BARKS from the Guild March 2018

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© Can Stock Photo/Quasarphoto

BARKS from the Guild Issue 29 / March 2018

TRAINING Flyball with Deaf Dogs

CANINE The Impact of Appearance BEHAVIOR Enrichment Preferences

FELINE A Cat’s Need to Hide EQUINE The Functions of Play

CONSULTING The Gig Economy

PET CARE Keeping Boarding Dogs Safe

The Dark Side of Dog Training and Pet Care

The Need for Improved Education and Industry Standards TM

Published by the Pet Professional Guild

Note: PPG must receive applications for the Scholarship Program from March 15 - April 15 in any given year. Only applications that are fully and correctly completed within this time period will be considered.

BARKS from the Guild

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pet Professional Guild is a membership business league representing pet industry professionals who are committed to force-free training and pet care philosophies, practices and methods. Pet Professional Guild members understand force-free to mean: no shock, no pain, no choke, no prong, no fear, no physical force, and no compulsion-based methods.

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


from the editor

y first thought when I saw the preliminary draft of this month’s cover story about the dark side of pet care and training was, “How can this even be happening?” I was both appalled and baffled, not to mention inordinately distressed. It is a hard article to read, but I urge you to read it nonetheless. If we ever needed any affirmation as to why we do what we do, the way that we do it, then this is it. This is why PPG and its members stand up for force-free training, training that is based on up-to-date research by scientists and specialists who understand the mechanics of learning and are schooled in animal behavior. This is why PPG’s Guiding Principles state that there is no room for fear, pain or force in the training, care, or management of any pet, ever. This is why PPG works so tirelessly to educate professionals in every branch of the pet industry, and, indeed, pet owners themselves, to ensure that horror stories like those detailed in our cover story become a thing of the past, and soon. I would personally like to thank all the victims for their courage in speaking out, for the loving homes they provided their pets, and who only ever wanted the very best for them. On a similar theme, our pet care article this month focuses on how to keep both dogs and staff safe at boarding and day care facilities, as well as make sure the experience is enjoyable for the dogs. As is so poignantly highlighted in our cover story, the pet owning public need to be more aware of issues like this and, as pet professionals, we can go a long way in providing the right education and advice. Meanwhile, we continue our discussion on wolfdogs and endeavor to explain the behavioral differences between the various crosses. We also examine how physical appearance affects perception between dogs, as well as its possible impact on communication. In a new series on activities for deaf dogs, we outline how to train and play flyball, and also feature a training course for law enforcement officers. Devised by a PPG member who was disturbed by tales of family pets being mistaken as aggressive and thus getting shot, the course aims to help those in law enforcement better understand the behavior of the dogs they meet while on the job. Have you signed the Shock-Free Pledge yet? If not, please consider doing so and helping PPG in its efforts to rid electric shock training devices from the supply and demand chain once and for all. Find out more in our advocacy section, as well as how to keep the momentum going once you have signed up. Some of you may have seen Lara Joseph’s video of her resident porcupine, Pocahontas, in the PPG members’ Facebook group. This month, she details the learning curve she experienced when trying to identify enrichment opportunities for porcupines, and rapidly realized that it may not always come in the form you think it will. Still on other species, our feline section this month focuses on a cat’s need to hide and the motivations behind this common behavior, while our equine section looks at the importance of target training and choice, and examines the significance of play in horses of all ages. In our business and consulting sections, we talk professional accreditation, education, ethics, the gig economy, insurance for pet professionals, marketing, and the seemingly lost art of disagreeing without being disagreeable, while our comment section once again features a host of sound bites from canine behavior and training specialists on why they do not condone the use of shock as part of a professional’s toolbox. Rounded out with another great book review and member profile, I do hope you enjoy the read. Finally, if you are joining us in Kanab, we’ll see you soon. See pages 10-11 for more on what is going to be a very unique learning opportunity and experience.

n Susan Nilso

BARKS from the Guild/March 2018


6 10 12 14 22 24 27 30 32 34 38 40 42 44 47 50 52 54 56 59 60 62


contents N EWS

An update of everything going on at PPG, as well as upcoming podcasts, webinars and workshops


Everything you need to know about the event at Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah


Liz Geisen and Fiia Jokela report from the third annual Clinical Animal Behavior Conference


Angelica Steinker discusses real cases of abuse, neglect and death of dogs in training, day care and boarding


Lauri Bowen-Vaccare discusses how to keep dogs and staff safe at boarding and day care facilities


Don Hanson explains how to keep the momentum going once you have signed the Shock-Free Pledge


Sam Redmond continues her exploration into the world of wolfdogs



© Can Stock Photo/Quasarphoto


Jane Bowers showcases her training course for law enforcement officers to educate them on canine behavior


Anna Bradley investigates how physical appearance affects behavioral perception between dogs


Morag Heirs outlines how to train and play flyball with hearing-impaired or deaf dogs


Based on her recent experience with resident porcupine, Pocahontas, Lara Joseph realizes that enrichment may not always come in the form you think it will


© Can Stock Photo/websubstance



Dr. Lynn Bahr of the PPG Cat Committee tackles some of the common questions about feline behavior


Max Easey talks target training and choice, and attempts to answer the question: What’s in it for the horse?


Kathie Gregory highlights the many functions of play for horses of all age groups


© Can Stock Photo/vauvau


Louise Stapleton-Frappell discusses education, business, credentials and ethics



Sheelah Gullion discovers that making the most of your expertise can bring in extra cash


David Pearsall highlights the importance for pet professionals to hold a general liability insurance policy




Veronica Boutelle responds to business and marketing questions



© Can Stock Photo/basnik

Niki Tudge discusses the importance of practicing civil behavior



Breanna Norris reviews Canine Play Behavior: The Science of Dogs at Play by Mechtild Käufer


Featuring Alexandra Walker of Courteous Canine


Susan Nilson and Louise Stapleton-Frappell ask canine training and behavior experts why electric shock has no place in a professional’s toolbox

BARKS from the Guild/March 2018


© Can Stock Photo/Zuzule

© Can Stock Photo/Rohappy

Join Us In Sydney

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Pet Professional Accreditation Board Now Permits Credential Transfer


Project Trade Update

ongratulations to Daniel Antolec of Happy Buddha Dog Training ( in Wisconsin, USA who traded one prong collar, and is the Project Trade Ambassador for November, 2017. Congratulations, too, to Breanna Norris of Canine Insights ( in Maine, USA, who traded one Bark Off.


he Pet Professional Accreditation Board (PPAB) ( is to allow approved industry credentials from external parties to be transferred to its own credentialing program as long as they meet eligibility and ethical criteria. The move ensures canine training and behavior professionals who have already undergone the exacting process of obtaining a professional qualification will be able to transfer their skills and knowledge to one of PPAB's own credentials without starting the process from scratch, while ensuring they hold a credential that echoes their ethical standpoint. PPAB is currently the only organization to provide accreditation for professionals who believe there is no place for electric shock, choke, prong, pain, fear, coercion or intimidation in dog training and behavior modification. The board also offers the only psychometrically developed, independently assessed examination for training and behavior consultants who support and practice humane and scientific methods only, as set out in its Guiding Principles ( /Guiding-Principles). At present, PPAB operates three levels of credentials – the Canine Training Technician (CTT-A), a Level One qualification; the Professional Canine Trainer – Accredited (PCT-A), a Level Two qualification; and Professional Canine Behavior Consultant – Accredited (PCBC-A), a Level Three qualification. Each level has specific operational guidelines and eligibility criteria that the transferring candidate must meet. All PPAB programs have a rigorous path to completion whereby applicants are required to show in-depth knowledge and competent mechanical skills, supported by people coaching skills. To transfer a credential to PPAB at any level, applicants must be able to demonstrate that they have the correlating ethics in place, the required competency and knowledge, as well as the practical ability to carry out their craft. If only one component of the credential requirement can be demonstrated through the candidate's current qualification, then they will be required to supplement their application either by taking a written examination or submitting specific skill videos. To apply for a transfer, candidates must determine which credential best meets their skill set and current level of education, ensure they are eligible and in compliance with PPAB's ethics, complete the application form, submit a transfer fee of US$50, and submit the necessary documentation. PPAB will work with applicants to audit their current credentials and determine what may be missing, and candidates will have six months to provide the relevant documents. "The development of this credential transfer policy will support our members and other professionals who stand by the mandate that no shock, prong, choke, pain or fear should ever be used in the care, management or training of any pet, industry-wide, worldwide," said Niki Tudge, president of PPG, which oversees PPAB. "Now, those who have already done the heavy lifting to attain a high-level credential can transfer it to PPAB and hold a credential that reflects what they stand for in ethical terms. Crucially, this policy in no way compromises the high levels of skills and knowledge required by each of the three credentials as proof will need to be submitted across the credential requirements for each level." For more information on credential transfer, see credentialingboard .com/Transferring-Your-Credential. 6

BARKS from the Guild/March 2018

Daniel Antolec swapped a prong collar (left) for service discounts and is Project Trade’s ambassador for November 2017, while Breanna Norris swapped a Bark Off (right).

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.

Central Florida Force-Free Trainers Promote Shock-Free Coalition


he Central Florida Force-Free Trainers ( have placed a public service announcement (see graphic, below) in their local, free-to-public, newspaper, Orlando Weekly to inform people that members of the Central Florida Force-Free Trainers and Veterinary Behavior Network are standing together to stop the use of electric shock in dog training. “We are proud to announce that we are doing all we can to openly stop all use of shock collars in the management, training, and behavior modification of the dogs who share our lives,” said PPG special counsel and Orlando, Florida-based veterinarian, Dr. Lynn Honeckman. “We, the members of the Central Florida Force-Free Trainers and Veterinary Behavior Network have signed the No Shock Pledge (petprofessionalguild .com/Sign-The-Pledge) and encourage everyone to do the same.”


PPG Australia Update


PG Australia is an incorporated not-for-profit association. At the end of November 2017, we held our annual general meeting and a new secretary was voted in: Josephine Atkins has taken over from Jude Tuttleby, who is staying on as a general committee member. Lou Newman remains vice president and Stephanie McColl as treasurer. I am very pleased that we also have three new committee members, Sarah Forge, Tracey Taylor and Rhonda Scanders. I would like to thank everyone for their contributions and look forward to another busy and successful year. It is not always easy to make decisions as a committee and it might take longer than in a regular company. However, it helps us to make decisions that are supported by a majority of the committee members and, hopefully, represents what our member base considers important. Our steadily growing membership numbers indicate that we are on the right track. This year we want to continue to increase these numbers and be able to be more influential when it comes to political and legal deci-

sions. It seems that, unfortunately, we do not have the reputation just yet, nor the connections to hold much sway in important matters such as the legal framework when it comes to puppy farms or regulating the pet training industry. It also seems that clients still have difficulty finding pet professionals that follow a humane and ethical approach. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that more and more members of the general public find harsh and punitive training methods inappropriate and are making a real effort to find force-free trainers and pet care professionals. On a personal note, I find it challenging to have to compete in an industry where the use of force is legal and professionals can still advertise the use of shock, prong or slip collars here in Australia. Taking shock of the table is one of my personal goals for the coming year and I hope we can advance the shock-free movement in Australia. For more details on the PPG Australia Summit 2018, see and the ad on page 5. There is also a new Facebook event page (

oggone Safe president Niki Tudge’s A Kids’ Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog ( -Speaking-Dog) is a fun, interactive, educational resource to help the whole family understand canine communication and there are some special offers in place to help spread the word. You can place an order for a single copy, and there are also four further options available: 1. Educational Purposes. If you are interested in bulk ordering the book for educational purposes only (e.g. to give to clients), then you can purchase the book for $6.40 . No resale license. Minimum of 21 units ( 2. Retail Options. If you would like to retail the book, then you can purchase them for $8.50 each. Resale license with recommended pricing of $15. 3. Non-Profit. If you are a non-profit and want to use the book in your business to retail or for educational purposes, please complete the form ( and indicate your non-profit status. Individual cost is $5. Retail license granted. Recommended unit cost is $15.

4. Rescue Groups. Enjoy the non-profit rates and gain access to a fun promotional flyer ( /resources/Documents /Flyer %20for%20rescue %20groups.pdf - see graphic, right) you can add to your adoption pack. The individual cost is $5. Retail license granted. Recommended unit cost is $15. Once you fill out the form and make the payment, the books will ship to you within 6 days.

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

Special Offer: Doggone Safe Dog Bite Safety Book


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rilliant K9 ( signed on as a new PPG corporate partner, and is offering members discounts of 15 percent off all harnesses, patches, toys, and training bags ( /PPG MemberArea). Brilliant K9 is also offering PPG members a dealer program. Please contact the company directly for details.

PG has announced a new vendor partner discount, Nailed It! ( Nailed It! is a course in canine nail care that has been created to help owners be able to maintain their dogs’ nails at home, avoiding the stress of going to the vet or groomer, and is particularly helpful for fearful dogs or dogs who have had negative experiences with nail care. Nailed It! is available to PPG professional members at a 20 percent discount. See the member area of the PPG website ( for the discount code. BARKS from the Guild/March 2018



PPG Announces Organizational Changes 4 Legs 4 Pets Signs Up as PG is to divide its current steering committee by establishing a separate Corporate Partner


steering committee for the Pet Professional Guild British Isles (PPGBI). The move aims to meet the growing needs of the British Isles market. In addition, PPG has appointed two new steering committee members to its North America-based team. In the British Isles, Sam Redmond, Dayle Pierce, Kathie Gregory, Nathan Watson, Michelle Masters, Dayle Pierce, Nathan Watson and Ewa Highland will join existing North America PPG steering committee members Claire Staines and Carole Husein, who will now officially move to the PPGBI division. PPGBI membership manager, Louise Stapleton-Frappell will take a seat on both committees. In North America, meanwhile, Michelle Martiya, chairwoman of PPG's recently-formed equine committee, and Kelly Lee, chairwoman of its newly-formed shelter and rescue committee, officially join the steering committee to enhance communication between the various divisions and ensure that an ambitious program of goals for the year can be met (see box, below). Existing steering committee members Kelly Fahey, Paula Garber, Debra Millikan, Susan Nilson and Angelica Steinker remain in place for another term, alongside Stapleton-Frappell, while Sam Wike steps down. In other committee news, Pat Miller and Monique Williams have joined PPG’s equine committee, Tabitha Kucera is now vice-chairwoman of the cat committee, and Carrie Seay has also joined the cat committee.

Introducing the New Shelter and Rescue and Equine Committee Chairs


elly Lee holds a BS in zoology, a Ph.D in ecology and evolutionary biology, and a certificate in counseling and training (CTC) from Jean Donaldson’s Academy for Dog Trainers. She has been training professionally for five years and has been involved in animal shelter work for seven. She founded Dogkind (dogkindtraining Photo © Lynn Takata .com) to help loving dog families in Kelly Lee aims to help shelter the Davis, California area reach their personnel improve the outcomes goals with their dogs humanely and ef- and quality of life for the animals fectively. Lee helped found PPG's Shel- in their care ter and Rescue Division with the goal of providing guidance and support for shelter and rescue personnel wishing to improve quality of life and outcomes for shelter dogs and cats, without the use of aversive training methods and while minimizing stress.


ichelle Martiya started out as a certified dog trainer through Animal Behavior College, before re-discovering her passion for horses. In 2014, after working with various mustangs, she started her horse training business, Dragon Horsemanship (, based in Boca Raton, Florida, with the intention of helping mustang owners to better connect with their mustangs. Today, she specializes in teaching mustang owners how to gain their mustang’s Michelle Martiya sees the need for better education trust and how to communicate with and train their mustangs through positive reinforcein equine behavior modification and training ment. “The more I immersed myself in the equine world, the more I recognized a desperate need for better education in equine behavior, behavior modification, and training,” Martiya said. “My goal with the PPG Equine Committee is to fill that need by providing horse owners easy-to-access resources on these subjects.”


BARKS BARKS from from the the Guild/January Guild/March 2018 2018


Legs for Pets ( has signed on as a new PPG corporate partner. 4 Legs 4 Pets makes cots for place training, home, travel and more, that can be used indoors or outdoors, are breathable, lightweight, and stackable, both rectangular and square, and offer the largest color selection on the market, according to the manufacturer. There are eight sizes in all. By mentioning the special PPG discount code (petprofessionalguild .com/PPGMemberArea) in the order notes (at checkout, under shipping zip code), new customers will receive a free set of non-skid leg grippers and leg plugs for every cot ordered (applies to first order only). You can also order and apply for wholesale registration online. Again, mention the special discount code in the order notes to receive a free set of non-skid leg grippers and leg plugs for every cot ordered (applies to first order only). Contact 4 Legs 4 Pets for free fabric and leg color samples.

Sponsorship Opportunities for Kanab Behavior Workshop


t its Training and Behavior Workshop ( /2018-Kanab), to be held at Best Friends Animal Society ( in Kanab, Utah on April 22-26, 2018, PPG is offering a host of opportunities to make it as easy as possible for vendors to participate and benefit from supporting PPG's educational initiatives. As such, PPG has developed several opportunities vendors can invest in from afar, leaving PPG to do all the legwork. The sponsorship document (pictured, right) ( sets out the various options available, and vendors may also contact PPG to discuss their goals, or complete a short form ( to indicate their preferences.

New Pages on PPG’s Shock-Free Coalition Website


ased on interviews conducted by steering committee members Susan Nilson and Louise Stapleton-Frappell, PPG has added two new pages to its Shock-Free Coalition website ( featuring quotes from canine training, behavior and business specialists on why pet professionals should not ever use electric shock in the training, behavior modification, care or management of pets (petprofessionalguild .com/Professionals-Shock-Has-No-Place), and the same for pet owners (



PPG Responds To Scottish Government’s PPG Podcast Schedule he PPG Radio Show,, usuUpdated Policy on Shock Collars


PG is greatly encouraged by the Scottish Government’s updated Policy on Electronic Training Collars, dated January 24, 2018, which states that under Section 38 of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006, it will be officially recognized that training methods that incorporate unpleasant stimuli or physical punishment can cause an animal pain, suffering and/or distress, and that using such methods may constitute the offense of causing unnecessary suffering under that Act. According to the policy, particular methods to avoid include: physical punishment, electronic collars to administer an electric shock, anti-bark collars, and startle devices. This new move by the Scottish government falls in line with PPG’s recently launched Shock-Free Coalition (, a global advocacy campaign which aims to end the practice of using electric shock to train, manage, and care for pets, build a strong and broad movement committed to eliminating shock devices from the supply chain, and create transparency on the methods used for consumers seeking professional advice on pet behavior or training issues. PPG applauds the Scottish Government for taking a stand on this matter. Read PPG's full response to the Scottish Government’s policy change:

PPG President’s 2017 Summit Opening Address Now Available


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

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - 3 p.m. EDT Guests: Veronica Boutelle and Kim Pearce. Topic: Let's Opinionate! Education in the pet industry. Register to listen live:

Previous Podcasts Lara Joseph - Building a trusting foundation and target training parrots, and fine tuning our training skills with parrots, from December 18, 2018:

Jacqueline Munera - Nitty gritty of cat training and working with fearful or feral cats, from January 10, 2018: Emily Cassell - Bunny basics, relationship building with bunnies and helping rabbits adjust to their new home, from January 24, 2018:

f you missed PPG’s Orlando Summit last November, and want to hear the opening session with PPG president Niki Tudge discussing goals and accomplishments, the podcast is now available (

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

Canine Health Seminar: Thyroid Disorders with Dr. Jean Dodds Wednesday, March 7, 2018 - 1 p.m. (EST) Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills with Niki Tudge Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 12 p.m. (EDT)

Scentwork Planning and Problem Solving with Robert Hewings Thursday, March 22, 2018 - 1:30 p.m. (EDT)

Fear Threshold: What it is, what it looks like, how to use it to help dogs overcome fears, and why do we so often push dogs past it? with Tracy Krulik Wednesday, March 28, 2018 - 1 p.m. (EDT)

Canine Nail Care: Creating Cooperative Care through Training with Lori Nanan Wednesday, May 9, 2018 - 2 p.m. (EDT) A Taste of the Foundations for Clicker Gundog Training with Helen Phillips Thursday, May 17, 2018 - 2 p.m. (EDT)

Canine Health Seminar: Vaccine-Related Issues with Dr. Jean Dodds Wednesday, June 20, 2018 - 1 p.m. (EDT)

Residential Workshops and Educational Summits

Successfully Train and Compete in The Show Ring - Learn The Knowledge and Skills You Need to Compete or Teach a Professional Curriculum with Vicki Ronchette, supported by Niki Tudge (Tampa, Florida) Saturday, September 22, 2018 - 9 a.m. (EDT) Sunday, September 23, 2018 - 4 p.m. (EDT) • Details of all upcoming workshops:

PPG Training and Behavior Analysis Workshop 2018 (Kanab, Utah) (see also pages 10-11 and ad on back page) Sunday, April 22, 2018 - Noon (MDT) Wednesday, April 26, 2018 - 5 p.m. (MDT) PPG Australia Summit 2018 (Sydney, New South Wales) (see also ad on page 5) Friday, July 27, 2018 - Time TBC Sunday, July 29, 2018 - Time TBC • Details of all upcoming summits:

Note: All dates and times are correct at time of going to press but are subject to change. Please check website for an updated list of all upcoming webinars and events: BARKS from the Guild/March 2018


PPG Training and Behavior Workshop 2018 events

Utah event features four days of lectures and hands-on clinics with industry experts across


multiple species

PG’s 2018 Training and Behavior Workshop ( April 22-26 at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary ( in Kanab, Utah will focus largely on how to help pets develop skills that will support their successful adoption and integration into their new home. Applicable for all professional trainers and behavior consultants, the event will feature a host of industry specialists, including Janis Bradley, Chirag Patel, Emily Larlham, Jacqueline Munera, Emily Cassell, Lara Joseph, Louise Stapleton-Frappell, and Vicki Ronchette, who will be supported by Best Friends representatives Dr. Franklin McMillan, Sherry Woodard and Glenn Pierce. There will also be special presentations by Best Friends CEO, Gregory Castle and Best Friends co-founder, Faith Maloney. This month we take a closer look at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, where attendees will be participating in hands-on workshops with a variety of animals.

Parrot Garden

Birds lose their homes just like other pets. In fact, because parrots live such a long time (some up to 100 years), they can become homeless many times over the course of their lives. Many of the parrots at Best Friends have been through many homes, and many have special needs to boot, but at Parrot Garden, they can rest and heal. In a light-filled tropical environment, they enjoy nutritious meals, top-notch vet care, lots of mental and social stimulation, and the attention they crave and need to recover.

The Bunny House

The Bunny House is home to around 130 rabbits and a few guinea pigs, too. Some were abandoned outdoors (sadly, domestic rabbits cannot fend for themselves outside) while others were victims of hoarding or excessive breeding. Some have injuries or special needs. Rabbits are some of the softest, gentlest creatures on earth, and at the Bunny House, they get companionship with other rabbits, expert rabbit vet

Photo: Kane County Office of Tourism

The birds in Parrot Garden can enjoy a tropical environment


BARKS from the Guild/March 2018

Photo: Kane County Office of Tourism

PPG’s Training and Behavior Workshop at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary offers the opportunity for attendees to work with a variety of species

care, delicious fresh veggies year-round, activities and places to dig, and most importantly of all, the chance to heal and feel safe as they wait for their very own forever homes.

Marshall's Piggy Paradise

Potbellied pigs can make wonderful pets. They are highly intelligent and very clean. Unfortunately, pigs frequently lose their homes because of zoning laws that classify them as farm animals instead of pets, or because people do not expect them to grow so big. The pigs at Marshall's Piggy Paradise came to Best Friends because they were abandoned, ignored, hoarded, or even outlawed. Luckily for them, they now get to enjoy life in a piggy village with warm homes. They also experience mud baths, healthy food and exercise, and the love and attention they need for as long as it takes them to find loving homes of their own.

Photo: Kane County Office of Tourism

Pigs often lose their homes because people do not expect them to grow so big


Wild Friends

© Can Stock Photo/actionsports

Bobcats are just one of the many species that have resided at Wild Friends

Wild Friends refuge is a state- and federally-licensed wildlife rehabilitation center for helping orphaned and injured wild animals get back on their feet and back to the wild. There is hardly a wild one in need that hasn’t been seen there at one time or another. From bobcats, to eagles, to little wild bunnies, everyone needs a helping hand from time to time and there is nothing more rewarding than seeing them run or fly free again after medical care and a short reprieve at Wild Friends. A small number who are too injured to be re-released, or who are actually exotic pets rather than wild animals, stay on as part of Best Friends’ wildlife education program.

Horse Haven

Horses, burros, mules, goats and sheep all call Horse Haven home. The animals on these scenic pastures came to Best Friends because they were abused, neglected, or simply because they became old, injured or unrideable and their families could no longer afford to keep them. At Horse Haven, the animals have access to outstanding medical and farrier care. They get good food, room to roam, love and attention, and a beautiful canyon to call their home-between-homes, as they heal both physically and emotionally.

