BARKS from the Guild May 2018

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© Can Stock Photo/kkolosov

BARKS from the Guild Issue 30 / May 2018

AVIAN Overcoming Aversions

CANINE Life Lessons from a Boxer

TRAINING +R Snake Avoidance

FELINE Perching, Petting and Biting

COMMENT Letting Go of Dominance

EQUINE Teaching Self-Restraint around Food

CANINE Tracking and Trailing Lost Pets

The Hierarchy of Rewards

Primary and Secondary Reinforcers, Individual Preference, Motivating Operations, and the Importance of Delivery TM

Published by the Pet Professional Guild






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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

hile we all have a good idea of what our dogs find rewarding, we may also be aware that they may not find the same things rewarding all the time. Indeed, not all rewards will appeal to all dogs. Thus, a reward may or may not positively reinforce a behavior. Or, as so succinctly stated in this month’s cover story, a piece of chicken is not always “just a piece of chicken.” Why is this? When would kibble be more rewarding than a piece of chicken, and why? Why is the delivery of the reward important? What about motivating operations? Perhaps most importantly of all, how do rewards differ from positive reinforcers? So many questions and more are all answered in our cover feature, which delves deeply into reward hierarchies and the importance of knowing not only what is of high value to any individual dog, but also when it is of high value and why, and how we can then use that to boost our efficacy in training. Still on training, we present in this issue a 10-step protocol to aid in dog bite behavior cases; a new course devised by one of our Australia members for force-free snake avoidance training; training competitive Obedience and Rally from the perspective of the deaf dog; and ways of keeping the stress to a minimum when moving house with a separation anxiety dog to avoid triggering a regression in behavior. Elsewhere, in our Canine section, we feature the tale of Lulu the boxer who helped her guardian through the post-traumatic stress disorder he suffered after leaving the United States army, and how her dedication to guarding the house allowed him to delegate some of that responsibility to her and, therefore, helped him to relax, easing his transition back into civilian life. We also feature guidelines on locating a missing pet and working as a missing animal response technician. Both articles highlight just how amazing, adept and adaptable our dogs are, as if we didn’t already know. This month’s pet care topic is the all-important drop-off at a day care and boarding facility and how to make it as stress-free as possible. In other species, meanwhile, we relate the engaging tale of Murray, the green-winged macaw rescued from a home supply store, who had an aversion to human contact after many in-store experiences of being poked at and having his tail pulled. Murray’s story highlights the importance of consistency in training, and how animals may quickly regress if we are not consistent in our approach. Our Feline section continues its discussion of common questions about cat behavior, this time discussing why our feline friends sometimes perch on the edge of their litter boxes and also, another commonly reported feline behavior quirk, why cats will allow you to pet them one minute and then the next will be biting you. Next, our equine section looks at some of the terminology commonly used in horse training (specifically that surrounding the use of food rewards), which is really just labeling behaviors from a human perspective. Our article talks about teaching self-restraint and helping horses learn to make the association between a calm emotional state and engaging in a behavior for a reward. In our Business and Consulting section, meanwhile, we investigate the importance of being able to read both human and canine body language, and look into the impact that living with a dog who has behavioral concerns can have on the resident humans, something that may often get forgotten as we focus on the dog. We also discuss client compliance, the fact that it is actually okay to fire a client, and how best to go about this. Finally, in our Comment section, we ask a group of canine training and behavior specialists how we can get past dominance theory once and for all, and round out the issue with another great member profile and book review. Enjoy the read. As always, feedback is welcome!

n Susan Nilso

BARKS from the Guild/May 2018


6 12 14 22 26 30 34 36 38 40 42 46 48 52 54 56 58 61 62


contents N EWS

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


Report from Kathy Cascade’s workshop on working with shy, fearful, or anxious dogs


Louise Stapleton-Frappell delves into the world of positive reinforcement, individual preference, motivating operations, primary and secondary reinforcers, and the all-important delivery


Diane Garrod presents a 10-step protocol to aid in dog bite cases


Morag Heirs examines competitive Obedience and Rally from the perspective of the deaf dog


Disenchanted by the prevalence of shock collars to train snake avoidance for dogs, Charlotte Smithson showcases her own force-free training protocol to keep dogs safe



© Can Stock Photo/kkolosov


Sheelah Gullion discusses how, for dogs with canine separation anxiety, moving house can be managed with minimal stress


David Shade details his battle with post-traumatic stress disorder after leaving the military and how his boxer puppy Lulu helped him transition back into society


Jane Bowers describes her work as a missing animal response technician

© Can Stock Photo/fotostok_pdv


Lauri Bowen-Vaccare discusses the all-important drop-off at a boarding or day care facility


Photo © Sally Sanford



Lara Joseph relates the tale of Murray, the green-winged macaw she rescued from a home supply store, and how she overcame his aversion to human contact – twice


Paula Garber and Tabitha Kucera tackle some of the common questions about feline behavior


Kathie Gregory discusses labels and the importance of self-restraint when using food as a teaching aid



Photo © Lara Joseph

Photo © David Shade


Angelica Steinker investigates the importance of reading both human and canine body language for professional behavior consultants


Anna Bradley assesses the impact living with a dog with behavior issues can have on the resident humans




Veronica Boutelle responds to business and marketing questions





Featuring Phyllis Beasley of Praise Dog! Training, LLC in West Columbia, South Carolina

Susan Nilson and Louise Stapleton-Frappell ask canine behavior specialists how to get past common misperceptions surrounding dominance theory

© Can Stock Photo/oksun70

Photo © Andy Francis



Breanna Norris reviews Dog Smart: Evidence-Based Training with The Science Dog by Linda P. Case

BARKS from the Guild/May 2018

© Can Stock Photo/kyolshin

© Can Stock Photo/damedeeso

Discount codes lis listed sted in the member’s area ofo the PPG website


Shock-Free Coalition Now Recruiting Regional Coordinators


PG is now hard at work on Phase 2 of the 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. The second phase of the initiative focuses on the introduction of regional initiatives both throughout the United States and internationally with the overall aim of growing the Shock-Free Coalition brand. This will be achieved via a specific focus that can more effectively develop and manage localized advocacy activities to support and coordinate targeted legal strategies PPG is working on with the support of legal counsel and a public relations agency. As such, PPG is now recruiting Shock-Free Coalition regional coordinators to help build out these localized chapters. This is an exciting role for individuals who are passionate about the coalition, the pledge and its goals, and who want to work closely with PPG leadership to move our advocacy platform forward. With the added support of a legal team, this will be a dynamic and fast-paced initiative. “The ban shock movement is gathering momentum,” said PPG president, Niki Tudge. “When will organizations that represent behavior professionals take a stand and make public policy decisions on the use and potential fallout of electric shock collars? PPG is working hard behind the scenes with a group of lawyers to develop a legal strategy to remove them from circulation. Join us and support our efforts, and rest assured, action is coming!” Please like the Shock-Free Coalition Facebook page ( to stay up-to-date with all the latest developments. See -Coordinators for more about the requirements for Shock-Free regional coordinator roles and responsibilities, and /Your-Shock-Free-Coalition to submit your application.


BARKS from the Guild/May 2018

New Feline Guiding Principles


PG is working on expanding its feline resources and has now released its Guiding Principles for feline behavior consultants ( /Feline-Guiding-Principles), which fall in line with the organization’s existing Guiding Principles and Key Charter ( /PPGs-Guiding-Principles).

Photo © Susan Nilson

PPG Introduces New Automatic Renewal Process


PG has introduced a more streamlined membership renewal process. This includes the following options:

PayPal Subscription If you currently pay your monthly membership through a PayPal subscription, you will receive a subscription cancellation notice from PayPal. When you renew your membership on April 1, you will be able to activate your ALL NEW monthly automatic renewal from your membership profile on the PPG website. You can choose to make this monthly payment using a credit card or a PayPal account. Once you set this up you will then not have to do anything else each month, the system will automatically do it for you. Monthly Payments through the PPG Website If you are currently using the monthly membership option through the PPG website, you will also be able to set up an automatic monthly renewal payment using either a credit card or PayPal. Once you set this up, it will make each monthly membership renewal effortless and you will no longer receive the monthly renewal reminder emails. “We are pleased and excited we can make our membership options so much easier,” said PPG president, Niki Tudge. “As soon as we have completed the transition of all the monthly memberships, then we will make our new automatic renewal process available for all the other membership levels. It is our goal to continuously innovate, always adding value to your membership working hard to ensure being a member of PPG is as seamless and stress-free as possible.”

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New Corporate Partner: Cooperative Paws Service Dog Coach™


ooperative Paws Service Dog Coach™ ( has signed up as PPG’s latest corporate partner. Cooperative Paws Service Dog Coach™ is an online CEU approved certificate program for professional pet dog trainers interested in learning to train service dogs. PPG members are eligible to waive the application fee when applying. You can find the discount code when logged in to the member area of the PPG website ( /benefitinformation) and then place your order (

Patel Joins Sydney Line-Up


opular behavior and training consultant, Chirag Patel is the latest presenter to sign on to present at PPG’s inaugural Australian summit (, to be held at the Bankstown Sports Club ( in Sydney on July 27-29, 2018. Grab your spot in our Early Bird Special – sign up now and enjoy a monthly payment plan with no interest, or get 20 percent discount by "Bringing a Mate!"

PPG Collateral for Members Working in Rescue


PG has a variety of artwork, including promotional cards, flyers and bookmarks, available to members to help rescue any groups they work with to promote the force-free philosophy ( Download high resolution PDFs for local printing or take advantage of the great rates in PPG’s print store. If you want personalized copies, you can also add your business logo.

PPG Debuts Member App


member app for the PPG website is now available. The app has several features, allowing members to view the member directory, view a member's profile, email fellow members, view the event calendar and event details, register for an event, specify the number of guests (if the registration type was set up to collect the total number of guests only), view their existing event registrations, pay an outstanding event registration fee and view their member profile. Download the app: -apricot/id1220348450.

PPG members who work with rescue organizations can download and/or print a variety of artwork to help pet adopters get off to a good start


BARKS BARKS fromfrom the the Guild/January Guild/May 2018

Project Trade Update


ongratulations to Nee Kang of Cheerful Dogs ( in Singapore, who traded two choke chains and one throw chain (below left), and is Project Trade Ambassador for January 2018. Congratulations too to Katie Costello of The Canine Campus ( in Ohio, United States, who traded one prong collar (below right).

Congratulations also to Erika Gonzalez of From Dusk Till Dog, LLC ( in New Jersey, USA, who traded two choke collars, three prong collars and two shock collars (below, top left) and is Project Trade Ambassador for February 2018. Congratulations too to Anastasia Tsoulia of Hug4Pets & Hug4Dogs ( in Thessaloniki, Greece, who traded three prong collars and two choke collars (below, center and bottom), and Lauren Van Duzer of Happy Hounds and Beyond LLC ( in Georgia, USA, who traded one shock collar (below, top right).


Business Opportunities and Welfare


ocial media, hectic lives, and busy work schedules, more and more dogs are missing out on the most important thing they need: quality time with their family. I am sure this is the case for children and human family members, too, but I am a dog trainer. I meet a lot of families who got a dog with good intentions, but just cannot provide the amount of socialization and training their new family member needs. It has now become commonplace to make enrichment a priority and dogs have to learn at a very young age to be independent and spend a lot of time alone. I do understand that our industry is just catering to different needs and circumstances, but are we doing the right thing by our puppies and dogs? If the highest priority is to teach a puppy to be crated and left alone for extended periods of time, is that really the quality of life we, as a force-free community, aim to provide for our clients? I personally do not think so. Dogs are social animals and our priority should be to teach them to live harmoniously with their family and in the community at large. Our priority should be to raise resilient, well-adjusted and happy canine citizens. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying we should not crate train or teach puppies to spend time on their own, but this should not be the main focus of our training in my opinion. We will not be able to change the lack of time but there might be business opportunities for pet professionals here. For example, offering consultations for potential dog and pet owners before they get a puppy or a dog, and providing relevant educational information before the final decision is made. Or, helping potential dog owners to make a fair assessment of the situation and decide if there is time for an additional family member. Both of these could be a great service and provide added value to what we already do. It could also reduce stress and the need of dogs being rehomed or, worse, surrendered. Food for thought, indeed. In the meantime, PPG Australia is very busy helping PPG president Niki Tudge and her team to organize our first ever educational summit in Sydney, New South Wales on July 27-29. With such a great line-up we all are confident it is going to be a hugely successful event. For more information, see opposite page and our ad on page 51.


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

PPG on Twitter

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.

PG has an active Twitter account and tweets regularly about new scientific research studies, articles, blog posts and videos that are of interest to pet professionals, in addition to PPG’s own news, press releases, blog posts, educational handouts and articles, plus summit and advocacy updates, and new corporate partner deals. Join us in the Twitter conversation at @PetGuild (

BARKS from the Guild/May 2018



PPG Podcast Schedule


he PPG Radio Show ( takes place at least once every month, always features an incredible lineup of guests and is educational and fun. Here is the current schedule (note: schedule is correct at time of going to press but is subject to change):

Tuesday, May 1, 2018 - 3 p.m. EST Guests: Angelica Steinker and Daniel Antolec. Topic: The importance of withholding judgment in behavior consultations, the dark side of the pet industry, and zoophilia, a hidden horror for animals. Register to listen live:

Wednesday, June 20, 2018 - 1 p.m. EST Guest: Sam Redmond. Topic: The rise of the wolfdog and how to handle these dogs in professional practice. Register to listen live:

Tuesday, July 10, 2018 - 3 p.m. EST Guest: Dr. Lynn Bahr. Topic: The impact of chronic pain on feline behavior, and the long-term physical and behavioral effects of declawing. Register to listen live:

Register to listen live:

Tuesday, October 2, 2018 - 3 p.m. EST Guest: Jane Bowers. Topic: Assessing and Interpreting Dog Behaviour, a course for law enforcement personnel and others who meet unfamiliar dogs in the course of their duties. Register to listen live:

Recent Podcasts

Veronica Boutelle - Let's Opinionate! Education in the pet industry, from March 14, 2018:

Special #ShockFreeCoalition Podcasts

Project Trade - a strategic way to apply a discounted service policy in exchange for aversive training equipment from September 26, 2017: Drayton Michaels and Niki Tudge - An uncensored chat about training with shock! from September 28, 2017: Dr. Marc Bekoff - Do pet parents understand when their dog is feeling stressed or feeling happy? from October 1, 2017:

Wednesday, August 3, 2018 - 3 p.m. EST Guest: David Shade. Topic: A United States military veteran and his journey from being an aversive trainer to a force-free trainer.

Earn Your CEUs via PPG’s Webinars, Workshops and Educational Summits! Residential Workshops and Educational Summits PPG Florida Members - A Full Day of Networking, Sessions and Competitions with Niki Tudge, Angelica Steinker and Dr. Lynn Honeckman (Tampa, Florida) Sunday, September 16, 2018 - 9 a.m. (EDT)

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)

Let's Coach Scent Work! with Robert Hewings (Tampa, Florida) Saturday, October 20, 2018 - 9 a.m. (EDT) Sunday, October 21, 2018 - 4 p.m. (EDT)

The Walk This Way Instructor Certification Workshop with Louise Stapleton-Frappell and Niki Tudge (Tampa, Florida) Monday, October 22, 2018 - 9 a.m. (EDT) Tuesday, October 23, 2018 - 4 p.m. (EDT)

PPG Australia Summit 2018 (Sydney, New South Wales) (see also ad on page 51) Friday, July 27, 2018 - Time TBC Sunday, July 29, 2018 - Time TBC


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) • Details of all upcoming workshops:

• 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/May 2018

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From a State of Fear to a State of Feeling Safe

Kathy Cascade hosted a workshop at PPG’s Florida base to present solutions for those who

work with shy, fearful, or anxious dogs. BARKS reports on the event


Kathy Cascade’s workshop included building trust with a fearful dog via the concept of allowing the dog to make his own choices

athy Cascade PT PCT-A Tellington TTouchTM instructor has a skillful approach to working with dogs with aggression and fear issues, leading her to develop a series of seminars titled S.A.N.E. Solutions for Challenging Dog Behavior®. In January, Cascade hosted the workshop S.A.N.E. Solutions for Shy and Fearful Dogs® at PPG’s headquarters in Tampa, Florida. Aimed at dog trainers, rescue/animal welfare professionals, and other pet care professionals who work with shy, fearful, or anxious dogs, Cascade presented a host of effective and creative techniques to help dogs overcome these difficult behavior issues. S.A.N.E. Solutions® is a collection of tools designed to help dogs reduce tension and arousal while building confidence and coping skills. The goal is to give the dog a new experience of feeling safe, calm, and in control while in a challenging environment or when confronted with other triggers which previously elicited a fearful response. Based on the principles of Tellington TTouchTM training and sensory integration, the approach employs the use of novel sensory experiences to enhance learning. During the workshop, attendees learned the following: • To understand the significant link between posture, physical balance, and behavior. • To identify the four primary coping strategies dogs employ when feeling threatened or stressed. • How to apply a sensory approach to reduce arousal through specific forms of touch and purposeful movement exercises. • How to use unique leading exercises designed to introduce new people to fearful dogs. • The rationale and application of light pressure wraps or garments to help dogs reduce anxiety and touch sensitivity. • To build trust with a fearful dog using the concept of “giving choice.” "Helping dogs learn to cope with the demands of living in our often chaotic human world is a passion of mine,” says Cascade. “Creating a sense of calm and safety for the dog is the first step to eliminating reactive and fearful behavior. We can do this with humane, effective tools for reducing stress and building confidence. It gives me great joy to see these dogs make the transformation from living in a state of fear to feeling safe in the world." n 12

BARKS from the Guild/May 2018

Wraps at the ready, Cascade (left) demonstrates the link between posture, physical balance, and behavior

“Creating a sense of calm and safety for the dog is the first step to eliminating reactive and fearful behavior. We can do this with humane, effective tools for reducing stress and building confidence. It gives me great joy to see these dogs make the transformation from living in a state of fear to feeling safe in the world.” Kathy Cascade

Tellington TTouchTM ground exercises help dogs to think and focus as they move slowly around the course


Cascade’s workshop included learning to identify the four primary coping strategies dogs employ when feeling threatened or stressed, and how to apply a sensory approach to reduce arousal through specific forms of touch and purposeful movement exercises

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/May 2018 s ABA Dictionary:


The Hierarchy of Rewards

A piece of chicken is not always “just a piece of chicken,” says Louise Stapleton-Frappell as she delves into the world of positive reinforcement, discussing individual preference,

motivating operations, primary and secondary reinforcers, and the importance of

the delivery

Author Louise Stapleton-Frappell’s Staffordshire bull terrier, Jambo, places his boomer ball firmly at the peak of his Hierarchy of Rewards – unless he is tired or hungry, then his bed or a nice stuffed Kong might just usurp his all-time favorite thing Photo © Louise Stapleton-Frappell


BARKS from the Guild/May 2018


he words reward and positive reinforcement are often used to describe the same process in dog training, but are they really the same? In my opinion, the language pet professionals use when discussing their training methods can at times be misleading, and there is often much debate over the use of terms such as force-free, rewardbased and positive reinforcement. Indeed, while sometimes there will be shared meaning, at other times, the terms may be attributed to diametrically opposed training methods. Let’s begin with a definition of reinforcement and a few other terms you are likely to come across when reading about reward-based, science-based, force-free training. The term “reinforce” means to strengthen and it is used in behavioral psychology to refer to a stimulus which strengthens or increases the probability of a specific response. Behavior is the function of its consequences and reinforcement strengthens the likelihood of a behavior. To qualify as reinforcement an experience must have three characteristics: First, the behavior must have a consequence. Second, the behavior must increase in strength (e.g. occur more often). Third, the increase in strength must be a result of the consequence (Chance, 2013). When talking about reinforcement in this article, I will be referring to positive reinforcement. In this context, positive means that a stimulus is added. With positive reinforcement, a behavior is followed by a stimulus (which the subject seeks out/will work to receive) that reinforces the behavior that precedes it, resulting in an increase in the frequency, intensity and/or duration of that behavior. To clarify, a reinforcer is a stimulus that, when it occurs in conjunction with a behavior and is contingent on that behavior, it makes that behavior occur more often. But what if the behavior doesn’t increase in frequency, strength or duration? What if the behavior continues to occur with the same frequency or occurs less often? In this case, we can reliably say that the consequence stimulus would not qualify as reinforcement. Is a reward the same as a reinforcer? The simple answer is no, it is not. Although, this article is titled The Hierarchy of Rewards and, when simplifying our language, it is often useful to advise our clients to mark and reward (click and treat/mark and pay), a reward and a reinforcer/reinforcement consequence are not the same. Let’s look at the definition of a reward. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (2017), a reward is “a thing given in recognition of service, effort, or achievement; a sum offered for information leading to the solving of a crime, the detection of a criminal, etc.”

