sit with everyday activities you do with your dog like attaching the leash, or going outside for a walk or to play.

Adding Distance

Once your dog is holding a sit consistently, you can begin to add distance to the duration. It would look something like this: At feeding time you: • Prepare the dog’s food. • Cue: Sit (silently count to one while dog sits). • Take one small step away from the dog. Since you are adding a new element to the behavior, cut down the duration of the sit to a very short time.You can build it back up later. • Marker: Click or use a verbal marker. • Give release cue: “Okay.” • Reinforcer: Feed the dog. To increase distance: • When the dog sits consistently, gradually increase the distance. As you go about your daily routine, your body movements, the varied reinforcers you use, and practicing in different environments, all work together to help your dog understand that wherever you cue a behavior, no matter what you are doing, if you have a treat bag or not, indoors or out, “the game” is played the same way. As a dog owner, fitting my dogs’ training into my


daily routine has greatly benefited all of us. It makes training fun and spontaneous, saves me time in my day, and helps me develop consistency in working with my dogs. Humans are not the only ones who benefit from working dog training into their daily routine. Dogs benefit too. Unfortunately, dogs do not generalize well. Generalization is the ability to apply a concept to a different situation than which it was initially learned. Humans can do this quite easily. When you learn to ride a bike in your driveway at home, you can take that ability and use it in a different environment, say at the park, or on a riding trail. You do not have to relearn the behavior in that new environment. Dogs have a greater challenge in this respect, and I have to teach my clients that the behavior their dog has just learned needs to be practiced in many environments. By adding training here and there in your daily routine, you give your dog plenty of opportunities to generalize a behavior by practicing in different locations like the kitchen, the garage, at the front door, or on the back patio. Every new location is a learning opportunity for both the dog and the parent. I love seeing my clients with smiles on their faces and pride in their hearts, feeling successful that they were able to practice their homework. After all, success is its own reinforcer. For my puppy parents, this sense of accomplishment means they are more likely to practice again in the future. This, in turn, develops life-long habits that produce a well-mannered family companion. The dog then becomes a vital part of the family, participating in the family’s activities and living an enriched life in his forever home. Is that not what training is all about? n Sharon Empson is based in Lake Elsinore, California operates her own training business, Hot Digity Dog Training,, where she serves her clients through private in-home training sessions. She is also a Puppy Start Right instructor and a Canine Good Citizen evaluator.

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The Perfect Ambassador

Kym Iffert details the challenges her Rottweiler rescue, Chopper, faced to qualify as a therapy dog and the lessons he is now able to teach others Puppy mill rescue Rottweiler, Chopper welcomes a foster dog into the family home


t has been a long journey for our Rottweiler rescue, Chopper, to get where he is today. Chopper is no different from the thousands of other Rotties out there, yet his uniqueness comes in many forms. I was fortunate to come across him when he was 10 weeks old. Dumped in a high-kill shelter by a puppy mill broker, he had a deformed jaw, a heart murmur and pneumonia, and was of unknown genetics and temperament. Nevertheless, the shelter I work for transferred him in, and my family took a chance. The pneumonia cleared up while Chopper was in foster care and the jaw issue has somewhat worked itself out. His heart murmur is still a concern, but one we can live with. He has other health issues that are a constant challenge, but are currently under control thanks to a home-cooked diet, nutritional supplements, and constant vigilance. My goal for Chopper from early on was to get him into therapy work. I have another dog, a happy-go-lucky, super social yellow Labrador that was a natural fit and, as a trainer, therapy workshop instructor and evaluator, I knew what Chopper needed to be able to do. I was not, however, prepared for the social stigma that might hold him back, or the health factors and instinctual characteristics of his breed that would present road blocks along the way. In our first puppy class, we found that other families were hesitant to play “pass the puppy” with a wiggly (and, to be fair, sometimes growly) 25-pound Rottweiler pup, so Chopper was limited to my own family and the instructors. Owners of the smaller puppies in the class would panic and rush to pick up their dachshund, Jack Russell terrier and Havanese puppies 30

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

Chopper regularly visits children’s camps to demonstrate how to safely approach a dog; he also teaches them to avoid making judgments based solely on appearance

whenever Chopper headed in their direction. Because of his size, they were fearful he may hurt the pups, so he missed some good social play opportunities. (I am still thankful for Roman, the Great Dane pup that had at least 6 inches and 10 pounds on him at the time). We persevered with the classes and Chopper learned he should come running when we called his name even if there were other puppies around. He also learned that handling and gentle restraint can be rewarding. As such, he can now be held for exams or on an exam table (say for an X-ray or any procedure that requires some duration, and even once for a Thermoscan) without needing sedation. This is important because vets are hesitant to sedate him due to his heart murmur. He can also be hugged (although I try to discourage it) and leaned on during his physical therapy visits with children. We enrolled in our first obedience class when Chopper was 5 months old. The class was advertised as “relationship-based, positive training,” so we signed up. During the orientation, however, we were told he would require a prong collar because he would get “too big” for me to control. When the organization refused a refund, I set my mind to proving that size and strength can be positive, and that prongs were not going to be any part of his life. We completed the course with an extremely well-trained, happy dog, but saw other owners punish their dogs “in the name of training,” simply for being confused and frustrated. We couldn’t finish that class fast enough. By the time Chopper was about 2 years old, we had completed a wide variety of group classes in other facilities to keep him social and able to work efficiently around distractions. Dur-

ing this time he became a rock star in public settings and so we continued on our journey. As Chopper continued to grow and mature, his poor breeding became a consideration in the form of numerous health issues. His natural characteristics and Rottweiler traits also began to evolve. For example, he tends to be very “watchful” and seems to prefer one person. He uses his natural attributes (you might say he literally throws his weight around) to get to what he wants, and he reacts quickly and physically to fast, unexpected movements or loud voices (he has a particular issue with someone running toward me or when my almost-grown daughters get into a “tussle”). He has countless food allergies, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and joint issues. All of this began to slow down his socialization routines, as well as our progression with training and our ultimate goals. Numerous visits to specialty veterinarians started making Chopper leery of going out in public. Watching the children next door running along the fence while he was under strict “low activity” orders would frustrate him, leading to barking. He seemed to feel unwell in general, which Chopper has overcome kept us home more often. I many challenges to qualify as a therapy dog; due to his began to fear our dreams for heart murmur, he has him to become a therapy dog learned to remain still for a veterinary exam and even and change people’s percepprocedures such as X-rays tions of so-called “bully breeds” and ultrasounds so sedation can be avoided were slipping away. Had I, through my love of Rotties and pit bulls, created too high of an expectation for my own dog? As a therapy team evaluator, I see so many wellmeaning people who try to force their dogs into situations they are just not comfortable with in the name of “therapy.” This really challenged me to reevaluate my dreams as well as my own dog’s capabilities. It also encouraged me to not give up. Instead, I jumped back in with eyes wide open and a new approach to achieve our goals. I started by focusing on the days Chopper was feeling well and energetic enough to make more trips to the vet again - not for treatment, but just for treats. We began playing impulse control games in the yard and having the children next door play a game similar to “Red Light! Green Light!” In this game they run to the fence (only if he stays still - if he moves, they freeze) and throw a ball away from the fence to have him retrieve back to me. This way Chopper learned he can move away from the cause of his over-excitement and still be rewarded. We are still working on a few other things, such as the sound of the mailbox or someone approaching the front door as signals that he should come and find me, rather than alert bark. We have also been working on some tricks to get his attention so he can focus on fun, rather than on someone walking directly toward us. He has a fantastic touch cue that turns into an impressive spiral jump if he becomes over-excited. This is useful to help him burn off some of his energy. We have also worked hard to make him believe that his Gentle Leader is the giver of all things incredible


and now he cannot wait for us to put it on. At his healthiest “fighting weight” (the veterinarian’s phrase, not mine), Chopper is close to 110 pounds of exuberance, so we use the head collar as a precaution whenever we go visiting. In addition, we went back to group classes. Somewhere along the way, Chopper decided he is not a fan of brachycephalic dogs. As far as I am aware, this is not due to a bad experience, but I speculate it may be because they look “different.” We have started watching DogTV and other dog videos, and reward heavily for calm behavior when Chopper sees dogs that may have caused a reaction before. From there, we expanded the process to our outings in stores and dog-centric public settings. After a year of increasing Chopper’s ability to focus in these types of settings, I saw marked improvements and decided in April 2015 to attempt our first evaluation. I went into it knowing that if he did not pass, we would at least walk away knowing where our strengths and weaknesses were. We could go back to the training room, or decide if he just did not have it in him – or want - to be a therapy dog. I felt I had to put us out there to get the answers. We entered the facility (which is also a doggy day care) to the sound of numerous playful dogs. We were able to stop and get him focused enough to happily meet the desk receptionist, who guided us to the waiting area. Chopper sat there calmly while my emotions started to take over and my confidence began to waiver. After about 15 minutes, they were ready for us to begin. We entered the room only to see a few of the volunteer teams I had evaluated in the past. This made me feel even more pressured. My heart raced as Chopper sat calmly for the initial approach and looked to me with near-perfect attention for the friendly greeting. He gave gentle kisses as the evaluator examined his ears, teeth, paws and brushed his coat. I would honestly say he seemed to sense my concerns. He stayed right by my side in a perfect heel as we “went for a walk” to display his ability to walk on a loose leash, and gave unmitigated attention during his sit, down, stay and recall. We were not only passing, we were soaring through! My heart beat began to slow down until they brought in the “neutral dog,” and it dropped to my stomach as I watched a bulldog enter the room. Chopper immediately looked to me for a treat - but there are no treats allowed during the evaluation. I put on my best “dog trainer voice” to reassure him it was best to keep his attention on me. We began walking toward Lilly the bulldog in our arc, with me excitedly talking to Chopper the entire time. It felt like the longest 25 feet we have ever traversed, but aside from a quick peek behind us after we passed, Chopper was all-eyes-on-me, totally engrossed in the praise and highpitched voice coming his way. At the end of the walk, he sat and wiggled that stump we call a tail so fast that he had a hard time BARKS from the Guild/March 2017



keeping his rear end on the floor. Lilly continued out the back door and the evaluation continued. Despite my being a nervous wreck almost the entire time, Chopper passed with a complex rating. I was so proud. This was something my Labrador did not accomplish until he was on his third evaluation after nearly six years of therapy work. After all the effort we had put in, my rescued Rottweiler had officially earned the title, therapy dog. The story does not end here, though. I know my dog and his idiosyncrasies, so while we do go on regular visits, we choose the ones where we know he can be successful. I am ever diligent in trying to be aware of which scenarios may be too challenging for him, and not putting pressure on him to perform in those settings. It is my responsibility to protect my dog and do what is right by him at all times. I take that very seriously. Given his breed and the reverse discrimination we have so often experienced (see The Challenge of Breed Discrimination, BARKS from the Guild, November 2015, p. 32-33), Chopper regularly visits children’s camps to demonstrate how to safely approach a dog. He also teaches them how to avoid making judgments based solely on appearance. Before we start, we always request that the children are sitting down so he can be focused on me when he comes in. Chopper has a very expressive face and body, which helps me demonstrate first-hand to children and adults alike what dog body language looks like and how one might interpret these signals. Chopper also attends seminars about family dogs and how to look for the certain characteristics of any given breed, as well as individual personality traits that will help others choose a new pet successfully. In addition, his size, and the fact that he has learned how to tolerate proper restraint, works to our advantage when assisting children with disabilities in one-on-one physical therapy settings. Chopper’s ability to defer to me when he sees other dogs has enabled my family to foster a wide variety of dogs for our local shelter. He does particularly well with puppies, is extremely tolerant and is often self-handicapping while helping to teach them appropriate play. Chopper, with all his “issues,” has become a near perfect ambassador for puppy mill dogs. He is a classic example of long-term issues developing because of poor breeding standards. He is also the perfect example of a successful rescue dog, battling the common perceptions that purebreds do not end up in shelters, and that rescue dogs have behavior problems. He is also an excellent representative of the socalled bully breeds. They are, of course, not bullies at all, but are often completely misunderstood, and, like all dogs, benefit immensely from patience and compassionate training. Chopper provides me with a wealth of case study material and is a living, breathing example of how positive training has helped me help him. I often find myself explaining, if I had started with just the raw material (i.e. a Rottweiler, a breed known for its protective ten32

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

dencies, strength and stamina, who had come from such poor breeding it caused numerous health issues and nearly constant physical discomfort), then added training that was forceful, painful or intimidating, this dog, like many others out there, would have lead a miserable life, potentially with a tendency towards aggressive behavior. Using patience, rewards and general compassion in training, however, has taught him to trust, to respond to and accept challenging situations with adoring eyes and a wagging tail. Our experiences are a clear demonstration to others that using humane, force-free training on a big, strong, powerful dog has given him the confidence and ability to handle a variety of situations with focused attention, solid obedience skills and a willingness to continue to learn. Throughout his life, we expect Chopper will continue to face challenges both physical and mental, and we plan to meet them with confidence, compassion and the same fun, positive, rewardbased training that has allowed him to earn his therapy dog status, help other people through their challenges, and become the wonderful companion dog he is today. We can only hope he will be able to continue bringing these experiences to children, families and the general public in the name of education about dogs of all breeds, shapes and sizes, as well as successful, compassionate, and humane training, for many years to come. n


Iffert, K. (2015, November). The Challenge of Breed Discrimination. BARKS from the Guild (15) 32-33. Retrieved January 15, 2016, from _2015_online_opt/32?e=4452575/30971067 Pet Partners: Kym Iffert ABCDT,, is a Family Paws licensed presenter, AKC CGC evaluator and licensed Pet Partners evaluator and instructor based in LaGrange Park, Illinois. She works primarily as the director of humane education, dog obedience instructor and canine behavior consultant at Hinsdale Humane Society.