Cat World

Photo: Kane County Office of Tourism

Horses, burros, mules, goats and sheep all call Horse Haven home

There are more than 700 cats at Best Friends. Cat World is really a cat village made of attractive houses along a quiet dirt road. Each house provides a free-roaming environment with indoor comfort and screened-in porches for cats with a wide variety of special needs. There is a house just for cats with feline leukemia, as well as a suite for cats who are incontinent. Here, they all live a life of dignity, receiving the medical care, food, attention and love they need to heal from a hard life’s journey and prepare for permanent homes.


Photo: Kane County Office of Tourism

The cats at Cat World enjoy a free-roaming environment with indoor comfort

Dogtown is a very unique place for homeless dogs and a special place where a dog can enjoy just being a dog. It is much more than an animal shelter, and is a refuge for canines who need another chance at life, an opportunity for a happily-ever-after that has thus far eluded them. Dogtown is a “gated community,” with buildings that house various groups of dogs. The residents are fun-loving, tail-wagging, friendly neighbors and come from all walks of life. Some of them, sadly, are traumatized from abuse or neglect. Others are shy or undersocialized. Some have very special medical needs. But once they arrive at Dogtown, their healing begins. Along with top-of-the-line medical care, the dogs get the TLC and training they need to recover from their pasts so that they can be adopted into permanent, loving homes, a dream that is realized for most of the dogs. Meantime, Dogtown is home for the dogs as long as they need it to be. n

* Registration now open!

* Payment plans available for PPG Members. * Speak to us about spreading the cost!

* Each person gets a minimum of two workshops, on a first come, first served basis. * Limited spaces available - sign up today!

* Continued Education Units - PPAB 34, IAABC 34, CPDT 17.5 for Trainers and 16.5 for Behavior Consultants

Photo: Kane County Office of Tourism

Dogtown is a refuge for canines who need another chance at life

BARKS from the Guild/March 2018



The Challenges of Adolescence

Liz Geisen and Fiia Jokela report from the third annual Clinical Animal Behavior Conference

held in Las Vegas last December


According to veterinary technician behavior specialist, Jenn Fiendish, horse trainers can use grooming as a bonding activity or an after training reward

hat happens in Vegas will not be staying in Vegas after attending the Clinical Animal Behavior Conference (CABC) at the Oquendo Center in sunny Las Vegas at the end of last year! This conference, held annually, is a combined effort between the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB), the Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians (SVBT) and the Academy of Veterinary Behavior Technicians (AVBT). It welcomes animal behavior professionals in many fields from all over the world and unites professional trainers, behavior consultants, and veterinary professionals and staff. Now in its third year, the conference focused on The Terrible Teens: Challenges with Adolescence. A series of lectures and hands-on laboratory experiences covered some of the common behavior issues found in this age group in the equine, feline and canine species. The event always garners excellent speakers and this year was no exception, with psychologist, Dr. Susan Friedman, veterinary behaviorists, Dr. Lore Haug and Dr. Chris Pachel, veterinary technician behavior specialists, Jenn Fiendish and Monique Feyrecilde, and behavior consultant and professional animal trainer, Irith Bloom all presenting. Friedman brought her unique perspective on skill building for handling critical conversations with clients and spoke on the hierarchy of behavior change, while encouraging attendees to critically think about methods and realize effectiveness is not enough. “Remember, behavior is always conditional and under construction,” Friedman said. “To change behavior, change conditions, and check back often.” Friedman explained that, in her role as behavior consultant, she often teases her clients at zoos and other facilities that her consulting company should be called Better Coach Than Player, Inc. “Relationship skills are the hardest I have ever worked to build, and it may be the same for you too,” she said. “For me, the brass ring is maximizing my individual and team contributions to help animals and their care givers.” 12

BARKS from the Guild/March 2018

According to Dr. Chris Pachel, adolescence is associated with increased emotional reactivity, a shift in peer relationships, and an impact on decision-making patterns

Attendees also learned about the development of equine behavior and common adolescent equine behavior challenges with Haug, while the equine live animal lab with Jenn Fiendish worked with relationship building exercises and handling skills. “A normal part of equine bonding involves interacting and grooming other horses and we can use this to our advantage by using grooming as a bonding activity either alone or also after training as a rewarding experience,” said Fiendish. “While the reasons we keep horses may have changed, our need to form a long lasting and beneficial relationship has not. The basis of trust should be built upon interactions that are consistent, controlled, and safe.” Pachel, meanwhile, lectured on both canine and feline adolescent behavior and the common behavioral problems that develop in adolescence that can fray the human animal bond. “Behaviors commonly associated with canine adolescence may include increased independence, decreased responsiveness to trained cues/prompts, high energy (ongoing), and increased impulsivity,” Pachel said. “The period of adolescence includes changes in physical, psychological, and social development, and is associated with an increase in emotional reactivity, a shift in peer relationships, and an impact on decision-making patterns.” Monique Feyrecilde followed with her lecture on the role of the veterinary team in preventing adolescent pet relinquishment, and offered suggestions for feline enrichment to solve common feline behavioral problems. “Understanding the science of learning and how to apply learning science to our everyday interactions with patients will benefit the pet, the veterinary professional, and the client,” Feyrecilde said. “Many cat owners find normal cat behaviors objectionable. Often these pet owners are not aware of how to best meet the needs of cats, and may need

education about normal and abnormal behavior of cats. Providing cats with enrichment can reduce unwanted behaviors and strengthen the bond between cat and owner.” The canine lab provided hands-on experience in developing foundation skills for behavior modification with dogs, while Irith Bloom discussed the ABCs of developing behavior solutions and led two very interactive and lively sessions on the behavior solution model in action. One of the most unique qualities of the conference is the small group networking opportunities that allow professionals of different disciplines to share ideas, inspiration and collaboration. One such opportunity was the Cattle Dog Publishing sponsored Dr. Sophia Yin Legacy Dinner, which brings together professionals to develop friendships and share struggles, inspiration and coping strategies. Pachel, guest speaker at the dinner, opened a discussion with those in attendance about the importance of taking time to care for themselves so that they can continue to care for others. It was a lovely evening to remind us of all Dr. Yin gave to the world and a time to realize that we are not alone, whatever troubles we may face. The conference is also a time for association meetings. Both AVSAB and SVBT hold their annual meetings during the event, and interested veterinary technicians were invited to a reception to learn about the Veterinary Technician Specialty


(VTS) behavior certification where current technicians described the path toward certification and how diverse the learning process can be. Planning for the 2018 conference is already in full swing, as it is being moved up to October 5-7 this year. Another great line-up of speakers and handling labs is being planned, and the theme will focus on the behavior of geriatric pets. Registration will open early this summer (see and /AnimalBehaviorConference for more details). n


Clockwise from top left: Blue was taken off property from a boarding kennel without his owner’s consent, slipped his leash and was hit by a car – his owner later found out he was only on a frayed slip leash;

Finn died in at a board and train facility – he had bruising around his neck and blood in his nostrils, leading the vet who conducted the necropsy to suspect he had been strangled;

Puppy Sarge died in his owner’s arms after a trainer clamped his hand over Sarge’s mouth to hold it closed, while grabbing his neck with his other hand;

Gunner died two days after his stay at a board and train facility – he had open sores on his legs, fluid coming from his mouth and appeared to have difficulty moving when his owners collected him;

Max was helicoptered four times and punched by a trainer.


BARKS from the Guild/March 2018


The Dark Side of Dog Training and Pet Care

Referencing the recent ordinance for the regulation of dog training professionals passed in

Hillsborough County, Florida, Angelica Steinker discusses real cases of abuse, negligence and death of dogs in, or post-, training, day care or boarding* *Caution: This article contains violent descriptions of dog death, abuse and neglect.

“Prosecutions under general anti-cruelty statutes are occasionally successful but greatly hampered by the absence of legal standards pertaining specifically to training practices. Provided it’s in the name of training, someone with no formal education or certification can strangle your dog quite literally to death and conceivably get off scot-free.” – Jean Donaldson (2017)


og training and pet care professionals, and indeed, pet owners themselves, need to be aware that in many countries, states and counties, laws are woefully inadequate to protect the lives of dogs, or protect them from blatant neglect or abuse when they are in the care of trainers, boarding, day care, or any other type of pet care environment. Where such laws do exist, they are often weak, poorly written and/or not well-enforced, leaving gaping loopholes for perpetrators of animal-related crimes. And sadly, all too often in the media, one reads about a dog who died while at the groomer, or at a board and train facility, or many other such horror stories. In what some see as a pioneering move, then, Hillsborough County, in the Tampa Bay Area of Florida, recently passed an ordinance called Truth in Training, which is aimed at regulating dog trainers. The ordinance came about as multiple dog owners whose pets had suffered at the hands of so-called professionals started to find out about each other’s experiences. Many had, of course, been featured in the media and people started to realize that they – and their pets – were not the only victims. They also became aware of the fact that there was no legislative professional accountability of the dog training industry. Truth in Training can be summarized in that it: 1. Requires licensing for boarding facilities that also provide training. 2. Creates a database of trainers via free registration. 3. Requires transparency via a written training plan. 4. Requires reporting of death and necropsy. In addition, under the ordinance, trainers would have to “provide their credentials to the county for publication and have liability insurance of at least $100,000,” according to the Tampa Bay Times (Contorno, 2017). They must also “undergo local and federal background checks.” Trainers convicted of animal cruelty will be “barred from working in the county.” (Contorno, 2017). During a public hearing and prior to passing the ordinance, which took 10 months, the county commission heard from multiple victims of dog deaths, i.e. people who had lost their pet, including a former National Football League player whose emotional support dog had died, a couple who shared the tragic story of their family pet dying a slow and grueling death, and another woman whose dog had suffered severe injury, but felt lucky that her pet survived.

The Ultimate Price

I interviewed some of the people whose dogs had suffered and present some of those exchanges here. First, Lorie Childers, whose puppy Sarge,

a 3-month-old shih-tzu-Pekingese cross weighing just 8 pounds, died in his owner’s arms after a trainer implemented harsh “techniques” on him. BARKS: Where did you get Sarge?

Lorie Childers: He was adopted from a foster home in Ocala, Florida. He was a rescue and had two brothers. BARKS: How did you know that Sarge was the puppy for you?

LC: Sarge was the first to come over to me, and he propped himself up on my shoe. He just hung around with me. I told the foster mom that Sarge was the first to come to me, so he was the one. The foster mom laughed and said he was the first to do everything and that he “probably was the first of the siblings to be born.” Sarge was also the first to die. BARKS: What happened to Sarge?

LC: Sarge was a healthy and lively [pup] and we loved his special presence in our home. He was smart and thoughtful. I picked Sarge up from day care on the day he died. We began to work with the trainer on teaching him how to heel next to me. Sarge was so happy to see me and just wanted to play. That’s when the trainer grabbed him – clamped his hand over his mouth and held it closed, and grabbed his neck with his other hand. Sarge thrashed and collapsed. His eyes were glazed over and his tongue was hanging out. It was stiff, and it had turned white. I knew something was horribly wrong and told the trainer, “He needs a vet!” I picked Sarge up and rushed him to the nearest animal hospital. As I was driving, Sarge was crying, struggling to breathe, and was unable to hold his head up. As I picked him up to carry him into the vet, I saw there was blood both on me and on the car seat. Just as we approached the door of the hospital, I felt Sarge’s heartbeat starting to fade. He died in my arms as I crossed through the doorway. Our puppy, Sarge, died on May 1, 2015 at just 3½ months old. BARKS: How has Sarge’s death affected you, your life, your family?

LC: Sarge’s death was definitely a reference point in my life. His death was unbearable. At the time, I felt surely I was the only one that this BARKS from the Guild/March 2018



“Sarge was so happy to see me and just wanted to play. That’s when the trainer grabbed him – clamped his hand over his mouth and held it closed, and grabbed his neck with his other hand. Sarge thrashed and collapsed. His eyes were glazed over and his tongue was hanging out. It was stiff, and it had turned white. I knew something was horribly wrong.” – Lorie Childers

Tiny Sarge was a healthy, lively puppy and his family loved his “special presence” in their home, saying he was “smart and thoughtful”

nightmare could have happened to, but I then found out I was anything but alone. BARKS: How was it that you became involved in facilitating a change in county law?

LC: Per the State Attorney’s Office, there was no intent to kill Sarge, so there was nothing they could do. The vast majority of dog training consumers assumed that dog training was a regulated profession and were consistently shocked to learn that dog training is not subject to any oversight. Hillsborough County is to be commended in presenting a clear, concise, common sense ordinance. The leadership and staff are caring and very engaged in their community. They all deserve our respect and appreciation. BARKS: What would you like to say to dog trainers?

LC: It is not up to the pet owner to know everything, and quite frankly, it is impossible. Pet owners don’t know there are different methodologies. They don’t know about force-free training. Every person I spoke to, who loves their pets very much, would state their disdain for forceful training methods, but in the same [sentence] would say something like, “but my dog knows I am the alpha.” I think the force-free trainers can help with educating the public, perhaps with outreach initiatives to schools, for example.

Emotionally Devastating

Mona Shah, owner of Finn, a 6-month-old Portuguese water dog, received a call that her puppy had died during his stay at a board and train facility. BARKS: Could you explain what happened?

Mona Shah: A friend who was a medical professional recommended the facility. The owner even came to our home, and we extensively interviewed him. He demonstrated his techniques, which were all positive, and focused on behavior modification using body language. The trainer was confident and disciplined, but since he was ex-military, this seemed 16

BARKS from the Guild/March 2018

congruent with his background. It seemed like a good fit, so we made sure Finn’s vaccinations were up-to-date. When we dropped him off, we toured the facility both inside and outside. Group class was happening; everything seemed clean and both clients and staff seemed content. I had never dropped off a dog [at one of these facilities] before, so I had no frame of reference. However, the dogs were kept in crates, and I felt anxious dropping him off since it was the first time. I called every single day and the facility stated that Finn was fine. On the sixth day, I did not get a call back, so I left a voicemail and called again the next day. At that point we were back in town and again, there was no call back. On the eighth day, I was planning to go and pick Finn up, and they called and said he was fine and that they felt he needed more time for further training. I approved the additional training, then the next day at 6 a.m., I got a call from the facility owner stating that Finn had died overnight. The owner stated that, “we have no idea what happened,” and that Finn was found in a puddle of blood and urine and that staff believed he had had a heart attack. He offered to get a necropsy conducted by his own vet. We declined. I was a disaster and my children, aged four and eight years, were very upset and could not understand. My husband went to pick up Finn’s body. He was wet and seemed to have been cleaned. Our vet was unable to do a necropsy, so our breeder came and collected his body and took him to Lakeland, Florida to a vet that was willing to perform the necropsy for us. The vet stated that Finn’s death was suspicious, that he had bruising around his neck and blood in his nostrils. She suspected he had been strangled. When you have a constriction of your airway from strangulation, it can cause bruising and bleeding. She also stated that the lungs were soggy. My husband called the owner of the facility and asked for details of what had happened. He asked the owner if he had strangled or drowned our dog. The owner responded that we should check for pneumonia. In fact, the pathology report did state that Finn had bacterial pneumonia. Infections such as pneumonia can be associated with drowning or near-drowning such as from having been dunked in the water. We often have wondered what happened to Finn and are so incredibly saddened to know that he had suffered at this facility. What is also upsetting is that he had pneumonia, a very treatable condition. The facility realized this but never called us nor called a veterinarian. This decision alone, I would call neglect. BARKS: What did you do to try to get justice for your family and Finn?

MS: We called the local county Animal Services and were sent to different sites to file a complaint. One was the Better Business Bureau. We were told we could bring a civil lawsuit and, finally, after many phone calls, I found a staff member at Animal Services that investigated cases like this. The staff member stated that this was “an ongoing issue for this trainer” and that we should please share all documents with her. We held on to Finn’s body and held off the cremation until we heard from the Animal Services sergeant that there was nothing she could do. At that point, Finn was cremated. She also gave us the name of an investigator for another victim, but we never heard back from this person.


The sergeant stated that she would continue her investigations and that she wanted to shut down this facility. BARKS: Did you feel you got justice?

MS: It is hard to say yes or no, but the Hillsborough County ordinance is a start. We think the ordinance will help others be more protected, and I am glad to be part of that. We never wanted to gain anything financially from Finn’s loss but emotionally we were all devastated. True justice would be for this trainer to be shut down and for him to never be able to hurt another animal. BARKS: Would you like to add anything else?

MS: We have had good experiences with true positive reinforcement trainers and know that the trainer who killed Finn was a bad apple. Both my husband and I are medical professionals and we are in a career which has a lot of oversight and regulations. To be frank, it is a pain to deal with it, but knowing that there are good and bad doctors out there, we understand the positives and necessity for these regulations. I absolutely think that dog training and dog trainers should have regulations and oversight.

“On the eighth day, I was planning to go and pick Finn up, and they called and said he was fine and that they felt he needed more time for further training. I approved the additional training, then the next day at 6 a.m., I got a call from the facility owner stating that Finn had died overnight.” – Mona Shah

Severe Wounds

Dawn and Rick Bissen’s Doberman-Mastiff cross, Gunner, died after a stay in a board and train facility. The following are excerpts from the criminal seven-page deposition regarding the case:

Thursday, July 17, 2015 • Rick called [the facility owner] and discussed final arrangements with her. Deposit of $45 was made using credit card and remainder of $1,450 was to be paid when we dropped off Gunner on Sunday, July 20 at around 12 noon.

Friday, August 1, 2015 • 2:51 p.m. Rick called [the facility] to check on Gunner and arrange pick-up time for Sunday. [A staff member] said Gunner was doing really well. Rick asked the [staff member] if he was okay because he did not sound well and he responded that he had not been feeling well. [The staff member] said that Gunner was no longer bothered by other dogs and not barking back at them. He said that Gunner has improved in some areas when interacting with other trainers but not as well as he had hoped at this point. If Gunner knew the trainers, he did not shy away from them, but he did not go towards them comfortably without [the staff member] there at his side. If Gunner did not know the trainers, then he would always walk around to make sure that [the staff member] was between him and the unfamiliar trainer. [The staff member] recommended that Gunner remain at the facility for another week for further training, specifically focusing on interacting with the trainers. [The staff member] said there would not be a charge for the additional week and Rick advised [the staff member] that [the facility owner] had originally stated that if Gunner needed to stay longer than the two weeks, there would just be a boarding charge. Rick ended the call stat-

Finn's family (see inset) was devastated by the death of their 6-month-old Portuguese water dog in circumstances the vet conducting his necropsy considered suspicious

ing that he would discuss this with his wife (Dawn) and let [the staff member] and/or [the owner] know. • 3:26 p.m. Rick called [the facility owner] and advised her that [the staff member] has recommended another week of training for Gunner and Rick just wanted to know if [the owner] felt that another week would really make a difference. [The owner] stated that she had personally been working with Gunner the past day because [the staff member] was out sick. [The owner] said that she did not think Gunner had bought into the program that much and in between Gunner’s time out with his trainers he was just laying around in the kennel. Rick advised that if the training is really not working then another week/month really was not going to make a difference and they would just stick with picking Gunner up on Sunday. [The owner] agreed and alluded to the fact that Gunner may have been licking his leg and developed a couple small sores on his leg. Rick asked if maybe we should just pick Gunner up on Saturday instead of Sunday and she said that would probably be fine, just to let her know what time so she could make sure she was there. She offered to have his sore looked at by their vet or we could just have our vet look at it, if we thought it was necessary. Rick said yes, please have your vet go look at his sore. [The owner] advised she would give her vet a call and let Rick know. Rick advised he would let her know what time he was going to pick up Gunner on Saturday. [As a result of many phone calls that led to concerns, the pick-up time is moved to that evening.] • 8 p.m. Dawn and Rick arrive at the facility. o As Dawn was walking to the kennel she realized that Gunner was in there but was lying down. o Rick walked out of the office with [the owner] behind him and Dawn yelled to Rick that he (Gunner) was not getting up and something was wrong. o Rick and Dawn quickly walked closer to the kennel and Gunner slightly attempted to raise his head. There was some kind of fluid coming from his mouth. It looked like a very tacky drool substance. Gunner laid his head back down with no attempt to get up. o There were open wounds on his legs and he was covered in a horrible stench, a mixture of urine, blood and feces. It smelled like he was rotting. Both of his hind legs were extremely swollen. His two front paws were bleeding and also swollen but not as BARKS from the Guild/March 2018



the IV fluids and a very high amount of antibiotics. If he did not get up within the next 24 to 48 hours and get the blood circulating in his legs, we would need to “have a talk.”

Saturday, August 2, 2015 • Dawn and Rick [and their children] spend the day taking turns sitting with Gunner in the Critical Care Unit. Each time we leave, he lets out very soft gentle cries so we stay until he falls asleep or until his techs or doctors cover his eyes so he does not see us leaving him. Each time we enter the room he tries to sit his head up towards us.

(Inset) Gunner battled for three days at the vet with his family at his side before he took a turn for the worse and it was decided to end his suffering, given that vets believed he was unlikely to recover The Animal Control investigator who worked on Gunner’s case said it had been so distressing for him he had to take a few days off work to recover emotionally

much as the hind legs. His coat was very wet ([the owner] had advised Rick in the office that she had hosed him down for us). All the other dogs were barking and jumping around. There was a full can of fresh dog food in his dish that was out of his reach. There was a large bucket of water, filled, also out of his reach. There were bugs flying around and on him and we just tried to swat them away with our hands. His eyes were filled with a white substance that ran down his face. o [The owner] began to walk from the office towards the kennel and Rick screamed to her to call her vet. • 10:30 p.m. Dawn, Rick and Gunner arrive at Blue Pearl Animal Hospital. The medical staff comes out and tries to get Gunner out of the car but he is unable to move or even get out. They run inside and get a gurney and a sling. Gunner slides out of the car but cannot move his legs towards the gurney and lays on the concrete. The staff and Rick pick Gunner up and get him onto the gurney and back into the hospital. He is now laying on his left side and Dawn and Rick can see his open wound that looks to be so deep it is revealing the bone. We saw the bottom of Gunner’s paws and there was barely any pad remaining. • 10:40 p.m. The Blue Pearl ER veterinarian, Dr. Kate Brammer, calls Rick and Dawn into an exam room to talk. Dr. Brammer advises that they have Gunner on IV fluids and have completed their initial exam. She advises Rick and Dawn that Gunner is in very serious critical condition and the prognosis is not good. She outlines the severity of his condition, both internal and external. Dawn asks directly, “He is going to survive though, right?” Dr. Brammer responds that she is not sure and that in the initial exams there are just so many things that he will need to fight. Dawn asks Dr. Brammer what she would do in their situation. She suggested that we proceed with getting Gunner’s bloodwork so they could get a clearer idea. In the meantime, they would put him on some IV fluids because he is clearly severely dehydrated and talk again after the test results come in. • 11:15 p.m. – 12 a.m. Dr. Brammer advises us that Gunner’s test results shows that he is fighting a major internal and external infection. Some of his wounds are very severe and if he survives will probably require surgery. His liver and kidney levels are not good (higher or lower than what they would normally be if he were not so sick), but there are a few good signs and the vet is very cautiously optimistic. His condition is critical and “guarded” for now but there is hope. She will probably try to give him 24 hours to see if there is improvement with 18

BARKS from the Guild/March 2018

Sunday, August 3, 2015 • 11 p.m. Rick, Dawn and [their daughter] return to the hospital. This time we brought his favorite pillow from home so he would be comfortable, a hand towel that had been rubbed all over his sister and a Frisbee, since that was his favorite toy and would surely trigger a spark. When we arrived Dr. Brammer was on duty and brought us back into an exam room. She had already warned us that if things did not progress or if he took steps backwards that she would have to “have a talk” with us, so we knew this was not good. • Dr. Brammer informed us that Gunner had taken a serious turn for the worse in the last 30 minutes or so. His oxygen levels had significantly dropped and his red blood cell count was dangerously low. She advised that he was declining rapidly and it was unlikely that he would ever recover. • Rick, Dawn and [their daughter] held Gunner and the staff very gently and humanely ended his suffering. The entire staff at Blue Pearl were standing and just crying for Gunner and our family. • The tech asked if I wanted a paw print from Gunner before the cremation. They could try to have something done but they would have to touch it up since his paws were so badly damaged.

“There were open wounds on [Gunner’s] legs and he was covered in a horrible stench, a mixture of urine, blood and feces. It smelled like he was rotting. Both of his hind legs were extremely swollen. His two front paws were bleeding and also swollen but not as much as the hind legs. His coat was very wet.” – Dawn and Rick Bissen Monday, August 4, 2015 • Rick and Dawn drive to Blue Pearl Animal Hospital and pay the remaining balance for Gunner’s care. • They also receive the electronic version of the medical reports from the hospital (Emergency Room and Critical Care) .

Tuesday, August 5, 2015 • Dawn reports what had happened to the County Sheriff’s department. • Dawn is transferred to Officer Jackson who takes a detailed report. He lets her know a detective from Animal Services would be contacting her. • Officer Johnson (sic) calls back to make sure to let him know if we do not hear from Manatee County Animal Services. • Officer White from County Animal Services calls Dawn and takes a detailed report. He will be the investigator assigned to this case Wednesday, August 6, 2015 • Dawn and Rick forward medical reports and before and after pictures to Officer White. • Officer Jackson calls to provide us with the case number.