Perceived Value

The key here is in the definition. I may be given something in recognition of my hard work but that does not necessarily mean that I will work harder in the future. If my reward for all the extra hours I worked were a simple thank you, would that act as reinforcement? What about if my reward for all the hours I worked were a big cash bonus? Would that serve as a reinforcement consequence? A reward may or may not positively reinforce a behavior. There are a few reasons why, one being that the person providing the reward is the one who decides what the reward is. The recipient, on the other hand, might not be quite so enthusiastic about the perceived reward. My Staffordshire bull terrier, Jambo, and I were once rewarded with an, ahem, beautiful trophy for taking first place in an event at a local competition. However, the trophy went on to take pride of place hidden away at the back of a cupboard! Did the trophy act as a reinforcer? Because of that consequence (i.e. being rewarded with a trophy), did Jambo and I enter or try to win more competitions? No. The reward was only beautiful in the eye of the giver. The recipient of the reward thought otherwise, hence its new location in the cupboard! Rewards often come attached to some sort of judgment about the person or animal they are directed at, whereas reinforcers are linked to the behavior and not the provider or the recipient. Just like rewards, re-


How enthusiastically would you work if your boss said that they were not going to pay you anything and that, in future, you would just receive a pat on the back? Perhaps, worse still, that, as his subordinate, you would just have to do as you were told? You might still do the work, especially if you thought you might be punished for not doing it, but would you be happy and would you work with enthusiasm? inforcers can be delivered by people, but they can also be delivered by the environment. Suppose, for example, that one morning your dog manages to slip out of the back door and chase the neighbor’s cat. The dog has a wonderful time and, the next morning, flies out of the door as soon as it is opened. That one act of joyfully chasing the neighbor’s cat has effectively reinforced rushing out the door as soon as it is opened. If the neighbor’s cat never ventures into your yard again, the behavior may undergo extinction. This is unlikely, however, as the act of running at full speed out of the door and across the yard is undoubtedly self-reinforcing – offering intrinsic reinforcement and serving as wonderful motivation to repeat the behavior. But what if the behavior is put on a variable schedule of reinforcement (i.e. the cat is occasionally available to be chased)? You can probably guess the answer. The behavior of rushing out of the door will go from strength-to-strength as it is being extrinsically reinforced in the same way as playing on a slot-machine: You know that if you keep playing, you are sure to win again at some point. Note, I have clarified that rewards and positive reinforcement consequences are not the same, but that does not mean I am never going to tell people to reward their dog. Of course I tell people to pay their dog, but obviously that doesn’t mean I want my clients to throw a wad of cash at him! My clients are intelligent people, and while some may wish to delve deeper into the world of behavioral science, many more are happy to stick with the world of click and treat, or mark and reward. As is probably clear by now, I believe that, as pet professionals, we should have a clear understanding of terms such as positive reinforcement and recognize that just because we have “rewarded” a dog with a throw of a ball or a tasty treat, it does not necessarily mean we have positively reinforced the behavior. Only the future will tell us that! We also need to be aware that some rewards are considered by the recipient – not the provider – to be of a higher value than others. Importantly, this will be different for each animal. Once we have an understanding of this, we can create a “pyramid” to help us easily see what an individual finds more reinforcing and what is perceived to be less so. I call this the Hierarchy of Rewards.

Hierarchy of Needs

Now that we have discussed the meaning of rewards versus reinforcement, let’s get back to the “hierarchy” part of this article’s title. When needs are not being met, animals will be motivated to try and fulfil those needs. Psychologist Abraham Maslow's (1943) Hierarchy of Needs is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid. Maslow (1943) stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs and that some needs take precedence over others. Our most basic need is for physical survival, and this will be the first thing that motivates our behavior. Once that level is fulfilled, the next level up is what motivates us. The original Hierarchy of Needs five-stage model includes: 1. Biological and Physiological Needs: Air, food, drink, shelter, BARKS from the Guild/May 2018



© Can Stock Photo/ksuksa

© Can Stock Photo/SNR

warmth, sex, sleep. The things that we need to survive. All animals are motivated by these needs. If we are hungry we will want to eat, if we are thirsty, we will want to drink. 2. Safety Needs: Protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, freedom from fear. Not having these needs met can lead to stress and anxiety and even to aggressive responses in an effort to protect ourselves 3. Love and Belongingness Needs: Friendship, intimacy, trust and acceptance, receiving and giving affection and love. Affiliating, being part of a group (family, friends, work). The need for us to communicate with others and interact with others. If this need is not met, we can become depressed and anxious. The same is true of animals. 4. Esteem Needs: Maslow classified these into two categories: (i) esteem for oneself (dignity, achievement, mastery, independence) and (ii) the desire for reputation or respect from others (e.g. status, prestige). 5. Self-Actualization Needs: Realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences. It is important to note that Maslow's (1943, 1954) five-stage model has been expanded to include cognitive and aesthetic needs (Maslow, 1970a) and later transcendence needs (Maslow, 1970b) as follows: 1. Biological and Physiological Needs. 2. Safety Needs. 3. Love and Belongingness Needs. 4. Esteem Needs. 5. Cognitive Needs: Knowledge and understanding, curiosity, exploration, need for meaning and predictability. The need to understand and a desire to know things. 6. Aesthetic Needs: Appreciation and search for beauty, balance, form, etc. 7. Self-Actualization Needs. 8. Transcendence Needs: A person is motivated by values which transcend beyond the personal self, e.g. mystical experiences and certain experiences with nature, aesthetic experiences, sexual experiences, service to others, the pursuit of science, a religious faith etc. (McLeod, 2017). Why is Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs theory important? To start with, it has made a big impact on how we teach and manage our students in school. We know that behavior is a response to the environment, but Maslow’s hierarchy also looks at the physical, emotional, social and intellectual needs and how they impact learning. The hierarchy also clearly shows us that before an individual’s cognitive needs can

be met, we must fulfil the basic physiological needs. I often tell my clients that although we want to use food as reinforcement, it does not mean that I want anyone to not feed their dog. A hungry learner will find it very difficult to focus on learning! I also believe we should show our learners, both human and canine, that they are valued and respected and ensure we work with them in a safe and supportive environment. We need to meet the esteem needs of all our students so that they can quickly progress with their learning.

Different dogs will find different things rewarding at different times for a number of different reasons: examples include (left to right) a tennis ball, sniffing, play with other dogs/toys and interaction with their owner


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Five Freedoms

The Hierarchy of Dog Needs, adapted from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs by professional dog trainer and PPG member, Linda Michaels (2017), is a hierarchical model of wellness and behavior modification in which first we meet our dogs’ biological, emotional and social needs, and once we feel assured that these foundational needs have been met, we use management, antecedent modification, positive and differential reinforcement, counterconditioning and desensitization to modify behavior. Although not a hierarchy, before I get back to my Hierarchy of Rewards, I would like to mention Prof. Roger Brambell’s (1965) Five Freedoms, which put responsibility on the animal caretaker to make sure they provide animals with a good welfare environment. In 1965, the U.K. government commissioned an investigation, led by Prof. Brambell, into the welfare of intensively farmed animals. Brambell’s report stated that: "An animal should at least have sufficient freedom of movement to be able without difficulty, to turn round, groom itself, get up, lie down and stretch its limbs." This short recommendation became known as Brambell's Five Freedoms. Because of the report, the Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Committee was created to monitor the livestock production sector. In July 1979, this was replaced by the Farm Animal Welfare Council, and by the end of that year, the five free-

The main thing to remember is that, just because you think something will serve to reinforce a behavior, it doesn’t mean that it will do so in all conditions or with all individuals. Some dogs will do just about anything if you throw a tennis ball for them to chase (unless they have just chased after 20 balls) while others would much rather lie under a tree while you go and retrieve the ball yourself.


© Can Stock Photo/Madrabothair

© Can Stock Photo/damedeeso

doms had been codified into the recognizable list format. Although developed for farm animals, Brambell’s Five Freedoms can easily be adapted to pets. The Five Freedoms are: • Freedom from Hunger and Thirst: By ready access to fresh water and diet to maintain health and vigor. • Freedom from Discomfort: By providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area. • Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease: By prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment. • Freedom to Display Natural Behavior: By providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind. • Freedom from Fear and Distress: By ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering. In addition to Brambell’s Five Freedoms, other animal welfare frameworks such as the Duty of Care concept (as outlined in Chapter 45 of the Animal Welfare Act, 2006) need to be foremost in our minds when caring for and working with any animal. The Duty of Care concept focuses on providing animals with a safe, happy environment which they can enjoy, and encourages legal responsibility for those animals.

There are variables affecting reinforcement and affecting the value of each reinforcer at any given time, in different environments and with different individuals.

Individual Preferences

Now, back to Jambo’s Hierarchy of Rewards (Stapleton-Frappell, 2013). If you have read everything above, you will understand that before beginning any training, the trainer should make sure that the learner’s basic needs are met. The trainer can then make use of both primary and secondary reinforcers but must bear in mind that the value will be ascertained by the recipient and not the provider, as although I use the name Hierarchy of Rewards, I am referring to a hierarchy of positive reinforcement consequences. Whether teaching Jambo or any other learner a new behavior, or reinforcing behaviors that have previously been taught, I use that learner’s own personal Hierarchy of Rewards. Each individual’s hierarchy includes lower value reinforcers (i.e. consequence stimuli that will serve to reinforce simple known behaviors in that individual’s home environment or other non-distracting environments); medium value reinforcers (which serve to reinforce slightly more difficult behaviors or behaviors in slightly more demanding environments); and finally, high value reinforcers (reinforcers that are the real “top guns” that we use to reinforce more demanding behaviors and behaviors in environments where there are a lot of competing stimuli). My go-to reinforcer when teaching a new behavior or when I need lots of repetitions is always food. These should be small pieces of tasty,

easy-to-chew and easy-to-swallow food so I can deliver them quickly and maintain a high rate of reinforcement. It is also more effective to use smaller reinforcements more frequently rather than large reinforcements less often. However, I also make good use of non-food items, which include everything from balls to tug toys to life rewards, such as access to things my learner wants (e.g. going outdoors, sniffing a patch of grass, or greeting someone). Whether using food or non-food reinforcers, one thing is certain: reinforcers are not all equal and the value of an individual reinforcer is not static. The value to the learner will change depending on various factors, including: • The Behavior Itself: Behaviors, as determined by the animal’s ability to do them and his biological pre-disposition to behave in certain ways, are easier or more difficult to reinforce. Behavior that depends on smooth muscles and glands is harder to reinforce than behavior that depends on skeletal muscles. (Chance, 2013). • The Individual’s Preferences. • Previous Learning History. • Previous Reinforcement History. • The Setting Events and Motivating Operations. There are variables affecting reinforcement and affecting the value of each reinforcer at any given time, in different environments and with different individuals. We also need to bear in mind that if we use the higher value reinforcers too frequently for easy behaviors in non-distracting environments, we could find that not only will our learner no longer be motivated to work for lower value reinforcers, but also that we dilute the value of those reinforcers that were previously at the top of the hierarchy, making them less effective in more demanding situations or with more demanding behaviors. We should make sure then, that we have a variety of reinforcers on all levels of our learner’s hierarchy so that we have something of appropriate value to call upon in all situations. Varying the reinforcement consequences that is offered, will also help to overcome satiation – at some point, we have all eaten enough of that delicious cake but that doesn’t mean that we would say no to an ice-cold bottle of beer! Although each individual will have their own Hierarchy of Rewards, neither Jambo’s nor any other learner’s hierarchy is static. What works BARKS from the Guild/May 2018



as a reinforcer one day may be of little interest to the same learner the next day. Let’s say Jambo was reasonably hungry and we were working in a non-distracting environment (see Figure i, bottom left). He would probably find kibble to be of sufficient value and it would serve as an adequate reinforcement consequence. If, however, we were to try and do that same behavior in a more distracting environment, at a greater distance or perhaps when Jambo had just eaten, then the kibble would have very little, if any value and would not serve to positively reinforce a behavior. If Jambo were in a playful mood, then his tug toy would have a much higher value than if he were tired and ready for bed. An opportunity to sniff a nice patch of grass might serve to reinforce the behavior of coming close to me on a nice summer’s evening but on a dark and wet winter’s night, the opposite would be true. If I wanted Jambo to leave my side and go to the grass, then it might be returning to my side and the protection of my umbrella that would serve as a reinforcer – but maybe even that would not be of high enough value and he would simply decide not to carry out the behavior. Perhaps performing sendaways in the rain calls for roast chicken?

Motivating Operations

Let’s now look at motivating operations and how they impact a dog's Hierarchy of Rewards. A motivating operation is an event that increases or decreases the reinforcing value of a stimulus change, and therefore increases or decreases the likelihood of the discriminative stimulus to evoke the behavior. Motivating operations affect the value of the reinforcer. They are environmental events or stimulus conditions that affect an animal’s behavior by altering the reinforcing or punishing effectiveness of other environmental events, and the frequency of occurrence of that behavior relevant to those events as consequences. Simply, motivating operations is another way of saying motivation. Food is more reinforcing to an animal when the animal is hungry. As such, he is going to be more motivated to work to gain access to food. However, as I previously mentioned, I always advise against withholding food. Not only is this unethical, it could be dangerous, even leading to hypoglycemia in small dogs. Free feeding is not a good idea when using food as reinforcement but I would recommend feeding, for example, half a meal prior to training. That leaves a full half to use in your training

Graphic © Louise Stapleton-Frappell

Figure i: No learner’s Hierarchy of Rewards is static, and what works as a reinforcer one day may be of little interest to the same learner the next day


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It is not just the reward we use, nor the circumstances in which we use it that dictate the value. The way that reward is delivered is very powerful. session. Peak performance will occur when the dog is motivated, but not if he is so hungry he cannot think clearly. Meanwhile, free access to all toys all the time can be counterproductive to using a toy as reinforcement, but this can be overcome by keeping a specific toy for training only. This is “your” toy and when not in use can be kept hidden away in a cupboard, thus increasing the value of the toy to the learner. A dog that has just spent the last hour running around will find the training game and any reinforcement (other than a bed) of less value than a dog who is rested and ready to exercise. Crating the dog for 30 minutes prior to training can therefore act as an establishing operation improving the effectiveness or value of the reinforcer. Long periods of crating are, however, to be avoided. Some deprivation, i.e. limited access to certain resources, will help increase motivation but excessive deprivation is not only less effective, it is, as I have said, unethical. Always ending a training session on a high note will also serve as motivation as the learner is left wanting more. As previously mentioned, there are also other variables that affect reinforcement, such as the animal’s previous learning experiences and competing contingencies, when reinforcers are available for other kinds of behavior. The main thing to remember is that just because you think something will serve to reinforce a behavior, it doesn’t mean that it will do so in all conditions or with all individuals. Some dogs will do just about anything if you throw a tennis ball for them to chase (unless they have just chased after 20 balls) while others would much rather lie under a tree while you go and retrieve the ball yourself. As previously stated, the things Jambo places at the top of his Hierarchy of Rewards will not be the same for another dog. Some of the dogs in my training classes love playing tug, some love fetching balls, some love playing with other dogs, some love jumping in the paddling pool. Others don’t. Many people insist that their learner should work for praise and

Figure ii: Jambo’s Hierarchy of Rewards

Graphic © Louise Stapleton-Frappell

that they don’t want to give their dog food all the time to train them. My response is two-fold. Firstly, all dogs need to eat to survive so I would like to think we are going to feed them. The first of the Five Freedoms is freedom from hunger and thirst, and at the base of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs are biological and physiological needs - air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep, i.e. the things that we need to survive. All animals are motivated by these needs, so why not make use of food in our training? Secondly, I like to give an example which usually goes something like this: How enthusiastically would you work if your boss said that he wasn’t going to pay you anything and that, in future, you would just receive a pat on the back? Perhaps, worse still, that, as his subordinate, you would just have to do as you were told? You might still do the work, especially if you thought you might be punished for not doing it, but would you be happy and would you work with enthusiasm? Jambo loves it when I praise him enthusiastically and I do think this is important for his self-esteem. He also loves to share a cuddle with me, as do many of the dogs that come to my classes, but that doesn’t mean that he or any of my students’ dogs would want to work for them. One or two repetitions? Yes, my cuddles probably have enough value, but five down-stays at 20 meters surrounded by other dogs and people? Not so much. Jambo’s top of the hierarchy reinforcer (most of the time) is his boomer ball, although if he were tired or hungry then his bed or a nice stuffed Kong might usurp the boomer ball. If I have been traveling and

Jambo had been deprived of my presence, then kisses and cuddles A piece of chicken is with me might jump to the not always “just a top of his hierarchy. piece of chicken” – the way a trainer Jambo’s big dog sister, delivers the reward Tessa, has no inclination can also add or take whatsoever to play with a away value boomer ball and it would therefore not even make it onto her Hierarchy of Rewards. For Tessa, kibble would hold much greater © Can Stock Photo/danilobiancalana value, and one of her highest value reinforcers is going out for a ride in the car. Our previous Staffordshire bull terrier’s highest value reinforcer was his ‘tugga’ toy but, as you can see from Figure ii (see opposite page, bottom right), which shows Jambo’s personal Hierarchy of Rewards, it is of quite low value to him. Remember, it will be different for every dog and this is key to effective training. The graphic does not include all the food items I use as reinforcers as there are so many, but I have attempted to include the main ones. At the lowest level of Jambo’s Hierarchy of Rewards are tug toys, tennis balls and kibble. My neighbor’s dog, Joey, would without doubt, place tennis balls right at the top of his Hierarchy of Rewards! Playtime with his big sister, ham, cheese and banana all beat the previous level, and they are followed by homemade sweet potato crisps, hotdogs with gooey cheese inside and dehydrated beef heart. Playtime with my nephews would compete with all three of these levels in Jambo’s personal hierarchy. Squeezy cheese, meatballs, roast chicken, sardines and peanut butter come into play to reinforce behaviors that call for a very high value reinforcer and I make good use of them all when training operant behaviors such as recalls and during respondent counterconditioning sessions.


Photo © Louise Stapleton-Frappell

Jambo’s favorite boomer ball would not make it onto his sister Tessa’s Hierarchy of Rewards; Tessa prefers kibble or going out for a ride in the car, which is one of her highest value reinforcers

If depicting Jambo’s Hierarchy of Rewards as a pyramid, his boomer ball would be at the peak. However, as reinforcers are variable, steak and even bedtime will occasionally be more appealing than a boomer ball. As I previously mentioned, I, too, occasionally make it to the top of the list – especially if deprivation comes into play. Using the example of me returning after a period of absence, access to me would hold the highest value to Jambo. Although he would struggle to contain his enthusiasm to rush outside and greet me, good use could be made of the Premack Principle here. The Premack Principle dictates that a more desired behavior serves to reinforce a lesser desired one. In this case, Jambo would sit at the door, spin, twist, get the laundry out of the machine or jump right over his boomer ball in order to gain access to me. However, better still, what if I were to greet him with his boomer ball? Steak served on a boomer ball? A boomer ball at bedtime? At some point, even Jambo would become satiated and the boomer ball would begin to lose some of its magical power. Looking again at Figure ii, could lower value kibble ever beat the

© Can Stock Photo/suemack

Stapleton-Frappell recommends owners and trainers think about all the different food, objects and life events that can be used both in training sessions and daily interactions as part of an individual dog’s Hierarchy of Rewards

BARKS from the Guild/May 2018



ham and cheese or even the roast chicken? Yes, absolutely. If I were to deliver the former with unbounded enthusiasm, praise and pride and were to use a powerful reinforcement strategy such as the Run and Get It game, I could add a lot of value to the kibble. If I were to deliver the latter (the cheese, ham or chicken) thoughtlessly, with little interaction, in an off-hand, detached manner, I could take away some of its value. It is not just the stimulus we use, nor the circumstances in which we use it that dictate the value. The way that stimulus is delivered is very powerful.