Great Expectations


Susan McKeon talks living and learning with retired racing greyhounds, and explains some of the misperceptions surrounding the breed

Ava practices on the agility course: In a racing environment, early socialization of greyhounds is often not a priority


Photo/Becky Harding, Hound and About Photography

t is estimated that, in the UK alone, around 8,000 greyhounds retire from racing each year. In the US and Australia, the figure increases to more than 20,000. Having lived a life that has revolved around the racetrack, once they retire, greyhounds have to make the transition from canine athlete to companion animal. I have shared my life with these retired canine athletes for over 13 years and cannot imagine a future without a greyhound (or two) in it. It is fair to say, since falling in love with my first greyhound, it has become a passion of mine to work with ex-racers and help them adjust to a life post-racing, as well as dispel the myths that seem to surround the breed.

Greyhound 101

If you are thinking about adopting a greyhound, or have been approached by a greyhound owner who wants to join your training classes, what do you need to know?

Life after Racing

Firstly, ex-racing greyhounds are a product of their environment. Unlike the pedigree show greyhound, racing greyhounds are bred for fitness, rather than conforming to a breed standard. For most greyhounds, life at racing kennels tends to follow a set and predictable routine. In the UK, most greyhounds are kenneled in pairs and their lives revolve around feeding, grooming, exercise and the days when they race. Before retirement, most greyhounds will not have experienced many of the day-to-day sights, sounds and activities that companion dogs are accustomed to and that we take for granted. It is fair to say that, in most cases, early socialization of a racing greyhound is not a top priority within a racing environment. For most racing greyhounds, their exposure to the world is limited to their racing kennel, paddocks and the track. They have not generally seen or encountered microwave ovens, televi-

Photo/Susan McKeon

Mina enjoys the wind tunnel: Retired racing greyhounds may not be familiar with day-today sights and sounds

sions, stairs, other breeds of dogs, small animals or children. For most ex-racing greyhounds, coming into a domestic environment must feel rather like landing on an alien planet. One day you are living in the familiar, and the next you are transported to a place where you do not speak the language, know the customs, or understand what is expected of you, and where everything appears alien.


There are some quirks to greyhound behavior. Those of us who live with greyhounds will be familiar with the “GSOD.” This acronym stands for “greyhound scream of death,” which, once heard, is never forgotten! Greyhounds are rather sensitive souls, and minor injuries often result in the GSOD, which makes you think the dog has sustained a life-threatening injury rather than a minor scratch. That said, however, greyhounds have notoriously thin skin, and what could be a minor cut on another breed can be somewhat more serious on a greyhound. Other quirks include “nitting” – not quite mouthing, but more like a nibbling behavior; “roaching” – sleeping on the back with all four legs in the air; and “rooing” – the greyhound equivalent of a howl. It should also be noted greyhounds are quite happy to spend most of the day snoozing – which is probably how they earned the reputation of being 45-mph couch potatoes. There are also some common behavior issues which, although not limited to greyhounds, they can be more predisposed to. Possibly the two most common are freezing on walks (also known as “planting”), and on-leash reactions to other breeds of dogs. When you stop to think about it, neither behavior issue is particularly surprising. For large numbers of greyhounds, socialization and habituation to everyday life will have been limited. It BARKS from the Guild/March 2017


can be easy for owners to misunderstand why their greyhounds behave in a certain way and, all too often, greyhounds are labeled as being “stubborn” or “dominant” (both misused and misunderstood terms when it comes to dog behavior), and aggressive. However, like with many dogs, it is more likely the greyhound is scared or worried by something in his immediate environment, and the underlying emotion of fear has caused him to apply the brakes or react in an aggressive manner. Just like any other breed of dog, with appropriate behavior modification training, most greyhounds can overcome their fears.

hound), making her the first greyhound in the UK to complete all the levels. Those needle-noses can be put to good use, proving (again) that greyhounds can do more than just run fast. In a training environment, I have found that most greyhounds will not do repetition after repetition of a behavior. Three to five (maximum) repetitions seem to be optimum; after that many seem to “switch off.” It is also worth remembering that cold, hard floors are not conducive to a comfortable training environment for a greyhound. Making use of vet bedding and mats can really help – particularly for teaching a down.

Capacity to Learn

Discerning Fact from Fiction

I will always remember speaking to two different trainers about greyhounds, and their responses still astound me to this day. The first time was when I called a local trainer, enquiring about attending their classes. When the trainer asked what breed of dog I had and I replied: “A greyhound,” they said: "You can't really teach a greyhound to do anything other than run." Needless to say, I did not join the classes. The second time was another trainer I had met at a dog training conference who, when we were chatting about our dogs, said: "Greyhounds? They're just like big hunks of concrete - you can't get them to do anything." To me, these responses underline the huge misconceptions about life with an ex-racing greyhound. Whilst most greyhounds will not have been taught any voice cues or basic obedience training during their racing careers, that does not mean they are incapable of learning new behaviors post-racing. Each greyhound is different in the way he/she learns and in his/her capabilities (just like us humans). The main challenge with retired racers is that they need to learn how to learn. Once you have found the switch which turns on their learning abilities, and what motivates them, they can learn and enjoy training – just like any other breed. All my greyhounds, both past and present, enjoy companion dog training. They respond well to clicker training, fun agility, and trick training. They have also proven to be naturals at scentwork. I have enjoyed practicing scentwork with all my greyhounds and recently achieved accredited handler status with Talking Dogs Scentwork®, working in partnership with Ava (my young grey34

Photo/Heather Preece, Heather Preece Photography

Greyhound, Jasper with cat,Tula: It is a common Scentwork: Retired racing greyhound, belief that greyhounds cannot live with cats, Mina finds the scent but this is not always the case

Author Susan McKeon with Stevie: Not all greyhounds can sit naturally, with some finding a down more comfortable

Photo/Susan McKeon

Photo/Susan McKeon


BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

There are several myths surrounding what ex-racing greyhounds can and cannot do. The following are the three most common I encounter:

“You can never let them off leash.” While it is true that greyhounds have been bred and trained to chase, it is not true that they can never be let off leash. Like any dog, training a reliable recall takes time and every dog is different. Some greyhounds may struggle with recall but many can learn it. All my ex-racers have been able to recall but I worked hard on training it to be reliable and always managed the environment. However, it is always better to err on the side of caution. If you have not trained a recall, do not let your greyhound off leash and expect him to come back when you call him. Also, if you have not worked on impulse control, you will find it difficult (if not nigh on impossible) to call a greyhound back to you when he is in chase mode. “They can’t sit or go into the ‘down’ position.” This is another myth. Greyhounds can learn the sit positions. However, for some dogs it is simply too uncomfortable (if you look at a greyhound’s conformation, this is not so surprising). My rule of thumb is, if a greyhound does not sit naturally, I will not teach him a sit. For those that can and do sit, lure and reward works well. Anecdotally, I have noticed that even when a greyhound will sit, he may often slide into a down, as it is just more comfortable.


“They can't live with cats or other small animals.” This is another common misconception. Many greyhounds (including my own) can adapt to living with cats and other small animals. However, not all greyhounds are suited to a set-up such as this. For some, the chase instinct is so strong that it would be dangerous and irresponsible to place them in a home with another small animal. Reputable rescue/rehoming centers should be able to advise you whether a greyhound is cat-friendly, cat-trainable or cannot live with cats. Many greyhounds, with careful training, can adjust to life with cats, chickens and even rabbits.

Greyhound, Stevie dozes with Tula the cat: Many greyhounds can learn to live with cats and other small animals

Medical Idiosyncrasies

Many of us like to think our preferred breed of dog is “different.” However, there are some definite differences in greyhound physiology when compared to other breeds of dogs. These are worth bearing in mind, especially if your vet is not “greyhound savvy.” (The Greyhound Health InitiativeTM, 2016).

Blood Chemistry: When it comes to hematology, greyhounds (and most other sighthound breeds) have blood cell counts and blood chemistry values different from those in other breeds. For example, a greyhound’s red blood cell count is higher and their platelet and white blood cell counts lower, which is why so many greyhounds make great blood donors for pet blood banks. (The Greyhound Health InitiativeTM, 2016).

Thyroid Levels: It is important for owners and vets to know that many greyhounds have low thyroid values. Most vets measure levels of the thyroid hormone, T4, which, in non-greyhound dogs should be in the 15-50 nmol/L. However, in greyhounds, salukis, and most other sighthound A breeds tested, most dogs have values <15 nmol/L. In other words, a low thyroid level in a greyhound is completely normal; it does not mean a dog is suffering from hypothyroidism. (The Greyhound Health InitiativeTM, 2016).

Heart Murmurs: Greyhounds and most other sighthounds are known to have “normal” or physiologic flow murmurs. The main pump in the heart (the left ventricle) is very large and it pumps blood at higher velocity so it swirls, creating an abnormal heart sound – known as a murmur. Generally, in greyhounds, these murmurs are mild in nature (grade 12 out of 6) and are “normal.” Heart disease is uncommon in greyhounds, but prevalent in other sighthound breeds

Adopting a Greyhound

Upon adding a greyhound to your home, people often become smitten with the breed and cannot imagine a life without them. To quote an oft used phrase: "Greyhounds aren't my whole life, but they make life whole." If you have ever considered offering a greyhound a home, I would urge you to visit your local greyhound rehoming center and go and meet some. Be warned though, greyhounds are addictive and one is often not enough! n

Photo/Susan McKeon


The Greyhound Health Initiative. (2016). Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved January 10, 2017, from www


Phenix, A. (2015, July). The Thyroid Epidemic. BARKS from the Guild (13) 50. Retrieved January 10, 2017, from /petprofessionalguild/docs/bftg_july_2015_online_version _opt _1/50 Susan McKeon BSc (Hons) is a UK-based professional dog trainer and behavior consultant who runs Happy Hounds Dog Training and Behavior, She works with many sighthounds and their families professionally and works for UK charity, the Forever Hounds Trust, www, providing behavior and training advice to families to have adopted ex-racing greyhounds and lurchers.

ou y Do t to n wa with rk ls? o W i ma An All our

courses advocate force-free methods ONLY

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Rethinking Rejection

Angelica Steinker discusses rejection and how dog trainers can turn a “no” into a “yes,” making any situation a win-win for all parties

© Can Stock Photo Inc./grkistock

© Can Stock Photo Inc./damedeeso

ot having a date for the prom, or being the last person picked for a sports team are situations that can trigger feelings of rejection in humans. Just like dogs, we humans are social. Because social beings rely on groups for survival, being excluded can literally, in the worst case scenario, mean death. As a result, being isolated from a group is a highly aversive experience for social beings. Mammalian brain research shows that the brain processes emotional trauma in the same way it does physical trauma. This means, if a being experiences something deeply upsetting, the body reacts as if it has been injured. Pain, whether based on a physical, or purely psychological injury, creates fear, Consent testing enables pet professionals to ascertain which can create panic. I theorize that dogs and whether an animal is saying humans, both being social species, share a dislike of “yes or “no” - by leaning into his owner’s hand, this rejection (both physical and psychological) and a dog is saying “yes” to the contact preference for acceptance. As professional behavior consultants and trainthe rejection is an excellent way of annulling its effects. When we ers, when a client is noncompliant with our recommendations, or are aware of our tendency to do battle with rejection, it is easier when a dog displays growling, snapping or biting behaviors, it is to find a path to acceptance. Rejection is actually only informanot uncommon for us to feel something akin to rejection. Biolog- tion, not a death threat. ically, our first inclination might be to argue. We want to fight the Still, we all struggle with rejection because it is deeply linked feelings of rejection. We may have thoughts like, “I am an excelto our survival. The appeasing dog continues to face-dive despite lent, skilled and knowledgeable trainer. Why does my client not the human target’s frantic attempts to stop the behavior. The dog value this?” A more appropriate thought, however, may be, “This may perceive the lack of human contact as a form of rejection, client may not be ready for what I am sharing.” Depersonalizing which may, in turn, trigger more anxiety and feed the Through play, dogs are able actual behavior. Teaching this dog to slow down his to learn to read other dogs’ greetings through self-control games and alternative body language, and whether all parties are agreeing to behaviors is a good way to help. continue the play As social species, both domesticated dogs and humans are battling evolution emotionally. Our survival instincts tell us to avoid rejection, at any cost, as it may equal expulsion from the group and thus, ostracism, or even death. However, freedom of choice and modern life requires humans to say “no” to each other, which can lead to one or both people feeling rejected. For dogs that do not live with other dogs and are left home alone, separation-related distress behaviors may be the result of social isolation. Feelings of rejection can lead to fear and panic, potentially resulting in destructive behaviors or house soiling. Just as dogs can be trained to be home alone by associating good things with their owner’s absence, humans can learn to value the information that is gained from being rejected. A potential client who comments they are not hiring you because you “only


BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

look good on paper” is, in fact, giving you a gift. A person who vocalizes such a thought is demonstrating a lack of impulse control and may thus be far removed from your ideal client (i.e. one you can easily coach for optimal success achieving a win-win-win for you, the client and the dog). Let us rethink rejection. It seems that, in modern life, rejection can actually be a gift for both humans and dogs. It enables us to learn emotional regulation and self-control. We can learn to accept a “no” and not personalize this information. We may also learn that many requests have a number. After all, many people who have asked for things have been initially rejected. Just think, had author J.K. Rowling not persisted after the first publisher rejected her, her incredible success worldwide would not exist. Rejection can function as motivation. If a client tells you he or she does not want to hire you, use this as fuel to improve your services, social skills, training skills, or whatever else you think may need more refining. Instead of sulking about the rejection, leverage it as energy and use it to improve yourself. Read yet another dog training book or article, or feed your passion in some way so that you gain, because there is no actual loss. It is also possible to use the knowledge gained from hearing “no,” which is often perceived as rejection, to learn how to angle for a “yes.” For us humans, we can leverage the information gleaned from the negative response. This data can then help us convert a “no” to a “yes” in another scenario. For example, if a pet therapy recipient says “no” to our dog’s visit, a simple followup question, such as, “May I ask if there is a reason?” could yield data that the person is scared of larger dogs and would prefer a visit from a small dog. Next time we return to this facility, we can bring a small dog instead, thus finding a win-win in the face of rejection. Dogs can benefit from rejection too. A person who does not want to say hello to a dog during pet therapy visits will appreciate your dog’s acceptance and polite behavior. In turn, your dog gets to learn self-control, which is an important life skill. A polite dog and a person not jumped on = win-win. For therapy dogs,


we can make it a win-win experience by feeding the dog a cookie for skipping that person. The dog learns that, if he says hello, he gets petted, which is tactile reinforcement. If the person does not say hello, he gets cookies. What initially appeared as rejection can be turned around to benefit human and dog alike. Lovingly saying “no” is another thing that can be learned from exploring rejection. Consent testing is a good example. Using a dog’s body language to determine if he wants to interact or not is an extremely useful tool. Consent testing “asks” the dog if he wants to be petted by reaching for him, and then observing his body language for an answer. If he moves toward the reaching hand, then this is a “yes,” and he wants to be petted. If he moves away, however, then this is a “no.” Humans may feel hurt when a dog says “no,” but ultimately listening to and accepting the rejection is what prevents dog bites. More importantly, acknowledging and honoring a “no” in this moment may very well lead to a “yes” in the future. In the same way, a dog that is rejected by another dog after soliciting play can be redirected to another dog (or human) to continue playing, thus learning appropriate play. Ideal dog play happens between two dogs that are enjoying the interaction in that moment. Both parties must consent to create a win-win. Without this, there is a risk for reactivity. The dog facing possible rejection may attempt to undo this feeling by continuing to solicit play, which could end in a dog fight. Instead, by redirecting or even teaching a dog to relax when he had the intention of playing, trainers can educate dogs to accept rejection. Just remember, rejection is simply information. It does not need to be an emotional crisis for any of us. n Angelica Steinker PCBC-A owns and operates Courteous Canine, Inc. DogSmith of Tampa, www.courteouscanine .com/Florida, a full service pet business and dog school specializing in aggression and dog sports. She is the national director of training for DogSmith Services,, and cofounder of DogNostics Career College, www

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017



Learning to Conquer Fear

Dr. Kang Nee relates a tale of the empathy, commitment and resilience that are helping


rescue dog Princess overcome her separation anxiety

his is the story of a brave woman,Yvonne Chia, and her equally brave dog, Princess.Yvonne had adopted 2-year-old mixed breed, Princess, from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Singapore in April 2014. Aware that Princess was noise-sensitive and dog-reactive,Yvonne embarked on a behavior modification program with me to address these challenges. Little did she expect that she would end up having to rise to extraordinary heights to help Princess overcome an even greater and more distressing challenge. In Chia’s own words: “It is odd to recall life before separation anxiety. The training program was straightforward on paper, but consumed life so swiftly and in such unexpected ways, it felt like I was suddenly plunged into a different life. “The first year was filled with a sense of entrapment in my own home: canceled appointments, shirked obligations and perpetual juggling of dog-sitting schedules. Without exaggeration, the one thing that made it possible was the humbling extent of generosity, support and encouragement I received, for which I am truly thankful. “On occasion I was asked if all this was worth it, and it was a surprisingly easy answer when I imagined the life of a dog with separation anxiety: imagine your worst phobia, your absolute worst, one you would jump through a glass window or tear down a door to escape from, one that could make you scream for hours or throw up in fear, and then imagine facing it for 10 hours daily. It is hard to compare any of my inconveniences to that. It has been a rough road, but I got a chance to return a fraction of the love and loyalty that Princess shows me all day, every single day.”

What Separation Anxiety Is Not

To understand what separation anxiety is, one has to know what it is not. A dog who is suffering from separation anxiety is not being angry, spiteful or disobedient to get back at his guardians for leaving him alone. He is not acting out to seek attention, and it is not a condition he can “get over” on his own.

What is Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety (SA) is one of the most common behavioral conditions in pet dogs (Overall, Dunham and Frank, 2001). It has been estimated that at least 14 percent of dogs examined at typical veterinary practices in the US show signs of separation anxiety (Novartis, 1997 (cited in Overall, 2001)). The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that 15 percent of the 72 million dogs in the US suffer from some level of separation anxiety (DeMartini, 2017). Dogs with seemingly “milder” symptoms, such as pacing, whining, or intermittent barking (DeMartini, 2014) are often untreated, and continue to go through a daily or38

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

Yvonne Chia was unaware of her adopted mixed breed Princess’ separation anxiety until she came home one day to find blood stains on the floor by the door

Photo: Yvonne Chia

deal of heightened anxiety. Those who display severe symptoms, such as self-mutilation, escapism, significant destructive chewing of property, prolonged barking and howling (DeMartini, 2014) are not always so lucky as to remain in their current homes and may be relinquished to a shelter to face an uncertain future. For others, euthanasia is a potential and, sadly, common outcome. Separation anxiety is a disorder whereby a dog is terrified of being left alone, and it is not something he is able to control. The exact cause(s) of the disorder is not defined but, like many behavior disorders, genetic, physiological and environmental factors may play a role. The onset of separation anxiety may be triggered by, for example, a frightening experience when the dog had been left alone, relocation, changes in the family, a traumatic incident, or because the dog had been regularly left alone for excessively long periods of time. In addition, dogs who are particularly anxious, noise-sensitive or have been rehomed multiple times may be predisposed to developing separation anxiety. Separation anxiety dogs display a range of external behaviors, and the specific behaviors shown vary from individual to individual. Dogs may be hypervigilant and watch their guardians carefully for signs of their departure. When left alone, they may bark, whine or howl incessantly, drool and pant excessively, and eliminate when they are usually reliable in their housetraining. They may damage doors and windows as they scrabble or gnaw at the structures to escape, or injure themselves in the attempt, ripping out nails or breaking teeth. Internally, an SA dog is in a constant

CASE STUDY state of panic – his body becomes flooded with stress-inducing chemicals, and he becomes incapable of coping with being home alone. Imagine if you were mortally afraid of water and you were thrown into the deep end of a pool. That utter terror of drowning is analogous to the panic that an SA dog experiences, every time he is left alone at home.

What about the Human?

Resentment, anger, frustration, incomprehension, distress, heartbreak are feelings that may swirl endlessly in the minds and hearts of guardians of SA dogs. Incomprehension - after all, they always come home, so why is Fido so anxious? Anger and frustration – when they return to a scene of costly destruction and angry complaints from neighbors. Heartbreak – when they finally understand what their dog is going through daily, and tough decisions have to be made. In the case of Chia, she was initially unaware of Princess’ separation anxiety. There were no complaints from the neighbors, Princess appeared to be happy when Yvonne returned from work, and all seemed normal. One day, however, she noticed raw patches of skin on Princess’ front paws, and found bloodstains on the floor by the front door. A videocam proceeded to capture the full extent of Princess’ panic in the 8-10 hours she was home alone each day. Within one minute of Yvonne’s departure, Princess whined and paced between the front door and a bedroom. She stood or laid by the front door and scrabbled frantically at the door for minutes at a time. Panting heavily, she paced again, rarely settling for more than a few seconds before the entire scene repeated itself until Yvonne returned, like a video caught in an infinite loop. When Yvonne returned, Princess greeted her with wild delirium. Her body language indicated that she was not just excited, she was highly stressed.

relax during the guardian’s absence. In Princess’ case, when I started working with her last July, her initial anxiety threshold was below one minute. We therefore started with Yvonne making extremely short absences of a few seconds. We also identified those actions (known as pre-departure cues) which indicated to Princess that Chia was about to leave, e.g. picking up her bag and keys, opening and closing the front door, locking it, putting on shoes, the sound of her departing footsteps, the sound of the elevator, etc. We then mixed them up by weaving these salient pre-departure cues into the training sessions. Based on Princess’ responses, the next session was designed to increase, decrease or maintain the duration of Yvonne’s next absence. The entire process was extremely dynamic, with Chia, Princess and I working closely as a team, almost on a daily basis. Our barometer of progress was always Princess; her body language would tell us if we were setting goals at an achievable level and pace for her. The goal was always to keep her under threshold and in a positive emotional state. To start with then, if an SA dog can only manage one minute being left alone at home without panicking, her guardian must not leave her alone for more than one minute at the absolute maximum. Over time, as the dog is able to consistently relax, the duration of the guardian’s absences is systematically increased in a way that ensures they do not trigger an anxious reaction from the dog. Guardians must never take a huge leap in the training

Princess in Panic Mode

Empathy, Commitment, Resilience

Princess (above left) in panic mode, scrabbles frantically at the door, injuring her paws and leaving blood stains on the floor (above right). In time, by setting goals that matched her pace of learning, Princess (below) is relaxed enough to nap during a training session, instead of scratching at the door when her owner leaves.

Photos: Yvonne Chia

The path to resolving separation anxiety is a journey that seldom marches along in a straight line to success. It dips, climbs, twists and turns like a rollercoaster track. This is a natural part of the learning process for any dog, and even more so for an SA dog. It calls for Herculean levels of empathy, commitment and resilience from the dog’s guardian. Evaluating a dog for separation anxiety begins with ruling out other possible causes for the behaviors shown. For example, are the potty accidents due to incomplete house training? Is the dog barking in a crate because of confinement distress or because he has not been crate trained appropriately? Does the dog receive sufficient and appropriate physical exercise and mental enrichment to rule out boredom-related behaviors? For senior dogs, could canine cognitive dysfunction be a contributing factor? Once separation anxiety is identified, each training session is crafted to set the dog up to succeed as his guardian(s) execute planned departures and absences. This is done through a process of systematic desensitization designed to keep the dog below his anxiety threshold as the guardian(s) leaves the house. If the dog is kept below anxiety threshold, he will not panic and therefore, will not exhibit the undesired behaviors. Over time, he begins to

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017



process, i.e. assuming that, if their dog is able to cope with being alone for 30 minutes, that she will be “fine” if left for one hour. When guardians take leaps in the training that are beyond what their SA dog can handle, they risk causing their dog to regress and start panicking again. The requirement to suspend absences understandably causes consternation for many a dog guardian – what about those times when they have to Princess can now be left for up to 25 leave the home to go to work, run erwithout rands, go to the gym, collect mail, meet minutes showing any signs of separation anxiety; friends for dinner, etc.? How would initially she showed they live their lives, if they were never signs of stress within one minute of her to leave their dog alone at home? owner’s departure This brings us full circle to Chia’s heartfelt sense of “entrapment in her own home.” This emotional and financial toll could have driven many dog guardians to abandon the training altogether. But despite ups and downs, Chia, and countless other SA dog guardians from around the world have found it in themselves to dig deeper and, because of their compassion, empathy and love for their dog, rise above and beyond the usual level of duty of care. They find ways to galvanize a support network that is akin to the best crowdsourcing effort – a village of empathetic friends, family members, pet care professionals and volunteers to keep their SA dog company for those hours when they must be absent from home. As a certified separation anxiety trainer, I am part of this village for Chia and Princess – as trainer, strategist, personal coach and cheerleader. Together we ride out the rough bits and cheer when we cruise along. At the time of writing, Princess could be left for up to 25 minutes without displaying signs of anxiety during that time. For an SA dog like Princess, we do not yet know where the journey to resolving her separation anxiety will end. Some dogs overcome it faster than others and never look back. Other dogs need the help of medication to kick-start the learning process. Some dogs may need someone to be there to break up a long day. But as long as we work within the anxiety thresholds of each SA dog, we will see accumulative progress, resilience and improvement in the quality of life for both dog and guardian. Every success is celebrated because every tiny second or minute that becomes anxiety-free for an SA dog, means that the guardian is no longer completely housebound. A 30-minute anxiety-free absence means the guardian can grab a quick meal at the coffee shop downstairs, or take a short walk. A 1 hour anxiety-free absence – a small

world of possibilities begins to beckon. Says Chia: “The positive emotions that came with working with Princess’ separation anxiety were less conspicuous, so I was often taken by surprise by their depth and intensity. I felt pride and a sense of achievement at seeing this little dog conquer her fear in a way few of us would ever even attempt to do. I learned to treasure her every happy moment, and in turn I was happy too. Most of all, helping Princess taught me love and true acceptance - even if she struggles with what other dogs find easy, [she] has always been the best dog in the world to me. Never had I expected to get as much as I gave to our separation anxiety training program. To my surprise, it made my world a brighter place.” n


DeMartini Price, M. (2014). Treating Separation Anxiety in Dogs. Wenatchee, WA: Dogwise Publishing Overall, K.L., Dunham, A.E, & Frank, D. (2001). Frequency of non-specific clinical signs in dogs with separation anxiety, thunderstorm phobia, and noise phobia, alone or in combination. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 219 (4) 467 - 473. Retrieved January 13, 2017, from www.researchgate .net/publication/11827861_Frequency_of_nonspecific_clinical _signs_in_dogs_with_separation_anxiety _thunderstorm _phobia_and_noise_phobia_alone_or_in_combination Novartis. (1997, April). Roundtable on Separation Anxiety. Birmingham, England. Greensboro, NC: Novartis AH, 1999