Thursday, August 7, 2015 • Officer White responds via email that he has received the information and will be reviewing the file with his supervisor. He will also be making his initial visit to the property either Thursday evening or Friday morning.

Friday, August 8, 2015 • Dawn sends an email to Officer White, thanking him for his update and requesting expediting onsite inspection of the premises. • Officer Jackson calls Rick to let him know they have not gotten out to the property and would appreciate a report from our vet to add “flavor” to what exactly had happened to Gunner. • Dawn sends an email to Officer White thanking him for his phone call and update but expresses concern that they have not gotten out to the property yet since there are several other dogs out there. BARKS: What happened as the result of the deposition?

Dawn Bissen: Our first option was to pursue this criminally. The doctors at the emergency vet said [we should] call the police, which we did that night. We called 911 and told them it was non-emergency. The police officer conducted an initial investigation and then referred it to Animal Control. At this point our dog was still alive. He died two days later after blood transfusions, puppy plasma blood platelet transfusions and everything possible to save his life. His medical report said he was starving to death and that he was dehydrated. He died of starvation and sepsis. I then called the police to inform them my dog had died. Animal Control assigned an investigator to Gunner’s case. The investigator later said that this case had been so hard on him that he had to take a few days off work just to recover emotionally. He went and inspected the facility and, as anticipated, everything was clean and the dogs were all fed. Animal Control came back to us and said they had recommended our dog’s case to the district attorney. The District Attorney contacted us about six months or so after Gunner died. She said the best-case scenario was that we catch the facility in a lie but, realistically, our best-case scenario was to pursue this civilly. What the District Attorney knew was that the facility were not going to admit intent because the law states very specifically that if you knowingly withhold food or water or medical treatment from a dog, then you are criminally responsible. Thus, all it takes is for them to say they did not know the dog was not being fed. Because of this loophole, two staff members just had to cover each other saying that Person A thought Person B was feeding the dog, and Person B says they thought it was person A. In hindsight, they must have known the law because the facility owners immediately had an attorney and knew what to say and how to exploit the loopholes. After considering a civil case we realized that if we took a civil action, it would result in us having to sign a gag order. Since my husband and I wanted to prevent this from happening again it was not an option. Civil suits are always settled. They do not go to court typically and there was a maximum amount. This was the cost of the dog, which, for us, was $100. Obviously, this would not make it hurt so that they would not do it again. Instead, we opted to be able to tell our story and we carefully share it with people who contact us. We have found out that this facility has done this to dogs before and even again after Gunner died. Today they are still open and continue to be in business. This is why boarding facilities must be regulated so we can all work to protect dogs from this abuse.

Misleading Reviews

Elke Griffin received a call from the pet hotel, where her dog, Blue, was boarding, informing her he was dead.

(Inset) According to Blue’s owner, the facility responsible for him had wrapped a frayed leash around him on one side of his shoulder and under one armpit at an angle

Blue’s owner is prepared to lose every penny she has trying to get justice for him: “He meant everything to me,” she said. “What else am I going to do?”

“Around 2 p.m. I received a phone call telling me that Blue had been hit by a car and was dead. I became hysterical. The details the staff member provided were that they had taken him to a pond off property, without my consent. They said he was hyper and that they were providing an extra service at no charge.” – Elke Griffin BARKS: Tell us what happened?

Elke Griffin: I was taking my nephew to Disney that week. Our pet sitter was out of town and I could not get anyone to watch Blue, our 4-yearold terrier-hound mix. I called a couple of places and ruled out several options and then I located a pet hotel in Tampa. My research showed they had good reviews, lots of them with five stars. I later found out these reviews were posted mostly by the owners, friends, family and employees of the facility. After my dog was killed there, I found out that all the bad reviews were hidden at the bottom of the business review site under a heading of “Reviews Not Recommended.” We also learned that it is possible to pay a company to have your bad reviews permanently removed from any review site. After dropping Blue off at 7 a.m., I got a call at approximately 8 a.m. while we were on our way to Orlando, asking if my dog had had his nails trimmed recently because his feet were bleeding. In fact, I was told all his paws were bleeding [the reason for this was never ascertained – Ed.]. The staff member said they had a vet on staff who would see Blue, but in the end the facility never provided any physical evidence that he saw a vet. The staff member stated that she and another staff member applied [antibiotic] powder under Blue’s nails. She also provided a link where I could see Blue. The link provided a view of him from above and I saw him lying with his head down in between his paws. I said to my friend, “He looks a little too still to be my dog.” I called back immediately and asked if I should pick Blue up, but was assured he was fine. I was told he was just resting because he had played really hard. Around 2 p.m. I received a phone call telling me that Blue had been hit by a car and was dead. I became hysterical. The details the staff BARKS from the Guild/March 2018



“[The trainer] then grabbed the end of the leash and started swirling Max around in a “helicopter” move. All four feet left the ground and Max was rotated at least four times. When he landed back on the ground the trainer went over and punched him with a closed fist. I ran over and told him to get away from Max. I took the leash off and put Max in my car. I told the trainer I was going to do the same thing to him and he cussed at me as I was leaving. I took Max to the vet to make sure he was okay.” – Peter Castelli BARKS: Could you please describe what happened?

A trainer at a board and train facility helicoptered Max and punched him. The trainer was reported for animal abuse by Max’s owner and taken to court, but found not guilty based on statements from other trainers saying that helicoptering was a common technique used in dog training

member provided were that they had taken him to a pond off property, without my consent. They said he was hyper and that they were providing an extra service at no charge. This extra service involved my dog going to a pond area which is almost a block from the location of the facility. The staff member stated that Blue slipped his leash and that he disappeared through a crack in the fence, a fence that we were unable to locate, and that he then ran a block and half to a six-lane highway where he was hit by a car. In fact, they lied about him being on his harness and leash. Instead, they had wrapped a frayed leash (like a slip leash) from their facility around him, on one side of the shoulder and under one armpit at an angle. The staff rushed him to Blue Pearl Animal Hospital [in Tampa] but he died on the way there. BARKS: What further contact did you have with the boarding facility?

EG: I asked to talk to the owner and the manager said that would not be possible. Five days later, the owner finally attempted to call me, but at that point I had hired an attorney. The boarding facility did not pay for Blue’s cremation, but I was offered a variety of amounts of money. They could have offered me a million dollars, nothing would have been enough. I can’t place a dollar value on my dog. I was also offered up to $3,000 if I agreed to sign a non-disclosure agreement and if I did not get an attorney. This was not acceptable because it does nothing to prevent the same thing happening again to another dog family. BARKS: What did you try to get to justice for Blue?

EG: I started a webpage for Blue and I talked to the Hillsborough County Commissioners. Legally, I had no other recourse because Blue is considered property. I am pursuing this legally to the fullest extent that I can, even if I lose every penny that I have, to try get justice for Blue. I put value on my dog when our legal system does not. He meant everything to me. What else am I going to do?


Peter Castelli’s dog, Max was helicoptered and punched as part of his “training.” 20

BARKS from the Guild/March 2018

Peter Castelli: I took Max to board and train for one week and then I took him home. His behavior wasn’t any better, so the trainer kept him for two more weeks. When I went and got him, he was okay but he still did not seem that much improved in terms of his behavior toward other dogs, so I took him back to see the trainer and he was going to work with us and show us how to work with our dog. The trainer was walking Max back and forth in a training area and Max was not cooperating very well. I could see the trainer was getting frustrated and really angry. He then grabbed the end of the leash and started swirling Max around in a “helicopter” move. All four feet left the ground and Max was rotated at least four times. When he landed back on the ground the trainer went over and punched him with a closed fist. I ran over and told him to get away from Max. I took the leash off and put Max in my car. I told the trainer I was going to do the same thing to him and he cussed at me as I was leaving. I took Max to the vet to make sure he was okay. There was no physical evidence of abuse, but my dog was never the same in his attitude toward people and was very mistrusting of people, other than me. BARKS: Did you take action as a result of the abuse your dog suffered?

PC: Yes, I reported him to the authorities for animal abuse. The trainer was taken to court. The trainer showed up with several attorneys and a statement from several animal trainers that said that helicoptering is a common technique used in dog training. The trainer was found not guilty based on the statement from the other trainers. When I spoke to the authorities in preparing the case going to court, I noticed the sheet the attorney had and saw a long list of complaints relating to this trainer and his facility. I realized I never should have brought my dog there.

The Problems with Dominance Theory

Having heard all these terrible stories, I contacted respected dog trainer and author, Pat Miller and asked her about some of the problems associated with outdated dominance theory.

BARKS: How does the myth of dominance cause abusive situations for dogs?

Pat Miller: Oh my... far too numerous and significant to cover them all. The myth of dominance sets dogs and their humans up for an adversarial relationship. Some dogs succumb quickly to this ill-advised use of intimidation and force, albeit along with damage to the dogs’ trust in their humans. Those who don't succumb fight back against the confrontational methods, which then elicits an increased level of force from the human. Dogs who don't ultimately submit to this mistreatment often become aggressive, are deemed "incorrigible" and either live a life of

constant mistreatment and abuse, or are all too often euthanized, when a better, more thoughtful approach could have avoided all the drama and confrontation altogether.

BARKS: Do educated professional trainers use dominance theory in their work, or train with force?

PM: No. Just no. Educated, science-based professionals understand that the term "dominance" means something entirely different from what has been falsely presented as "dominance theory," i.e. permission to abuse your dog.

BARKS: What are three typical problems that are caused by trainers using dominance theory?

PM: 1. Aggression: The dominance myth says that you have to establish yourself as the "leader" through the use of forceful methods such as the so-called "alpha roll." A training approach that relies on confrontation and the use of physical force has a high likelihood of eliciting an aggressive response from the dog. 2. Damage to the dog-human relationship: A healthy dog-human relationship is based on mutual trust, cooperation and respect. The dominance myth promotes physically forcing the dog into "submission" – a method that destroys trust and doesn't value cooperation. When dominance trainers say the dog must "respect" the human, they really mean "fear." 3. Fear: The use of force and intimidation as advocated by "dominance" trainers carries a significant risk of creating fear and avoidance in the dogs subjected to these methods. What these trainers see as "calm submission" is actually a dog shutting down from fear of being attacked and manhandled by the human.


I have spent a lot of time talking with victims of cases such as those outlined above and they seem to have several things in common. First, they have been blindsided to some degree. As consumers, they assumed that there is a level of professionalism, a code of standards to be adhered to, yet when abuse, neglect or death occur, it is shocking to see this is, in fact, completely absent. Secondly, as Lorie Childers explains: “Victims share being in a state of shock and felt helpless when they attempted the normal routes of obtaining justice and found there was none; it’s difficult to process.” I was struck by the victims speaking at our county meetings, and by the fact that their pain was renewed as if it had just happened yesterday. One woman had tears in her eyes and shared that she had wanted to speak, but told us, “I just can’t.” We tried to console her and encourage her to stay, but it was too much for her and she left. Her dog died 10 years ago.

Industry Standards

Trainers and pet care providers need to know that people whose dogs suffer negligence or abuse are extremely angry, and, in some cases, may have lost faith in the industry. While some end up in a state of learned helplessness and choose to put the traumatic event behind them, some are exceptionally strong and brave and give their voice to dogs. The victims presented above found the strength to stand up and speak about the abuse and neglect their dog suffered in a room filled to the brim with trainers opposing any regulation, denying the facts, and victim blaming. In my opinion, trainers who do not want to be regulated need to set industry standards that clearly define abuse and neglect and appropriately identify pet mental illness. At least one case I heard about at one of the county meetings was grossly mismanaged, given that the dog was


in desperate need of a veterinary behavior consult instead of being placed in a board and train program. I believe professionals need to agree upon minimum standards of training, handling and care. In addition, trainers universally need to have better skills, understand and follow functional analysis when the case requires it, address antecedents and create behavior change using positive reinforcement. Physical force, coercion and positive punishment need to be eliminated from training plans. At the same time, in recognition that self-regulated industries usually fail to achieve realistic change, trainers who care about their profession need to acknowledge that regulation is probably a matter of when, not if. Professionals would do well to become involved in regulation, so the result is an outcome that is humane and force-free. Writing this article has been one of the hardest things I have ever done. It elicited angry and sad emotional responses. Speaking to victims in person or on the phone was incredibly difficult. I had to force myself to proceed, and I think this is part of why crimes against dogs are under reported or not reported at all. As you finish reading this article, know that you can go and hug your dog, but many victims will never have that luxury again. n

A special thank you to Pat Miller for taking the time to read and give comment on this article and to the victims for sharing their stories.


Contorno, S. (2017, November 15). Hillsborough County approves regulations on dog trainers that require training plan. Bay Buzz, Tampa Bay Times. Available at: Donaldson, J. (2017, January 5). Talk Softly and Carry a Carrot, Not a Stick. Available at:


DeForest, M. (2016, March 1). Families: 'Dog trainer' abused our pets. Available at: DeForest, M. (2017, November 20). Accused dog abuser opens K-9 school. Available at: Dothan Eagle. (2014, May 13). Pansey man pleads guilty in fake dog training scheme. Available at: Haight, M. (2013, June 13). Puppy Death at PetCo – Who is Training the Puppy Trainers? Available at: Hillsborough County. (2017, November 15). Ordinance 17-33: Truth in Training. Available at: Hillsborough County. (2018). On Demand Meetings. Available at: (To view the county meetings, click “Continue to HDTV on demand,” Enter keyword: BOCC, Meeting type: BOCC Regular Meeting, Enter any of the 3 dates: 10/18/17, 11/1/17, or 11/15/17. Referenced material begins 30-45 minutes in) Kaminsky, T. (2016, December 19). Kaminsky unveils dog training license legislation. Available at: KFOR-TV & K. Querry. (2016, May 12). Animal cruelty case dismissed against Oklahoma dog trainer accused of using shock collar repeatedly. Available at: Life with Dogs. (2012, July 10). Trainer Caught Beating Client’s Puppy. Available at: (2006, July 20). Owner Says Dog “Exorcised” to Death. Available at: Phenix, A. (2013, June 5). A dog died in a training class, and the pet supply giant is in the spotlight. Available at: Thorne, K. (2016, December 12). Video shows dog jabbed with stick at Long Island training facility. Available at: Angelica Steinker PCBC-A owns and operates Courteous Canine, Inc. DogSmith of Tampa (courteouscanine .com/Florida), a full service pet business and dog school specializing in aggression and dog sports. She is the national director of training for DogSmith Services (, and co-founder of DogNostics Career College (

BARKS from the Guild/March 2018


pet care

The Right Start

In her ongoing series focusing on industry health and safety standards for dog boarding

and day care facilities, Lauri Bowen-Vaccare discusses how to keep both dogs and staff


safe, and ensure the experience is enjoyable for the dogs n this article, I will lay out what I would consider to be the minimum standards dog boarding and day care facilities should practice to ensure the safety of their canine guests as well as their employees. As always, 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.

are strongly encouraged to schedule a meet and greet in an attempt to help their dog and the staff learn more about one another and to see if the dog is suitable for that facility (and vice versa). o Owners may want to consider boarding their dog, for one night, before scheduling a stay of several nights. o Owners may also consider sending their dog to the facility for day care or an Prior to Drop-Off overnight stay, now and again, to • Dog owners should be permitkeep the dog acquainted with the ted to tour the facility, ask quesfacility. tions, and have visual (and in • The facility’s state-issome cases, physical) access to sued license should be any area where dogs prominently displayed. © Can Stock Photo/websubstance live/play/congregate. • The facility should o Dog ownhave a legal permit stating the In a boarding or day care environment, dogs should have access to down time and a safe kennel area with a chew or toy, as permitted by the owner ers should not have physical number of dogs allowed on access to areas where dogs are the property. currently playing, resting, etc., nor should they be allowed to interact • The facility/owner is to be appropriately insured and should with the dogs. provide proof of insurance upon request. o Children under 16 years of age may be required to o If the facility is located on rental property, the remain in the lobby, with another employee or another family member, owner of the property should also be insured, and there should be a especially if the parent is unable to prevent the child from interacting contract between the property owner and renter with regards to liabilwith or otherwise disturbing the dogs (e.g. running, yelling, opening ity, etc. doors, wandering freely, etc.) Alternatively, parents can refrain from • For safety reasons, the facility should be located on a piece of bringing children along. property that is not on a commercial/business/busy road, and prefero With the exception of a trainer, groomer, veterinarably set back from the main road on which it is located. ian or other professional who has been approved by the owner of the o Placing a boarding facility in a commercial/business facility, no one other than employees of the facility should have physical district poses serious risk of injury, theft and even death in the event access to any of the dogs currently visiting the facility. that a dog somehow escapes the building/outdoor play runs. Dogs who • Some facilities require a meet and greet visit or trial run with escape the building or outdoor runs and make it off of the property are the dog, consisting of a few hours, to half a day or more, before the dog at extremely high risk of being injured, stolen or killed, especially if they is allowed to come regularly for day care, or stay overnight. reach the road. o Fees for this service will vary from facility to facility. o The facility should be as escape-proof as possible o Some may allow/request the owner’s presence for before opening for business, but there are the rare dogs who can esthis trial run, while others are unable to allow owners to stay with their cape from any confined area. Some escape-proof plans may include one dog for safety reasons (e.g. facilities that do not provide day care may or more of the following: having a lock system between fencing/gates/ be more inclined to allow the owner to walk around the facility with the doors, not allowing dogs access to exterior doors that lead to unfenced dog, while those that do offer group play cannot allow owners to enter areas, coyote rollers on the top of fencing, sunken fencing, lying pavers areas where other dogs are congregated for safety purposes). or pouring a concrete “sidewalk” around the interior perimeter of the o If a facility which offers day care is operating propfencing of outdoor runs, planting shrubbery around the interior perimeerly, a dog who is new to the facility will be given as much time as possiter of the fencing of outdoor runs, making use of covered runs for ble to acclimate to the facility, the staff, and the presence of other dogs known escape artists, making use of runs which adjoin only other before being walked through the facility, introduced to another dog, fenced/contained areas for known escape artists, etc. etc., and because of this, it is not feasible for the owner to remain preso Active supervision (staff member physically present ent as the process may take several hours or longer. with the dog(s)), human interaction and environmental enrichment aco If a facility does not require a trial run, then owners tivities are absolutely necessary for all dogs and can go a long way to22

BARKS from the Guild/March 2018

ward preventing escapes. o Escapes should be so extremely rare that once one occurs, the staff must determine, as quickly as possible, how the dog(s) escaped and immediately put protocols in place to prevent it from occurring again. They must also then make sure the rest of the building/property is secure to prevent similar escapes. o The noise of business/commercial districts can also have a negative impact on the dogs visiting the facility, given that many dogs react or respond to loud, sudden noises. Some breeds are also more prone to noise phobias. In addition, some dogs may develop behavioral problems and/or hearing problems with repeated exposure to loud noises. Dogs who have a history of noise phobia and/or other behavioral issues such as reactivity may be more prone to the behavior problem worsening when the dog is repeatedly exposed to loud noises. o The facility’s main living, play and congregation areas should not adjoin residential properties, for the safety and health of the community, animals and humans alike.

Safety First

pet care

If a facility which offers day care is operating properly, a dog who is new to the facility will be given as much time as possible to acclimate to the facility, the staff, and the presence of other dogs before being walked through the facility, introduced to another dog, etc. questions regarding the dog’s behavioral and physical health history, known bite history, eating habits, required medication, owner’s contact information, emergency contact information, veterinarian’s information, personality traits, etc. o The completion of this application does not guarantee that the dog will be allowed to stay at the facility, nor does it guarantee that the dog will be allowed to participate in group play. • Clients should be required to sign a contract or waiver indicating that they agree to the terms and rules the facility has set. o The contract will include liability-related clauses, as well as boarding- and day care-specific situations (e.g. dogs may receive scratches while playing; while specific vaccinations are required, no vaccination can guarantee 100 percent protection; etc.). o While the contract protects the facility in a number of situations which may occasionally occur at a well-run boarding/day care facility, it does not protect them from being financially or otherwise responsible for illness, injury, death, damage to property, etc. that resulted from the staff’s neglect, incompetency, ignorance, mishandling/mistreatment of animals or willful abuse, etc. Owners have the right and are strongly encouraged to report suspected neglect, abuse, etc. to local animal control and the police for investigation. n

• There should be a minimum 70 to 100 square feet of space per dog, depending on the size of the dogs. (Bennett, 2016). • Ideally, the owner lives on the same property as the facility, especially if the facility provides overnight boarding. • Ideally, the facility should not exceed 40 dogs on the premises at once, and there should be at least one staff member for every 10 dogs. o Some facilities allow upwards of 50 dogs to stay at the facility at once during peak times of the year (e.g. holidays, school breaks, etc.) These facilities typically increase staffing during these times Resources for added safety precaution. Bennett, R.K. (2015). All About Dog Daycare - A Blueprint for Success. o Facilities which house more than 50 dogs at once Garrisonville, VA: RB Consultings should consider more than one staff member for every 10 dogs as extra safety precaution, especially if they offer day care and/or group play. Lauri Bowen-Vaccare ABCDT is the owner of Warren, Kentuckyo If the facility owner lives on the property, the total based Believe In Dog, LLC ( and is an number of dogs allowed on the property may include their personal and honors graduate of Animal Behavior College, with a specialty in A foster dogs, as well, depending on local zoning regulations. training shelter dogs. Her focus is on the dog-human team, and o As the number of dogs allowed on the premises inshe specializes in reactivity, resource guarding, fearful and timid creases, so does the chance of acquiring infectious disease and/or indogs, bringing outside dogs in, and outside pet dogs. She also adjury. vises and assists trainers who want to cross over to force-free o The number of dogs on the premises not only dictraining. tates how much attention the dogs get, but factors pertaining to safety and cleanliness as well. The more animals housed on the property, the higher the risk for illness, disAnimal Jobs Direct is passionate about ease and possible injury. animal welfare and dedicated to raising o Each dog should have his own standards in animal welfare through kennel for rest time, including those who are there for day care but are not boarding. education. We are accredited as a recognised course and training provider by s Smaller facilities may be able to offer some down time as the dog might 4 National Awarding Bodies. We offer over experience it at home: relaxing with a food puzzle 100 accredited animal care courses or chew outside his kennel while an employee designed in consultation with employers, to stays in the room with him but is generally busy increase employment and career prospects. with another activity like washing dishes, reading, doing laundry, etc. and occasionally giving the dog Please visit our website or contact us for some attention and affection (if he enjoys that). All our free careers and training advice. s Dogs should have accourses advocate cess to safe kennel enrichment, like food puzzles, a force-free favorite toy or two, or a chew, while in their kenmethods nel, if allowed by their owner. ONLY • Every potential client should be required to complete a new client application. o The application should include

ou y Do t to n wa k with r ? Wo imals An

Tel: 0208 6269646 BARKS from the Guild/March 2018



The Shock-Free Coalition: What’s Next?