Increased Value

Dog sports and tricks can also be used as secondary reinforcers


Photo © Louise Stapleton-Frappell

My students often ask me why their learners respond more enthusiastically to me and seem willing to work much harder for me than for them even when I am using the same reinforcer. The answer is multifaceted. Motivating operations come into play and I become part of the reinforcement consequence. It is no longer just a piece of chicken. It is a piece of chicken delivered by one of their favorite people, or a piece of chicken delivered by someone they have limited access to. Their dogs have access to them most of the time but only have access to me once or twice a week. Deprivation increases my value. It is a piece of chicken soaked in smiles, happiness and pride in their achievement. It is a piece of chicken that engenders a positive emotional response. I always interact with my learners



*Ball on a rope *Bicycle tires *Boomer ball *Bungee toy *Fleece pieces *Jolly Ball *Kongs *Nylabone *Safestix *Sock with ball *Squeaky toy *Stuffed Animal *Tug Toy *Target stick *Tennis ball

*Back scratch *Barking session *Belly rub *Car Ride *Chase game *Clapping & cheering *Cuddling *Flirt pole *Fly ball *Football/Soccer balls chasing *Playtime with you *Playtime with a friend *Swimming *Trip to training class *Tracking *Tugging *Walk

Agility: *A-Frame *Dog Walk *Jumps *Seesaw *Tunnel

There are many other toys and objects that your dog will love, for example, a puppy might place a leaf blowing in the wind at the top of his Hierarchy of Rewards.

Please remember that just because I have listed the above activities, it does not mean that your dog will place them on his Hierarchy of Rewards. Some dogs love ƚŽ Ɛǁŝŵ͕ ƐŽŵĞ ĚŽŶ͛ƚ.

There are many other sports. Try out different activities and you are sure to find something your dog loves. I successfully use some of the tricks I have taught Jambo to reinforce other behaviors.

Tricks: *Bow *Go back *Hand touch *High Five *Jumping in arms *Leg weaves *Peekaboo *Rolling over *Shake-a-paw *Spinaround *Twist

Graphic © Louise Stapleton-Frappell

Figure iii: Chart depicting some of the many possibilities for secondary reinforcers, i.e. things dogs may enjoy because they have been conditioned with a primary reinforcer


BARKS from the Guild/May 2018

We also need to bear in mind that if we use the higher value reinforcers too frequently for easy behaviors in non-distracting environments, we could find that not only will our learner no longer be motivated to work for lower value reinforcers, but also that we dilute the value of those reinforcers that were previously at the top of the hierarchy, making them less effective in more demanding situations or with more demanding behaviors. in a playful way whereas “Mom” and “Dad” are sometimes slightly less enthusiastic. I endeavor to celebrate even the smallest of achievements, whereas the guardians sometimes find it hard to see beyond what they believe their pets should really being doing and often deliver the same reinforcer while despondently saying things like, “Why won’t he do it like that for me?” The lack of enthusiasm deducts value, often so quickly and effectively that the student simply stops working. It is also appropriate to note that if I wanted to teach a precision behavior, using a top-of-the-hierarchy reinforcer, or simply an “inappropriate” reinforcer could work against me. Yes, a boomer ball might add more speed and animation to a behavior but it might also interfere with the learning process, making it difficult for my learner to concentrate on the task at hand. I can get a lot of repetitions with small pieces of food, whereas it would be impossible to do so if my reinforcer were for example, going for a ride in a car or chasing after a tennis ball. These might serve to reward my learner, but I might not succeed in reinforcing the precise behavior I want. Here are some examples of primary reinforcers (food) that can be used to positively reinforce desired behaviors (there are many more of course): apple, bacon, banana, beef wieners/hotdog sausages, beef jerky, bread crust, canned cat food, carrots, cat treats, cheerios/cereal, cheese, chicken, chicken wieners, croutons, crackers, dog biscuits, dried liver, eating dinner, fortune cookie, freeze dried liver, ground beef, Greenies hamburger, ham, hard boiled eggs, hotdogs (with cheese), ice cream, ice cubes, kibble (dry dog food), lamb roll, licorice, liver cookies, meatballs, oinker roll/sausage roll, peanut butter, pizza crust, popcorn, pureed liver, sausages, sardines, squeezy cheese, steak, string cheese,


sweet potato crisps, and drinking water. Figure iii (see opposite page, bottom) shows some examples of secondary reinforcers, i.e. things dogs may enjoy because they have been conditioned with a primary reinforcer. I would advise everyone to draw up a Hierarchy of Rewards for their pet and spend time thinking about all the different food, objects and life events that can be used both in training sessions and in daily interactions. Spend time learning what your student enjoys as no two individual’s Hierarchies of Rewards will be the same. Please remember that once drawn up, the Hierarchy of Rewards is not static. Every individual’s hierarchy is variable. Although I can safely say that Jambo’s “top gun” reinforcer is his boomer ball, that does not mean it is always appropriate for the specific behavior I wish to reinforce or for the specific environment in which I wish to reinforce that behavior. n 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.


Brambell, R. (1965). Report of the technical committee to enquire into the welfare of animals kept under intensive livestock husbandry systems. London, UK: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office Chance, P. (2008). Learning and Behavior. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning Maslow, A.H. (1943). A Theory of Human Motivation. Psychological Review 50 370-396. Available at: /motivation.htm Maslow, A. H. (1954). Motivation and Personality. New York, NY: Harper and Row Maslow, A. H. (1970a). Motivation and Personality. New York, NY: Harper and Row Maslow, A. H. (1970b). Religions, Values, and Peak Experiences. New York, NY: Penguin McLeod, S. A. (2017). Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Available at: Michaels, L. (2017).Hierarchy of Dog Needs. Available at: Parliament of the United Kingdom. (2006). Animal Welfare Act. Available at: _en.pdf Reward [Def]. (2017). In Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press BARKS from the Guild/May 2018



Working through Extreme Behavior

Diane Garrod presents a 10-step protocol to aid in dog bite cases and determine whether


a dog is going to thrive with a targeted and systematic behavior modification process ecently, I have been receiving a number of calls about dogs biting and hearing trainers talk more and more about cases where serious biting is occurring, whether stranger danger or within the family. I am starting to wonder, what is going on? Working with dogs that bite is what I do. My own dog Skye, a miniAustralian shepherd, was a five-time face biter, putting his previous owner into emergency room and him into quarantine facing euthanasia. He is lucky to be alive (see Dodging Euthanasia, BARKS from the Guild, September 2016, pp. 14-20). When a dog bites a person, there are a number of reasons associated with it, usually stimulated by fear – with the situation, the environment, and the context encouraging the behavior. Other reasons are health issues, neurological concerns, or pain. As such, a high priority is to contact a veterinarian or veterinary behaviorist before implementing any behavior change protocol. Whatever the reason, there is often hope through behavior modification and techniques that pair positive experiences with the dog's triggers to eventually make the trigger irrelevant. The prognosis depends on the length of time behavior has been going on, coupled with an analysis of the intensity, frequency and duration of the biting behavior. Taking a look at suitable medication may be a big part of helping the dog, so don’t rule it out. Make appropriate assessments and work closely with a veterinary behaviorist. Behavior modification takes time, but the results are long lasting. There has been a complete transformation in many dogs using positive, reward-based behavior modification techniques. Knowing what to do and how to do it is key to changing the dog's behavior. But, let’s face it, there is also the possibility that circumstances will not be ideal for change and coming to terms with that is important. Working through the following 10 steps can be helpful in determining whether a dog is going to thrive with a targeted and systematic behavior modification process.

Step One: Stop before You Go

Exposure to triggers stimulating the bite behavior must stop before going on to change the dog. • Prevention, Management and Supervision (PMS): This is a huge part of this first step. Assess with these three questions: o How can the environment change to accommodate changing the dog? o Where else can changes be made to stop aggressive behavior? o What is the behavior exactly? Know, don’t guess. (Develop a behavior modification process using a differential reinforcement of incompatible (DRI) behavior, which works well with human aggression and reactivity cases).

Step Two: De-stress the Dog

Relaxation, sleep, and calming exercises help neutralize the chemical effect of bad stress or distress stimulated by cortisol, adrenalin, and norepinephrine building up in the body after each episode. • De-stress: There are many ways to go about this step. De22

BARKS from the Guild/May 2018

Photo © Diane Garrod

Mini-Australian shepherd Skye was a five-time face biter and facing euthanasia before he was adopted by author Diane Garrod, who worked long and hard on rehabilitating him

stressing might include a medication program by a qualified veterinary behaviorist. In addition to (or instead of) medication, a systematic stress neutralization process is also advised. Ideally, a stress reduction process takes a full 72-hours (minimum) to neutralize harmful stress chemicals. Once the dog is resting, relaxed and calm for at least three days (or more, depending on the intensity of the situation), then learning can start. Around 10 percent of cases are chronic, meaning the dog is over threshold all the time and it is hard for him to achieve a below threshold status. These dogs benefit greatly from medication coupled with a behavior modification program. • Systematic stress release protocol: With elevated behavior issues, it is always important to release stress first. In one of my case studies, border collie Lucy spiked over threshold and it took days for her to come down from one episode with adrenalin, cortisol and other chemical spikes that surge through the system. That spike erupts over and over again, even up to two days later. Lucy’s behavior modification process was started by a systematic stress release protocol to relax her, by teaching her to be more responsive with selective cues, and to create an environment of safety, trust and confidence. There is groundwork to lay before you even start a behavior modification/skills program. If that is ignored or not completed, progress can be long and walls can be hit. • Enrichment: Enrichment mentally tires and is a big part of a dog’s ideal day (see A Dog’s Ideal Day, BARKS from the Guild, November 2017, pp. 32-35). In Lucy’s case, she needed intermediate/advanced problem-solving. Enrichment takes a dog’s mind off the environment and helps them focus on a task, important for all dogs (especially those that over-bark, are worried about people, other dogs, outside noises, motions and more). Variety is key. Here are several starter links:


• Nina Ottosson: • Snuffle mats (to make): -your-dog-or-cat-a-snuffle-matt • Snuffle mats (to buy): • DIY enrichment: • Facebook groups: Canine Enrichment ( /canineenrichment) and Beyond the Bowl ( /1747279312231501).

Step Three: Now Go, and Go Slowly

Start with exercises to work through impulsivity. Take a two-week period for this protocol. It is one critical step toward teaching and educating the biting dog, especially where skill deficits are seen and self-control is non-existent. Behavior modification will then go much faster and be longer lasting. This equates to the first two weeks of transforming behavior from biter to no biting. Part of the process will be to teach a solid go to mat, a lie down, a leave it without intimidation and a stay/wait as differential reinforcement of an incompatible behavior. Teaching strong recall responsiveness, and eye contact is also a good place to start. All will be valuable skills for the dog to be responsive to during the critical change pieces of the behavior modification program. • Take a two-week time frame where the dog is no longer being exposed to any triggers to cause aggressive responses. o This is a time to dump emotional baggage and let the dog understand and feel what it is to be stress-free. o It includes a full eight hours of sleep nightly, stressfree protocols and physical exercise plus mental stimulation in the form of problem-solving. This may mean jogging around the yard or property or driving to a low- to zero-distraction area. This may mean training the dog to accept a treadmill. However, there is a learning curve in implementation, so research the technique thoroughly first. In Lucy’s case, her guardian’s homework was to isolate all areas Lucy might tend to bite or react and write them down. All places, times, circumstances equaled a place to begin a behavior modification process. They were to get proper equipment, in her case a two-points leading system to teach no lunging and to be a team so there was no pulling and where Lucy felt safe and secure to build confidence. Together we mapped out a plan and put questions into play, such as, if you see something you don’t like, ask: “What do you want Lucy to do instead?” We defined goals and milestones and broke them down into doable baby steps. Something to do right now was not to focus on bad behavior and instead reward Lucy for everything she did right, such as being able to see a person without lunging and barking, or giving eye contact to guardian (disengaging from trigger). Identifying the rewardable behavior is key to a successful plan. Having worked through steps one-three, steps four-six are the cement that binds in heading toward solving the aggression puzzle.

Photo © Diane Garrod

Lab mix Dylan, who had bitten in the past, works on a puzzle as part of his behavior change program

ronment (i.e. antecedent control). • Warm-ups: Before each behavior modification technique and skills session, allow the dog to calm down by doing a series of calming animal massage or circular motion touches, like Tellington TTouch sequences using bodywork, body wraps or a Thundershirt, obstacle coursework, and leading exercises. This will focus, calm and build a bond and relationship. Each session should be at least five to 15 minutes. • What are you looking for in a session? You are looking for the dog to be attentive, responsive, yet calm, meaning no lunging, barking, scanning the environment and that the dog is able to stick with the teaching process. If this is not accomplished, stay in step four until results are seen. Care needs to be taken not to move too fast, nor too slow. This may be an area you will need to spend quite a lot of time in because this means the dog needs confidence building. Building confidence means being able to handle the environment. Further, feeling safe, trusting the process and confidence building is a direct result of relaxation and responsiveness.

Step Four: Prepare to Learn

As the dog gets into normal stress ranges, continue steps one, two and three for the life of the dog. Keep the dog from having to repeatedly be exposed to whatever triggers the behavior. To change behavior, it is well-known that you also need to also be prepared to change the envi-

When a dog bites a person, there are a number of reasons associated with it, usually stimulated by fear, with the situation, the environment, and the context encouraging the behavior. Other reasons are health issues, neurological concerns, or pain.

© Can Stock Photo/fotostok_pdv

A good retraining program should work with the dog from where he is able to handle his triggers in real life, always keeping distance, duration and distractions at the forefront

BARKS from the Guild/May 2018



Photo © Diane Garrod

Border collie Lucy’s behavior change process was started by a systematic stress release protocol to relax her, teaching her to be more responsive with selective cues, and to create an environment of safety, trust and confidence

Step Five: Behavior Modification

Choosing the right program for the individual is important. One choice would be DRI, which works well for biters. Using counterconditioning, classical conditioning, and operant conditioning moves the process forward. • The 3Ds and logging progress: Distance, Duration and Distractions (the 3Ds) must always be in place and be incrementally progressive. If serious about changing conditioned emotional responses (CER) to the dog’s triggers/stimuli, it is highly advisable to log and evaluate progress. Where did the process leave off, and where should it begin next session? • The ABCs: Antecedents, Behavior, Consequences. Fine-tune what precedes the behavior (the antecedent) and eliminate the consequences (what the dog gets out of the behavior), then you can change the behavior. Define new antecedents to get new behaviors with new consequences. This portion is seldom done by an inexperienced owner and a professional should be sought to help with the exercises. The money is well-spent and it should be looked at as "saving your dog from themselves" or "as taking your dog to college." Compare this to professors at a university, who know much more individually than we do, and while we could read the textbook for the class, we will not have learned as much as if we were to take the class itself, do the homework, and reap the knowledge of the professor. It is the same when providing education for canines. The learning will take place through working diligently under the guidance of a qualified professional.

...there is often hope through behavior modification and techniques that pair positive experiences with the dog's triggers to eventually make the trigger irrelevant. The prognosis depends on the length of time behavior has been going on, coupled with an analysis of the intensity, frequency and duration of the biting behavior. Taking a look at suitable medication may be a big part of helping the dog, so don’t rule it out. 24

BARKS from the Guild/May 2018

Photo © Diane Garrod

Lucy needed mental enrichment in the form of intermediate/advanced problemsolving to take her mind off the environment and help her focus on a task while building confidence

Step Six: Skills

Manners training in and of itself will not change a dog's behavior, but it will allow the dog to learn new things so the dog can cope with their triggers and with real life. The top five skills a dog needs are as follows: • To be attentive and responsive to cues. • To target a palm, stick, lid, sticky note. • Coming when called (to include an emergency recall). • Loose leash walking. • Focus and impulse control (a series of tasks with the purpose of helping a dog make good decisions). Beyond these basic skills, more advanced learning can take place.

Step Seven: Real Life

A good retraining program should work with the dog from where they are able to handle their triggers in real life keeping distance, duration and distractions always at the forefront. This can be done by masterminding mock set-ups and keeping a dog under threshold (sub-threshold, the point where they feel comfortable and are able to learn). You are always striving to make a trigger or stimuli irrelevant to the dog and changing their emotional response to it. First, the dog needs to be offering automatic responses to what teaching is taking place. Practicing steps one through six in real life situations will now be a critical piece of the puzzle, but still preventing, managing and supervising outcomes, keeping distance, distraction and duration to where the dog can be successful and keeping a good log book as progress is made will make sure outcomes are realistic.

Step Eight: Maintaining Learning

Once a skill or behavior modification technique is learned, it needs to be practiced and maintained. Combine training sessions with real life workouts, such as training walks, meeting a required number of people each day, having doggy friends and getting together with them. Maintenance only occurs when substantial progress has been made with the previous seven steps and the dog is showing reliability and predictability. Maintenance is critical so dog and client do not slip back into old habits. Having realistic expectations is important to the process.

2 training

Step Nine: Practicing

Practice should be a process of using the strong pieces and working on the weak areas daily. Daily work moves the process along. It takes work, commitment, continuance and use of the proper tools and educational steps, otherwise the prognosis will not be good when it comes to working through extreme behavior, like biting. Practice, practice, practice whenever at home, in real life, in a training opportunity and further the education of the dog daily.

Step 10: Proofing

Proofing is the process whereby you can see where the dog is in the journey. The trainer will proof from time to time. Proofing should continue for the dog’s life. Proof distance, distractions and duration monthly or quarterly. Never assume anything. This will keep you on the right track to prevent biting issues from surfacing. It may be necessary to go backwards to a previous step. In my experience, these 10 steps provide the key to dealing successfully with a dog who bites, giving the best chance of a good prognosis and a positive outcome. n


Garrod, D. (September, 2016). Dodging Euthanasia. BARKS from the Guild (20) 14-20. Available at: Garrod, D. (November 2017). A Dog’s Ideal Day. BARKS from the Guild (27) 32-35. Available at:

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

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Focus and a Visual Connection In the second part of her feature on activities for deaf dogs, Morag Heirs examines


competitive Obedience and Rally from the perspective of a hearing-impaired or deaf dog bedience as a sport (rather than basic manners training) has been around in various formats for at least 80 years. It is an integral part of several other sports like Working Trials in the United Kingdom, and Schutzhund, but it is also a separate activity in its own right. Competitive Obedience generally includes heelwork routines, pace changes, recall, positions, scent discrimination and retrieval among other tasks. Instructions are called out by a steward, and every system has their own rules and regulations. In contrast, Rally usually consists of a numbered course where each sign or station gives the competing team instructions. The exercises are very similar, but are done at the team’s own pace. Rally often requires longer stretches of heelwork but the style may be less demanding. Each country has several flavors of obedience and rally. Scoring, deductions and expectations vary widely even within a single sport so do familiarize yourself with the relevant rules. Check out the options where you live to find out more, and remember there are now online leagues and competitions too.

Deaf Dogs

I became interested in obedience and rally after adopting my first deaf dog, Farah, a border collie. She was a bright dog who would have been an excellent working dog if only she could hear, and clearly we needed something to focus on. At the time it was difficult to get into competitive obedience train-

Photo © Peter Steffensen

Maria Jensen (with deaf dog, Yoda) says that deaf dogs teach you to become a better trainer


BARKS from the Guild/May 2018

Photo © Bob Atkins & TD Rally

Deaf dog Farah started her Talking Dogs Rally career as a veteran but successfully completed her Level 1 Title and Championship, and Award of Excellence

ing in my area if you wanted to use reward-based methods, and my deaf dog was met with a great deal of skepticism. Instead we trained on our own and went to workshops where possible. The introduction of Rally into the U.K. felt like a good opportunity for us, and the Talking Dogs (TD) version of Rally in particular allowed for disability modifiers. Being busy learning and promoting the sport of Rally meant that it was hard to enter into trials. Farah only started her TD Rally career as a veteran but successfully completed her Level 1 Title and Championship, and Award of Excellence. Every round she did was 190/200 or better. I made contact with Sally Sanford (ZeeZee deaf Toller; Shetland) and Maria Jensen (Yoda border collie; Denmark) to discuss training and competing with deaf dogs in Obedience and Rally. Between us we have worked with dogs who were born deaf, born deaf and partially sighted, or lost their hearing early on in life. (Early Onset Deafness appears to have a genetic basis in border collies). I was always very conscious that Farah was able to succeed so well in the ring because we had a super strong set of foundation behaviors.

I became interested in obedience and rally after adopting my first deaf dog, Farah, a border collie. She was a bright dog who would have been an excellent working dog if only she could hear, and clearly we needed something to focus on. At the time it was difficult to get into competitive obedience training in my area if you wanted to use reward-based methods, and my deaf dog was met with a great deal of skepticism.