Hayward, T. (2016, May). Home Alone: The Painful Puzzle. BARKS from the Guild (18) 14-19. Retrieved January 18, 2017, from _the_guild_may_2016/14 Malena DeMartini; The Experts on Separation Anxiety in Dogs: Dr. Kang Nee is a Singapore-based certified separation anxiety trainer (CSAT), who specializes in the treatment of canine separation anxiety and operates Cheerful Dogs, www Together with well-known separation anxiety expert, Malena DeMartini and a team of 36 CSAT colleagues worldwide, she hopes to alleviate the stress and frustration of dogs suffering with separation-related disorders and those of their guardians. 40

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

Meeting the Standard


In Part I of this two-part feature, Lauri Bowen-Vaccare outlines some important industry

og boarding and day care facilities should practice minimum standards to ensure the health and safety of their canine guests, as well as their employees. These standards should be made available to clients and potential clients upon request. Alternatively, staff may choose to have them readily available by including them in new client packages and/or displayed along with other informational resources in their lobby. The following are the minimum standards that should be applied to staff at any boarding and day care facility:

Staff Qualifications

• Although the number of facilities owned and operated by trainers and behavior professionals has increased in recent years, boarding and day care owners and staff are not always trainers or behavior professionals. Some facilities, however, employ individuals who are, or whom have chosen to get the education, training and experience necessary to enter that field. o Once someone has acquired what is necessary to be considered qualified in the field of animal behavior or training, they must continue to further their education as well as actually practice their skills on a regular basis by physically working in the field. • Regardless of the number of dogs one has owned, or time spent volunteering or working with dogs, being a “dog lover” or dog owner, breeder, vet tech, veterinarian, shelter or rescue staff or volunteer, does not qualify someone to operate or work for a facility where staff are responsible for the lives of other people’s pets, and can create a situation in which preventable health and safety hazards occur. It is vital to the overall welfare of the dogs staying at a facility that the owner and all staff are properly trained. • The owner, and preferably at least one staff member per shift, should be educated, trained and have hands-on experience in the field of dog husbandry and behavior that is based on the most up-to-date information and findings available, as presented by veterinary behaviorists, certified applied animal behaviorists, animal behavior scientists and other reputable experts in the field. • Staff should be knowledgeable in canine communication and know how and when or if to appropriately respond. o This includes, but may not be limited to, general facial expressions, vocalizations and body language. o Staff should learn, as dogs become regular guests, how to recognize and appropriately respond to individual

dogs’ communications and needs, and cater to those needs. • Staff should be familiar with the true definition of dominance to prevent creating new and/or exasperating existing behavioral problems, including fear and aggression between dogs and/or between dogs and humans. Staff should also understand that dominance is fluid and situational, and is not indicative of humans’ perceived status between dogs, nor is it indicative of status the dogs may have established amongst themselves. Staff should be aware that behaviors such as “puffing up,” growling, snapping, biting, running away, pulling on leash, refusing to move, and a multitude of other misinterpreted behaviors are unrelated to dominance. o In simple terms, dominance is an intraspecies dynamic between two or more parties, and refers to the party whom, in that specific situation, has immediate access to mutually valuable resources, and where the other party or parties have deferred to that party. (See Dumbed Down By Dominance, Part 1: Exploring our misconceptions and myths about human-pet relationships and Dumbed Down By Dominance, Part 2: Change Your Dominant Thinking). • Staff should understand that mounting of dogs is very rarely a sign of status or status-seeking behavior. Mounting of humans is not an indicator of status seeking over a human. Humping most often signals over-arousal, anxiety or confusion, or lack of self-confidence in/about the current situation, pent-up energy needing to be released or inappropriate play. For some dogs, it just feels good. Mounting can also indicate a possible medical issue. o Although some dogs do not mind being mounted, many do, and those who mount other dogs and/or humans should be removed from the situation, and allowed to calm down before staff determine more appropriate activities for the dog, which may include placing him in smaller play groups, placing him with calmer dogs, or refraining from putting him in group at all. • Staff should be educated in the negative side effects caused by inflicting pain and intimidation upon animals, whether they are attempting to manage or train, modify, elicit, or stop a behavior. Dogs should never be subject to electrical shock, choking, hanging, helicoptering, alpha rolling, being squirted with water/vinegar or any other liquid or compressed air (so-called “pet correction” or “startle” devices), scruffing, whipping, hitting, spanking, or any other form physical punishment or “correction,” for any reason. Dogs should never be subject to extremely loud, sudden Staff at canine day cares and boarding facilities should be fully trained in canine communication and body language

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health and safety standards for dog boarding and day care facilities

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noises (e.g. air horns or yelling) as a means to interrupt behavior or play. Using such techniques indicates that the staff lacks the appropriate education and training necessary to handle dogs in this environment, as the use of these tools and methods have been scientifically and anecdotally proven to cause pain and/or fear, anxiety and aggressive responses. (Note: Some facilities, however, may elect to keep certain tools, e.g. lemon sprayed water, on hand in case staff are required to break up a fight.1) o If a dog is wearing a shock collar, plastic or metal prong collar, choke chain or nylon choke collar, or citronella/compressed air collar, it should be taken off upon entering the building and either sent home with the owner, or stored with the dog’s belongings. Many facilities require owners to remove and apply these collars, and refrain from doing so themselves. (Note: PPG’s Guiding Principles state as part of their non-negotiables that shock, pain, choke, fear, physical force, and/or compulsion-based methods should never be employed to train or care for a pet. It is recommended that boarding and day care facilities advise clients at a suitable juncture as to why such devices are not appropriate). Staff should refrain from using leashes attached to these collars, unless absolutely necessary (e.g. helping an owner put their dog into the car). In those situations, employees can choose to use another collar or harness in order to walk the dog out to the car. • Staff should understand that bullying type behaviors, like “puffing up,” and being pushy or “bossy” may signal that a dog lacks self-confidence in a particular situation, and is trying to protect or defend himself (much like human bullies), and are unrelated to dominance or human-perceived status. Bullies should be removed from the situation, and allowed to calm down before staff determine more appropriate activities for the dog, which may include placing him in smaller play groups, placing him with calmer dogs, or refraining from putting him in a group at all. • Staff should understand that, while marking is normal, excessive marking may indicate over-arousal or anxiety about a particular situation, depending on the context. For example, a dog who excessively marks while in group and who rarely, or never, interacts with other dogs may be asking to be removed from that situation. On the other hand, a dog who marks a lot on walks is most often just checking and leaving scent to communicate with other canines who pass through. • A dog should be removed from a situation and reassessed for group interaction when he exhibits signs of overarousal, anxiety, and/or lack of self-confidence. These signs can be expressed in behaviors that may include but are not limited to: hypervigilance, habitual pacing, habitual/excessive whining, growling, barking or other vocalizations, snapping, lunging, hiding, habitual/excessive wild jumping on other dogs and/or humans. • Staff should be properly trained in appropriate play behavior and know how and when to properly call dogs away to give them a break. • Staff should have a basic understanding of age-appropriate physical activities including, but not limited to, puppies, dogs who were sterilized before sexual maturity (which occurs approximately between one and two years of age), seniors, overweight dogs and those who have mild to severe health issues. • Staff should know how to prevent, detect and appropriately address possible physical distress (e.g. overheating, pain where there no obvious signs like limping, possible stomach upset, etc.), and how to prevent, detect and appropriately address possi42

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

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Staff must monitor groups of dogs and be able to accurately identify appropriate and inappropriate - play behavior

ble environmental-related anxiety or distress that could become behaviorally problematic. • Staff should be able to move dogs to and from different parts of the facility, and/or their kennels, without the use of force. o Force includes, but may not be limited to, pulling, pushing, dragging with or without a leash, and picking up (for dogs who find this very frightening or painful and may run away, growl, snap, or bite out of fear or pain). • Staff members should be able to perform all duties necessary to properly run the boarding facility even in the absence of the business owner(s). This includes, but is not limited to: managing the phones, attending to each dog’s individual needs, giving tours and answering questions, cleaning, posting updates to social media, administrative work (possible exceptions being payroll, making deposits, purchasing business-related items, paying bills, and scheduling), and making sure clients have access to the facility during business hours. The latter applies especially to pick-ups and drop-offs (an exception may be very small facilities that schedule pick-up and drop-off appointments for every client. This is often done by facilities catering to special needs dogs, i.e. behavioral or health issues). o The owner(s) of the facility should always be available to staff when away from the facility, on days off, and when on vacation. • Many dogs will bite when pushed over threshold, and a staff member who experiences multiple bites is one that lacks the competency and/or qualifications necessary to properly supervise dogs in a boarding/day care environment. 1 Staff should know how to safely break up a dog fight. • o If two or more dogs begin to fight, all other dogs in the play area must immediately be removed and kenneled before staff members attempt to break up the fight. o Once other dogs have been kenneled, two or more staff members may resort to the use of water hoses, bite sticks, or tossing blankets over the dogs in an effort to break up the fight. If this fails, the staff should know how to physically, but safely, separate the dogs. (Disclaimer:The uses of extreme measures are to be used only in the event of emergency in a serious fight with a risk of injury or death. PPG considers the use of aversive tools in normal training scenarios unnecessary and unacceptable.) o One of the most common protocols for break-

ing up a dog fight when two are more handlers are present is: - Each handler slowly approaches their respective dog from behind. Simultaneously each handler firmly grabs hold of the back legs of the fighting dog above the knees and below the hips, picking him up like a wheelbarrow and walking backwards with him. If one dog is on top of the other, the top dog should be pulled up and away first, and the bottom dog should be pulled back as soon as he stands up. - Moving away from the other dog, handlers will then quickly circle to one side, in an arc-like fashion, to make the dogs hold themselves upright by following the circular pattern with their front paws. If the handler stops moving, the dog may turn around and bite him. The dogs will have to use their front legs to remain standing and moving, rendering them unable to continue fighting. - Handlers will move each dog to an enclosure where there are no other dogs, and where he can no longer see the dog with whom he was fighting. If there are no enclosures to retreat to, the handlers will continue moving until the dogs have calmed enough to be safely attached to a leash, and then secured to fencing, an awning post, or whatever else is handy (and secure). The handlers will turn the dogs away from one another, or otherwise create a barrier so they cannot see one another. - Handlers should remain as calm as possible and refrain from shouting and screaming as this will likely exasperate the dogs’ arousal, making the fight worse. - Some facilities require their staff to practice this protocol with fake dogs on a regular basis, just like they would a fire drill. - Once calm enough, the dogs are to be kenneled immediately and checked for injuries. The dogs should be escorted separately to their respective kennels. o While the fight is being addressed, at least one other employee should check the dogs who were in the same play area, for any possible injuries they may have received prior to being removed from the run. If any of these dogs received injuries, their owners are to be notified immediately, and the dogs should be checked by a vet. o The dogs who were involved in the fight must also be checked for injuries. o Owners of the dogs who were involved in the fight are to be notified immediately. Each of the fighting dogs should be checked by a vet, even if there are no apparent wounds. o The facility may or may not be held responsible for injury-related medical bills and/or behavior modification costs that may be necessary as a result of the incident. The facility will not be responsible for these costs if it is discovered that one or more of the dogs involved in the fight has a bite history, or a history of fear and/or aggression with other dogs and their owners misrepresented it on their application. Owners of dogs who lied about their dog(s)' history and/or current behavioral tendencies may be held financially and/or otherwise responsible for other dog(s)' injury-related medical bills and/or behavior modification costs that may be necessary as a result of the incident. Those owners may also be held financially responsible for medical bills the staff incur as a result of breaking up the fight, as well as wages lost if injuries required a leave of absence from work. o The dogs who were involved in the fight are to be kept separate from one another, while at the facility, for all future visits. The facility should strongly consider the dogs non-can-


didates for group play in general and may even choose to refuse them service in the future. n In the second part of this article, we will continue to examine the minimum standards clients should expect from a boarding or day care facility.


Overall, K. (2012, March). Dumbed Down By Dominance, Part 1: Exploring our misconceptions and myths about human-pet relationships. Retrieved January 20, 2017, from www Overall, K. (2012, April). Dumbed Down By Dominance, Part 2: Change Your Dominant Thinking. Retrieved January 20, 2017, from Pet Professional Guild. (2012). Guiding Principles. Retrieved January 5, 2017, from /PPGs-Guiding-Principles Pet Professional Guild. (2012). How to Break up Dog Fights. Retrieved January 5, 2017, from /Resources/Documents/Breaking%20up%20Dog%20Fights.pdf Lauri Bowen-Vaccare ABCDT is the owner of Warren, Kentucky-based Believe In Dog, LLC, www.believeindog, and is an honors graduate of Animal Behavior College, with a specialty in training shelter dogs. Her focus is on the dog-human team, and she specializes in reactivity, resource guarding, fearful and timid dogs, bringing outside dogs in, and outside pet dogs. She also advises and assists trainers who want to cross over to force-free training.