Don Hanson explains how to keep the momentum going once you have signed the

Shock-Free Pledge

have been waiting for an organization of pet professionals to take a stand against the use of shock collars since 2002, so when PPG launched the Shock-Free Coalition on September 25, 2017 I was more than ready to sign the pledge to eliminate shock devices from the supply and demand chain. However, I also knew that signing the pledge, while an important step, was not going to be sufficient to stop the use of shock collars. Signing the pledge is just the beginning of what will very likely be a long campaign. In addition to signing the pledge, as many of us as possible must commit to educating others in our profession, other pet professionals, and pet parents about the dangers of shock. This educational effort will also require that many of us become advocates and publicly speak on behalf of dogs, who cannot speak for themselves. Critical elements of being an advocate involve writing and public speaking and presenting logical and scientifically-based arguments for our position while being respectful of those that disagree with us. I know there are many reasons that not everyone in our profession is comfortable being an advocate. Some may have a fear of public speaking, an instinct to avoid confrontation of any kind, or a concern about how taking a position on what some consider to be a controversial issue, may affect their relationship with current and prospective clients and their business's bottom line. These are all real concerns and if they describe you, I understand. On the other hand, if you want to try to overcome these issues, know that there are others ready to help you. How, then, do you get over the concern regarding how publicly taking a position may affect your business? This is not always easy. I have been in the pet care business for 22 years and started as a traditional trainer talking about dominance and alpha rolls, all while using a choke collar and corrections to train a dog. After teaching my first clicker class as an experiment, I knew I could never in good conscience show people how to train with force again. I threw out our existing curriculum, scrambled to create a new one, and our classes became force-free, pain-free, and fear-free. This change was made in spite of the fact that I feared we would lose many of our training clients and veterinary referrals. I have to thank Gail Fisher of All Dogs Gym in Manchester, New Hampshire for giving me the courage to do this. Fisher had a massive investment in correction-based training, both as an author and pet care professional, yet she made a complete transition to clicker training because she believed it was the best option for her clients and their dogs. As a result of my choosing to transition entirely to clicker training, my business has grown, and most of the veterinarians in our community became convinced of our kind, compassionate approach’s efficacy. Also, I could sleep at night because I was no longer teaching people to “strangle their dog.” While I am comfortable speaking, writing, and arguing for a just cause, I know that ending shock will require similar actions by many of us. I am a firm believer in the concepts, “think globally, act locally” and that “many hands make light work.” I thus decided to launch a ShockFree Coalition in Maine where I am based. My first step was to contact all the PPG members in Maine and to 24

BARKS from the Guild/March 2018

Last November, 12 Maine-based pet care professionals participated in a newspaper ad where they publicly announced their commitment to ending the use of shock and called on others to join them

invite them to join me. This was a logical first step as PPG members have already indicated their commitment to ending the use of shock collars simply by joining the organization. Indeed, Section One of PPG’s Guiding Principles states: “Pet Professional Guild members understand force-free to mean: no shock, no pain, no choke, no fear, no physical force, no compulsion-based methods are employed to train or care for a pet.” (Pet Professional Guild, 2017). Like I said, all PPG members have essentially committed to the pledge simply by becoming members. I know many pet professionals in Maine who are not yet PPG members. However, because I was confident that they felt the same way


I have been in the pet care business for 22 years and started as a traditional trainer talking about dominance and alpha rolls, all while using a choke collar and corrections to train a dog. After teaching my first clicker classes as an experiment, I knew I could never in good conscience show people how to train with force again. newsletter my business sends to our clients and asked them to join us by taking the pledge. No matter how you stay in touch with your clients, keep them aware of the shock-free movement and your part in it. • I changed my profile picture and cover on my Facebook page, and those of my business pages, to encourage people to take the pledge. This is one of the easiest ways you can make others aware of the shock-free movement and your commitment to it. • I put up signage in our store promoting the Shock-Free Coalition and our commitment to the “No Pain, No Force, No Fear” philosophy. I also include PPG’s “No Pain, No Force, No Fear” logo on much of our printed literature. The following are things I have done to promote the Shock-Free Coalition as an individual which may not be as easy for others, but they are worth exploring: • I invited Niki Tudge, PPG’s founder, to be a guest on my weekly There’s Nothing Shocking About Why Shock Devices Can Be Harmful to Pets

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

Author Don Hanson submitted an article to a local newspaper encouraging pet owners to sign the Shock-Free Pledge

about shock collars as I did, I invited them to join our cause. My second recommendation, then, is to contact other pet professionals in your community who you know are already opposed to shock. If you get them to join your coalition, invite them to join PPG as well. I have taken several actions as an individual, all of which anyone can do, and I suspect many PPG members have already done too: • I sent out a press release with the news that my business, Green Acres Kennel Shop, has joined the Shock-Free Coalition. PPG makes this easy for us by offering a template. • I wrote an article for the October 2017 issue of Downeast Dog News titled Is Your Dog Your Best Friend or a Family Member? If Yes, Then Please Join Me and Take the Pledge which I also published on my blog. If you have a dog newspaper in your community, write an article and submit it. If you do not have a newspaper that focuses on dogs or pets, try your local weekly or daily paper. If you do not have a blog, start one. • I shared a link to my article, as well as an older article I had written (The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars), on my personal Facebook page as well as my business pages, and continue to do so on a regular basis. Share your articles and blogs on why shock-free is important, and do it more than once. There are some great software tools available to allow you to post to Facebook and Twitter on an automated basis. My favorite is Post Planner. • I included an article on the Shock-Free Coalition in the email

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

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

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

Learn More At:

BARKS from the Guild/March 2018



radio show, The Woof Meow Show, where we discussed the shock-free movement. If you do not have a radio show, find out who in your community does. Community-based radio programs are always looking for guests. In addition to hosting Tudge on my show, I have also been a guest on two other shows in our area that gave me an opportunity to discuss why shock-free is so important. • My co-host and I recorded a radio show/podcast titled The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars as a companion piece to my blog post with the same title. I find it valuable to provide information in a variety of formats as some people prefer to listen to something rather than reading. Our first group project in Maine was to place a full-page, color advertisement in the November 2017 issue of Downeast Dog News, a state-wide dog-centric newspaper. A total of 12 pet care professionals participated in the ad where we publicly announced our commitment to ending the use of shock, and invited other pet care professionals and pet parents to join us. Since then, we have had an animal rescue organization join our cause, and I am in the midst of discussions with a large animal shelter and two veterinarians about joining us for our next advert. My eventual hope is that other pet care professionals who might be on the fence will see the benefit to their bottom line if they take the pledge. In addition to the ad, I have cobbled together a website describing our coalition’s mission, providing a directory of shock-free pet professionals for pet parents, and announcing our next educational and advocacy events. Meanwhile, we are discussing our next steps as to how to grow our group and get more people actively participating. If you have already signed the Shock-Free Pledge, thank you! If you have not signed it yet, it is imperative that you do so. All of us that want to see shock eliminated as an option in pet training and behavior modification have much work to do. I will try to keep you informed of what we are doing in Maine, sharing what works and what does not. In the meantime, please share your stories with other PPG members so we can all benefit from what others are doing. Together we can make the world shock-free! n


Pet Professional Guild. (2017). Guiding Principles. Available at:


Hanson, D. (2017, October 1). Is Your Dog Your Best Friend or a Family Member? If Yes, Then Please Join Me and Take the Pledge. Available at: Hanson, D. (2017, October 22). The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars. Available at: Shock-Free Coalition: Shock-Free Coalition News Release Template: Shock-Free Coalition of Maine: Shock-Free Coalition Sign the Pledge: The Woof Meow Show (Producer). (2017, September 30). The Pet Professional Guild and the Shock-Free Coalition with Niki Tudge [Audio Podcast]. Available at: The Woof Meow Show. (Producer). (2017, October 21). The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars [Audio Podcast]. Available at:

Don Hanson ACCBC BFRAP CDBC CPDT-KA is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( in Bangor, Maine. He is a Bach Foundation registered animal practitioner, certified dog behavior consultant, associate certified cat behavior consultant and a certified professional dog trainer. He produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show (, streamed every Saturday at 9 a.m. (ET). He also writes about pets at the Green Acres Kennel Shop Blog (


BARKS from the Guild/March 2018

Wolfdogs in Practice


In the second part of this two-part article, Sam Redmond continues her exploration into the

world of wolfdogs and, based on her own observations, explains the differences between

the various crosses


The Northern Inuit has a small gene pool; as such problems in health and temperament are starting to emerge

n the first part of this article (see The World of Wolfdogs, BARKS from the Guild, January 2017, pp. 40-41), we looked at what types of animals are in the United Kingdom at present and covered a little of what the behavior professional might see in practice. In this second part, we will look in more detail at the animals themselves and how we can best respond to them when we come across them. In the U.K., there are currently four types of dogs you might see in practice. The Saarloos wolfhound is a possibility but it is more likely you will see the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog (CSV) and its crosses, and the lookalike breeds such as the Inuit, Tamaskan and similar types. I will now break them down and take a closer look at each type, but please note that my descriptions of behavior are largely based on my experience of working with these dogs.

Saarloos Wolfhound

The Saarloos has its origins in the Netherlands when, in the 1930s, a Dutch man named Leendert Saarloos crossed a male German shepherd with a female European wolf. Now, the European wolf is a shy, elusive animal and this was reflected in what became known as the Saarloos. As the breed progressed, they showed promise as working dogs and were used in the Netherlands as guide dogs, but with the introduction of a second wolf to the breeding program in 1963, they became less workoriented and now tend to be kept as pets. They are recognized as a breed by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) and are also registered with the Dutch Kennel Club. What we have today is a dog that is a multi-generational wolfdog in that those wolf genes are passed down and inherited. Generally speaking, and based on DNA results, the Saarloos will have 30-40 percent wolf content.

The Saarloos is a shy, aloof animal that is very wary of strangers; generally speaking and based on DNA results, the Saarloos will have 30-40 percent wolf content

Temperament: The Saarloos is a shy, aloof animal that is very wary of strangers, a trait that has been kept within the breed standard (see I have met some that are very friendly and others that are very wary, but left to their own devices they are likely to eventually make tentative steps to greet you. As a trainer, it is important to be hands-off and guide your clients from a distance. These animals are incredibly loyal to their owners and, coupled with their wariness of strangers, it is unwise to expect them to do a “stay” in class or other traditional exercises. Early Saarloos were reputed to “attack” if cornered, although I have seen no evidence of this. In my experience, they prefer to “avoid” at all costs. An undesired greeting or action will often cause an overwhelming desire to flee. Social Skills: Many Saarloos possess incredible social skills with other dogs and are adept at resolving canine conflicts. They do not do well as only dogs but will thrive living in a group of dogs. Many owners keep their dogs in kennels in large groups with access to the home. A Saarloos as an only dog would most likely, in my opinion, suffer distress and separation problems. They are definitely not guard dogs. Adolescence: Saarloos reach their milestones later than many other breeds, having their first season at around 18 months. Generally speaking, they tend to navigate adolescence better than other breeds (such as the Northern sled dog types) with lower arousal levels, and they seem to be better equipped at dealing with frustration too. As with all the wolfdogs, they tend to be mouthy and do like to investigate your face. A point to remember is that the FCI has incredibly tight records of the Saarloos, and, as far as I know, fewer than 50 have been brought into the U.K. All of their whereabouts are recorded, including the outBARKS from the Guild/March 2018



Within [the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog Cross (CSV)] group there is another cross that really doesn’t work in my opinion, and that is the CSV crossed with the Saarloos. On one hand we have the bold and fearless attack dog and on the other we have a shy animal with an overwhelming desire to flee. This results in a very conflicted animal. All too often they don’t know what to do with other dogs either, and so this dog can end up in something of a mental no man’s land.

CSV Crosses

Photo © Wolfdog Rescue

The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog is a lively and highly trainable dog that is brave, fearless, and quick to react

crosses. There are only two genuine and recognized breeders in the U.K. However, a simple Google search will bring up many adverts of Saarloos pups. These are copycats, mainly northern and Czech crosses. A simple way of identifying if the dog in front of you is a genuine Saarloos is, firstly, his aloofness and reserved nature and, secondly, if he is not registered with the FCI, then he is not a Saarloos. The Saarloos is very much a lifestyle choice. These dogs need companionship and guidance 24/7. Many owners compare owning them to raising a child!

Czechoslovakian Wolfdog

The CSV, on the other hand, is completely the opposite. These dogs were bred back in the 1950s as a cross between a German shepherd and the Carpathian wolf. They are bold and fearless with quick reactions. Their original job was to be an attack dog, hence their popularity as security dogs. They have very low wolf content, generally around 2030 percent. Temperament: The CSV is a lively and highly trainable dog showing great versatility in many disciplines. Their bravery, fearlessness and quick reactions should not be underestimated and treated with respect and care, which should be reflected in their training and handling. Like the Saarloos, they are incredibly loyal to their owners, so a hands-off approach may be necessary with some dogs. Drive: CSVs are to wolfdogs what the Malinois is to the German shepherd. They are a high-drive working dog and, as such, need a job to do. If pushed in training, they can lose motivation, and if bored, may well become destructive. Adolescence: As you would expect, CSVs do have high arousal and can be reactive. Maturity rate is pretty much the same as most large dog breeds, although some may be slightly later. Many have a high prey drive and this needs careful management. Focus work and impulse control are key, as with any young dog. It goes without saying CSVs need an experienced owner and lots of guidance. They should be treated as a high-drive working German shepherd. 28

BARKS from the Guild/March 2018

This is the group most likely to be seen in practice and the group most likely to be passed off as wolfdogs or hybrids, as I explained in Part Two of this article (see Resources on page 29). Most of the crosses we see are CSVs crossed with other wolfdogs or the sled dog types, and often these crosses can be problematic. The high work drive of these dogs combined with high arousal can create animals that are quite difficult to handle. In addition, many are quite reactive. Over recent years, there were a couple of breeders mass producing these crosses but that has now slowed down. What it does mean is that there are a lot of dog crosses in the U.K. Owners often struggle to manage them and may need a lot of support. Sadly, many of these dogs find themselves in rescue at some point. Within this group there is another cross that really doesn’t work in my opinion, and that is the CSV crossed with the Saarloos. On one hand we have the bold and fearless attack dog and on the other we have a shy animal with an overwhelming desire to flee. This results in a very conflicted animal. All too often they don’t know what to do with other dogs either, and so this dog can end up in something of a mental no man’s land. For me, this is an absolute tragedy and the dog all too often ends up with inexperienced owners who are in over their heads. These are difficult animals to work with and it is very much a “find your feet as you go” kind of approach. In my experience, it is near impossible to identify an accurate description of temperament, drive and adolescence for these crosses. Rather, it is very much a case of observing what is in front of you and applying the principles of working with the CSV and “lookalike” types.

Lookalikes and the British Lupine

Perhaps unsurprisingly, these animals all look like wolves. They are a mixture of crosses between sled dogs and German shepherds and then crossed back again. The British Lupine is a Northern Inuit foundation dog crossed with another wolfdog, and thus has a small amount of wolf content. This is still a very new type and early indications are that, in terms of behavior, they are not too different from the lookalike group. The lookalikes started with the Northern Inuit, which was allegedly of husky/malamute/German shepherd descent. This is questionable, however, as the original three foundation dogs brought in from the United States in the 1980s were of unknown origins. Many believe that they probably were very low-content wolfdogs. These animals were then outcrossed to get the Northern Inuit of today. From there, a number of splinter groups have further outcrossed to get other types such as the New Caledonian, the Tamaskan and the British timber dog. All of these are essentially sled dog cross types. None are recognized breeds by any kennel club or regulatory body. Temperament: These types of dogs are often very shy until around the age of 14-16 weeks and then they begin to gain confidence. Greetings contain a lot of appeasement behaviors and this is often misinterpreted as nervousness. They are very trainable and very good at problem solving. They love to clicker train and to have a job to do. As


trations into mouthing and grabbing. As with any dog, finding the right motivation on the day is key (motivators change very quickly). Short, precise training sessions are effective and many youngsters will struggle to do a full training class. They have a deep need to be with other dogs but will live happily as single dogs provided they have lots of dog friends. Lunging and flailing on their back legs to get to another dog is common. Impulse control training combined with problem-solving exercises are vital. As with all large breeds, full maturity is not reached until around the age of two years so neutering is discouraged before then. With all these animals, most owners feed a raw diet as they generally do not do well on commercial kibble foods. I have found that not only does their digestive system struggle but that their ability to think and respond is also compromised when on commercial dry foods. A final point to bear in mind is that, with the Northern Inuit in particular, the gene pool is incredibly small and problems in health and temperament are starting to emerge. Evidently, there is still a lot to learn about these dogs. n


The original Northern Inuit foundation dogs brought were of unknown origins but were probably very low-content wolfdogs

with the sled dogs, play is very rough and tumble with much use of paws and jaws, so owners need to be encouraged to select the correct playmates. They are incredibly friendly animals and want to be everyone’s best friend. They are not guard dogs and are more likely to happily greet an intruder. They will most likely want to be part of everything their owner does. Some will dig excessively so nice gardens need fencing off and protecting. They can also be very vocal. Drive: As with many dogs, some will have a high prey drive and some very little. I have seen dogs take birds from the air and others who just are not interested at all in small furries. Like any dog, correct socialization and training will help with this. Adolescence: As the dogs progress through adolescence, they can be quite challenging. High arousal levels and difficulty coping with frustration can cause owners to struggle, especially as many redirect frus-

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Redmond, S. (2017, January). The World of Wolfdogs. BARKS from the Guild (28) 40-41. Available at: UK Saarloos Wolfdog Club: Sam Redmond DipCAPBT NOCN studied with the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology in the United Kingdom and has been in practice over 10 years. After a number of years in dog clubs and building puppy programs, she moved into private work. After getting a northern Inuit dog, she began to work with breeders on puppy rearing programs where it became clear that the gene pool for the breed was small and problems were emerging. She and her associates thus moved into the wolfdog realm. She now works closely with some wolfdog breeders and runs regular training days for new puppy owners providing behavior and training support. She is also an approved trainer for Dog Assistance in Disability, and runs a busy practice, Sam Redmond Dog Training and Animal Behaviour (, providing animal behavior consultations and one-to-one training.


Reducing Conflict

Jane Bowers explains how she came up with the idea for a training course for law enforcement

officers to help them better understand the behavior of the dogs they meet on the job


Photo © Jane Bowers

Author Jane Bowers’ training course teaches law enforcement officers not to judge a dog by his appearance, to avoid stereotyping, and how to understand canine body language

art of the ongoing training I received during my career in law enforcement was in communication, conflict avoidance and resolution, and diffusion or de-escalation of potentially risky situations with the public. Once I had left the force, it seemed it would be a benefit to police officers, dog owners and dogs to teach officers about dog behavior and canine communication. That way police could respond to a dog in a manner that was likely to reduce conflict and without harming the dog, much like I was trained to do with other humans. This idea came to me after reading about various incidents where police officers were attending homes and properties as part of their work, and the dogs on the properties were perceived to be threatening or aggressive and were shot. I could see two issues here: the safety of dogs and officers, and the perception by the officers that the dog was being aggressive. When a dog is shot, in addition to the emotional impact on

In 2015, it was reported that a Detroit man was awarded a $100,000 settlement after a police officer shot his dog, even though the dog was secured by a leash. The city agreed to settle the lawsuit brought on behalf the owner and the City Council signed off on the agreement. 30

BARKS from the Guild/March 2018

Photo © Hilary Anne Stephens Photography

Bowers’ course explains the signals a dog will give to show whether he should or should not be approached, as well as if he is conflicted, and how they can diffuse a challenging situation with their own body language

owner(s), the witnesses and, often, the officer, there can be a financial impact on the police force or city. In 2012, it was reported that police shocked a loose dog with a Taser and then shot her five times. The officer was charged with and, later found not guilty of aggravated animal cruelty. The dog’s owner then filed a civil suit and was awarded $262,500 (CBS/AP, 2016). In 2015, it was reported that a Detroit man was awarded a $100,000 settlement after a police officer shot his dog, even though the dog was secured by a leash. The city agreed to settle the lawsuit brought on behalf the owner and the City Council signed off on the agreement (Daily News, 2016). I started by discussing the idea of creating a course with Linda Waddell at TecKnowledge E-Learning, Inc., and with her course development skills, we created a short course, Assessing and Interpreting Dog Behaviors. Our goal was to create safe, successful humane encounters with dogs for emergency and service personnel when they encounter unknown dogs through their duties. Since it has been created, people in other lines of work like deliveries, surveying, real estate and utilities have expressed an interest in the training.


Our course explains what contributes to the appearance of threatening behavior in dogs, how to assess and interpret dog body language, what ritualized display is, and how a person’s body language can diffuse a po-

Our goal was to create safe, successful humane encounters with dogs for emergency and service personnel when they encounter unknown dogs through their duties. Since it has been created, people in other lines of work like deliveries, surveying, real estate and utilities have expressed an interest in the training. tentially risky dog encounter. It also explains what to do if a dog escalates in behavior despite attempts to diffuse the situation. Through written description, pictures and video, the course shows groups of signals from the dog that indicate a person is generally safe; groups of signals that indicate the person should not approach the dog; and signals that indicate the dog is conflicted or ambivalent. It also illustrates how a person can show they are not a threat and how to avoid escalating threatening behavior in a dog. Participants are also cautioned to avoid making a judgment about whether a dog is a threat based on the presumed breed or appearance. Instead, they are encouraged to assess and interpret an individual dog’s behavior based on the signals he is giving. Unfortunately, stigma still surrounds some breeds and types of dogs such as those often referred to as “bully breeds,” and making a judgement about a dog based on looks rather than behavior can be deadly for the dog. For example, short-haired muscular dogs may be misidentified as one of the bully breeds by both victims and witnesses, the authorities and/or the media. Indeed, studies have shown that, not only bully breeds, but also those dogs with much more superficial characteristics such as being well-muscled, or even short-haired, were stigmatized more often as “dangerous” by those with less experience with or knowledge of dogs (Clarke, Cooper, & Mills, 2013). In addition, while the term “pit bull” is often used to describe a group of dogs consisting of American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, and Staffordshire bull terriers, and mixes of those breeds along with dogs that, based upon their appearance, are deemed to resemble these breeds (Hoffman, Harrison, Wolff


& Westgarth, 2014), the term is often used by dog owners, animal shelters, insurance companies, veterinarians, and the public as though it describes a breed (Olson et al., 2015). Avoiding this type of stereotyping is an essential part of the course’s message and there is still much work to be done in this arena. In the meantime, however, I am delighted to report that the course has received great feedback and that more courses are in the making. n


CBS/AP. (2016, January 26). Colorado city to pay $262,500 for dog killed by officer. Available at: Clarke, T., Cooper, J., & Mills, D. (2013). Acculturation - Perceptions of breed differences in behavior of the dog (Canis familiaris). Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin 1 (2) 16-33. Available at: Daily News (2016, February 26). Detroit man awarded $100,000 settlement after cop killed his dog outside home: 'Oh, I had to shoot that one.' Available at: Hoffman, C. L., Harrison, N., Wolff, L., & Westgarth, C. (2014). Is that dog a pit bull? A cross-country comparison of perceptions of shelter workers regarding breed identification. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 17 (4) 322-339. Available at: Olson, K.R., Levy, J.K., Norby, B., Crandall, M.M., Broadhurst, J.E., Jacks, S., … Zimmerman, M.S. (2015, November). Inconsistent identification of pit bull-type dogs by shelter staff. Available at: Jane Bowers BA CPDT-KA CABC runs Dogs of Distinction ( in Roberts Creek, British Columbia and has been training dogs for over two decades. She teaches people to train their dogs in group and private training courses and has a keen interest in assisting dogs with behavioral issues. She also has a monthly newspaper column on dog-related topics and was a former host of a live call-in television show on animals. She has a degree in psychology and is certified as a dog trainer through the CCPDT and as a behavior consultant through the IAABC and the AABP. She is also author of the book Perfect Puppy Parenting.

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Keeping Up Appearances

Anna Bradley investigates how physical appearance affects behavioral perception


between dogs and its possible impact on communication n the previous, issue I outlined dogs’ perceptual abilities and the behavioral impact of those abilities (see A Dog’s World, BARKS from the Guild, January 2018, pp.31-33). Thus, barking at “thin air” or “staring into space,” consequently negating our attempts to engage, while frustrating, may actually be due to our dogs’ amazing capability to detect sounds and movement at great distance. As humans, we are often far too quick to judge and blame rather than recognize the superior perceptual excellence of our canine friends. This issue, I want to explore how dogs perceive themselves, particularly with respect to their physical aspect – does the dog’s individual appearance affect how he perceives and subsequently behaves? This is often a question posed indirectly by my clients, e.g. “He doesn’t like long-coated dogs,” “I don’t think she gets on with squashed-faced dogs,” “We had a bad experience with boxers,” etc. The entire issue of how dogs perceive themselves is centered upon artificial selection. This refers to the selection of traits perceived desirable and their subsequent promotion via the breeding of animals which possess those traits. This successive promotion may be for our desirability but, unfortunately, it may have been to the detriment of our dogs too. For example, if we consider the behavioral aspect, due to this selection process dog-dog communication may have become more difficult.

Eye Stare

Think of border collies. That piercing stop and stare right at something: a stick or a sheep, but it could also be a person or another dog. That stare has been selectively bred (Coren, 2013). Piercing stares towards another dog can be perceived as challenging and threatening, especially depending upon context. Sadly, there are cases where the collie stare has become so overselected that some dogs demonstrate stereotypical staring at blank walls (McGreevy & Nicholas, 1999).

Hair Coat

Everyone loves a shaggy dog, right? But have you ever thought about how that hairy coat might impact your dog’s communication with others? Let’s think about those really long coats. Take for example the puli. The United Kingdom breed standard states that the hair should fall completely over the eyes like an umbrella. How on earth is the dog supposed to see? There are, of course, many examples of similar breeds who also have long-haired coats obscuring their vision. It is likely, therefore, the dog will at times be startled, putting him at risk of reactivity in certain situations. Social signaling, e.g. hackle raising, can also be very difficult for certain dogs such as corded coat varieties, short coated dogs and fluffy dogs (think Samoyed and similar). What if you don’t have hair and you just have skin—a lot of it? Problems here too! Think shar-pei. Communication can be even more difficult for these dogs due to their copious skin folds.

Facial Morphology

There is much awareness now regarding the health deficits of brachycephalic dogs such as pugs or boxers, but not so much regarding behavioral perception. I have seen some extremely exaggerated squashed faces and heard some very snuffly pugs and I feel sad for them. If you watch your own dog, you will see how expressive his face is. Pugs, who have been selectively bred for that flat face, are prevented from using facial expressions (Leaver & Reim32

BARKS from the Guild/March 2018

© Can Stock Photo/vauvau

Shaggy-haired dogs may find their vision is sometimes obscured if their hair covers their eyes, and this can impact communication with others

chen, 2008). The predisposition to brachycephalic airway disease can also lead to frustration and pain, especially in dog-dog encounters, with reactivity as a common behavioral result.