Chatting with Sanford and Jensen really emphasized that deafness makes us “up our game” as trainers. “If you want to win, you can't skip corners, you need to have the basic heelwork and focus and you need to do it so the dog LOVES it! The deaf dogs just don't let you be a sloppy and lazy handler - they teach you to do better and to do it right! They teach you to be a better trainer, handler and honestly, that's why I love working my deaf dog so much. He won't let me be anything other than a good trainer.” - Maria Jensen.

Getting Started

To get started, you need a deaf dog, an enthusiastic handler, and a rough idea of what sport you are aiming for. This does matter because some versions of Obedience or Rally have set cues you can or cannot use, some allow you to touch your dog and others don’t. TD Rally has a lot of call front exercises where the dog stands facing you or stands by your side, whereas many forms of Obedience require an auto-sit.

Communication and Rewards

Just like with a hearing dog, you need to build a relationship and work out what payment your dog loves best. Having clear signals particularly to differentiate between “good dog” praise and the “amazing!” marker predicting reward will help you. Most deaf dog owners have already started working on uncued attention and check-ins simply because there is no other reliable way to communicate with their dog! “I deliberately have done a lot of training with ZeeZee – all with clicker training principles….to ensure that she is both “latched” onto being with me when out, but also to satisfy her natural gundog instincts. She is “only” deaf – the rest of her brain works fine!” - Sally Sanford.

Photo © Sally Sanford

Deaf dog ZeeZee (left): “She is ‘only’ deaf – the rest of her brain works fine!” says her guardian, Sally Sanford

Sustained Attention

Capturing and reinforcing duration of attention will be one of the first foundation skills to teach. We have looked at some of these exercises in earlier articles (see the PPG Archive), and I would also recommend Michele Pouliot’s DVD, Performance Attention. “Yoda needs to look at me to see his cues. It sounds so obvious, but I'm so glad I have a very good foundation, heelwork and contact training. That has been absolutely necessary for us. “It's the same for hearing dogs, but again - we have no emergency button, I can't just call my dog, clap my hands, ask him for attention as I see a lot of people do, when the dog starts to find the surroundings interesting. He has to pay attention to me all the time, because he wants to.” - Maria Jensen.

Photo © Morag Heirs

A muzzle “grab” is one way of teaching a deaf dog a “physical click,” as long as they are comfortable with being touched and handled

Clean Body Language and Signs

Platform training (where the dog learns to stand or sit, or rest the front paws on different shaped or sized targets) is a secret weapon for deaf dog owners. It helps the dog by giving them really clear signals and cues, and it helps the handler minimize their body language. Especially with deaf dogs, we need to be clean and consistent with our signals. Platforms take out some of the guess work for the dog. My favorite resource for getting started is Michele Pouliot’s DVD on Platform Training. I was lucky enough to take my deaf, partially-sighted collie to one of her Clicker Expo workshops and it was life changing.

Optional Extra – The Physical Click

Working with U.K. Competitive Obedience trainer Jo Hill and my dog Bronte, who is quite a big girl, raised some unusual problems. One of Hill’s many methods for teaching a good heelwork position uses a sustained nose target, and clicking when the dog is in the right place. Problem: To be able to “click” my deaf dog, I would need to twist my other hand across my body and into a very odd position, because the

Photo © Jayne Mowbray

According to Sally Sanford (left, with ZeeZee) a strong check-in with the handler is essential, “because you have no other way of getting your dog back with you”

BARKS from the Guild/May 2018



Photo © Peter Steffensen

Says ZeeZee’s guardian, Maria Jensen: “If you want to win, you can't skip corners, you need to have the basic heelwork and focus so the dog loves it”

dog-side hand was being a target…. Plus, as Bronte is blind on one side she would not have been able to see my click sign! Solution: Teach Bronte a “physical click” that clearly told her when she was right, and that I could use in any close position. Bronte is very comfortable being handled and touched, so we opted for a muzzle “grab.” Assuming she was heeling with her nose up to my hand target, I could easily “grab” her muzzle to “click” her position. This worked brilliantly for us, and I have used it with a couple of other dogs who are deaf but still interested in competing at Veteran level. It’s a tricky one to explain but the picture (center right, previous page) demonstrates what I mean, and you can find a video on our YouTube channel, Well Connected Canine.

Double-Edged Sword

Deafness can be a double-edged sword in competition. The advantage to working with a deaf dog is that they really will do exactly what your body language is telling them to – just like in agility there’s no chance you shout a different direction from what you signaled. “It has removed a lot of mixed signals for my dogs. Now my dogs can always count on, that what my body is showing, is what I want them to do. I have caught myself telling my dogs two different things. One with my body and physical cues, and another verbally at the same time. My deaf dog never gets confused, he only sees what I mean. The

The deaf dogs just don't let you be a sloppy and lazy handler - they teach you to do better and to do it right! They teach you to be a better trainer, handler and honestly, that's why I love working my deaf dog so much. He won't let me be anything other than a good trainer. 28

BARKS from the Guild/May 2018

Photo © Pam Mackinnon

Author Morag Heirs with deaf dog Bronte: it is essential when training deaf dogs to be clear and consistent with cues and signals

others have to guess what is the right thing to do.” - Maria Jensen. As long as the deaf dog is watching us and staying focused, then we should have an easy task. But that same intense visual connection can sometimes work against us. As Sanford explains, movement distractions can be a real challenge for her Toller, ZeeZee “She does find movement distractions more of a distraction than my hearing dog (Rally training-wise now) as she is highly tuned into moving things being significant in her environment. Our first show they had netting round the ring - one course not a problem, as the course design didn't take us too close to the edge. Next course layout we were right alongside the netting, which by this time was billowing in the wind. ZeeZee really couldn't concentrate so I abandoned the round, asked for one hand touch, yelled "thank you" to the Judge and left the ring at a run.” - Sally Sanford. As Sanford says, this just highlighted the need for more training around netting and rings which can be tricky to arrange on a small island such as Shetland. That strong habit of checking back in with the handler is essential, because you have no other way of getting your dog back with you. According to Jensen, who has competed in Obedience in Denmark at high level, their biggest challenge is a send-away discrimination exercise. “When I send to a cone or a box, those two can be very, very close in the ring and be a "trap" put in on purpose from the judge. So the dog should run by a cone to get to the box, or those two placed beside each other - or even worse the cone behind the box. The last one is VERY hard for Yoda, and I can't really tell him to stop with him running away from me, and the cone is easier to see than the box on the ground. So the discrimination is something that's a bit harder with him, because we don't have the emergency break that everyone else has.” - Maria Jensen. Thankfully none of my deaf dogs have had to do anything quite like that yet, but I am looking forward to the challenge.

I would really recommend anyone interested in Obedience or Rally with a deaf dog to check out the DVDs by Michele Pouliot. Although they are not deaf dog specific, they are incredibly useful. Also, start working through the Fenzi TEAM Titles. This is a great online program that helps you teach solid foundation behaviors and is very accessible for deaf dogs. Lastly, find a good trainer who knows the sport you are interested in and uses modern motivational training methods. Any good trainer will see deafness as an extra challenge and welcome you in. Read more about deaf dog training, and adaptations for sports like flyball, agility and canicross in previous editions of BARKS from the Guild (search for “deaf dogs” in the PPG Archive), plus there is a library of sample videos on YouTube channel, Well Connected Canine (search for “deaf dog” videos). n

This article is dedicated to Farah, who I lost in November 2017. Farah adopted me on April 1, 2006. She was my first deaf dog who helped me to learn how to be a better trainer and human being. She was my April Fool, my princess, and my little old lady dog who never stopped wanting to learn. - Morag Heirs



Fenzi TEAM Titles: keikocdf (Producer). (2011, March 6). Platform Training for Dog Sports [Video File]. Available at: =LNgFrQlKUxw PPG Archive: TawzerDog (Producer). (2015, May 6). Performance Attention: Creating your Dream Team [Video File]. Available at: ?v=F72jPqYlocE Well Connected Canine on YouTube: /UCjn5MAjw732iubz8S3k9ztw

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.

BARKS from the Guild


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Snake Avoidance, Force-Free Style Disenchanted by the prevalence of shock collars to train snake avoidance for dogs,


Charlotte Smithson devised her own force-free training protocol to keep dogs safe here are 115 species of known snakes in Western Australia (WA) alone, 55 of which are venomous land snakes (Bush, BrowneCooper & Robinson, 1995). This is a dangerous, sometimes fatal problem, during the summer months, when people spend more time outdoors exercising with their pet dogs. A survey completed by Mirtschin, Masci, Paton & Kuchel (1998) estimated that 6,200 snake bite cases were reported annually in Australia, in both cats and dogs. They also noted that the tiger snake was accountable for 13 percent of the cases, and that dogs in rural areas are more heavily affected. It stands to reason that these numbers have risen in the last two decades, with increased dog ownership, housing development forcing snakes to move closer to human-populated areas, and an increase in dog sports, as well as dogs that work in rural locations. Accordingly, there is a huge need for education and training programs to help keep these pets safe. In WA, where I am based, snake avoidance training is the hot topic of conversation every summer. There are two organizations that have swamped the market for this type of training, unfortunately utilizing the power of the shock collar. It appears, then, that the application of shock is largely perfectly acceptable among both the dog training and veterinary communities for snake avoidance. It is apparently believed, erroneously I might add, that there are no other achievable or reliable methods to train a dog to avoid a snake.

Staying Safe

The Collins English Dictionary (2006) defines “train” as to: a) instruct in a skill, and b) learn the skills needed to do a particular job or activity. Training is defined as, “a process of bringing a person” (or in this case, a dog) “to an agreed standard of proficiency by practice and instruction.” So, I ask, why is it that even some dog trainers, who claim to be in the camp of positive reinforcement-based training, are still comfortable referring clients to those who use positive punishment for training snake avoidance? As trainers, we have an ethical responsibility to our clients and their pets and therefore should be seeking to maintain not only high levels of success in our training protocols, but also climbing the ladder of proficiency in the orchestration of our skills. Herein lies the problem – but also the solution! With this in mind, as well as being tired of complaining about the use of shock collars, I decided to write up a training plan and set up some trials to determine if we, Perth, WA’s Animal Training Specialists (PATS), could offer clients within our area an alternative method for avoiding snakes. We ran three trials, implementing two training methods, to determine which would be more suitable for clients to implement and manage; to weed out any imperfections; and to learn from any mistakes so we could re-evaluate the plan and refine the course content. We trialed eight dogs in the first course, and six in the second, as well as four of our own dogs prior to selling what would become our new training course. Like any course, each time it is implemented it continues to improve. Above this, we ourselves are continuously learning 30

BARKS from the Guild/May 2018

Photo © Charlotte Smithson

Force-free snake avoidance training involves teaching dogs to recognize the scent and sight of snakes, and that this is the cue for them to return to their handler and offer a sit in front of the owner

and so our training of the content also improves. During our training courses, all the dogs displayed a good understanding of the required behavior(s). We observed accurate detection of the snakes, followed by a head orientation from the dogs towards their owners. Following several repetitions of being assisted with the recall cue after the detection of the snake, the dogs made their “own” decisions to then return to their owners. I am therefore confident that we can and should be offering a replacement course (as opposed to shock treatment) for the detection of snakes and returning to safety without putting dogs in a compromised position. Perth’s Animal Training Specialists’ Escape the SnakeTM course is simple, as well as evidence-based, working on the science of learning theory. If taught well, there is no reason why any dog won’t be able to keep himself safe from the dangers of snakes. Like any trained behavior, there is a need to maintain its strength and reliability, but this is a normal part of dog training.

How It Works

We start by teaching dogs to recognize the scent and sight of snakes, in this case dugites and tiger snakes. This is achieved using respondent conditioning, the process whereby a dog makes an association between two events. We have several ways of presenting the scent: we utilize snake skins, and swabs that are acquired from real snakes as well as dead snakes. Snake skins and swabs are provided by a professional herpetologist. He also places our toys (rubber snakes) in with live snakes for several weeks prior to the running of our classes to impregnate them with snake scent. The scent is then paired with food. After several repetitions of pre-


An Association Will Be Made: Snake Scent = Food Predicts

Photo © Charlotte Smithson

senting the scent followed by the delivery of some really yummy treats, the dog begins to predict that the smell of a snake equals food (see box, above). We repeat the process with the sight of a snake, firstly with the scented toys (so we have a visual with the scent). Then, as training progresses we move onto live snakes. Due to the dogs’ ability to generalize, this process seems to work very well. During training with real snakes everyone has strict guidelines. We cannot afford any accidents to occur, and care is taken to ensure that we do not inadvertently train the dog to actually sniff the snake, prior to returning to their owner. This means that great observational skills are required in dog communication and body language in order to be able to give the signal to the dog to return to his owner at the precise moment in time. It also goes without saying that the welfare of both the dogs and the snakes are of high priority, therefore all the dogs remain on an extensive line and the snakes are behind a see-through, unbreakable plastic container. As a rule, most snakes do not look for trouble and will retreat if they feel threatened, but in this situation they are unable to do so and are therefore quite active when a dog approaches. After several presentations of the snake, followed by the cue (“come”) to return to the handler, the dog learns that the snake is the cue to return to their owner. We use clicker training throughout the training process, due to its accuracy in communicating the correct response to the dog (see Figure 1, below left). After several repetitions, the cue to ‘come’ is dropped out and is replaced by the snake itself (see Figure 2, below right). Once the dog has returned to his owner, he presents a sit position in front of them within two feet. This is to indicate that danger is ahead. Figure 1: Initial training sequence



© Can Stock Photo/BackyardProduct

Alternatively, we can train the dog to indicate this with a bark or another desired behavior. Some dogs may be taught to return to a designated safety area if they are unattended at home. Training was made as simple and effective as possible which helped make the course manageable and fun for everyone. However, we found that some pre-requisites were necessary: • Dogs need to have a reliable recall response. • Any existing anxiety-based issue in a dog should be addressed prior to class training. • Dogs attending must be both people and dog-friendly. • Owners must be prepared and willing to practice their skills at home.

The Future

As we live in a country full of natural wonders and dangers alike, this training should be introduced to all dogs during puppyhood, and indeed anywhere else in the world where snakes pose a risk to our pet dogs. If we evolve an early recall response and pair this with a solid grounding

It appears, then, that the application of shock is largely perfectly acceptable among both the dog training and veterinary communities for snake avoidance. It is apparently believed, erroneously I might add, that there are no other achievable or reliable methods to train a dog to avoid a snake. Figure 2: After several repetitions the sequence changes

Graphic © Charlotte Smithson

Graphic © Charlotte Smithson

BARKS from the Guild/May 2018



to the scent and sight of snakes, this training will become just an ordinary part of our puppy training protocols. Combined with management protocols, such as installing snake fencing and keeping dogs on leash when out for a walk, there would then be no need for specialized training courses and definitely not the use of shock collars. After all, just how specialized is it? It’s merely respondent and operant conditioning. Our dogs deserve to be educated and protected in a way that does not cause them pain. n

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the volunteers involved in these trials, and the trainers who worked with me on the program. I would also like to thank our herpetologist for his input, and for educating us on snake behavior. - Charlotte Smithson


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BARKS from the Guild/May 2018

We start by teaching dogs to recognize the scent and sight of snakes, in this case dugites and tiger snakes. This is achieved using respondent conditioning. References

Bush, B., Maryan, B., Browne-Cooper, R., & Robinson, D. (1995). Field Guide to Reptiles and Frogs of the Perth Region. Perth, WA: University of Western Australia Press Mirtschin, P., Masci, P., Paton, D., & Kuchel, T. (1998, March). Snake bites recorded by Veterinary Practices in Australia. Australian Veterinary Journal (76) 3 195-198. Available at: Train [Def]. (2006). In Collins English Dictionary (2nd edn.). Glasgow, UK: HarperCollins Publishers Training [Def]. (2006). In Collins English Dictionary (2nd edn.). Glasgow, UK: HarperCollins Publishers Charlotte SmithsonVN CSAN GDT CAAB CSRW CFBST CABP CAP2 is companion animal behavior practitioner who began her career as a veterinary nurse and then moved on to train as a guide dog mobility instructor. She obtained a certificate in applied animal behavior from the University of Southampton, U.K. and continued her education with the British Veterinary Nursing Association and the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology, U.K., where she became a companion animal behavior practitioner. After completing a behavioral medicine course through the continued veterinary education scheme at the University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, she opened her own training facility, Perth’s Animal Training Specialists ( She is also an approved agility instructor, has completed her CAP2 through Kay Laurence, and has qualifications in shelter and rescue work, feline behavior, science and technology. She is currently studying with Suzanne Clothier and undergoing her CAP3.

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Settling In

Sheelah Gullion discusses how, for dogs with canine separation anxiety, moving house can


be managed with minimal stress to avoid triggering a major regression ne of the most common, yet least well understood behavior issues is canine separation anxiety. Dogs are incredibly resilient in so many situations but separation anxiety can appear (or reappear) when there is a major change in the dog’s home life situation, such as moving the family from one home to another, changing the dog’s family and home (rehoming), or changing the membership of the household (one or more family members leaves the home). Even a change in schedule can trigger separation anxiety. This article is concerned with separation anxiety due to a family move from one home to another with a dog that is already integrated into the family. It is also proactive rather than reactive. By that, I mean preparing and executing a move to avoid regression by a dog with canine separation anxiety. My current dog is Jabu, a 4-year-old Rhodesian ridgeback rescue. More than 17 percent of dogs in the United States exhibit signs of separation anxiety and my family joined that select group when we adopted Jabu. In fact, the American Veterinary Medical Association puts that figure between 20 and 40 percent (Schwartz, 2003). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American moves 11.3 times during the course of their life (Chalabi, 2015). This means the likelihood of a dog with separation anxiety having to tolerate at least one move during his lifetime is pretty high. So what can you do? It depends on how far you’re moving: Across town? Across the state? Across the country? Across the world? This article will consider the first three only. The last move type is far more complicated with many more factors to consider than the first three, which are pretty similar.

Photo © Sheelah Gullion

Author Sheelah Gullion took her dog, Jabu, to the airport several times before moving house, getting him used to the environment so he would feel more relaxed before he had to be crated and taken away to be loaded onto the aircraft

Making Plans

Apartment/House Hunting: When it’s time for viewings, if your dog has separation anxiety, you are likely already planning on taking your pet with you. Keeping your pup involved can help them adjust to entering new spaces in a confident way because you are there, and hopefully one of the visits will be the home you eventually select. Having your pup along will also help you to remember to take note of the differences in the configuration of your new home, which will 34

affect arrivals and departures. For example, if your current home has an attached garage and your new one has street parking, you will exit the home differently, and it will sound different, too. On its own, this can trigger anxiety in your pet. These differences are all the new sights and sounds your pup must get used to. For moves of a greater distance where you cannot bring the dog along on viewings, you will still want to take note of all the differences he will encounter in the new home and all the new potential triggers. Even if you plan on spending the first few days in the home with your pet, start screening dog sitters as soon as possible and/or visit the nearby dog day cares. You will need these resources to support you when you cannot be there, and as your dog transitions to spending more time without you around in the new home. Packing Up: Many separation anxiety dogs can become anxious at the mere sight of suitcases. Consider packing your suitcases (which are usually used for the clothes to be worn in the days immediately after the move) last. Author of Treating Separation Anxiety in Dogs Malena DeMartini says, “Last in, first out: pack all the dog’s stuff last! That way it’s one of the first boxes you open in the new space.” If you have hired movers to pack and move your household items, you will still likely have some packing to do yourself. When the boxes arrive, keep a few aside to play a few sessions of 101 Things to Do with a Box or let your pup find treats hidden in some boxes (even if the boxes you use aren’t moving boxes!). If your move is local, try to make a few visits to the new home before moving day. DeMartini suggests playing a few games in the home or out in the yard, if there is one. It is never too early to start building familiarity and positive associations.

Moving Day

Photo © Sheelah Gullion

Conditioning pets to feel relaxed in their travel crates can help minimize stress if the animals have to fly in cargo – many airlines specify that travel crates must be big enough for the animal to be able to stand, lie down and turn around comfortably

BARKS from the Guild/May 2018

For local moves, this should be the easiest day for your dog to handle, as he won’t be there. Consider booking a play date or taking your dog to day care for the day. This helps him to avoid the stress of the move—and also of seeing his caretakers’ stress. It will also tire him out so he will be more likely to rest in the new home when he arrives.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American moves 11.3 times during the course of their life (Chalabi, 2015). This means the likelihood of a dog with separation anxiety having to tolerate at least one move during his lifetime is pretty high.