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017



The Effects of Declawing

Declawing can cause behavioral and emotional changes in cats, as well as the more

ccording to the American Veterinary Medical Association (2016), declawing (a.k.a. onychectomy) is the “surgical amputation of all or part of a cat’s third phalanges (toe bones) and the attached claws.” The procedure generally involves just the front paws, but the claws may also be removed from all four paws. The surgery “may be performed using sterilized nail trimmers, scalpel blades, or surgical lasers. If only part of the phalanx is removed the claw may occasionally regrow. However, it has been suggested that retaining a portion of the phalanx allows the paw to retain more of its normal function and appearance.” Leading an effort to make declawing illegal in his state, retired Denver, Colorado veterinarian Dr. Aubrey Lavizzo, director of Paw Project Colorado, says: “They should call it ‘de-toeing’ because that’s really what it is – an amputation of the third phalanx.” (Lavizzo, 2013). According to Lavizzo, who like many veterinarians has performed declawing procedures at the request of cat guardians: “As veterinarians, we take an oath that we will use our knowledge and skills to benefit society through the relief of pain in our animal clients. When you talk about pain in cats, it’s classified as mild, moderate, and severe. Mild is a neuter. Moderate is a spay. And severe is a declaw.” (Lavizzo, 2013). Since many cat guardians believe declawing is a harmless, acceptable procedure, opinions like Lavizzo’s are not always well received. It is estimated that 31 percent of cats in the United States are declawed (American Veterinary Medical Association, 2016). According to a 2011 Associated poll: “Nearly 60 percent of American pet owners, including 55 percent of cat guardians,” believe it is acceptable to have a cat declawed (Manning, 2011). Surveys suggest that 95 percent of declaw surgeries are done to protect furniture. Surveys suggest that 95 percent of declaw surgeries are done to protect furniture

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BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

It is estimated that the majority of declawed cats have at least one complication resulting from surgery, and many develop behavior problems too

Developing Complications

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obvious physical ones, says Bridget Lehet

It is estimated that “the vast majority (80 percent) of declawed cats have at least one complication resulting from surgery, and over a third develop behavior problems after undergoing the procedure.” (Becker, 2014). According to Becker (2014), after declawing, “behaviors such as biting and urinating outside the litter box are often pain related.” Dr. Craig Tebeau, a 1996 graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, director of the Washington Paw Project, and owner of The Cat Doctor Veterinary Clinic in Federal Way, Washington, states: “Declawed cats are almost universally more likely to bite. They are less trusting about being handled; they are prone to inappropriate elimination disorders; and 100 percent of them develop joint problems as they age.” (C. Tebeau, personal communication, May 3, 2016). Becker (2016) also states: “In addition, the procedure changes cats' ability to walk naturally. Kitties carry 60 percent of their body weight on their front feet. If the front paws are injured, even temporarily, it can create compensatory injuries to the wrists, elbows, shoulders, and spine. The weight equalizes after about six months according to studies, but that's weight bearing across four legs. Within the declawed paws, a cat continues to shift his weight backwards, which can lead to collapse of the wrists. Declawed cats can wind up walking on their ankles or wrists, which is painful.” The feline claw grows out of the bone. According to Becker (2014), during the declawing procedure, practitioners sometimes miss “a tiny piece of bone that subsequently grows back as a partial nail or bone fragment. The missed piece can continue to grow either under the skin, pressing into tissue and nerves, or it can grow right through the skin.” This can create problems as much as 15 years later and cause significant pain. Another prob-

Laser Surgery

Some veterinarians claim that pets who undergo the laser declaw procedure have less pain, swelling, blood loss and faster healing time. Dr. Shawn Hook, owner and operator of the Arbor Ridge Pet Clinic in Madison, Wisconsin, explains the perceptions concerning laser declaw surgery: 1. Laser declaw surgery is less bloody than standard scalpel blade surgeries. True – This is because the laser instantly cauterizes or burns the vessels as they are encountered. That being said, electrosurgery or radiosurgery units can achieve the same results that lasers can, and with less time and anesthesia. 2. Laser declaw surgery is less painful than standard scalpel blade surgeries. False – With proper pre- and post-surgical pain control and nerve blocks, there have been no scientific studies showing that cats who have laser declaw surgeries are any more or less painful than those who have scalpel blade or electrosurgery declaw surgeries. (Hook, n.d.). 3. Cats recover faster from laser surgery than with traditional declaw surgery. False – There is no scientific proof that cats recover any faster from laser declaw surgeries than with scalpel blade or electrosurgery (radiosurgery) units. In fact, a recent study showed that when you use lasers or radiosurgery an area of tissue surrounding the incision site is burned (cauterized), the body then has to take longer to bridge the gap at the incision site and heal. However, with a scalpel blade incision, the incision forms a

clot and has less work to bridge the gap between the incision site. Another study showed that Ultra High-Frequency Radiosurgery did less tissue damage around the incision site than either the laser or traditional radiocautery. (Elkins (2004), cited in Hook (n.d.)). According to Becker (2014), some veterinarians believe using a laser causes less pain, but Hofve states there is little scientific evidence of this: “It does cause less bleeding, but that's it. It looks ‘prettier’ than the result from other methods, but it still involves burning the tissue, and there are many complications from [the] use of a laser.”

Against Declawing

Laws and policies governing declawing vary around the world. For example, in many European countries the procedure is forbidden, either under the terms of the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals (1992), which states in Article 10 that: “Surgical operations for the purpose of modifying the appearance of a pet animal or for other non-curative purposes shall be prohibited and, in particular: a. the docking of tails; b. the cropping of ears; c. devocalisation; d. declawing and defanging,” or under local animal abuse laws. The Animal Welfare Act of 2006 outlawed declawing in the United Kingdom (UK Government, 2006), but even before that, declawing was extremely uncommon. The act states that declawing is “only acceptable where, in the opinion of the veterinary surgeon, injury to the animal is likely to occur during normal activity. It is not acceptable if carried out for the convenience of the owner….the removal of claws, particularly those which are weight bearing, to preclude damage to furnishings is not acceptable.” (Council of Docked Breeds, 1991-2010). Some European countries go further, such as Finland, Sweden, Estonia, the Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland, where declawing cats for non-medical reasons is always illegal under laws against animal cruelty. The procedure is banned in at least 22

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lem is created when the tendons contract after being severed in the declawing procedure, which pulls the cat’s toes back. This changes the angle at which the foot connects with the ground, which can cause severe pain. (Becker, 2014). Becker (2014) states Lavizzo is conducting a study of declawed cats “to record bone fragments and bone spurs left behind in the declawing procedure” and that he “believes the pain caused by those missed bone fragments may result in behavior changes like biting and eliminating outside the litter box.” “We always see the same thing, because it’s so hard to do this procedure perfectly,” Lavizzo says. “You can’t predict a successful outcome, and if you can’t predict a successful outcome, then you shouldn’t do the procedure.” (Becker, 2014). On top of all this, declawed animals may be at increased risk of injury or death if attacked by other animals. They are also deprived of their normal, instinctual behavioral impulses to use their claws to climb, exercise, and mark territory with the scent glands in their paws. Any of the three methods used (scalpel, laser or Resco) changes the cat's anatomy and physiology. “The procedure changes everything about the way a cat walks,” states Becker (2014). “Some veterinarians bandage, some don't. When they do, they apply the bandages very tightly to control bleeding, so you can imagine those incredibly painful paws swelling up inside a rigid bandage. According to [Denver, Colorado-based veterinarian, Dr. Jean] Hofve, there have been many cases of cats ultimately losing a limb because a bandage was put on too tight, or a tourniquet was misapplied.”


Cats’ claws grow from bone not skin; the last bone of each toe of a cat’s paw is thus amputated during declawing so the claw cannot regrow

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017


countries. However, it remains legal in most of the United States. (Becker, 2014). Declawing was, however, banned in West Hollywood, California a decade ago, and was followed by Californian cities Los Angeles, San Francisco, Burbank, Santa Monica, Berkeley, Beverly Hills, and Culver City (OMICS International, 2014). The declawing procedure is More recently, in banned in at 2015, New York least 22 countries but State Assemblyremains legal woman Linda in most of the United States Rosenthal introduced a bill that would make New York the first state in the nation to ban cat declawing. (Blain, 2015). OMICS International (2014) states that, while declawing is widely practiced within the American veterinary community, it is ethically controversial: “Some American and Canadian veterinarians endorse the procedure, while some have criticized and refused to perform it. Two animal protection organizations in the US, the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, discourage the procedure. The Humane Society of the United States has supported legislation banning or restricting declawing. Opposition to attempts to ban or restrict declawing has come from veterinary trade organizations, such as the California Veterinary Medical Association.” The American Veterinary Medical Association meanwhile recommends that declawing "only be performed after exhausting other methods of controlling scratching behavior or if it has been determined that the cat’s claws present a human health risk.” n For alternatives to declawing, see the Pet Professional Guild’s Feline Educational Handout Alternatives to Declawing: /Advocacy%201%20Alternatives%20to%20Declawing.pdf

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BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

Bridget Lehet CAFTP CFTBS is a certified feline training and behavior specialist and a certified advanced feline training professional based on Vashon Island, Washington. She obtained her certifications from the Animal Behavior Institute. Lehet owns Feline Intuition,, and is a volunteer with the Paw Project of Washington, www

FELINE References

American Veterinary Medical Association. (2016). Welfare Implications of Declawing of Domestic Cats. Retrieved January 4, 2016, from /Pages/Welfare-Implications-of-Declawing-of-Domestic-Cats -Backgrounder.aspx Becker, K. (2014). Declawing: Harmless Procedure to Owners, But Severe Torture to Cats. Retrieved January 4, 2016, from /03/declawing-cats.aspx Becker, K. (2014). Declawing: The Routine Barbaric Procedure That Owners Still Sadly Request. Retrieved January 4, 2017, from /2014/08/24/cat-declawing.aspx Becker, K. (2016). This Can Emotionally Scar Your Pet for Life Avoid at All Costs. Retrieved January 4, 2017, from /24/declawing-cats-alternatives.aspx Blain, G. (2015). Legislation to ban cat-declawing introduced by Manhattan Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal. New York Daily News. Retrieved January 4, 2016, from /news/politics/cat-declawing-bill-introduced-manhattan -assemblywoman-article-1.2076696 Council of Docked Breeds. (1991-2010). Report on Animal Mutilations by the RCVS. Retrieved January 4, 2017, from Elkins, A.D. (2004). Radiosurgery: An Alternative to Laser in Veterinary Medicine (VET-340.) Western Veterinary Conference. Indianapolis, IN Hook, S. (n.d.).The Truths and Myths about Laser Feline Declaw Surgery. Retrieved January 4, 2017, from www.arborridgepetclinic .com/the-truths-and-myths-about-laser-feline-declaw-sur.pml Manning, S. (2011). Poll: It’s OK to declaw cats, most pet owners say. Retrieved January 4, 2017, from /41599112/ns/health-pet_health/t/poll-its-ok-declaw-cats-most

-pet-owners-say/#.WGvEIxE2uUl Martin, C. (2013). [Interview with Dr. Aubrey Lavizzo]. Cat declawing: Once routine, procedure now draws fire as harmful. Denver Post. Retrieved January 4, 2017, from -procedure-now-draws-fire-as-harmful OMICS International (2014). Onychectomy. Retrieved January 4, 2017, from /Onychectomy Statute of the Council of Europe. (1992). European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals. Retrieved January 4, 2017, from -protection-pet-animals The Paw Project. (2003). Declaw Ban Passes in West Hollywood, CA. Retrieved January 4, 2017, from /newsletter/pawproject_newsl_2003_sp.pdf


Der Bundesrat. (2017). Tierschutzverordnung. Retrieved January 4, 2017, from /opc/de/classified-compilation /20080796/index.html Jordbruks Verket. (2013).Kupering, tatuering, operativa ingrepp och avlivning av hundar och katter. Retrieved January 4, 2017, from /skotselochtillsyn/kuperingtatueringavlivningochandraingrepp .4.207049b811dd8a513dc80001997.html Pet Professional Guild. (2014).The Alternatives to Declawing. Retrieved January 19, 2017, from /Alternatives-To-Declawing Riigi Teataja. (2009). Loomakaitseseadus. Retrieved January 4, 2017, from UK Government (2006). Animal Welfare Act 2006. Retrieved January 4, 2017, from

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A Two-Way Conversation

In Part One of this two-part article, Kathie Gregory discusses how to best communicate


with horses to ensure mutual understanding and trust

hat is often missing in the horse human relationship is “conversation.” In many instances, communication with a horse often involves telling him what to do. If he does not comply, he is told again, sometimes in a stronger manner, which may also include force or punishment. Unfortunately, taking the time to listen to what a horse is saying, to understand him and adjust for his response, is usually a strategy more often employed when working with dogs than horses. Whilst some horses are seen as companions and treated as such, others are seen merely as tools to do a job, or facilitate the success of a person in achieving a competitive goal. I would say the dog world is ahead of the horse world in terms of welfare, understanding behavior and training methods. As such, many canines now enjoy the benefits of ethical, positive, force-free solutions along with the latest scientific research on how the mind functions, that enables those who work with dogs to do so in a way that achieves good performance results whilst ensuring the dog is strong and healthy, both physically and emotionally. Sadly, this ethos has yet to reach the horse world as a whole, with aversive methods still prevalent in many cases. In addition, the horse world sometimes neglects to adequately assess the impact of equipment used, or what is expected of a horse. There are three well-known schools of thought that are used as a basis for interacting with horses and often taken as fact. This Horses do not have a concept of a “boss”: having one horse that is in charge of others is not a natural equine behavior


BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

Human communication with a horse often entails telling him what to do, rather than engaging in a “conversation” based on mutual understanding

is despite scientific evidence which has proven they are a misconception. They are: 1.You must show the horse you are the boss. 2. Do not show fear or the horse will run rings round you. 3. Behave as if you are a horse, he will understand his own language. If we examine these concepts, we can see that they are not conducive to developing trust or friendship, but instead make teaching more difficult and unpleasant for both horse and human. Firstly, being the boss is a human concept, and in educated society, is most often applied to one’s working life. The person who is your superior in the organization, who tells you what to do, is the boss. If you do not do your job, you are likely to get a verbal warning, then a written warning. Continued inability to do your job will most likely result in you being fired. The problem with applying this to horses is that it becomes a physical interpretation. Obviously, writing out a written warning is meaningless to a horse so a verbal reprimand may then become a physical one. The next problem is, how do

you know the horse sees you as the boss? When do you stop? In reality though, this is not the next problem. The real issue is that horses have no concept of a boss. Despite what is often written, when we look at the natural behavior of horses there is not one horse that is in charge of the others, with each subordinate doing what the one in charge dictates. Horses have a complex social structure, and different horses will take the lead at different times, all working together as part of a group. The construct of a boss scenario allows the human to assume complete control over a horse, with the incorrect premise that this is natural to equines. Secondly, there are many people that love doing things with their horse, but are anxious or scared about something in particular. It could be the horse spooks easily, panics if he sees a certain object, or gets too wound up when cantering. When put in an anxiety-causing situation we behave in a certain way, depending on our personality. Being told you cannot show fear means you change the way you respond in order to pretend you are not fearful. We know that horses have a fantastically enhanced sense of smell compared to humans. We also know that horses read subtleties of body language much better than humans. Regardless, then, of what you do to convince the horse you are not scared, he will already be smelling the result Using aversive training methods causes fear of that fear through your scent via anxiety, hindering chemical changes in the body. In addi- and learning and mutual understanding tion, it does not matter how much you try to convey confidence in your posture and movements, your body language will show many subtle signs that you are afraid.You will most likely not be aware of them but the horse will know simply from reading your body language. Now look at what we are told the horse will do if we are afraid: he will run rings round us. Horses do have a huge capacity for understanding and awareness, but I am quite sure that they do not decide that this is an opportunity to cause havoc. That is simply beyond their cognitive abilities. When we are scared, the emotional part of our brain has more of an influence than when we are relaxed. This results in us behaving differently. We give confusing signals, we do not act “normally” and we can be unpredictable. These are things that we are largely unaware of at the time, but we are doing anyway. The horse can easily see this, and that can lead to a breakdown in understanding between horse and human. We also know that the emotions of one being can cause another to feel the same way via a


process known as emotional contagion, so this can also influence behavior in some horses as the emotional mind becomes more involved. Finally, the concept of behaving “like a horse,” so the horse can understand his own language, is often used to justify physically punishing him with actions such as biting, pinching, or hitting, as that is what supposedly happens naturally. In this way, people may be led to believe that the physical altercations within a group of horses is natural behavior. It also relates to the idea that there is a boss. The problem here is, just as dominance theory in dogs is not based on how wolves actually live in the wild, neither is the “boss theory” based on how horses live in the wild. People who own horses may keep some - or all - their horses together in a contained area. This is a long way from how the animals live and form groups in the wild, so the entire situation is unnatural to the horse. Without intervention to help develop relationships between the horses, they may display behavior that is not natural but, rather, appropriate to the environment they are in. For example, they may attempt to protect themselves, leading to a potential incorrect understanding of the species. In reality, horses - and indeed most wild animals that live in groups - avoid physical conflict as it is not good for survival of the species. On top of all this, a human is not a horse. Any action by a human to mimic horse behavior is not going to be interpreted by the horse as a human taking on an equine persona, but as an action by a human, and a horse will view it from a different perspective than that of an action by another horse. Horses are very well aware that humans are not horses. To believe they can be fooled into thinking a human is speaking the language of the horse is naïve and incorrect. In spite of this, it is often asserted that this is how we must behave towards our horses as it is the only way to achieve results without ending up with a “bad” or “spoilt” horse. However, the truth is that interacting with horses on the above basis is very damaging physically and psychologically, and risks creating a dysfunctional situation and relationship. It hinders learning and mutual understanding, and does not allow trust and friendship to develop. The fallout from working with this perspective is huge. Aversive training methods cause anxiety, fear, avoidance and selfpreservation strategies in a horse, and put the emotional mind into a state of defensiveness. Aversive training can also lead to unpredictable and BARKS from the Guild/March 2017



potentially dangerous behavior. If the horse is not reactive, he may shut down, with the result of learned helplessness. The chemicals released in the body when a horse has a negative experience, causing a negative emotional state, can also have an effect on his physical health. In terms of him doing a “job,� performance, recovery, and improvement can suffer. In terms of general health, he may be more prone to illness and injury, with recovery taking longer. Also, we may see specific injuries from physical punishment. This state of mind and body impairs learning, stops experimentation (i.e. the horse does not try out behaviors), impairs cognitive function, reduces or removes motivation to do what is asked, and can lead to a depressive or reactive state. All these things are interlinked, and although there might not be something specific to notice, the effects are there. Sometimes it is only when the horse is treated in a different way that this becomes apparent. To counter all of the above, we need to look at methods that nurture and develop the horse. First, we need to communicate effectively. Horses and humans do not speak the same language, and if we do not interpret each other correctly, the message will be lost in translation. It is, in fact, perfectly possible to understand each other’s language and communicate effectively. This starts with learning about how the mind works. Just as we do, horses have both cognitive and emotional systems in the brain. This means they have feelings, likes, dislikes, and just like us, can respond from a cognitive or emotional perspective. Knowing how the species evolved and its viewpoint of the world as a wild animal, then adding the influence of domestication (or captivity if

the species is no longer living in the wild), and finally, the personality and life experiences of each individual animal, gives us a thorough understanding of communication and behavior as a whole. As a behavior consultant, I need a thorough understanding of all these factors, but you can start a conversation with your horse whatever amount of knowledge you have. The key is to listen and consider his response, rather than work from a preconceived idea of what he is saying. What we think the horse is feeling and saying can often be different from what he is actually communicating. In the second part of this article, we will look at how we can utilize our communication skills to obtain a better understanding of our horses and to create a stronger bond and trust in each other. Learning how we can adjust our behavior, body language, and voice can be used to great effect in developing the conversation between the two species. n Kathie Gregory is a UK-based qualified animal behavior consultant, presenter, and author, who specializes in advanced cognition and emotional intelligence. Passionate about raising standards and awareness in how we teach and work with animals, she has developed Free Will TeachingTM, www, a concept that provides the framework for animals to enjoy life without compromising their own freewill.Her work is divided between working with clients, mentoring, and writing. She is now writing her second book, about bringing up a puppy using free will teaching.

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BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

Conditioning Confidence


Emily Cassell talks husbandry training for small mammals and details specific behaviors that


can help owners get their pocket pets to participate in their own healthcare

usbandry training has been the primary focus of zoo training for decades, but has only made it into the world of companion animals relatively recently. The reason for this probably has something to do with the relative ease with which we can restrain domesticated animals.You could say the need for Training small animals to jump onto a training a rabbit or scale is invaluable in monitoring their weight for health reasons guinea pig is not as pressing as it is for, say, a dolphin, which cannot be restrained physically or chemically without extreme difficulty and risk. It is probably for this same reason that training pocket pets is still viewed as a somewhat odd hobby rather than a positive aspect of a small mammal’s day. In the past, the training that has been prevalent for these animals has mostly revolved around “cutesy” tricks, which undoubtedly benefits them in terms of feeling confident about the world around them. However, husbandry training can also be exceptionally beneficial when it comes to decreasing stress and improving welfare. The best part is that it is not really all that hard!

What is Medical Management?

Any behavior relative to your pet’s health and well-being falls under the umbrella of medical management. This can be something as simple as training an animal to stand quietly on a scale so you can assess his weight to something as complex as a voluntary blood draw. Sitting for grooming, going into a crate, or allowing body manipulation are all considered husbandry behaviors. Each of them can be stressful and upsetting to any animal that has not been trained for them. Small pets in particular are fairly averse to any type of invasive touching or handling. On more than one occasion, my vet could not tell whether my guinea pig had a heart murmur because his heart was beating so fast during a routine exam. Training in and of itself could help in situations such as these by instilling some confidence in a naturally fearful animal, but preparing pets for such an exam would help even more. There are a number of specific behaviors and management plans that owners can implement to get their pocket pets partic-

ipating in their own healthcare, and I will detail some of them here.

Target Pole

Why on earth are we starting here? It is simple…literally. Touching a target pole is simple, and will likely be one of the first things you teach your pet when you start training. Asking for a high-probability behavior (one that is both easy for the animal and highly likely to occur when cued) can help an animal feel a sense of control when he feels nervous. By offering this small opportunity you can help him regroup and calm down in unfamiliar and stressful situations. My favorite example of this comes from a job I used to have in a coffee shop. Most of us would probably agree that washing dishes by hand is, at best, unpleasant. However, most of us know how to wash dishes, and it is not a particularly difficult task. When new staff members were being trained, they were often overwhelmed by all of the different recipes they had to learn, so they tended to gravitate intensely towards dishwashing duty. Similarly, asking for a target can be used to calm an animal down at the groomer or veterinarian.

Weight Training

Training a small mammal to hop onto the scale can be the single most valuable behavior you teach. Animals, and small mammals in particular, are extremely adept at hiding illness. Often, by the time an animal is showing symptoms, he is already very ill. The one thing he cannot hide, however, is weight loss. This means that weighing your small pet weekly is the best way to mitigate illness. Most small pets can be weighed with a food scale, which usually works in pounds and grams. Larger scales may not be accurate enough for small animals. Guinea pigs, for example, are considered to have weight gain or loss at +/- 50 grams (0.11 lbs). To give yourself a head start before teaching this behavior, add some grip to the scale.You can use contact paper or a small piece of carpet. If the scale is less slippery, your pet will feel more secure when climbing on it. Alternatively, you can teach him to hop in a bucket, crate, or any other type of container if he is too large to sit on the scale itself (i.e. rabbits and ferrets). I find it BARKS from the Guild/March 2017



is easiest to teach the pet to jump into the container on the ground first, then place it on the scale for him to climb into.You could also desensitize him to the motion of being lifted in the container and placed on the scale, but this does require more work than simply changing the container’s location.

Crate Training

Crate training for transport can significantly reduce your pet’s stress when he needs to travel. Unfortunately, travel is unlikely to be stress-free, but training an animal to go into a crate voluntarily can still have a positive impact. Utilizing a towel or something else the animal can grip onto is likely to be helpful here as well. You can also line the bottom of the crate with whatever bedding your pet has in his cage as something familiar may help him feel more secure. It will depend on the crate type how exactly to train the behavior to go into the crate. For some small mammals, teaching them to hop into the tray and then adding the top is the easiest route. For others, particularly larger pets, you may have to train them to enter the crate and accept the door closing. For the typical cat carrier-type kennels, I always reward from the side. This results in the animal automatically focusing on the side of the kennel once he is inside, rather than on the door opening and closing. The main reason for this is so the animal is not reaching for the hand that is closing the door when you are desensitizing him to having the door shut. Lastly, I always train an animal to exit the crate by target. This helps to mitigate “self-releasing,” and prevents the door opening from becoming the cue to exit the crate.

An easy behavior such as targeting can help an animal regroup and calm down in a stressful or unfamiliar situation

Crate training in advance can help reduce an animal’s stress levels when he has to be transported to the vet

Oral Medication

Conditioning your pet to take oral medication is simpler than it sounds. The most difficult part is actually finding a reinforcer that can be delivered through a 1cc syringe. The easiest way to go about training this behavior is to offer your pet the reinforcer in the syringe. For apprehensive pets, reward for sniffing the syringe.You can also dip the syringe in the reinforcer, allowing the pet to lick it off. Only dispense the treat once your pet is mouthing the syringe entirely. If your pet is wary, an accidental squirt in the nose is the last thing you want. Gradually increase the amount of reinforcer in the syringe to work up to taking the desired amount. I always dispense more than needed because I add a little of the reinforcer to the medication. Once the animal is taking the amount needed, desensitize him to taking the food quickly. Gradually increase the speed with which you are dispensing the reinforcer. As you do so, also push the syringe into the animal’s mouth slightly. He will learn that this is the way the reinforcer is presented. This helps prevent him backing off once he tastes the medication (if he does not like it) resulting in a half dose and, ultimately, you having to catch him to force feed the rest. Finally, to help the pet learn that taking what is in the syringe is a reinforceable behavior, I typically train him to take water from the syringe. That way, he does not balk or refuse if he cannot smell the reinforcer. When actually giving medication, I give several “fakes” throughout the day. There is no getting around unpleasant tasting medications. To prevent the animal from simply 52

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When training an animal to accept an injection, it is best to practice many times without actually injecting

refusing the behavior, since most antibiotic regimens last at least 10 days, offer several syringes with just the reinforcer throughout the day. That way, you outweigh the unpleasant times with the tasty times.