Short Limbs

Short-legged dogs may look very cute, but leg length is a selected trait. Smaller Dachshunds, Dandie Dinmont terriers, and corgis are all smaller, short-legged breeds that have been selectively bred for that length of leg. We also have bulldogs with short, stocky and stiff legs (Gabbard, 2017). What that can impede or prevent, however, is interactions such as play bows and other subtle movements that are indicative of various social invites (Netto, van der Borg, & Slegers, 1992). If a dog’s desire to play is impeded, then surely this is detrimental to him?

Tail or No Tail

Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, tail docking was banned in the U.K. (although there are exceptions). As a behavior consultant, I have witnessed some extremely interesting behavioral differences since this ban was introduced. We now see boxers, old English sheepdogs, spaniels, Rottweilers etc. all with lovely long tails. Personally – and anecdotally – I have started to notice a decrease in behavioral issues amongst these breeds, perhaps simply due to the fact they are now able to communicate their emotions more accurately. Prior to the docking ban, many dogs would attempt to signal by wiggling their whole body along with that meager little stump. Obviously tail signaling is just one part of the jigsaw when it comes to communication but it is an important one, not only for the dog himself but for other dogs too – especially puppies during those crucial formative weeks when social interaction building blocks are put into place.

Ears up, Ears down

Ears are very expressive. They move up, down, back, and around in response

…have you ever thought about how that hairy coat might impact upon your dog’s communication with others? Let’s think about those really long coats. Take for example the puli. The U.K. breed standard states that the hair should fall completely over the eyes like an umbrella. How on earth is the dog supposed to see? to many visual and auditory cues. If a dog is prevented from moving his ears, this of course prevents him from responding to these cues. Ear cropping, which is illegal in the U.K., is one example of this. There are also many different ear shapes that are selected for: pricked, folded, bat, droop, button, filbert, rose (Coren, 2012). Many of these by their very nature preclude free movement and, therefore, cue response.

The Cute Factor

Humans cannot seem to help but love cuteness. Over time, we have preferentially selected dogs with a neonatal and “cute” appearance. This has lead to the breeding of dogs with a retention of juvenile physical and behavioral characteristics (pedomorphism), such as the silky fur, large eyes and domed skulls we see in Cavalier King Charles spaniels and Pekingese, among others. Researchers, meanwhile, have investigated a link between physical and behavioral pedomorphism and discovered that the former affects visual signaling (Goodwin, 1997). Those breeds with more juvenile characteristics were found to be more likely to interact with unfamiliar dogs, but had a lesser behavioral repertoire than dogs with lesser juvenile and more wolf-like characteristics, such as German shepherd dogs. The latter were less inclined to interact with unfamiliar dogs and more cautious, but did possess a wider behavioral repertoire. Not only, then, do perceptual abilities govern the way in which we interact with our dogs, but physical appearance can be a hugely influential factor in their own interactions. In my opinion, there remains much research in this


area to be conducted, and as always we must listen to and observe our dogs as much as possible. It is only by doing that, that we will learn and understand more. n


Coren, S. (2012). What shape is your dog’s ear? Available at: Coren, S. (2013). Does genetics determine a dog’s personality? Available at: Gabbard, J. (2017). What unethical breeding has done to pugs. Available at: Goodwin, D., Bradshaw, J.W.S., & Wickens, S. M. (1997) Paedomorphosis affects agonistic visual signals of domestic dogs. Animal Behavior 53 (2) 297-304. Available at: Leaver, S.D.A., & Reimchen, T.E. (2008). In Rooney, N., & Sargan, D. (2009). Pedigree Dog Breeding in the UK: A major welfare concern? Available at: McGreevy, P.D., & Nicholas, F.W. (1999). Some practical solutions to welfare problems in dog breeding. Animal Welfare 8 329-241. Available at: Netto, W.G., van der Borg, J., & Slegers, J.F. (1992). In Rooney, N., & Sargan, D. (2009). Pedigree Dog Breeding in the UK: A major welfare concern? Available at: Rooney, N., & Sargan, D. (2009). Pedigree Dog Breeding in the UK: A major welfare concern? Available at:


Bradley, A. (2018, January). A Dog’s World, BARKS from the Guild (28) 31-33. Available at: Anna Francesca Bradley MSc BSc (Hons) is a UK-based provisional clinical and Animal Behaviour and Training Council accredited animal behaviorist. She owns Perfect Pawz! Training and Behaviour Practice ( where her aim is to create and restore happy relationships between dog and owner using methods based upon sound scientific principles which are force-free and fun.


Fast and Furious

In a new series on activities for deaf dogs, Morag Heirs outlines how to train and play flyball


with hearing-impaired or deaf dogs, and the best way to get started lyball is a relative newcomer to the canine sports world but it has become a fast favorite for owners of all sort of breeds worldwide. Flyball is a group activity at heart since you practice to compete in teams, and most of the training works best with helpers to encourage your dog to get the balls in the right place. Deaf dogs have been welcome in flyball since the beginning of the sport, and many now compete in the top seeded teams in the United Kingdom. Conveniently, body language is a big part of the training for most newbies in flyball, although in the formal competitions only the voice is allowed to encourage the dogs. In this article, I will present a general overview of flyball but concentrate on what we need to be thinking about specifically when training a deaf dog, i.e. the special challenges, the advantages and what we need to be aware of.

What Is Flyball?

Flyball is a two-team relay race with four dogs per team. Each dog runs down a line of hurdles to trigger a box to release a tennis ball. The dog grabs the ball as it is launched, turns, and races back up the hurdle line. The jumps are set according to the height of the smallest dog in the team, and range from 12 inches to 7 inches. Each team generally has six dogs but only four will run at any one time. Teams usually train together in advance but multibreed races often pull in dogs from across other teams. In multibreed races, only one dog of each breed is allowed per team, which means no more than one collie! Open teams are made up of six dogs with any breed combination allowed. Each country has its own organizations. For example the U.K. has the British Flyball Association (BFA), while in the United States it is the North American Flyball Association (NAFA). In general, there are both informal/unsanctioned beginner competitions and formal sanctioned rounds where dogs can earn points towards national awards.

Essentials for a Potential Flyball Dog (Deaf or Hearing)

1. Reasonably fit, not overweight: Flyball is an intense sprinting sport that demands a great deal from our dogs with fast acceleration, rapid jumps, sharp turns at the box and rapid acceleration back up the lane. While the basics can start with younger dogs, e.g. “starters,” you need the dog to be fully grown and in reasonable physical condition to progress. For many teams, regular check-ups and the services of a local veterinary physiotherapist or chiropractor are considered as essential. 2. Comfortable being held in a restrained recall position by someone other than the owner: We can start practicing for this right from puppy classes, making sure the dog is confident even when someone else is holding the harness or collar. We often need to do this in warmups and training, plus it is an essential if someone else needs to run your dog in competition. 3. Good motivation to run back to owner (for toy or food): It is NOT essential that your dog is already super obsessed by tennis balls. In fact, moderate interest is better than real obsession (otherwise your dog may switch lanes, steal from other dogs and so on). It is really important that you have something your dog is motivated by – food, toys, special treats and so on, and that he understands the good stuff comes from you. We can teach the interest in balls, and we can teach it as a retrieve 34

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Photo: Morag Heirs

Deaf dog Storm is a “flyball natural;” he trains for three hours a week with hearing dogs, and competes at intermediate level

exercise too. What we need is a keen dog and enthusiastic owner who can work as a team. 4. Confident on surfaces and angles: The training chute and flyball box itself require that dogs can move confidently onto an angled surface, trigger a spring (at least the noise won’t bother the deafies), and spring off to run back up the lane. Careful exposure to angled surfaces, unusual textures and moving platforms is an excellent way to build up confidence in a pup or older dog. There are some great games in Bertilsson and Johnson Vegh’s Agility Right from the Start aimed at creating confidence on seesaws that transfer well for flyball training too.

Getting Started

If you are interested in flyball, then the easiest and safest way to get involved is find a local team. Your national flyball body will usually have a searchable register of teams, and most run regular introductory sessions. There is lots to do even when you are not training your own dog, and you are likely to end up with a whole new family of friends! Even if you are not sure about competing seriously, you will get a

better standard of training from a serious team. They are likely to have the right equipment, understand how to train turns safely and how to place dogs to avoid head-on collisions. If you cannot find a local team, or are waiting to get into a session, you could always try out gundog scurries. Usually these are narrow lanes of fencing with straw bales for jumps, and your dog is asked to run down the line of bales to retrieve a toy or dummy. Once you have started working with a team, you are likely to be training towards the starters level. This is an unsanctioned race but they often run alongside full tournaments, and give novice dogs and handlers the chance to practice in a competition atmosphere. See more about the different levels in the box (top right). If you have a deaf dog, it is worth noting that in the higher levels your dog is less likely to be distracted by other teams shouting and encouragements (no body language or luring allowed). However, in the lower levels your deafie may be very distracted by other helpers’ excited body movements.

Five Top Tips for Deaf Dogs Starting Flyball

1. Work hard on forward focus: Working away from the handler towards a reward, then running back with it is an essential part of flyball. This can be extra tricky with a deaf dog because we spend so much time teaching them to watch our hands and face, that they are often less likely to stare away from us. I have found that exercises like “Race to Reward” from Agility Right from the Start to be invaluable alongside teaching a specific hand signal or body touch that encourages our dog to stay focused on the goal (person/ball/flyball box etc.) Using Race to Reward type training is probably better than relying on your helper or box loader waving and jumping around to get your dog’s attention because as you move out of starters this kind of body language help is less likely to be allowed. You can, of course, be super animated to encourage your dog back up the lane towards you. 2. Check if your deaf dog reacts to vibrations and partial sounds: Many dogs are only partially deaf so they may well be able to hear/feel some pitches of sounds or will react to the vibrations from other dogs barking. Flyball tournaments can be pretty noisy environments so it is worth making sure your deaf dog is not unduly worried. Indoor competitions add the potential for vibrations felt through the flooring, and, of course, more echoes in general.

Photo: Morag Heirs

Deaf dog Jed learned flyball at a young age via back chaining and is now so skilled he is used as a demo dog


Flyball: The Levels

Starters – fully netted lanes, a training box or chute (often a slanted board with adjustable angles). The dog needs to go over four low hurdles and retrieve something – this can be a fluffy toy!

Intermediate – no netting but an option to have wings on the jumps, can use training box/chute or regular flyball box.

Sanctioned tournaments (open or multibreed) – no netting or wings, four hurdles plus flyball box that must be triggered by the dog. The box loader can shout to the dogs but no body language encouragement is allowed.

I tend to find that completely deaf dogs are largely oblivious to felt vibrations, but those with a little bit of hearing are more likely to startle or join in with the barking. (Read more about how to work with a deaf dog that barks excessively in Why Do They Bark? BARKS from the Guild, November 2015, pp. 34-35.) 3. Plan ahead for other people running or handling your dog: Since one of the main factors in successful flyball dogs is an intense forward focus, the deaf dog handler is more likely to need to use physical cues and body touches rather than our normal hand signals – we really don’t want the dog to turn and look at us. Make sure anyone else holding your dog or running your dog knows exactly how to make these signals. For example, my deaf dog Bronte will release and dash forwards if you stroke upwards under her chin. 4. Why you should talk to the judges and officials in advance: Flyball allows some physical touching and handling but nothing that could be seen as harsh or rough. It is always best to talk to the judges and officials and demonstrate any physical signals that you might be using so they know what to expect. It is usually fine to use a physical release cue/touch, but make sure everyone understands what you are doing and why. 5. Make sure you have a routine to calm your dog down, and switch them on/off: In previous articles (see the Pet Professional Guild Archive - - to search for the full list), I have talked about the tendency for many deaf dogs to be very vocal, especially when they get frustrated or overexcited. Flyball is a high-octane sport and you may find yourself surrounded by excited peo-

Photo: Morag Heirs

Deaf dog Tovin clears a jump: Flyball is a high-octane sport full of excited people and dogs, and some deaf dogs may be initially be distracted by the movement of others

BARKS from the Guild/March 2018



In August 2016, I took Storm, my deaf collie cross, to Dogs Unleashed (a doggy day out) and we stood watching a flyball demonstration. Storm was trying to get into the fenced-off area when a lady from the team asked if I wanted to try. I said I would have a go but told her Storm was a deaf dog. She looked surprised but we set him off and he jumped all the hurdles and raced back with the ball, dropping it in my hand when I signed "drop it."

ple and dogs. Teaching a rock solid relaxation cue can be helpful in this kind of environment. For example, the kind of harness we use in flyball is quite different from other types, so your dog can easily learn to "relax" until it goes on. I really like doing this with a massage routine, so starting to massage the back of my dog's neck becomes the cue to relax. Making sure your dog can settle quietly in a crate is another great way to give them some downtime.

Flyballing with Deaf Dogs – The Handler’s Perspective

Jane Hampson and Storm (Deaf Border Collie): “In August 2016, I took Storm, my deaf collie cross, to Dogs Unleashed (a doggy day out) and we stood watching a flyball demonstration. Storm was trying to get into the fenced-off area when a lady from the team asked if I wanted to try. I said I would have a go but told her Storm was a deaf dog. She looked surprised but we set him off and he jumped all the hurdles and raced back with the ball, dropping it in my hand when I signed "drop it." The lady asked me to send him again, and after three or four more times she said he was a natural flyball dog. This led to the start of our three hours a week training with the Wilmslow Wild Dogs in Cheshire, U.K. and competing in lots of competitions at intermediate level. Storm trains with all the other hearing dogs.”

Photo: Morag Heirs

Deaf dog Kym in action: An easy and safe way to start out in flyball is to find a local club – deaf dogs are welcomed in the sport


BARKS from the Guild/March 2018

Photo: Morag Heirs

Deaf dog Iona’s owner Kate was concerned that she might not be able to work in a team or stay focused, but her worries were unfounded; Iona loves working as anchor dog and her team recently placed second in the national championships

Kate and Iona (Deaf Border Collie): “Iona was ball obsessed from [the start].....she also showed she loved the chase, so how would she cross and work in a team? How would I keep her focused? My other dog and I were members of a fun flyball team, but I knew if this was to work for Iona and I we needed to join a dedicated flyball team. We train with Commandos Flyball Team in Teesside, U.K. now. She loves fourth dog place (anchor dog) as the drive she picks up on from the others is amazing. “We recently attended the British Flyball Association Outdoor Championships and this was a dream come true for me. Iona took all of the event in her stride...nothing spooked her, caught her eye or lifted her nose, other than the flyball ring she was running in. I'm so pleased to report that her team achieved second place in their division and she achieved her personal best time: 4.14!”

Georgina Murray and Jed (Deaf Boxer-Pointer Cross): “Jed was born deaf (the mother is a white boxer who is not deaf) and came to Murray at the age of 10 months. He is now 11 years old, so flyball is now a fun outing from time-to-time as age and weight mean it is not good for his joints on a regular basis. “I thought flyball would be a fun way to exercise a young, ball-loving dog. Several clubs said no because of his deafness but I found one which let him try. We learned together, even when he ran out and I invented a sign to get him back over the hurdles. Jed has been used as the demo dog, and people new to flyball have run him to learn what they need to do. In starters, box loaders are allowed to move and call the dogs, but in division they have to stand still with hands behind the back. They can still call the dogs but no movement is allowed. Jed is more about comfort than speed, so we had to train the box loaders to make a discreet hand flick when loading the box to remind him this was a race and not just playtime.”

Jed’s Trainer, Dawn Tranter of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers U.K.: “I had no concerns or worries working with a deaf dog. The same as any other I asked if he was able to come off leash, had a reasonable recall and was sociable with other dogs. His owner assured me all that was fine and indeed it was, so I had no worries about his deafness. I would have no concerns about working with a deaf dog again for flyball if I was still involved with the sport (or indeed any other form of training). “We worked everything pretty much on back chaining so we did not have to change anything from normal methods for Jed. In some ways, his deafness was an advantage as he was totally locked on to his owner and not at all bothered by other dogs barking, so it took away one lot of distraction. “With any dog you ideally need to build a relationship to be able to hold them for recalls or lead them away from their owners for the recall and this was exactly the same for Jed. I will always remember him for being very focused on his owner. He had been very well trained and

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checked in with her the whole time, so initially he found walking away from her difficult. He got lots of reassurance and quite quickly realized the game was to walk away and then run back to her. Despite his deafness he responded well to being spoken to by me, and I know I talked myself almost hoarse the first evening working with him and reassuring him that he could trust me.” n

The author would like to thank the owners of all the deaf flyball dogs who contributed pictures and their experiences, plus extra thanks to Kathryn Porter of Minster Monsters Flyball in York, U.K. who introduced her to the sport with her deaf collie and kindly helped with the research for this article.


Bertilsson, E. & Johnson Vegh, E. (2010). Agility Right from the Start: The Ultimate Training Guide to America's Fastest-growing Dog Sport. Waltham, MA: Karen Pryor Clicker Training British Flyball Association (BFA): Heirs, M. (2015, November). Why Do They Bark? BARKS from the Guild (15) 34-35. Available at: North American Flyball Association (NAFA): Pet Professional Guild Archive: -resources United Flyball League International, Inc. (USA) (U-FLI): United Kingdom Flyball League (UKFL):

Morag Heirs PhD MSc MA (SocSci) (Hons) PGCAP is a companion animal behavior counselor who runs Well Connected Canine ( in York, U.K., which offers small group classes, private lessons, behavior rehabilitation and workshops for trainers. She works with deaf and blind dogs professionally, and provides training and support for the Deaf Dog Network ( among other organizations.


Identifying Enrichment

Lara Joseph discusses the role of individualized enrichment in behavior modification plans

based on her recent experience with resident porcupine, Pocahontas, and realizes that it


may not always come in the form you think it will n order to change a behavior, we must replace it with another behavior. As trainers, however, many of us are aware that getting an animal to stop a behavior without an alternative behavior to take its place can often intensify the behavior problem. In my role as an exotic animal trainer, several of the undesirable behaviors I encounter are lunging, screaming, kicking, grabbing, rushing enclosure doors as keepers try to enter, defensive posturing, abnormal repetitive behaviors, and self-mutilation, amongst many others. What, then, is our approach? Often, when approaching a behavior issue, I observe how an animal interacts with her environment when there are no humans in close proximity. I do this so I can begin identifying what items or events attract her attention and what purpose those behaviors serve. Many times I will see behaviors I want to decrease, such as obsessive foot biting, back scratching, repetitive circles, and other abnormal repetitive behaviors. These behaviors mean something to the animal and serve some purpose for her. In my experience, they are often a form of stress reliever, a byproduct of anxiety caused by the animal not being able to get to what she wants—a lack of choice, or lack of enrichment to name just a few. The last thing I want to do is prevent an animal from engaging in behaviors that help her relieve stress, as long as they are not causing any kind of medical issue. The behaviors are usually well-practiced with a long history of reinforcement. Preventing them from happening often causes a behavioral shift, which simply means the animal begins engaging in them in another area of her enclosure instead. Prevention can also increase anxiety and/or frustration, and actually cause the behaviors to increase in intensity. Within an animal’s enclosure, then, I will identify the behaviors she will do or is already doing. This is usually the beginning of my shaping plan, along with identifying all observable positive reinforcers. I need to begin with the behaviors the animal knows how to do if I plan on shaping them into alternative behaviors that can bring her the Photo © Lara Joseph same comfort or, Foraging toys create mental and physical stimulation, help a young brain learn how the body moves and teach preferably, more. To start with, I sit an animal how she can manipulate her environment 38

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Photo © Lara Joseph

Pocahontas the African crested porcupine showed author Lara Joseph the type of environmental enrichment she preferred

and deliver the positive food reinforcers to begin establishing myself as something valuable in the environment. I then usually begin training recall. In this article, though, I am going to focus on enrichment when I am not training. If her attention is not directed to behaviors we consider healthy, she will begin finding her own enrichment based on whatever is provided. These self-discovered forms of enrichment often develop into abnormal repetitive behaviors such as eye poking, flipping inside the cage bars, and repetitive patterns in swimming. If I have the luxury of training an animal at a young age, which I rarely do, unfortunately, I begin the enrichment process immediately. We currently have a 2-month-old African crested porcupine called Pocahontas at my training center. At the end of her first day, I tossed a few items into the enclosure that I thought she might find enriching based on what I had read and been told about what porcupines like to do, such as chew on harder woods. I drilled a few holes in the side of a pine block, filled the holes with the porcupine’s pelleted diet, and tossed in a few paper towels in the hope that she would use them when she had to urinate. The next morning I arrived to see the wood barely chewed but the paper towels were shredded. A form of enrichment was immediately identified, yet neither paper towels nor shredding were on the list of items I had researched. I took a few paper towels and sprinkled Pocahontas’s pellets in them, scrunched them up and stuffed them into a Hol-EE Roller dog toy. I pulled some pieces of the paper towel outside of each hole and then tossed it into the enclosure. My education about a 2-month-old porcupine thus began. Pocahontas ran after the toy, laid on it, rolled over with it, picked it up in her mouth and ran around with it. She then lay down and began pulling the paper towels from the holes with her feet and her mouth. I had also been told porcupines need harder wood to chew on to

Often, when approaching a behavior issue, I observe how an animal interacts with her environment when there are no humans in close proximity. I do this so I can begin identifying what items or events attract her attention and what purpose those behaviors serve. Many times I will see behaviors I want to decrease, such as obsessive foot biting, back scratching, repetitive circles, and other abnormal repetitive behaviors.

keep their teeth ground down, so we gave Pocahontas wood blocks. We found, however, that she preferred to interact with other forms of enrichment, so we took some of our harder, turned wood products and drilled holes in them that were large enough to fit her food pellets into, but not too large that she wouldn’t have to work to get to them. We also shoved some of the pellets deep into the wood so she would have to chew the wood to get to the rest of the pellet. Toys can quickly lose their novelty and with predictability comes boredom. This is why we incorporate increasing levels of complexity into our foraging toys. The complexity in this case was provided by the density and size of the ball. Each time Pocahontas tried to grasp the ball, it would gradually slip out of her mouth or hands causing her to maneuver both it and her body to get a better grip so she could access the food. Behaviors like these create mental and physical stimulation, help a young brain to learn how the body moves and teach an animal how she can manipulate her environment. Such stimulation also provides choice and a sense of control, and enables me to shape the complexities as she accomplishes each foraging task. Providing consistent and more challenging enrichment and foraging toys also helps me prevent her from learning undesirable behaviors while she is with me for training.

Individualized Enrichment

One of the most undesirable behaviors – and one that I do not want to see – is an animal laying, perching, or standing for hours on end, not engaging with her environment, so I always provide individualized enrichment when we are not training. Teaching an animal to learn via positive reinforcement can cause her to quickly bond with her trainer and, sometimes, overbond. As a result, in many social, exotic species I have


seen this easily reinforcing separation anxiety before balance is found. Thus, I constantly provide enrichment to redirect or replace behavior, or teach new behaviors – even when I am not training. Social enrichment can be one of the most complex forms of enrichment, and when housing social animals individually, much complexity in their opportunities for enrichment can be lost. This is why we try to introduce animals to other animals and is also the main reason why we try to use different new trainers – to prevent overbonding to one person. Teaching an animal to forage for her food, meanwhile, is one of the first things I try to implement into her daily repertoire. Often, people try to implement this on a species as a whole by referencing the animal’s natural behaviors in the wild. In my experience, however, it should be done on an individual basis and based on the animal’s current abilities and learning criteria. We shape it based on observing what the animal already knows how to do and incorporate individual levels of complexities and problem-solving tasks. We always keep the tasks solvable in small increments to reinforce foraging and avoid fallout as a result of frustration. When we can accurately shape longer periods of foraging, the animal’s behavior is reinforced through intermittent schedules of reinforcement, which we know can keep desired behaviors very strong. At my training facility, foraging and enrichment comprises the majority of each animal’s daily behaviors because we know we can keep our relationships, through communication, even stronger by intermittently reinforcing mental stimulation. n Lara Joseph is the owner of Sylvania, Ohio-based The Animal Behavior Center LLC (, an international, educational center that focuses on teaching people how to work with animals using positive reinforcement and approaches in applied behavior analysis. She travels internationally giving workshops, lectures, and provides online, live-streaming memberships on animal behavior, training and enrichment. She also sits on the advisory board for All Species Consulting, The Indonesian Parrot Project, and is director of animal training for Nature’s Nursery, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Whitehouse, Ohio. She is a published author, writes regularly for several periodicals, and will also be a guest lecturer in the upcoming college course Zoo Biology, Animal Nutrition, Behavior and Diagnostics taught by Dr. Jason Crean at St. Xavier University, Chicago, Illinois.