Moves across state or out of state by road can be pleasurable or tedious or tension-filled. Start by making sure your dog enjoys traveling in the car. If not, begin as early as possible to habituate your dog to car travel by taking frequent short trips to fun places like the local park. You can also try out various calming measures such as a Thundershirt, Rescue Remedy, or a DAP collar. There is also evidence that lavender essential oil can help calm pets (Wells, 2006). If you have introduced these measures previously without discernible effect, you may want to contact your vet to inquire about prescription medication like Clomicalm or Fluoxetine, which have been shown to have good results with separation anxiety (King et al, 2000). You will need to do this far enough in advance on a low stress, nontravel day so that you can be sure your pup tolerates it well. Please note these medications cannot be used for air travel. Carry as few moving boxes as possible in the car with you to avoid a big change in habits that can trigger anxiety in your dog and, if your road trip is long, anticipate where you will stop for a longer walk as well as planning frequent potty breaks. Remember that with all this change, it is entirely possible that your dog will need more frequent potty breaks than usual. Moving across the country or flying to your new locale with your dog deserves a whole article on its own. However, there are still ways to help your dog cope with major travel. We took our dog to the airport several times before we ever moved. We walked him around many of the areas we knew we would be encountering and waited in some queues so the process would not overwhelm him with stress even before he had to be crated and taken away. If you have a dog that must travel in cargo, be aware that current TSA regulations require that the exterior and interior of the crate must be inspected, and that your dog will likely be patted down by a gloved TSA inspector as well—a process that is stressful even for many humans (TSA, 2013). It is probably a good idea to have a Plan B, and possibly a C and D too. Cars and trucks break down, people and businesses get dates and times wrong, and flights get delayed and canceled all the time. Preparing for the worst-case scenario may seem unnecessary until it happens. Hope for the best but plan for the worst.

Arriving at your New Home

When you are moving locally and if you have already taken your dog to the new home a few times, it will be familiar to him when you arrive. Again, make sure the box with your pup’s things is the first one you open in the new home so he has his own familiar things with him. Spend a couple of minutes playing a game with him and then pull out his pet bed and place it in whatever room you’re working in. The same


is true if you were not able to introduce your pup to your new digs: open his box of toys, clothes, bedding, etc., play a little with him and then put out his bed in the room where you are unpacking. If you are in a new town, bring in the new dogsitter early even for short durations of 30 minutes to one hour. If using a dog day care, schedule the meet-andgreet after a couple of days. You can also utilize social media to find neighbors to organize play dates and to help your pup (and you!) meet new friends. Set up your webcam and start your habituation protocol as soon as you can. You will be sticking close to home the first few days, but watch via the webcam to see what your pup does. For example, when you start carrying out boxes to the recycle bin, take your keys, your bag and your phone and just give it a minute or two, but return immediately if you see any beginning signs of panic. If your pup is better in his or her crate, get that practice going. If he isn’t, make sure you play some crate games to reduce his stress around what should be his safe place. The sooner you are able to put all the pieces together, the sooner you’ll solve the separation anxiety puzzle in your new home. n


Chalabi, M. (2015). How many times does the average person move? Available at: King J.N., Simpson. B.S., Overall, K.L., Appleby, D., Pageat, P., Ross, C., … The CLOCSA (Clomipramine in Canine Separation Anxiety) Study Group. (2000, April). Treatment of separation anxiety in dogs with clomipramine: results from a prospective, randomized, doubleblind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, multicenter clinical trial. Applied Animal Behaviour Science (67) 4 255-275. Available at: Schwartz, S. (2003, June). Separation anxiety syndrome in dogs and cats. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (222) 11 1526-1532. Available at: Transportation Security Administration. (2013, April). TSA Travel Tips Tuesday: Traveling can be for the dogs. And cats, birds, etc. Available at: Wells, D. L. (2006, September). Aromatherapy for travel-induced excitement in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (229) 6 964-967. Available at:


American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals/Separation Anxiety: DeMartini-Price, M. (2014). Treating Separation Anxiety in Dogs. Wenatchee, WA: Dogwise Publishing Pierce, J. (2018, February). How long should a dog be left alone? Psychology Today. Available at: Rehn, T., & Keeling, L. (2011, January). The effect of time left alone at home on dog welfare. Applied Animal Behavior Science (129) 2-4 129135. Available at:

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.


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/May 2018



Lulu’s Lottery: Life Lessons from a Boxer

David Shade details his battle with post-traumatic stress disorder after leaving the military and


how his boxer puppy named Lulu helped him transition back into society t the tender age of 18, I left my hometown of Sellersville, Pennsylvania to join the army. It was 2005, and the war on terror was raging far away from my small corner of the globe. Still, I signed a four-year contract with the United States Army, swept up by the promise of adventure, thrills, and the opportunity to serve my country. In the midst of global strife and national unrest, I thought that at least I could do my part as a member of a time-honored organization. I was naïve to the world and thought myself invincible. Inside, of course, I was still just a boy. And so I shipped out to basic training and was immediately confronted by the most challenging physical and mental tests of my life up until that point. From crawling in the mud under a hail of automatic machine gunfire to surviving the gas chamber and then enduring 12-mile road marches while carrying more than 60 pounds of gear, training was brutal at times. On top of this incredibly tough regimen, we were also taught to suppress our emotions in order to make it through. Oddly enough, in the midst of these grueling tasks, I began to experience the sharp, intoxicating rush of dopamine after successfully completing such adrenaline-filled events. It was addictive. At a certain point, though, training concludes—and the real work must begin. By the time we received our orders and shipped out to Afghanistan for 15 months, we had already gone over field training, mock deployments and airborne jumps. Our mission was to support the local Afghan government—and to find and destroy the enemy. When I arrived in Afghanistan, I was well-trained, physically and mentally tough. I was ready for combat…or so I thought. What I quickly learned was that no amount of training can completely control how an individual will react to combat the first time. Some men freeze, while others laugh out of nervousness like they are having fun. I think it’s just our primal way of trying to survive such harrowing situations. I have often heard the saying that war is “long periods of extensive boredom, broken up by moments of sheer terror.” Nothing is truer than that. While overseas, I found that I had to suppress my emotions just as I had done in basic training, but this time to an extreme degree. And I discovered some tricks along the way. If I trained my mind to subconsciously think that I was already dead, then I no longer feared death. This mindset served me very well, as it is, ironically, the fear of death

When I was asleep at night and there was a noise, [Lulu] would immediately alert me of the impending danger. For some people, this might have been irritating. For me, it was exactly what I needed. And for the first time since my return into civilian life, I could relax. It didn’t matter if she was just barking at the mailman; her dedication to guarding the house allowed me to delegate some of that responsibility to her. It provided a sense of comfort, like a warm fireplace crackling in the middle of winter. 36

BARKS from the Guild/May 2018

Photo © David Shade

Author David Shade felt that he had to remain vigilant at all times once back home after leaving the military, but boxer Lulu shared the burden and helped him relax

that can lead to your own death or that of your comrades. I should have died many times during the tour. There were vehicle rollovers, improvised explosive device (IED) blasts and even close combat situations with the enemy. But I was lucky. Suppressing my emotions and fear gave me the ability to perform at the highest level. Soon, however, I would learn that this mindset came at a cost. This type of emotional state serves a soldier very well in the midst of a gritty war…but not so much back in western civilized society. After receiving a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), coping with those hidden wounds can pose a significant challenge. The ideology of being a warfighter contradicts with our world, and I think some people never can fully make the mental transition back to what is considered a normal mindset. This is why so many young veterans commit suicide; they cannot cope with the competing ideologies.

Light in a Dark Room

I was one of many returning warfighters who had to walk this difficult path of transitioning back into society. I think every person tries to find their own way if they can, but we received zero training to help us with this practically impossible task. As soon as you exit the military, you are used goods. You’re outdated. In an instant, a soldier goes from having an entire support network to absolutely nothing except a one-way ticket to get off the military base and head home. Driving off that base for the

Now that I am a professional dog trainer, I like to tease Lulu, telling her that she has won the doggy lottery. But we both know the truth. On the contrary, old girl, it was I who won the lottery. last time was a day that I will never forget. When I finally arrived back home, I began transitioning into society and trying to put a life together, but this was as big a folly as attempting to solve a puzzle in the dark. I rekindled old relationships with friends and family, but none of them could possibly understand what I was going through. How could they? I was still in that dark room, searching for the puzzle pieces, when I stumbled upon a young boxer puppy named Lulu. She would become my candle in that place, illuminating tough situations and allowing me to envision my next moves. For the first time in years, I started to allow myself to feel emotions again. In her infinite wisdom, Lulu taught me to control the raging fire of my feelings. One of my first tests occurred after I left Lulu loose in the house when I went to run an errand. When I came back home and opened the door, the house appeared as if a tornado had ripped through it. Every single square inch of the floor was littered with destroyed Christmas decorations. I could feel the anger beginning to boil my blood, but then something happened. Lulu approached me as if welcoming me to her party, wiggling her butt in the way boxers tend to do. In that moment, I could feel my emotions starting to settle down. How could I possibly be mad at this adorable puppy who just wanted to have fun with me? This little girl quickly demonstrated that she required a lot of exercise, so I decided to teach her how to play fetch. I found a large, steep hill where I would stand at the top and throw the ball down to the bottom for her. This would become our favorite game. It provided the ultimate way for her to maximize her exercise, as the hill compounded the physical effort she had to make, tiring her out more quickly. After using up all of her energy reserves, Lulu would often sidle up next to me on that hill. Together, we would watch the sunset and a sense of serenity would wash over me. But I still felt like I had to keep my guard up around the clock. And Lulu would also help me with this. She showed off her skills as an organic alarm system, always letting me know whenever someone approached our house. When I was asleep at night and there was a noise, she would immediately alert me of the impending danger. For some people, this might have been irritating. For me, it was exactly what I needed. And for the first time since my return into civilian life, I could relax. It didn’t matter if she was just barking at the mailman; her dedication to guarding the house allowed me to delegate some of that responsibility to her. It provided a sense of comfort, like a warm fireplace crackling in the middle of winter. This doesn’t mean that I wasn’t completely in over my head trying to raise and train Lulu, but we both knew that we had to rely on each other, and that maybe I had to lean on her even more than she leaned on me. When I was stumbling around in that metaphorical dark room, she became a beacon of light that allowed me to recover. After some time, I even began to feel emotions like joy, acceptance, and love. My road to making a recovery had begun the moment I brought that little puppy home. After spending years in therapy, I am happy to report that I am now the most mentally healthy I have ever been in my entire life. And Lulu is still my


candle whenever I need to navigate the dark places. A senior now, she’s gone from wrecking entire Christmas displays to becoming an old girl who spends most of her days snoozing on the couch. Now that I am a professional dog trainer, I like to tease Lulu, telling her that she has won the doggy lottery. But we both know the truth. On the contrary, old girl, it was I who won the lottery. n

Photo © David Shade

David Shade says Lulu was a beacon of light during his years of recovery from posttraumatic stress disorder, and that she still helps him navigate “the dark places”

David Shade is a certified, force-free dog trainer and owner of At Attention Dog Training (, located outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He attended the Catch Canine Trainer's Academy in Little Falls, New Jersey, earning a CCDT designation. Previously, he served in the United States Army for four years as a Cavalry Scout in the 82nd Airborne Division, serving a combat tour in Afghanistan. He also studied biological sciences at Cabrini University in Radnor, Pennsylvania

BARKS from the Guild/May 2018



Finding Lost Pets

Jane Bowers describes her work as a missing animal response technician and sets out the

basic steps to search for a lost pet


Photo © Jane Bowers

Tracking and trailing coonhound Amber originally trailed cougars, but now searches for missing dogs

ver my years as a professional dog trainer, animal control officer and missing animal response technician, I have seen that dogs go missing for many reasons. Some flee a vehicle after a crash, others escape from an unfamiliar situation. Sometimes dogs are stolen. The good news is that many dogs are returned home safely. In fact, a survey revealed that 93 percent of missing dogs were returned safely to their homes (Weiss, 2012). I have also seen how owners can increase the likelihood of recovering their dog as quickly as possible by providing the dog with identification. Collar tags with current contact information in the largest and most legible font available help people reunite a missing dog with his owner. I keep extra tags on hand for my dogs so that a worn or lost tag can quickly be replaced. Municipal licenses are another good form of identification. Tracking devices are getting more popular. There are several sites online with reviews and consumer comments. Owners should consider whether they would be better off with a system that uses GPS or one that is on radio frequency. These devices are worth it particularly for dogs who are transitioning from a shelter to a new foster or permanent home and may be frightened enough to flee. Ear tattoos for identification (often done after a spay or neuter procedure) allow a pet to be traced through their veterinary hospital. A microchip (inserted between the shoulder blades of the dog) are good and owners can update information quickly online. Drawbacks are that not all scanners can access every company’s chip information and

Some dogs are extremely frightened when lost and won’t come to people (not even their owner) so the public is often asked to contact the search coordinator with sightings and to avoid trying to approach the dog. 38

BARKS from the Guild/May 2018

Photo © Jane Bowers

It takes about a year for a dog to be trained to locate dogs and about four months to locate missing cats

that there is not one centralized database. Having clear and current pictures of a pet (taken from several angles) is also extremely useful should a pet go missing.

Conducting the Search

If a dog does go missing, owners can get help by contacting a “missing animal recovery technician” or “pet detective.” Some technicians volunteer their time and expertise while others charge a fee. The technician will either conduct the search and recovery, rent out equipment, or work with the owner to do some of the search. Searches often consist of contacting local veterinary offices, animal control offices and shelters with photos of and information about the missing pet. It is recommended that owners physically check all the shelters and impound facilities to look for their dog. If the pet is thought to be stolen or if the police have animal control duties, police will be notified also. The neighborhood should be thoroughly searched. A study revealed that 49 percent of dog owners found their missing dog by searching the neighborhood (Weiss, 2012). The technician will put out clear posters with pictures, concise information and a contact number framed in brightly colored poster paper to attract people’s attention. These need to be near enough to intersections so drivers can see them easily. Social media is also extremely useful in locating missing dogs, raising awareness and finding ads for found dogs. Some dogs are extremely frightened when lost and won’t come to people (not even their owner) so the public is often asked to contact the search coordinator with sightings and to avoid trying to approach the dog. If the dog has been seen in an area, the technician will put out trail or wildlife cameras and leave food out for the missing dog and allow time for the dog to feel safe in the area. The cameras are monitored to see what pattern the dog may be establishing and to check for wildlife


tween the dog he or she is searching for ( the “target” dog) and other dogs he or she may encounter along the way. Technicians also use technical equipment like night vision, sewer cameras, thermal imaging camera or UAV/drones. I enjoy the work and encourage anyone who is interested to pursue being a missing animal recovery technician or “pet detective.” It is rewarding work. n

Amber in action searching for Abbie the poodle


Weiss, E. (2012). How Many Pets are Lost? How Many Find Their Way Home? ASPCA Survey Has Answers. Available at:


Missing Animal Response Network:

Photo © Jane Bowers

in the area. Later, a closely and continually monitored trap or enclosure may be set out. There are several types of traps used and the type is dependent on the situation. Tracking and trailing dogs can be very helpful in finding a missing pet. I have a coonhound, Amber, who searches for missing dogs. Amber was used to trail cougars and, when I wanted her to help with missing dogs, I enrolled her in the Missing Animal Response Network online training course. There are weekly online classes where the instructor, Kat Albrecht, provides written and verbal feedback on the videoed training sessions posted by participants. It takes about a year for a dog to be trained to locate dogs and about four months to train a dog to locate missing cats. Some behaviors like “take scent” (where the dog is given the odor of the missing animal prior to a search) and “push” (where the dog indicates that the missing pet is behind a door for example) are clicker trained. Practice tracks are made longer, older and more challenging as the training progresses and “decoy” dogs are brought in to help the trailing dog discriminate be-

...dogs go missing for many reasons. Some flee a vehicle after a crash, others escape from an unfamiliar situation. Sometimes dogs are stolen. The good news is that many dogs are returned home safely. In fact, a survey revealed that 93 percent of missing dogs were returned safely to their homes (Weiss, 2012).

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.

pet care

A Seamless Transition

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

dog boarding and day care facilities, Lauri Bowen-Vaccare discusses the all-important



successful, stress-free drop-off is an important factor for dogs who will be spending a period of time in day care or boarding. There are a number of things both staff and owners can do to help facilitate the process, and this is what I will focus on in this article.


• When they first arrive at a facility, owners are encouraged to walk their dogs around the parking lot, designated potty/walking area, etc. before going inside. o Most dogs need to potty following a car ride. o This gives the dog the opportunity to acquaint or reacquaint himself with the outside sights, sounds and smells of the facility. o This provides the dog a few minutes to sniff around which, for dogs, is an important calming mechanism for the brain. If the dog enters the building in an at least somewhat calm state of mind, drop-off and his visit will go more smoothly. o Some facilities have an employee meet the dog and his owner in the parking lot during drop-off. o Once inside, the dog should be given a few minutes to sniff the lobby and present staff members for the same reasons. o Dogs should be on-leash at all times. A regular 4- to 6-foot leash is preferable to a Flexi- or retractable leash for safety purposes. If the owner uses a Flexi-lead, it should be locked at a length no more than 6 feet. • Some facilities, particularly very small ones that also cater to dogs with special needs (behavioral and/or health) often require dropoffs and pick-ups by appointment only. o This helps prevent anxiety in owners as well as the dogs, and is very beneficial to the dogs who have moderate to severe fear and/or anxiety or health concerns. o If a facility does not offer drop-offs and pick-ups by appointment for dogs who may not do well around other dogs or strangers, owners should call ahead and ask for a designated dropoff/pick-up time so that staff can make sure there will be no other dogs walking through the parking lot, lobby, kennel and play areas, etc. during that time. o Alternatively, owners whose dogs do not like being around other dogs or strangers can park as far from the building as possible and wait in their car until other guests are out of sight. Owners should notify staff of their arrival, so they can inform them when it is safe to bring their dog inside. • For families of multi-dog households, it is often easier and less stressful for the dogs, their owners and the staff, for the dogs to be walked and brought inside one at a time. o It also often easier and more efficient to bring the dog’s belongings inside separately from the dogs. • Dogs should be on-leash from the time they get out of their vehicle until the time they are taken, by staff, beyond the lobby to the main living area of the facility. o Regular 4- to 6-foot leashes are preferred over Flexi or retractable leashes for safety purposes. 40

BARKS from the Guild/May 2018

© Can Stock Photo/f8grapher

After drop-off, dogs should be taken to an outside run to help them acclimate with the facility and its goings on, as well as calm themselves in the new environment

• If there is another dog in the lobby, or the possibility of another dog entering the lobby during a dog’s drop-off, all dogs should be on-leash and allowed enough space so that they are not forced into an unwanted meet and greet. o Dogs who have a history of aggression or reactivity toward other dogs and/or humans should be physically removed from the lobby before other dogs and/or humans walk through the space. o Alternatively, if the dog being dropped off has aggressive and/or over-reactive tendencies toward other dogs, the owner should notify the staff of their arrival before bringing their dog inside, so they can clear the lobby and other areas where dogs may be present, before bringing the dog inside, and walking him through the facility.

Safe Acclimation

• Once the dog and his owner have said their goodbyes, staff should take the dog to an outside run, rather than immediately to his kennel, so he can further acclimate himself with the facility and its goings on, as well as further calm himself in the environment. o Most dogs, including regular guests, need some time to calm down a bit before going into a play group or kennel. o Regular day care guests can often mingle with their playmates shortly after their arrival. o Dogs new to the facility will be assessed for group activities, so long as they do not present with a health problem, a history of fear, aggression, etc. toward other dogs and/or humans, and with the owner’s permission. o Dogs new to the facility will typically be kept sepa-

rate from other dogs, especially groups of dogs, for a longer period of time than regular guests as they have much more to take in and usually require more time to relax. o The dog’s bedding and any toys he is to have while kenneled should already be in his kennel when he enters it the first time. • Some facilities, particularly smaller ones that cater to dogs with special needs (particularly moderate to severe fear or anxiety issues or bite histories), may ask the dog’s owner to walk through the facility with the dog, and even set up his kennel. o These facilities may also encourage the owner to stay with their dog in their kennel for a little while to help the dog settle. This can also help prevent a bite to a staff member, as the transition from leaving the owner to going with an employee can be one of major conflict for these particular dogs. o Owners may be encouraged to leave a safe food puzzle or chew for the dog to enjoy upon their departure. o Once the owner has left, an employee will keep an eye on the dog either via live video feed, or by occasionally looking in on him without disturbing him. • Owners should be asked about any acute or chronic illnesses or injuries from which the dog suffers. o If the staff feels that they are unable to provide appropriate care for the dog, they will inform the owner of this and can deny service to their dog. o Staff can and should deny dogs who have been in contact with other animals who are known to have been recently ill with a communicable disease. o Staff can deny dogs who have boarded or attended day care at other facilities in the area, particularly if the facility has been affected by communicable disease within the last one or more months. • Owners should be asked about any illnesses or injuries the dog has had in the two to four weeks prior to drop-off. As per the previous point: o If the staff feels that they are unable to provide appropriate care for the dog, they will inform the owner of this and can deny service to their dog. o Staff can and should deny dogs who have been in contact with other animals who are known to have been recently ill with communicable disease. o Staff can deny dogs who have boarded or attended day care at other facilities in the area, particularly if the facility has been affected by communicable disease within the last one or more months.