BEHAVIOR The easiest way to condition a pet to take oral medication is to offer him a reinforcer in the syringe as well

Hand Injection

Hand injections are perhaps the most common behavior trained in zoos, but they are rarely taught to pets. Training this is all about going slow, practicing often, and making up for any mistakes if they occur. My rabbit, Hemingway, has a condition known as chronic rhinitis. This is a lifelong condition and, after six years, oral medication is no longer effective. For this reason, my veterinarian has prescribed subcutaneous penicillin injections every 72 hours. Subcutaneous injections are given under the skin. To do this, a “tent” is made with the skin. I first worked to desensitize Hemingway to me pinching and pulling up his skin. He is sensitive to being touched, so I first worked on reinforcing him for petting him in a pinching motion. I quickly escalated to pulling up his skin by a chunk of hair, and then pinching some skin between my fingers. I pulled his skin up higher and higher, until it was sufficiently away from the body. I then worked on duration, with him sitting quietly while I essentially pulled up the skin on his back. I kept all these sessions short and highly reinforcing. Next, I began to desensitize him to the injection itself. First, I just touched him with my finger. I then began to poke harder and become more invasive. I also made these touches gradually longer and longer, working on duration. Next, I touched him with a capped needle. Just like when poking with my finger, I first reinforced for just a touch, then for a harder poke. The more objects you can generalize with, the more solid the behavior becomes. Rather than perceiving the behavior as “sit for an injection,” the goal is for the animal to see the behavior as “sit while I am poked with assorted objects.” Occasionally, the touch hurts a bit, but that experience should be drowned out by all of the non-scary times. For a more realistic desensitization step, I created a blunted syringe. I took a sharp needle, clipped the pointed end off with wire cutters, and then sanded it down using a dremel. Like all the other steps, I started with a touch and worked to gradually increase the pressure. After all that, I worked on duration. Finally, I needed to inject the medication. I drew up the syringe and “fake injected” it. Like with oral medication training, I used a larger amount than actually needed. When the time came for an actual injection, Hemingway sat perfectly. Often, it is scarier for us to do the injection than for the animal to receive it. Reinforcing the behavior properly is important; this is no ordinary behavior, and it necessitates a special reinforcer. For this reason I like to offer reinforcers that are highly preferred, never offered any other time, and that take a while to consume. For Hemingway, it happens to be fruit-flavored baby food. There is always the possibility that your pet may become upset and afraid when injected. Because my ability to give the injection is not exactly the most skilled, Hemingway’s behavior has broken down many times. The best thing to do is practice many times without actually injecting. The reinforcer needs to be some

incredibly highly valued item. If you are having problems, it may be best to stop attempting the behavior voluntarily and give the injection so the animal gets the medication. In this case, you can save the behavior, simply give the injection, and then work on whatever step you have regressed to. The obligation you have as a trainer is to not ask your animal to participate in a situation where he feels unsafe.You do not want him to associate the session with getting restrained so you may have to medicate outside the session. Don’t worry, you will get the behavior back. Husbandry training can be incredibly beneficial for maintaining your pet’s health, and will help both of you feel less stressed if he ever becomes ill. Most pets will need to visit the vet, travel, or receive medication in their lifetime, so being prepared before situations arise sets them up for success. n Emily Cassell is a zookeeper and professional pet trainer located in Tampa, Florida. She began her career in 2010 with fish and guinea pigs before graduating to dogs, cats, and rabbits. She operated her own training business, Phins with Fur Animal Training,, and worked with Class Act for Dogs,, in Gainesville, Florida while pursuing a degree in Animal Science at the University of Florida, before returning to Tampa to work at Courteous Canine, Inc., After completing internships with manatees, otters, and dolphins, she currently works as a full-time keeper and trainer with orangutans, tigers, gibbons, and various other species at Busch Gardens,, in Tampa, Florida. She also operates Small Animal Resources, /smallanimalresources, a Facebook page offering free help for those needing assistance with small mammal care as well as behavior consultation for small pets.

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017



Adapting To Change

Lara Joseph discusses the importance of training animals to get used to changing


environments, thereby setting them up for future success

hange is something we often take for granted. Much of our world changes on a daily basis, especially when we just take a walk outside. There are so many environmental factors out of our control but, through life experience and guidance, we learn to adapt. Nevertheless, for some, Incorporating flight through recall training changes outside the with Suki in her enclosure; everyday routine, such as the flap of the wing helps carry oxygen to the bones traveling or having visiin a parrot’s body tors, can be a huge source of stress. Cats and dogs aside, think of how we keep other species of animals, either at home or at educational facilities. Many of these animals spend the majority of their lives in an enclosure, mostly for their own safety, and there are some important questions we need to be asking. Do their environments change? Do some of the challenges they face on a daily basis compare with or complement how they have evolved to live day-to-day in the wild? Do their living environments (i.e. their enclosures) change in any way? If so, how often and how much? Do they get out of their enclosures? If they are getting out of their enclosures for educational programs, are they used to that change? Depending on the history of how an animal has been housed, change may need to be shaped. Shaping involves reinforcing small approximations toward the desired behavior. A very important factor here is whether an animal was trained to get used to changing environments at a young age. If so, as a trainer, you are lucky. More times than not, especially in the exotic companion animal world, this is not the case. Several exotic animals live to be in their late 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond, and that history of reinforcement can be a long one. Many times when I am moving an animal from one environment to another, I take a look at what other species he has been engaging with during his stay. How is this change going to impact the animals left behind? How is it going to impact the one who is moving? I recently moved a parrot from a zoo environment to a training center, with an eventual plan to move him into a home environment. In my opinion, he would not have been a good candidate for a public education animal. I had asked the zoo many questions: “Would this bird receive consistent training? Would he have consistent handlers? Was he trained to be moved from his 54

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

enclosure for transport, and then for public display and education?” None of this was likely so I strongly recommended he be moved to my facility for training and then placement within a home environment where he would experience consistency in handling and training. Once in a home, he could be trained to get used to change so he would be able to adapt to varied environments. If I am starting a shaping plan to get an animal used to change, I identify what he is already comfortable with, if anything. As a new handler, I am obviously a huge change in his environment. Depending on his stress level, I plan for minimal contact as I observe him and how he interacts with the environment. What is he looking at? Are those potential positive reinforcers or positive punishers? Until I can identify some of the basics, I do not want myself in the same room potentially being paired with an aversive. What objects in the environment is the animal moving away from? What is he gravitating towards? Why? The “whys” are my identified reinforcers. What body language does the individual animal display with the objects he is moving towards and away from? Those are the antecedents to watch for when training begins. Once I identify the basics and begin associating my interactions with the delivery of the positive reinforcers, my next step is usually to train the animal to forage for his food, if he does not already know how. If he is not used to change, the chances I will begin forming a strong relationship through training and quickly earn his trust are quite high. In this case, I need to consider having other handlers and objects interact with him to direct desired attention. I also need to start identifying enrichment options, and shaping the increasing complexity of that enrichment to the individual animal’s wants and needs. Usually when I am interacting with an animal, he is with a handler or household member. However, I can create independence through enrichment. I always begin with foraging. Lower value reinforcers should come from the favored person, while higher value reinforcers should come from others. Deprivation is one of four main factors in reinforcer effectiveness. The longer a positive reinforcer is withheld, the higher

BEHAVIOR Introducing two education parrots to each other to prepare for a third bird moving to author, Lara Joseph’s, training facility

value it becomes. I usually identify an animal’s top five food reinforcers and try to shape them into his enrichment through foraging. This helps redirect attention from me (or the preferred handler, or family member), to the enrichment device. Soon, the sight of that particular enrichment device becomes a conditioned reinforcer for the animal. With predictability can come boredom. To counter this, I can shape choice and control in the environment by making the obtaining of the positive reinforcers increasingly complex. Small amounts of frustration paired with accomplished tasks or puzzle solving can be a huge reinforcer for animals to continue engagement with the enrichment process. Consistently incorporating change into an animal’s environment can help empower him and prepare him for bigger environmental changes, such as shaping new sights, sounds, smells, and textures outside his habitat. If you have a curious animal, you have a strong reinforcer to work with in shaping a changing environment. I work weekly with a curious crow (see The Three C’s of Enrichment, BARKS from the Guild, January 2017, page 50-51) and an inquisitive, but cautious giraffe (see Fine Tuning the Training Approach, BARKS from the Guild, November 2016, page 40-41). To the best of my ability, I will take control of that animal’s environment as he begins exploring novel situations or objects, making sure it is as positive an experience as possible. People enjoy seeing a confident, empowered animal interacting with his environment, and people enjoy hearing the story of the steps taken to get him to that point. Several times people have asked me, “If you had one piece of advice to give to a person about the animal in their care, what would it be?” Without a second thought, my response is always, “Keep the animal comfortable with change. We hope and believe we will be with our animal(s) for life. If that is not the case, however, we will be setting him up for a more successful future.” n

Target training Indian Creek Zoo’s giraffe, Puzzles, from a loft overhead to provide a change from the trainer walking below and around him


Joseph, L. (2017, January). The Three C’s of Enrichment. BARKS from the Guild (22) 50-51. Retrieved January 15, 2017, from _online_edition_lores/50 Joseph, L. (2016, November). Fine Tuning the Training Approach. BARKS from the Guild (21) 40-41. Retrieved January 15, 2017, from _2016 _online_lores/40 Lara Joseph is the owner of The Animal Behavior Center LLC,, in Ohio. She is also the Director of Avian Training for a wildlife rehabilitation center where she focuses on removing stress from animal environments. She is a professional member of The Animal Behavior Management Alliance, The International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators, and sits on the Advisory Board for All Species Consulting and The Indonesian Parrot Project.

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017



Facilitating Learning

Niki Tudge discusses the importance of being able to communicate with clients so they can achieve their goals for themselves and their dogs

“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.” - Yehuda Berg


key part of our effectiveness as trainers is being able to interact positively with our clients. This means we must present ourselves well and communicate appropriately with them. When meeting new or prospective clients, we perceive and interpret stimuli based on our sensory impressions. A cycle of perception and behavior follows and, if we get it wrong, it can lead us to fundamentally misunderstand their mo- © Can Stock Photo/barsik tives, goals and actions. As individuals, we tend to apply identification rules to the moods, attitudes and intentions of others from the stimuli we receive. In other words, we stereotype. All of us do it to some extent. Once we have created these inaccuracies and drawn our own conclusions we then expect others to behave in certain ways. This not only affects how we treat them but also how we communicate with them. Instead though, we should be treating our clients with respect, fairness, and integrity and - yes - interest. If we are to teach and coach our clients effectively, we need to be invested in them as individuals and not just their goals.

Communicating with Powerful Words

Is hearing a passive activity? Hearing is a passive activity, but to really hear what is being said one must actually listen.

The secret to understanding others depends on our ability to communicate effectively. Words are very powerful tools and the choices we make can influence the thoughts, attitudes and behaviors of others. By paying close attention to the language our clients use, we can get a greater insight into what they are really trying to say. We may have to query them and dig deeper to truly understand their challenges and goals but, if we understand their language, we can respond more appropriately and effectively to them as individuals. How many of us actually listen and pay attention to a client’s every word without the distraction of talking to the dog, delivering treats or even taking cursory glances at our phones? 56

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As the saying goes, “two ears and one mouth” sums up what our communication should be: ask questions and then listen carefully to understand more. When we hear, we perceive sounds from our environment but, when we listen, we actually identify those stimuli. Of course, listening involves extra effort on our part. To really understand what we have heard we have to take extra steps, i.e. give our clients undivided attention and be present in the moment with them. If we take the time to do this, the impact it could have on developing a clearer and more impactful relationship is enormous. Ultimately the process of communicating is about exchanging information. We, the consultants, must ensure we gain access to every detail, whether as part of our functional assessment or during the experiential learning cycle as a component of our coaching role. Mastering the art of asking well-crafted questions will help us create more engaging conversation. Also, by communicating that we are interested in learning about our clients, we can establish a relationship with them more quickly. Anyone who is shy, concerned about making a mistake or being perceived as a busybody will find their capacity to get the job done impeded, as it will inhibit their ability to ask the necessary questions to extract the relevant answers. There are many different reasons why we need to ask our clients questions. Maybe we want to help them feel at ease or motivate them to engage in a discussion. We may want to encourage them to actively participate or move the focus elsewhere. In other instances our questions may aim to inspire a family member to join in, or establish how much the client knows and understands from a training session. The secret to understanding others depends on our ability to communicate effectively

Appreciative inquiry focuses on what is right and how we can make it better. It is an enlightened way to approach client communication and fact finding. Appreciative inquiry is the art of seeking information about the things that we value.

If we are not in control of our nonverbal skills, or if they are in direct conflict with our verbal message, then we cannot be sure exactly what we are communicating to our clients.

communicate as we all can. As dog trainers and behavior consultants, we can ensure that, just by the way we communicate, we can impact the lives of the hundreds of pets we cross paths with every year. I believe communication is our most powerful ally. It is our trump card and a tool in our kit that needs to be on permanent standby, fully flexed and ready to go. If we are not prepared and do not have our ally alongside us, then we will not be able to have meaningful, engaging and impactful communication with our clients. As a result, we will never be able to effectively communicate our philosophy, goals and ideas. This lack of shared meaning forms the crux of many of the problems that manifest themselves as client lack of commitment, compliance and understanding. This means the main avenue to success in our training programs is improving and then implementing our communication skills.

To Influence We Must First Understand

When pet professionals speak to clients, how they say things can be just as important as what they actually say

Effective communication is our trump card and a tool in our kit that needs to be on permanent standby, fully flexed and ready to go.