SUPPORT SYSTEMS TO HELP ON YOUR PATHWAY TO ACCREDITATION If you are an applicant in the system and on the road to accreditation, PPAB is here to help you be successful! THERE ARE A NUMBER OF TOOLS AT YOUR DISPOSAL: s The Examination Study Guide: s The Case Study Template: s The Facebook Applicant Support Group - To join, email: BARKS from the Guild/March 2018 s ABA Dictionary:



Feline Behavior Unmasked: The Need to Hide

Dr. Lynn Bahr of the PPG Cat Committee tackles some of the common questions asked by


cat owners about feline behavior

hile cat owners may be aware that their pet likes to hide away sometimes – or even a lot – they may not always be aware of the reasons why, or realize how intrinsic the need is to their feline’s well-being. Another common behavior is eating grass, again something that owners are often well aware of but may not be sure of the reasons for. In this new question and answer column, the PPG Cat Committee will endeavor to answer both some of the common and less common questions about feline behavior.

Q: Why do cats like to hide?

A: Cats hide for many reasons and it is a natural thing for them to do. In fact, most cats love to hide. It makes them feel safe, secure, cozy and comfortable. Cats lucky enough to rest and relax without worry are fortunate to have the opportunity. As animals that are preyed upon in the wild, they must keep a vigilant watch at all times in order to survive. This is why they frequently doze or catnap with one eye open, ready to spring into action at a second’s notice. They rarely have the luxury of indulging in a good deep slumber unless, of course, they happen upon a cozy and safe hiding spot. Seclusion allows them the opportunity to reenergize by offering a quiet place in which to rest. Since kittens born outdoors are typically raised in obscure dark places away from the dangers of prey, the need to hide is ingrained in them from a very early age. Even cats born indoors feel this genetic predisposition to seek hidden, warm, dark places of their own. When my litter of kittens were left on their own, they found a hiding spot inside the couch where it was secluded and dark, and they were certainly difficult to find. Giving our indoor cats appropriate opportunities to hide is essential to their health and well-being. While most pet parents know that their cats need exercise, toys, and opportunities to play and climb, they are not always as aware of their cat’s need to burrow away in dark, comfortable, and safe places to get away from it all. Having lots of dens within the home, where cats can tuck themselves securely away, is an important component to keeping them happy and enriched. Tunnels are ideal for cats to sleep, hide and relax in. They give them the chance to escape from housemates, commotion and noise, and help them cope better with any stressors in their lives. We all enjoy a little quiet time and our cats do too. Your cats have probably found many comfortable, out-of-the-way places in your home to claim as their own. However, variety is the spice of life and indoor cats don’t get enough of it. If your cat’s “hidey hole” has been previously discovered, it no longer serves its intended purpose and a new one might well be in order. Here are some simple suggestions on how to give your cat a richer environment by creating new spaces for them to remain unseen: 1. Place beds, caves, boxes, or baskets on shelves and bookcases where many cats feel safer nesting up high. 2. For those who prefer being on the ground, place a box, bed, or cat cave behind the curtains or a piece of furniture. Let them pretend they are invisible. 3. Create tents with sheets or blankets over different pieces of 40

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© Can Stock Photo/Vlue

Hiding is a natural behavior for cats and owners can help fulfill this innate need by providing boxes, dens and hidey-holes for their pet

furniture or place dust ruffles on beds to construct new cool hiding spots. 4. Give your cats a “hide-and-sneak” tunnel and periodically move it from room to room. It will create an entirely new fun experience each time. 5. A pile of old clothes placed in a closet, quiet room or secluded corner makes an excellent den in which to hibernate. Your cat will feel safer surrounded by your scent and will love the coziness of your old clothes. 6. Under your duvet, blanket, and inside your robe (okay, they've already found all of those, right?!) These are all simple ways that cat owners can tap into their pet’s natural tendencies and help them cope better with life indoors. However, while hiding is fun and natural for most cats, some hide for reasons of fear, weakness or because they are feeling ill. Sick cats will often hide and any changes in habit warrant immediate medical care and attention. The signs should be taken seriously and addressed quickly by a veterinarian. Cats that hide out of fear or extreme anxiety can be helped by professional feline behavior consultants or veterinarians who are trained to correctly address these types of problems. Giving fearful cats places to hide is an important coping strategy and they should be allowed to do so freely, but there are also medications that can help reduce their need to do so. These are situations where seeking professional assistance will help your cat deal with life better. Q: Why do cats like to eat grass?

A: If you peruse the internet looking for answers to why cats eat grass, and whether they even should, you will likely not find the “real answer” because there really just isn't one. As a veterinarian, this is a question I

Having lots of dens within the home, where cats can tuck themselves securely away, is an important component to keeping them happy and enriched. Tunnels are ideal for cats to sleep, hide and relax in. They give them the chance to escape from housemates, commotion and noise, and help them cope better with any stressors in their lives.

am asked regularly, and although I certainly have an opinion about cats eating grass, I cannot cite any references or studies that back me up. I am not saying there are none; I just don't know of their existence. What I do know is that cat grass does not harm cats, so if your cat enjoys eating it, there’s no reason to prevent him from doing it. What is not safe for cats is to eat grass from lawns that have been treated with chemicals. Though no one can deny that cats eat grass, there are only theories as to why they do. Some claim it is to get extra niacin, a B vitamin abundantly available in most fresh young grain grasses. Perhaps cats eat it to make themselves vomit. Some people believe cats eat it to help pass fur balls along while others say they just need the fiber for nutritional purposes. And some say cats eat grass because they like it or like to “try things.” I enjoy watching my cats eat their grass using their pre-molar teeth and wonder if it helps with calculus in the same way brushing them would. I do believe that many indoor cats who lack access to grass crave it for various reasons. Offering them safe grass to eat can distract them from nibbling on other, potentially hazardous and toxic indoor houseplants and other items. It is far better for a cat to eat immature cat grass than lilies, or philodendrons, or string etc. My cats have a constant supply of grass to munch on and I recommend it for all my cat-owning clients as well. You may notice that your cat vomits shortly after eating grass—he or she is actually doing this on purpose. Cats don’t have the necessary enzymes to digest a large amount of grass, which is why it can


make them sick. But in the process of throwing up, your cat also clears his stomach of fur, feathers, parasites or bones, which can irritate the digestive tract or even cause more lasting illness. When your cat eats grass, he will typically selfregulate the amount. However, if your cat begins to eat large amounts of grass or wants to eat grass every day, consult your veterinarian. The safest way to provide grass for your cat is to grow your own pot of it. I recommend organically grown rye, wheat, oat and barley seeds. Cat grass is easy to grow and © Can Stock Photo/basnik should be a staple in every Many cats enjoy eating grass although the cat household. n reasons for it are not entirely clear Dr. Lynn Bahr is a graduate of the University of Georgia, College of Veterinary Medicine who credits a special grey and white ball of kitten fluff with leading her down the path of a career in feline medicine and behavior. Her areas of interest and special care for felines include health and wellness, lifetime enrichment, hospice care, strengthening the animal-human bond, ending the practice of declawing, and the ability to speak cat. Dr. Bahr is currently the CEO of Dezi & Roo (, a company that manufactures and sells solution-based pet products. She is a Fear Free certified professional and serves on the board of directors for Pandemonium Aviaries.

Do you have a question for the PPG Cat Committee? Submit your question for consideration to:


A Natural Kind of Training

In the final part of this three-part article, Max Easey talks target training and choice, and

attempts to answer the original question: What’s in it for the horse?


© Can Stock Photo/chalabala

Targeting can be used to teach all ground work and ridden movements

n the second part of this three-part article (see Teaching the Cue, BARKS from the Guild, January 2018), I discussed the application of force-free training to horse training. I will now continue the discussion by focusing on targeting, and the importance of choice. Aside from setting up the horse to do a behavior and then waiting for her to do it, the second and by far most useful way to get her to do something we can mark and reinforce with food or a scratch is to use a target (i.e. an object we can teach her to touch or follow). This is a natural type of training when it comes down to it, because horses and ponies naturally investigate (by looking at or sniffing) any new object that is presented to them. Anyone who has tried to take a selfie with their horse or a photo of their horse will know the horse is forever trying to put her nose on the camera or phone! We can use that natural tendency to sniff and touch new things to teach a horse to touch an object as a target. You can use a fly swatter, a plastic water bottle, a plastic traffic cone, or a supplement lid hung on the fence or wall. What you use as a target will depend on the behavior you want to teach the horse to do. To get started all we need to do is to present the object to the horse, and as soon as she sniffs or even looks at the object, we can mark that moment of curiosity with a clicker, a tongue click or marker word, and then give her some food. After a few practices, we can present the target

When we use pressure or discomfort to get what we want, then what’s in it for the horse to do things with us? Isn’t she just “behaving” because it is unpleasant for her if she does not? Isn’t it that she acts to avoid things becoming more unpleasant for her if she doesn’t do what we want? The reality is that when someone is only doing something to escape or avoid something unpleasant, they are not likely to be doing it for fun or enjoyment. And that does not feel good. 42

BARKS from the Guild/March 2018

© Can Stock Photo/edu1971

Positive reinforcement training helps horses associate their owner with good things

a little way ahead of the horse so she will take a step forward to go to the target. Now the horse has learned that this behavior will be marked and positively reinforced, she will want to touch the target when she sees it wherever it is presented – in front, to the side, up higher or down lower. We can also train her to back up by putting the target slightly under her chin and towards her chest – but without touching her with it – so she will step back to touch it. With a little more practice we can have a horse who will walk with us to follow the target rather than because we will pull on the lead rope if she doesn’t come with us. We can use target training (i.e. using a target prop to produce behaviors we want, so that we can get them on cue) in much the same way as we would with the gate pushing I discussed in Part Two of this article. Once we know the horse will walk towards a target when we hold it out, we can say “walk on,” hold out the target to cause the horse to start walking, then click and reinforce her for walking. Targeting can be used to teach all ground work and ridden movements: catching, haltering, leading over any surface or into a trailer, for teaching halt and standing still, standing tied, standing by the mounting block and keeping still to be mounted, backing up, moving the front end away, disengaging or moving the hindquarters over, stepping under behind, crossing over in front, circling, straightness on circles, long lining, moving in a forward-down stretched posture, lifting shoulders and being less on the forehand, for shoulder in, haunches in, side pass, rein cues for turns to left and right, shifting the weight back, lateral and vertical flexion, walk, trot, canter, jumping, back, leg and abdominal muscle engagement, to train horses for hoof cleaning, hoof soaking, trimming or farriery, being clipped, having baths, injections, having wounds cleaned or dressed stitched, for worming, and for eye drops. The list is endless and there is nothing you cannot teach using food as reinforcement or for what we sometimes call candy comfort – helping a horse to develop some optimism and happy associations with places and things they may otherwise fear. Name something that you want the horse to do by way of moving her body (or keeping it still) and it can be trained with imagination, a marker signal, and target training. Something even

more astounding is that we can even use target training to give a horse a way to tell us what they want. A recently published and detailed, scientifically conducted study developed a method of teaching horses to express their preference for rugging (rug on, rug off, no change) using different target symbols (Mejdell, Buvik, Jørgensen, & Bøe, 2016).

Staying Safe

It is interesting to look at each of these kinds of reinforcement, and to ask ourselves the question, what is really in it for the horse to do what we want? Because most of us would ideally like our horses and ponies to enjoy what we do with them as much as we do, but we also want them to be safe to ride and handle. And they are not safe – and they will not perform behaviors that are safe – if they are afraid or annoyed. Thus, when we use negative reinforcement to train a horse to do something, we must cause her some discomfort to get her to do what we want. This prompts her to act to make the unpleasant stimulus stop so we can reinforce that behavior by removing what she finds unpleasant. When we ask ourselves what’s in it for her to do any of the behaviors produced by this method, then the answer must be that she is motivated to “behave” to escape or avoid something she does not like. Sometimes trainers refer to the escape from unpleasantness or discomfort, or the release from the pressure experienced by the horse, as the “reward.” In reality, though, it is experienced as relief that the unpleasant thing has stopped. Sometimes we see horses licking their lips and chewing after a stressful situation where they have experienced a lot of physical or emotional pressure. This is a sign that they are experiencing relief that the experience is over, but the side effect of this is that if most of the horse’s training involves being made to do things she does not really want to do, she will start to show signs of not wanting to do it at all, and not wanting to have anything to do with the people who make her do it. For example, she may become difficult to catch unless she is expecting food; she may be difficult to tack up – throwing her head up, reversing, turning away or biting when being groomed, bridled or saddled; she may be difficult to mount – turning away from the mounting block or walking off as soon as you try to put your foot in the stirrup; or she may start to nap and try to do things such as planting, spinning, rearing, bucking, or going sideways or backwards to avoid situations she fears, which could include hacking out, going into the show ring or onto the trailer. When we use pressure or discomfort to get what we want, then what’s in it for the horse to do things with us? Isn’t she just “behaving” because it is unpleasant for her if she does not? Isn’t it that she acts to avoid things becoming more unpleasant for her if she doesn’t do what we want? The reality is that when someone is only doing something to escape or avoid something unpleasant, they are not likely to be doing it for fun or enjoyment. And that does not feel good. By contrast, with positive reinforcement, the horse is behaving out of choice, to obtain something she likes. If she doesn’t do it, nothing bad happens. We just work out why she refused or declined and make it easier or more reinforcing the next time. We all want to work for things we value and most of us resent being nagged or pressured into doing anything. We can even learn to hate doing things when we are made to do them rather than being given the choice. Perhaps the most important thing of all is how the horse or pony feels about us as her owner and the person who cares for her. When we use positive reinforcement to produce and reinforce behavior, she begins to associate us with good things, rather than with hard work, unpleasantness, or being forced to do things she doesn’t really like doing. And isn’t it nicer if she sees us coming and thinks, “Great! Here comes my human! I am going to get to do something for food! I really like that!” n


A recently published and detailed, scientifically conducted study developed a method of teaching horses to express their preference for rugging (rug on, rug off, no change) using different target symbols. References

Mejdell, C.N., Buvik, T., Jørgensen, G.H.M, & Bøe, K.E. (2016, November). Horses can learn to use symbols to communicate their preferences. Applied Animal Behavior Science (184) 66–73. Available at:


Easey, M. (2017, November). What’s in It for the Horse? BARKS from the Guild (27) 48-49. Available at: Easey, M. (2018, January). Teaching the Cue. BARKS from the Guild (28) 52-53. Available at:

Maxine Easey is an equine behavior consultant, horse trainer and people coach, based in Ashkirk, Scotland. She is the founder of Horse Charming (, where she helps horse and pony owners and learners of all ages to understand and train their equine partners in ways that are enjoyable for them both. She has studied the science behind how all animals learn and is often asked to comment on different methods of training horses and ponies and what they involve from the perspective of the horse.

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The Equine Play System

Kathie Gregory highlights the many functions of play for horses of all age groups, including

the development of social skills, confidence and self-awareness, and the alleviation of stress


© Can Stock Photo/Zuzule

Although studies into the functions of play are currently somewhat limited, play behavior is seen in horses of all ages groups; according to Panksepp, the urge to play is “an intrinsic function of the mammalian nervous system.”

ll young mammals have an innate need to engage in play, and social play seems to be the most pleasurable of all. It is possible that engaging in play as a young animal forms part of the overall social fabric of adult personality, interactions, and perspective. Play is also a gauge of whether a horse's basic needs of safety, comfort, health, and being well fed have been met. While the play system is robust, it can easily be affected by many factors. Play may be reduced, or may not occur at all if the horse is not happy and healthy, and stressors have an effect too. A lack of social interaction and relationship bonds can also diminish the desire to play. Thus, it is important that the care system is adequately satisfied in order for the horse to regain the desire to play. Play involves adaptive movements and strategies, repetitions, versatility, and novel behaviors. Common movements, motor patterns and vocalizations that are employed in daily life and in situational contexts such as sexual or aggressive behavior are adapted when playing. Differences are apparent when observing a horse whose motivation is based on survival, compared to a horse engaged in play. The motivation to do something specific gives the body a purposeful look and movements that show intent as the horse endeavors to achieve and resolve the motivation. This is not present during play, where body language and movement is relaxed and loose. It lacks purpose and intent, as play itself is the motivation and the resolution.


The social structure of the herd, along with the environment they live in, influences play. Foals living in a natural family structure engage in play more frequently than groups of mare and foal pairs at pasture, or domestic mare and foal pairs. (McDonnell & Poulin, 2002). The social environ44

BARKS from the Guild/March 2018

ment is extremely important to the type and quantity of foals’ play experience, which subsequently influences how they develop. Social skills, personality, self-confidence, and self-awareness may all be affected and shaped by whether or not the foal has play opportunities in the right form. Observations show that from birth to six weeks of age, foals living within a natural family structure obtain the majority of their locomotive exercise through play (Fagen & George, 1977). Another study shows that colts engage in play fighting, whereas fillies favor synchrony play (Rees, 2017).

Adolescents and Young Adults

Horses are still playful at this stage in their development, and play may be between horses of the same age, or cross over to play with horses in the other age groups.

Mature Adults

In a natural setting, adult horses do engage in play with each other, but at a much lower frequency than between adults and foals, yearlings and young adults. Groups of bachelor stallions play most, and in harem groups, harem stallions engage in play more often than mares (McDonnell & Poulin, 2002). In a natural family group, stallions regularly engage in play with foals and adolescent horses. Mares are much less involved, and do not usually participate.

Types of Play

Equine play has not been the focus of many studies, but is often included as additional informal observations within studies of a different nature. However, there are also some studies that focus wholly on play. McDon-

nell and Poulin (2002) developed an equid play ethogram which divides play into four separate categories: object play, sexual behavior, locomotive play, and play fighting. Object Play: This involves horses using objects as the focus of their play. The object may be inanimate, or animate. This kind of play stimulates the investigatory circuits and includes licking/sniffing, mouthing, nibbling, chewing, picking something up, shaking an object, carrying, dropping, and throwing an object, pulling with the teeth, pawing with the hoof, kicking up with the rear legs, circling an object, going to and from an object, and resting the front legs on an object. Sexual Behavior: Flirting is playfulness without intent, and rather than a courtship sequence, parts are seen out of sequence. Foals, adolescents and young bachelors are often observed in this type of play. Sexual play includes elimination marking sequence, teasing, and mounting. Locomotive Play: Young horses practice synchrony during play. Synchrony is a big part of horse behavior, and is apparent in many aspects of life. Frolicking, running, chasing, bucking, jumping, leaping and prancing are all types of locomotive play. Females engage in this type of play more than males. Play Fighting: This is better termed as rough and tumble play (RAT play). The label play fighting (Aldis, 1975) led to the assumption that there was some form of aggression involved. In fact, this is a misinterpretation, as no type of aggression is involved in RAT play. In equines, this type of play can serve to safely determine who would win when bachelors vie for the attention of a filly. This avoids any conflict and the bachelor who is successful spends more time with the filly, forming a prelude to courtship, often resulting in a new couple (Rees, 2017). RAT play is seen much more in males than females and includes the following movements: head, neck and chest nip or bite, neck grasp, neck wrestle, foreleg grasp, nip, or bite, hind leg grasp, nip, or bite, rump nip or bite, push, stamp or rear, hind quarter threat, kick, evasive balk, evasive jump, and evasive spin.

Play Facts

Observations show that nose-to-nose approaches, such as nudging, nipping, tossing the head and pawing at a potential playmate are specifically seen when horses are trying to initiate play. Specific movements include turning the rump away from the playmate, kicking or biting with intent, or prancing off to signal the termination of a play bout (McDonnell & Poulin, 2002). Play enables an animal to practice and project emotional states in safety, without intent. We have all seen play get out of hand, and that would seem to be the result of play turning into actual emotional states that take the mind out of the play circuit and into other emotional systems. These actual emotions then need to be processed and addressed, hence the change from play to seriousness. Play deprivation results in intense bouts of play when the opportunity arises. Panksepp (2014) states that the urge to play is “an intrinsic function of the mammalian nervous system.” In other words, it is a necessary part of a healthy psyche. Interestingly, an increase in play is seen in adult horses kept in a domesticated situation compared to the very low frequency of play observed in feral adult horses. There are some correlations between levels of play and poor welfare, as found in Hausberger, Fureix, Bourjade, Wessel-Robert and Richard-Yris’s 2012 study, On the significance of adult play: what does social play tell us about adult horse welfare? Horses kept in a more natural type of environment play less than those kept in single boxes with limited turnout time. Horses that were observed to be the most prolific players were shut down and unresponsive in their boxes, and had a more negative relationship with people. Vertebral disorders, restricted food sources and lack of spatial and social considerations may all contribute to increased play in adult horses (Hausberger, Fureix, Bourjade, Wessel-Robert & Richard-Yris, 2012). There are additional theories as to why we see increased play in adult


Play enables an animal to practice and project emotional states in safety, without intent. We have all seen play get out of hand, and that would seem to be the result of play turning into actual emotional states that take the mind out of the play circuit and into other emotional systems. These actual emotions then need to be processed and addressed, hence the change from play to seriousness.

horses in managed domesticated environments. Play may be a way of dispersing excess energy that a horse may be unable to express until he is turned out (Spencer, cited in Burghardt, 2005). This may be a way of rebalancing homeostasis. Horses have an innate need to wander, which is not met by being stabled. An increase in locomotory activity may be the result of excess time and energy for horses in barren environments with no foraging or grazing opportunities (Benhajali et al, 2008). It may also be a way of shaking off stress and we often see jovial behavior after stressful situations. It may be a way of effectively utilizing social interactions, with limited group time, moving quickly to play may alleviate some of the effects of social deprivation. The combination of factors present in horses kept in a state of poor welfare are all likely to contribute to an increase in adult play, rather than one single cause. As has already been noted, the urge to play changes with the age of the horse, and it is important to assess the reason for play in adult domesticated horses. Is playing due to their natural instinct? Are they using play as a coping strategy to assist emotional resilience and a return to equilibrium? Or, is play a result of poor welfare and a depressed emotional state that needs resolving? Play among adult geldings is more prolific than amongst adult mares, but from a welfare perspective, the lack of play in adult mares does not indicate that mares are not feeling the effects of poor welfare and emotional distress. Looking at healthy play, i.e. that which is not influenced by welfare issues, the current thinking is that play has both social and nonsocial functions. One aspect of the social function aims to test or try out social interactions and relationships in a theoretical and nonconfrontational arena, where those involved can see what would happen if it were for real. Play also facilitates learning the intricacies of social skills, greetings, interactions and the forming of friendships. The nonsocial aspects of play promote skill, cognitive abilities and innovation, and contribute to a wide range of psychological processes. Play also allows the horse to develop physical strength, stamina, and awareness of his body. In addition, during play the horse engages in partial or sometimes more complete sequences

© Can Stock Photo/mariait

The social environment is extremely important to the type and quantity of foals’ play experience, which subsequently influences how they develop

BARKS from the Guild/March 2018



of movement patterns that will be used in other contexts as the horse matures to adulthood. Research into the equine play system is at present more preliminary than research on some of the other emotional systems, and while we know a fair amount about the play system, future empirical evidence may or may not support the theories and insights we currently have. n

© Can Stock Photo/Virgonira

Play may be a way of dispersing excess energy that a horse may be unable to express until he is turned out

…the urge to play changes with the age of the horse, and it is important to assess the reason for play in adult domesticated horses. Is playing due to their natural instinct? Are they using play as a coping strategy to assist emotional resilience and a return to equilibrium? Or, is play a result of poor welfare and a depressed emotional state that needs resolving? References

Aldis, O. (1975). Play Fighting. New York, NY: Academic Press Benhajali, H., Richard-Yris, M.A., Leroux, M., Ezzaouia, M., Charfi, F., & Hausberger, M. (2008, July). A note on the time budget and social behaviour of densely housed horses. A case study in Arab breeding mares. Applied Animal Behaviour Science (112) 196-200. Available at: Burghardt, G.M. (2005). The Genesis of Animal Play: Testing the Limits. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press Fagen, R.M., & George, T.K. (1977, September). Play behavior and exercise in young ponies (Equus caballus L.). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology (2) 3 267-269. Available at: Hausberger, M., Fureix, C., Bourjade, M., Wessel-Robert, S., & Richard-Yris, M.A. (2012, April). On the significance of adult play: what does social play tell us about adult horse welfare? Naturwissenschaften (99) 4 291-302. Available at: McDonnell, S.M., & Poulin, A. (2002, September). Equid play ethogram. Applied Animal Behaviour Science (78) 2-4 263-290. Available at: Panksepp, J. (2014). Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human And Animal Emotions. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press Rees, L. (2017). Horses in Company. Wiltshire, UK: The Crowood Press Kathie Gregory is a qualified animal behavior consultant, presenter and author who specializes in advanced cognition and emotional intelligence. Passionate about raising standards and awareness in how we teach and work with animals, she has developed Freewill TeachingTM (, a concept that provides the framework for animals to enjoy life without compromising their own free will. Her time is divided between working with clients, mentoring, and writing. Her first book, A Tale of Two Horses: a passion for free-will teaching, was published in 2015, and she is currently writing her second book about bringing up a puppy using freewill teaching.