Body Check

• Staff should perform a brief, but thorough, body check of each dog as they are dropped off, making note of bumps, lumps, scratches, limping, etc. o Regular body checks should be performed throughout the dog’s visit. • Staff must double check previously confirmed vaccination/titer records to make sure dogs being dropped off are upto-date. o Facilities can, and usually should, deny service to a dog who has not provided proof of protection against rabies, distemper, adenovrirus (hepatitis), parvo, Bordetella (and sometimes parainfluenza, depending on the facility’s requirements). Exceptions to this would be senior dogs, who are still required to be protected against rabies and Bordetella. o Some facilities will allow dogs who have been medically waived from the rabies vaccination from their vet. Facilities have the right to refuse service to dogs who have received a medical waiver from their vet exempting them from rabies vaccination. This will vary

pet care

For families of multi-dog households, it is often easier and less stressful for the dogs, their owners and the staff, for the dogs to be walked and brought inside one at a time. from facility to facility. o Many facilities now accept adequate titer results as proof of protection, rather than annual, biennial or triennial boosters. o If a facility allows a dog who has proven to be unprotected to stay, or whom they have not confirmed is protected, staff must notify the dog’s owners immediately once discovered, and instruct them to pick him up immediately. o If a facility allows a dog who has proven to be unprotected to stay, or whom they have not confirmed is protected, and the dog becomes ill and/or infects other dogs, the facility can be held responsible for the spread of infectious disease among their guests. • Dogs should never be subject to electrical shock, choking, hanging, helicoptering, “alpha rolling,” being squirted with water/vinegar or any other liquid or compressed air (e.g. Pet Corrector), scruffing, whipping, hitting, spanking, etc., or any other form physical punishment or “correction,” for any reason. • Dogs should never be subject to extremely loud, sudden noises (e.g. air horns) as a means to interrupt behavior or play, with the exception of breaking up a fight. o If a dog is wearing an electric shock collar, a plastic or metal prong collar, a choke chain or nylon choke collar, or a citronella/compressed air collar, it should be taken off upon entering the building and either sent home with the owner, or stored with the dog’s belongings. Many facilities require owners to remove and apply these collars, and refrain from doing so themselves. Staff should refrain from using leashes attached to these collars, unless absolutely necessary if helping an owner put their dog in their car, etc. In those situations, employees can choose to use another collar or harness in order to walk the dog out to the car. o Some facilities may keep squirt bottles and/or Air Corrector and/or air horns on hand in case of a fight between two or more dogs, but they should only be used in case of emergency. n Lauri Bowen-Vaccare ABCDT is the owner of Warren, Kentuckybased Believe In Dog, LLC ( and is an honors graduate of Animal Behavior College, with a specialty in training shelter dogs. Her focus is on the dog-human team, and she specializes in reactivity, resource guarding, fearful and timid dogs, bringing outside dogs in, and outside pet dogs. She also advises and assists trainers who want to cross over to force-free training.

PPG World Service Radio Show

best of Bringing the stry to the pet indu nd share a a ch t, chuckle

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

BARKS from the Guild/May 2018



Starting from Scratch, Again

Lara Joseph relates the tale of Murray, the green-winged macaw she rescued from a home

supply store, the importance of consistency in training, and how she overcame his aversion


to human contact and interaction – twice

t was about 13 years ago that I met Murray the green-winged macaw who, at that time, was just 9 months old. For some reason he was sitting in a cage for sale at a home supply department store, so I inquired about him with the store manager, who told me he was a handful. What the manager meant was that Murray wouldn't let people touch him or pick him up. I watched, talked to him for a while, and then left. Six months later, my husband went to the same department store and called to tell me that Murray was still there. I inquired with the manager once again to ask why. He responded that Murray was still untouchable and wouldn't let anybody near him. Off I went to the store then and, during the hours I sat there watching Murray, I began to understand why. People would approach him and poke their fingers into the cage. Three kids ran by and pulled his tail as they passed. Two weeks later Murray was sitting in my living room. I found a home for him halfway across the United States that agreed to take him if I would train both him and them. Several months after bringing him home, the adopters backed out, saying they thought he was going to be much more work then they could handle. This may have been so for their lifestyle, but, in fact, Murray was not a difficult bird to train. He just needed consistency. I saw that immediately during my first couple of months working with him. He is one of the gentlest birds I have, and he still resides with me now, 12½ years later. Unfortunately, Murray cannot fly because he was never allowed the opportunity to learn at the critical, young age when parrots learn to fly. That is time that was missed and that is now gone forever. This point is essential to understanding what one is selling, and why. The store sold home furniture and supplies but kept a few larger parrots, apparently to keep children entertained while their parents shopped. I did not buy Murray at that time. Indeed, the store agreed to give him to me, telling me they were in over their heads with him. They promised to no longer sell parrots, and they have recently gone out of business.

Avian Ambassador

Once we got home, through consistency and clear communication in training sessions, I would walk around the house with Murray on my shoulder. He would willingly swing upside down doing somersaults from my fingertips. I was able to train him to take showers, which he enjoyed immensely. He often attended programs and workshops with me and made an excellent ambassador for his species and the opportunity to educate on conservation.

Murray was still untouchable and wouldn't let anybody near him. Off I went to the store then, and, during the hours I sat there watching Murray, I began to understand why. People would approach him and poke their fingers into the cage. Three kids ran by and pulled his tail as they passed. 42

BARKS from the Guild/May 2018

Photo © Lara Joseph

By being consistent in her approach with Murray, author Lara Joseph was able to better read his body language, allowing her to eventually deliver food reinforcers from inside his enclosure

Skip ahead a few years, then, when I decided to move and purchase a new building to expand my business. I was very excited about this and much of my time was spent shaping and introducing my six parrots to their new location and enclosures. Six months later, the doors were ready to open. I had several open houses to introduce myself, my business, and the animals to the community. Murray was one of the ambassadors I let people interact with, but for his safety – and the general public’s potential lack of education, I kept him at a distance and height people could not reach. As the community began learning about us, people started asking about the opportunity to volunteer. I thought this was a great way to offer education, but it was not without its concerns either. I had spent the previous six years modifying my parrots’ behavior issues and concerns, work that uneducated volunteers could quickly undo. Nevertheless, I began accepting and educating a few select volunteers. One of the concerns with Murray was that he could not fly, so his opportunity to escape was limited to walking, running, and climbing. As

such, I supervised the volunteers closely. Murray seemed to enjoy the proximity and variety of socializing and I began to see him choose closer proximity and limited physical interaction with the volunteers. I saw healthy relationships forming between Murray and the volunteers. Meanwhile, as my business began to grow, the busier I became. I thought that as long as others were training Murray, I could focus more of my time on my other animals. For the next couple of years, I thought this was going to be fine, until one day I walked into Murray’s enclosure and asked him for a few simple behaviors. What I saw via his body language was that he was warning me to stay away. The healthy, confident relationship we once had was now gone. Over the next couple weeks, I spent a great deal of time questioning this. In the past, there had been several healthy behaviors I was able to request from Murray that the volunteers could not, and I wanted those behaviors back for him. It was then that I decided I needed to start training him all over again.

Starting Again

To start with, I did not feel comfortable handing Murray a food reinforcer without protective contact so I began my training outside the enclosure. I needed to approach Murray in a way he was comfortable with. Every time I walked by his enclosure, then, I would hand him a food reinforcer through the bars. I was able to do this several times a day. Once that behavior became consistent and I was able to accurately read calm behavior, I began asking for other behaviors he already knew how to do, like coming down to his station, which is a perch at eye level. Once the consistency and contingency were understood, I began training him to station on his perch while I opened the door of his enclosure. After that, the next step was to get into his enclosure. Over the course of the next day, I was able to train Murray to stay on his station while I entered his enclosure. I began delivering the food reinforcer without the cage bars between us. It was then that I decided on my end goal: to be able to get him out of his enclosure again. At that stage, I still didn't feel comfortable with the idea of asking Murray to step up onto my hand. If I made a mistake in reading his body language, a 3-inch beak with approximately 200 pounds per square inch of pressure could do a lot of damage. I knew, however, that I would feel comfortable moving him via off-contact training, so I


made a T-perch of 1-inch PVC piping. The next day, I began shaping the introduction of the T-perch. Murray immediately showed clearly via his body language that he was not comfortable with me walking close to his enclosure holding the T-perch. Instead, then, I backed up in my shaping plan and placed the perch on the ground at a distance he was comfortable and began bridging and reinforcing. After a few sessions, I was able to pick up the perch and slowly move it closer to his enclosure. From there, I began bringing it into the enclosure while keeping it down by my Photo © Lara Joseph side. It took a couple of days to get Via protective contact, Joseph was able to move Murray through these steps. From there, I started outside of his enclosure reinforcing small approximations of bringing the T-perch closer to Murray’s station, which took another couple of days. The green-winged macaw is the second largest species of parrot and Murray weighs 1,200 grams (2 pounds 10 ounces). A common aversive many parrot owners often pair with asking their birds to step onto their arm is a tail bump, i.e. when a heavier bird steps onto the forearm, the tail is often bumped by the perch as the bird's weight shifts. When a bird's tail is bumped, it knocks him off balance. When this aversive is paired with asking a bird to step up, it often results in a bite. It is for this reason that I wanted to place the T-perch onto Murray’s station, therefore eliminating any possibility of the Photo © Lara Joseph perch moving once he stepped onto it. Murray steps onto the T-perch, held by Joseph, showing calm behavior The next steps were shaping one foot and curiosity for the next step on, then both feet on, lifting the perch 1 inch from the station, then 2 inches, then 3 inches and so on, all the while avoiding a tail bump. Bear in mind that a greenwinged macaw has a 2-foot long tail, give or take. These steps took me a couple of days. I found the training was fun for me and that Murray had started anticipating our sessions. He began making vocalizations paired with excitable body language that I hadn't seen or heard in years. I soon observed that, when I picked up the Tperch, instead of moving away, Murray began moving towards it and his station. After a few days of shaping Murray to step onto the perch, we were ready to begin shaping the behavior of him calmly staying on it while walking out of the enclosure. To start with, as I approached the door with Murray on the perch, I noticed nervous body language if I began walking him out ahead of me. Murray was having to focus on where he was heading while also paying attention to what I was doing behind him. His body language told me he was not 100 percent comfortable with Photo © Lara Joseph Murray interacts with enrichment on a play stand this and that I may have been doing too BARKS from the Guild/May 2018



Photo © Lara Joseph

Joseph’s consistent approach to training allowed her to move from protective contact to full contact training with Murray

much too soon. I had to change it up. Instead, then, of walking him out ahead of me, I tried walking backward out of the enclosure which allowed him to see where he was going and not have to turn his back on me. This approach worked beautifully. From here, the majority of training time was spent approaching and entering Murray’s enclosure. Once I was able to get Murray out of the enclosure, the reinforcers were many: the change of environment, being able to be on play stands, and being able to be in close proximity to all volunteers. All of these were such high value that I was able to take significant steps in my shaping plan and move Murray around once he was out of his enclosure. After a few hours of being out, I noticed that the behavior of stepping up onto the T-perch from a different location had

to be trained again. I had been expecting Murray to step up because he already knew how to do the behavior inside his enclosure. But he did not transfer the behavior and I quickly noticed I was going to have to break it down into small steps again. This took a little pre-planning from me over the following days. I would have to think about which volunteers were coming in that day and how soon I needed to return Murray to his enclosure. The closer it came to the time to return him, I would withhold all treats and some attention. Then both were used to train him to step back up onto the perch and return him to his enclosure. Once he returned, the treats and attention were delivered in large amounts. With each step in this training process, I made sure I was consistent due to my inconsistencies over the past few years which had resulted in punishing all the progress we had made. Our training together continues and the bond and trust between us are now obvious. Now that I am focusing on my consistency, the steps we are taking in shaping new behaviors are getting more significant, and we are currently doing things we haven't done in years. I will never allow that gap or inconsistency in training to happen again. It’s the very least Murray deserves. 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.

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Feline Behavior Unmasked: Perching, Petting and Biting

Paula Garber and Tabitha Kucera of the PPG Cat Committee tackle some of the common


questions cat owners ask about feline behavior he variances of the litter box are manifold, and the behaviors associated with its use are one of the most commonly reported issues by cat owners for whom size, substrate, location and cleanliness are all essential considerations. Another common issue is that of the happily purring cat one minute who transforms into one who bites and scratches the next. We tackle both these issues in this article.

Q: Why does my cat perch on the edge of the litter box?

A: A cat may perch on the edge of the litter box for a variety of reasons. Some cats will perch with just the front paws on the edge of the box, and others will perch with all four paws—quite a balancing act! In some cases, it could simply mean that the litter box is too small. In fact, most litter boxes currently on the market are not large enough for adult cats. The box should be large enough for the cat to comfortably turn around, dig a hole, and cover his business without having to squeeze his body or step outside the box or on its edge. A good general rule is to choose a box that is at least one and a half times the length of the cat’s body. Plastic under-bed storage bins and cement mixing trays are the perfect size for the average adult cat. Large storage bins with the lid removed and a U-shaped doorway cut into them also make great litter boxes. Something to consider with covered boxes is that the cover greatly reduces the amount of space the cat has to turn around, dig, squat, and cover. Some cats don’t like their ears, tails, or other body parts to touch the inside of the cover, so they might perch on the edge of the opening with the front half of their body sticking out. This is most likely to happen when a cat defecates, because cats typically squat in a more upright position while defecating than they do while urinating. You might then see the cat leave the box, turn around, and put only the front part of their body back in to cover their business.

Size and Substrate Matter

The litter substrate itself could be a factor as well. For example, some cats don’t like pelleted or crystal litter. These types of litter have sharp edges that can be uncomfortable on cats’ sensitive paws. An easy way to test softness is to press your inner forearm into the litter. If you feel any pinching or stabbing, your cat will feel it, too. Scented litter can be a big turnoff to many cats, as well. Cats’ sense of smell is about 14 times more powerful than ours, so even a lightly scented litter can be overpowering to them. If a cat doesn’t like the smell of the litter, he likely won’t want the litter to touch his body. The ideal litter has a soft, sandlike texture, is unscented, and clumps. Which brings us to another possible factor in litter box perching behavior—dirty litter. Cats are notoriously clean animals, and they don’t like putting their paws in soiled litter. In fact, a recent study found that cats preferred to use a litter box free of urine and feces over a box with 46

BARKS from the Guild/May 2018

© Can Stock Photo/oksun70

A litter box should be large enough for a cat to comfortably turn around, dig a hole, and cover his business without having to squeeze his body or step outside the box or on its edge

“obstructions,” even if the previous user of the box was the cat himself (Ellis, McGowan, & Martin, 2017). And herein lies the importance of using clumping litter—it allows more complete removal of urine and feces, resulting in a cleaner litter box. The other important piece of this puzzle, of course, is frequent scooping—at least once per day. In a multi-cat household, if there is tension between two cats, those cats might not be happy sharing a litter box, which could result in one or both cats not using a box previously used by the other cat. Although it is more likely that the cat would avoid the box completely, it is possible that the cat could, at a minimum, develop an aversion to putting his paws in litter that smells of the other cat. Cats who have a medical or physical issue might also perch on the edge of the litter box. For instance, cats with arthritis in their rear legs might have trouble squatting; therefore, perching with the front paws on the edge of the box could be a more comfortable position while eliminating. A cat who has been declawed could find it uncomfortable to put his paws in the litter and might resort to perching on the edge of the box to avoid pain. In summary, a cat perching on the edge of the litter box could be an early sign of the development of a more serious house-soiling problem. Determining what is aversive about the litter box or the litter, or whether the cat has an underlying health issue contributing to such behavior, is the first step toward providing an appropriate litter box set-up for the cat.

Q: Why does my cat show her belly like she wants to be pet, then try to bite me when I pet it?

A: Many people see this and take it as an invitation to rub their cat’s belly, but in most cases, that is not what the cat is communicating to you when she exposes her abdomen. Unlike dogs, rolling over is not a submissive behavior for cats—it is actually a defensive posture. When a cat feels that she cannot get away, she will roll on her back to better use her claws and teeth against a


Cats are notoriously clean animals, and they don’t like putting their paws in soiled litter. In fact, a recent study found that cats preferred to use a litter box free of urine and feces over a box with “obstructions,” even if the previous user of the box was the cat himself (Ellis, McGowan, & Martin, 2017).

ting the abdomen and instead pet her shoulders, head, and chin. Even then, only pet a few times. You must monitor your cat’s body language, and at the first sight of agitation or over arousal, you should give her space and stop petting. Some common signs of over arousal are tail twitching and lashing, ears and whiskers back, skin twitching, hair standing on the body or tail, and a fixated look. In summary, cats are unique in that they are both prey and predator animals. Because of this, they feel the need to always protect themselves and will attack when a vulnerable place like their Cats lie on their back abdomen is touched. Think of a cat showing her abfor many reasons domen as a sign that she needs to defend the and may feel the most vulnerable part of her body, is very reneed to protect this vulnerable area by laxed, or wants to play, and not an invitation biting their owner’s to touch. n hand if they try to

predator. A cat’s abdomen is a very vulnerable area because it holds many vital organs. pet it Damage to these organs can be fatal, which is why many cats are likely to guard their abdomen from potential injuries. Instinct tells your cat to remain vigilant and avoid leaving herself vulnerable, so do not take it personally if your cat scratches or bites you when you rub her belly. This does not mean that the cat is defensive every time. A cat laying on her back exposing her abdomen in a relaxed setting like her home, is often communicating that she is relaxed and feels safe in her environment. The cat feels so comfortable that she will lie on her back and expose their vital organs instead of watching for predators. Cats also can lie on their back when they want to play. This is the time to take out the feather wand or their favorite catnip kicker. Avoid using your hands and feet to play with your cat because we want to teach her appropriate play and that your hands and feet are never toys to attack. This will help avoid bites and scratches in the future. The best approach when you see your cat showing her abdomen is to admire her adorable belly but keep your hands clear. If you do pet your cat while her abdomen is exposed, we recommend avoiding pet-

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

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Ellis, J., McGowan, R.T.S., & Martin, F. (2017, August). Does previous use affect litter box appeal in multi-cat households? Behavioural Processes 141 Part 3 284-290. Available at:

Paula Garber is the owner of LIFELINE Cat Behavior Solutions ( in Westchester County, New York. She is a certified animal training and enrichment professional and certified feline training and behavior specialist through the Animal Behavior Institute. She is also certified in low-stress handling for dogs and cats (Silver2015) and holds a Master’s in education. She is currently earning a diploma in feline behavior science and technology from the Companion Animal Sciences Institute. She currently serves as chair of PPG’s Cat Committee and is an advisor to the board of directors for FurBridge, a local animal rescue and community outreach organization. Tabitha Kucera is the owner of Chirrups and Chatter cat behavior consulting and training ( in Cleveland, Ohio. She is a certified cat behavior consultant through the International Association of Behavior Consultants, a registered veterinary technician and is low stress handling and fear free certified. She the co-chair of PPG’s Feline Committee and is the president elect of the Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians. BARKS from the Guild/May 2018



From the Horse’s Perspective

Kathie Gregory discusses labels and the importance of self-restraint and a calm emotional


state when using food as an aid to teaching horses here is a general perception that using food in teaching will cause the horse to be rude, mug you, be “pushy,” or start nipping. People often dismiss the possibility of using food for these reasons, but the above situations can arise when working with any animal, it is not unique to horses. There are plenty of dogs who will behave in the same manner if they haven’t been trained otherwise. Firstly, let’s deal with the terminology. The words we use influence how we perceive a situation and how we feel about it. Several words that are commonly used when people talk about using food when training horses are: Rude – the Oxford Dictionary states this is behavior that is offensively impolite or bad mannered. Mugging – used when a horse is invading a person’s space, insistent on getting food from them. Pushy – used to indicate that the horse will not listen but, rather, continue trying to get the person to give him the food. All of these words are labels from a human perspective. In fact, a horse does not know the concept of being rude, mugging, or pushy. From his perspective, he is simply trying to achieve a desirable outcome, and if food has been offered, he is simply saying, “I'd like some more.” If more does not appear, he tries harder and searches for himself. There may also be the expectation that a horse knows he must wait patiently until you choose to deliver food rewards. Again, this is not accurate. Looking at natural horse feeding behavior, food is available throughout his environment. When conditions are harsh horses will share the same space without competition. It is not natural for a horse to depend on someone to piece feed him. When we use food as a means of motivation, reinforcement, and reward, we are activating the seeking system within the brain. This puts the mind in an appetitive state, and the horse is motivated to seek whatever has motivated him, in this case, food. This results in different emotions. The horse will feel anticipation at the thought of food being presented. This may change to frustration if the food is withheld or is not delivered quickly enough. When he receives the food there is pleasure along with relief from the stresses of anticipation and frustration. This satisfies the drive of the seeking system, but is often a temporary state; the seeking system is still activated, prompting the horse to try to get more food. This is one of the reasons working with food is so effective, (providing the food remains rewarding and the horse is successful in achieving it). Its ongoing motivational effect means that the horse will stay engaged for the time you are teaching him. However, there is also another factor involved, and that is self-restraint. The motivation of the seeking system, anticipation, and frustration all work against self-restraint, reducing the horse’s ability to employ it.