© Can Stock Photo/cynoclub

We must engage with our clients so we can understand their experiences and needs. By taking the opportunity to communicate with confidence, we have the ability to influence, persuade and make an impact regarding the training and care of their pets. Positive communication breeds self-confidence, credibility and professional effectiveness. It explains the relevant points and filters out the polite but unnecessary fillers. Our aim should be to provide clients with the bare bones, the ideas, thoughts and opinions that make sense to them while promoting our best intentions. How we say things can be just as important as what we say. By changing the intonation of our voices we can inject emotions into our messages and make them sound up- or downbeat. We can also modify our tones to help identify the purpose of a sentence. If we are asking a question, for example, the intonation would obviously be different than if we are making a statement. By changing which words or syllables we emphasize we can change the entire meaning of our message. The speed of speech and the use of appropriate pauses can actually change the meaning of the words spoken. We can also affect the clarity and effectiveness of our communication by altering the tempo of our speech. If we talk too quickly, it can be difficult for people to engage in a conversation and they may have problems deciphering what we say. If we speak too slowly, however, it risks inciting boredom. Our goal should be to set the pace at a tempo that is appropriate for our audience. In terms of volume we should keep it to a moderate level. If we speak too softly it can indicate a lack of confidence and conviction in what we are trying to communicate. If we speak too loudly it may indicate anger or impatience. We do not have to have participated in formal elocution lessons to be able to articulate and enunciate words correctly. We can, however, make sure we pronounce words in a way that is generally accepted or understood. It is worth taking the time to develop one’s pronunciation and enunciation skills. This will ensure that we are accurately understood, particularly for those of us who like to cite industry nomenclature or scientific research. Communication includes body language in addition to what we express verbally. As dog training and behavior consultants, we know how important physical communication is. We rely on it every day to communicate with our pets. In some cases, what we do not say can send a louder message than what we do say. Body language, voice intonation and the use of silence can be very powerful in communicating our message but we need to be sure it is the right message. If we are not in control of our nonverbal skills or if they are in direct conflict with our verbal message, then we cannot be sure exactly what we are communicating to our clients. Body language refers to posture, facial expressions, gestures and movements, all of which convey their own messages. Research into the human brain shows that emotions are manifested first in our body language, before the rational brain catches up nanoseconds later. Thus, if we are impatient or angry, our body language will reflect this before we have the chance to put words into action. Learning to read clients’ body language is a useful skill which will help us understand their intents, if not their specific thoughts. At the very least, inconsistencies between verbal and nonverbal communication can result in much confusion. As one who continuously asks herself, “What could I have done better?” I have to believe that, if I avail myself of these important communication tools, I can make great strides in my ability to


While we do not have the power to control other people, we can always do our best to persuade them. If we wish to influence our clients we must first set aside our points of view and look at the situation from their perspective. We cannot assume that because a philosophy or principle is clear to us that it is clear to the client. If we can answer, “What is in it for me?” on the client’s behalf, then we are halfway there. This will help us understand what is important to clients in terms of their values, interests and preferences. If we build bridges with our clients, then we will better understand them and make greater headway on building up our credibility and trust. This translates to finding common BARKS from the Guild/March 2017



ground and getting to “yes.” This is the win-win formula. Very few issues are black and white. In our profession, we live and operate in a vast gray area. We cannot risk losing clients or their trust because we are uncompromising. Compromises can always be made. If we really want to influence our clients, then sometimes we will have to make concessions. In this way, we can build our credibility and make better progress. We should be aiming for a collaborative model and not a confrontational model. If we often find ourselves at odds with clients it may be worth stepping back and assessing how we can change our behavior to impact theirs. Our job as trainers is to transfer the knowledge and skills that are essential for our clients to be successful in a way that enables them to draw on the information, store it and make it available for retrieval when they need it. Our focus should be on facilitating learning to help our students absorb what they need to know so they can achieve their goals. In some cases, if our students have been outside learning environments for many years, we may have to help them learn how to learn, i.e. how to assimilate new information and be able

to retrieve it later. When we teach our clients we want to ensure the information is deeply learned and not just surface learned. When clients or students are learning they actively involve themselves by critically analyzing the new ideas and linking them to their existing knowledge. This level of learning leads to long-term memory retention and problem solving. More than that, it promotes an understanding and application that can last a lifetime. n Niki Tudge PCBC-A AABP-CDBT AAPB – CDT is founder and president of the Pet Professional Guild,, The DogSmith,, a national dog training and pet-care license, and DogNostics Career College,, and president of Doggone Safe, She has business degrees from Oxford Brookes University, UK and has achieved her DipABT and DipCBST. Recently, she has published People Training Skills for Pet Professionals – Your essential guide to engaging, educating and empowering your human clients.

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Ask the Experts: The Rates Conundrum

Veronica Boutelle of dog*tec responds to pet professionals’ questions on all things business and marketing

Q: I keep hearing conflicting advice about whether to include my rates on my website. I am the most expensive trainer in my area and I worry about scaring people away if I list them. What is your advice?

© Can Stock Photo/damedeeso

A: Before I answer your question, I want to offer some big +R for being the most expensive trainer in your area.Valuing yourself and your services with professional rates is a big part of running a successful business that sets you up to positively touch the most number of dogs’ lives Listing rates online possible over your career. ensures consumers can find the quick There is a widespread fear answers they are of charging too much in our looking for industry, but the truth is trainers who charge more get more business, not less. That said, regardless of what you charge (or what kind of services you © Can Stock Photo/jstaley401 offer) your rates should be listed on your website. There is an argument that leaving them off allows the opportunity to make sales you might not otherwise have got. While that can happen, those sales are unfortunately more than offset by the many you never get a chance to make. In this fast-paced online world, we expect easy, quick access to basic information. When a potential client visits a service provider’s website he or she needs his/her basic questions answered in order to take the next step. What is more basic than cost? Research of online shopping habits tells us that consumers

become frustrated when they are unable to find basic information and most often choose to leave the site for another, rather than pursuing answers. In other words, more often than not, you do not get the chance to make that sale. Here is another reason for listing your rates: If you are like most trainers, the sales conversation is uncomfortable at best, downright nerve-wracking at worst. If you dread talking about money and questions about how much you charge break you into a sweat, imagine the comfort of knowing that potential clients reaching out are already aware of your rates. Not only will sales calls be more comfortable, but you will save precious time by cutting out the price inquiry calls from those who do reach out for that basic information, only to tell you that you charge too much. I don’t know any dog pros who would not mind never hearing that sentence again! Get those rates up on your site then. List them clearly on your service pages rather than on a separate page. That will make them easy to find and also place them in context with your service details and marketing message. n Have a question for the business experts at dog*tec? Submit your question for consideration to

Learn how

can help your business:

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

PPG World Service Radio Show

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

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


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

Email: BARKS from the Guild/March 2017



Making Choices

In our ongoing series of PPG member profiles, this month BARKS features Charleen Cordo


of Be SMART Dog Training in Aurora, Colorado

harleen Cordo has been involved Charleen Cordo and her training. I have been a member of various Havanese, Lucca with his professional associations for 30-plus years, with dog training for about 45 first place, all round years. Her journey to force-free freestyle competition and PPG for the past two years. I attend ribbon; he also conferences and try to absorb as much as I training began when she started teaching received an dog training at The Colorado Boys Ranch, a award for can from other professionals. being the treatment facility that helped at-risk juvedog that Q: Are you a crossover trainer or have nile boys in the community. It did not take had the most fun you always been a force-free trainer? her long to figure out these abused and mentally ill youth could not handle correcA: As previously mentioned, I am a crossover tions well, and she felt the same applied to trainer. When I had a trainer tell me to put a the dogs. This led her to search for a better pinch collar on my Samoyed and use a throw way than old school training methods, and chain to get him to walk on a leash, I decided she proceeded to become qualified in this is not my cup of tea. My puppy did not Tellington TTouch®, clicker training and reeven want to be near me, let alone walk with ward-based training. The boys benefited me. because they had to look for what the dogs were doing right and reward that; reward was not in their vocab- Q: How has PPG helped you to become a more complete trainer? ulary prior to that. She found force-free methods to be hugely beneficial, both for the shelter dogs and the youth who were A: PPG has combined the various force-free training methods training them. Nowadays, she primarily teaches private lessons, under one umbrella. That is what PPG is all about. I love the logo, helping people with anything from behavior problems to puppy No Pain No Force No Fear. start-up. Q:Tell us a little bit about your own pets.

A: I had conformation show Samoyeds for 10 years. I started out with the conventional, old school methods using corrections and choke collars, but with my last Samoyed I converted to forcefree training. I could not believe the difference between the two methods. I currently am involved with canine freestyle dance with my 6-year-old Havanese, Lucca, who has only ever been trained with force-free methods. We are an awesome team. He loves to do tricks and has many in his repertoire. Q: Who has most influenced your career and how?

A: Karen Pryor and her numerous staff for the way they promote clicker training; Michelle Pouliot and Julie Flanery for their freestyle expertise; and Linda Tellington-Jones for Tellington TTouch®.

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

A: I have always loved working with animals. I originally wanted to become a veterinarian but ended up becoming an elementary music teacher and then a substitute teacher. My job at the Boys Ranch enabled me to be around multiple animals and I loved every minute of it. I became a veterinary technician, a groomer, a dog trainer and got involved with a rescue group and a pet adoption agency. I was hooked. When the Boys Ranch closed and I got my new puppy, I knew I wanted to expand my horizons in dog 60

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

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

A: I try to use a marker of some kind, be it a clicker, a sound, or a “yes.” I also believe in having a dog learn to make choices. Trick training is perfect for this. Counterconditioning inappropriate behaviors works well and I enjoy teaching alternative behaviors to replace them. Q:What do you consider to be your area of expertise? A: Trick training and rehabilitating shelter dogs.

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

A: Seeing a client and dog happily interacting. Changing people’s outlook concerning their dog, so instead of thinking his behavior is “bad” or “spiteful,” they ask what they can do to change his responses. These are my favorite parts of the job. Q: What drives you to be a force-free professional and why is it important to you?

A: I have worked with hundreds of abandoned shelter dogs and helped rehabilitate them into wonderful, well-behaved companion animals. I also investigated why some of these dogs had been

abandoned. Often it involved a strong will on their part to be a companion, yet they were treated roughly with positive punishment and negative reinforcement. When treated gently and with consideration and given choices, they learned to develop a bond with the people around them. Q: What awards or competition placements have you and your dog(s) achieved using force-free methods?

A: I received the John Fisher essay award. I was also featured on Animal Planet’s It's Me or the Dog in a feature called Noah. In World Canine Freestyle Organization competitions I have completed the beginner and novice levels with Lucca, and we are starting on our intermediate level. Q: What is the funniest or craziest situation you have been in with a pet and their owner?

A: In my job at the Colorado Boys Ranch we acquired a dog we named Bingo. He had been running wild for about six months and no one could catch him. I chose him to be in our program


because he passed the Sue Sternberg temperament test. I was told to keep a close hand on him because he was a “runner” and did not like people. We worked with him and eventually homed him with a family who ran a day care facility. He was regularly taken to a field so he could run, and would return promptly when called. He loved and cared for all the children in his owner’s care, and would notify her if one of the babies woke up, or if a child was in need of something. Priceless.

Q: What advice would you give to a new trainer starting out? A: Get lots of hands-on experience with a variety of dogs, at a shelter for example. Learn to be positive with your clients as well as the animal. They are learning too and you are there to help them understand. I find many people think the dog should automatically know what to do and all they have to do is love him for everything to be fine. n

Be Smart Dog Training is located in Aurora, Colorado To be featured in the BARKS Profile section, complete this form:

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BARKS from the Guild/March 2017




A Go-To for Canine Aggression

In Beware of the Dog, Pat Miller provides a comprehensive reference manual for

professionals studying or working with canine aggression. Reviewed by Niki Tudge

s a long-time reader of Pat Miller’s books, I considered it a real treat to have the opportunity to review her latest, Beware of the Dog - Positive Solutions for Aggressive Behavior in Dogs. In fact, this book does so much more than “just” offer solutions (although it offers plenty of those too). It is, more importantly, a manual to guide the reader through all the possible suggestions, solutions, recipes, formulae, acronyms and how-tos for addressing aggressive behavior, from management protocols through easy-to-understand procedures. The first thing I noticed when I picked up Beware of the Dog was the thoughtful, clean, practical, easy-to-follow layout, which includes an array of photos to clearly emphasize and demonstrate concepts. Logically divided into three well-organized sections, Beware of the Dog takes the reader seamlessly from the first section, Thoughts on Aggression, through to the last section Aggression: Classification, Discussions and Practical Applications. This first section provides the necessary background and sets the foundation for the critical chapters in Section II on upper level management and modifying aggression. My favorite chapter from Section I, Alpha Schmalpha, will be music to your ears and, as a side note, our industry needs a lot more information like this. The second section provides an interesting and much-needed discourse on applied behavior analysis processes and concepts. Miller covers both respondent and operant conditioning and the available behavior protocols that work from within these scientific principles. As such, she succeeds in laying out often difficult topics in an easily understandable format. In the book’s final section, Miller presents a classification of aggression. She sets out the structured, individual ways these classifications can be best approached in a manner that is systematic and easily implemented. I believe readers will especially appreciate the appendices on where to find professional help and recommended books/DVDs. Rather than leave the reader with the all too commonplace question, “Where to turn next?” Miller anticipates the need and provides a comprehensive list of resources. 62

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Beware of the Dog is a book readers can and will quickly flick through at first, before coming back to it to absorb the vast amount of detail. Once in your collection, you will return to this comprehensive manual again and again. Whether you are working with fearful dogs who need the treat and retreat protocols, or resource guarders who will benefit from the application of the “walk away” protocol, this book has you covered. Beware of the Dog should be on the desk, not bookshelf, of every professional studying or working with canine aggression cases so it is within easy reach. It will become your go-to reference manual for all case management and behavior modification protocols, and your personal copy will quickly become dogeared, highlighted, bookmarked, smudged with fingerprints, annotations and filled with post-it notes. A must-read indeed. n Beware of the Dog - Positive Solutions for Aggressive Behavior in Dogs Pat Miller (2016) 208 pages Dogwise Publishing ISBN: 9781617811937