BARKS from the Guild/March 2018


A Scientific Grounding and Elevation to Professionalism

Louise Stapleton-Frappell discusses education, business, credentials and ethics along with

her reasons for pursuing her Professional Canine Behavior Consultant title from the Pet


Professional Accreditation Board

A (Hons), PCT-A, CAP3, CTDI DN-FSG1, DN-CPCT2… Wow, that's a lot of letters and I am excited to announce that I have just added some more: PCBC-A (Professional Canine Behavior Consultant – Accredited)! But why, you may ask, do I feel the need to continuously further my education in the field of force-free, reward- and science-based dog training and behavior, and why did I choose to do this via the Pet Professional Accreditation Board (PPAB)? I am sure that you are already aware that the field of dog training is, as yet, an unregulated industry. Whether you live in the United States, the United Kingdom or anywhere else, you will probably be surrounded by people calling themselves dog trainers and offering pet dog classes or even dog behavior consultations. Of these, some will have worked hard to get the right education, to continuously improve their skills and expand their knowledge in the field of force-free training and pet care. Unfortunately, however, there will most likely be many more who have set up shop, minus the education or requisite skills, and are using techniques that are not only outdated but also potentially emotionally and physically harmful to the pets they are working with. I was very fortunate in that I grew up surrounded by beautiful countryside and lots of animals. Border collies, German shepherds and chow-chows were part of the family home. After studying for my Bachelor’s at the University of Leeds in England, I took my first teaching post at a school in Cartagena, Spain. This was soon followed by a permanent move to southern Spain where I added a beautiful German shepherd Doberman cross, Bess, to my family. Thus began my passion for teaching dogs as well as people. When I first started training Bess, “going to school” was not something dog trainers did. At that time, most dog trainers were self-taught or carried out apprenticeships with those already working in the field. While I had no intention of training professionally back then, I did want

Photo © Arran Staines Photography

Louise Stapleton-Frappell with her Staffy trick dog champion, Jambo (left) and German shepherd, Tessa, who also enjoys doing tricks

to train effectively and with my dog's best interests at heart. I was very fortunate when a local veterinarian put me in touch with a respected police dog trainer, who went by the name Manolo. Manolo passed on his knowledge and shared his love of the beautiful canines he worked with. The dogs were taught with enthusiasm, praise and lots of games. Manolo's most repeated words to me at that time were "Más, más! (more, more!)” and, “She worked hard, reward her more, play more!" Bess loved to jump so that is exactly what we encouraged her to do. She would happily fly up into the air to the sound of my jubilant “yay!” I did not know it then, but what we were doing was positively reinforcing the behavior she had just carried out. A gorgeous Staffordshire bull terrier, Samson, was soon added to my family and he was followed by my present family members, German shepherd, Tessa and Staffordshire bull terrier, Jambo. I continued to follow my love of teaching dogs and furthered my education in the world of dog training. I also discovered the world of dog tricks and shared my passion with Jambo, who, at the age of just 16 months, became the first Staffy to become a trick dog champion. He has since been aired on Canadian television’s Talent Hounds and was also featured as a Victoria Stilwell Positively story.


PPAB offers the only psychometrically developed, independently assessed examination for training and behavior consultants who also support humane and scientific practices

Sadly, Manolo passed away at a young age but I am sure that if he were with us today, he would have helped lead the way in promoting forcefree training. I have been very fortunate as, unlike when Manolo was training, there are now many great educational courses and resources available that have allowed me to continue to build on my knowledge BARKS from the Guild/March 2018



Credential Transfer Now Available!

Since January 15, 2018, PPAB has permitted specific industry credentials to be transferred under special circumstances. Each specific level has operational guidelines and eligibility criteria that have to be met by the transferring candidate. See -Credential for more details and also news story on page 6.

and further my education. I started by saying, “Wow, that's a lot of letters,” so I will now explain what some of them mean. I am a certified trick dog instructor and a DogNostics fun scent games instructor; I gained my CAP3 with distinction – Clicker Competency Assessment Program; I am a DogNostics Level 2 pet care technician and I have verified certification in animal behavior and welfare (Edinburgh University, United Kingdom) and dog emotion and cognition (Duke University, Durham, North Carolina). More recently, I became one of the first 20 people worldwide to earn the title, Professional Canine Trainer – Accredited (PCT-A), through the PPAB. I believe that if you wish to do your best by those in your care, it is your obligation to make sure the knowledge and skills you are sharing are based on the most up-to-date information available. We now know so much more about the way animals learn and how our interactions with them affect both their mental and physical well-being. There is no longer anything standing in our way. We can watch amazing instructional videos and webinars from some of the top people in our field who willingly spend their time creating informative, fun-filled educational presentations; we can attend workshops and seminars in person or online; we can follow the incredible, ongoing research into canine cognition; read books written by the “rock stars” of our industry, including Jean Donaldson, Pat Miller, Ken Ramirez, Kay Laurence, Karen Pryor, Patricia McConnell, James O'Heare, Steven Lindsay, Ray Coppinger, Victoria Stilwell, Denise Fenzi and so many more. It would be impossible to mention them all here! I am not saying that every dog trainer or pet industry professional needs to earn every credential there is, but I do believe that there is no excuse for using outdated, punitive methods based on myths and old-wives’ tales about being the pack leader, dominating, choking, shocking, shouting at, alpha rolling and generally harming dogs. As the owner and head trainer of The DogSmith of Estepona in Spain, I have an ever-increasing number of clients approaching me whose pets are experiencing problematic emotional responses. These might include anxiety, fear and/or frustration manifested as leash reactivity, fear of people, aggressive behavior towards other dogs or animals, resource guarding, fear of cars, a negative conditioned response to people’s hands, and many more. Because of my continued education in the field of force-free training and pet care and my understanding of respondent conditioning, counterconditioning and desensitization, I have been able to help many people, but earning the PCBC-A credential means that I will now be able to help many more. Both personally and as a faculty member and part of the leading educational team at DogNostics Career Center in Florida, I wanted to make sure that my certifications were of the highest educational and ethical standard. That is why I chose the PPAB. The PCBC-A was not an easy credential to earn but neither should it be. It is a very rigorous program

PPAB, operated by PPG, addresses the need for consumer protection, animal welfare and a high level of skill proficiency. It lets you stand up for what you believe in and is the only credential for those who believe there is no place for shock, pain, prong, choke, fear, intimidation, physical force or any compulsion-based methods in canine training or behavior practices. 48

BARKS from the Guild/March 2018

Photo © Louise Stapleton-Frappell

Author Louise Stapleton-Frappell believes that if trainers wish to do their best by those in their care, it is their obligation to make sure the knowledge and skills they are sharing are based on the most up-to-date information available

and this is what it entails: • All applicants must be able to demonstrate their training experience in at least one of the following ways: 300 hours over the past 12 months of group training classes and/or 150 hours of private training of pet dog manners. • Applicants must have completed 30 continuing education credit hours at professional seminars, workshops and/or webinars during the previous two years or less. • Five sections of competency: o Section I: Knowledge Base Assessment including such subjects as learning theory; biology and anatomy; ethology, body language and observational skills; canine health, development and life stages; business and consulting skills and best practices; and scientific and practical methods. o Section II: Training Skills Videos. o Section III: Creating a Positive Conditioned Emotional Response Video. o Section IV: Running Training Class Videos. o Section V: Four Case Studies.

Psychometrically Developed, Independently Assessed

As I am sure you can see, there is a lot of work involved, so why do this? Furthering your education and becoming credentialed not only gives a scientific grounding to your work, it also helps elevate you to a professional level in a field that is, unfortunately, still awash with amateurs who promote themselves as dog trainers or animal behavior consultants, regardless of their academic credentials, their knowledge or their skill set. PPAB, operating under the PPG corporation, addresses the need for consumer protection, animal welfare and a high level of skill proficiency. It lets you stand up for what you believe in and is the only credential for those who believe there is no place for shock, pain, prong, choke, fear, intimidation, physical force or any compulsion-based methods in canine training or behavior practices. In addition, PPAB offers the only psychometrically developed, independently assessed examination for training and behavior consultants who also support humane and scientific practices. It is highly credible, not only testing knowledge and skills, but also enforcing ethics. PPAB of-

Furthering your education and becoming credentialed not only gives a scientific grounding to your work, it also helps elevate you to a professional level in a field that is, unfortunately, still awash with amateurs who promote themselves as dog trainers or animal behavior consultants, regardless of their academic credentials, their knowledge or their skill set. fers professional accreditation programs that ensure transparency and accountability among pet trainers and behavior consultants and guarantees an unprecedented high level of competency for force-free pet professionals. It is also independent of any industry school, trade school, college or credentialing body. PPAB currently offers three programs: the Canine Training Technician (CTT-A) accreditation, the Professional Canine Trainer (PCT-A) accreditation, and the Professional Canine Behavior Consultant (PCBC-A) accreditation. Each program has a rigorous path to completion but one which can be carried out from the comfort of your own home – the proctored exam is taken from your own computer.

Defining Consultant

According to PPAB (2017), dictionaries “define the word ‘Consultant’ in several ways. PPAB defines a Consultant as a professional who undertakes consultations and focuses primarily on modifying behavior problems that are elicited by emotions. Consultants are also professional dog trainers that can competently teach obedience classes, day training, private training sessions, board and train programs that focus on pet dog skills and manners. Consultants are behavior and training professionals skilled in the application of science and artistic endeavor who


deliver results through the development of mutually respectful, caring relationships.” In my opinion, holding a PPAB credential means your business will stand head and shoulders above the rest. It means that you have the ethics, the skills and the knowledge to help those that truly need your help – guardians and their pets. n

For more information on the Pet Professional Accreditation Board, please also see news story on page 6 and advert on page 39.


Pet Professional Accreditation Board. (2017). Professional Canine Behavior Consultant - A definition. Available at:


Pet Professional Accreditation Board:

Louise Stapleton-Frappell BA (Hons) PCBC-A PCT-A CTDI CAP3 CWRI DN-FSG1 DN-CPCT2 is a professional canine behavior consultant, accredited through PPAB. She is also a certified trick dog and fun scent games instructor, a certified whistle recall instructor and a Pet Dog Ambassador instructor and assessor who owns and operates The DogSmith of Estepona, Spain ( She works hard to promote a positive image of the "bully" breeds and advocate against Breed Specific Legislation in favor of breed neutral laws. Her Staffordshire bull terrier, Jambo ( is a trick dog champion, the first of his breed to earn the title. She is also the author and instructor of the DogNostics TrickMeister Titles and the DogNostics Dog Training Program. She is a PPG and PPBGI steering committee member, PPGBI membership manager, Doggone Safe regional coordinator (Spain) and steering committee member, co-presenter of the PPG World Service radio show and faculty member of DogNostics Career Center.


Pet Professionals and the Gig Economy

Sheelah Gullion discovers that for pet professionals of all stripes, making the most of your


expertise can bring in extra cash

ou might not be aware of this, but earning a living as a pet professional is not easy. Big news, right? Having just moved across the United States to one of the most expensive places to live in the world, I am now located in the global center of the so-called “gig economy.” For the last two years, the media has been using this term to refer to a patchwork system of projects and jobs that people now do to make ends meet. I am not talking about those families where the main breadwinner has to find a second job just to get by. No, I am talking about those who have at least one regular money spinner, augmented by additional one-time projects or irregular freelance jobs. In 2017, the gig economy seemed to undergo its biggest expansion yet and I have seen this carry over into the pet industry as well—most recently at the 2017 PPG Summit in Orlando, Florida last November. During the summit, the vendor and exhibitor hall is always the place to go to find the latest in everything from books to toys to equipment for all kinds of pet professionals. Now just think for a second: all those products are made for pet professionals. Some are even made by pet professionals. As it turns out, diversifying your skill set is something everyone can do. Just over the course of the last year, I have met several people who are exploiting their own skills and interests for benefit. One of them is Juliet Whitfield, who started out as a dog trainer who enjoyed taking road trips whenever she could. Late last year, she marked her three-year anniversary of full-time life on the road with her two dogs, Mick and Romeo.

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• • • • • • • •

10 Side Gig Ideas

Pet photography. Make and sell your own products (collars, leashes, toys, accessories). Dog walking or hiking (for trainers). Home-based boarding. Pet transport. Product demos. Public speaking engagements. Training demos at events. Social media superstar. Offering a service to other trainers (i.e. setting up a website/blog).

© Can Stock Photo/Rohappy

Pet professionals can diversify their skill set in a number of ways in order to augment their income, with social media offering a variety of opportunities

Whitfield has a bread-and-butter position with a Florida company that publishes travel guides. She formed a club for RVers called Take Your Dog Along, for which she writes a blog, organizes rallies, and is developing a map of points of interest to dog-owning RVers. In the past, she has done product demos for equipment and pet food companies and is open to new ideas. She still does a few private lessons here and there, too. “I think as pet professionals, we should reach out to companies because I think when pet pros are recommending somebody, it’s a win-win,” she said.

Getting Started

According to Whitfield, pet sitting and/or boarding is an excellent way for pet professionals to branch out. In her early days, that is what she did and it was a good way to learn about dog behavior and get paid at the same time. At the puppy day care where I work, there are trainers who started out in the pet industry as dog walkers. Although the skill set for a dog

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BARKS from the Guild/March 2018

walker is a bit different from that of a trainer, those who do both are bigtime behavior nerds. If you are someone with an interest in business and/or marketing however, making and/or selling products can be a good way to earn a little extra cash. Camille Personne started making her own fleece tug toys after watching a tutorial on how to do it. “I thought it would be fun making some for friends,” she said. Then she had a toy-making party where she showed her friends how to make tug toys as well, but she continued making more tugs, and pretty soon, she had a product line of different types of tugs and was thinking of branching out into other handmade items as well. Personne was fortunate in that she had some previous selling experience. A degree in marketing didn’t hurt, either, and now she sells her products on Etsy, which she says makes it easy for small businesses like hers. She believes it is a good platform, in part because it provides a lot of helpful tips to its sellers, and makes it easy with things such as the ability to buy shipping through them.

Seller Beware

The saying is usually buyer beware, but this time it is seller beware. Eileen Gillan also sells products on Etsy. Her handmade snuffle mats were a hit at two pet industry conferences in 2017 where she completely sold out all her inventory, but then she went to a third event and only sold half what she expected to sell. “I thought I would do even better [than before], so I brought four times as much inventory because attendance was projected to be 10 times greater than any of the earlier conferences where I sold out,” she said. At that third conference, Gillan made enough to pay for all her supplies and to pay the snuffle mat makers she had enlisted to help her build her inventory, but even though she sold more than ever before at that third event, she still ended the year in the red.


In 2017, the gig economy seemed to undergo its biggest expansion yet and I have seen this carry over into the pet industry as well—most recently at the 2017 PPG Summit in Orlando, Florida last November. During the summit, the vendor and exhibitor hall is always the place to go to find the latest in everything from books to toys to equipment for all kinds of pet professionals. Now just think for a second: all those products are made for pet professionals. Some are even made by pet professionals.

Interest is still high in the product though. “In the future, the only way I can do more big dog shows is if others partner with me to share the expenses, or if I find some sponsors to help pay for vendor fees and/or materials because I’ve figured out how to make money for others, but there isn’t anything left for me,” she said. “I’m sure there’s a way, I just haven’t found it yet.” If you already offer a service in your professional life, then, creating handmade products might be a suitable sideline, since you could have a ready pool of potential clients in those who already use your services. Perhaps, too, those who buy your products could one day contact you for your service offerings as well. n Sheelah Gullion CPDT-KA is an AKC Star Puppy and Canine Good Citizen Evaluator. She is interested in all facets of dog training and is currently focused on learning more about nosework and tracking with her three-year-old Rhodesian ridgeback, Jabu. She recently joined the training team at SmartyPup! ( in San Francisco, California as a day school and class trainer.

karen pryor ACADEMY for Animal Training & Behavior

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The Right Insurance

David Pearsall of Business Insurers of the Carolinas highlights the importance of pet

professionals holding a general liability insurance policy that includes an additional

endorsement to cover the dogs in their care, custody or control


© Can Stock Photo/remains

A pet sitter’s claim based on the fact they had mistakenly given a client’s cat too much insulin came to over $4,000

n today’s somewhat litigious society, if you are a pet service professional, be it a dog trainer, behavior consultant, dog walker, pet sitter, groomer, or operate a day care or boarding facility, you likely understand the need for liability insurance to protect you and your business. In this article, I will explain a little more about this. General Liability Insurance covers you and your business against bodily injury or property damage claims to a third party, caused by negligence, such as if a dog in your care were to bite someone (other than you or your employees), or a client or prospective client were to slip, trip or fall in your entrance way, or in a training class. But what about if you are the cause of injury to a pet in your care, or a pet injures himself while in your care, without any negligence on your part? This is a great question! Unfortunately, almost all general liability policies contain an exclusion for personal property in the care, custody, or control of the insured, which for many types of businesses would be okay. However, for the pet care or service professional, it can potentially be a major problem as pets are considered to be personal property in the eyes of the law. What this means is that without an additional endorsement to your general liability policy, you are not covered for your primary business concern, the pets in your care and/or classes. The good news is there are insurance companies that do provide additional coverage endorsements to cover pets in your care, custody or control. The bad news is many of these endorsements limit the amount the insurance company will pay for accidental injury to a pet to $1,000 or $2,500 and/or will only pay the actual cash value of the pet as opposed to

for k ing ing ? o o L eth Som

© Can Stock Photo/chalabala

One pet professional’s claim ran to over $15,000 when a dog in their care escaped and was hit by a car

an expensive vet bill. If you have ever had to go through a pet injury claim, you are likely well aware that vet bills can run many times more than these amounts. Here are a few examples of recent claims to demonstrate how much vet bills can run when a pet is injured in your care: • Client’s dog escaped dog walker during walk and was hit by a car. Total paid: $15,004. • Insured gave client’s cat too much insulin. Total paid: $4,114. • During individual training class, client’s dog in trainer’s care fell and broke his leg. Total paid: $5,324. • Two dogs got in a fight during a group training class. Both required veterinary medical attention for injuries. Total paid: $17,479. • While running with trainer, client’s dog tore its anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Total paid: $4,736. • Dog got something in his eye during a training class. Dog required surgery and suffered several complications from the eye surgery. Total paid: $10,415. All of the above claims would have been denied by the insurance company had these trainers not purchased a general liability policy that included an additional endorsement (additional policy form) to cover the dogs in their care, custody or control. Without including this coverage under your general liability policy, you have zero insurance coverage for the dogs in your care! Be sure to read your policy form (care, custody or control endorsement form) carefully, as many insurance companies will claim to cover this exposure under an animal bailee or professional liability form, but when you read the forms, the insurance company will often

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BARKS from the Guild/March 2018

limit the amount of coverage for vet medical expenses. If you carry coverage via the PPG liability policy, coverage is mandated for pets in your care, custody or control, (including training classes) with choice of limits ranging from $10,000-$200,000. Be sure you choose a high enough limit, as often even $10,000 is not adequate if emergency vet care is needed or injuries to the dog or pet are severe. The care, custody, or control endorsement includes vet medical expenses up to the limit you choose, regardless of fault or negligence. This is also important to note, as many insurers will not cover claims where a dog tears his ACL or two dogs get in a fight while in your care or classes, as they believe the dogs caused the claims with no negligence on your part. Regardless of whether you are insured via PPG’s liability policy or another insurer, be sure you choose an adequate limit based on your individual exposure(s), as well as read the form so you are not caught off-guard at time of claim. Over the years, I have had some pet care providers argue that they do not need coverage for clients’ dogs or other pets as they have their clients sign a hold harmless agreement and are not responsible for injuries to their clients’ dogs. Furthermore, some claims do not necessarily involve negligence on the pet care provider’s part, as they could have occurred on anyone’s watch. While I do strongly support and recommend having a contract with your clients, including a hold harmless agreement, I have to respectfully disagree with this opinion. To most clients, and I imagine most anyone reading this article, we truly love our pets or we would not be in this business. When someone loses his or her best friend or if that best friend is injured while in someone else’s care, it is a natural reaction to be upset and place blame on the caretaker or trainer, even if there may not be any negligence at all on their part. You, as a pet care provider, may have a very good relationship with your client(s) and feel like none of them would ever look to you to cover their pet’s veterinary medical expenses if they are injured. You may have


Unfortunately, almost all general liability policies contain an exclusion for personal property in the care, custody, or control of the insured, which for many types of businesses would be okay. However, for the pet care or service professional, it can potentially be a major problem as pets are considered to be personal property in the eyes of the law.

even had a prior incident without any problems at all from a client. However, from many years of experience in insuring and providing coverage for dog trainers, pet sitters, dog walkers, groomers, day care and boarding facilities, I can assure you that relationships can and do change when these types of claims occur. Negligence may not always be evident, you may not even be at fault, and you may have an excellent hold harmless contract in place, but it does not stop a client from taking out their pain on you and filing a lawsuit. Defending these claims can be costly even if you win. In many cases, settlements are further increased when attorneys get involved. By having proper care, custody or control coverage in place for the pets in your care or classes, you take some of the stress and hardship off the table for both you and your business and your clients. n David Pearsall is a certified insurance counselor (CIC) and co-owner of Business Insurers of the Carolinas (, a multiline commercial insurance agency specializing in insurance for pet service professionals since 1992. He has headed up association liability and bonding programs for national pet care service associations for over 20 years, including PPG. He is a licensed insurance agent in all 50 states and has held the CIC designation since 2002.


Ask the Experts: Keep on Marketing

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

business and marketing

Q: I started offering classes (just puppy training and basic manners so far) about six months ago and I’m having a really hard time getting them filled. I’ve been marketing and my location is easy to get to. What am I doing wrong? Help!

- Jennie S.

A: You may not be doing anything wrong, Jennie. The reality is that new class programs take time to build. In our experience, classes are the slowest dog-related service to get off the ground. It makes sense when you think about it. First, it takes time for marketing to do its thing for any new service. We tell dog*tec clients to give any marketing at least 12 months to have an impact, and 18 months is not unreasonable. Classes are particularly challenging because not only do people have to find out about them, they have to be ready for them at the right time. On top of that, their schedules have to align with your offerings. In other words, there’s a lot that has to go just right to get a class registration. All that said, there may be things you can do to help speed the progress of your success. Here are a few things to check: Offer open enrollment classes: To make it easier for people to join your classes when they find you, make your classes open enrollment. This allows students to jump in whenever they’re ready, instead of having to wait for your next start date (or choosing not to wait!). Done well, open enrollment helps eliminate much of the frustration of filling classes, while also increasing student outcomes. (An important note: To achieve these results, be sure to adjust your curriculum accordingly. Forcing a sequential curriculum into an open enrollment structure makes for chaotic classes, frantic instructors, frustrated students, and disappointing training results.)

If you’re going to put steady effort into marketing, be sure it’s the most effective kind for our industry. Don’t be fooled into thinking social media is all it takes. You’ll need active, on-the-ground community marketing that builds brand awareness and loyalty among people not actively seeking dog training services online.

There are a number of steps pet professionals can take to get their training classes filled, including effective marketing and ease of sign-up

© Can Stock Photo/stuartmiles

Market more: It’s not uncommon for us to see dog trainers not market as much as they should, especially in a new business or for new services. Unfortunately, people tend not to respond the first time or two they encounter something new, so it’s critical to create lots of chances for prospective students to learn about your classes. Remember also that memory spans are short. Don’t let your foot off the marketing pedal, lest people who don’t need classes right now may not remember you when the need arises a year from now. Market well: If you’re going to put steady effort into marketing, be sure it’s the most effective kind for our industry. Don’t be fooled into thinking social media is all it takes. You’ll need active, on-the-ground community marketing that builds brand awareness and loyalty among people not actively seeking dog training services online. Put your energy into projects like a quarterly print newsletter (see But I Hate Marketing!, BARKS from the Guild, September 2017, p. 55), branded tip sheets, a local training column, or training talks co-sponsored by community organizations like your local shelter or library. Make signing up easy: This tends to be a no-brainer these days, but just in case: Make sure it’s easy for people to sign up for your classes when they find them and all the scheduling stars align. That means a


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


BARKS from the Guild/March 2018

simple online registration system allowing people to sign up with you on the spot, no matter the time of day (or night!) they happen to land on your website. Make deciding easy: Speaking of your website, take a good look at how your classes are laid out there. Is it easy for people to find all the information they need about your classes without having to search around and without having to weed through copious amounts of heavy text? And are you making your case? Have you gone beyond a list of behaviors covered to lay out how your class will make students’ lives with their dogs better, easier? In other words, don’t forget your marketing message! All our best to you and your business, Jennie, and best of luck filling those classes! n

Do you have a question for the business experts at dog*tec? Submit your question for consideration to: Learn how


can help your business:

Boutelle, V. (2017, September). But I Hate Marketing! BARKS from the Guild (26) 55. Available at:


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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.