Making the Association

When teaching a horse, there are a few factors that influence how he acts. A horse not used to being taught with food may or may not associate the food with what he has just done. If he doesn't associate the food with his action, he will try different things to elicit the food from you until he learns the action that releases the food, and the cue the person uses to ask for the action. If he has made the association, he may also try different things, as it is hard work when you learn something new and the 48

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Photo © Andy Francis

Using food in training keeps the mind in an appetitive state, assisting motivation and engagement in learning

brain needs time to process it. Also, repeating the same exercise too many times will result in boredom, and again, the horse may try something different to get the food. It takes time for a horse to understand when he should do something to elicit food. We know we are about to engage in a teaching session with our horse, and we also know when we finish the session, but this is not always obvious to the horse. He will ask you to engage with him at other times, as you are part of the associations he has made with the food being available. Until he has become used to the routine of when sessions happen, i.e. what you do before you start, and as you finish a session, he will try different things to get you to give him food. He may also ask you to engage with him when he knows you are not conducting a teaching session. Food is a strong motivator in itself, and he is likely to see if you have any just because it tastes nice. Horses enjoy learning and to engage in mental stimulation, so he may also try to elicit food as a means of getting you to work with him. There is also your relationship. Doing things together is enjoyable for all parties, and that is also a motivation for him to see if you have food on you. The combination of the activated seeking system, the various emo-

tional states involved, the motivations of the horse, and the learning environment all cause the horse to interact with you to get some tasty food, often at times or in ways that we feel are inappropriate. On the surface it may look like the horse is behaving true to any one of the labels described above, but this is in the absence of understanding why he is acting as he is.

A Calm State of Mind

With a horse new to food rewards, I like to start by creating an initial association between the food and his emotional state. Rather than starting by using food to motivate the horse to do something to get it, which strongly activates the seeking system, I introduce the food when the horse is relaxed and calm by giving him a piece without asking anything of him. I then let him continue with what he was doing, as I also continue on to a different task. It is important to carry on with something after you have given a piece of food. If you just stand there, the horse is more likely to ask you for another piece. Include language as you go through this process, so his intellectual mind is engaged and listening to you. Use relevant phrases such as, “Was that nice?”, “You can have some more later, I'm going to carry on,” or “That's it, all finished.” Your tone of voice should be calm and balanced, rather than exciting. Pair the spoken language with your body language, be calm, quiet, without quick movements. All these things give the horse information on your emotional state and motivations, and influence how he responds. Ultimately, it gives him a multi-dimensional association towards food rewards. These can then can be used to manage his emotional state and stop escalation further along in teaching when he is more actively engaged in the seeking system. Anything that is appetitive is going to activate the seeking system to some extent. This system is in the background for many activities, and also when other systems are activated. However, there is a difference in a state of mind that is overaroused and actively engaged in the seeking system trying to achieve a goal, compared to a state of mind that is relaxed, i.e. seeking, but not overaroused. A horse that has not become overly influenced by his emotional mind is more capable of learning than a horse that is struggling to think through a strong emotional state. A calm mind is also less likely to move to an escalating emotional state, and will more easily maintain a balanced state of mind. This approach also starts to introduce self-restraint. It is much easier to employ self-restraint when you are not anticipating or actively trying to get something. When creating this initial association with food rewards, don't do the same thing every time, then. Vary whether you have food or not, and when you might give it, whether you give one piece or follow it with an additional piece. Keep the language going, whether you have food or not. Horses are perfectly capable of learning the phrase, “I haven't got any,” and if you also show an open empty hand, they can see there is nothing there and associate the phrase with the absence of food. It is important to redirect the horse if he shows any continued interest in you. You may offer him some hay, involve him in what you are doing, or leave the area yourself.


A horse that has not become overly influenced by his emotional mind is more capable of learning than a horse that is struggling to think through a strong emotional state. A calm mind is also less likely to move to an escalating emotional state, and will more easily maintain a balanced state of mind. pating and thinking about the food whether it is used for luring or shaping. Luring ensures food is at the forefront of the horse’s mind as it is there for him to see and follow. Two potential problems may arise here. First, the horse is thinking about the food and not what he is doing to achieve it, so learning is not as effective. Second, luring does not teach self-restraint. The horse is in an anticipatory state focused on food and there is nothing to distract him from it while performing the exercise. Maintaining self-restraint is hard, and luring can sometimes lead to a horse that cannot wait for the exercise to be completed, or is very quick to take the food and ask for more when it is released. Early in teaching, shaping may also result in a horse who cannot restrain himself and attempts to get the food released quickly. However, shaping naturally creates the opportunity for the horse to learn that he can do things without food being present, and to wait for it. We can take advantage of this by controlling when the food arrives. When the horse has performed a movement, the temptation is to give food immediately but it is beneficial to wait. The “yes” or click marker tells the horse he has got it right. You do not need to be too quick with food. Having food in a bag or pocket rather than ready in your hand creates a delay in the food being produced, as you have to get it out. As long as you are reliable and give the horse food after he has been successful, he knows the food is coming and learns to

Building Self-Restraint into Teaching

When teaching a new exercise, we use food to guide the horse towards the desired movement. This is called luring, i.e. the person has food in their hand and the horse follows their hand to achieve the movement. Once the movement is complete the food is given. Another way is to teach in steps, known as shaping. The food is presented and given after the horse has achieved part of the finished movement. Teaching continues in stages as the horse progresses towards performing the whole movement. A word such as “yes” or a clicker sound is used to tell the horse that he has got an exercise right, and this becomes the marker for the food to be given to him. In luring and shaping the food actually performs two roles, incentive and reward. It is how it is used that can give different results. Once the horse knows food is involved in teaching sessions, he is likely to be antici-

Photo © Andy Francis

Giving a horse food rewards without asking anything of him as you go about stable duties helps him make a positive association between the food and a relaxed, calm emotional state

BARKS from the Guild/May 2018



A horse that has not become overly influenced by his emotional mind is more capable of learning than a horse that is struggling to think through a strong emotional state. A calm mind is also less likely to move to an escalating emotional state, and will more easily maintain a balanced state of mind.

Photo © Andy Francis

There is a general perception that using food in teaching will cause a horse to be rude, mug the trainer, be “pushy,” or start nipping, but creating an association between food and a relaxed state can help avoid this issue

wait for it. In my opinion, it is not a good idea to do the opposite and speed feed, as the horse will learn that food arrives immediately without the need to employ self-restraint. Ensuring sessions are short is beneficial both to learning and the horse learning to manage his self-restraint. The teaching process should be calm and although it should motivate your horse, there is also a necessary balance between his ability to learn and any increasing anticipation of food being delivered. Once the balance is tipped, the horse’s mind is focused on achieving the food himself, not about how to get you to release it. In a scenario where you are working with more than one horse, work with the one who has the least self-restraint first, and often, to keep a balanced state when you are working with the other. Keep the initial association of calmness around food at the forefront, adjust as you go and vary the timing when you deliver food, so you do not create a rigid routine that the horse anticipates. n 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/May 2018


Reading Humans

Angelica Steinker investigates the importance of reading both human and canine body


language for professional behavior consultants anine communication is at the heart of dog bite prevention and behavior consulting. Learning the art and science of reading dog body language is what keeps professionals safe. However, dog behavior consultants focus almost exclusively on dog body language. Recently, I read Joe Navarro’s international bestseller, What Every BODY is Saying, a book that is crammed with immensely interesting information about human body language. Some highlights for me included a human body language friend formula you can use to help establish human reinforcement history, a list of some common friend or foe signals, and some tips for reading specific human body language. Nonverbal communication is a science just like any other. This science deals with the studying of facial expressions, gestures, physical movements, body distance, touching, posture, and even clothing to decipher what people may be thinking, how they may intend to act, and even if something they are saying is true or false. Nonverbal communication is generally considered to be more truthful than verbal. In human nonverbal communication, the body is considered to trump the verbal statements of an individual. This is because of the limbic system, the emotional center of the brain that elicits body movements the human displaying the behavior is often not aware of.


Navarro starts his book with 10 tips for reading human body language. I am paraphrasing and applying his statements to dog behavior consulting: 1. Work at observing your clients. Just like with dogs, zoom in and out on body language to attempt to gather context. Make it a habit to scan your human client’s body for body language data. Observing human body language, just like dog body language, becomes easier with experience and practice. 2. Any observation you make is only as good as the context in which it occurs. Context is just as important with human body language as it is with dog body language. 3. Learn to recognize and interpret nonverbal behaviors that are universal. Navarro goes into detail in his book but a good universal “tell” is a lip purse. A lip purse is a flat lip pucker that universally communicates displeasure. If you see your client lip purse after you make a management suggestion, it is likely a very good idea to check in with the client and ask if what you are recommending is realistic for them to implement. 4. Just like dogs, humans have body language that is unique to an individual. Learn what body language is typical for your client. 5. Establish baselines. What is normal body language for that person? If someone always jigs their leg, then leg jigging is not a “tell,” but if the behavior stops it may be an indication of a change in the client’s thinking. Again, asking the client what they think about your comment or suggestion is an ideal response. 6. Try to confirm any findings that you visually locate by looking for multiple behaviors that occur in succession or in clusters. 7. Look for changes. Changes in body language can indicate changes in thoughts, emotions, interest or intent. 8. Try to identify false or misleading nonverbal signals. The classic example is a fake smile. If the muscles around a human’s eyes are not activated, the smile may be fake, but note that Botox is something used by 52

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Dogs may freeze or use distance increasing signals to show their discomfort with a situation, and humans do exactly the same thing

many humans and obviously prevents muscles from being activated! 9. Know how to identify distance increasing and distance decreasing nonverbal behaviors. Just like dogs, people show you what they are thinking via their body language. If you give your client a suggestion and they abruptly lean back in their chair, this may be an important distance increasing clue that your thoughts are being rejected. 10. Finally, work to be subtle when observing your client’s body language. It may be socially awkward and/or damaging to your reinforcement history with your client if they realize you are analyzing their body language.


Another interesting parallel between humans and dogs is freezing. Stressed or frightened humans freeze, just like dogs. Also, people who feel verbally punished will hold very still, i.e. global suppression of behavior, so noticing a child that is abnormally still may be an important clue that a client is lacking in parenting skills, something that may also be affecting the family dog. A client that feels vulnerable may be inclined to stoop their shoulders, clasp their hands in front of their body and lean forward in a turtling motion of self-protection. If your client “turtles,” this can be an important clue that they are uncomfortable with what was just said to them. I find it particularly interesting that the feet are the most profound nonverbal indicator. If your human client’s feet consistently point toward the door instead of toward you, this is probably a very real indication that they want to leave. Conversely, joined feet are referred to as “happy feet” and can be an indication of joy. I enjoy recommending play therapy, i.e. the dog and owner spending time bonding while playing, for my dog behavior clients because it does on occasion get a human client to display happy feet.

Friend or Foe?

Below is a list of friend and foe signals that may be helpful to consider when meeting with clients.

Friend Signals in Dog Behavior Consulting • • • • • • •

Smile. Intermittent eye contact. Eyebrow flash – as if surprised or impressed. Feet facing toward you. Leaning toward you. Socially appropriate touching. Head tilt.

Foe Signals in Dog Behavior Consulting

• Furrowed brow. • Scowling. • Staring. • Eye roll. • Jaw clenching. • Hands on hips with arms flared. • Scrunched-up nose. • Leaning away. • Backing away. • Feet facing exit. Reading your client’s friend or foe signals can give you an advance notice of what to expect at the end of a session or if there will be future sessions. Clients that are being dishonest will be more likely to display signs of stress such as blinking, swallowing, and displaying of body language that seems fake. Mirroring your human client’s body gestures can help you establish reinforcement history and increase any reinforcement history already in


Know how to identify distance increasing and distance decreasing nonverbal behaviors. Just like dogs, people show you what they are thinking via their body language. If you give your client a suggestion and they abruptly lean back in their chair, this may be an important distance increasing clue that your thoughts are being rejected. place, but it must be done subtly as exact mirroring can cause a person to become defensive. If your client is displaying foe signals, the Dale Carnegie advice of making people feel good about themselves is probably good advice and may help you be more effective. Another common tip is for the behavior consultant to find things to like about the client, although any attempt at compliments must be sincere to be effective. Ironically, however, you don’t want to try to get a person to like you because the counterintuitive approach of keeping your focus on the client is more likely to be successful. n


Navarro, J. (2008). What Every BODY is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People. New York, NY: Harper Collins Living

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/May 2018



The Human Impact

Anna Bradley assesses the impact that living with a dog who has behavioral concerns can


have on the resident humans and how this can be made easier for all parties don’t know how many times my clients have talked to me about the impact their dog’s behavioral issues have on them, their family and their relationships, but it’s certainly often. This is a serious topic, stirring an eclectic mix of emotions that most likely those who are not dog owners or who have not experienced the rollercoaster ride of assisting a dog with behavioral concerns, would have difficulty sympathizing with.

What Do We Feel?

As dog owners, trainers, and behavior consultants, we have a deep empathy with our dogs and, consequently, we understand how troubling struggling to cope with a given situation, context, event etc. may be for our dogs. What though, do we feel? I think sometimes this aspect is neglected, but it very much shouldn’t be. It is a very important aspect of behavior therapy to address the human as well as the animal slant. Frustration, sadness, hopelessness, failure, embarrassment, pity, even anger are just a few of the emotional labels I could pick from the descriptors owners have used at a first point of contact when expressing how they feel about the situation with their dog.

What Causes these Emotions?

There are, of course, multiple causes of negative emotions and individual differences have a great bearing upon how they are experienced. Speaking generally, a major factor is the opinion of others. It is human nature to be affected by outside opinion. The issue with many behavioral concerns is that they are visible and may be audible, and the problem may be greatly enhanced by the size and vocal capacity of the dog. As such, people may tolerate a wide range of undesirable behavior in a small breed yet find exactly the same behavior unacceptable in a moderately sized or larger breed. Tolerance, then, or lack of it can certainly be a causal factor. Unfortunately, I have many tales of owners trying their best to assist their dog while he is over threshold in a given situation, only to be judged or criticized by a third party. This does not help. In the first instance, the owner is likely to already be very aware of the issues they are facing, probably magnified by the dog’s antics and possibly vocal display which draws public attention (potentially a huge embarrassment). Thus, a greater awareness of the fact that many owners are aware of the issues their dog has and are seeking help, is required. Other factors include intrinsic causes, such as comparisons between this dog and previous dogs. Every dog is an individual. Even though an owner may have had the same breed for years, no dog is the same and a recognition of this is vital. This can be difficult when owners have had that “special” dog and then this one comes with all this baggage. This can cause feelings of intense frustration, and even resentment and anger, which can be difficult to work through. It is tough sometimes separating feelings for individual dogs. They are all special, are all completely distinct and the love for a previous dog will not be diminished in any way because


BARKS from the Guild/May 2018

© Can Stock Photo/littleny

Owners may feel frustration, sadness, hopelessness, failure, embarrassment, pity, and even anger at their dog’s behavior issues

you have a new project. Consider also “other voices” – everybody’s an expert! It’s great to have help, internet advice, read books, etc., but consider that this is all generic (and may be completely inaccurate, outdated, or irrelevant), is not tailored to your individual dog, and does not take into account context, the dog’s background, emotional state and so on. As a result, much advice can conflict and be confusing. What do you believe? What approach do you take? What is contemporary? What is not? It is always far better to seek professional advice from a qualified behavior consultant.

What Is the Impact of Negative Emotions?

What impact, then, can a behaviorally challenged dog have on his owner? Again, this is going to be an individual effect. I think that, generally, if owners have support from someone, a partner, friend, or rescue center backup if the dog has been rehomed, that can make a tremendous difference. I always offer much in the way of owner encouragement in behavior modification because I know that ultimately assists the dog. If you have a fraught, stressed out, frustrated owner, it is not going to help the situation or the dog-owner relationship. Human relationships, meanwhile, can be seriously challenged by behavioral concerns. In these cases, the situation may be exacerbated if one

It’s great to have help, internet advice, read books, etc., but consider that this is all generic (and may be completely inaccurate, outdated, or irrelevant), is not tailored to your individual dog, and does not take into account context, the dog’s background, emotional state and so on. As a result, much advice can conflict and be confusing.

party is trying their utmost to remedy the concern and the other will not assist. Or perhaps one partner does not believe there is an issue in the first place. Certain concerns will also obviously garner more tension by their very nature, for example, aggression, especially if it involves children, family members or other household dogs. In these cases there may be disputes regarding rehoming or euthanasia. Behavior issues with our dogs can lead to huge routine changes, both inside and outside the household. Many owners will go to extreme lengths for the behavioral well-being of their companions, forsaking themselves in doing so – walks at 4 a.m. in order to avoid other dogs, or rearranging the entire downstairs so that siblings never meet are pretty common.

How Can We Avoid Feeling Downbeat?

Firstly, at the first sign of detecting any issue, seek professional assistance from a qualified, force-free behavior consultant who will be able to identify clearly what the issues are and create a strategy to assist your dog. There is no need to feel that you have failed in any way. Quite the opposite in fact! You have clearly identified that there is some issue you and your dog need assistance with and, with guidance, this can be worked through.


It is easier said than done, but really try not to hang on the negative words of others. Do they really have the perfect dog? Do they really know what they are talking about? If you are unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of some unhelpful comment, try to shrug it off and move on. And, don’t place yourself and your dog in situations which will set him up to fail and make yourself feel uncomfortable. Make the fact that you are undertaking behavioral assistance, or that your dog is shy, does not like human/dog approaches etc. visible. Colored collars/harnesses/jackets are available with related wording from various manufacturers on the internet and these can be helpful too. Talk about your dog’s issues with friends and family. Explain how crucial it is that everybody carries out the same treatment approach. Ensuring that everybody understands why your dog is behaving the way he is and what method is being used to treat his issues and why, is also vital. If you are unsure that all members of your family would take this from you (it happens!), ask your behavior consultant to explain. Issues with our dogs can lead to people feeling very isolated, helpless and not knowing where to turn. It is crucial that these feelings are not neglected and that the human aspect of the dog-owner relationship is cared for with respect to behavior modification. If a greater tolerance and support structure could be raised throughout society towards owners trying their best to help their dogs, the process of behavior change could certainly be made easier for both parties. n Anna Francesca Bradley MSc BSc (Hons) is a United Kingdomebased provisional clinical, certified IAABC animal behavior consultant and ABTC accredited behavior consultant. She owns Perfect Pawz! Training and Behavior Practice ( in Hexham, Northumberland), where the aim is always to create and restore happy relationships between dog and owner in a relaxed way, using methods based on sound scientific principles, which are both forcefree and fun.