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An Urgent Need for a Return to Civility


Niki Tudge discusses the seemingly lost art of disagreeing without being disagreeable and

the importance of practicing civil behavior

s business owners, one of our fundamental responsibilities to our clients, our employees and our stakeholders is to ensure that we provide a workplace where civility is not only a priority, but a deep-rooted, daily cultural norm. Manners, respect, consideration, tolerance and equality are all characteristics and indicators of a healthy and progressive organizational culture. While the mere suggestion of implementing a workplace training program on manners may draw sneers and seem like overkill, the reality is that rudeness is a workplace epidemic that can cost small businesses millions each year in lost revenue, high staff turnover and poor public relations. One of the growing culprits here is the gains that have been made in both knowledge advancement and technology. Forni (2003) speaks to more flattened organizations where relationships are now less formal and more casual. This resulting lack of structure can create work environments with fewer social norms and a loss of civil behavior. As such, people may sometimes “lose” some of their basic social values, and this can have a detrimental impact on our own businesses, private lives and family infrastructure. For example, employers may rudely intrude on an employee’s personal workspace, gossiping coworkers may become the norm, and quality customer care can get lost through keyboard warrior relationships and the virtual realms in which we often find ourselves operating. Much of this may lead to a work environment that is no longer conducive to productive relationships or highly functioning workplace teams. As business owners, employers and/or workplace colleagues, we need to understand how to effectively practice civil behavior and implement boundaries. This applies across the board to our managers, our coworkers and our subordinates. This will help us prevent uncivil workplace cultures where harassment, intimidation and unhealthy stressors are fodder for individual behaviors that can negatively impact organizational structure.

“Civility costs nothing and buys everything.” - Mary Wortley Montagu

When we fail to smile at a colleague or smirk at another person’s suggestion, gather in small clans or cliques, or ostracize others through exclusionary practices, these seemingly innocuous behaviors can be very costly to employee morale, team-building efforts and employer trust. There are few companies that have truly prospered when these types of behaviors have gone unchecked in the workplace. It is important, then, for each of us to rekindle a civil disposition and it should become imperative to practice this within our own work organizations, while our behavior in society in general should be governed by these very same principles. I dare say we have all experienced passive-aggressive, rude, if not hostile behavior from others at some time in our working lives. Others amongst us may fall victim to this in our private lives. Antoci, Delfino, Paglieri, Panebianco and Sabatini (2016) describe a research project conducted by the Pew Research Center that documented the growth in incivility across social networking sites. Their findings included: 56

BARKS from the Guild/March 2018

© Can Stock Photo/dizanna

Recognizing who you are and how your behavior impacts others is a major part of both civility and emotional intelligence

• That 73 percent of online adults have seen someone being harassed. • 40 percent of online adults have personally experienced harassment. • 49 percent of online adults have seen other users behaving cruelly. • 60 percent of online adults have witnessed someone being called offensive names. • 53 percent of online adults had seen efforts to intentionally embarrass someone. In the Baltimore Workplace Civility Study (Forni et al., 2003), a survey conducted online, adults were questioned about workplace bullying to determine the frequency. Bullying was defined as the deliberate, repeated, hurtful verbal mistreatment of a person (target) by a cruel perpetrator (bully). I was particularly surprised by the survey findings initially, yet on reflection these results made sense to me given my own experiences with uncivil and overly aggressive and hostile women. The findings revealed that women bully as frequently as men (there was a 50 percent split). Within that, 84 percent of the time women tend to target other women, whereas men target women 69 percent of the time.

What is Civility?

Workplace civility can be defined as “behaviors that help to preserve the norms for mutual respect in the workplace; civility reflects concern for others.” (Andersson & Pearson, 1999). We all operate within our own subcultures, so this definition refers to the attitudes and patterns of behavior across a specific group. Social norms are the attitudes and behaviors the group deems to be acceptable, typical or average. Civility represents these norms and the rules

the group determines should be followed so we can productively relate to each other. The rules may consider respect, tolerance, courtesy and consideration as the foundation to civility supported by a rational approach to identifying and resolving conflict. Therefore, any behavior that challenges these norms or threatens the development of productive relationships can constitute uncivil behavior. In some situations, you can be perceived as being uncivil even though the individual motivation and intent are missing. As a reader, you may be thinking that you are not an uncivil person, that you do not behave in a way that is bullying or harassing or intimidating to others. But do you? Common behaviors that are considered uncivil include: • A failure to notice or acknowledge another person’s presence, such as ignoring them in a group situation, or their arrival to a group setting. • Ignoring a person’s greetings or well wishes as they approach or leave our company. • Bullying or behavior in the form of leveraging the power of cliques to ostracize particular individuals. • The use of hostile, intimidating or crude language towards or about something or somebody. • To either gossip or spread gossip about another irrespective of its factual accuracy. • Surreptitiously assigning blame to a third party for a workplace mistake based on unclear expectations, particularly if this mistake or person is then a topic of gossip. • Sabotaging an individual’s performance through lack of communication or support. • Ignoring or downplaying an individual’s contribution in the workplace or on a project. • Being insensitive to others’ needs with regard to personal time off, support or tolerance. • Poor communication etiquette, such as ignoring calls or email, omitting to reply to some team members over others. Remember, civility is beyond just good manners. • Visual or verbal bullying: this is not only uncivil but can also be illegal. • Behavior that discriminates against an individual because of an intrinsic characteristic or physical appearance: this is not only uncivil and immoral, it can also be illegal. Some of the examples above are very clear cut. Bullying, harassment and intimidation will not only be an infraction of workplace conduct policies, resulting in disciplinary action or termination, but those guilty may also find themselves in legal hot water as they can also result in arrest and even, indeed, imprisonment.


[The Baltimore Workplace Civility Study (Forni et al., 2003)] revealed that women bully as frequently as men (there was a 50 percent split). Within that, 84 percent of the time women tend to target other women, whereas men target women 69 percent of the time.

workplace contributor, don’t be fooled. Each of us is just one part of a supply chain, the workplace process, a chain of activities that needs input from lots of different team members for the company to successfully produce its services or products. Avoidance of people is not a solution. Believe me I have tried! In our lives, our professional work and with our families there is just no avoiding social and professional contact with other members of our species. In the workplace, without interacting productively with others in this chain of activities you cannot execute your own job responsibilities effectively. Doing this fully requires productive and trusting relationships governed through civility and social norms. If you find yourself frustrated at work or find your workplace scattered with damaged or stressful relationships, you may want to take a hard, reflective look at how you behave towards others and the impact your behavior has on those around you before looking outward for others to blame.

What’s in It for Me?

Civility is a form of benevolent participation and there are so many benefits to practicing civil behavior. For those of you asking, what’s in it for me? There is plenty! As a general workplace note, being civil helps create a positive working environment with your peers. There is nothing better for workplace morale and confidence when we work with others who treat us with respect and support in our endeavors. Colleagues who we trust not to gossip about us, be verbally confrontational or sabotage our efforts have a huge impact on both our performance and the team’s output. On the flip side of that, when we are exposed to, or contribute to a work environment where there is a lack of respect and we fall victim to any kind of bullying or harassment, however low level it may appear to be, this impacts our feeling of self-worth and our ability to perform our jobs. Practicing civility helps teach us emotional intelligence, so we can develop the competencies and ability to recognize our behaviors,

Exclusionary Practices

What, though, about some of the more subtle uncivil behaviors, like the development of cliques and exclusionary practices? These behaviors may be overlooked by leadership and management, yet there are compelling arguments for workplace policies that ensure good manners, respect, tolerance, courtesy and consideration are applied and practiced by everyone. Civility encompasses both a self-awareness and social awareness. It is just not possible to be civil without recognizing who you are and how your behavior impacts others. We must balance our own needs with the needs and contributions of those around us, whatever position we hold in an organization. We have a responsibility to ourselves and the team we are members of to consistently behave with professionalism and civil conduct. Humans are naturally social beings. We need to interface with others, and live in social groups, communities and families. Even if you consider yourself to be something of a superstar, a fabulous, indispensable

© Can Stock Photo/stuartmiles

In the workplace, civility should be the deep-rooted, daily cultural norm to promote a healthy and productive working environment

BARKS from the Guild/March 2018


business Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., “To fail to be civil to someone — to treat them harshly, rudely or condescendingly — is not only to be guilty of bad manners. It also, and more ominously, signals a disdain or contempt for them as moral beings.” Andersson and Pearson (1999) express it well. They explain that some scholars and social critics believe people support an ethic of selfexpression and detest the pretense of civility because they believe it denies their desire for freedom and individuality. Indeed, I believe a fundamental responsibility we all share as part of our individual freedom is to treat all others with civility and kindness. What say you? n


© Can Stock Photo/vaeenma

If you find yourself feeling frustrated or stressed at work, examining your own behavior and the effect it may have on others can be helpful

moods and impulses. When we are more self-aware, we are better at managing ourselves in various situations. Civility helps us develop anger management skills and become more resilient and less frustrated when we face workplace obstacles. As self-aware, productive individuals in the workplace, we will also develop better skills at managing uncivil behavior. We can learn how to communicate honestly, manage conflict and differences, negotiate positive outcomes and benefit from more productive relationships. Being civil is also the right thing to do. Most religions, philosophies and individual belief systems advocate consideration of one’s fellow person. To quote Richard Boyd, associate professor of government at

Andersson, L.M., & Pearson, C.M. (1999, July). Tit for tat? The spiraling effect of incivility in the workplace. The Academy of Management Review (24) 3 452-471. Available at: Antoci, A., Delfino, A., Paglieri F., Panebianco, F., & Sabatini, F. (2016, November). Civility vs. Incivility in Online Social Interactions: An Evolutionary Approach. PLoS ONE 11 (11). Available at: Forni, P.M., Buccino, D.L., Greene, R.E., Freedman, N.M., Stevens, D., & Stack, T. (2003). The Baltimore Workplace Civility Study. Available at:

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

Redstone Media Group, in partnership with the Pet Professional Guild (PPG), is delighted to announce that all PPG members are now eligible for 50% OFF ($12 for six issues) a oneyear subscription to Animal Wellness or Equine Wellness magazines.

“We all want our dogs to enjoy a long healthy life,” says Animal Wellness Publisher Tim Hockley, and Animal Wellness magazine is the #1 publication devoted to this cause. Learn about the vital four pillars to wellness, discover the secrets to longevity, revitalize your bond and learn from the world’s leading natural health experts. Your subscription code can be picked up in the member area of the PPG website, Please be sure to log in first.

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BARKS from the Guild/March 2018

The Many Roles of Play


Breanna Norris reviews Canine Play Behavior: The Science of Dogs at Play


by Mechtild Käufer

f you are like me, you are always on the lookout for more information and are fascinated by studies both old and new – but who really has the time to read them all? Well, author Mechtild Käufer did. Citing from 165 works on dog and wild canid play, this small book is the meatiest work on dog play I have ever come across. Stalwarts such as Ádám Miklósi, Marc Bekoff, Ray Coppinger, Frans de Waal, and Jaak Panksepp are just a few that are frequently referenced here. Whilst reading the book I found myself making new observations of play between two dogs, groups of dogs, puppies in class, play with humans and solitary play, all of which are reviewed in detail and accompanied by high quality graphics, which I found myself going back to again and again. Initially, Käufer details what is play and what is not: “Play, in contrast to training or to other target-oriented activities, involves no preordained desired behavior,” she states and, while she reviews studies from the 1950s to the modern day, she reminds us there is still much we do not know about play and still a lot to learn. When Käufer discusses a type of play, she first defines the term. Take play fighting, for example. She defines it and then explains the difference between a play fight and a real fight, and what observations you will make in either scenario. Sources are cited throughout, typically multiple times per page, but they flow into the writing rather than break up the flow like you often see in other works with many studies cited. One of my favorite parts of Käufer’s book was the topic of play partners and the associated risk. I nearly highlighted the entire chapter! She gives clear examples of what to look for when the play is going well and does not need intervention, as opposed to when there is potential conflict. Rather than allowing dogs to “work it out” – or the polar opposite whereby the dogs are never allowed to play and the owner risks becoming a helicopter parent – the author recommends observing both parties closely and to separate when needed, but otherwise to allow safe communication to take place. While dog parks or day cares are not discussed in this book, I found that the section Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd could certainly give people pause for thought before bringing their dogs to these places. Writes Käufer: “Dogs prefer to play with one play partner than in a group. When playing with one particular partner is so much fun, the two dogs may not be happy about sharing. For this reason, when two dogs have played with each other over an extended period of time, one can observe that a new dog that wants to join in is given a short shrift by one or both play partners.” She goes on to explain what this may look like. Mobbing and bullying are also discussed in this section, all information that is especially relevant for those that run puppy classes, day cares, group play sessions or take their dogs to these types of venues. As pet professionals, we should not underestimate the power of play or the keen eye that is required for observing it. As Käufer states: “Blood


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Mechtild Käufer cites from 165 different studies on dog and wild canid play in her book, Canine Play Behavior

pressure decreases and certain endogenous substances that have a positive effect increase, while others are associated with stress decline. The substances associated with well-being, joy, and a happy feeling include dopamine, endorphins, prolactin, and oxytocin. It has been shown that these substances increase in humans and dogs after five to 24 minutes of positive dog-human interaction, while noradrenaline levels sink. Some of these natural substances also increase in humans during other relaxing activities, such as book reading, but the bonding hormone, oxytocin, only increases during interaction with another living being.” If there was ever an argument for play, this may be it. I finished this book and immediately got down on hands and knees and offered my dog Nina a play bow. She bowed back and rubbed her face along mine. What are you reading in 2018? Feel free to email the author at BARKS from the Guild ( n

Canine Play Behavior: The Science of Dogs at Play Mechtild Käufer (2014) 256 pages Dogwise Publishing ISBN: 9781617811531

Email: BARKS from the Guild/March 2018



Overcoming Reactivity

In our ongoing series of PPG member profiles, this month BARKS features Alexandra Walker


of Courteous Canine Inc. DogSmith of Tampa, Florida lexandra Walker has been involved with dog training for a little over three years now. Eager to learn and quick to adapt, she works as a professional trainer at Courteous Canine Inc. DogSmith of Tampa, Florida as well as an animal ambassador trainer at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo.

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

A: After adopting my first rescue dog and using what I already knew about reward-based training from the zoo world, I went on the lookout for a way to work with my rescue dog Leo's reactivity in a way that was positive for both of us. It was during this search that I discovered (PPG steering committee member and regular BARKS feature writer) Angelica Steinker and her training school, Courteous Canine. Today, I continue to further my education when it comes to the animal training and behavior world and am passionate about giving owners tools to work with their dogs and not against them. Q: Tell us a little bit about your own pets.

A: Currently I have two dogs. Both were adopted at different times from a rescue for critically injured and abused animals located in Florida. Leo is my 4-year-old Australian shepherd mix who looks more like a giant Jack Russell terrier and was really my introduction into dog training. Labeled as fear aggressive, it was not long before I was on the hunt for training methods that not only could help my dog, but also aligned with my personal training ethics. Luckily for the both of us we quickly found Courteous Canine and force-free dog training. Dante is a 1-year-old shepherd mix and my "wild child." He came from a very similar situation as Leo (turned in with severe demodex and little socialization) and he likes to keep me on my toes. It is amazing watching the two of them together. They get along so well but are very different dogs – where Leo is shy and sweet, Dante is a bit of a tornado. Q: Who has most influenced your career and how?

A: When it comes to dog training, Angelica Steinker is really the person who scooped me up out of her group class and helped me become the trainer I am today. She has been and continues to be an amazing mentor, teacher, friend and all around wonderful human being when it comes to not only my career as a trainer but also in helping me build a great relationship with my personal dogs. Q: Why did you become a dog trainer or pet care provider?

A: Passionate about animals from a very early age, I worked hard to integrate myself into the animal world wherever I could. I could often be found volunteering in shelters, pulling shifts at a local emergency clinic and completing internships with companies such as Southeastern Guide Dogs Inc. in Florida. I feel very lucky in that I am surrounded by facilities in Florida that consistently work with animals in a very positive way. It was hard not to 60

BARKS from the Guild/March 2018

Photo © Alexandra Walker

Alexandra Walker and her Australian shepherd mix rescue, Leo, who had been labeled fear aggressive

get inspired to join the animal training community after seeing forcefree training in practice, be it at the zoo or in the world of dog training. Dog training is a profession that has not only allowed me to build my skills as a trainer but has really opened my eyes to what amazing animals our domestic dogs really are. Out of all of the animals I have now had the privilege to work with dogs still rank right up there at the top.

Q: Are you a crossover trainer or have you always been a force-free trainer?

A: I am happy I have been a force-free trainer since day one! However, I think there is a powerful lesson to be learned from trainers that truly do cross over. Personally experiencing the impact that force-free training has on an individual’s relationship with their animals is a feeling I wish every pet owner could have access to. Q: What drives you to be a force-free professional and why is it important to you? A: Educating pet owners is really the big payoff for me as a force-free professional. Almost anyone can teach a puppy to sit, but teaching an owner how to understand and communicate with their animals is really the big takeaway at the end of the day. Be it dogs, cats, parrots or animals of the more "exotic" variety, I

think using training as a tool to help animals and the people caring for them communicate and build trust with one another is no small thing, and it is a large part of why I became a force-free professional.

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

A: I think my favorite technique is really just learning and teaching clients to be smart in how, when and where they reward their dog. We often discount just how often our dogs watch and learn from us. Teaching owners the power of rewarding the behaviors that they want sounds so simple but can be really tough for some to grasp and implement. The power behind the timing of a reinforcer is still a concept that I love to improve and work to educate pet owners about. Q: What do you consider to be your area of expertise?

A: Still a very young trainer, I try to be like a sponge as much as I can and learn from others. I would have to say that reactivity is a special area of interest just based on my experience living and working with my two reactive rescue dogs. Q: What reward do you get out of a day's training?

A: Watching dogs and their owners learn to work with one another is really the most rewarding aspect of this field. Recently, I have started to get my feet wet in learning to train agility. Watching dogs (especially my own) go from shy and withdrawn on the course to happily attacking the obstacles is something that never gets old. Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A: My favorite part of the job is building such great relationships with pet owners and their dogs. Watching a dog show up to a six-week class shy and a little anxious on the first day and then to see them in the final class confidently working the course or learning new skills with their owner is without a doubt my favorite part. It is just so special to give people the tools to work with their dog in such a positive way and watch them get to know their pups all over again. Q: What awards or competition placements have you and your dog(s) achieved using force-free methods?

A: At this time Leo holds his Canine Good Citizen certificate and multiple trick dog titles from Do More With Your Dog and Dognostics's TrickMeister program. The biggest achievement I have gained with my personal dogs using force-free methods is really working with their reactivity. Dogs that were not comfortable spotting people or other dogs from what seemed like miles away are now happily taking group classes, attending doggy day care and working to run in their first agility competition. Q: What is the funniest or craziest situation you have been in with a pet and their owner?

A: Any time my two careers cross over it is a little humorous and eye opening (for the better!) I once had a very well respected trainer at the zoo ask me how to teach their dog to loose leash walk and it was just such a humbling experience. To be asked my advice from a professional already so respected in the exotic animal training field is something that


To me, PPG is a resource that not only helps me grow in the industry but also allows me to network with other like-minded professionals. It’s always great to have a place to go where you don't have to wade through all of the noise (and believe me, starting out there was a lot of misinformation to sift through).

really stuck with me. It also re-established the importance of always being open to asking questions no matter your skill level. Q: What advice would you give to a new trainer starting out?

A: Being a new trainer myself, I would say the biggest thing I try to do is really open yourself up to learning. Don't be afraid to ask questions and don't feel defeated when you receive constructive criticism – it's there to help you grow! Perfect practice is what makes perfect, so if there is something you are not sure you understand or are having difficulty with, reach out to a professional with a bit more experience. In my personal opinion, experienced trainers are more than happy to answer smart, well-educated questions. At the end of the day we are all here to improve the lives of pet owners and their pets and you owe it to yourself and your client to really do the research and understand the topic before offering advice. Q: How has PPG helped you to become a more complete trainer?

A: To me, PPG is a resource that not only helps me grow in the industry but also allows me to network with other like-minded professionals. It’s always great to have a place to go where you don't have to wade through all of the noise (and believe me, starting out there was a lot of misinformation to sift through). I am proud to rock the No Pain, No Force, No Fear bumper sticker on the back of my car and really represent what the organization stands for. n

Courteous Canine Inc. DogSmith of Tampa ( is located in Tampa, Florida To be featured in the BARKS Profile section, please complete this form:


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

Topics may include a particular aspect of training, ethology, learning theory, behavior specifics...anything at all your fellow pet professionals would find educational. We’ll even do some practice runs with you to help you along (if you need them!) BARKS from the Guild/March 2018



Doing No Harm

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

behavior specialists how they would go about convincing pet professionals electric shock

has no place in their toolbox. Here are their responses: Veronica Boutelle, founder, dog*tec: I am going to have to answer that from a business perspective – it’s about marketing. It’s about giving yourself that point of differentiation. It’s about being able to say to your clients that you are on the cutting edge of science and organizing your business from that perspective, and so I think that‘s the one angle to take it from as it gives you that competitive edge.

Janis Bradley, director of communications and publications, National Canine Research Council: I would say that, as with any helping professional, your first and primary obligation is to do no harm, and we have compelling evidence that applying shock, either systematically or randomly, to domestic dogs increases their general level of stress and discomfort. So given that knowledge, there simply is no ethical rationale for using it.

Malena DeMartini, canine separation anxiety disorder expert: With the plethora of tools that we have in our toolbox to modify and train dog behaviors, we can use these so efficiently and effectively, there is absolutely no reason to use something that would inflict pain or harm on any dog, or any animal for that matter. Dr. Soraya Juarbe-Diaz, veterinary behaviorist: Given that we’re trying to improve humane standards, not only in the way that we treat animals but in the way that we treat each other, I see no rationale for a shortcut to gain a result. So we need to take the time to do it in a way that doesn’t create more problems than what it’s solving. You solve one problem and create so many others, so I just don’t see the rationale.

Jennifer Arnold, founder and executive director, Canine Assistants and co-creator, Bond-Based Choice Teaching®: I think it’s important for us to remember that inflicting pain on a helpless individual, regardless of species, is called abuse.

Pat Miller, director, Peaceable Paws Trainer Academies and Training Programs: It is morally indefensible and ethically reprehensible to shock the sentient and sensitive beings that we call our best friends, because while shock may appear to effectively control behavior, in fact it just shuts down behavior and brings with it a constellation of very harmful and negative side effects including stress, fear and anxiety.

Ken Ramirez, executive vice president and chief training officer, Karen Pryor Clicker Training: If there’s a tool which causes pain or discomfort, it has the potential of creating other problems. As animal care professionals, I feel that if we can’t be creative, and we can’t find kinder, gentler ways of doing something, then maybe we are in the wrong profession.

Maureen Backman, owner, Mutt About Town: We don’t need to add fear and pain to the behavior modification toolbox – we know unequivocally that these methods are outdated, utterly unnecessary and cause sometimes irreversible psychological damage to dogs.


BARKS from the Guild/March 2018

...we know unequivocally that these methods are outdated, utterly unnecessary and cause sometimes irreversible psychological damage to dogs.

Sarah Richter, founder, Simply Animal Training LLC: As training industry professionals, we want to focus on education and thinking about what has been useful in the past, especially if we look at other science-based industries like medicine. Bloodletting used to be a good technique – or at least they thought so. But then with increased education, we learned that it is not. The problem is that a person that maybe wasn’t an experienced ‘blood-letter’ back in the day wouldn’t be considered today as a top professional [either] and so if you want to start to be relevant in your industry, if you want to continue with things that are relevant and be a knowledgeable professional, you need to continue your education and get away from the old, archaic techniques that clearly have been proven wrong.

Angelica Steinker, president and founder, Courteous Canine the DogSmith of Tampa: It’s so much more fun to use creative and fun methods; it’s more successful, it’s easy to sell clients on fun and it creates better results to use positive reinforcement exclusively, with the exception of manipulating negative punishment.

Irith Bloom, certified dog behavior consultant, Victoria Stilwell Positively dog trainer, and Karen Pryor Academy certified training partner: You would object if a pediatrician wanted to use a shock collar to get your child to come into the office, or if a dentist wanted to use a shock collar to get your child to hold still, or if a barber said he needed a shock collar so the child stops waving his hands around – right? How is that any different from a dog who has cognitive abilities that aren’t that different from those of a toddler? Lynn Honeckman, founder, Veterinary Behavior Solutions: As veterinarians we take a pledge to do no harm, so if I was speaking with other veterinarians I would say that we have to take shock off the table because using shock to prevent or treat behavior problems in pets is a complete contradiction of the oath we take when we start our profession.

Emily Larlham, owner and founder, Dogmantics: The way I teach, I don’t like to tell people what not to do. Instead I like to show them what they can do and then allow them to have a choice, in the same way that I train dogs. I show them the right choice and then hope that they can put all the information together in their head and make that correct choice, whereas if you are forcing someone down the aisle you want them to go, sometimes there’s resistance, frustration, and even anger. I Iike to really try my hardest to promote the correct choice and make it seem desirable to the person.

Pam Wanveer, Tellington TTouchTM practitioner: Adding stressors like fear or pain to a dog only makes them more anxious and, in turn, makes it more difficult for them to learn, process information and respond to you as it threatens their trust. n

Choose Your Adventure

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

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

Essential information for all professional trainers and behavior consultants.

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