Ask the Experts: Dealing with Non-Compliance Veronica Boutelle of dog*tec responds to pet professionals’ questions on all things

business and marketing

Q: I’m working with a really difficult client on a private training case. I’m wishing I hadn’t taken them on but now feel sort of stuck. They still have a bunch of time on our training package but I want out. I know (I think) that it’s okay to fire a client, but how do you do that gracefully? I feel bad and don’t want conflict or to hurt their feelings. - Laura F. A: I’m sorry you’ve found yourself in this position, Laura. But you’re absolutely right that it’s okay to fire a client. In fact, it’s not just okay. It’s important for the longevity of your business that you do so when warranted. We want you to stay in the training game for the duration, and working with difficult clients is a surefire path to burnout. In addition to that, working with non-compliant clients in situations involving fear and aggression can be a liability risk. Now to answer your central question: How to do the firing? It’s an inherently uncomfortable situation, particularly for professionals steeped in positive reinforcement. We don’t tend to like conflict and we care about how our actions impact others. The trick to letting clients go diplomatically is to help them see how your decision is in their interest, using gentle but firm and clear language. For example, say you’re working on an aggression case. Maybe your clients have balked about setting down old methods in favor of positive reinforcement. Perhaps they’re struggling to make time to carry out the training steps you need them to take. Or maybe it’s an issue of not following through on management strategies key to safety. If you haven’t yet had a serious conversation with them about your concerns you might tell the client:

…it’s okay to fire a client. In fact, it’s not just okay. It’s important for the longevity of your business that you do so when warranted.

“I care very much about you and Barney and want you both to be safe. I’m concerned about Barney’s continued [or escalating] [aggression, biting, resource guarding, reactivity, etc.]. Without a consistent commitment from you to [discontinue all punishments, set aside the time necessary each day to carry out the day’s training steps, not allow Barney and the grandchildren to interact, etc.] I am not willing to continue our training work together. Not working from the same page will keep us from making solid progress toward your goals, and may result in escalating behavior, moving us farther from those goals and making the

for k ing ing ? o o L eth Som

© Can Stock Photo/damedeeso

Showing that your decision is in the client’s – and the dog’s – own best interests is the key to diplomatically letting a client go

situation more dangerous. If you’re unable to maintain training and management protocols at this time, I recommend discontinuing training until a time when you can.” If you’ve already reached the decision to let the client go, amend the above to: “This is a difficult conversation but I care very much about you and Barney and want you both to be safe. I’m concerned about Barney’s continued [or escalating] [aggression, biting, resource guarding, reactivity, etc.]. I understand you’ve [been reticent to, been unwilling to, been uncomfortable with my request to] [discontinue all punishments, set aside the time necessary each day to carry out the day’s training steps, not allow Barney and the grandchildren to interact, etc.]. Barney is your dog and ultimately you must do what you feel is best. But I also must do what I feel is best according to my professional ethics and responsibilities. My job is to give you the best chance of reaching your goals and to keep everyone involved safe. I cannot do either without us working in concert together. I take a small number of cases at a time and I require my clients to follow my instructions, particularly in serious cases involving aggression issues. It’s become clear that I’m not the right trainer for

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BARKS from the Guild/May 2018

you at this time and I cannot in good conscience continue our work together. I continue to wish the very best for you and Barney.” You can have this conversation in person or by phone. It’s also perfectly acceptable to break up with a client via email or a formal letter. Which approach you take might depend on several factors, including your own comfort and your sense of which option the client is likely to respond best to. If you’re worried about the client responding poorly, a more removed approach such as via a letter or email may be preferable. Whether you provide a refund for remaining package time depends on your policies. Ideally your policies make clear that you require compliance with all training instructions and that not following your instructions will result in a cessation of training services, without refund. Whatever your policies, be sure to go over them thoroughly with clients when you take them on—don’t leave room for a client to tell you they “didn’t know.” All our best to you and your business, Laura, and good luck with your upcoming client conversation. We hope it goes super smoothly. n

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

can help your business:

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

business Make More Money with Your Pet Business With DogSmith services you get a fast, easy way to increase your income almost immediately! Add DogSmith pet care and training systems to your business and get an incredible boost in your income and more time doing what you love. Contact The DogSmith today to learn how your business can benefit from our decades of real-world business experience, proven support programs, extensive knowledgebase of best practices and instant brand recognition. To get more time and more money in your life contact us now.

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Following the Dream

In our ongoing series of PPG member profiles, this month BARKS features Phyllis Beasley of


Praise Dog! Training, LLC in West Columbia, South Carolina hyllis Beasley began training her own dog for Obedience competition in 1998 when choke chain use was prevalent in her local Obedience club.

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

A: I had begun training my puppy at home using treats and I knew there was a better way. I took a class from Teoti Anderson CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP and found that way! After a class or two with her business, Anderson asked if I would be interested in being an assistant. Of course I was! I worked with Anderson from the early 2000s, and when she expanded her business to include private lessons and I had achieved my CPDT-KA, I began taking private Obedience and behavior clients under her guidance and mentorship. Anderson moved to Florida in December 2015 and closed her Columbia, South Carolina business, and as I wanted to keep training I opened my own business, Praise Dog! Training, LLC, in January 2016. I retired from my fulltime job in public health this February 2017 and have gone full-time with dog training...and am loving every minute of it. I am finally following my dream at age 62.

me and asked me to take Gideon. Gideon has a basic Obedience title and is the best therapy dog I have owned. Recently, we tested to become members of HOPE Animal Assisted Crisis Response. Q: Why did you become a dog trainer or pet care provider?

A: It may sound trite, but I have always felt a deep spiritual connection with dogs. I want to help people find that same connection and learn how to communicate and work with their dogs in a healthy way. I love it when we achieve a behavior breakthrough and the dogs and their families are happier.

Q: Are you a crossover trainer or have you always been a forcefree trainer?

A: My early training classes with the local Obedience club asked Photo © Phyllis Beasley A: Teoti Anderson. She saw my interest in training with me to correct my dog with a Phyllis Beasley with Gideon (left), Sky (right) and Stepper (front) force-free methods when I enrolled in a class of hers. She choke chain. Sadly I listened to took me under her wing as an assistant instructor and provided mentorthe instructor, but stopped when I realized how damaging that training ship and friendship for many, many years. She paid for my attendance at was to our relationship. I went back to training with food rewards like I workshops and conferences that have shaped my training and increased had discovered on my own as a child in the 1960s. I hope I have shown my continual desire for knowledge of canine behavior. We still stay in many others the value and effectiveness of force-free training. touch and discuss cases. Q: What drives you to be a force-free professional and why is it imporQ: Tell us a little bit about your own pets. tant to you? Q: Who has most influenced your career and how?

A: I currently have three Shetland sheepdogs and an English budgerigar. In the past I have had other Shelties, a Senegal parrot, a cockatiel, a house rabbit, mice and cats. My first Sheltie, Laddie (my heart dog), led me to pursue competition training using only reward-based training. Together we achieved titles in Obedience, Agility, Rally Obedience, Herding Instinct and in his later years, he became a Delta Society therapy dog. He also started my passion with the breed and two friends and I co-founded South Carolina Sheltie Rescue. I still offer behavior and training support to the organization. My current dogs include Shelties, 16-year-old Stepper, 9-year-old Sky and 8-year-old Gideon. Stepper is one of my foster failures who has been my biggest challenge, but eventually obtained titles in Obedience and Rally Obedience. Shy Sky was given to me by a good friend who was a hobby breeder. Sky missed his critical socialization period and taught me how to have patience and work with shy dogs. Gideon belonged to my good friend who helped me found South Carolina Sheltie Rescue. When my friend was found dead in her bed, her veterinarian boss called 58

BARKS from the Guild/May 2018

A: I don't like seeing an owner's relationship with their dog suffer because of backwards training. I can't stand to see the confusion, fear and pain in a dog's eyes when an owner is using force and pain to achieve a training goal. I know that force-free training works; I have used it with my own dogs and with the dogs of hundreds of clients. Q: What are some of your favorite positive reinforcement techniques for the most commonly encountered client-dog problems?

A: I use a clicker as a marker. It is such a clear and effective way to communicate with dogs. I get a lot of complaints about dogs jumping on people, or puppies mouthing roughly. I teach the owners that yelling and pushing are only giving their dogs attention, which is what the dogs want. I coach them on ignoring the behavior, but being sure to reward the dog when the dog stops mouthing or jumping. For preventing jumping on people, I teach that the approach of a person is the visual cue for the dog to sit (not jump). This is done by having my assistant and I take turns ap-

proaching the handler and dog. When the dog sees us, we have the owner cue the dog to sit. We do many rapid repetitions of this until the dog sits automatically. Then we pet the dog and have the owner click while the dog is in a sit and while we are petting. We gradually increase the length of time we pet and increase our body movements and voices. Q: What awards or competition placements have you and your dog(s) achieved using force-free methods?

A: One dog earned up to CDX, RE, AX, AXJ. All my five Shelties have earned CGC. Three of my Shelties were/are registered therapy dogs with Delta Society/Pet Partners. One dog earned a BN. Another earned CD and RE. One earned five AKC conformation points and his UKC Championship. All were trained with force-free methods. Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A: I love working with behavior cases, including fear and aggression. These owners and dogs need help more than any others and when we make progress, their relief is wonderful to see. I love the puzzle solving piece of working with behavior cases, asking the right questions to understand the context of the behavior, the environment in which the behavior occurs, and digging for information that will help me determine the training protocols to use. Q: What reward do you get out of a day's training?

A: I love knowing that I have helped people better understand why their dogs behave the way they do and that the people now understand that their dog is not being "dominant" or "stubborn."


“I don't like seeing an owner's relationship with their dog suffer because of backwards training. I can't stand to see the confusion, fear and pain in a dog's eyes when an owner is using force and pain to achieve a training goal.” - Phyllis Beasley Q: What do you consider to be your area of expertise?

A: Working with fearful dogs is my passion.

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

A: Work with a mentor who can share his or her expertise and provide you opportunities to learn under his or her guidance. Never stop learning! Q: How has PPG helped you to become a more complete trainer?

A: I crave continued education and PPG offers an amazing number of opportunities and ways to learn. I appreciate having this active source to continue to improve my skills as a force-free trainer and to join a membership that shares my beliefs in force-free training. n

Praise Dog! Training, LLC ( is located in West Columbia, South Carolina To be featured in the BARKS Profile section, please complete this form:

BARKS from the Guild/May 2018




Letting Go of Dominance

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

behavior experts how we can get past common misperceptions surrounding dominance,

alpha, pack leader etc. in dog training. Here are their responses: Lucinda Glenny, certified behaviorist and owner, Canine Campus Training Center: Dogs have been domesticated so far past that they are a different species than wolves, and so to try to use analogies that ‘this is what wolves do’ and ‘this is what wolf packs do’ has absolutely no comparison to how dogs work with humans. I want to make sure that we are trying to build that partnership. We’ve seen that dogs in my research, dogs that have experienced alpha rolls or muzzle grabs, and there’s 100 percent correlation of aggression to the owner when those methods were used, so why use them?

Janis Bradley, director of communications and publications, National Canine Research Council: I like to rely on some work that Dr. Ian Dunbar did many years ago on this question. He’s one of fewer than a tiny, tiny handful of scientists who have ever actually studied this question among groups of dogs living together. And his answer to this question, “Do dogs form rigid, linear social hierarchies?” is “No.” He actually says that’s “really rubbish”’ because their relationships are just more complicated than that.

Jennifer Arnold, founder and executive director, Canine Assistants and co-creator, Bond-Based Choice Teaching®: Yes, I think we are recognizing that it’s time to let go of the idea that dogs require our physical and mental “domination” in order to function appropriately in our world. There is no relationship where dominating in such a fashion is advantageous. As my husband, who is a small animal veterinarian likes to say, “When you put your foot on someone’s neck, you’d best be prepared to leave it there for the rest of their life.” Dr. Soraya Juarbe-Diaz, veterinary behaviorist: If you look at the origin of the use of the word [dominance], it comes from mythology where we were looking at behaviors of animals in their own environment, and there is a hierarchy and there is an event where there is a dominant individual and a submissive individual that gives in to the request of the so-called dominant one, but this has to do with breeding. This has to do with being able to pass your genes to the next generation. In a domestic setting, no one is fighting with the dog or the cat or the horse to have a foal or a puppy or to have your genes passed on to the next generation, so it’s taken out of context and used in a way that doesn’t apply to the relationship you have with your dog or your cat.

Michele Pouliot, professional guide dog instructor, freestyle championship title holder and clicker trainer: I usually avoid playing into somebody starting to use the words dominant, dominance, or I need to “dominate” my dog. I’ll usually say that’s not really accurate, and ask if we could talk more about what your dog or your horse is specifically doing, and let’s not make a judgment call on why they may be doing it. Let’s just talk about the behavior itself and not label it dominance.

Debbie Revell, owner and manager, Pets Behave Dog Training and Behavior Consulting: Educate, educate, educate. It’s bullying, nothing more, nothing less. And if it’s bullying the dog, or maybe a trainer that’s trying to make a person coming to them to train their dog, they bully them so they’ll bully the dog and they may not be feeling comfortable with it. And I think educa-

“While there are a variety of definitions of the term dominance in behavioral science, they are all applicable to relationships in natural same species social groups. It has nothing to with dog-human relationships. Attempts to assert dominance over your dog using force and violence can only damage the relationship, resulting in fear, stress, anxiety and often aggression.” - Pat Miller

tion is one of the best things we can do. Also, as trainers and behavior consultants out there, our dogs are the best thing. If your dog is welltrained – and l love to get out there to compete and do things – and they know you have done all this with positive training and solved problems with positive training, that is one of the best things to show your local people that it can be done. Sarah Richter, founder, Simply Animal Training LLC: Through more education. I think so many people are seeing it on popular media and we need to get the right information out on the same venues and make sure people are understanding why it’s incorrect, not just that it’s an opinion, but that it’s based on research.

Angelica Steinker, president and founder, Courteous Canine the DogSmith of Tampa: You know, I would really love it if you would just describe the behavior rather than label it because when people label stuff, it gets really confusing if you don’t have shared meaning about the label. So it’s really so much easier to just talk about what it is you are seeing and just describing that.

Irith Bloom, certified dog behavior consultant, Victoria Stilwell Positively dog trainer, and Karen Pryor Academy certified training partner: The key is to show people that there are simpler ways to explain most dog behaviors, and there are also much simpler ways to resolve the issues that we see.

Dr. Lynn Honeckman, founder, Veterinary Behavior Solutions: Science has proven that domestic dogs do not establish a dominance hierarchy with people, and so this has absolutely no relevance whatsoever in our relationship with our pets. Pam Wanveer, Tellington TTouchTM practitioner: You are already in the driver’s seat if you are in control of their food, so you just have to learn how to use that “power.”

Pat Miller, director, Peaceable Paws Trainer Academies and Training Programs: While there are a variety of definitions of the term dominance in behavioral science, they are all applicable to relationships in natural same species social groups. It has nothing to with dog-human relationships. Attempts to assert dominance over your dog using force and violence can only damage the relationship, resulting in fear, stress, anxiety and, often, aggression. n BARKS from the Guild/May 2018



Including Science

Breanna Norris reviews Dog Smart: Evidence-Based Training with The Science Dog


by Linda P. Case

n February, Linda Case published her latest book, Dog Smart. You may know Case from her popular blog, The Science Dog, or her other books, which include Beware the Straw Man and Dog Food Logic. Case advocates for force-free, positive reinforcement training, supported by evidence from respected scientific sources. As a fan of Case’s other work, I was excited for this one to come out and it truly did not disappoint. Dog Smart is organized in a way that makes it really enjoyable to read. As an example of the book’s set-up, Chapter 9, The Cognitive Canine, begins with a story on eye contact and pointing: “The eye contact that Cooper and I share is much more than a simple ‘cue-response’ (trained) behavior. Rather, Coop, like many other dogs, uses human eye contact and gaze to communicate, gain information, and make decisions – all cognitive skills that dogs are now known to possess.” Like in the other chapters, Case deftly includes evidence to back up her observations. She tells us about research on gaze, finger pointing, dogs observing other dogs, and studies on theory of mind, with mirrors (self-recognition) and food stealing. While not too detailed on the studies, she does not move past them too quickly either. As such, people who are not inclined to read scientific research are not going to get bored in this section and move on, but science types are not going to be bored either. Make no mistake, Case is not interested in dumbing the science down. She explains the terminology and uses it, but balances the science speak by tying in stories about her own dogs and her clients’ dogs. By gathering and presenting evidence from the available research and studies thus, Case makes it not only digestible but also usable in training. How does this impact our training and why does it matter? It does, and Case brings it all together with each chapter coming to a close with my favorite section, Talking to Joe. Joe is a regular guy that thinks he knows a lot about dogs. Everyone knows a Joe! In the book Joe argues that you should knee a jumping dog in the chest, teach dogs that you are the “pack leader,” and how to train using many pop culture myths. Using humor and kindness, Case gives examples of how one might address Joe. For example: “Hey Joe, you have been complaining that Stanley sneaks into the kitchen and steals food whenever you are talking on the phone. You say that you do not understand why he continues to do this when he knows it is wrong. Well Joe, chances are that Stanley has learned to steal food when you are not in the room because it ‘works’ (i.e. the consequences are desirable for him – he gets a snack). He also may be quite attuned to your attentional state, Joe, and use your inattention as a sign of clear sailing for a stolen snack. What he does not have is a sense of what is morally ‘right or wrong’ – we just do not have evidence that supports that. Regardless, I imagine that you prefer that Stanley not eat your lunch. We can give you some training tips for this in class (and later in this book), Joe.” Case ends each chapter with links to all studies and books she has mentioned. I much prefer this over a long reference list at the end of the book. If


We are always on the lookout for interesting features, member profiles, case studies and training tips to feature in BARKS from the Guild and BLOGS from the Guild. If you’d like to join the growing band of member contributors, please get in touch. 62

BARKS from the Guild/May 2018

Linda P. Case gets the balance right with a combination of science and anecdotes in her latest book, Dog Smart

you are like me and want to do some more digging, you will appreciate this as well. The third part of the book goes deeper into training, and Case does some troubleshooting with Joe, who has used food as a reinforcement but is still not happy with the results. While many trainers will be delighted with this read (and learn some new things), this will also be a great book to recommend to clients. I have already recommended it to a few Joes I know as well as new puppy parents. I would recommend this read to fellow professional trainers, shelter staff, vet care staff, and those looking to get their first puppy. I would think that it would also be a useful read for any trainers that are studying for accreditation with the Pet Professional Accreditation Board or any other certifying body. Dog Smart is fun and I laughed so hard while reading it. The combination of science, humor and stories will appeal to many. Although very different, Dog Smart reminded me in some ways of Jean Donaldson’s, Oh, Behave! If you enjoy Donaldson’s style of combining science and humor, you will most likely really enjoy Case’s too. She concludes: “Training dogs well involves love and caretaking and compassion – it also includes science. Continue to pay attention to the evidence – it will inform and guide us as we continue to learn about how to best train and live with our beloved dogs.” I recommend you put Dog Smart at the top of your reading pile. n

BARKS BARKS from the Guild blog Email:

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It’s time tto ban sh shock hock col collars llars Iw would ould sa sayy tha that, t, as with any any helping professional, professional, yyour our first and primary p imary obligation pr obligation is to to do no harm, harm, and w we e ha have ve compelling compelling o lli evidence evidenc id e that tha h t applying a l i sshock, shock h k, either i h systematically syystematically i ll or randomly, randomly d ly, to to d domestic tii dogs d g increases i eases their incr th h i general generall lle level evell of stress stress and d disc di omffort. SSo og i en that iv tha h t kknowledge, nowledg l dge, there ther h e discomfort. given simply is no ethical eth h l rationale hi hical rationale i l for for using i it iit.. Janis Br Bradley, adleyy,,

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If there’s a tool which causes pain or discomfort, it has the potential of creating other problems. As animal care professionals, I feel that if we...can’t find kinder, gentler ways of doing something, then maybe we are in the wrong profession. Ken Ramirez,

Executive VP and CTO, Karen Pryor Clicker Training

“Until these devices are illegal, consumers must protect themselves and their dogs by looking beyond the marketing messages of those who profit from their sale and use. It is not necessary to use electric shock to change behavior. It is not necessary in humans, in zoo species, in marine mammals or in dogs.” Jean Donaldson, Author, Train Your Dog Like a Pro